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New Rules Curb CIA Covert Activity, Official Says

September 30, 1987|From the Washington Post

PRINCETON, N.J. — The deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency said Tuesday that the agency has adopted new procedures to prevent any CIA director from carrying out independent covert actions such as those reportedly undertaken by the late William J. Casey.

Robert M. Gates did not confirm or deny a report by Bob Woodward in the Post and in a new book that Casey had independently called upon the Saudi Arabian intelligence service to attempt the assassination in March, 1985, of Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual leader of the extremist Shia Muslim Hezbollah group.

Lebanese agents set off a car bomb close to Fadlallah's residence in Beirut that killed 80 people but left the Shia cleric uninjured.

In answer to a question about what the CIA was doing to prevent the recurrence of such "off-the-books" action, Gates said, "We are tightening up on the procedures for the approval of covert action."

Gates said the CIA also is making a "more rigorous review" of all proposed covert actions "to evaluate whether it makes sense" and are consistent with the law. He said members of the agency's analytical branch, which traditionally has had nothing to do with its operational side, are now included in covert operation reviews.

Casey's alleged independent action is a focal point of Woodward's new book "VEIL: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987," which was published this week.

Gates spoke at Princeton University on the CIA's role in the making of American foreign policy.

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