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June 11, 1975
previous record and continued reluctance to cooperate with Congress.
Not only has the F.B.I. sought to suppress Federal aid to a nationally accepted, state and locally-managed criminal justice telecommunications system (National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System--NLETS), but it has offered no justification for its attempt to create a monopoly on functions performed at the Federal level in these areas. The most serious issues raised are as follows:
1) The Federal government has no Constitutional role
to provide data processing or telecommunications
2) The Federal government should not manage or control
state and local telecommunications functions.
switching, state and local criminal data systems
4) Such a system under one control.could be used to
monitor regular operations of state and local
violating the spirit of Federal privacy legislation. 5) An agency controlling a message switching capacity
could also engage in surreptitious intelligence
The F.B.I.'s record, as continually exposed to public view since Watergate, does not justify reposing such power and trust in it or any other Federal agency. Much concerning the FBI's abuses of power still remains to be revealed. In light of this situation and your concern, I trust you will act decisively and with dispatch to disapprove the FBI's request to engage in any form of message switching, or to expand NCIC is my granner.
THE WHITE HOUSE
July 11, 1975
Dear Mr. Congressman:
On behalf of the President, I would like to thank you for your letter of June 11. The issue that you raise--expansion of the NCIC's telecommunications system to include a message switching capability--is currently under review within the Justice Department. Several agencies within the Administration have raised questions regarding the implementation of such a system, mirroring your concerns. These have been forwarded to the Department for comment. I have also taken the liberty of forwarding your letter to the Attorney General for his personal review.
I can assure you that the matter will receive the most careful consideration before any decision is made. Once again thank you for your views on this matter.
on Assistant to the President
for Domestic Affairs
The Honorable John E. Moss
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20530
July 16, 1975
Honorable John E. Moss
Dear Congressman Moss:
Your letter dated May 27, 1975 to the Attorney General requesting answers to questions concerning criminal justice information systems has been referred to me for a response.
(1) Authorization to circulate the proposed limited message switching implementation plan was granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to obtain comments from those to whom it was circulated. It was our hope that circulation of the Plan to interested parties prior to implementation would give us the opportunity to benefit from their views.
(2) The NLETS grant application for 1975 has been approved subject to several conditions. The Department remains committed to NLETS and has no intention of having it superseded by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). We encourage NLETS' efforts to service state-tostate requirements for messages between law enforcement agencies.
The FBI is engaged in switching messages only to and from Alaska as a courtesy to NLETS which does not have that capability.
(4) The FBI is not preparing to engage in message switching other than that as described in its Plan.
(5) Congress has been advised of the FBI's NCIC operations in appropriations hearings and in written responses to congressional communications. With respect to the proposed implementation plan, interested members of the Congress were specifically requested to comment. Furthermore, since 1930, when 28 U.S.C. $534 was enacted, Congress has mandated that the Attorney General provide the type of information currently supplied through NCIC.
As you know, the Plan provides for decentralization of records now being maintained in Washington, D. C. Limited message switching would assist in implementing that decentralization effort.
(6) Mr. Pommerening's letter of January 8, 1975 was not intended to "interfere with federal assistance specifically delineated by Congress to be under the sole control of LEAA." Rather, he was ensuring that there was responsible coordination of federal programs in order to avoid confusion and waste of scarce resources within the law enforcement community.
If I am correct in inferring from the tenor of your questions that you are concerned about the relationship between NLETS and NCIC, let me allay some of those concerns. At a joint meeting of the Boards of NLETS and NCIC in Kansas City on June llth and 12th, 1975, a joint resolution was reached which defined more precisely the types of messages which NCIC would handle if the message switching plan were implemented. The spirit of that resolution is that each organization recognizes the functional validity of the other and defers to the other in its area of operation. Enclosed you will find a copy of that resolution.
Han Tyler; Jr.