Studies in Intelligence 67, No. 2 (Extracts, June 2023)

Intelligence and Congress: The Story Behind the Unprecedented Open Testimony on Soviet Strategic Forces in June 1985

By Christopher A. Williams

Before today's public-facing persona of the IC became routine

It is now generally expected that senior IC officials will provide unclassified testimony and assessments on various topics of interest to Congress. Yet this degree of openness has certainly not always been the case.

This article is a retrospective on the groundbreaking unclassified congressional testimony in 1985 by two senior CIA officers, who outlined the threat posed by the Soviet Union's strategic weapons programs.

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  • In this image (courtesy of the Reagan Library), DCI Casey presents a major National Intelligence Estimate to the president and members of the National Security Council in November 1983. In 1985, the findings of such an estimate would be presented to a committee of Congress.