286. Action Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Cline) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Irwin)1


Henry Kissinger’s office has asked for your comments on the NSCIC Working Group’s Case Study of the India–Pakistan Crisis of 1971.2 The recommended response is attached (Tab A).3

This case study is the first of several planned by the Working Group to illuminate problems in the relationship between the Intelligence Community and its prime consumers. The study was prepared in the spring of 1972 by a three-man team from CIA, DIA and INR under the supervision of Andrew Marshall of the NSC staff. Curtis Jones, Director of INR’s Office of Research and Analysis for Near East and South Asia, served as team leader. The team examined CIA, DOD and State files and a summary of WSAG minutes, and interviewed some of the policy makers directly concerned with the India-Pakistan crisis.

The study reaches conclusions about the performance of the Intelligence Community and poses issues related to these conclusions. It does not examine how policy makers used the Community’s products or offer recommendations for action. The key conclusions are:


Most intelligence products are produced by a single agency but the products of different agencies are often very similar. Only National Intelligence Estimates (NIE or SNIE) and items in the daily Current Intelligence Bulletin published by CIA are coordinated.

Issue: What is the optimum mix of coordination with timeliness and responsiveness to departmental needs?


Some intelligence collection was very timely, pertinent and accurate, but for some periods, places and topics there were no satisfactory collection facilities.

Issue: What collection capabilities ought to be maintained for use in possible contingencies of this regional crisis kind?


Many intelligence estimates and judgments were impressively correct. On other points the Community was silent, wrong, or contradictory. Some correct key judgments were expressed once and not repeated even though much of the Community still considered them valid. A clandestine report relating to Indian intentions was presented to the NSC early in December in unevaluated or uncoordinated forms and policy makers could have formed the erroneous view that the Community accepted the report without reservation.

Issue: How can the Community most effectively keep policy makers aware of its current coordinated positions?


Members of the Community reported to policy makers voluminously and, for the most part, separately. Caution, volume, brevity and variations caused by agency requirements muffled the Community’s message, but the Community members had no way of knowing whether an intelligence finding reached any individual policy maker or whether he understood and accepted it.

Issue: Through what channel and in what format or volume can the Community most effectively communicate with policy makers and, in critical cases, get some feedback on the usefulness of reporting?


INR, CIA and DIA often lacked information on policy sessions and high level exchanges with other countries. Generally these intelligence producers felt isolated from policy makers and usually they had to decide for themselves what intelligence might be relevant to policy making. Some comments and actions by policy makers indicated the latter were not aware of intelligence judgments or not persuaded by them.

Issue: Can intelligence effectively support policy making if intelligence producers are not informed on the nature and basis of policy problems?

The Chairman of the NSCIC Working Group, in forwarding the Case Study to NSCIC, reported that the Working Group will make a detailed analysis of lessons learned in this study and recommend improved procedures. To facilitate this process he also suggested that after NSCIC members had reviewed this study the Committee might seek to bring the lessons and issues more sharply into focus and discuss some implications for the interface between policy makers and the Community. He highlighted three problem areas in which NSCIC might consider giving guidance to the Community: [Page 647]

how policy makers tell the Community what their intelligence needs are;
how the Community tells policy makers what its judgments are;
how well the Community’s response satisfies policy needs.

The Working Group Chairman also suggested some specific measures or questions that NSCIC might consider, much along the lines of our listing of key conclusions above. Would a focal point for developing, coordinating and transmitting consumer needs provide a satisfactory balance between the usefulness of formal statements of intelligence needs and requirements for rapid response? How can top priority intelligence data and judgments be flagged so that they come to the personal attention of key top officials during a crisis? What kinds or forms of intelligence are wanted by consumers during crises? For example, should raw intelligence be provided or should it always be supplemented by intelligence evaluation or comment? Are more frequent NIE’s or other forms of coordinated intelligence desired? Should intelligence briefings normally be either coordinated or multi-agency? Should the Community periodically restate judgments that remain valid?

The team that conducted this case study had difficulty in determining how intelligence reached top decision makers, what intelligence reached them, and what impact it had. The study could therefore not reach firm conclusions on the effectiveness of the Community’s performance or on the changes most likely to make it responsive and effective. The Working Group Chairman has suggested that NSCIC members may wish to consider planning a real-time study of the handling and use of intelligence at the NSC level during an actual crisis.

All of these problems, questions and issues ought to come before NSCIC in some fashion, as well as the more extensive exposition and voluminous detail contained in the Case Study itself. We do not, however, know that any NSCIC member intends to press for resolution of any of these specific issues within the NSCIC at this time. In view of the Chairman’s statement that the Working Group will undertake a detailed analysis and recommend improved procedures, it is not necessary for NSCIC to settle these detailed questions now.

We recommend that NSCIC take note of the Chairman’s statement and ask the Working Group to continue its exploration of these issues and of ways to deal with them, of course bringing to NSCIC any proposals requiring decision at that level. The Working Group is unique in combining a wide range of consumer and producer interests and it is a most appropriate body to examine the complications of present arrangements and the implications of changes. Indeed, it may be found that the Working Group itself can perform a useful planning function [Page 648] in emerging crises to help ensure better interaction between policy makers and the Intelligence Community.

Nonetheless, NSCIC exists to provide high level consumer guidance to the Intelligence Community and the purpose of Working Group studies and proposals is to evoke such guidance. If NSCIC members have firm and clear views on any of the questions raised by this Case Study, the next NSCIC meeting will provide an opportunity for expressing them.


That you sign the attached memorandum for Mr. Kissinger.
That INR prepare a briefing for you on this Case Study and on the intelligence issues it raises, to be scheduled once a date is set for the next NSCIC meeting.4

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files: NSCIC–NSCIC Working Group, 1971–1974. Secret. Drafted by Berry and concurred in by Kux and Laingen.
  2. “Intelligence Support in Political-Military Crises: A Case Study of the India– Pakistan Crisis of 1971,” June 15, 1972. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK) Kissinger asked for comments on the study in anticipation of a meeting of the NSC Intelligence Committee on November 29, which would have been the committee’s second meeting and first since December 3, 1971, but the meeting did not take place. Marshall’s agenda for the meeting, dated November 27, is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 301, Intelligence Committee, 1971–74.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Neither option is marked.