260. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Administration (Cooke) to the Secretary of Defense’s Military Assistant (Murphy)1


I have reservations about the Secretary signing Al Hall’s proposed reply to the Chairman in response to the latter’s request for clarification of the NSA/CSS directive.2

The directive papers over some issues that will surface when the implementation plan comes up for approval. One of these issues is precisely what is intended by paragraph VI A 3 of the new directive which states:

Exercise SIGINT operational control over SIGINT activities of the U.S. Government to respond most effectively to military and other SIGINT requirements. In the case of mobile military SIGINT platforms, he shall state movement requirements through appropriate channels to the military commanders, who shall retain responsibility for operational command of the vehicles.

It is quite likely that Noel Gayler’s idea of what constitutes “SIGINT operational control” will conflict with the Chairman’s concept of “operational command of the vehicles.”

Furthermore, the Chairman raised the issue with respect to “collection platforms (not necessarily mobile) installations and personnel.” The proposed reply deals with only “mobile collection platforms.” It is silent with respect to “installations and personnel.” I am certain this ambiguity will be interpreted differently by the Chiefs and by Noel Gayler.

In short, the detailed reply proposed will serve to shift the argument from what was meant by the directive to what was meant by the reply and tend to lock the Secretary in. This would serve the boss no useful purpose. He should preserve all his options at this time. I, therefore, suggest a short response—essentially the first sentence of the proposed reply.3

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If he decides to go with the detailed proposed reply, there is a technical correction that should be made in the third paragraph. A specified command does not have components because it consists of elements of one Armed Force e.g., SAC. A unified command is composed of elements of two or more Services. Therefore, “specified” should be changed to “unified.”

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330 76 197, 020 NSA 1971. Secret.
  2. See Document 258 and footnote 4 thereto.
  3. Laird followed Cooke’s advice and replied to Moorer in a brief January 5 memorandum that “the general intent should be clear in the directive, and the details will be clarified by the implementation plan which I have asked the Director, NSA to prepare for my approval.” (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 330 74 045, Signer’s Copies January 1972)