The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

No. 302

Sir: I have the honor to attach hereto, as of possible interest to the Department, a memorandum86 prepared by Mr. Thayer, of this mission, describing the discovery by Mr. Huntowski, the naval electrician’s mate, on duty in this mission, of wires which cannot be accounted for, in the attic of the Ambassador’s residence directly above his office.

It will be observed, from an examination of this memorandum, that the wires in question were suspended in the walls of the Ambassador’s room so that the ends of them were not more than eight feet from his chair. The nature and position of the wires were such that, in the opinion of Mr. Huntowski, they would not have been used in connection with a buzzer, bell, or telephone system. Both Mr. Thayer and [Page 442]Mr. Huntowski are inclined to believe that during recent months some person has used the portion of the attic in which the wiring was found, in order, with the assistance of a microphone, to overhear conversations taking place in the Ambassador’s office.

In this connection, it should be pointed out that Mr. Davies was accustomed to dictate a large portion of his correspondence while sitting at the desk in the office in which the microphone equipment was apparently suspended, and also there to receive members of his staff, foreign diplomats, journalists and other persons.

The discovery of the wiring and other traces of eavesdropping is being kept secret and it is hoped that following the Ambassador’s return it may be possible to ascertain whether or not Soviet agents have actually been endeavoring from the attic to listen to the various important and frequently confidential conversations which have taken place in the Ambassador’s office.

I may state, in this connection, that Mr. Hampel, the naval electrician who left Moscow several weeks ago, has been diligent, in my opinion, in endeavoring to discover hidden wires. I know that in the month of February he particularly examined the walls of the Ambassador’s office. It is quite possible, however, that the eavesdropper could pull out a microphone when the examination was taking place and lower it again after the examination had been completed. Furthermore, the wiring was so cleverly concealed in the floor of an out-of-the-way nook of the attic that its discovery would be very difficult. In fact, it is doubtful if Mr. Huntowski would have come across it if he had not noticed the fairly fresh cigarette stubs lying near it.

Respectfully yours,

Loy W. Henderson
  1. Not printed.