148. Talking Points Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1


—There is a continuing espionage war. The Soviets are taking quite a beating over the last year or so.

—[1 paragraph (9 lines) not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (6½ lines) not declassified]

—At that time the Tokyo press was publishing the names and pictures of over 25 Japanese who had been disclosed in the Reader’s Digest by the KGB Levchenko to have worked for the Soviets in previous years. This was probably the Soviet response to these disclosures in Japan which the KGB attributed to the CIA because we were sending the KGB defector Levchenko around the world briefing [less than 1 line not declassified] friendly countries on how the Soviets operate in active measures and espionage.

[Page 509]

—The more recent approach probably comes from the punishment the Soviets have been taking in the espionage game around the world over the past year [3½ lines not declassified].

—During the last year, close to 150 Soviets have been expelled mostly in Europe and Asia. This is more than triple the yearly average for 1975–1980. This action has been taken by virtually every Western power, every one of our close allies, neutral countries [less than 1 line not declassified] and Third World countries, [less than 1 line not declassified]. Since Soviet retaliation has thus far been weak, other states are encouraged to take similar action [1 line not declassified].

—In addition to expulsions, Soviets have sustained major defections. [7 lines not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (3 lines) not declassified]

—An increasing number of countries, now including the ASEAN states, deny visas to Soviets expelled from other nations, thus compounding the negative impact.

—Allegations of Soviet/Bulgarian involvement in the shooting of the Pope have damaged the Soviets, and their efforts to counter them have been ineffectual.

—[1 paragraph (8 lines) not declassified]

—Soviet intelligence, with the traditional paranoia of a police state society, undoubtedly overestimates both their vulnerability and our intentions. It’s unlikely that any discussion of rules for the spy war will go anywhere. It may be that they merely want to see how we react, whether they can learn anything about us and, perhaps more important, about some defectors whose whereabouts must mystify them. We would hope to get further insights into their purposes, their state of mind and the state of the KGB.

—There is a more serious side to this. Operational guidance to overseas agents from both the KGB and the military intelligence, GRU, seem to show a high state of nervousness about and some aggressive reactions to what they see as a new western aggressiveness.

—[1 paragraph (9 lines) not declassified]

—Obtain early warning of enemy military preparations so that the Soviet Union will not be surprised by an actual threat of war or preparations for a nuclear attack; determine the enemy’s intentions and actions, primarily in the field of strategic armaments, and acquire information concerning production and deployment programs for the MX, Trident, and Pershing II missiles, cruise missiles, western space weapons, and other fundamentally new methods of warfare; collect technical information, materials, and samples of benefit to the Soviet [Page 510] domestic economy, and to the implementation of the food program; acquire current information on basic research and discoveries in the most important areas of western science and technology; recruit new and valuable sources who can be used to collect intelligence or as channels for active measures, and improve work with agents of influence who can be used to influence the adversary to our benefit, particularly those agents through whom hostile intelligence services can be discredited.

—[1 paragraph (8 lines) not declassified]

—[1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]

—A final message was brought from a November 27–December 3 conference in Moscow by Bob Neuman (former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia) and Hal Saunders (former Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East). A Deputy Director of the International Department of the Central Committee of the USSR Communist Party gave them each a message, delivered seriously and, they believe, under instruction. The message was:

At the same time, there are signs that the Soviets have developed a new respect and accorded new credibility to US policy. A Soviet officer returning to Moscow reported that among officers at significant Soviet headquarters with whom his duties brought him in contact had formed the opinion that “President Reagan surrounded himself with a good, capable team of advisors and organized his Administration professionally. This done, he tackled the economy, a subject that was foremost on the minds of Americans, and he straightened out the economic situation of the country by taking a strong and clear-cut position.”

“Having gained the confidence of the American people by dealing effectively with economic matters, President Reagan’s hands are not tied with respect to foreign policy and, specifically, with respect to his attitude toward the Soviet Union. GRU officials believe that Mr. Reagan’s tough stance toward the Soviet Union is highly beneficial to the military-industrial complex.”

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 88B00443R: Policy Files (1980–1986), Box 14, Folder: DCI Memo Chron (1–31 Dec ’83). Secret. The talking points were likely drafted by Gates for Casey’s discussion with Reagan on the “Spy War” and the general reporting on the increased Soviet intelligence activities related to the “war scare.” (See Document 135.) In his memoir, Gates recalled: “Casey met with Reagan on December 22 and advised him that we had learned that in November there had been a GRU (Soviet military intelligence) instruction to all posts to obtain early warning of enemy military preparations so that the Soviet Union would not be surprised by the actual threat of war. All posts were to try to determine ‘the enemy’s’ intentions and actions. Finally, the GRU elements were to create new agent groups abroad with the capability of communicating independently with GRU headquarters. The DCI told the President on that December day that the KGB and GRU information ‘seems to reflect a Soviet perception of an increased threat of war and a realization of the necessity to keep intelligence flowing to Moscow during wartime or after a rupture in diplomatic relations.’” (Gates, From the Shadows, pp. 271–272) No record of a meeting with Casey on December 22 appears in the President’s schedule. However, a telephone call from Reagan to Casey at 5:15 p.m. was noted. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary)

    On December 23, Casey sent the President a memorandum dated December 22 on “the Spy War and Doomsday Talk,” which directly correlates to these talking points; however, the memorandum was a short summary and did not include as much detail on Soviet collection activities. In the covering memorandum to Reagan, Casey wrote: “In line with our telephone conversation, I am sending a little reading for your trip west: First, is a memo reporting on the latest development in the ongoing espionage war. Together with the report I sent to you a few weeks ago, it may say a lot about the Soviet state of mind today. There are other reports indicating a range of reaction from prevailing nervousness to fear and grudging respect for our policies in the Soviet view of the state of our relationship today. Whether this represents a threat or an opportunity is the continuing question.” (Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 88B00443R: Policy Files (1980–1986), Box 1, Folder: Meeting w/the President (Backup) (10 Jan ’84))