I understand that journalists in general, and Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta in particular, have high thresholds for shame. But even that gargantuan height ought to have been scaled by the Anderson-Van Atta column that appeared Jan. 31.

In that column Ken Bergquist, the nominee for assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflicts, is described only as "a Justice Department official, . . . a friend of Attorney General Edwin Meese" who "knew the business of special operations only through the reserves and correspondence courses."

Somehow that description makes Mr. Bergquist sound a tad less qualified than if the columnists had reported that he was decorated seven times for heroism in Vietnam, is a Ranger as well as a Green Beret, is a former CIA officer and senior Senate staffer for defense-related issues and was a deputy assistant secretary of the Army for four years.

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Van Atta also are disingenuous about who is responsible for the long delay in filling the SO/LIC position. The Bergquist nomination was submitted to the Senate in May, but no action had been taken on it by year's end. For good or ill, the responsibility for this sluggish pace rests with Congress, not with the administration.

J. MICHAEL KELLY

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Force Support

Department of the Air Force

Washington