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CIA declassifies records chronicling the collapse of communism

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has released samples from over 100 National Intelligence Daily (NID) articles about the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe between February 1989 and March 1990.

The collection includes a broad sampling of articles from the NID, which was the CIA’s principal form of current intelligence analysis at the time, and represent much of the agency’s short-term analysis of events unfolding in Central and Eastern Europe as popular opposition to Soviet misrule erupted and quickly surpassed anything the communist regimes were prepared to understand or to which they could respond.

The material also represents a major source of information and insight for US policymakers into what was happening in these countries, where it was heading, and what the implications were for Europe and the United States of the collapse of communist rule in Europe and the beginnings of the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The documents are fascinating as they reveal that not all of the CIA’s intelligence was spot-on: a reflection, perhaps, not of CIA incompetence but simply of how quickly events moved during the autumn and winter of 1989.

Take Romania, for example.

“There is no credible evidence that his position is endangered,” the CIA’s man in Bucharest wrote about Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu on November 19, 1989.

A month and six days later, Ceaușescu was executed.

The documents can be viewed here.