tv American Artifacts CSPAN October 8, 2016 10:00am-11:01am EDT
opportunity before i took this job to look for the center of intelligence and how subsequent administrations to these, specifically the three administrations before mr. obama's, had dealt with the president's daily brief. i had good oral histories of the cia. what struck me about those oral histories is the senior official that testified on the point like the pdb's, but they like to the briefers better. they were an introduction, and entree to conversation. ,they could ask questions, get more information. a reminder that when we focus on the pdb's as documents, it is about process, not points. it is about the process over
time. indeed, the cia has a wonderful study of intelligence success. though in fashion to typical to our community, it is classified. it talks about the various intelligence analyses. what it makes clear is that the successes resulted not from a sparkling single analysis from a -- but from a process over time where intelligence analysts could better understand what policy people needed, and policy people could calibrate and direct to some extent with the intelligent analysts work on. it is a process that i think raises two questions that were themes this morning. one is, you can imagine lots of possible ways that we intelligence could support presidents daily. so what is the best way? in particular, how best to manage the balance between immediately tactical, reporting
information and more strategic thinking? my role at the national intelligence council is meant to be very strategic. we are dominated by current intelligence. our challenge is trying to think, how do we get the balance right between current tactical support and more strategic analysis? i think it raises a second more general issue for the future, what is the future of relations between intelligence and policy in the digital age? the famous dumb ipad came up earlier. soon, policy seniors, including presidents, will want not a dumb ipad, but a live ipad so they can have a 24/7 conversation. already, my australian counterpart said his prime minister is disappointed in him because the prime minister gets up in the morning, gets on the pda and starts talking to the cabinet ministers, but he can't
talk to intelligence. he has to wait and go to some special room. i think that will change, but it will be interesting to think about those future developments in light of this rich history we are going to discuss now. i will go in the order of the program. david robarge, for cia. david? [applause] david: this event mirroring the pdb's of nixon and ford gives us an excellent opportunity to underscore a point about the relationship between central intelligence, the pdb process, and the white house. it is up to the president how it is going to be run. there is nothing in the national security acts of 1947 setting up cia and the national security
council that says the intelligence process will be a certain type. it is strictly up to the president, whether he is interested in intelligence, thinks it is important, wants to use it, advising against us, considers it irrelevant, as other sources, that is up to him. the extent to which the agency, over the years, and now the dni in collaboration with the agency and other community elements, has tried to tailor the product to the president's needs is a fascinating story. you can see by scanning through the documents in today's release how the pdb itself as a product has changed. behind the scenes is an important story, as dr. turgeon says, a process. how they integrated the pdb into their intelligence below, who -- intelligence flow. who managed the intelligence flow. what thertantly,
agency tried to do to strike a balance between what the agency thought and needs to tell the president and what the president wants to hear from the agency. they certainly are not the same things by any stretch. today we have the opportunity to look at two very different presidents running two very different administrations. i would refer to richard nixon as a hostile audience and gerald ford as an eager consumer. you can hardly take 2 just to physicians -- 2 juxtapositions more starkly. nixon's trust is well-established. as a mirror of what the agency was getting into, during the transition when richard nixon set up headquarters in new york city, intelligence was wired to our outpost there called ddi new york. it included analytic products and such.
when the operations closed down before the inauguration, all of the items were returned in envelopes that had never been opened. the point is, henry kissinger, as he said am a wanted to make sure that no agency had particular entree to president-elect nixon. kissinger wanted to control all of the intelligence flow, and he didn't want the agency trying to sell itself as the premier actor in the intelligence community. he also had a number of complaints about the pdb as a document. literarily, he thought that the style of it was elliptical, the articles were too brief, the coverage was spotty, it did not it to the key issues. he once referred to in article on panama as a worry for the assistant secretary of state, not the president of the united states. he also wanted to change the whole daily process of the pdb arrival. previously as the pinnacle, the
pdb would arrive in the morning. for a brief time, johnson got in the afternoon, but that he change it to the morning. he wanted to watch it with the tv shows. kissinger, as an indication of how he wanted to control everything, said i wanted delivered in the afternoon so i can mix it together with all the other intelligence i collect from the white house situation room and other sources, and then i will put it together into a morning briefing for the president and give it to him myself. so, an important point here is that we have no morning briefing until gerald ford, which i will get to in a little bit. and kissinger said that nixon wanted the pdb to go to the attorney general. this has nothing to do with law enforcement or terrorism because mitchell was a political advisor to nixon, and kissinger thought it would be useful for mitchell to be able to advise the president on the political implications for these foreign events. also, mitchell told kissinger
that nixon was a lawyer, and he wants facts and analysis separated. he wants the facts first and then the analysis second. previously, they had been somewhat integrated in the structure of the articles. we go through pdb's, you go through them tonight, you see the structure of the articles is very much just the facts, and then the analysis. this even went so far later that the agency thought, maybe we should highlight those by distinguishing them typographically. so you have italics for analysis and regular font used for the so-called main facts of the story. also the pdb is restructured , from the one johnson had, and i suggest you go back to the previous release with how the -- release and do a comparison to how the structure changes. it would be divided up into major developments, other important developments and , annexes in a very important
format. nonlegal pads, it became it developed a top binding. he could look it over just like a legal pad. this is an example of how the agency, historically, has tried to proactively tailor the product to the presidential needs. to look, the feel, the delivery times, all of that has changed. the circulation of the document itself is up to the president. johnson had it delivered to 10 people before he left office. nixon cut that back to six, and then up to nine. sometimes in the pdb history it has gone to as many as 2.5 dozen individuals outside of the immediate circle. in other cases, it has been close held. again, entirely up to the president. the key point from the relationship perspective is that the pdb under nixon lost its standalone quality. it was no longer the thing that
went to the president each morning albeit by delivery from , the cia, with discussion between the president and national security advisor or just the president reading it himself. the way kissinger ran the intelligence process here is he would take that document, let it sit for 12 hours, constantly updating it with situation room material and other traffic then prepare a national security memo that he, kissinger, took to the president for a one-on-one briefing. cia is out of the picture. none of the items were tagged specifically to pdb. at the start of the administration, we are out of the process document terribly. we are also out of the process arily.ument we are also out of the process
of feedback because there is no continual back and forth between the white house and cia. kissinger's with a said, you are in the workstyle, slammed the door shut, cook up something, and then spring it on the policy community. cia is not involved, you are not telling them what you want in the book, you are taking it as it comes and going from there. as a result, the pdb is growing ever more useless overtime in the nixon administration. and dci's presence is lacking as well. richard nixon was not interested in dealing with the meetings. the briefing would become less important. in -- relation much of that is superseded with the looming impeachment. but the agency tried to do in response to a request from bob holman who did get involved with
the process of it was dry to pre-craft this. instead of redrafting the document, they cooked up something called the presidential intelligence crafting p or do will see those in the documents. they are almost entirely redacted, but the key was to make sure the document was relative, respond to what the president wanted. it did not work. it lasted 10-months. soon, the relationship becomes superseded by the watergate scandal and looming in each meant. onto the scene comes gerald ford, the eager consumer. you have a night and day change. reset sensitivity, replace hostility. and henry kissinger's flow diminishes. this goes back to when ford was vice president.
he had working knowledge of cia current intelligence projects because he had been introduced to them when bill colby gave him a tour of cia headquarters. he mentioned the pdb. ford asked to see it. he showed it to him. ford said i want to see it if i becomesresident here he president and says i want a daily briefing, the pdb front and center on the one of your people having that conversation with me about the document. kissinger was not thrilled, but he remembered who he worked for. ford dead we are having the briefings whether you like it or not. it is an interesting change in the atmosphere of the process. nowadays, and for many years in when it, including started as an analyst over a quarter century go, this was the be-all, end-all of the agency. hundreds of people in the building every day would be spun
up about putting something in the pdb, responding to presidential tasking's, getting it in the books, and doing it again seven days a week, with the exception of sunday. this tempo is different. jfk would get the pickle in the lookng, maybe look at it, through it through the day. johnson is similar peered you see the picture of him reading .t to his grandchild before bed a very different atmosphere. with ford you are seeing a tempo change. the reason is the briefer is at the white house and daily communication with the situation room. after leaving the briefing he goes to the situation room, tips them off on what the president was interested in so they can watch it for 24 hours, and
inform the cia. they are taking tasking back to the cia. then it goes back to the white house in a symbiotic relationship. this is unprecedented in the history of the pdb. it is what the cia likes. it is getting the immediate response to the premier presidential product. you'll see the harm that of the four book changes. it retains the same legal size, but after the initial effort to essays, longer events you may not have been familiar with. it does include explanatory annexes and longer essays. mainly for upcoming events or summaries of national intelligence estimates. ends drastically in 1975 when, with the campaign for 1976, the white house staff, now
, decide thatcheney the president needs to spend less time on intelligence and more on winning the election. they say you should cut back on the daily briefing and just get the book delivered by brent scowcroft, the person who replaced kissinger as that role. kissinger was still the secretary of state. he talks to brent about it, he will get back with anything to say, feedback. the dci is not involved. colby stayed out as well as dci bush, when he becomes dci 1976. this is not good to the agency. we are ultimately dissatisfied with it, but we work for the president, and we have to go by these preferences in this process. but you can see the excellent
essay in the back of the book, there is no substitute for direct access. to sum it up, and i will turn it over to our experts who will talk about the content itself expectations, he writes there is not until george bush is in the oval office that the cia would establish with a president a working relationship as fruitful as the one he enjoyed during the first half of the ford presidency. documents.h the they are educational and fascinating in substantive terms . look for them as signals of the relationship tween the cia and the white house, one of the most important relationships inside of the u.s. government. i will turn it over to my colleagues. thank you. [applause]
gregory: next is erin mahan, historian of the secretary of defense. erin: good afternoon. i am honored to join this distinguished panel of historians. i wish to thank the cia and library for their invitation. dr. robarge provided an excellent overview of how the pdb worked under nixon and ford. in my time, i would like to offer insight into the use of the pdb used in intelligence generated in the department of defense with the nixon administration. former wisconsin congressman, the former secretary of defense during all four years during one of first term was four recipients of the pdb outside of the white house.
the courier would arrive each morning to deliver the current pdb and pick up the previous day's edition. his senior military assistant, lieutenant general robert hursley, decided just describe -- described the interest and use of the pdb as browsing the readers digest. see that as pejorative, but given that he became senior counsel for international affairs at readers digest upon leaving the pentagon in 1973, that suggests that might be regarded as praise, albeit somewhat faint. every morning, he would peru's the pdb and look for items of interest. and in 1970, laird did ask to expand the dod readership of the pdb to include deputy david packard. this request stems not from the belief that the pdb was
indispensable but rather from laird's operating philosophy of participatory management. he shared almost everything with his deputy and promised never to exclude him. it can be interpreted as a rebuke of the management style of henry kissinger, his chief rival within the administration. neither he or his senior military eight assistant -- military assistant ever knew a single instance into the dod decision, much less serve as a determinant role. underwhelmederally by the report believing that the and theked intensity," secretary never saw fit to alert president because of something he read in the pdb. by extensive transcription of recent presidential recordings, supports the notion the pdb did not make waves. still, the fact nothing listed phone calls to or from neck's -- elicited phone calls to or from nixon and whereas media
reports usually leaks and cables did provoke the president, perhaps speaks volumes to the security of the daily brief and cia's ability to become politicized. laird's assessment should not be mistaken as lack of appreciation for the value of intelligence. quite the opposite, laird always sought a larger universe of intel from which he could draw, wanting as much on as many topics on as many sources as possible. to characterize laird's use of intelligence, let me sketch the three a's. respect to the first step, the most apt description of his use of intelligence is ubiquitous. in a way that was unusual in the administration. administration was required from
a wide variety of sources, executive agencies, congress, and the media. who had earned respect as a congressman before becoming the secretary of defense, cultivated his colleagues on the hill meeting with them socially. he had the pulse of what congress knew. he had that year of the media. they trusted each other p they recognized his propensity for openness, refreshing contrast to the white house. a fact that annoyed kissinger and the white house. his inclusive and nonthreatening manner served him well. he could be ubiquitous without trampling on terrain. in fact, it was laird who prevailed upon nixon to permit attend meetings in a
brief capacity, the only channel for briefings from the dci during nixon's tenure. that is alluding to his heart feelings against the agency. he also moved beyond the pdb content and asked for a twice a week special briefing by a cia officer. it brought together all elements of dod intelligence or each new with the other was doing. every other friday he convened an intelligence rec list including the heads of the dod components. we heard about how much more inclusive the pdb and intelligence process is. i want to provide this historical context where we remember this was a cia product alone. it was his intention to broaden the universe and seek other avenues of intel. so the intelligence breakfast, he included all the heads of the
dod components, air force undersecretary john mack lucas also attended because he was the head of the national reconnaissance office that dealt with satellite imagery and was considered so sensitive at the time that even its name and initials are classified. lastly, laird met twice a week with the heads of the defense intelligence agency and the national security agency. he appointed them, and promised 4-star status if they are proved loyal by giving him intelligence first. with this universe of intelligent sources, he achieved his objective of saying a stride , if not one step in front of henry kissinger. he acquired the hardest intelligence possible for military operations. so with regard to the second step, my second a, analysis, he
followed: never believe the first report, the skeptical about the second, and question the third. he was always cautious about single reports from intelligence agencies. it made no difference whether it came from cia, and dia, or the military service pr branches. in early crisis in the administration, the april 69 downing in north korea of a reconnaissance plane, which carried six tons of electronic eavesdropping hardware, illustrate laird's cautious approach and insight into the intersection of policy, intelligence, in the administration. the president regarded the downing of an unarmed, unescorted plane and the death of the 31 member crew as an intentional, hostile act with swift reprisal. his first order, however, was to immediately suspend
u.s. reconnaissance globally could figuretagon out if such flights were critical or if armed escorts were required. this made so much sense he did not think it necessary to inform the president or discuss it in any detail. the white house meanwhile pressed the pentagon to draw up options for retaliation and begin deliberations. they learn from intelligence sources, not the pdb, which, throughout the two week or three weeks crisis, really provided the land usually single paragraph summaries. he learned from other sources that a single nervous north korean pilot had not sought approval up his chain of command, was responsible for the airplane shootdown, making the episode something other than a deliberate act of war. laird also learned that the recon mission near north korea
had intel value, but was not vertical. these pieces of information dampened his enthusiasm for retaliation, but not nixon's, even when he knew the facts. there was great risk in retaliation. logistic resources were insufficient to prosecute the war in vietnam and modernize the south vietnamese army. simultaneously inciting a possible conflict in korea. but delaying nixon's desire to resume recon flights, laird ordered military command, the nsa, and dia to evaluate the risks and benefits of worldwide air force reconnaissance, frequency of necessary missions, and whether protection was needed. kissinger informed the president that laird's actions delayed resumption of reconnaissance, therefore contravening the president's state of policy. this neutralized tactics.
the 30 three committee, an interagency body including the national security advisor but not the secretary of defense, would take over for worldwide reconnaissance. usual task of overseeing covert operations. there were essentially two other significant consequences from this episode. as kissinger writes in his memoirs, nixon decided he would ird or secretary of state rogers again. nixon would quote, get rid of rogers and laird at the earliest opportunity and never consult them in a crisis. frustrated by the lack of timely retaliation against north korea, nixon turned his attention to southeast asia and ordered another secret round of bombing in cambodia against north vietnamese forces stationed there. so to conclude, it is hazardous to extrapolate from one episode and make grand pronouncements about intelligence policy
relationship, but i do think it reminds us of the complexities involved when we talk about the outcomes of intelligence delivered to policymakers, whether it is in the form of pdb or other reporting. it cannot be divorced from prejudices,es -- personalities, and institutional rivalries and interest. in short, the human factor. it is difficult to envision anyone save melvin laird, safe , in washington and his own skin, using intelligence to outmaneuver the president and national security advisers. the pdb's, we are reminded, are one element in the perpetual struggle to give policymakers, the intel they need, rather than what they prefer to see and absorb. thank you. [applause]
