35. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Security Committee of the United States Intelligence Board (Bannerman) to the Board Members 1



  • Preliminary Damage Assessment of the Technical Surveillance Penetration of the U.S. Embassy, Moscow


  • Memorandum from the Executive Secretary to the Board Members, TS #188532, USIB-D–9.7/1, dated 15 May 1964, Limited Distribution; USIB-M–327 of 20 May, Item No. 11 (Executive Session)2
In accordance with the referenced memorandum, the Security Committee has completed a preliminary damage assessment of the audio-surveillance penetration of the U.S. Embassy, Moscow which is attached.3
Based on the technical assessments and inquiries conducted to date by the various departments and agencies, findings and conclusions are as follows:

a. Findings

Complete Soviet control of the American Embassy in Moscow during the construction enabled the Soviets to install an elaborate and effective system of audio-surveillance penetration devices. [9 lines of source text not declassified]

Technical penetration would have furnished the Soviets foreign policy information involving direct U.S.-Soviet negotiations and matters of informational interests to the Embassy. In addition, the Soviets would have been able to acquire considerable data concerning the daily operations of the Embassy including the military attaché program and the external and internal political staffs.

[Page 84]

Conclusions as to the Damage Assessment

A thorough and objective analysis of the findings to arrive at definite conclusions is most difficult since the opposition would not take any actions or counteractions which would be directly and obviously revealing of the success of technical penetration.

In the assessment of damage to the U.S. foreign policy interests,4 the sum of the individual State Department assessments is that either the Soviet Government did not obtain the information assumed to be compromised or that the material did not reach the Soviet decision makers, or that the latter did not act on the information available to the U.S. detriment in ways observable by the U.S. In addition, while analysis of the telegraphic traffic for the period 1953–1964 has not detected any important damage to U.S. foreign policy interests, an area of uncertainty is necessarily left due to the lack of complete knowledge of Soviet decisions and actions.

In the damage assessment of areas outside the foreign policy interests, it must be assumed that the Soviets did compile a reservoir of knowledge concerning U.S. intelligence collection requirements within the framework of the attaché program, the success or failure in achieving its collection requirements and the modus operandi of the attaché program in Moscow. Presumably, extensive knowledge would also have been secured concerning all personnel of the Embassy, their personal habits and interests, their areas of official responsibilities, and the substance of their official viewpoints, attitudes and reporting. This reservoir of information can benefit the Soviets in their assessment of U.S. personnel, programs, operations and intelligence collection patterns.

[Here follow the Security Committee’s recommendations for further assessment.]

R. L. Bannerman
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, Hidden Microphones in Moscow Embassy. Top Secret; No Foreign Dissem. Forwarded to Bundy by Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Carter under cover of a June 3 memorandum. (Ibid.)
  2. Not found.
  3. Not printed.
  4. See Document 47.