The U.S. Senate is known to be an august body. Senators are highly regarded and approached with awe. Their statements are assumed to be based on facts -- for which they command abundant resources to ascertain. They are supposed to make such statements only after careful analysis and well-considered reasoning.

If this is true in general, it should be particularly true in the case of the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is why I was shocked when I read an article by Ann Devroy {news story, Jan. 6} that Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.) said in a CNN interview that he would support "surgical strikes" to wipe out Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons capabilities but not a full-scale military action to restore the throne to the emir of Kuwait "with all of his 707s and his wives and his rich life style."

I have no standing to discuss what type of military action the United States should take or not take. But I know that the last part of Sen. Boren's statement is untrue and thus unfair.

Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad, the ruler of Kuwait who according to the Kuwaiti constitution does not inherit his position but is selected by members of the family, does not and never has owned a private airplane -- although he certainly could have had one. When he travels, Kuwait Airways simply puts one of its aircraft at his service for the purpose. For example, when he traveled to New York in October of 1988 to address the U.N. General Assembly as president of the League of Islamic Countries, he used the same aircraft that was hijacked earlier in the year by Iranian terrorists of the Party of God, who wanted to pressure him to release the prisoners who were condemned for bombing the U.S. and French embassies in the early '80s. Some of them were sentenced to death, but the sheikh commuted the sentences to life imprisonment, because he does not believe in capital punishment. Although some of the passengers on the hijacked airplane were members of his family, he never gave in to the demands of hijackers. He is a firm believer that giving in to terrorists breeds more terrorism.

By contrast, Saddam Hussein commissioned a private airplane five years ago that cost $467 million -- that is $50 million more than the cost of Air Force One. In the '60s, when Sheikh Jaber was minister of finance and oil and when I had the pleasure of traveling with him as a member of his official delegation on several occasions, he insisted on traveling on commercial flights. In November of 1964, when he visited Moscow, we flew Kuwait Airways (commercial aircraft) to Cairo and Aeroflot from Cairo to Moscow. The Algerian delegation for the same occasion arrived in a private Caravelle and the Egyptian delegation in a private 707. The Kuwaiti government and the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development, for which I was the general counsel, were already giving economic development aid and loans to both countries.

When we visited mainland China in February of 1965, we flew British Airways to Rangoon and Chinese Airlines from Rangoon to Beijing in an old DC-3. And so on.

The fact that Sen. Boren could easily verify is that Sheikh Jaber is an austere, frugal, hard-working, deep believer in democracy and freedom and a benevolent ruler. Since 1965, he has not changed his simple home (far from being a palace). He is in his office before 8 a.m. every day. He is so punctual, he was an easy target for terrorists who blew up his car (a Chevrolet) in 1984, when he was on his way to the office.

Under his rule, Kuwait ensured free education and free medical treatment to all its people. He was the force behind Kuwait's generous foreign aid program for economic development. Since 1961 until now it has averaged over 5 percent of GNP -- more than 10 times the rate of most industrialized countries.

Kuwait has had a constitution and an elected National Assembly since 1963. It enjoyed a free press unparallelled in any of the Arab countries -- except probably Lebanon.

For all his achievements, Sheikh Jaber is extremely popular among his people. This is why Saddam, although he tried every possible means, could not find one single Kuwaiti quisling to form a puppet government after the invasion. The writer is a Washington lawyer.