156. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Director of Central Intelligence (Colby)1


  • Possible Revisions in the NIE Process

The President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board has recommended2 that the current NIE process be converted to a new three-step process:

—Production of a purely intelligence document which avoids net assessments.

—A detailed net assessment.

—A thorough critique of the net assessment by an independent entity.

A possible Presidential directive for implementation of this revision on a trial basis for two strategic issues is at Tab A. The President would like your comments on the PFIAB recommendations and the proposed trial run.

Henry A. Kissinger3
[Page 702]

Tab A

Draft Memorandum to Secretary of Defense Schlesinger, the Deputy Secretary of State (Ingersoll), and the Director of Central Intelligence (Colby)


  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Deputy Secretary of State
  • The Director of Central Intelligence


  • Trial Modification to the NIE Process

In an effort to evaluate possible modifications to the national intelligence estimating process the President has directed that:

—The Director of Central Intelligence establish an independent analysis group composed of Intelligence Community and non-government representatives which would produce an experimental estimate on the capability of Soviet strategic forces, independent of NIE 11–3/8–75, in the following two strategic areas:

• Anti-Submarine Warfare

• Accuracy of ICBMs

This estimate should, in those instances when factual data is limited or not available, present a complete spectrum of opposing views and alternative interpretations. In addition, gaps in knowledge critical to the assessment should be highlighted and the degree of uncertainty in key judgments described in detail.

—The Interdepartmental Political-Military Group establish an ad hoc net assessment working group which will prepare a net assessment in the two strategic areas described above and submit its product to the Chairman of the Under Secretaries Committee;

—The Under Secretaries Committee undertake a comparison and critique of (1) the estimate and net assessment described above; and (2) NIE 11–3/8–75 treatment of the same three areas.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Program Analysis Staff Files, Box 25, Subject Series, PFIAB/NIEs, 1975–76 (5). Top Secret; Sensitive.
  2. See Documents 154 and 155.
  3. Scowcroft signed for Kissinger.