178. Letter From the Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (Anderson) to President Ford1

Dear Mr. President:

Your Board has reviewed National Security Decision Memorandum 2962 and is impressed with the sustained high-level concern it reflects for the serious communications insecurities which prevail at the seat of government and environs. We believe that NSDM 296 points toward many of the factors which make resolution of this problem exceptionally difficult:

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Nonetheless, Mr. President, given the scope, complexity, and severity of this problem, we believe that the corrective actions contemplated by NSDM 296 must promptly be extended.

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As a consequence of the foregoing, the problem has been demonstrated to be of far greater magnitude than we estimated one year ago. We now see that the Soviets are:

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We believe that foremost among the measures which should be taken quickly are definitive assignments of the responsibility for policy direction on the one hand, and for implementing actions on the other. In our judgment, and as is suggested in NSDM 296, policy direction must emanate from the White House. In this connection, we urge that you appoint a small (three- or four-person) consultative body of government and industry representatives to evaluate and to keep you advised of progress.

The action element for this program should be the [less than 1 line not declassified] To fulfill such a mandate, and to the end that ordinary bureaucratic impediments not unduly delay accomplishment of agreed objectives, it will be necessary to delegate an unprecedented degree of autonomy to the [less than 1 line not declassified] This will be required both for the purpose of cooperating directly with industry in the devel [Page 845] opment of equipment and operations and for dealing securely with the extraordinary variety of government agencies involved.

Finally, Mr. President, we note that there is as yet no comprehensive program to assess the intelligence losses resulting from communications insecurities, nor plans to develop and maintain a sense of communications discipline in order to reduce Soviet intelligence gains. We propose that, under NSC guidance, [less than 1 line not declassified] be charged with instituting such a program.3

Respectfully yours,

George W. Anderson, Jr.

Admiral, USN (Ret.)



Although the immediate and near-term budgetary impact of this program is nominal [less than 1 line not declassified] long-term costs will be substantial [less than 1 line not declassified] It is important to bear in mind that by any meaningful yardstick, these figures are miniscule: the information transfer to the Soviets will almost certainly necessitate expensive compensating actions by this Government as well as by commercial entities dealing with the USSR; and further, the cost of acquiring intelligence is so great [less than 1 line not declassified] we believe it would be ‘pound foolish’ to neglect the opportunity for maximum efforts at preventing intelligence losses.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–282, Intelligence Files, PFIAB (2) [1 of 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive. Kissinger forwarded the letter to Ford under a covering memorandum, June 30, which bears Ford’s initials. (Ibid.)
  2. Document 177.
  3. In a July 18 memorandum, Elliott and Ober advised Scowcroft “that the PFIAB idea of instituting a comprehensive program to assess the intelligence losses resulting from communications insecurities is a difficult proposal to implement.” As such, they recommended that Scowcroft, before proceeding, “consider the ramification of such action.” Elliott and Ober’s memorandum is in the Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box 59, NSDM 296 (1). In an August 9, 1976 memorandum to Bush, Scowcroft directed the CIA to prepare a damage assessment of “the known information content of Soviet intercept operations against key government and private sector organizations.” Scowcroft’s memorandum is ibid. No such assessment was found.
  4. A note on the bottom of the addendum indicates that it was attached to Anderson’s letter.