Although the ARRL made a valiant effort to persuade the government to allow amateurs to at least keep their receivers operating in the event that the U.S. entered World War One, given the Navy's desire for complete control of the airwaves, this "one thousand pairs of listening ears" proposal turned out to be the last thing the Navy wanted.
QST, March, 1917, page 29:
W A R ?
We wonder several times a day, what the effect upon amateur wireless would be if this country drifts into war. When the European war first broke out, a lot of us on the Pacific coast were compelled to shut up. Later on, we took this matter up with the Commissioner of Navigation on one of our visits to Washington, and the latter official was good enough to look into the matter. He found that after several months of closing down of the amateurs, the cause for the order had been removed, and the stations were permitted to reopen. If we were to have war at the present time on our own account, it is one of the serious questions with us as to whether or not we would be allowed to go on as we are now. Military necessity is one of those things which does not have to explain its actions. We certainly hope that we shall be successful in showing the authorities that we are sufficiently well organized to make it a military advantage to keep us going. We might be of quite a good deal of assistance in detecting unneutral use of wireless. We would take a long chance that the vast majority of us would be strictly loyal to our country, and would observe the President's neutrality proclamation, which is still in force. With one thousand loyal amateurs listening in every night along our coasts, the chances of one or two unloyal operators would be pretty small. Without us, the Navy would lose these one thousand pairs of listening ears.