61. Memorandum From the Deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence for National Intelligence (Bowie)1


  • Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Director, Intelligence & Research, Department of State
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs
  • Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


  • Presidential Intelligence Priorities

1. Under the Presidential decision and Executive Order,2 the main formal mechanism for the policy-makers to define their needs for intelligence will be the Policy Review Committee. Hence, in developing priorities, it is useful to ask how the PRC can best express its interests to the Intelligence Community. It will wish to make sure that the Intelligence Community devotes itself not only to furnishing information of immediate policy concern, but also to providing the basic research on issues that will be of continuing policy concern over extended periods of time. Consequently, I have concluded that the Policy Review Committee might well adopt a two-tiered approach to developing intelligence priorities.

2. The sample list of broad topics of basic long-term interest (Tab A) is intended to guide our long-range efforts in analysis and collection, and point the way to more specific topics for basic National Intelligence Estimates. This list would probably change only gradually over time, but it should receive regular review to ensure that it always accurately reflected major concerns.

3. Tab B is a sample list of issues of immediate interest. Many of these issues are, in fact, subsets of the more basic topics in Tab A. I would expect that the Policy Review Committee would review this listing at regular intervals—perhaps every other month—with a view to ensuring that it is up to date and, further, that it take into account planned policy initiatives and expected developments that might generate needs for intelligence.

4. I am submitting these lists as the basis for discussion at our next meeting. We can then discuss the usefulness of the proposed approach [Page 314] as well as the substance of the lists themselves, which, if approved by the PRC, would be sent to the agencies of the Intelligence Community for translating into specific intelligence requirements.

Robert R. Bowie 3

Tab A

List Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency 4

National Intelligence Topics of Basic Long-Term Interest

I. Advanced Countries [less than 1 line not declassified]

—economic conditions and prospects


—political and social trends

—cohesion of NATO

—foreign policy issues

II. The USSR and Eastern Europe

—Soviet foreign policy

—Soviet military capabilities and intentions

—strategic arms reduction

—advanced technology

—Soviet economic prospects

—trends and stability in Eastern Europe

—Communist activities in the Third World

III. China

—Sino-Soviet relations

—economic and political prospects

—prospects for U.S./PRC normalization of relations

—military capabilities and intentions

—foreign policy

IV. Key Developing Countries [1 line not declassified]

—industrial and resource development

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—economic policy

—foreign policy objectives

—domestic instability

—indigenous military capabilities

V. Less Developed Countries

—economic progress and prospects

—agricultural and infrastructure development

—domestic political stability

—foreign policy interests and priorities

—role in North-South debate

VI. Global Issues

—human rights

—nuclear proliferation


—arms transfers

—technology transfer

—transnational terrorism

—food and population prospects



VII. Strategic Areas of Continuing Concern

—Middle East



—Southern Africa

Tab B

List Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency5

Critical Issues of Immediate Interest


A. Soviet assessments of the U.S. (including assessments such as SALT proposals).

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B. Soviet economic prospects.

C. Leadership after Brezhnev.

D. Critical issues affecting future strategic balance.

(1) Soviet ASW capability.

(2) Soviet ASAT capabilities, and significance as warning.

(3) Soviet defense capability against bombers, SRAMs and cruise missiles.

(4) Soviet progress in advanced technologies crucial to developing weapon systems.

E. Soviet capability for sustained combat operations in a prolonged NATO-Pact conflict.

F. Soviet and Pact chemical warfare capabilities.

G. Warning times associated with Soviet options for initiating war in Europe.

H. Soviet capabilities against SLOCs.


A. Chinese policies to U.S.

B. Trends in Sino-Soviet state relations.

C. Chinese military capabilities and intentions against Taiwan.

III. Western Europe

A. Prospects for the 1978 elections in France and implications.

B. Evolving PCI role in Italian politics.

C. Turkish policy toward Cyprus.

IV. Middle East and South Asia

A. Prospects for restoration of political stability in Pakistan.

B. Probable Arab and Israeli strategies toward settlement and if current peace efforts collapse.

C. The viability of the Sadat government.

D. [1 line not declassified]

V. Africa

A. Evolution of the Rhodesian problem.

B. Prospects in South Africa.

C. Ethiopia-Somalia hostilities.

D. Conflict in Angola and Zaire.

VI. East Asia-Pacific

A. Indications of North Korea’s priorities, internal and external.

B. Instability in South Korea.

C. The Philippines’ view of its relationship with the U.S.

D. Prospects in Taiwan.

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E. Japan’s evolving view of its international role.

VIII. Latin America

A. Cuban objectives vis-a-vis the U.S.

B. Panamanian developments affecting the Canal treaty.

IX. Economics

A. Potential threats to oil sufficiency: [less than 1 line not declassified] production shortfalls.

B. Trade imbalances and trends toward protectionism.

X. Nuclear Proliferation

A. South Africa’s nuclear strategy.

B. Nuclear policy and plans [less than 1 line not declassified].

C. [less than 1 line not declassified] uranium export policy.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 89, SCC035 Intelligence Covert Activities, 10/6/77. Secret.
  2. Reference to PD/NSC–17 (see Document 59) and the executive order called for in its final paragraph.
  3. Bowie initialed “RRB” above this typed signature.
  4. Secret.
  5. Secret.