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Fixing the FactsNational Security and the Politics of Intelligence$
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Joshua Rovner

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448294

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448294.001.0001

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The Nixon Administration and the Soviet Strategic Threat

The Nixon Administration and the Soviet Strategic Threat

(p.89) [5] The Nixon Administration and the Soviet Strategic Threat
Fixing the Facts

Joshua Rovner

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the politicization of intelligence during the Nixon administration. The Nixon White House was not a likely candidate for politicization given its hostility towards intelligence from the outset and determination to keep it out of the policy process. Harboring strong suspicions about the intelligence community, it developed alternative sources of information and analysis. However, in the mid-1960s, the Soviet Union launched a major buildup of its strategic missile force, setting off an intense debate among U.S. defense analysts about how to respond. The debate also pitted senior administration officials against the intelligence community, which was generally more sanguine about the Soviet threat. President Nixon's strong public commitment in the face of substantial domestic opposition led to direct politicization: policymakers personally intervened to influence the annual estimate of the Soviet Union, rather than opting for more subtle methods of manipulation.

Keywords:   politicization, intelligence agencies, intelligence–policy relations, Richard Nixon, Soviet Union, defense policy

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