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By Prospect   July 2011

Intelligence blindspot Gregory Treverton (June) is right that British intelligence had a blindspot in the 1980s about the Soviet Union. In 1984, I edited an essay by journalist Rex Malik to commemorate George Orwell’s 1984, titled: “Can the USSR survive 1984?” Rex’s inescapable conclusion was “No chance.” The people we talked with in Washington and London were dismissive. The only people who agreed were computer scientists inside Russia.

Treverton is also right that it is people that count, not written reports. It was Rex’s use of the internet to contact the Soviet science elite personally that illuminated his writing.…

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