gregory treverton: thank you gregory treverton: thank you very much. next is stephen randolph, who has a wonderful title, the historian of the state department, although i think he is not the only historian. stephen: but i am in charge of all the rest. edit is the greatest gig ever. let me start by thanking the library for hosting this event ran for also their work in preserving the record of this remarkable administration we have been talking about today. i have been doing research into the nixon material for 15 years now. you never get enough. it is truly magnificent. as well i would like to thank the cia, joe, and all of the people who helped put this thether and run declassification process that are integral to this magnificent release, and i am proud to work with you guys and the core work of our office in publishing the foreign relations of the united states series, glad to reciprocate and play a
supporting role in this event today. my research strategy and preparation for these remarks was to examine the material around key moments in nixon's management of the vietnam war and to see where the documents took me. to see what the hi storigraphical value was. i found myself, as i read this material, isolated among three different perspectives as i viewed the material, proving we are all prisoners of our past. as a historian of the state department, i was reading this with an eye first toward an immature way, how we would have viewed this when we were documenting the the nixon administration, but i decided -- i got in touch with my inner adult and decided the important relationship of this material to the material we have already published on that administration. as historian of the nixon vietnam war as a second perspective i was looking to see what these documents said to
what was understood of that time, and is a former professor and national security strategy for the national defense university, i was looking at the nature of intelligence provided to senior leaders and the relationship of the intelligence community and policy touched on -- and the policymakers which has been touched on by others. with respect to foreign relationship series, to give a little context, my office is responsible under law for publishing the documentary record of american foreign relations. for the nixon-ford administration, we have published about 60 volumes of 40%ary documents, about more documentation we have published than any other administration in history. this is a mark of two things one, the drama and importance of events at that time, and secondly, the richness of the documentary record. generally speaking, our material that we have published and i encourage you to go to our website and find it there, it is all online, our material on the
pdb's complement each other. we focus on the policy deliberations that lead to the definition of policy to include are in thetives that end decided and we use the intelligence communities documentation in a very important way to see how that informed the policy process. by definition at this level, we are not, in the nixon administration, printing, they would not have printed the kind of material that this is. it is more tactical, reporting at the ground level, more of a reflection of the relationship again of nixon and the intelligence community at the time. very conservative in the reporting, but it is very important in one regard, and in many regards because it is andhey are precedent to resulting from policy deliberations we document. there is this complementary
relationship that i think will be extremely valuable to academics and students and students of foreign relations far into the future. as i work with the policy process, the pdb's release headline news at any given spot. there was a lot more information that they do not cover as is natural of, but they provide a narrative backbone to these times that is of immeasurable value. with respect to the war, i find value of different types in each of the major episodes, nixon's leadership based on the nature of the documentation, and again, the relationship and the time between the president and the intelligence community. this is very important in measuring the extent to which this war was a constant burden on the administration. from day one with nixon swore the oath of office until the very end, the vietnam war was
the primary concern for him, most days. 60% of the pdb's include some reference to the war in indochina. conversely, the pdb's provide a very important remedy to the historians normal assumption that he or she is studying, only one of concern to the policymaker. i care about vietnam, therefore the nixon needed to care about vietnam. what they do is provide perspective and a context to vietnam and the broader policy of the administration. very important without respect. with respect to the specific value in the different major episodes, when you look at the material from the cambodian incursion which is after david got over there, started in 1970, . what you see is a clear progressive narrative in the pdb in veryovides a clarity
confusing events over time. i did not see anything that radically changes the interpretation, but i will say one of the most interesting aspects in reading that documentation was in the week prior to nixon's decision to send the americans and south vietnamese into cambodia, because the pdb's reflect events on the ground in cambodia during that time. he had a cool distance perspective. they do not view any real crisis going on there but nixon is , getting primary intelligence from other sources, the military and kissinger, and was mentioned by the panel earlier, he chooses what he believes and who he listens to and he made the decision to send troops into cambodia. there is a different value in material looking at the end of the war in vietnam, 1972 and 1973 where most of the historiographical tengion has been paid to the christmas bombing, the nta negotiations.
