Intelligence and National Security ISSN: 0268-4527 (Print) 1743-9019 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fint20 What can intelligence tell us about the Cuban missile crisis, and what can the Cuban missile crisis tell us about intelligence? James G. Blight & David A. Welch To cite this article: James G. Blight & David A. Welch (1998) What can intelligence tell us about the Cuban missile crisis, and what can the Cuban missile crisis tell us about intelligence?, Intelligence and National Security, 13:3, 1-17, DOI: 10.1080/02684529808432492 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02684529808432492 Published online: 02 Jan 2008. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 780 View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=fint20 Download by: [University of Zimbabwe] Date: 10 August 2016, At: 03:29 What can Intelligence tell us about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and what can the Cuban Missile Crisis tell us about Intelligence? JAMES G. BLIGHT and DAVID A. WELCH The Cuban missile crisis is one of the most intensively studied events of all time. If our understanding of it stood in strict proportion to the shelf space devoted to it, then surely by this point there should be little or nothing left to know. But our experience, as two people who have spent more than a decade studying it, is quite the reverse: the more closely we look at it, the less confident we can be of our understanding. This is not to say that we have made no progress. Every year it is possible to say more about what actually happened in October 1962, and why. But for every question scholars answer, two or three arise or must be reopened. The story constantly evolves in complex and surprising ways.1 The mind reels with metaphors. Imagine Sisyphus opening Russian nesting dolls designed by M. C. Escher. The greatest obstacle facing students of the missile crisis has been imbalance. For more than 25 years, virtually all of the sources available to scholars were American. Only with Mikhail Gorbachev and glasnost' was it even possible to have an interesting conversation with knowledgeable Soviets about the crisis, and only very recently have Cubans begun to speak.2 Soviet archives have been open for a few years now, sporadically and incompletely, but Cuban archives, such as they are - this we do not even know - remain closed. Most scholars of the crisis are in any case themselves Americans, professionally and culturally predisposed to look at it primarily through the lens of American politics and diplomacy. It is therefore hardly surprising that most of the questions we have asked and attempted to answer concern the American side of the crisis. There are other dimensions of imbalance as well. Scholars of the crisis have tended to ask a great deal about the decisions and actions of national leaders (John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, and Fidel Castro, in that order), somewhat less about the preferences and activities of senior officials 2 INTELLIGENCE AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (cabinet officers, military commanders and so on), and very little about the activities of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and bureaucrats on whose decisions and actions, it now appears, the fate of the world may very well have hinged in 1962.3 We have paid very close attention to the high politics of the missile crisis, but relatively little to its seemingly mundane operational dimensions. Again, this imbalance reflects both the availability of sources and our natural interests. The works that first captured our attention were memoirs, court histories, or journalistic overviews.4 The first significant body of documents declassified in the 1980s focused on White House decision making.5 Relatively few have sought out information on the important minutiae of the crisis, and when they surface, they have had difficulty competing with high politics for our attention.6 For similar reasons, there is a great imbalance between the importance of intelligence in the missile crisis and the attention scholars have paid to it. Intelligence lurks in the background throughout. Virtually every interesting decision or action that has captured our attention has turned upon, or related in some interesting way to, intelligence and intelligence assessment.7 In that sense, the story of the Cuban missile crisis is a story about intelligence - its collection, analysis, use, non-use, or abuse. But for obvious reasons, goodquality information about intelligence has emerged slowly. Governments dislike revealing secrets. A comprehensive story of intelligence assessment in the Cuban missile crisis has never properly been told. It has not been the focus of a single major scholarly effort. There is a small body of literature on intelligence in the missile crisis, some of which is both fascinating and important. We briefly review it below. But it is overwhelmingly narrow and technical.8 It does not attempt to take in the big view: to compare, explain, and evaluate the organization, activities, assessments, and policy roles of the professional intelligence communities in the three countries most crucially concerned in the crisis (the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba). We believe the time has come to try to rectify this last imbalance. We now have enough of a critical mass of evidence and testimony to permit a first telling of the 'big view' intelligence story. Such is the primary goal of this volume. Imbalances remain. For example, while it is possible to document the American intelligence story extensively, the Soviet story can be documented only to a much lesser extent, and the Cuban story - while it can be told - cannot yet be documented at all.9 Within the available body of American and Soviet documents, there are notable gaps. Neither the US nor the Russian government has declassified details of signals intelligence (Sigint) in 1962, nor information on human intelligence (Humint) that would compromise certain by-now-surely-defunct sources and methods. INTRODUCTION 3 Nevertheless, working within the limitations of the available materials, we believe that it is possible to tell an enlightening and surprising story about intelligence in the missile crisis that must, in certain respects, make us once again rethink the event. Our purpose in putting together this collection of essays is not merely to enrich our understanding of the Cuban missile crisis by bringing intelligence 'in from the cold', however: it is also to see what the missile crisis can tell us about intelligence. While an irreducible element of mystery enshrouds the event, and while imbalances in sources