In This Review

U.S. Intelligence and the Polish Crisis, 1980-1981
U.S. Intelligence and the Polish Crisis, 1980-1981
By Douglas J. Maceachin
CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence, 2001, 211 pp

Following up on his extraordinary study of U.S. intelligence against Japan in the closing months of World War II -- the most important work on the atomic bomb controversy in a decade -- MacEachin has now produced another understated monograph. (Full disclosure: Early versions of both studies were originally written for a CIA-sponsored Harvard University research project that this reviewer helps direct.) Using full access to the relevant intelligence, including the near-legendary reports of the Polish colonel (and U.S. agent) Ryszard Kuklinski, MacEachin compares what was assessed then to what is now known from declassified Soviet and Polish archives. The result is one of the best published analyses of the Polish crisis: a fascinating study of how the Soviet Union pressed the Poles, specifically General Wojciech Jaruzelski, into doing their dirty work. Also interesting is how influential the United States was in deterring repression in 1980 and failing to do so in 1981. In a ruthless but fair critique of the intelligence community, MacEachin describes the "current intelligence trap": focused only on daily developments, analysts find it difficult to step back and put together the larger stories that should have been apparent. In short, even if the collection of information is outstanding, it is the analysis that makes the difference.