U.S. Intelligence and the Confrontation in Poland, 19801981

By (author) Douglas MacEachin, Jeannine OGrody

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

15 August 2002

Length of book:

268 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271025285

Despite the U.S. government’s sophisticated intelligence capabilities, policy makers repeatedly seemed to be caught off guard when major crises took place during the Cold War. Were these surprises the result of inadequate information, or rather the use made of the information available? In seeking an answer to this question, former CIA analyst Douglas MacEachin carefully examines the crisis in Poland during 1980–81 to determine what information the U.S. government had about Soviet preparations for military intervention and the Polish regime’s plans for martial law, and what prevented that information from being effectively employed

Drawing on his experience in intelligence reporting at the time, as well as on recently declassified U.S. documents and materials from Soviet, Polish, and other Eastern European archives, MacEachin contrasts what was known then with what is known now, and seeks to explain why, despite the evidence available to them, U.S. policy makers did not take the threat of a crackdown seriously enough to prevent it.

It was the mind-set of those who processed the information, not the lack or accuracy of information, that was the fundamental problem, MacEachin argues. By highlighting this cognitive obstacle, his analysis points the way toward developing practices to overcome it in the future.

“Douglas MacEachin has provided a valuable insider’s account of the performance of the U.S. intelligence community in an important episode of the Cold War. It is a significant addition to the literature on intelligence analysis.”

—Jeffrey T. Richelson, Author of The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology