If we're going to have a recession, as some predict, then -- as usual -- some civil servants will be the first to go. I suggest the very first ought to be Wayne Berman, counselor to Secretary of Commerce Robert A. Mosbacher, who seems not to know the difference between a "low-level clerk," an "ankle-biter" (as he categorized Defense official F. Michael Maloof) and a director of technology security operations, which is Mr. Maloof's position {"Commerce Dept. Urged Sale to Iraq," Sept. 13}.

I'd like to bite Mr. Berman's ankle, too, for okaying the sale to Iraq of the furnaces capable of being used for nuclear applications. Maybe he needs to find a "creative way within the law" to do his homework on the Defense Department.


Wayne Berman's statement that DoD's F. Michael Maloof is a ''low-level clerk'' and a part of a group of ''ankle-biters'' must be redressed. Isn't this the same Maloof who championed beefing up trade security enforcement by our allies after the infamous Toshiba/Kongsberg illegal sale of high-tech milling machines to the Soviets, allowing their submarines to operate without detection? The one who received the Defense Department's Meritorious Service medal and the one who has now been instrumental in halting the sale of high-tech furnaces to Iraq for use in making nuclear weapons?

Yes, he's the one who pointed out serious flaws in Commerce's analysis in the initial approval of the furnaces despite a great deal of evidence available (including that provided by the exporter) that the export should not be allowed because of its suspected noncommercial use. It seems as a though the nation owes a great debt to this ''ankle-biter'' for gnawing away at the ''clay ankles'' of those at Commerce on this important case.

It is always troublesome when a citizen criticizes a public servant in error, but it is far worse when public servants choose to do so one to another. Mr. Berman, himself a public official, has done public service a great injustice by his unjustified remarks of this dedicated Defense professional. STEFAN A. HALPER Great Falls