THE CIA: An Old Salt Opens Up the Pickle Factory

  • Share
  • Read Later

(4 of 4)

There is one CIA weakness for which Turner has no ready solution: detecting and countering the efforts of foreign intelligence agents to acquire U.S. secrets. The weakness stems in part from a shake-up in which veteran counterspies were replaced. The shifts took place before Turner arrived, but Knoche believes such work requires a periodic turnover of agents who will go all-out for a time and then take on other duties. Explains Knoche: "The work by its nature—where you constantly have to build negative or paranoid assumptions—can almost guarantee a form of illness."

Overall Czar. Another problem is the prohibition against CIA investigations of spying within the U.S. By law, that is an FBI duty. "The textbooks say the two agencies shall consult," says Knoche, "but the relationships of people involved at the working level may differ. We may keep book on a Soviet intelligence operative in Geneva, but the minute he transfers, say, to the Soviet U.N. mission in New York, we notify the FBI, and then it's over to them. But the guy following it in New York may not get himself sexed up about it at all." Yet Knoche concedes that giving one unit control of both internal security and counterintelligence abroad "would be too much power for one department."

No proposal is in the works for that kind of centralized authority. But the creation of an overall intelligence czar with Cabinet-level status is being considered favorably. This intelligence boss would supervise the budgets of all the intelligence agencies, including those in the military.

A parallel proposal is being worked out by a Senate subcommittee under Kentucky's Walter Huddleston. The plan would also: create a National Security Council subcommittee to review proposals for covert operations, ban the hiring of outsiders to conduct illegal acts abroad (such as burglaries and antigovernment protests), prohibit political assassinations and require the FBI to secure federal court orders before conducting surveillance of suspected spies.

Congress and the White House must still work out how much control the new czar should have over military intelligence officials. A gentlemanly argument is developing between Turner and Defense Secretary Brown over this. But some trends are clear. The director of Central Intelligence will be strengthened; his control over budgets, assignments and the collection of information will be tightened; and he almost certainly will be Admiral Stansfield Turner.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. Next Page