64. Letter From the Director of the White House Office of Emergency Planning (McDermott) to Secretary of State Rusk 1

Dear Mr. Secretary:

In my memorandum of September 16, 1964, referring to the OEP report of August 31, 1964, to the President on “Civil Emergency Preparedness”,2 I indicated our intention to work closely with you on specific programs. One of these programs, included in the five-year projection, to which the President has given approval, is directed at correction of deficiencies in arrangements for headquarters emergency operating facilities.

This program has been developed, conceptually, in accordance with criteria provided by the Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) in its initial report which was approved by the President. The Committee concluded that maximum delegations should be made, preemergency, to officials outside of Washington and that protected emergency sites be provided within 15 to 35 miles from the White House. These sites are to be used day-to-day by organizational units related to emergency activities, including at least one individual who could act for the department or agency in an emergency.

The Department of State has been selected for inclusion in the first year’s increment of the program. This determination is based on the importance of the mission of the Department and the fact that the Department does not have an emergency facility of its own. It is contemplated that the State Department site will also accommodate small emergency units of AID and the Export-Import Bank.

The use of the Special Facility3 by State is not in accord with the established policy governing the use of this already overcrowded facility, and would in an emergency, I am sure, be less satisfactory from an operating point of view.

Our staffs have had preliminary discussion on this proposal. We realize that accomplishment of our objectives may present problems [Page 187] and further staff attention is necessary with respect to such things as the size and use of facilities, location, and funding. I would appreciate receiving as soon as possible your favorable reaction to this proposal and designation of the appropriate staff of your Department with whom my representatives may work.


Edward A. McDermott
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 1 US. Confidential.
  2. See Document 48.
  3. According to a December 15 memorandum from Joseph F. Vaughan (G/PM) to Jeffrey C. Kitchen (G/PM), the “Special Facility” was at “High Point,” which in an emergency was to be the relocation site for the non-military “seat of government.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 1 US)