remain, the Cuban missile crisis remains the most thoroughly documented historical encounter of all time. It presents us with a unique opportunity to reflect in an empirically rich way upon the collection, analysis, and use of intelligence from a comparative and longitudinal perspective. It is possible to identify a large number of crucial moments, issues, processes, tendencies, and patterns in the processing and exploitation of intelligence in the Cuban missile crisis, and to reflect upon them in unusual detail. It is always dangerous to generalize from a single case, of course. But the Cuban missile crisis is not your average single case. The intelligence story of the Cuban missile crisis is the story of literally hundreds of important individual judgments, and of almost constant interaction between intelligence professionals and national leaders in all three countries, over a period of time extending both well before and well after the famous 'Thirteen Days' of lore. We believe some very interesting insights emerge from a longitudinal and comparative examination of the activities and judgments of American, Soviet, and Cuban intelligence. We take these up in our concluding essay. A BRIEF HISTORIOGRAPHY For 25 years, scholars working with open sources could see but a glimmer of the workings of intelligence in the missile crisis. Memoirs and histories referred vaguely to crucial actions, reports or judgments of (almost exclusively American) intelligence at various stages of the confrontation, but the details remained classified. Beginning in the mid-1980s, however, documents on American intelligence began to appear in quantity, partly as a result of routine declassification, and partly as a result of requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act.10 In 1992, the Central Intelligence Agency's Center for the Study of Intelligence hosted the first scholarly symposium on intelligence in the missile crisis." This was an important milestone. It was the first opportunity for scholars and practitioners to discuss the performance of American intelligence against the backdrop of a significant documentary record. Soviet documents on the missile crisis began to appear in the late 1980s. Owing to political turmoil first in the 4 INTELLIGENCE AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS USSR, and then in post-Soviet Russia, Western scholars have had only patchy and sporadic access. They have mined some archives relatively well (most notably Foreign Ministry archives), and merely scratched the surface of others (e.g., those of the Ministry of Defense).12 Only very recently have scholars had access to KGB documents.13 Scholars are rarely deterred by limits on information, however, and for many years there has been active discussion of certain issues concerning the performance of the American intelligence community. Two issues stand out: the failure to predict the Soviet deployment; and the late, but ultimately timely, discovery of the deployment. The issue most widely debated is the failure of American intelligence to predict that the Soviet Union would attempt to deploy strategic nuclear missiles to Cuba in 1962. Had American intelligence predicted the Soviet move, the Kennedy administration certainly would have attempted to forestall it more energetically, through clearer and stronger deterrent threats, through active back-channel diplomacy, or both. Hence many are inclined to see this as a failure of the first magnitude.14 In a sense American intelligence certainly did fail policy makers by failing to estimate that the Soviet Union would attempt to deploy nuclear missiles to Cuba. But while the crisis might have been avoided had American intelligence anticipated the deployment, it would be a mistake to conclude that a crisis would have been avoided. Much would have depended upon how the Kennedy administration played its hand, and when. Khrushchev's motives for the deployment now appear to have been primarily defensive, reflecting deep anxiety about Soviet strategic nuclear inferiority and the vulnerability of Cuba to an American invasion.15 Khrushchev appears to have been deeply committed to his gambit, and insensitive to warnings.16 Counterfactual history is a tricky business, but our hunch is that Kennedy could have forestalled the Soviet deployment only by making clear his unwillingness to tolerate it very early in the game (not later than in the early summer of 1962),17 and only in conjunction with adequate and credible assurances designed to assuage Khrushchev's fears and insecurities. Since Kennedy was evidently unaware of Khrushchev's fears, and since Khrushchev was evidently deeply suspicious of Kennedy, it is difficult to imagine what carrots Kennedy might have brandished alongside his impressive arsenal of sticks. In any case, Kennedy did not need a formal estimate from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that the Soviet Union would attempt a strategic deployment to Cuba in order to take timely steps to prevent it. He could have attempted to send clearer and stronger warnings on the mere suspicion of the possibility. Thus it would be a mistake to place much importance upon this particular failure. What makes this failure titillating is that Director of Central Intelligence INTRODUCTION 5 (DCI) John A. McCone - unlike his analysts - did anticipate a Soviet nuclear deployment. Beginning in August 1962, McCone consistently voiced his belief within the intelligence community and at the White House that the Soviet Union was in the process of deploying strategic nuclear missiles to Cuba.18 McCone brought to his position no professional intelligence experience. His credentials as an anti-communist were impeccable, but he could claim no authority on the Soviet Union, or on Soviet foreign and military policy. The fact that a rank amateur got it right while the professionals got it wrong was a storyline too intriguing to resist, and one that could be pursued without much in the way of sensitive information. Hence scholars have paid it a good deal of attention. McCone's hunch, while correct, in fact rested upon a faulty inference. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) noted in August 1962 that the Soviet Union was deploying its most advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the SA-2, around the perimeter of the island, rather than simply around airfields and other vital military installations, and also that Soviet troops were taking elaborate measures to conceal the nature of their activities in Cuban ports. McCone concluded from these two facts that the Soviets wished to hide something of extreme importance from the United States, and decided that this must mean that they were deploying strategic nuclear missiles. But McCone's conclusion did not follow logically from his premises. First, there were many reasons why the Soviets would go to great lengths to disguise their activities in Cuban ports - for example, so as not to alarm the United States, or even the Cuban people, about the Soviet military buildup. Second, protecting strategic nuclear missile sites from prying eyes was not the only conceivable function of a SAM system: another was to defend the island from air attack.19 Third, it was natural for the Soviets to deploy SAMs around the perimeter of Cuba, since Cuba's geography did not offer any meaningful opportunities for defense in depth, and the United States, should it choose to mount an attack, might do so virtually anywhere along its vast coastline. Fourth, the Soviets had also deployed SA-2 missiles to Egypt, Syria, and Indonesia, and in none of those cases had they also deployed strategic nuclear weapons. Indeed, the US intelligence community expected that the Soviet Union would deploy SA-2 missiles to Cuba, precisely because it had done so elsewhere.20 Fifth, if the purpose of the SAM deployment had been to prevent American U-2s from observing the construction of strategic missile sites, the Soviets should have attempted to shoot down the U-2s that wandered over Cuba with impunity in September and October 1962. But they did not. McCone's instincts were good, but his reasons were bad, and while McCone's willingness to disagree with his analysts without interfering in their estimates may provide a good example of how a DCI should 6 INTELLIGENCE AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS intermediate analysis and policy making,21 his discrepant judgment holds no interesting general lesson for intelligence assessment and hardly seems worth the attention it has received. A second issue which has attracted considerable attention is the question of whether American intelligence should have detected and identified Soviet strategic nuclear missiles in Cuba earlier than it did (on 15 October 1962, on the basis of aerial photography taken the previous day). While American intelligence discovered the deployment in time to give President Kennedy and his advisors an opportunity to ponder their response and to seize the diplomatic initiative, nevertheless they did so quite late in the game. A common theme in this discussion is that political meddling or bureaucratic infighting hampered intelligence gathering: the CIA would have discovered the Soviet deployment earlier had Secretary of State Dean Rusk and National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy not tinkered with U2 flight plans, or if the CIA and the Strategic Air Command (SAC) had not fought for control of the missions.22 The latter is a non-issue, because there is no evidence of a bureaucratic struggle: SAC and CIA cooperated well in the transfer of responsibility once Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara decided that it would be wiser to have military rather than civilian pilots flying over Cuba, in case the Soviets shot one down.23 Thus the only real question here is whether Rusk and Bundy prevented earlier detection. This, too, is for the most part a red herring - less interesting to students of intelligence than to followers of sordid Camelot sub-plots.24 The Committee on Overhead Reconnaissance (COMOR) did seek permission to fly missions with extended routes directly over Cuba, and Rusk and Bundy did successfully lobby instead for oblique photography of Cuba from international air space, or peripheral missions that dipped into Cuban air space only for brief periods of time. This photography proved to be of relatively poor quality. But their concerns were well founded: Rusk and Bundy feared that if the Soviets downed a U-2 over Cuba, the United States would face international pressure to respect Cuban sovereignty and discontinue high-altitude surveillance altogether. They knew well that SA-2 missiles were capable of downing U-2s, because one had done so just the previous month.25 There was nothing improper in, and nothing irrational about, their insistence on caution. In principle, there can be a trade-off between caution in intelligence collection and the speed of discovery - although, just as plausibly, aggressive collection efforts may impede discovery, as would have been the case in 1962 had Soviet air defenses in Cuba shot down American U-2s, preventing photoreconnaissance of the island. But in this particular case, it is far from clear that had Rusk and Bundy not insisted upon a modification of flight plans, the United States would have discovered the missiles earlier. INTRODUCTION 7 Bad weather delayed for four days the flight that discovered the missiles, and the first site identified as a medium-range ballistic missile base was in a low state of readiness. Had a U-2 photographed the area even just a week earlier, crucial items necessary for a positive identification might not yet have been present. American intelligence did positively identify Soviet missiles prior to their becoming operational, which permitted the Kennedy administration to seize the initiative in attempting to secure their removal. For this reason, many consider this a major intelligence success.26 Failing to discover the missiles at all would have been a major intelligence failure, of course: the real question is whether the CIA should have discovered the deployment earlier. A full airing of this question requires looking at a much broader range of issues than the scheduling and flight plans of photoreconnaissance missions, as our contributors indicate in the pages that follow, and as we discuss at greater length at the end of the volume. The historiography of (American) intelligence assessment in the Cuban missile crisis, then, raises important questions about how intelligence can serve policy, but it answers them rather unsatisfactorily. It pays too much attention to personalities, bureaucratic rivalries, and enthralling storylines. The question that dominates the limited historiography of intelligence assessment in the Cuban missile crisis - what should policy makers be able to expect from their intelligence analysts? — in any case examines only half of the intelligence-policy relationship. Intelligence and policy always interact dynamically. Of equal importance are the questions, What should intelligence analysts be able to expect from policy makers? How should policy makers use intelligence? Intelligence cannot serve policy if policy makers do not understand it and treat it both with respect and with circumspection. National leaders are rarely passive recipients of information and analysis. In order to get what