what you find in the pdb is is record and preparation of the two vietnamese parties in the postwar environment, or after america departs the war. what you find is the president in saigon is restructuring his political system, the north vietnamese are restructuring their command around the saigon. they have 200 tanks coming down the ho chi minh trail, during the christmas bombing. you get the sense none of these parties expect peace to break out over the land. there is one other segment i looked at with some care, from the ford administration at a time in when the north april 1975 vietnamese offensive overthrew the government in saigon and at the war and general clapper mentioned that this morning. it reflects very much this change in the relationship between the policy community and the cia at the time because
every single day through this time is a major essay on the cia on the political advance, the plans of the contestants, much more fulsome than anything in the nixon administration, much of a change in the administration david spoke of earlier. with respect to the intelligence policy interface, i think the most striking sequence i found was in the incursion into laos in early 1971. general clapper was there at the time which is interesting enough, it was not that long ago. it has come down through history of the name lampson 719. let me give you a brief sketch of the back story here. this one is worth paying attention to because it ends up in a defeat and it is one of these fairly common examples, you cannot really talk about
your successes because they are often things that do not happen. it is when things go wrong that you find something to learn. the incursion into cambodia of april and may in 1970 the north vietnamese convened their military. and did a strategic estimate of the system and they projected that having gone into cambodia, the next inevitable action will be for the americans and the south vietnamese to go into laos. they projected that the next move it would be into laos and exactly where he would happen which is along a one lane dirt road called route kind of 9 intersecting the ho chi minh trail. based on that projection, they proceeded to build, to structure a command structure as a response to that kind of an operation. they built a road network to support reinforcement. they built logistics infrastructure. they had commanders doing terrain walks, familiarizing themselves specifically with terrain the operation would be
occurring in, and they put aaa units into that area. all that before the american leadership had begun contemplating such an operation. it is a startling piece of strategic planning on their part. the nixon administration decided starting in 1970 with final approval late january 1971 had -- to execute a theodore white offensive, the offensive into laos has opened armed as the second major arms and cambodia. there was an air offensive. -- there were special ops off the coast and there was an air offensive. this is back to something general clapper mentioned this morning. he went there and he saw the number of how many americans were still there, 340,000, they would not be there in the next dry season. if there was going to be a major american action, it had to be then, because it would draw the proceedings so quickly. this was the last major chance. it was a big roll of the dice.
kissinger viewed it as a prelude to a major diplomatic effort to try to offer generous terms to end the war in 1971. having heard the sort of preparatory remarks given this extreme asymmetry as was mentioned in the earlier panel about information, the careful planning of the north vietnamese and the fairly rapid cycle of -- compressed decision-making cycle of the south vietnamese and americans, you can project a bad outcome, and that is what happened. the south vietnamese entered into laos within early february within four days after the start of the operation and the pdb indicates strong counterattacks appear imminent. i had been, i think cognitive and in southeast asia at the time i would have thought tanks,
north vietnamese, what? this was a completely different picture than what anybody was carrying of their adversary of the time. two days later the pdb expects a "stronger stand." even though fighting is still light and sporadic. two weeks later there is a climatic document and it says a major setback in laos, even if the cost proves high, the north vietnamese moved substantial forces into the area, and they show a cautionist style of fighting that has been their hallmark over the last two years, so this is a completely different adversary and what -- then what everybody had pictured going into that operation. nonetheless, the white house and kissinger insisted the south vietnamese insisted -- extend their stay in laos as much as possible and extend their stay in april for two reasons. one was the political impact of
a rapid retreat from laos, and secondly to support this diplomatic initiative he had planned. the south vietnamese broke into the counter offensive by the north vietnamese and conducted a disorderly retreat into south vietnam and the operation ended on march 23. i think the sequence is worth looking at for several reasons. , it indicates there are multiple channels reaching the decision-makers and this particular case of the pdb was one small voice in the volume of information getting to the white house and the primary reporting innnel to kissinger emerged southeast asia. it ran from the three-star commander, serving with the south vietnamese during the incursion, went down to mcafee and saigon up to admiral moore of chairman of the joint chiefs and then secretary layered and then to kissinger. it is remarkable to look at these ongoing reports because
there is this embedded optimism and this can-do attitude that is a core part of the military mindset and they keep thinking that as bad as things were today they will get better tomorrow and they just kind of kept that report repeatedly for the duration of the operation. the second thing we pick up from picking upficulty in the noise in the policy process. the stuff was in the pdb and if you could hear the small voice of these warnings, this new kind of enemies that they resolved to win the battle at any price, it changes your perspective in how you decide with respect to the operation. the third thing referred to frequently is that intelligence feeding into the policy is important, but you are trying to overcome the policymakers perspectives and their objectives. kissinger is intent on
sustaining this operation as long as possible and proceeding with a diplomatic setting and preventing this domestic damage and it was very hard to get him to realize that this was not the operation that he had expected to find. the fourth, i think, is that the image of the enemy we had forged in southeast asia was no longer valid. we had no concept they would show up with heavy artillery and tanks in the area. and at some point the february 27 pdb that i read the excerpt from was about three and a half weeks before the end of the operation. by that point the north vietnamese had clamped in the selfie enemies force that there was nothing practical that could be done from the white house. there is a point at which you can no longer affect events. i think it is important to focus on this among other things because it shows, first of all, it is so important to get this
right, this whole effort and the pdb is to inform the policymaker to avoid these outcomes in a big point of what was discussed earlier today was fusion, where you do not have a separate channel from the military and an different one through intel channels with a block each other out. once again i would like to thank all of those involved in this conference today for giving us the opportunity to think seriously about these subjects. [applause] gregory treverton: daniel sargent from university california berkeley, and i hope we will save a few minutes for your questions. we may have demonstrated how difficult it is for people who know a lot about subjects to be brief in discussing what they know. daniel. daniel: i would like to start by thanking the organizers of today's event especially julian -- celia mansfield, it is an honor to be included among the participants and i am grateful for the opportunity to speak.
