175. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford 1


  • Improved Security of Telecommunications

It is very probable that the Soviets are intercepting out-of-city telephone conversations of key Washington officials, since such calls are usually on radio links which can be intercepted with rather simple and commercially available equipment. [1½ lines not declassified]

[1 paragraph (7 lines) not declassified]

In briefly exploring possible approaches to solving this problem, AT&T has indicated that some limited measures are technically feasible and reasonably inexpensive. Although this would work only for outgoing calls from certain telephones, it may be the best interim solution.

For the longer term, however, we should examine the costs and effectiveness of more comprehensive solutions. I have discussed the matter with Secretary Schlesinger and we have agreed that the National Security Agency and the Defense Communications Agency could be asked through Secretary Schlesinger to (a) implement appropriate interim solutions and (b) to develop alternative programs for longer term solutions for your consideration. I would also establish a small NSC Panel of consultants to assist us in monitoring and guiding the development of these programs. A directive to initiate both interim and longer term actions is at Tab A.2

Admiral Anderson, Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, has written you to express the concern of the Board regarding Soviet interception of telecommunications (Tab C).3 If you ap[Page 840]prove the actions proposed above, I will relay this information to the Board and keep them informed of our progress.


That you approve the National Security Decision Memorandum at Tab A.4

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 54, NSDM 266. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Elliott and Ober forwarded the memorandum to Kissinger under a covering memorandum, August 7, with the recommendation that he sign it. (Ibid.)
  2. Tab A, as signed, is Document 176.
  3. Anderson’s August 5 letter to the President is attached, but not printed. In it, he advised the President that PFIAB, during its June meeting, had “received a briefing by the [NSA] on the vulnerability of U.S. communications, both domestic and foreign, to Soviet intercept.” The “corrective action” overseen by William O. Baker, PFIAB member and President of Bell Telephone Laboratories, “will be expensive but it is vital to our national security,” Anderson wrote.
  4. The recommendation was checked approved.