RealNews

Homeland Dept. sets up secure phones in statehouses

The federal government has installed a secure telephone line in every state house that only the governor and a few others with “top secret” clearance can answer. Reminiscent of the red “bat phone” in the 1960s television show but far more sophisticated, the secure phone allows the Homeland Security Department in Washington to discuss classified intelligence in an emergency, such as a terrorist strike. It can also be used before an attack to convey an imminent threat, for security drills, and to discuss other sensitive security matters, federal and state officials said. The phones, requested by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, are described as “big and boxy.” They are black, about the size of a telephone book, and have a digital display on top, federal officials said. Every state has two of the phones — one for the governor’s office and another for the state’s emergency operations center, said an official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The District of Columbia also has two, including one in the mayor’s office. Full Story

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