sfpiioved for4 cia historical review program
titlb: two witnesses for the defense author: harlow t. munson and w. p. southard
A collodion ol articles on Ihe historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol inlelligonco.
All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence arc those of die authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entiry. past or present. Nothing in the comenls should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.
An anahjtt view on the problem of lhe clandestine collector.
TWO WITNESSES FOR THE DEFENSE
Harlow T. Munson
Wc have read Mr. RurnpelmayVi statement of bis feservatiOQS1 and we feel both qualified and obliged to offer some testimony. We were the principal officers of two CIA groups which spent aworking separately on complementary ctudiei making reoonstruc-ttons of the Soviet venture in Cuba; neither of us bad been previouslyvtth Cuba, Our twohich considered tbe. same range of questions but different bodies of evidence, arrived at similar conclusions, which are far from Mr. Rvunpelmayera.
Mr. Rusrrpehnayers basicburden ofhat not enough credence was given to daaclestme reportingho strategic missiles, reporting which in hb view pointedoth to the dectslou to deploy them and to the actual deployment We will answer this first
The Clandestine Reporting
la the course of one of our two studies, the vast body of thismorexaminedThe reports cited by Mr. Ruropelinayer were mchrded lo this review. It was our Judgment that the bulk of this material could not bave been evaluated with confidence at tbe time unless Information were available from other sources against which It could be checked, and that there would have been no way to identify the "rare nuggets' among the "tons ofe found, indeed, that even in retrospect one couM not construct from tho clandestine reporting alone aaccount of the course of the venture.
With respect to Soviet Intentions, of the she reports disseminatedate of theare said to point lo those in 'nil iciT-ij. the first and sixth do point vaguely In that direction. But the first seems to be cancelled by the second (which
'CuW.JmAcAeo'* UleaAtJeUdT.nd TK. Sactd UieA Bom VetOvee In Cuba.
makes both look like reports of Cuban hopes, not Soviet Intentions, and moreover of hopes which would have lagged behind the actual agroeroeot by about threend tbe sixth does not specify tbe kind ol 'rocket project" (SAMs were known to be on theven if the source bad been known to be reliable (and be was not toeither report would seem to take tbe analyst as far as Raul Castro's public boast, in tba same period, that hit negotiation! with the Russians bad changed tha balance ol power fa theremark which precisely 'described tbe aim of mnroe base venture.
Similarly with respect to the actual deployment, of tbe ten reports died by Mr. Rumpelmayer under "signs of deployment* not onea source appraisal that would have commanded tbe credence of an analyst at the time. Three werendl; five carried no evaluation. The first four of tbe six disseminated before IS September would aot be accepted even now as accuratelyon deployment (although the third, datedugust,credibly preparations for receivingecause there is pretty good evidence that no strategic missiles arrived before mid-September.*
And ihe later reports (In addition to tbe good report ofugust) would bave had to struggle for acceptance, because all such reports had to be read in tbe light of the many false reports of previous months: there had been moreeports of Soviet missiles In Cuba beforend tbe many reports of constructionand equipment observed during die ipring2reas where SAMs were later discovered) bad been negated byof those areas during or after the reported period of observation.
*Oaa of tha fouiml* stghoar.baaa" later Ideeufitdort aiv*.
It wasuestion of "majority rule" but rather, asuestion of credentials, grounds for credence. Majority rule, with no attempt to discriminate, would bave produced an estimate favoring the large number of affirmative reports (long before the fact) over the smaller number of negative photographs. But the credentials of the two sets were very different As for discriminating among the reports themselves, Mr. Rumpelmayer makes dear, with respect to the single good aourcc of all of the reports cited as pointing to Soviet intentions, that It was only afterwards that he was checked outeliablether words, bis credentials bad not been
lis hod even to (he collector's satisfaction at tbe time. Wis there an> source with established credentials who was ignored?
atter of fact, these reports that could not be accepted without
corroboration were not Ignored, were not "setbey had loos:art of the reason for conducting systematic aerial reooo naroance of Cuba. And during September, when tbe reconnaissance flights were basically peripheral and did not provide thoroughof the island, those reports;did the beat tiring they could bave dooa: they JS offtocesiwhlch led tothe""DoDecriba ofevidence onctober, That Is, by Late September those making the decisions hadon the basis of the sharper and more credible- reports afterthe reasons for contenting ourselves with less than thorough coverage, there were better reasons foraximum effort; and this decision was vindicated by the first subsequent flight
The Sorter Attitude
Mr. Birmpelmayer puts his otherSovietthese terms: the Soviet leaders were willing to increase greatly the level of risk because the gains to be madeucoess-ful venture were sothey were prepared to withdraw "ifo take the second part of tbe proposition first, this Is manifestly false unless one assume* that the missiles were to be used solelyiirprise attack on the United States; their usefulness- for anything else depended directly on their beingn their presence being known when the taogiaui was completed.
Suppose we replace this second partormulation that many observers wouldthe Russians were prepared from the start to withdraw (as Mr. Rumpelmayer says later of the actualas soon as 'convinced that tbe United States was ready to act" But If we define the risk as the risk. military action against Cuba or the USSR, then the first part of Mr. Rumpelmayer's proposition is also false. That fa. If Biruihchev was confident that he would be given time tothe venture would be acceptedmere probinghe was not consciouslyigh risk of this kind
But what of the other kind of risk, the risk of failure,imulUring withdrawal In the face of an American ultimatum? As Mr. Rumpel-mayor puts ft, the Russians would not bave hadcontingency plan" if they had really been wrong about the. reaction."
Taking these words at face value. Khrushchev regarded VS.to fight as the probobU response, thus expecurf tbe venture to fad, in other words was one of those sports who fly Into Lai Vegas hoping for the best but cheerfully expecting to go homeime (or withhisot patently false; but tbe evidence does not support tt
Our two studies, cited above, agree Khrushchev recognized from the start that there was tome degree of risk of an American attack at one or another point In the venture but believed this "risk to be rmaJL' As wflness, the Russians were aware of US. reconnaissancebut cud not camouflage the strategic missiles or conceal their deplovnvent, left the MRBM rites Identifiableong period prior to the establishment of an IRBM capability (which would bave com-pleted thend did not employ their air defense system. reconnaissance aircraft. Moreover, they tent tbe missiles into Cuba after President Kennedy's firm and explicitarly September, without knowing that the pattern of reconnaissance was to be changed to their advantage.
Similarly, the two studies agree that Erxrusbcbev recognized from theossobiusy of failure but believed at least untilperlutpi untiltbe United States would probablu acquiesce and until late October tbat the venture could be managed to bis profit even If the United States did not aco^desce. He seems to havefrom tome of his statements before the crisis and his conduct during the week of the acknowledgedthat tbe United States would at mostlockade and could probably be tied up inhe course of which be could either complete tbe program (and thus Increase hit deterrent) or at least gain Urge concessions for withdrawal.
We agree with Mr. Rumpelmayer tbat Khrushchev bad to muchcontingency plan" for withdrawal But the character of the "plan" is one of our reasons for thinking tbat be did not expect to fail Much of hishe week of the crisis seemed improvised and erratic: be lied about the missiles after their presence had been established beyond doubt; be continued work on the bases while frantically attempting to pacify the United Stares; be threatened to run the blockade after ordering his skips to turn around; be warned that be would fire the missiles and at the tame time prooused not to;nsmittcd an explicit offer of withdrawalo in vision pledge before bansmitting his letterillingness to withdraw, he
For lhe De'eme
made his Cuba-for-Tuikey proposal after baviog unplfcsllyetter deal; and he finally accepted the proposal which President Kennedy attributed toapitulation at Castro's expense, without consulting Castro. This was hardly the smoothof one who bad been erpecring to be forced to withdraw.
Thus wo agree with Mr. Kent that KhrushcheveriousIn Judgment. Ife seems not to have recognized what American estimators recognized and, not unreasonably, expected him toIf Soviet fainsuccessful venture were to be so great, il was probable that the United States would recognize what was at stake and would act to deny such gains to fts principalfust as President Kennedy had repeatedly told him.*
The Real lessons
We too have some opinions as to lessons to be learned from the Cubanwhich if learned would reduce the pontbiliry of "misestimating the Sovietsuture case."
The lesson for thebvious: that he cannot expect his good reports to be recotpUzed and accepted at once If the record of reports from tbe same kind ofoor one,olfl Wolfl")
The lesson for the estimator might be this: toit more, regularly, for Khrusbchev'i disposition to wishful thinking and for his inclination to commit h'ff'ferious action without thinking fat through. Re seems to have just now (August) done Itaking and publicizing his arrangements for the meetings of the Communist parties.
For the analyst, the lesson might be to give Soviet public and private sUtcrnents the closest possible scrutiny, looking at them again and again until satisfied that all of tbe possible implications have been recognized. For example, the Soviet insistence on the formula of the defensive purpose ot the weapons ta Cuba seems to bave been ineans of inviting the United States to acquiesce in theunder this eupliemism. Similarly, some Soviet statements seem to have been implying an offer by Moscow (another observer has privatelyood case for this) to continue doing what it was
' kbruifetiev'i furore* lainaeu by tbe only oesdxl ucm toto kava preticiei BW daplaycf Bar sesaartpc nunuq inImpnj; the drift estimate, this daemt argued thai BjVosbcbevUrdrd by his ponlhW ralni as to be una bit to recognize trua level of the risb.
For me Defense
doing In Cuba but not to embarrass the AchxunistratioD by reocaling this until after tho VS.which time the program would bethe United States did not revealense of these imputations need not have led to the conclusion that the Russians did indeed intend to deploy strategic missiles In Cuba, but they might have placed monger quilifi cations oa the official kidgrnents of what Moscow was up to and might have led to earlier warning.
There may be lessons for the policy-maker too. One of these was apparently learned very rapidly and expressed in the decision of late September to restore the pattern of thorough aerialover Cuba. The lesson wasation might be embarrassed by the utili rationiven intelligence asset but might be destroyed by the failure to use it
Tbe other lesson relates to the adversary's reading. behavior. As tbe observer cited above was tbe first to remark, no American official (so far as we know) chose to question the Russians directly about this crafty formula of defensive purpott, tonowledgeable Russian official point-blank Just what kind of weapons were going intorestraint which may have encouraged Moscow tothat Its fa vita boo was being accepted. And there were other features of American behavior, toduding the failure to make areconnaissance efforteptember andctober, which could have been read by Moscow as todicaling tacit agreement-The policy-maker may be able to use more help than be normally gets In judging how the signalshings that ho is doing which may be taken asbe readOriginal document.