Credit Where Credit Is Due
Even the detonation of the first Soviet atomic bomb in August, 1949 did not convince most Americans to reconsider their perception of Soviet science. American scientific, military, and policymaking elite spread blame widely for the intelligence failure, but refused to acknowledge the possibility of Soviet scientific strength as the primary culprit. Instead, they latched onto ideas that mitigated the impact of Soviet scientific ability. While the rest of the American national security system was improving, the refusal to give Soviet science the credit where credit was due meant that the American scientific intelligence apparatus continued to falter well into the 1950s. The CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) – which was explicitly created to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence concerning enemy scientific development – did not become an effective intelligence agency until the 1960s, despite the emerging Soviet atomic threat.
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