while i came here to talk about the documents the cia is releasing today i hope you will indulge me a few years on my -- a few words on my own scholarship so you will better understand the perspective i have to honor. about 18 months ago, i published a book titled "a superpower transformed: the remaking of american foreign relations in the 1970's." the core question that this book engages have to do in some basic sense with the relationship between intelligence and policy. the book asked how leaders in the nixon, ford, and carter administrations had perceived and responded to large-scale structural changes in the international system they inhabited. in so far my own conclusions have been inscribed in print it was with trepidation i began to read the pdb's release today. the documents represent a large body of evidence i did not have opportunity to consult and i worry about how they might subvert the conclusions i had reached. while i am glad to report the tossed aparte not
my hypotheses, at least in my valuation, i will gladly attest the pdb's have enriched, enhanced, and expanded my understanding of the world in which president nixon and ford operated. taken as a whole, what the pdb for 1967 to 1969 offer is a view of the world as the president of it albeit states saw mediated at times by the national security advisers. this vantage is crucial for understanding the history of presidential decision-making. to grasp why richard nixon chose, as he did, we should attempt to see the world as he saw it. no set of documents will suffice forive us this perspective worldview is always and necessarily an achievement of the individual psyche, being the result of a lifetime's experiences and learning. still, it is intelligence agencies of united states government that provides a real-time information upon which
real-world decisions are predicated and that shape as much as much as any information flow the evil lucian of presidential assumptions about the world. the great value for historians in the newly released pdb's is we can now account for at least part of the information flow that informed key foreign-policy choices of the 1970's. we can now encounter the world as nixon and ford engaged in. unsurprisingly, they provided expanding context for the key foreign-policy decisions and choices. here two examples may prove illustrative. they provide vital context for understanding nixon's opening of china. the substance of what the documents have to tell us is unsurprising, relations between china and the soviet union in the early 1970's were dismal. what is impressive however is the intensity and frequency with which that point is made. in the pdb's of the 1969 and 1970, the cleavage between the
soviet union and china appears not as a distant sideshow, but as the defining feature of world politics. that fact has important implications of how historians understand nixon's choices. right alongside the pdb's nixon's engagement with beijing may be less original than many historians render it. contextualized, the famous china opening may appear more a response to changes that were already underway in that international system than the revolutionary innovation that created new realities and changed the course of the cold war. in this case, then, the pdb's may dampen the luster of nixon's accomplishments, but in other cases they help to chasten and refrain his critics. here laos and cambodia are suggestive cases. in critical accounts these countries are routinely described as neutral states into which richard nixon expanded the
vietnam war. such assessments, the pdb's suggest, risk distorting the landscape of choice as decision-makers and countered it. in the cia's daily briefings, after all, laos and cambodia were not neutral bystanders but decisive terrain in the war for indochina, a pan regional conflict in which communist insurgents frequently appeared to be gaining the upper hand. the travails of laos and cambodia appear in over more than one third of the pdb's team released today. this is remarkable. across the entire series of documents indochina receives twice as much attention as europe. historians who read these documents will learn that nixon was come almost on a daily basis, more likely than not to read about the violent inroads the communist forces are making in cambodia and laos. this knowledge may or may not
exculpate his choices, but it should help historians emphasize and achieve full understanding of why the administration acted as it did. having reflected on what historians might gain from the pdb's i will turn to a question dr. trevor can post. how much might intelligence people might make this more nature?c in this is a crucial question, and it reverberates with my own interests and how decision-makers understanding long-term change. i will offer two points, both of which i will frame in relation to the pdb's being released today. my first point has to do with the relation of ends to means. .r purposes to capacities this seems to me an area to which specific institutional characteristics of the united states government may inhibit the formulation of strategic intelligence. in particular, the democratic
demarcation between the -- foreign and domestic agencies may discourage the national security agencies from engaging with the domestic variables that are determinative of america's capacity to act. the pdb for 1969-1977 illustrate the point. discussions of domestic politics is almost absent from these documents despite the toll malt of watergate and the insurgency -- both of which severely inflated foreign policy in the 1970's. in economic matters the pdb features discussion of international monetary affairs but the documents make no , mention of the vast changes in the american economy. from the industrialization to the rise of silicon valley, changes that proved transformative to the exercise of american power in the larger world. while formal demarcations between foreign and domestic arenas of responsibility exist
for very good reasons, we should be mindful of how the omission of domestic material may limit the intelligence community's capacity to furnish strategic intelligence. strategy has to do with the relation between ends and means and the means that sustain american power are for the most part domestic. my second concluding has to do point with how intelligence analysts situate particular events in relation to larger scale processes of historical change. on this point i am happy to engage as a historian. what historians do after all is to posit connections between phenomena so as to organize evidence within the explanatory frameworks that establish causation and meaning. the challenge for those who advise presidents is presumably to provide sufficient contacts for establishing causal connection while deferring to the interpretive judgment of elected officials and their appointees.
