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White House secure TV system

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  • Albert LaFrance
    Tim Goldsmith contributed this memorandum from October 1960, discussing installation of an encrypted TV system at the White House and CIA HQ. Camp David, High
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 7, 2014
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      Tim Goldsmith contributed this memorandum from October 1960, discussing
      installation of an encrypted TV system at the White House and CIA HQ. Camp
      David, High Point and the AJCC are named as possible additional locations,
      using "existing microwave systems". That must refer to something other
      than the cylindrical-tower microwave network, since Cartwheel was still
      under construction a year after the memo's date.

      http://coldwar-c4i.net/whitehouse_comms/whitehouse_tv_1960.pdf



      Albert



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    • ozob99
      Apparently WHASA had a microwave link from High Point to the OEOB as early as 1955; AT&T s TD-2 at Wash 4 also dates from mid 1950 s, but I ve never heard of a
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 7, 2014
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        Apparently WHASA had a microwave link from High Point to the OEOB as early as 1955; AT&T's TD-2 at Wash 4 also dates from mid 1950's, but I've never heard of a permanent link from the OEOB or surrounding buildings to Wash 1, Garden City, et al at that time; I've heard of local channel coaxial links to the White House complex from Wash 1 for TV pick ups/feeds, so that path was a possibility for the "last mile", as well as coax from gov't buildings in the area with microwave connectivity. Note the OPAL 1955 TV feed was a temporary microwave shot Wash 1 to OEOB; perhaps the coax cables were not in place then.


        Snippet from the archives:







        "Another item that may be of interest to the list concerns Ike's television address from High Point (Mt. Weather) from the tent city set up on the grounds for OPAL 1955. On June 15, Murrary Snyder of the White House Press Secretary's Office called the Signal Corps to set up TV and radio feeds from High Point to the major networks. The Signal Coprs was given only about 1 hr. to ready this link. To carry the video transmission, the Corps decided to use the CCTV system already in place between High Point and the Old Executive Office Building right next to the White House. The audio, however, was carried on AT&T's microwave system from High Point to Harrisburg, then over "regular facilities" to NYC, where it was fed to the TV and radio studios. The Corps also set up temporary antennae on the roofs of the EOB and the telephone co. building at 725 13th St. in DC so that the video feed could be sent on to NYC. NBC and Dumont broadcast the video; NBC, CBS, ABC, and Mutual each broadcast the President's address on their radio networks. [Source: Memorandum, June 17, 1955, RG 396 (Records of the Office of Emergency Preparedness), National Archives, College Park, Md.]

        David Krugler"






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      • unrecognizedresponse
        This photo set appears to be at a TV studio under construction (?). There are several photo angles. They seem to be testing encrypted video. Another photo
        Message 3 of 12 , Jul 14, 2014
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          This photo set appears to be at a TV studio under construction (?). There are several photo angles. They seem to be testing encrypted video.

          Another photo shows JFK at a table in what seems to be this same room. In front of control room glass, in front of a mic. Signal Corps logo on the door. JFK never visited High Point or Site R that I know. Would Kennedy have been at the OEOB or perhaps a studio at Aspen Lodge (Citrus/Orange One)? I've seen the photo but can't find it.

          As another user mentioned, the Ford and Carter libraries have published some UNCLAS/FOUO, very detailed EBS docs. That mention Bldg 11 as the COMMCEN and High Point EBS studio.

          Based upon multiple sources from JFK to Reagan, this is kinda what I can piece together:

          Encrypted video and studios at Aspen, AJCC, High Point and White House/OEOB. Don't know quite how Casper fit this. Funding for Cartwheel sites with the intent of full video links to integrate into EBS, post-Conelrad. Transition begins 1962 with NIAC policy. 1963, EBS kicks in. Every president for two decades wanted the videoconference system linked into EBS via Bell. It never happened. They kept an audio circuit to WTOP at all times and could feed that from nearly anywhere on a POTUS trip. But video would have required going to a commercial TV station. The latter I can confirm based upon a USAICA doc.

          It would be great to know more about exactly what video traffic the cannoball sites carried daily. Did Johnson ever do a muti-site briefing over video via Aspen Lodge? Many men manned this equip. for years.

