219. Briefing Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, Department of State (Buffum) to Secretary of State Kissinger1 2
Protection for Diplomatic Establishments in New York
On January 19, an unknown person fired 22 calibre rifle bullets through the fifth floor windows of the Ukrainian Mission to the United Nations. No one was hurt. The FBI and the New York Police immediately began an intensive investigation and the FBI told us this morning that they have found a 22 calibre rifle near the scene, on which a fingerprint has been found. They are conducting ballistic tests to determine whether it is the gun used to fire into the Ukrainian Mission. We will report to you on the results of this investigation.
You should know that the Department has for several years expressed its dissatisfaction with police coverage for Diplomatic Missions in New York and has proposed urgent action to supplement present protection. At present, the system works as follows: the FBI and the New York Police cooperate in gathering intelligence about potential threats before incidents occur and in running down the guilty parties after the events. The New York Police provide both roving coverage for Diplomatic establishments and stationary coverage for the Missions of the Soviet Bloc, Arabs, Israeli, and others faced with threats. [Page 2]The New York Police provide only “street level” protection outside buildings, which is, to say the least, inadequate because most Diplomatic Missions and Diplomatic Residences are in multi-story buildings. This gap is partially filled at present by the stationing of Executive Protective Service personnel inside these buildings but directly in front of the Diplomatic Mission office or Residence doors. This EPS protection is provided only on a limited basis and on individual specific request from USUN. Under existing legislation EPS operations are limited to the District of Colombia area unless specific authorization is granted by the President in individual cases in event of an emergency. Treasury also cites shortages of personnel and funds as added reasons for not undertaking expanded coverage in New York; moreover it is reluctant to act on the basis of anything but a definitely-established threat. EPS is therefore very reluctant to continue to provide even the present service, let alone expand it to give the type of more thorough coverage it gives to Diplomatic Missions in Washington.
In view of the EPS position, the Deputy Secretary in your absence proposed in October to the President that the White House designate a single Federal agency to assume primary responsibility for protection of foreign officials and installations, adding that the Department is prepared to develop this capability. Treasury and Justice have opposed this option and favor a subsidy to the New York City Police. These proposals and others dealing with protection of foreign officials and installations are part of the attached recommendations submitted to the White House (S/S (numbers 7419011 and 7424011).
As a result of your request for action today, we have been assured by the NSC staff that a decision on the protection plan for New York will be expedited, and that a decision can be expected within two or three weeks. Early action by the White House on our protection plan for New York is absolutely essential.[Page 3]
Pending this decision, we have requested USUN urgently to review with the FBI and the New York Police their action plans for patrolling areas immediately around the Soviet, Arab, Israeli and other potentially threatened missions, with a view to determining whether more effective protective measures can be established within present limitations. We have also asked the FBI and the New York Police to review their intelligence-gathering operations with regard to the protection of threatened Diplomatic Missions. They will report back any additional conclusions and recommendations they may have.
The New York Police will most likely use this occasion to renew their urgent request for Federal relief for the heavy financial burden they now bear for the protection of diplomatic persons and facilities in New York.
I should note that both the FBI and the New York Police have emphasized the near impossibility of preventing a determined and careful sharpshooter from firing through the windows of Diplomatic Missions in New York, where all the diplomatic establishments in question are surrounded by high buildings with hundreds of unpatrollable buildings and rooftops. The only practical protection lies in aggressive patrolling and active intelligence operations.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P750160–1756. Secret. Drafted by Blake. Concurred in by Dikeos and Hoffacker. Tab B, a December 6, 1974 memorandum from Springsteen to Scowcroft, responded to a November 16 request from Kissinger in his capacity as National Security Adviser for a more detailed assessment of the options for enhancing diplomatic security measures in New York City. (National Archives, RG 59, M/CT Files: Lot 77 D 30, Box 2, Protection of Foreign Officials and Installations, October–December 1974)↩
- In the aftermath of a shooting incident at the Ukrainian Mission to the U.N., Buffum requested an expedited protection plan for diplomats in New York City.↩