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Reply #68: Thanks, ftr23532! Remember TEAM B? [View All]

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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-15-07 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #33
68. Thanks, ftr23532! Remember TEAM B?
Seems to me Poppy and his, um, friends decided they didn't like detente and peace and stuff because it was unprofitable. So DCI Poppy ordered his CIA to come up with some estimates of Soviet strength that helped Uncle Sam justify buying more guns and less butter.

Team B: The trillion-dollar experiment

Two experts report on how a group of Cold War true believers were invited to second-guess the CIA. Did the "outside experts" of the 1970s contribute to the military buildup of the 1980s?

By Anne Hessing Cahn
April 1993 pp. 22, 24-27 (vol. 49, no. 03) 1993 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Election years have much in common. They produce a profusion of punditry, media attention, and politically expedient action, quickly forgotten, and with little lasting impact. But not always; sometimes events are set into motion that have long lifetimes. This was the case in 1976 when, as in 1992, an incumbent Republican president faced a strong challenge from the right wing of his own party. Then (as last year) sops were offered to placate the far right and, while it is too early to know which of the 1992 capers will endure, we now know a great deal about one of the most political events of 1976, and its remarkably long-lasting effects on U.S. policy.

Late last year, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released the 1976 "Team B" reports. Team B was an experiment in competitive threat assessments approved by then-Director of Central Intelligence George Bush. Teams of "outside experts" were to take independent looks at the highly classified data used by the intelligence community to assess Soviet strategic forces in the yearly National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). NIEs are authoritative and are widely circulated within the government. U.S. national security policy on various issues as well as the defense budget are based on their general conclusions. Although NIEs represent the collective judgment of the entire intelligence community, the lead agency is the CIA.

There were three "B" teams. One studied Soviet low-altitude air defense capabilities, one examined Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) accuracy, and one investigated Soviet strategic policy and objectives. But it is the third team, chaired by Harvard professor Richard Pipes, that ultimately received considerable publicity and is commonly referred to as Team B.

The Team B experiment was concocted by conservative cold warriors determined to bury dtente and the SALT process. Panel members were all hard-liners. The experiment was leaked to the press in an unsuccessful attempt at an "October surprise." But most important, the Team B reports became the intellectual foundation of "the window of vulnerability" and of the massive arms buildup that began toward the end of the Carter administration and accelerated under President Reagan.

How did the Team B notion come about? In 1974, Albert Wohlstetter, a professor at the University of Chicago, accused the CIA of systematically underestimating Soviet missile deployment, and conservatives began a concerted attack on the CIA's annual assessment of the Soviet threat. This assessment--the NIE--was an obvious target.


While Team B waxed eloquent about "conceptual failures," it was unable to grasp how the future might differ from the past. In 1976 mortality rates were rising for the entire Soviet population, and life expectancies, numbers of new labor entrants, and agricultural output were all declining. Yet Team B wrote confidently, "Within what is, after all, a large and expanding GNP . . . Soviet strategic forces have yet to reflect any constraining effect of civil economy competition, and are unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future." (Emphasis in original.) And When Ronald Reagan got elected, Team B became, in essence, the "A Team."


April 1993 pp. 22, 24-27 (vol. 49, no. 03) 1993 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Thank you for giving a damn, ForTheRecord Man!
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