PROJECT NINOS

Created: 12/1/1963

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CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE AS SANITIZED

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STUDIES IN

INTELLIGENCE

A colleelion ol articles on Ihcperational, doctrinal, and theorciical aspects ol Intelligence.

All siaiements of faci. opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence arc those of

theey do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations

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History of an interrogation pro-

gram developed to exploit mas* repotriafton o/ 'v'il

Spanish

OS Lawrence E. Rogers

At the conclusion of tbe Spanish Civil War, some MODcitizens were stranded In the Soviet0 of them children nine to fifteen years old placed in "safe refuge" there by their Republican parents, ISO the adult nurses andwho accompanied them, and the rest student pilots sent by the Republican government for training. For the next twenty years the children and the pilots were treated not as foreigners ln the USSR but pretty much as guest citizens. They were relatively free to travel about the country, and they were afforded unusual opportunities for education and then for employment. Aboutercent attended institutes of higher learning, and anotherercent were givenor specialized training, half of these in scientific fields. On reaching adulthood they were offered full SovietOnly aboutercent accepted, but all were sovietized in education and in attitudes. Their only real ties to Spain were their families and the stories they had heard during their formative years.

Nevertheless, when6 these Spanish -citizens" were given the opportunity to be repatriated,0 lookof It. They arrived back In Spain In seven6 andlus an eighth lnFor tbe^Spanish governmentjthe Influxecurity hazard, formultitudinous potential source of Information on the Soviet Union. This common if somewhat divergent intelligencehe repatriates resulted in the establishment In1 qfsamm Interrogation een-tor in Madrid staffed representatives cf^0hbbi. government departmentsIAhead The unique Interrogation program lasted four

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years, covering0 repatriates and producing more0 positive Intelligence reports.

From Prototype to Productionthe first half year the Center had only one CIAla the tall1 three USUS. Army Interrogators were added.preliminary phase of the program, which lastediles were set up on all thebackground of education andoh lamed through Interviews conductedInortn^es^_workablcweresup-

port and manpower, and the first Interrogations were held. These were devoted to obtaining Information of sufficientand detail lo giveasis for evaluating the potential of the sources and determining what amount ofshould accordingly be put into the program.

A major obstacle at first to Washington consumers'of the significance of information the repatriates might have was the disappointing yield from exploitation ofBlue Divisionear or so earlier. Theseof the Blue Division, which Franco had sent to aid Hitler's armies on the Russian front, had spent eleven years In Soviet concentration camps, and because of their isolation andto the Soviets during their Imprisonment theirto Intelligence on the USSR was small Theamong consumers was to view the new repatriates In tbe sameiew that took some time to change.

The five interrogators added In the fall7 were put to work on several of the most promising sources, repatriates whose background indicated knowledge of the Soviet missile and aircraft program The reports produced from thesegave Washington the first solid proof that the repatriates could provide information in priority fields ofscience and technology. At about tbe same time,economic, and geographic intelligence analysts werelists tuTwrnnriring the background of several hundred repatriates,tudy of these lists Indicated that the sourcesotential value far greater than had been as-

sum id. The guided missile analysts were the first to takeol this discovery: theyelection of sources to be interrogated in the missile field and dispatched twospecialists to Madrid to provide requirements andguidance for the interrogations.

From August tohen, the Centerits efforts on the guided missile sources andby the newly-arrived requirements sr^ialisTOs

priority consumer interest For this purpose thespecialists were integrated into the Center's staff not as advisors but as full working members active in all phases of theselection of sources, the preparation and conduct of the interrogations, the reporting of theInformation. Initially they converted headquarters' general requirements Into questionnaires tailored for therepatriates under interrogation. They alsoeries of basic questionnairesumber of subjects of special interest to consumers, shaping them to suit theand experience of the repatriates and themethods used. They kept in touch with eachthroughout Its course, and they gave back-up andassistance to the reports officers who put theyield into form for consumers.

The function of the requirements section thus developed at this time as one of the cornerstones of the operationstandard for the remainder of the program. It reduced the need for constant requirements support fromrelieved the chief of the Center of many operationaland gave theocal point for all positivewhether in the form of source potential, the substance of Interrogation, or reported product

In8 it became obvious that if all thewho seemed likely to have useful information were to be questioned in any reasonable length of tune an expansion of the Center was necessary. During December additionalwere selected and assigned, and by early9 the Center had doubled In size. The number ofheld per month grew fromn8 tonndnnd the number of reports issued per month increased correspondingly from about 30

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requirements section, primarily on the basis of theot the information they seemed likely to have, they wereUmmons giving them ten days advance notice of the date on which they were toBut the number falling to respond to the summons rangedifth of some weekly groups to as high as half of others, and each name included In the call-in lists which turned outhether from failure to arrive or from refusal to cooperate, wouW^eanthe wastethree days each of mterrogator and requirement omcer time.

Another primary objective of the flow management, into minimizing fluctuations, was toalance In the composition of each call-in bat in terms of staffin requirements preparation and Interrogation. It was not practical, for example, to call In at oneargeof aircraft workers, because there were only two or three Interrogators with good qualifications for handling aircraft technology. But account had to be taken also of places ofand employment In Spain, of family and politicaland of economic conditions. It was wise to avoida hard professional Communist along with potentially good sources because his presence in the Center mightprejudice their cooperation. Sometimes it wasto call husband and wife together to promote theirduring interrogation, while in another case It woulderious mistake because they had opposing views onwith the Center.

