Created: 6/1/1958

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TITLE: The Exploitation Of Russian Scientific Literature For Intelligence Purposes

REVIEWER: J. J. Bagnall


YEAR: . 8 -



A coilecUon ol articles on the historical, operational. doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol Intelligence.

All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of

the authors. They do not necessarily reflect ofTicial positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any oihcr US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in (he contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.


The intelligence community's response to the mushroom growth oj Soviet technicalii impressive in tUand thoroughness.


Russian scientific literature has been an object of thecommunity's attention for the past ten years and more. Even before the end of World War II, US intelligence had assigned some priority to the examination of SovietArmy intelligence had established its SpecialSection to collect information on the USSR fromdocuments in both the Russian and German languages. Although not abundant in theseood deal ofon Soviet military technical developments wasout The Washington Document Center, Jointlyby the Army and Navy, similarly searched captureddocuments for Russian scientific and technical

Development of the Program

As the examination of captured documents passed its peak of usefulness, when it no longer filled tbe need for Information on current scientific developments in the USSR, tbe CIAwhich had taken over this wartime activity turned to current Soviet scientific and technical literature. They did not findealth of information as has now become available, buturprising amount on scientific research in progress, if virtually nothing on Its technical application. As the number of journals was small and procurement rather erratic because of Soviet censorship,*It was decided to abstract all articles and then translate In full certain ones needed by the community. This procedure, begun tofor almost nine years tofl.

24 the Soviets began to release more scientific literature; whereas2 onlyournals were


Russian Scientific L'ferofure

4 there. The Air Force, taking note of this and desiring to have as much of the literature abstracted as possible, set up withoint program for abstracting cover-to-coverelected journals of prime intelligence This program also continued until

By this time the number of scientific journals released by the Soviet Union had increased, and theloser and harder look at the increasing amount of material available. Information was beginning to appear on Soviet research and development In, or related to, the fields of atomic energy, guided missiles, electronics, automation and ABC warfare. There were now far more thanournals of prime interest. There was no question of the value of the information to intelligence; the problem was how best to handle it In order to serve the varying needs and analytical facilities of the several agencies.

Two separate methods evolved. The Air Force felt aneed to continue andover-tc-coverprogram, and therefore proceeded on its own to increase the abstracts coverage gradually, more than doubling theof journals regarded as of major departmental interest.

Other members of the community, lacking the facilities to sort and maintain files for tens of thousands of abstract cards per year,creening process performed. Accordingly, inIA began issuingonth,ervice of commonigest of information. This sizablesought to cover the entire range of Soviet Bloc scientific literature, sifting out all research reports of high intelligence priority and also providing news-type Items about personnel, organizations and activities in all scientific fields.

Although these efforts have focused on scientific journalsbest source of current Information, books have3 the Air Force began the abstractingscientific books received in the Library of Congressthis program*

The Current Effort


The foregoing historical sketch has traced the growth ofand activity on the part of US intelligence in theof Soviet scientific literature,ackground for correction of the misleading and erroneous publicity in tbe


Russian Scientific: Uierolute

US press on the subject following the advent of Sputnik. How does the picture look today, and how Is Intelligence being pro-Tided with Information from this source?

Russian literature of scientific interest is available today inournals speclflcolly devoted to scientific fields, anotherartially occupied with Items of scientific concern, and aboutdditional periodicalsibliographic nature In the scientific and technical fields. Of books and monographs there areer year available. In addition, two newspapers devote regular coverage to fields of science and technology.

The Air Force is abstracting all articlesf the journals. These abstracts are Issued in card form and disseminated to the Intelligence community. The Air Force also preparesof books received and available in the Library of Congress. Meanwhile. CIA is producing two digests in the scientific field-One, entitled Scientific Information Report, has the objective of providing condensed information, whether in summary,or abstract form, on subjects of highest priority interest to intelligence. This report, Issued twice monthly. Is the productomplete screening of all Soviet scientific periodicals. The other CIA digestompilation of items on International Oeophysical Tear activities. Because of the sensitivity ofInterest in KSY information, the rcjx-rt Is iMMd under Commerce Department cover.

These operations carried on within the intelligenceare specifically designed to serve intelligence purposes. However, some activities not so designed, and carried on outside the Intelligence community, also produce information which can serve intelligence needs. The intelligence operationsabove were therefore developed with cognisance of these others andiew to making maximum use of them and avoiding duplication.

For bibliographic and indexing service there is first Jhe Library of Congress* Mcmihiy indexussian Accessionshis publication gives the titles of all articles and books received. It la tbe bibliographic guide to all Soviettecluding scientific and technical items. In addition, two otherNational Library of Medicine and the Agriculturebibliographies which Include tbe

Russian Scientific Ufcrofure

literature in their respective fields; they overlap

the MTRA listings. All three publications are widely

There are also several specialized indexes. One tn theDepartment Library covers the field of veterinaryThis is in card files and not disseminated. Another,indexes In card-file form Information from Sovieton scientific Institutions in the USSR In addition,services cited below usually provide Indexes tothey have abstracted.

Abstracting is the most popular approach to scientificand there are numerous professional abstracting societies. Among the best known are Chemical Abstracts, Excerpta Medica and Biological Abstracts. These professionalpublish abstracts each in its own field, usuallyag of six to eighteen months from the publication date of the original source material. In addition, the Joint Publications Research Service has begun issuing translations of theproduced by the Soviets themselves and published in their abstract journal Rejerativnyy Zhurnal. These areof their own literature. The three series beingare chemistry, physics and biology.

With respect toather extensive program of cover-to-cover translation covering someoournals is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and theInstitutes of Health, and this is supplemented by work undertaken by commercial translating agencies. Translation of specific articles Is sponsoredide range of agencies and organizations,omplete monthly listing is issued by CIA In Its Consolidated Translation Survey.

In summary, now, what does intelligence have as athisirst. Itomplete listing andthe titles of all Soviet books and journal articles receivedcountry. Second, itigest of all journalon research related to the high priority objectives of atomic -guidedBC warfare and electronics, asall news about Soviet scientific organizations, personalities " activities. Third, iteview of each book or mono- cientific or technical subject Fourth, It has

T . -"

rather prompt abstracts of all articles tn therV

ifth, it has abstracts excellently prepared by the ^"


Soviets themselves on their own research In the fields olbiology, and physics. Sixth, itairly large volume of translations of Individual articles selected on the basis of particular interest At longer range there are availableprepared by the professional societies in their subject fields, as well as cover-to-cover Journal translations andof material in special subject categories

Intelligence then has available for analysis androad selection of the important information on Sovietobtainable from the literature. It docs not. of course, have an abstract of every articleranslation of every article. But that Is hardly necessary or even advisable.every piece of scientific literature put out by the USSR would fill anages per yearost of over six million dollars,ufficient number of linguists could be found to do the Job. The analytic handling of such an ^discriminate mass of material would be next to impossible.

What we need and what we now haveood alerting and screening mechanism for tbe exploitation of Russian scientific literature. This does not mean that every little kink has been worked out of the system nor that the intelligence community will sit back In complacency. At the moment, for example, Investigations arc being conducted on the feasibility ofdata on the guided missile industry in the Soviet Union by collation of fragmentary bits of information scattered through the literature in not obviously related fields. In its coordinated attack on these problems, the community willto monitor, through Its interdepartmental Committee on Exploitation of Foreign Language Publications, changes Inpractices in releasing information through open literature, indeed trying to anticipate them, and accordingly will take joint action to revise as necessary the system of exploitation or Its procedures.

Original document.

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