they want and need from their intelligence communities, they must also be willing to direct inquiry, to ask questions, to listen carefully to the answers, to ask for clarification on technical matters, to challenge, to prod, and to reward both good news and bad. They must also have a sense of the possibilities and limits of intelligence.27 These possibilities and limits are a function of the technical and organizational capacity on the one hand, and of the human capacity on the other, to observe, organize, and process information. On these issues, the historiography of intelligence in the Cuban missile crisis has largely been silent.28 THE DESIGN AND EXECUTION OF THE VOLUME To get a handle on these larger questions, we first sought to establish a common empirical baseline in the form of three essays - one each on 8 INTELLIGENCE AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS American, Soviet, and Cuban intelligence. We asked the authors of each of these essays to sketch the organization of the relevant intelligence community; to describe its interaction with national leaders; to discuss the sources and methods of their intelligence gathering; and to identify and examine important assessments, inferences, and judgments. We asked them to cover three periods: the period leading up to the acute phase of the crisis (i.e., prior to 22 October 1962); the acute phase itself (22-28 October); and the aftermath. Beyond this, we invited them to raise and discuss any issues that they considered to be of particular interest. We intended the three empirical essays, supplemented to some extent by additional primary and secondary materials, to provide the grist for two additional analytical essays — one on the politics and organization, and one on the psychology, of intelligence assessment. The purpose of these essays would be to bring relevant bodies of organizational and psychological research to bear on the empirical essays, in order to help us explain the particular judgments, inferences, and interactions of analysts and policy makers. We, in turn, would use the opportunity of our concluding essay to make some general remarks about the implications of these five essays for the history of the Cuban missile crisis, and for the study of intelligence. We were fortunate early in the process to enlist Raymond Garthoff to prepare the essay on American intelligence. It is difficult to imagine anyone better qualified to do so. Garthoff is one of the world's foremost scholars of Soviet military and foreign policy, and of US-Soviet relations.29 He also has extensive professional intelligence experience. Prior to the Cuban missile crisis, Garthoff was an intelligence analyst at the CIA. During the crisis, he served on the staff of Deputy Undersecretary of State U. Alexis Johnson (a member of President Kennedy's special advisory body during the crisis, the Executive Committee of the National Security Council or 'ExComm'). Currently a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, Garthoff is the author of several important books and articles on the Cuban missile crisis.30 There is no Russian scholar precisely analogous to Garthoff- namely, someone who combines academic and professional intelligence experience of the crisis itself - but we were extremely fortunate to enlist Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, historians at the Russian Academy of Sciences and Yale University respectively, to prepare the essay on Soviet intelligence. These two scholars were the first to gain access to KGB and GRU documents on the crisis, and their recently published book, 'One Hell of a Gamble', is the first and only monograph to make extensive use of them. We had considerably more difficulty enlisting a suitable author for the essay on Cuban intelligence. We had arranged for a senior official at the INTRODUCTION 9 Ministry of the Interior with extensive experience in counterintelligence to prepare the essay, in collaboration with a noted American Cubanologist, whose role it would have been to translate, and to provide background and context from the relevant English-language literature. In 1995, however, our contributor fell out of favor with his government, and temporarily disappeared from view.31 While we were attempting to reestablish contact, Cuba shot down an unarmed American aircraft piloted by the exile group Brothers to the Rescue over the Strait of Florida. As US-Cuban relations further deteriorated, Havana apparently decreed that no Cuban scholar or official should collaborate with us further. As luck would have it, however, a colleague of ours at the University of Miami put us in touch with Domingo Amuchastegui, who had recently come to the United States from Cuba, and who had extensive professional experience in Cuban intelligence, in the Cuban foreign ministry, and in the Cuban academy.32 Amuchastegui, who is now pursuing a doctorate in international relations at the University of Miami's Graduate School of International Studies, arrived in the United States without any documents on Cuban intelligence, but with a personal history directly relevant to our project, and with excellent contacts within the Cuban intelligence community. Amuchastegui notes forthrightly that the lack of documentation on Cuban intelligence represents a constraint upon his ability to corroborate his recollections and the testimony of those who helped him prepare his essay behind the scenes; but we are confident that readers will consider his essay an important contribution. We were equally fortunate to enlist the aid of two younger scholars working at the cutting edge of their respective disciplines to prepare the two analytical essays. James Wirtz, an Associate Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, is an authority on the organization and politics of intelligence. Wirtz is best known for his in-depth examinations of intelligence-policy dynamics in the Vietnam War." Beth Fischer, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto is an expert on the political psychology of international relations. Her close study of Ronald Reagan's dramatic shift in Soviet policy forcefully demonstrates the power of cognitive and motivational explanations of policy change vis-a-vis more common structural, domestic political, and bureaucratic explanations.34 The early drafts of all five essays proved to be even more interesting than we had anticipated (and our expectations were high). The empirical essays, which came in first, all made startling claims and advanced provocative, sometimes highly counterintuitive theses. On some points these essays corroborated each other, and on others they appeared flatly to contradict each other. They provided abundant material for the authors of 10 INTELLIGENCE AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS our two analytical pieces, who managed to place it in broader theoretical perspectives. In many respects, these essays were equally startling and provocative. We circulated drafts among the authors, immediately precipitating extensive, sometimes animated correspondence between them, as they sought to clarify or to challenge each other's specific claims and interpretations. This was an editor's dream. With each iteration, the essays became more tightly integrated, and the points of similarity and of difference came into ever-sharper focus. It was apparent to us that, collectively, these essays formed the basis of a deeper and more extended conversation. We began that wider conversation at the 1997 annual meeting of the International Studies Association in Toronto, where we presented several of the essays (then still in draft).35 We continued it at a symposium at the Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington DC, attended by professional intelligence officers, area specialists, and scholars noted for their work on related issues and approaches.36 In a weekend of freewheeling discussion with each other and with the other participants, the authors test-flew more refined versions of their arguments. What you see below are the final versions, in each case honed and polished to address the more important themes and concerns that arose at the Washington meeting. These are final versions, of course, only in a publisher's sense. We expect the conversation to continue, and we expect the arguments and analyses to evolve, especially as more and more documentation becomes available against which to check them. A LITTLE FORESHADOWING We will resist the temptation here to speak about what we believe to be some of the more interesting and important implications of these essays. We will have plenty to say about that at the end of the volume. However, we would like to foreshadow the three empirical and two analytical essays just a little, to help readers get their bearings and anticipate some of the important claims, disagreements, and remaining mysteries. In his essay, Raymond Garthoff examines the structure, processes, activities, and estimates of the American intelligence community in great detail, and in the course of so doing conducts a thorough review of the existing literature and documentation. Garthoff catalogues what he considers to be the strengths and weaknesses of the American intelligence effort, arguing that, on balance, American intelligence served national leaders well. Crucial estimates that the Soviet Union would not attempt to deploy nuclear weapons in Cuba, while incorrect, were nonetheless largely defensible, in Garthoff s view, even though American analysts were INTRODUCTION 11 insufficiently sensitive to Khrushchev's defensive motivations for attempting to deploy nuclear weapons secretly to Cuba. The discovery of the strategic nuclear missiles in Cuba prior to their becoming operational was, in Garthoff's opinion, an important intelligence success, because it enabled American policy makers to take timely preventive measures. American analysts did not correctly gauge the size or nature of the Soviet deployment at the time, underestimating the number of Soviet military personnel dispatched to the island by a factor of four, and failing to appreciate that the Soviets were in the process of deploying not merely strategic nuclear missiles and their supporting equipment, but a full battlecapable combined arms group of forces capable of mounting a conventional (and tactical nuclear) defense of the island. However, Garthoff argues, this failure was inconsequential to the management of the crisis. In fact, among Garthoff's more provocative claims is that it facilitated the resolution of the crisis: the American Congress and public, Garthoff suggests, would not have been satisfied with the public terms on the basis of which the crisis was resolved had they been aware of the true size and nature of the Soviet deployment. Ignorance may not always be bliss - but in this case, Garthoff argues, it was beneficial politically. In their essay on Soviet intelligence in the Cuban missile crisis, Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali paint a picture of the KGB, and of its relationship to the Kremlin, that sends chills up and down the spine. According to Fursenko and Naftali, the KGB was largely cut out of the decision making process leading to the Soviet deployment, and unable to obtain any good-quality information that would have been relevant to Soviet leaders as they attempted to anticipate and then manage the American challenge. Soviet intelligence suffered from a preoccupation with secret sources, failed to assimilate open source material, conducted little or nothing in the way of real analysis, and did not present the Kremlin with formal estimates. It was inefficient, amateurish, and ineffective. Incompetence and organizational norms can explain the poor performance of Soviet intelligence in the Cuban missile crisis to some extent; but much of the blame must rest with Khrushchev himself. Khrushchev disdained, distrusted, or failed to appreciate the value of intelligence. He proceeded with the deployment without any formal analysis of the likelihood that the Americans would discover it, and without any formal estimate of Kennedy's probable response if they did. Khrushchev preferred to conduct his own analysis, apparently under the misapprehension that the 'raw' information that found its way haphazardly onto his desk provided an adequate basis for policy. Domingo Amuchastegui's essay on Cuban intelligence in the missile crisis is, to the best of our knowledge, the only scholarly treatment of its 12 INTELLIGENCE AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS kind. It is, therefore, almost entirely news. Its novelty means that few readers will have expectations against which to decide whether or not it is surprising. Certainly we did not. And yet in many ways we found it to be the most engaging of the three. Amuchastegui describes a nascent professional intelligence community, cobbled together from various revolutionary groups, forced to find its feet and define itself under the most difficult conditions imaginable - in the context of an ongoing civil war, and an acutely threatening international environment. Threatened equally (though in different ways) by American hostility and Soviet friendship, Cuban intelligence performed creditably, given the constraints on resources and experience under which it operated, and given its dependency upon foreign technical expertise. The relationship between Cuban