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CIA Sponsors Seminar on Assessing the Soviet Threat

October 24, 1997

Today, the Central Intelligence Agency sponsored a seminar on Assessing the Soviet Threat: The Early Cold War Years. Well-known scholars and former government officials met to discuss the extraordinary tensions and challenges that the Truman Administration faced during the years 1946-1950, especially in Europe and Asia. In connection with the seminar, The Center for the Study of Intelligence will be releasing 58 previously classified National Intelligence Estimates, totaling some 2,170 pages. To date, The Center for the Study of Intelligence has released more than 500 National Intelligence Estimates dealing with the Soviet Union and international communism. In addition, almost 11,000 pages of Intelligence Directorate analysis on the former Soviet Union are available to researchers at the National Archives.

Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet said, "Today's conference is illustrative of our commitment to release, whenever possible, historical intelligence documents that will contribute to a better understanding by the American public of the events that shaped American foreign policy during the Cold War."

The conference focused on a number of historical events, including the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the subsequent allied airlift in 1948; the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia; concerted and potent challenges by international communism in Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Iran, and elsewhere; the first Soviet atomic bomb test; the Chinese Civil War and Mao's victory in 1949; the North Korean invasion of the South in 1950 and the Chinese intervention in that war.

Among those addressing the conference were the Honorable Paul Nitze, Diplomat in Residence, John Hopkins University and Philip Zelikow of Harvard University. Ambassador George Kennan, in taped remarks to the conference, observed that, "I found the assessments, particularly in the period 1946-1948, to be, generally speaking, remarkably good. I would commend particularly the realism and restraint shown in the judgments of the Soviet military intentions and capabilities."

The value of these records to students of the Cold War is exceptional. In their time, many of these analyses were highly classified and sensitive and were at the center of the highest level of political and strategic and policy deliberations.

Copies of the National Intelligence Estimates will be available from the National Archives. Additionally, a volume of documents providing the first comprehensive survey of CIA's early analysis of the Soviet threat is available from the National Technical Information Service.

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 12, 2007 07:51 AM
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2008 12:24 PM