Chapter 20 - Taking on the Intelligence Wars and the Soviet Espionage Threat

ti-humanitarian Marxist-Leninist doctrine and practice of Communist power. Long before Reagan became a presidential candidate in 1976 and 1980 and president in January 1981, he was battling the lies, deception, propaganda, disinformation, and related subversive activities carried out by the Soviet intelligence services against U.S. freedom principles and democratic institutions.

Reagan’s Republican Platform—1980, was formally approved at the Party’s national convention in July 1980 and closely reflected his moral and strategic perspective on the Soviet Union and the Cold War conflict, including the intelligence wars. Coordinated with him and his senior advisors and drafted by Senator John Tower’s Platform Committee staff, the Platform included a section on “National Intelligence” that presented Reagan’s authoritative summary of his views on America’s most serious intelligence threats, weaknesses, and priority requirements. Reagan was clearly determined that the United States should have a new intelligence strategy with robust capabilities, both overt and covert, committed to analyzing, countering, and defeating the wars waged by Soviet ideology and empire through its intelligence operations. Thus:

[The Current Situation] At a time of increasing danger, the U.S. intelligence community has lost much of its ability to supply the President, senior U.S. officials, and the Congress with accurate and timely analyses concerning fundamental threats to our nation’s security. Morale and public confidence have been eroded and American citizens and friendly foreign intelligence services have become increasingly reluctant to cooperate with U.S. agencies. As a result of such problems, the U.S. Intelligence community has incorrectly assessed critical foreign developments, as in Iran, and has, above all, underestimated the size and purpose of the Soviet Union’s military efforts.

[Realistic Assessments of Soviet Threats—U.S. Requirements] We believe that a strong national consensus has emerged on the need to make our intelligence community a reliable and productive instrument of national policy once again. In pursuing its objectives, the Soviet Union and its surrogates operate by a far different set of rules than does the United States. We do not favor countering their efforts by mirroring their tactics. However, the United States requires a realistic assessment of the threats it faces, and it must have the best intelligence capability in the world. Republicans pledge this for the United States.

[Improved Intelligence Capabilities] A Republican Administration will seek to improve U.S. Intelligence capabilities for technical and clandestine collection, cogent analysis, coordinated counterintelligence, and covert action.

[PFIAB—Audit and Alternate Estimates] We will reestablish the President’s Foreign intelligence Advisory Board, abolished by the Carter Administration, as a permanent non-partisan body of distinguished Americans to perform a constant audit of national intelligence research and performance. We will propose methods of providing alternative intelligence estimates in order to improve the quality of the estimates by constructive competition.

[Personnel] Republicans will undertake an urgent effort to rebuild the intelligence agencies, and to give full support to their knowledgeable and dedicated staffs. We will propose legislation to enable intelligence officers and their agents to operate safely and efficiently abroad.

[Disclosure Sanctions] We will support legislation to invoke criminal sanctions against anyone who discloses the identities of U.S. intelligence officers abroad or who makes unauthorized disclosures of U.S. intelligence sources and methods.

[Background Checks] We will support amendments to the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act to permit meaningful background checks on individuals being considered for sensitive positions and to reduce costly and capricious requests to the intelligence agencies.

[Influence Operations] We will provide our government with the capability to help influence international events vital to our national security interests, a capability which only the United States among the major powers has denied itself.

[Safeguards and Repeals of Debilitated Capabilities] A Republican Administration will seek adequate safeguards to ensure that past abuses will not recur, but we will seek the repeal of ill-considered restrictions sponsored by Democrats, which have debilitated U.S. intelligence capabilities while easing the intelligence collection and subversion efforts of our adversaries. (headings added)1

Readers of the following pages on Reagan’s proactive new U.S. intelligence strategy will recognize that the above Platform statements closely delineate the actual intelligence assessments, principles, and policies that were applied throughout his presidency. They added substantial pressures on the Kremlin that contributed significantly to the collapse of Soviet ideology, authority and the Soviet intelligence apparatus and state.

[Book pg. 488]