Case #858.0

Taking Toshiba Public

Publication Date: January 01, 1988
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In 1986, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) learned of an illegal sale of sophisticated milling machine equipment to the Soviet Union by Japanese and Norwegian companies. What became known to the public as the Toshiba case--although the Norwegian company, Kongsberg Vapenfabrik, was equally culpable--proved to carry an unusual weight of political and policy ramifications that affected how the intelligence was used by its customers. As the Technology Transfer Assessment Center, a CIA division, sought a market for its intelligence, users in the Defense Department, National Security Council, State Department, and finally Congress, drew their widely different conclusions about the impact of the sale. Undisputed facts fired up an acrimonious debate on technology export controls and helped hold up passage of a trade bill for more than a year.

Learning Objective:
This case provides a glimpse of difficulties which intelligence analysts within the CIA have in bringing information to the attention of policymakers--and the difficulties they face when information they've uncovered has controversial implications. The case allows discussion of the responsibilities of the intelligence analyst within the context of policymaking, as well as discussion of relations between the CIA and other intelligence agencies and Congress.

Other Details

Case Author:
Anna Warrock
Faculty Lead:
Howard Husock
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States, Japan, Norway
Funding Source:
Central Intelligence Agency