One of the parts of the Andy Young saga that hasn't been delved into is who bugged his conversation with the PLO U.N. observer. As part of the counterespionage game, intelligence organizations, including the CIA, have denied that their people had anything to do with it.

But we all know there were probably four or five bugs in the Kuwaiti U.N. ambassador's apartment where the meeting took place.

The bugging of U.N. ambassadors is standard operating procedure for spooks operating in the New York area. As a matter of fact, the real status of a U.N. member country is determined by how much trouble foreign agents will take to install the sophisticated listening equipment.

There is even a pecking order for U.N. nations based on who is interested in what their ambassadors have to say.

The major powers such as the Soviet Union, the United States, People's Republic of China, Japan, France and Great Britain rate at least five bugs. The other Western and Eastern bloc countries, four. Third World powers with oil, three bugs. Third World powers without oil could be entitled to one or no bugs, depending how much trouble their governments are causing their neighbors.

There are exceptions, such as Cuba. Although it is a small power it is entitled to five bugs. Pakistan had only been allotted two bugs until it was revealed that it was developing an atom bomb.

The placement of these bugs in U.N. ambassador's apartments is subject to negotiation among the various intelligence services. Most agencies prefer to plant their bugs in an ambassador's bedroom on the theory that he might say more there than he would in his living room or dining room. But if you put too many bugs in the bedroom, it's very hard to pick up conversations and the quality of the voices becomes weakened.

So trade-offs are made. The Soviets, for example, will agree to allow the CIA to bug the Indian ambassador's bedroom, and the CIA in return will give the KGB bugging rights to the French ambassador's mattress. Because the price of sophisticated equipment has become so expensive, many spook organizations have bugging exchanges. Zambia, which can only afford to bug one embassy at a time, will turn over its Ethiopian tape to Tanzania, and Tanzania will then give Zambia the one tape it has on Nigeria.

Some intelligence agents trade their bugging conversations of embassies as if they were baseball cards. They'll let out word that they have an intimate conversation between the ambassador of Saudi Arabia and the head of a large oil company. They might trade it for a dialogue between the U.N. West German ambassador and the foreign minister of Turkey. A hot tape compromising a U.N. ambassador with a girl he met at Studio 54 could be worth a dozen tapes disclosing where Poland stands on the SALT II Treaty.

The entire U.N. intelligence community was badly shaken by the Andy Young incident. The original suspicion was that the Israelis had leaked the PLO conversation, but the Israeli service proved their bug had been planted in the Kuwaiti ambassador's bathroom behind one of the gold faucets. Since the Kuwaiti ambassador's wife was running her bath at the time, the Israelis said they had come up with nothing. Egypt's bug, according to its agents, was in the ambassador's clothes closet, and the Japanese had theirs in the kitchen TV set.

By eliminating all the different hiding places, it looked as if the CIA was the one that did the damage.

But the CIA U.N. station boss indignantly denied it, and told the other agents, "everybody knows that by law we're not allowed to bug anybody in our own country."