CIA Director Stansfield Turner and the Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate the published charges by former intelligence operations officer John R. Stockwell of widespread abuses within the agency's clandestine services.
Stockwell's allegation were made in a 2,000-word open letter to Adm. Turner published in The Washington Post's Outlook section Sunday. It charged that covert funds were used improperly, some Central Intelligence Agency expense accounts were regularly padded, sensitive documents were kept from Senate investigators and that agency operations in Angola were seriously misguided.
A CIA spokesman said yesterday Turner wants to speak "privately" to Stockwell "if he wishes."
Even without the former officer coming in, the spokesman said, "CIA authorities are conducting a thorough check" of the allegations.
"More individuals are involved that simply the (CIA's) inspector general," he added.
A spokesman for the Senate committee said yesterday Stockwell's letter had "immediately triggered a staff investigation."
It is understood, however, that Stockwell is not certain whether he will accept Turner's invitation for a chat. The resigned CIA officer reportedly believes he would have a better chance ot amplify on his criticisms with government officials outside the agency.
Stockwell, who was a GS-14 when he resigned, had been chief of the agency's Angola task force during 1975-76 when the United States, through the CIA, was covertly supporting participants in that country's civil war.
In his letter he charged that the CIA station in neighboring Zaire, during the war period, tried to get Washington to pay $2 million to Zaire President Mobuto Sese Seku for an airplane that was worth only $600,000. The plane had crashed on a CIA mission and only after some argument was it replaced by one at the lesser amount.
Stockwell also alleged that the CIA Zaire station gave money to "local friends" for the purchase of an ice plant and a ship. The funds were reported supplied under the pretext that the recipients were supporting the American effort in Angola.
Stockwell wrote that the Angolan intervention was "irresponsible and ill-conceived." He warned in 1975 that the U.S.-supported Zaire invasion "would be answered by the introduction of large numbers of Cuban troops . . ."
He also questioned the value of CIA "dirty tricks against the Soviets" in various countries. In Burundi, Stockwell wrote, the CIA discredited an "obnoxious, old [Soviet] ambassador" only to have him replaced by a competent diplomat who not only repaired relations but made them better than they had been.
Stockwell charged that when he became a CIA chief of station, he was told by "a supergrade" agency official. "how to supplement my income . . . tax free, by manipulating my representational and operational funds."
Like an American ambassador a CIA station chief gets an entertainment or representational allowance. Agency officials get added money to pay for operations, such as developing sources of information.
According to one former CIA official, some station chiefs hold large dinner parties to which they invite a CIA source to justify the social affair as an expense account event charged off to the CIA. In addition, more food and liquor is ordered than needed for the party and the excess is consumed in subsequent days by the official and his own family, a former agency official said.
Stockwell in his letter charged that the CIA station chief in Kinshass, the capital of Zaire, "last year legally collected over $9,000 from CIA for the operation of his household."
One target of Stockwell's most bitter criticism was the senior level CIA bureacracy which he described as "constipation . . . at the top and middle levels . . ."
He attacked the "ingrown clique" of agency officials who are promoted and protected "no matter how drunken, inept or corrupt their management of a [CIA] station may be . . ."
Stockwell wrote that younger officers are held in lower-level jobs by "unpromotable middle-grade officers," and that there are "no exceptional promotions for superior performance."
Stockwell described how CIA files were purged so that possibly embarrassing information about an American mercenary in Angola with apparent connections to the CIA would not be supplied under Freedom of Information Act demands.
Stockwell also wrote that similar cleansings of CIA files were "common" during a Senate investigation of the agency "to protect incriminating information from the investigators."
Stockwell reportedly wants to avoid bureaucratic in-fighting with the CIA senior officials.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported a CIA spokesman said, "Throughout his career. Stockwell never brought any of his comments to the attention of the agency."
According to those who know the former CIA official, that is incorrect. He often complained to his superiors about CIA operations, the most recent discussion coming with his immediate boss just before his resignation.