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Exposure Will Kill Intelligence: Carlucci : Says Tight CIA Disclosure Rules Would Halt Allies' Cooperation

December 16, 1987|Reuters

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci warned Congress today that U.S. allies will cut off intelligence cooperation with Washington if lawmakers move to exert tighter control over secret operations in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal.

"It is a matter of perceptions. Other governments are extraordinarily sensitive on this point," he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"If our intelligence assets around the world, particularly cooperating organizations, perceive that the CIA is obliged to disgorge whatever the (intelligence) committees may want, then it is very clear based on my experience that our intelligence assets would dry up."

Carlucci testified on legislation proposed by Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Me.) and others--and strongly opposed by President Reagan--that would force Presidents to notify Congress within 48 hours of approving a covert operation.

The bill would also force the White House to provide quickly reasons for intelligence activities.

The Reagan Administration charges that such mandatory reporting could drag the names of cooperating governments through the TV limelight and threaten the lives of U.S. and allied secret agents.

"The President feels very strongly on this issue--so strongly, in fact, that I would speculate that should it reach his desk in this form that he may well see fit to disapprove it," Carlucci said.

Cohen told Carlucci that an offer by Reagan to give 48-hour notification of covert action approval "minus extraordinary circumstances" is not enough.

He said the "extraordinary circumstances" loophole would give Presidents wide discretion on delaying such reports, perhaps for months.

"The President may be the sole spokesman of our foreign policy but he is not the architect of that policy," Cohen told Carlucci.

Carlucci told the committee that he had served in high government posts under four Presidents, including Democrat Jimmy Carter, and all were strongly against mandatory reporting of intelligence activities to Congress.

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