intelligence and the Cuban leadership appears to have been particularly complex. Most such relationships are complex; but Cuban intelligence, in the period leading up to and during the missile crisis, appears to have had unusual difficulty speaking Truth to Power - not because of any unwillingness to speak, but because of Power's unwillingness to listen. Of all three leaders in the crisis, Castro appears to have been the most willing to meddle in intelligence, and to circumvent and manipulate the intelligence process in accordance with his transient political needs. Readers will no doubt notice several apparent tensions and inconsistencies between the empirical essays. For example, Amuchastegui claims that, following the Bay of Pigs, Soviet intelligence systematically insisted that an American invasion of Cuba was imminent. This contradicts the account of Fursenko and Naftali, who maintain that during the same period the KGB issued no dire warnings to Moscow. Indeed, Amuchastegui notes that Cuban intelligence could itself find no evidence of a waxing American threat, and for this reason became suspicious of the motives behind Soviet reports. It is possible, as Amuchastegui suspects, that the Kremlin used the KGB to deceive Castro for ulterior purposes (e.g., to encourage Castro to accept a Soviet nuclear deployment); but this is a discrepancy whose resolution must await further documentation. Similarly, Fursenko and Naftali insist that Khrushchev neither informed the KGB of the missile deployment, nor tasked it to assess the likely American response. Amuchastegui, in contrast, credits the KGB with orchestrating an elaborate scheme of deception intended to mask the deployment - something the KGB could hardly have undertaken had it been in the dark. Interesting and important interpretive differences also arise in the three empirical essays. For example, while Garthoff is inclined to consider the American discovery of missiles on 15 October an important intelligence success, Amuchastegui interprets the CIA's apparent failure to discover the missiles earlier as evidence of incompetence or conspiracy. This INTRODUCTION 13 disagreement - which the authors have been unable to resolve in an extended correspondence - highlights the difficulty of establishing objective and exhaustive criteria for 'success' and 'failure'. What, precisely, should we reasonably expect intelligence communities to know, and when should they be expected to know it? This is clearly an important question for anyone who is interested in reflecting upon ways of improving the performance of intelligence. These are just a few of the many fascinating issues that arise within and between the three empirical essays. The two analytical essays add several more. James Wirtz argues that strategic position, degree of bureaucratization, and leadership style interact to induce characteristic policy dangers and intelligence errors. Wirtz applies an appropriate typology to the accounts given in the three empirical essays, and demonstrates how it can help us find deeper patterns in the seemingly very different experiences of the American, Soviet, and Cuban intelligence communities. Beth Fischer demonstrates how several misperceptions, misjudgments, and errors of inference - by intelligence analysts and policy makers in all three countries - fit well with certain postulates of cognitive and motivational psychology. Fischer argues that while many of the most significant errors made by national leaders may have their roots in emotional or psychological needs, the errors made by intelligence analysts more likely reflect simple information processing errors to which all people are prone simply by virtue of being human. Taken together, Wirtz and Fischer suggest that organizational and procedural changes may to some degree enhance the performance of intelligence and its ability to serve policy makers, but that these are ultimately limited by the human capacity to manage value trade-offs and to process information. There is much more to be said about these five fascinating pieces and their implications for our two subjects - the Cuban missile crisis and intelligence - but we believe that this will suffice both to whet the appetite and to orient the reader. Or perhaps we should say: to disorient the reader. We have studied the missile crisis long enough and deeply enough to develop a profound sense of wonderment that the world managed to escape disaster in 1962, because of the depth and extent of the mistakes and misunderstandings on all sides, and because of the bloomin', buzzin' confusion both within and between all three countries. The following five essays only increase that sense of wonderment, because they further attest to the idiosyncrasy, the incommensurability, the relativity, and perhaps above all the 'noisiness' of the US, Soviet, and Cuban experiences of the crisis. These essays require that we rethink our understanding of the event in important ways: but they equally strongly buttress our conviction that, in this respect at least, scholarship imitates life. Our own sense of the enduring 14 INTELLIGENCE AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS mystery of the Cuban missile crisis mirrors its profound mysteriousness to those who precipitated it, coped with it, and somehow extricated themselves from it. There are paradoxes in here - Escher-esque nesting dolls, for want of a better metaphor — upon which we reflect further at the end of the volume. NOTES 1. See, e.g., Len Scott and Steve Smith, 'Lessons of October: Historians, Political Scientists, Policy-makers and the Cuban Missile Crisis', International Affairs 70 (Oct. 1994) pp.659-84. For the purposes of this volume, we presume that the reader is familiar with the broad outline of events. For a useful detailed chronology (with sources), see Laurence Chang and Peter Kombluh (eds) The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: A National Security Archive Documents Reader (NY: New Press 1992). 2. For pre-glasnost' Soviet sources, see Ronald R. Pope (ed.) Soviet Views on the Cuban Missile Crisis: Myth and Reality in Foreign Policy Analysis (Lanham, MD: UP of America 1982). For post-glasnost' discussion, see Raymond L. Garthoff, Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis, rev. ed. (Washington DC: Brookings 1989); James G. Blight and David A. Welch, On the Brink: Americans and Soviets Reexamine the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd ed. (NY: Noonday 1990); Bruce J. Allyn, James G. Blight, and David A. Welch (eds) Back to the Brink: Proceedings of the Moscow Conference on the Cuban Missile Crisis, January 27-28, 1989 (Lanham, MD: UP of America 1992); David A. Welch, James G. Blight, and Bruce J. Allyn, 'Essence of Revision: Moscow, Havana, and the Cuban Missile Crisis', in Robert J. Art and Kenneth N. Waltz (eds) The Use of Force: Military Power and International Politics, 4th ed. (ibid. 1993) pp.234-61; and Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, We All Lost the Cold War (Princeton UP 1994). For the Cuban angle, see Philip Brenner, 'Cuba and the Missile Crisis', Journal of Latin American Studies 22/1 (Feb. 1990) pp.115-42; and James G. Blight, Bruce J. Allyn, and David A. Welch, Cuba on the Brink: Castro, the Missile Crisis, and the Soviet Collapse (NY: Pantheon 1993). 3. James G. Blight and David A. Welch, 'Risking "The Destruction of Nations": Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis for New and Aspiring Nuclear States', Security Studies 4/4 (Summer 1994) pp.811-50; Scott Sagan, The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons (Princeton UP 1993). 4. Most prominent among these are Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr, A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (NY: Houghton Mifflin 1965); Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy (NY: Harper & Row 1965); Elie Abel, The Missile Crisis (Philadelphia: Lippincott 1966); Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John F. Kennedy (NY: Doubleday 1967); and Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis (NY: Norton 1969). 5. The National Security Archive in Washington DC most actively pushed the declassification process, and maintains the largest collection of declassified US documents on the crisis. It and the Cold War International History Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC, are the premier repositories of primary information. 6. Good examples of detailed studies with important findings that missile crisis scholarship has yet to assimilate include Joseph F. Bouchard, Command in Crisis: Four Case Studies (NY: Columbia UP 1991); Sagan, Limits of Safety (note 3); and Gen. Anatoli I. Gribkov and William Y. Smith, Operation Anadyr: U.S. and Soviet Generals Recount the Cuban Missile Crisis (Chicago: Edition Q 1994). 7. David A. Welch, 'Intelligence Assessment in the Cuban Missile Crisis', Queen's Quarterly 100/2 (Summer 1993) pp.421-37. 8. The best and most detailed treatment is Dino A. Brugioni, Eyeball to Eyeball: The Inside Story of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert F. McCort (ed.) (NY: Random House 1991). INTRODUCTION 15 9. The Cuban government has released a few documents selectively in order to rebut, clarify, or amplify interpretations of newly released Soviet documents. None of this information directly bears on Cuban intelligence. 10. See note 5. For useful compilations, see Mary S. McAuliffe (ed.) CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis (Washington DC: Central Intelligence Agency History Staff 1992); Chang and Kornbluh; The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 (note 1); US Dept of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. X, Cuba, January 1961-September 1962 (Washington DC: GPO 1997); idem, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. XI, Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath (ibid. 1997). 11. Eric Schmitt, 'C.I.A. Holds Talks on '62 Cuban Crisis', New York Times, 20 Oct. 1992, p.A4(N); Karl E. Meyer, 'Inside the C.I.A.: A Bit of Sunlight on the Missile Crisis', ibid., 24 Oct. 1992, p.14(N). 12. For overviews of Soviet archival research, see James G. Hershberg, 'Soviet Archives: The Opening Door', Cold War International History Project Bulletin no.1 (Spring 1992) pp.1, 12-15, 23-7; Mark Kramer, 'Archival Research in Moscow: Progress and Pitfalls', ibid. no. 3 (Fall 1993) pp.1, 18-39; James G. Hershberg, 'New Evidence on the Cuban Missile Crisis: More Documents from the Russian Archives', ibid. nos. 8-9 (Winter 1996/97) pp.270-343. 13. The first major work to make extensive use of Soviet intelligence documents is Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, 'One Hell of a Gamble': Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-1964 (NY: Norton 1997); see also Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, 'Using KGB Documents: The Scali-Feklisov Channel in the Cuban Missile Crisis', Cold War International History Project Bulletin no. 5 (Spring 1995) pp.58, 60-2. The first symposium to discuss this material was held in conjunction with the preparation of this volume in Washington DC, 5-7 Sept. 1997, and was sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Cold War International History Project, and the Kennan Institute (see p.10). 14. Raymond Garthoff surveys the relevant literature in his essay, below. Cf. also Klaus Knorr, 'Failures in National Intelligence Estimates: The Case of the Cuban Missiles', World Politics 16/3 (April 1964) pp.455-67; and Roberta Wohlstetter, 'Cuba and Pearl Harbor: Hindsight and Foresight', Foreign Affairs 43/4 (July 1965) pp.691-707. 15. There are reasons to believe that overly aggressive deterrent signaling might simply have intensified Khrushchev's risk-taking. See, e.g., Blight, Allyn, and Welch, Cuba on the Brink (note 2); Lebow and Stein, We All Lost the Cold War (note 2). 16. See the discussion in the essay by Beth Fischer, later in this volume. 17. Raymond Garthoff argues similarly in his essay later in this volume (pp. 21-22). 18. See, e.g., Peter S. Usowski, 'John McCone and the Cuban Missile Crisis: A Persistent Approach to the Intelligence-Policy Relationship', Int. Jnl of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 2/4 (Winter 1988) pp.547-76. Others who were convinced that the Soviet Union would deploy or was deploying strategic nuclear weapons to Cuba included former Vice President Richard Nixon and Sen. Kenneth Keating (R-NY). Keating's charges that the Kennedy administration was allowing the Soviet Union to establish a major nuclear capability in Cuba were a constant irritant to the White House. It remains unclear whether Keating had any hard information on the Soviet deployment, and, if so, where he obtained it. See Mark J. White, The Cuban Missile Crisis (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan 1996). 19. As Fischer discusses in her essay later in this volume, the difficulty American officials had imagining that the Soviets could have defensive motives for their military deployments in Cuba may help explain oversights of this kind. 20. Brugioni, Eyeball to Eyeball (note 8), p.99. 21. Usowski, 'John McCone and the Cuban Missile Crisis' (note 18). 22. Brugioni, Eyeball to Eyeball (note 8), p. 164; Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston, MA: Little, Brown 1971) pp.122-3. 