B-128144(3), JUN 29, 1956

B-128144(3): Jun 29, 1956

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SPECIAL TELEPHONES WILL BE INSTALLED IN THE RESIDENCES AND QUARTERS OF APPROXIMATELY 30 HIGH RANKING PERSONS ESSENTIAL TO THE NATIONAL DEFENSE. THESE TELEPHONES WILL BE CONNECTED DIRECTLY WITH THE AIR FORCE COMMAND POST SWITCHBOARD WHICH NOW POSSESSES DIRECT LINES TO SUCH KEY GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY OFFICES AS THE WHITE HOUSE. IT IS STATED THAT THE COMMAND POST OPERATOR WILL HAVE DIRECT CONTROL OF AND WILL ESTABLISH ALL CONNECTIONS IN THE SPECIAL TELEPHONE SYSTEM. HE WILL INQUIRE AS TO THE AUTHORIZATION THEREFOR. WILL LOG IMPORTANT AND UNUSUAL CONNECTIONS. IT IS REPORTED THE AIR FORCE CHIEF OF STAFF WILL ISSUE A DIRECTIVE THAT THE COMMAND POST SWITCHBOARD IS NOT A SWITCHING FACILITY. THAT IT IS NOT DESIGNED TO AUGMENT COMMERCIAL TELEPHONE SYSTEMS.

B-128144(3), JUN 29, 1956

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

MR. SECRETARY:

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE BY LETTER DATED JUNE 5, 1956, REQUESTS A DECISION WHETHER IN VIEW OF THE PROHIBITION IN SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414; 31 U.S.C. 679, APPROPRIATED FUNDS MAY BE SPENT FOR THE INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE OF DIRECT TELEPHONE LINES FROM THE AIR FORCE COMMAND POST SWITCHBOARD TO THE PRIVATE RESIDENCES AND QUARTERS OF CERTAIN KEY CIVILIAN AND MILITARY OFFICERS TO INSURE IMMEDIATE COMMUNICATION WITH THEM IN THE EVENT OF A NATIONAL EMERGENCY.

UNDER THE PROPOSED INSTALLATION, SPECIAL TELEPHONES WILL BE INSTALLED IN THE RESIDENCES AND QUARTERS OF APPROXIMATELY 30 HIGH RANKING PERSONS ESSENTIAL TO THE NATIONAL DEFENSE. THESE TELEPHONES WILL BE CONNECTED DIRECTLY WITH THE AIR FORCE COMMAND POST SWITCHBOARD WHICH NOW POSSESSES DIRECT LINES TO SUCH KEY GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY OFFICES AS THE WHITE HOUSE, OFFICE OF DEFENSE MOBILIZATION, STATE DEPARTMENT, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, OFFICE OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, AND AIR FORCE, ARMY, NAVY, MARINE CORPS, COAST GUARD AND NATIONAL GUARD INSTALLATIONS AND ESTABLISHMENTS WITHIN AND OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.

IT IS STATED THAT THE COMMAND POST OPERATOR WILL HAVE DIRECT CONTROL OF AND WILL ESTABLISH ALL CONNECTIONS IN THE SPECIAL TELEPHONE SYSTEM. ADDITION, HE WILL INQUIRE AS TO THE AUTHORIZATION THEREFOR, WILL LOG IMPORTANT AND UNUSUAL CONNECTIONS, AND MAY MAKE RECORDINGS OF CONVERSATIONS. ALSO, IT IS REPORTED THE AIR FORCE CHIEF OF STAFF WILL ISSUE A DIRECTIVE THAT THE COMMAND POST SWITCHBOARD IS NOT A SWITCHING FACILITY; THAT IT IS NOT DESIGNED TO AUGMENT COMMERCIAL TELEPHONE SYSTEMS; AND THAT THE DIRECT LINES BETWEEN THE SWITCHBOARD AND THE RESIDENCES AND QUARTERS ARE FOR USE ONLY IN A NATIONAL EMERGENCY TO CONDUCT SUCH URGENT OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

THE PURPOSE OF THE SYSTEM AS EXPLAINED IN THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER APPEARS TO BE THAT IN THE EVENT A NATIONAL EMERGENCY OCCURS DURING OFF-DUTY HOURS, THE DIRECT LINE TELEPHONE SYSTEM WILL ASSURE EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION TO THE RESIDENCES AND QUARTERS OF KEY OFFICIALS REGARDLESS OF THE OBSTRUCTION THAT CAN BE ANTICIPATED BY THE OVERLOADING OF THE COMMERCIAL CIRCUITS. IN ADDITION, THE SYSTEM WILL ALLOW IMMEDIATE TELEPHONE CONFERENCES FOR THE SWIFT EXECUTION OF EMERGENCY WAR PLANS.

