Don't break Ma Bell, former defense chief says

Breaking apart the giant American Telephone & Telegraph Company would weaken national security, especially in the event of nuclear attack, former Defense Secretary Harold Brown testified Thursday.

During a US District Court proceeding on the AT&T antitrust case, Mr. Brown said telecommunications capability is a vital link in military strength.

Brown said a central authority must be maintained to prevent communications lines from breaking down - either through natural disaster or sabotage by an enemy - and lessening America's power to react quickly to nuclear attack.

Although the Defense Department supplements its communications with radio and satellites, AT&T provides the ''backbone'' of its communications service, he said.

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