23. The Stennis Report concluded that there was 'no evidence whatsoever to suggest that any conflict between the CIA and SAC existed or that there was any delay in photographic coverage of the island because of the fact that the U-2 program was being operated by the CIA prior to 14 October. Likewise there is no evidence whatsoever of any deadlock between the two agencies or any conflict or dispute with respect to the question of by whom the flights should be flown.' Allison, Essence of Decision (note 22), p.307 n.90. See also Brugioni, 16 INTELLIGENCE AND THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS Eyeball to Eyeball (note 8), pp. 154-5, 181. 24. Chroniclers of Camelot closest to the president - most notably, Robert F. Kennedy, Theodore Sorensen, and Arthur Schlesinger - have repeatedly characterized Rusk and Bundy as overly timid, indecisive, ineffective, and obstacles to crisis management. Rusk appears to have been the target of deliberate character assassination. 'At first [Rusk] was for a strike; later he was silent or absent. He had, Robert Kennedy wrote laconically in Thirteen Days, "duties during this period of time and frequently could not attend our meetings." Privately, Kennedy was less circumspect. Rusk, he thought in 1965, "had a virtually complete breakdown mentally and physically".' Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, Robert Kennedy and His Times (NY: Ballantine 1978) pp.546-7. The evidence does not bear this out. Rusk played an active and constructive role throughout the crisis. See., e.g, David A. Welch and James G. Blight, 'The Eleventh Hour of the Cuban Missile Crisis: An Introduction to the ExComm Transcripts', International Security 12/3 (Winter 1987/88) pp.5-29, esp. pp.22-3; and Ernest R. May and Philip Zelikow, The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP 1997) passim. 25. On 8 Sept. 1962, the People's Republic of China shot down a 'Nationalist' U-2 over the mainland. On 1 May 1960, another SA-2 brought down a U-2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers over Sverdlovsk, deep inside Soviet territory. 26. See, e.g., Garthoff, in this volume. 27. John Macartney, 'Intelligence: A Consumer's Guide', Int. Jnl. of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 2/4 (Winter 1988) pp.457-86. 28. Notable exceptions include Klaus Knorr, 'Failures in National Intelligence Estimates: The Case of the Cuban Missiles', World Politics 16/3 (April 1964) pp.455-67; and Roberta Wohlstetter, 'Cuba and Pearl Harbor: Hindsight and Foresight', Foreign Affairs 43/4 (July 1965) pp.691-707. While the historiography of American intelligence has been preoccupied with interesting characters and storylines, it is nevertheless much better than the meager historiography of Soviet intelligence. Prior to the publication of Fursenko and Naftali's 'One Hell of a Gamble', the only substantial work on Soviet intelligence and the missile crisis was Jerrold L. Schecter and Peter S. Deriabin, The Spy Who Saved the World: How a Soviet Colonel Changed the Course of the Cold War (NY: Scribner's 1992) - a narrow and sensationalistic treatment fraught with errors. The historiography of Cuban intelligence assessment in the missile crisis is non-existent. 29. See, e.g., Raymond L. Garthoff, Detente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan, rev. ed. (Washington DC: Brookings 1994); and idem, The Great Transition: American—Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (ibid. 1994). 30. Raymond L. Garthoff, Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1st ed. (Washington DC: Brookings 1987); idem, 'Cuban Missile Crisis: The Soviet Story', Foreign Policy no. 72 (Fall 1988) pp.61-80; idem, Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis, rev. ed. (Washington DC: Brookings 1989); idem, 'The Havana Conference on the Cuban Missile Crisis', Cold War International History Project Bulletin no. 1 (Spring 1992) pp.1, 3; idem, 'Some Observations on Using the Soviet Archives', Diplomatic History 21/2 (Spring 1997) pp.243-57. See also Detente and Confrontation (note 29), which deals extensively with the various 'mini-crises' that have complicated US-Soviet-Cuban relations since the Cuban missile crisis. 31. While he later resurfaced, he did so too late - and in an inappropriate institutional capacity — to contribute to our study. He has since fallen from grace once again. 32. Amuchastegui provides a more extensive biographical sketch in n. 3 of his essay, below. 33. James J. Wirtz, The Tel Offensive: Intelligence Failure in War (Ithaca NY: Cornell UP 1991); idem, 'Intelligence to Please? The Order of Battle Controversy During The Vietnam War', Political Science Quarterly 106/2 (Summer 1991) pp.239-63. 34. Beth A. Fischer, The Reagan Reversal: Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War (Columbia, MO: U. of Missouri Press 1997). 35. The panel was co-sponsored by the intelligence studies section of the ISA and the Canadian Association of Security Intelligence Studies (CASIS). 36. See note 13, above. Other participants included Wayne S. Smith, political officer in the US embassy, Havana (until 3 Jan. 1961, when the US broke relations with Cuba), and later INTRODUCTION 17 Director of Cuban affairs and special assistant to Adolf Berle, President Kennedy's special envoy for Latin American affairs; Brian Latell, currently director of the Center for the Study of Intelligence and a career CIA Latin Americanist specializing in Cuban affairs; Samuel Halpern, executive assistant to William K. Harvey, director of Operation 'Mongoose'; Gen. William Y. Smith (USAF, ret.), special assistant to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, 1961-64; Oleg T. Daroussenkov, special assistant to Cuban Minister of Industries, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, 1961-1962, as well as former staff member and interpreter in the Soviet embassy in Havana and, later, director of Cuban affairs in the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; Thomas Blanton, National Security Archive, Washington DC; Philip Brenner, School of International Service, The American University, Washington DC; Malcolm Byrne, National Security Archive; James G. Hershberg, Department of History, George Washington University, Washington DC; Peter Kornbluh, National Security Archive; janet M. Lang, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University; Kathy N. Le, Watson Institute for International Studies; Richard Ned Lebow, Department of Political Science and the Mershon Center, the Ohio State University; John Prados, National Security Archive; Wesley Wark, Department of History, University of Toronto; David Wolff, Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC; and Vladislav Zubok, National Security Archive.
© Copyright 2021 Paperzz