SECTION 7 OF THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, 37 STAT. 414, 31 U.S.C. 679 PROVIDES THAT "EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW, NO MONEY APPROPRIATED BY ANY ACT SHALL BE EXPENDED FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE INSTALLED IN ANY PRIVATE RESIDENCE OR PRIVATE APARTMENT."

WITH REFERENCE TO A TELEPHONE WHICH COULD BE USED FROM THE PRIVATE RESIDENCE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE THAN DIRECT COMMUNICATION WITH THE WHITE HOUSE SWITCHBOARD, THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY, IN A LETTER DATED APRIL 28, 1914, STATED THAT THE TELEPHONE WAS NOT PROHIBITED BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 23, 1912, SUPRA, AND IF IT WAS WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THAT ACT, AS LONG AS THE CONDITIONS EXISTING BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO AT THAT TIME CREATED AN EMERGENCY, CONTINUANCE OF THE SERVICE AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WAS JUSTIFIED. THE SUBMISSION FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY INDICATED THAT THE DIRECT LINE BETWEEN HIS RESIDENCE AND THE WHITE HOUSE SWITCHBOARD INSURED IMMEDIATE CONNECTION; INSURED SECRECY IN COMMUNICATION AND DEBARRED TELEPHONE USE FOR PRIVATE CALLS. ADDITION, THE SECRETARY MAINTAINED A PRIVATE TELEPHONE IN HIS RESIDENCE AT HIS OWN EXPENSE.

IN DECISION OF JULY 5, 1924, REVIEW NO. 3714, A DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNTS WERE CREDITED FOR PAYMENTS MADE FOR A TELEPHONE LINE FROM THE RESIDENCE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY TO THE NAVY DEPARTMENT FOR THE MONTHS OF MARCH AND APRIL 1917, THE UNITED STATES HAVING ENTERED WORLD WAR I ON APRIL 6, 1917. IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT THE DIRECT LINE TO THE NAVY DEPARTMENT WAS USED SOLELY FOR GOVERNMENT BUSINESS DURING THE EXISTENCE OF EMERGENCY CONDITIONS AND THAT THE SECRETARY HAD IN HIS RESIDENCE OTHER TELEPHONE SERVICE WHICH HE PAID FOR FROM HIS PERSONAL FUNDS.

THE PROHIBITION IN SECTION 7 WAS HELD INAPPLICABLE TO THE INSTALLATION FOR OFFICIAL USE OF A TELEPHONE BETWEEN THE RESIDENCE OF THE PEARL HARBOR BASE FIRE MARSHAL AND THE INTERCOMMUNICATION SYSTEM OF THE PEARL HARBOR FIRE DISPATCHING SWITCHBOARD. 32 COMP. GEN. 431, MODIFYING 32 COMP. GEN. 271. THE RATIONALE FOR THE DECISION WAS THAT THE DISPATCHING SWITCHBOARD WAS LIMITED MECHANICALLY AND BY REGULATION; THE SOLE PURPOSE WAS TO ASSURE 24-HOUR IMMEDIATE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE FIRE MARSHAL AND THE FIRE- FIGHTING STATIONS; AND THE FIRE MARSHAL MAINTAINED IN HIS RESIDENCE AT HIS OWN EXPENSE A TELEPHONE CONNECTED WITH THE GOVERNMENT GENERAL TELEPHONE SYSTEM THROUGH WHICH ALL PERSONAL CALLS MUST BE AND ARE MADE.

THE PROPOSED SPECIAL TELEPHONE INSTALLATION WILL BE NECESSARY TACTICALLY IN A NATIONAL EMERGENCY. IT WILL BE RESTRICTED SO THAT IT WILL BE AVAILABLE ONLY TO CONDUCT URGENT OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN SUCH AN EXIGENCY. ALL TELEPHONE CALLS FROM PRIVATE RESIDENCES AND QUARTERS WILL BE LIMITED INASMUCH AS THEY WILL BE CHECKED BY REGULATION AND WILL BE UNDER EXTERNAL GOVERNMENT CONTROL AND SUPERVISION. THE SYSTEM WILL ASSURE 24-HOUR IMMEDIATE COMMUNICATION WITH KEY OFFICIALS. PRESUMABLY, THE OFFICIALS INVOLVED WILL CONTINUE TO FURNISH IN THEIR RESIDENCES GENERAL COMMERCIAL TELEPHONES AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. THESE CIRCUMSTANCES APPEAR TO BE ANALOGOUS TO THOSE REFERRED TO IN THE DECISIONS WHICH HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED ABOVE, WHICH ARE REGARDED AS CONTROLLING HERE. ACCORDINGLY, THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO THE USE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR THE INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE SYSTEM PROPOSED.