WASHINGTON — CIA Director William H. Webster announced today that he has dismissed or reprimanded four agency employees found to have acted improperly in the Iran-Contra affair.
The activities in question took place between 1984 and 1986, while William J. Casey, who died last May, was agency director.
An intelligence source who asked not to be identified said that those disciplined are Duane Clarridge, the CIA counterterrorism chief, and Alan Fiers, who headed Central American operations. The two said to be fired are Joe Fernandez, the Costa Rica station chief, and the base chief at Aguacate, Honduras.
Webster's action was largely directed at findings in an internal inquiry that CIA employees had assisted Nicaraguan rebels in violation of the Boland Amendment, which at the time banned official U.S. military aid.
Clarridge also was dismissed from his post as counterterrorism chief and encouraged to take early retirement, the sources said.
Employees Not Identified
Webster, in his statement, did not identify the employees who had been disciplined. A CIA spokesman declined to identify the disciplined officials. A Senate Intelligence Committee spokesman said the panel had not been notified of Webster's actions.
Webster, who acted after receiving the report of a three-month investigation by outside counsel Russell Bruemmer, also announced that the agency was:
--Strengthening the CIA inspector general's office by expanding its staff and improving the training and support provided to that staff.
--Drafting guidelines to govern congressional testimony.
--Tightening senior management review of covert operations.
--Issuing guidelines to shield intelligence analysis from political influence.
The disciplining of the four officials followed the recently announced decision by Clair George, who headed CIA covert operations, to retire at the end of the year. An Administration source has said that George was asked to leave the agency.
Chairman David L. Boren (D-Okla.) of the Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed Webster's action as "strong, but balanced and fair."
Assisted Arms Sale
Clarridge assisted with the November, 1985, arms sale to Iran, an action undertaken without advance written approval from President Reagan. Webster did not mention Clarridge in his statement but said that this CIA operation "should not have been undertaken" without a written presidential finding and advance approval from the CIA director.
Fiers testified to Congress in the fall of 1986 that he had no awareness of U.S. military assistance to the Contras, although testimony before the congressional Iran-Contra committees indicated that his statement was misleading.
Webster's statement did not mention Fiers, but said a headquarters manager gave testimony "that was not candid or forthcoming with respect to their knowledge of assistance to the Contras."
Fernandez, the former Costa Rican station chief, helped coordinate the airdrop of weapons to the Contras, while the CIA official in Honduras, whose name has not been publicly disclosed, assisted with the transport of arms to the rebels, according to congressional testimony.
Webster's statement said that CIA headquarters "was not aware that these activities were taking place."
Fernandez testified to the congressional Iran-Contra committees that he kept Fiers and Fiers' superior, the head of the Latin American division, informed of his activities.