President Carter yesterday named one of his classmates at the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Adm. Stansfield Turner, to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Turner, 53, the commander-in chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe, met with Carter at the White House last Thursday at the President's request.
White House press secretary Jody Powell, who made the announcement, said Turner has "a broad background academically and military" and is "eminently qualified" for the post.
Powe ll said he was not certain when Turner's nomination actually would be sent to the Senate. A number of administration appointments have been delayed in being forwarded to the Senate, ostensibly because of slowness in making the required back-ground checks of the nominees.
In any event, an aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee said that it is unlikely that hearings on Turner's nomination could be held befire Congress returns from its mid-February recess on Feb 21.
The President's first choice as CIA director former Kennedy administration White HOuse aide Theodore C Sorensen, withfrew from consideration after his nomination encountered serious opposition in the Intelligence Committee.
Clearly hoping to avoid a second embarrassing rebuff, the White House appeared to have carefully prepared the way for Turner. Most, if not all, Intelligence Committee members were notified of the nomination in advance. Moreover, according to a Senate aide, the President also discussed the nomination last Thursday with Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Inouye was not available for comment last night.
Turner yesterday visited Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn), one of the leading cristics of the Sorensen nomination, who said later, "my impression of Adm. Turner is very favourable."
At a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Carter heaped praise on Turner, saying, "I have never known a better military man" and, predicting that he could be "the next George Marshell" - a reference to the World War II general who, as Secretary of the State, was the chief architect of the Marshell Plan for postwar relief to Europe.
Although members of the same class, the President and Turner did not know each other at the Naval Academy and apparently have met personally only twice - a few years ago when Turner invited Carter to address the Naval War College in Newport, R. I., and last week.
A native of Highland Park, III., Turner was president of the War College from 1972 to 1974. He was named commander of allied forces in southern Europe in August. 1975.
Powell also announced yesterday that Carter has decided to retain millionair Republican Jack Eckerd as head of the General Services Administration and maintenance of government facilities.
Explaining the decision, Powell said the President "feels it important that the top GSA job not be political."
There was a certain irony in the retention of Eckerd, a drugstore tycoon who was appointed to head GSA by President Ford after an unsuccessful face for the U. S. Senate from Florida in 1974. Last August, Eckerd was one of six persons cited in memo prepared by Carter's campaign staff to back up the then Democratic nominee's assertion that the Nixon and Ford administrations used top government jobs as "dumping grounds for unsuccessful candidates, faithful political partisans, out-of-favor White House aides and representatives of special interests."
In other developments at the White House yesterday:
Powell announced that Carter will hold his first news conference as President at 2.30 p. m. today. The news conference will be televised live by Channels 4, 7 and 9 and Channnel 11 will carry a delayed telecast at 11 p. m.
The Press secretary quoted Carter as saying he is pleased with the apparent easing of the natural gas distribution shortage but that "the situation remains serious."
At a regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting yesterday, Carter also made clear that he will extend his orders for austerity in government to foreign relations.
In the future, when visiting heads of state and other foreign dignitaries come to Washington, he siad, "there will not be the same number of people greeting them of the same number of trumpets sounding . . . I don't want to waste my time or theirs."
The President also cautioned the Cabinet secretaries against working so hard they neglect their health and their families.
"You'll be so much more useful to me and the country if you have some recreation, get some exercise, see your children and your spouses," Carter Said.