176. National Security Decision Memorandum 2661


  • The Secretary of Defense


  • Improved Security of Telecommunications

The President has been informed of the opportunities for Soviet interception of critical unencrypted Government telephone conversations which may be carried on Washington area microwave links. He has directed that immediate defensive steps be taken to counter this situation.

In that connection, he has directed that you develop, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Director of the Office of Telecommunications Policy, a specific program designed to reduce significantly the opportunities for such interception.

The program should include near term interim measures including steps to route critical Government communications on cables or wire lines until well out of the Washington area. It also should propose more comprehensive long term measures including but not limited to expansion of the availability of secure telephones useable over standard telephone lines, and alternative programs for securing the microwave links in the Washington area. Program definition for both near [Page 841] term and longer term proposals should include technical descriptions, costs, and scheduling information assuring highest priorities.

Details as to specific near term interim measures which can be or are being instituted and the specific dates on which they will become effective should be submitted to the President for his consideration not later than October 1, 1974.2 Details of longer term measures for this program should be submitted for the President’s consideration not later than January 1, 1975.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 54, NSDM 266. Top Secret; Sensitive. Copies were sent to Ingersoll, Ash, Colby, and the Director of the Office of Telecommunications Policy Clay T. Whitehead.
  2. Clements submitted a report on the initial measures taken to secure government communications in the Washington area to Ford under a covering memorandum, October 8. (Ibid.) Kissinger summarized the report in a memorandum to Ford, December 17. The report, he wrote, “identified 10,000 leased government circuits terminating in the Washington area for which protection seemed prudent. About 4,000 of these circuits are now on microwave and exploitable, and the remaining 6,000 are already on cable but must be tagged to see that they remain there.

    “We have already initiated action to move the radio circuits to cable beginning in December. Initial estimates are that the entire moving/tagging process will be complete by next August, but we are working closely with AT&T management to accelerate this schedule. A much earlier completion date should be possible. Work on longer term measures to more thoroughly eliminate significant Soviet intercept opportunities is continuing and seems to be on schedule,” Kissinger concluded. (Ibid.)