File No. 819.74/35.

The Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of State.

Sir: The subject of an agreement with the Republic of Panama concerning the establishment of radio telegraph stations in the territory of that Republic, referred to in the State Department’s letter of August 29, 1913, has been considered by the Joint Army and Navy Board. The report of that board was approved by the Secretary of War November 15, 1913, by the Secretary of the Navy November 15, 1913, and by the President November 17, 1913.

The Joint Board recommends as the attitude of the War and Navy Departments that the proposed agreement shall include the following engagements—

On the part of Panama:

To give to the United States Government the monopoly of all means of radio communication within its territory, and to cancel all concessions for stations not at this time in actual operation, if such exist.
To forbid the operation of any station on board a ship that is within the harbors or territorial waters of Panama unless such ship be actually underway and making bona fide passage to or from port, and the station of a ship so making passage to port shall be required to communicate with the nearest coast station until such time as the ship shall have come to anchor or moored to the shore, as the case may be, after which the ship shall be required not to use its radio installation until it gets underway to make passage to sea; except that a ship at anchor in quarantine, or not yet having received pratique, may request permission to send messages to the nearest coast station, which permission may be granted, under conditions imposed by the Coast Station, until pratique is granted, when it shall terminate.
To connect its land telegraph system to, and exchange business with, any station now or hereafter operated by the United States Government in the Republic of Panama, and in the Canal Zone.
To become a signatory to the London Radio-Telegraphic Convention of 1912.
To regulate the existing private station or stations in the territory of Panama, according to the London Convention, and to license it or them according to the terms of the Radio Act of the United States of August 13, 1912, with the additional proviso that the physical control and operation shall pass to the United States Government whenever that Government may elect.
On the part of the United States:
To give official and commercial radio telegraphic service with all shipping within the radius of operation of U. S. stations in the Canal Zone or the territory of Panama, without other limitations than those governing their ordinary operation.
To transmit and receive at its stations established under this agreement, free of all station radio charges, official messages to or [Page 1040] from the Government of Panama, and to give them precedence over private or commercial messages.
To erect upon sites turned over free of all expense by the Government of Panama to the U. S. Government, and to operate under the regulations of the U. S. Naval Radio Service, other stations not to exceed four in number (exclusive of the two at the entrances of the Canal) as may be demanded by the exigencies of the shipping in the vicinity of the Republic of Panama consequent upon the opening of the Canal, such exigencies to be determined jointly by the Government of the United States and Panama.

The fundamental reason why the United States Government should have a monopoly of all means of radio communication in the Republic of Panama lies in the fact that the United States is the sole guarantor of the independence of Panama and of the protection of the Canal. To fulfill these obligations it is militarily essential that the United States shall have actual physical control of all radio stations, not only in the Canal Zone, but in the Republic of Panama, at a time when the independence of Panama may be in jeopardy or the United States may be at war or be threatened with war. The one sure way to attain this end is to have the stations owned and operated at all times by the United States Government. Then in emergencies the trained operators, under military discipline, and familiar with both languages, will be on the spot and actually at work in their usual places, with no necessity for replacement at a critical time. Other provisions of the proposed engagements provide for all the necessary ordinary requirements of the Government of Panama and of commercial interests, which will therefore not suffer.

The United States Government having all the military responsibility, will expect to fix the sites of future radio stations so that they can best serve military as well as commercial needs. At the same time the interest of Panama in radio stations in her own territory is recognized in proposed engagement (h).

For reasons connected with certainty of operation it is very undesirable to have an unnecessary number of stations in the same locality. The monopoly desired for the United States Government is the surest way of obviating such a condition.

The reasons for the other proposed engagements of Panama, where not obvious, are to be found in conditions about the Isthmus where a state of radio lawlessness outside the limits of the Canal Zone has already been a source of great annoyance. Panama is not a signatory of the London Convention and exercises no control over the radio operations of ships within her jurisdiction. The proposed engagements of the United States are suggested in a spirit of both comity and self-interest.

Sincerely yours,

Josephus Daniels