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Constructing CassandraReframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947-2001$
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Milo Jones and Philippe Silberzahn

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785808

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785808.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 02 March 2021

The Collapse of the USSR

The Collapse of the USSR

(p.102) 4 The Collapse of the USSR
Constructing Cassandra

Milo Jones

Philippe Silberzahn

Stanford University Press

This chapter presents an overview of the CIA's analysis of the USSR prior to 1991. It begins by documenting the scope of the intelligence failure concerning the USSR's demise, especially contrasting the CIA's quantitative estimates of the USSR's economy with what was subsequently discovered. It describes how the CIA's culture and identity shaped the Agency's view of the USSR during each stage of the intelligence cycle prior to the Soviet collapse, and contrasts Agency views of the USSR's economic and social situation with those of Cassandras. These people, working with open-source information outside the Agency, formed what was later revealed as more accurate views of the USSR over the same period. It does not fault the CIA for a failure to predict the USSR's collapse, but it does document how the Agency's culture and identity led to a misunderstanding of its weaknesses, creating the conditions for an intelligence failure.

Keywords:   intelligence failure, Soviet defense spending, Igor Birman, Soviet Collapse, Mikhail Gorbachev, Robert Gates, Soviet economic crisis, open source intelligence, Vadim Belotserkovsky

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