CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM
TITLS: The Pitfallatin Quirk
VOLUME: 7 ISSUE:
A collection of 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 official positions or views of thetelligcnce 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.
Recurrent problem for the analyst who follows south-of-the-boraer restlessness.
THE PITFALLATIN QUIRK M. E. O. Grayalos
rJr'intnffronV time to^atin national
osition to know- to the effect that event* In his coun-
M n atpresident!*
demanded of the area specialist. The analyst whose expW
roueht contact wS Sounlfeence-men whose back f'? fart'cu'w familiarity withc-Soviet problems-and it fa ofton wtremriyor him to explain to them hfa grounds for recom-
During thes, toreries of cables were received from Bolivia reporting conversations among leaders of he anti-Marxist opposition to the government.leaders declared that their plans for violent overthrow of the government were well under way and told of the mih-
qUOled WCre to facl leaders of the mostgroup. The conversations reported wereno revolutionary attempt was made. Analysistters aLso ^ew-that they
In Venezuela some months after the overthrow of theJimenezew cabinet was installed.dayseport of undoubted authenticityonversation heldember of the
A latin Quj,t
Venezuelan Communist Party's boss triumvirateoviet citizen attached to the Soviet embassy in Mexico.had no Sovietn the course ol the conversa-tlon the Venezuelan Communist leader told the Soviet reo-resentatlve that three members of the new cabinet were dues-paying Communists.
Because of the strategic and domestic political importance of Venezuelan petroleum, events after the,overthrow ol tlie Perez Jimenez dictatorship had been followed in exceptional detail. One could not of course exclude the possibility that three cabinet members were sleepers, but the information available made it seem doubtful. Because the analyst had to admit the authenticity of the report, however. It was difficult for him to explain his reservations about its truth. In fact, as It turned out, the Venezuelan Communist had been grossly exaggerating his hopesoast before the Soviets.
More recently, an authentic report was receivedlose associate of Brazilian Marshal Denys. whose antl-Goulart plotting had been under observation for some months. It said that the Marshal would moreew days to overthrow the Goulart government by revolutionary action. The source of the report waslot against thewas known to be underwas of greatinterest because of Ooulart's leftward trend; and the action was reported imminent. Nevertheless, the report was found Inconsonant with other evidence. The fact was that the source wasope as if itlan.
The Latin American tendency to express the most nebulous of ideas in an extremely positive fashion and describe dreams as If they were reality makes It difficult for the analyst himself to assess an unexpected report. He can never be surewhether he hasarticular instance an example of this tendency.
The phenomenon would actually be easier to deal with In respect of making one's doubts understood if it happened more often. But the field reporters eliminate most occurrences by checking for additional information when there is time. This very fact leaves the analyst to encounter the problem almost exclusively under intense deadline pressure. He can only hope that those who have the last say in intelligencewill retain his due caution in putting out the reportOriginal document.