Most NIEs deal with the threat posed by other countries to the security of the United States. NIEs on a specific country include analysis of all aspects of that nation, including its foreign policy objectives, leadership, military capabilities, and economic strengths. The most important country NIEs during the Cold War were those dealing with the Soviet Union. Special NIEs treat specific problem areas or probable reactions to a U.S. initiative.
CIA Director General Walter Bedell Smith initiated the NIEs in 1950. At first they were produced by a Board of National Estimates, with its membership from the different federal intelligence agencies. In 1973, however, the board was replaced by intelligence officers with specialized knowledge in the specific areas under study.
Spencer C. Tucker