          The odd use of PhoneVision in the film Seven Days in May makes me think it was in use or development circa 1963. And that Knebel got a peek at it. Literally something that looked like a Hi-Fi set.

          Hopefully, this is a jumping off point from which to find more on this topic. Of most interest to me are docs on the Emergency News Center / Comms Annex to Plan D, withdrawn from the Ford Library. These are only "Secret." No justified reason to deny in full.

          White House Army Signal Agency (WHASA) equipment demonstration - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-1962-01-10-D.aspx

          http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-1962-01-10-D.aspx

          White House Army Signal Agency (WHASA) equipme... http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-1962-01-10-D.aspx


          View on www.jfklibrary.org http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-1962-01-10-D.aspx
          Preview by Yahoo




          ST-19A-8-62. White House Army Signal Agency (WHASA) Equipment Demonstration - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-ST-19A-8-62.aspx



          http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-ST-19A-8-62.aspx

          ST-19A-8-62. White House Army Signal Agency (WH... http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-ST-19A-8-62.aspx


          View on www.jfklibrary.org http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-ST-19A-8-62.aspx
          Preview by Yahoo





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        • ozob99
          For those who didn t see an earlier thread, here is a snippet of how Casper may have fit in as an originator: There is anecdotal(from a tech who was there)
          Message 4 of 12 , Jul 14, 2014
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            For those who didn't see an earlier thread, here is a snippet of how Casper may have fit in as an originator:

            "There is anecdotal(from a tech who was there) evidence of a video switching arrangement at Tobacco Row

            Mt for the Greenbriar; snippet from post 22547:"

            "there was a switching arrangement allowing a video feed from White Sulphur Springs #2(the Greenbrier

            bunker),via Paint Bank & Airpoint, to be switched into all three network TV feeds."

            Revisiting this I heard there was, or a planned, remote control circuit from either AT&T or the Greenbriar studio

            to activate the switch.

            It seems logical that a similar arrangement was at one or more main stations associated with broadband routes

            to Mt Weather and Site R, which did have studio's and full time CCTV between them and various points, and

            could have served as one way out feeds to the networks.

            The Switching at TROW was secret at the time and not documented, so the activation methods & procedures

            may have been seperate from NIAC."



            Patching a video feed at TROW to a dedicated VUR(video unit radio) or a protection channel to Garden City et

            al was always viable although delayed if a call out was needed.

            The audio paths from Casper to the Washington area could have been on any number of routes.


            >>>They kept an audio circuit to WTOP at all times and could feed that from nearly anywhere on a POTUS trip.


            Full time spare audio loops were in place from the TOC's to every major radio & TV station served, so

            patching audio from anywhere(including dial-ups) was quick & easy.


            BTW your links lead to a 500 error.
          • unrecognizedresponse
            Links should be working. Was their server. This is one doc I am referring to: http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0204/7348020.pdf
            Message 5 of 12 , Jul 14, 2014
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              Links should be working. Was their server. This is one doc I am referring to:

              http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0204/7348020.pdf http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/0204/7348020.pdf

              I am trying to grasp the operational concept. Pres or Congress might relocate at defcon 2? Might deliver a telecast outside of normal niac orders?

              Are you saying there were classified ad hoc arrangements outside of (not acknowledged in) the USAICA EBS checklists?

              I have a few oral histories, incl. from George Herman, CBS Radio. Herman: "I was in rotation with other radio newsmen to go to High Point and do radio broadcasts from the HP studio. They had cameras there, but they weren't connected to network TV."

              Some of these docs are rather new, so, with effort, more may be found. Any leads help.

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            • ozob99
              ... Just my speculation; from a telco perspective the Greenbrier was more secretive than Mt Weather, and comms arrangements not published, even in some
              Message 6 of 12 , Jul 15, 2014
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                >>The Switching at TROW was secret at the time and not documented, so the activation methods & >>procedures may have been separate from NIAC


                >>Are you saying there were classified ad hoc arrangements outside of (not acknowledged in) the USAICA
                >>EBS checklists?


                Just my speculation; from a telco perspective the Greenbrier was more secretive than Mt Weather, and comms arrangements not published, even in some formerly classified docs, seem likely to me.(however, some might surface someday).


                There were great efforts made to conceal any communications paths or activity associated with the Greenbrier.








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              • goldsmithtim
                More Secure Television documents I found I just posted to the files section. The most interesting one is from April 8th 1959 from General Goodpaster to the
                Message 7 of 12 , Aug 15, 2014
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                  More Secure Television documents I found I just posted to the files section.
                  The most interesting one is from April 8th 1959 from General Goodpaster to the Chief Signal Officer of the Army noting the contract for “Secure Television” was awarded to The Denver Research Corporation and outlines what features they hope to get and a target date of June 30th 1960 for 4 terminal stations on a full duplex basis, operating within the Washington Metropolitan area. The most important elements to the system would be “Phone vision”, “Briefing capability” (which seems to mean the ability for the camera end to shoot graphics) and “Record communication” which they describe as the technical ability to “permit high volume traffic and extreme speed of service between selected relocation sites."

                  I couldn't find anything on the The Denver Research Corporation. Also that is a pretty fast turnaround on a contract!

                  Also posted is a 1955 document to the White House Army Signal Agency noting the interest in developing a Secure Television System and an upcoming conference between the NSA and the Signal Corps where they planned to discuss the feasibility of a jointly developed project.

                  Albert – (or anyone else) please feel free to post these with the other one on your website if you wanted to make a node of Encrypted Television stuff.

                  Tim G.


                  Memorandum to the Department of the Army Chief Signal Officer from Lieutenant Colonel George McNally regarding plans for the development of a secure television system through the digitization of a television signal. Such a system will: operate in conjunction with existing secure voice networks; utilize projection equipment to provide a suitable size image; permit high volume traffic and extreme speed of service between selected relocation sites. Memo. Department of Defense. SECRET. Issue Date: Apr 8, 1959.


                  Memorandum to the Department of the Army Chief Signal Officer from A.J. Goodpaster regarding funds procurement for the implementation of a secure digital television system. Memo. White House. CONFIDENTIAL. Issue Date: Apr 13, 1959. Date Declassified: Nov 15, 2001. Complete. 1 page(s).




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                • ozob99
                  There was a Denver Research Institute involved with numerous DOD projects at that time, including video; and Denver Research Corp might have been a front.
                  Message 8 of 12 , Aug 15, 2014
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                    There was a Denver Research Institute involved with numerous DOD projects at that time, including video; and Denver Research Corp might have been a front.
                  • unrecognizedresponse
                    There are lots of WHASA photos at the JFK library depicting enrypted video in what looks like a Signals TV studio. Complete with Art Cards (test graphics?) and
                    Message 9 of 12 , Aug 16, 2014
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                      There are lots of WHASA photos at the JFK library depicting enrypted video in what looks like a Signals TV studio. Complete with Art Cards (test graphics?) and studio backdrop curtains (rolled at the top). The usual (modified ?) RCA-looking cameras with the red RCA button removed. Stripped down, as CBS used to do

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                    • cartoon691
                      I will upload the picture you are talking about. It looks like a open house for the White House Signal agency. It could be the White house Army Signal Agency
                      Message 10 of 12 , Aug 18, 2014
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                        I will upload the picture you are talking about. It looks like a open house for the White House Signal agency. It could be the White house Army Signal Agency back then.

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                      • unrecognizedresponse
                        This is the photo set White House Army Signal Agency (WHASA) equipment demonstration It looks like a TV studio under const. Where is this studio?
                        Message 11 of 12 , Aug 19, 2014
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                          This is the photo set"White House Army Signal Agency (WHASA) equipment demonstration"

                          It looks like a TV studio under const.

                          Where is this studio?

                          "ST-112-1-61. President John F. Kennedy Telephones Birthday Greetings to President Harry S. Truman"

                          Yahoo seems to have taken the simple process of posting links to new levels of complexity. A search for the quotes should take you there.

                          Note the glass partition to control room, photo shot through glass, background curtain.

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                        • Tim
                          This set of demonstration photos includes one photo of The White House North West Gate so I have always assumed it was in a basement section in the White House
                          Message 12 of 12 , Aug 20, 2014
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                            This set of demonstration photos includes one photo of The White House North West Gate so I have always assumed it was in a basement section in the White House complex. Could be OEOB. Would love to ID the people.

                            Sent from my iPad
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