POLICY BIAS

Created: 12/1/1963

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STUDIES IN

INTELLIGENCE

A collection 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 authorsey do not necessarily rcflcci official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other 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.

A newcomer to intelligence takes an uninhibited look at thefinished product

POLICY BIAS Janet

The question or the extent to which the US. intelligence assessment ol foreign situations is biased by alreadygovernment policy toward themelicate one and in all its ramifications too complex to be broachedunior trainee like the present writer. But any student with access to the materials can sample one aspect of It by separatingarticular fairly clear situation and examining thefinished reports on it for signs that their objectivity has been Impaired by the policy makers' views. This isave done, taking as sample the National Estimates, articles in CIA's Current Intelligence Weekly, and State's INRconcerned with the situation In Portuguese Angolaeriod of about two years.

Here the established US. policy, first publicly declared by Ambassador Stevenson in the United Nations ins one of support for Angolan self-determination and ofto Portugal's resolve to keep the colony, whichprovince"vidence that the finished intelligence reports had been affected by this policy was found In their phrasing and emphasis, in their omission of factsfrom the field (by. and British attaches, the American consul In Luanda, and the clandestine services) which could be cited in favor of the opposing Portugueseand in their measurement of Portuguese performance against standards set up by the US. policy. In these respects the National Estimates showed the least anti-Portuguese bias, tho INR publications the most

National Estimates

Although the four estimates92he subject of Portugal's overseas territories seem to

Policy Bias

be for the most part objective, they doewof bias. In an NIE oft Is said that

Portuguese policyurious mixture of Indifference to the lot of the naUVe. half-hearted efforts to elevate him from savagery repression of all dissident voices, and cheerful assertion that In fact no problems exist

mspt this

with ob>ectlvTty7"lt is possible, however, since the estimate antedates the public declaration of. policy, that this is an instance of personal rather than policy bias.

An NIE of1 estimates that Salazar

may take some measures designed to give the Impression ofthe colonial regime.

This statement "implies, first, that no measures of reform had theretofore been taken, and second, that any reforms In the future would be made only In order to Influence world opinion. But reports from the field show that some reform measures had already been taken and that currently schools forare being built rapidly and public health facilities greatly expanded and improved. It seems clear that the Portuguese have concluded, whether reluctantly or not, that reforms must be made if they are to stay in Angola; and they areto stay. Given their lack of resources and theof the government at home and In Angola, it is not surprising that the reforms are neither sweeping nor rapid. But it is unrealistic to assume that what measures are being taken are designed only to impress international opinion The Portuguese have never been terribly concerned by ad-verso public opinion before, and it is unlikely that they would now base their policy on it.

Several passages in the estimates also leave an exaggerated impression of the "rigid, harsh, and penurious" conditions under which the average Angolan lives. Conditions inare far from Utopian for the African, but the field reports supply evidence that they arc not so bad as generally believed. This evidence is not presented in the NIE-s. On the other hand, it was only in an NIE, of all the finished reports,eference was found to the "unusual cruelty on both sides" in the rebellion,

Policy Biat

of the estimates' conclusions were the same ashave been reached by US. policyare likely to have continuing troubles inexample, and that reform will have to be considerablesituation is not to become explosive. One cannotthis is because policy Influenced intelligence,,

mteillRence.iiinuenccd poUJy&ui.lt. should, or because the evi> WWJW'^ jled both Independently to the same-

Current Intelligence Weeklies

Examining seventeen articles In the Weekly from2 covering the Angolanoundack of objectivity prior to the US. declarationbut beginning In1 thererejudicialof mitigating material contained in the field reports.articles there are several references to "brutalon the part of the Portuguese armed services andAccording to reports from State and Armythe scene, the attacks of the African terrorists havebrutal For example, one State despatch saidwere "killing white families, mulatto familiesAfricans who had not joined their movement with

and Impartialeports of African brutality have also appeared in the New York Times. This the Weeklies do not mention anywhere, leaving the impression that there was no provocation whatever for the Portuguese reprisals.

There Is also considerable discrepancy between the articles and field reports with regard to the extent of Portuguese bru-tality. In the panicky month following the uprising,to the latter, there were Indeed indiscriminate acts of cruelty and reprisal on the part of the Portuguese authorities and civilians in Angola, and some groups of innocent Africans were killed or driven from their homes in both official and vigilante-type actions. The reports go on to say. however, that since the Portuguese army moved into Angola in force there have been only isolated instances of such reprisals. The army officers in the north, feeling that the natives in that area had some reason for revolt, haveolicy of "psychologicalhey are laying out newwhere they can protect the natives, assisting in the

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57

rebels but* 34

Thus Portuguese policy is judged in the light of what. policy maker thinks should be donP in Anl i

58

They speak of Portuguese reforms with tongue In cheek and point again and again to the disparity between principle and fact in the Angolan society. Disparities are evident, butthe field reports are all wrong reforms are really being undertaken.

It is uiterestirig to see theer^cy betweCTi,^ : . reports ol the'rjonsul'm Luanda and the INR-

The consul is not all-out pro-Portuguese; he Is quite critical of many aspects of the policy in Angola. But he also brings out things that show the Portugueseavorable light, for example the steps toward economic and educational reform, the good race relations which obtained in Angolae stresses his conviction that statements about Portuguese brutality and the extent of rebellion have been greatlya conviction substantiated by reports from theand American attaches. But these points do not appear in the Department's intelligence publications. They are not explicitly discounted or denied; they are simply ignored.

Conclusions

ave been led to believe that intelligence should present and analyze tlie facts In any situation In as completelyay as possible, and further that it should present all of the relevant facts regardless of whether or not theyiven government policy. In varying degrees the publications on the Angolanxamined did not live up to this ideal but manifested an anti-Portuguese bias and disregarded information favorable to the Portuguese viewpoint reported from the field. On the basis of thethat was available toould therefore conclude that the intelligence community's coverage of the Angolan situation has not been completely objective and has notall the relevant facts. If this is true, it raises aquestion in my mind: If policy makers do not receivereports and objective estimates from the Intelligence community, to whom do they turn for them?

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