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Army Setting Up Phone Line for Espionage Tips

February 25, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Army is about to step up the war against espionage by turning to a marketing tool long used in the commercial world - a toll-free ″800″ phone number.

Based on the results of a year-long test at four major bases, the Army has decided to make it easier for its soldiers and civilian employees to report any suspicious behavior they observe among colleagues.

Notice some strange behavior? Just dial 800-CALL SPY.

Lt. Col. Richard Holk, a spokesman for the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, said the new phone system will be in full operation by April 30. The Army intends to mount a major public awareness campaign internally, he added, starting with the inclusion of a special flier in all pay checks distributed at the end of April.

″Actually, the phone number has already been activated,″ Holk said. ″But we’ve only got one circuit up right now and we don’t want people to get stuck with a busy signal.″

According to Holk, the Army began exploring the use of a telephone hotline for espionage reporting a year ago after Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger ordered all the services to tighten security.

That directive was issued in the wake of the breakup of the so-called Walker family spy ring. Four men - three of them from the same family - were convicted or pleaded guilty to charges of providing Navy secrets to the Soviet Union for almost two decades.

The Army eventually conducted tests of a telephone reporting system at Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Lewis, Wash., ″and the results were sufficient to convince us that we should go nationwide,″ Holk said.

None of the phone tips received at the four forts resulted in any discoveries of actual espionage, he said.

″But the system helped point out to people the need to remain alert to danger signs,″ he added.

What are the danger signs? The Army has some tips it intends to offer when publicizing the new phone line in April.

″Do you know anyone who takes unexplained short trips out of the country? Does someone get long-distance calls from people with foreign accents or the caller sounded suspicious and won’t leave a message?

″Does someone in the club brag about working on something classified or sensitive? Does a friend seem overly interested in spying and carries around miniature cameras and a small tape recorder all the time?

″Have you seen anyone return a document to the safe just as they’re coming in for work? Does this same individual work very late at night? Is he or she always interested in the work of other people? Does he or she always make ’just an extra copy for the files?‴

If you notice such behavior, the Army advises, ″report it.″

″Espionage is a silent war, but people die. Help make America secure.″

According to Holk, phone calls to the 800 number will be routed automatically to an Army security unit at Fort Meade, Md., which will make sure the tips are investigated by proper authorities.

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