Job demands, care of children, pregnancy, and Illnessor feigned were frequent reasons for not responding to the call-In In many cases it was difficult or Impossible for the police to find the persons cited in time because of changes of residence, absence on vacation or on trips, or residence In villages difficult of access.ew. mostly hard-coreIs, bluntly refused to come to Madrid.

One measure tried in the effort to offset call-in failures was toreater number than could be Interrogated,as this number could be forecast from week to week. But this would result at times In having to double upassignments or In keeping sources waiting. Double assignments werea few interrogators were capable

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Project Ninos

of handling two sources at the same time; and repatriates who had to wait their turn too long becamerotracted association while waiting with others who had been through the mill or were in process would onlead to tactics of evasion, the inventionecision not to collaborate.

The most effective way that was found to moderate theflow was^ maintain, as,long as it was,possible, alist of repatriates who lived In or near Madrid andcalled on shorter notice. When this reserve list ranfluctuation problem returned and was never

Processing and Reporting

Prior to the appearanceource at the Center the

quircments officer assigned to the case would prepare anoutline. Included In the outline were the basic facts about the source's fife in the USSR, the Intelligence targets on which he might be able to provide informaUon, summary statements of specific consumer Interests withto each target, the relative priority of the targets, which general questionnaires should be used, and any special questions This interrogation outline was then translated Into Spanish.

Reference materials on hand included the Industrial Register index of Soviet plants, technical Journals, reference books, specialized guidance on the missile and aircraft industry, and volumes of other guidance materialide range ofand technical subjects. In general, there was too much rather than not enough reference material, and ittorage problem. The only real deficiency was in maps of the USSR Repatriates could provide excellent detailedon specific localities, and detailed maps were needed to locate secret or restricted spots. The Center had greatgetting maps of adequate scale, but an even bigger problem was getting ones with notations in Russian or Spanish, particularly of the much-cited Moscow area.

On the assignment of the source to an interrogator, if the latter was from. team the Interrogation outline and biographic file were turned over to him for study and dis-

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cussion with the requirements officer, usually two to fivethe source was to"

equivalentrequirements officer,to his Interrogator. During thediscussions were held between theand the interrogator

usually at the mid-point and*5lertneconclusionoieaK

reviewed what had been accomplished, and If it was agreed that nothing of real sigruficance could be gained by additional questioning, the source was released.

On completion of the. Interrogatorinished reportnotes to

an editorial stan which turned themyped report and returned it to the interrogator for review. In general,spent half their time conducting interrogations and the other half working onroportion that worked out about right. The interrogation of an average source lasted from two to five days, and generally anwasew source each week. If anlasted only one or two days and produced nothing of value, the interrogator would beecond source for that week.

Whenrcgyci.flHavaaM hadhis report, it was lenl to the US. reports section for editorial processing and preparation In final form. After logging it, the reports section sent it first to the requirements section, where the requirements officer who had handled the case would review it, make sure it included all significant points brought out In the Interrogation, provide aevaluation of the worth and priority of the Irdormation, and Indicate any numbered headquarters requirements to which It was responsive. It was then returned to the reports section,ranslation priority assigned. Since the bulk of the interrogators- reports were initizens Uving In Spain had been hired under contract to help In the translations.

The reports officer gave the report an evaluation basedin reports memoranda from headquarters,past production on the same subject, and furtherwith requirements officers when necessary.rough translation was completed he put it intoand It was typed on mats for distribution toexcept that reports of marginal value were generallyto headquarters either in rough translation or .

a constant flow of reports was raamtamcd, and no largeaccumulated.

Results

the Joint interrogation program meant

prtoaru^aThonxigh and systematic attack on the security problem posed by the sovietized repatriates. But what were the positive fruits garnered. intelligence? On itspriority target, guided missiles, Project Nlfiosulk of Information of major significance. It obtained data on the successive stages of Soviet rocket engine development whichasis tor estimating rates of progress Indevelopment and production. It gave valuable newon the location of static testing facilities for rocket engines, guided missile testing and development centers, rocket engine production plants, and several surface-to-air missile sites. It furnished detail about rocket engine fuels andand identified many personalities In guided missile work. It gave the first Identification of several guided missileand production installations. It updated by eight years much of the previous Intelligence on the Soviet missileThe Project Ninos Information had an Immediateeffect on Intelligence estimates and also established substantial leads for further expansion of our knowledge in this field.

With respect to strategic nuclear weapons, the number-two priority, the repatriates did not have much Information of critical Importance; but they did give supportingabout Soviet nuclear power systems, the first data on an atomic-associated plant, and leads to new mformation on uranium mining and nuclear storage sites.

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On military aircraft, the number-three priority,turnedarge volume of information ofvalue in the preparation of estimates It reported ondetails and the production of Soviet fighterdetailed layout* of several aircraft developmentfacilities, gave the types and quantities ofat these facilities, and shed light on tlie aircraftsupport to the Soviet missile

Outside the top priority fields, the repatriates supplied val uable reports about the Soviet civil defense and shelter pro gram, military medicine, higher technical education, ant conventional military installations and weapons production They furnished geographic data such as town plans. The] had considerable information on Soviet strategiclocations and layouts, the construction of new facilities, anc the expansion of old ones. One group of returnees madt an extremely valuable series of detailed reports on the So viet electric power Industry, including facilities for power dis tributlon and its pattern.

The basic and priority Intelligence yield of Project Ninesbe useful for many years. Iteservoir ol Information that probably could not have been achieved in any other way. even at many times the cost In money and manpower. The guided missile Information alone, it ismore than paid for the entire project.

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