for the first -- for the most part the pdb's room 69-1977 manage to strike this balance. the documents sometimes read as a rapidfire succession of events perhaps recalling elbert hubbard's famous remark as life being one dam thing after another. at the same time the analytical annex season that are appended to many reports help to situate specific developments within broader historical context. still, i am drawn to wonder whether the pdb's could have been more forthright in the critiquing the implicit historical assumptions that shape u.s. foreign-policy in the 1970's. reading across the pdb it is difficult to avoid the impression that what really matters in the world of the 1970's is the soviet-american cold war. other major national dilemmas such as energy and the associated global recession are
at most secondary. in this respect the pdb's can only have reinforced own intuitive cold war centrism his assumption that what mattered was the triangular relationship between the united states, the soviet union, and china. more explicit engagement with parallel and simultaneous developments in world affairs run the early stirrings of economic globalization to the assertion of the postcolonial countries might have encouraged white house decision-makers to take a more expansive view of the challenges facing u.s. foreign-policy in the 1970's. by highlighting processes beyond the cold war, including political, economic, and even ecological up people's at the global scale, intelligence have unsettled stable assumptions about the world and perhaps encouraged decision-makers to contemplate alternative bandages on the tasks facing u.s.
foreign-policy. the pdb's might have done more to unsettle static worldviews. i will in conclusion concede henry kissinger's point. high office provides sparse opportunity for renewing and revitalizing intellectual capital. the white house is not an environment conducive to sustained reflection. , reevaluation and reconsiderations. at the same time, these are vital cognitive functions that some organ of state all to be performing. without ongoing reassessment of what is happening in the world, what matters in the world, foreign policy will lack an adaptive strategic lever. if the cia presumably has a vital intellectual role today today as much as in the 1970's. thank you. [applause] >> we have a few minutes for questions. we have a microphone. please try to be as brief as you can.
perhaps suggest which panelists particularly you would like to speak your question. in the back. >> thank you. kudos to the panel. what a wonderful discussion amongst agency historians. i cannot let this opportunity go by with the u.s. archivist here and everybody planning for president obama's presidential library. i am curious whether agency historians have been asked tasked with the prospect of what records, papers in your own agencies might be included in his library? from my standpoint, if i were to go to a presidential library, i might be mistaken in my belief
that all decisions regarding the administration may lie in that library. point in fact, during the bush administration, to jack's in the army was tasked with making enormous decisions regarding interrogation, torture, and other factors that influenced our foreign-policy. >> david, do you want to say a word about the subject? the answer is much more documentation anybody can process. it takes years to process and very difficult to deal with because it is voluminous. >> the short answer is there are two sets of laws that govern the records. there is the federal records act and the presidential records act. on the federal side, these historians represent agencies which are governed by the federal records tax which means
that they create schedules and decide which records have long-term value and will be transferred at the appropriate time to the national archives. selective, long-term historic or legal value, that is the criteria by which those decisions are made. presidential records act is very different, it is everything. much easier and simpler to deal with. all of the records that are created in the white house become records -- record of the country. that is what ends up at the presidential libraries. now, decision-making crosses lines. those federal agencies support house,k of the white that there is a separation in terms of the records themselves. thank you for your interesting presentation. he mened