Jeffrey LewisCIA Declassifies 1948-1972 NIEs on China

The CIA has partially declassified “over seventy National Intelligence Estimates on China covering the period 1948-76.” The Agency claims this is “the largest such release ever made at one time.” The documents were also published in a book and CD/ROM entitled Tracking the Dragon: Selected National Intelligence Estimates on China, 1948-1976 and were the subject of a major international conference.

My initial reaction, based on a quick look at a couple of documents, is that the release is a real goldmine, particularly the 1972 and 1974 estimates on China’s Strategic Attack Programs.

I give the agency credit, at least in the 1974 document, for publishing their own massive overestimates of future Chinese deployments. At a time when the GOP has made the intelligence community a scapegoat, the Agency has the churchbells to release an NIE that had some pretty foolish predictions—30 ICBMs and 4 nuclear submarines by 1980—in the name of scholarship. Hats off.

Now I have to finish this book chapter for Goertz or he is going to kill me.

Please note that ArmsControlWonk will slow down a bit (again) as I travel to New York for the panel on “Prospects for Peace and Security in Outer Space” (October 21, 1:30-4:00 pm in UN Conference Room B) and Greg migrates the wonk site from Blogger to Text Pattern.