27. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Audio Surveillance and Countermeasures Problems Within the United States Intelligence Community


  • (a) March 20 memo from Mr. Bundy to the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and the Attorney General2
  • (b) March 12 memo on subject to Mr. Bundy by the Acting DCI 3
  • (c) August 14, 1963 report of the NSC Special Committee on Audio Surveillance Countermeasures4

In reply to your memorandum of March 20, 1963, appropriate officers of the Department of State have reviewed the referenced Acting DCI memorandum and the annual NSC Special Committee report.

1. The Department would first like to comment on the DCI memorandum of March 12 which in part deals with audio countermeasure activities. The Department’s primary role in the field of audio countermeasures is based on the authority and responsibility of the Department as the major foreign affairs agency of the United States Government. We are strongly opposed to any change of leadership in the audio countermeasure community and we object to relinquishing our role as Chairman of the NSC Special Committee or of any resultant new committee that may evolve. The Department of State has been the leader in the U.S. audio countermeasures community since the late 1940’s and continues to hold this position today. The Department’s position of leadership in the audio countermeasures field has been established by the fact that the Office of Security of the Department of State is responsible for the over-all security of approximately 300 U.S. diplomatic and consular establishments. The Department of State cannot delegate the authority to guide and coordinate audio countermeasures activities to any other agency in view of the Department’s responsibility for the security of the greatest bulk of penetration target areas.

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The Department’s position is further supported by having in effect the largest number of trained engineers and technicians in the field supported by a major research and development effort under the guidance of experienced engineers. The present Department of State research and development efforts have been in effect since 1961 and these efforts have been successfully translated into operational countermeasure equipments and techniques. A few specific examples of Department of State accomplishments in this area are the acoustic conference room, the panoramic receiver, the signal recognizer system and standardization of a secure telephone system. Further evidence of the Department’s leadership in the audio countermeasures field is witnessed by the fact that Department of State security engineers have been responsible for over 95 per cent of all U.S. Government “finds”, including six additional microphones and one transmitter discovery since the NSC Special Committee report of August, 1963.

For the same reason [2 lines of source text not declassified]the Department of State feels that it must also chair any audio countermeasures body in view of the Department’s primary role in this field.

Regarding Sections 7(c) and 7(d) of the DCI report, we wish to make the following comments:

(1) Technical Inspections

The question of coordination of “sweeps” or technical inspections as stated in the DCI memorandum does not exist. Clear-cut areas of responsibility for the security of our overseas military and diplomatic missions have been long established. The Office of Security of the Department of State is clearly responsible for the over-all security of all U.S. diplomatic representation and has provided security services to all tenant agencies operating within U.S. diplomatic missions abroad. Security within U.S. military installations is clearly a military responsibility and conflict between military and the Department of State interests does not exist. [4 lines of source text not declassified]

The Department of State feels that the coordination of countermeasures equipment requirements are best resolved directly in the committee responsible for the coordination of research and development efforts as provided for in the present NSC Special Committee. A division of the operational elements from the research and development elements of any countermeasures body can serve only to delay translation of these requirements into tangible results. This condition characterizes the confusion and lack of progress of the NSC Special Committee during the initial period of its formation.

It is the Department’s opinion, therefore, that the proposal for a new technical subcommittee to coordinate inspection schedules and stimulate requirements has little foundation.

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(2) Counter-audio Research and Development

The Department of State is in favor of coordinating countermeasure development, equipment and procedure requirements and believes the present NSC Special Committee on Technical Surveillance Countermeasures has made significant progress in this regard within the last three years. The impetus gained by this Committee in translating these requirements into realistic development objects is, in the opinion of the Department of State, a direct result of (a) the growing awareness of all member agencies of the need for close cooperation in establishing policy and program guidelines, and (b) technically competent and experienced leadership of the Special Committee by the Department of State.

The Department of State recognizes the need for expansion of basic and applied research within the countermeasures field and for greater coordination of this research among the member agencies. The inability of the present NSC Special Committee to achieve greater progress can be attributed to (1) its lack of member representation of a sufficiently high level of individual authority and technical competence and (2) the unavailability of information concerning current U.S. advances in positive audio surveillance equipment and techniques. The offer by the Acting DCI of cooperation in regard to this latter impeding factor is warmly accepted.

The Department of State can see no need for the proposed transfer of the present Special Committee from the NSC to the USIB. Analysis of the Special Committee’s structure has not revealed any deficiencies in this body that can be attributed to its relationship with the NSC. However, if such a transfer is determined as being in the best interests of the United States, the Department of State feels that any audio countermeasures body established under the USIB should occupy full committee status. The importance of the efforts of any body concerned with the problem of audio surveillance countermeasures, in view of known existing threats, is of far too major a magnitude to be relegated to subcommittee status.

2. We concur with the recommendations contained in the NSC Special Committee report of August 14, 1963. These recommendations have in fact been enacted during the past three years by the Department of State.

The Department of State feels that the Special Committee’s report is both timely and comprehensive in view of present day threats against the security of the U.S. Government. However, the Department considers the list of recommendations generated by the Special Committee lacking in one major respect. Specifically, there is needed a recognition of and an appropriate recommendation for action on the present lack of cooperation and exchange of information between the positive Intelligence and the Counter Surveillance Communities.

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The alarm expressed by the Scientific Guidance Panel in Section II–4 of the Guidance Panel’s interim report dated August 19, 19635 was, in the opinion of the Department of State, not well founded. The Scientific Guidance Panel has not reviewed the Department of State’s present countermeasure program with the exception of having received a comprehensive briefing in February, 1964 by the Department of State on the present status of our efforts in resolving the Moscow Signal problem.


In reply to those recommendations in Sections 7(c) and 7(d) of the DCI memorandum, we submit the following recommendations:

That the present Special Committee be retained under the NSC, or if deemed necessary be established as an independent committee under the USIB.
That membership of a new audio countermeasure coordinating body be limited to technically-qualified representatives from the Department of Justice, the CIA, the Department of State and the DIA.
That the present Technical Subcommittee of the NSC Special Committee be retained as a working technical group with representatives from all U.S. Government agencies having formal technical countermeasure programs in effect.
That the Department of State retain chairmanship of any inter-agency audio countermeasures body.

John A. McKesson 6
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Vol. 1 [1 of 2], Box 5. Secret.
  2. Dated March 20, 1963; not found.
  3. Document 18.
  4. Not found.
  5. Attached to Document 9.
  6. Printed from a copy that indicates McKesson signed for Read.