The National Security Council has on its staff a Pakistani-born analyst who was once declared a security risk by the Central Intelligence Agency. The woman, Shirin Tahir-Kheli, is a close friend of Donald Gregg, the national security adviser to Vice President Bush.

According to our sources, Tahir-Kheli has maintained personal ties with Pakistani leaders while doing NSC work giving her access to sensitive secrets regarding Pakistan -- including what we know about its nuclear programs, its relations with the Chinese and the names of CIA agents in Pakistan.

Gregg already is embroiled in the Iran-contra affair as the man who knew about the contra resupply operation and may or may not have told his boss about it. He has offered twice to resign, but Bush has refused to accept his resignation, despite calls from both political parties to dump Gregg.

While working on national security issues at the White House, Gregg and Tahir-Kheli have developed a close relationship. Gregg once arranged for her to travel to Pakistan with Bush and to meet Pakistani leaders in a home once owned by her family.

Tahir-Kheli's status in the Directorate for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs bothers NSC staff members who know that the CIA refused to give her classification clearances, according to sources.

Dale Van Atta spoke with 11 past and present NSC staffers familiar with Tahir-Kheli.

Tahir-Kheli, the daughter of a university president and member of an elite family, refused to speak to us, and an NSC spokesman offered little information.

She came to the NSC from a political appointment at the State Department, toward the end of Reagan's first term. For months after that, she read "code word" or "compartmentalized" documents -- ones classified higher than "top secret." But she didn't have the security clearance to read them. "In that place {the NSC}, there was no real security," a former NSC staff member said. "It used to drive me crazy how sloppy they were."

The CIA's security-clearance investigation of Tahir-Kheli dragged on for months because one of her fellow staffers suggested to the CIA's director of security that he "take a hard look at her." The CIA found "derogatory" information about her, considered her a security risk and refused to give her clearance.

Her patron at the NSC at the time, the late Donald Fortier, fought the CIA ruling and pressured the Justice Department to give Tahir-Kheli the clearances over CIA objections. She passed an FBI polygraph and got permission to read what she had been reading all along.

But the controversy did not die. NSC staffers became incensed when Gregg became Tahir-Kheli's patron after Fortier's death. Those staffers say the problem is not her place of birth. Several noted a clear distinction between her and foreign-born national security advisers, such as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski.