The White House has announced a reorganization plan for the U.S. intelligence services designed to strengthen the coordinative role of the Central Intelligence Agency director and guarantee greater protection for U.S. residents against violation of their rights by the various intelligence agencies.
It also sought to compromise the differences within the intelligence community that have surfaced in recent months between CIA Director Stansfield Turner and other agencies with major intelligence functions.
A new executive order, to be issued this week, affirms Turner's budgetary authority over the intelligence community which had been decreed by President Ford in a February, 1976, intelligence reorganization but not, according to aides of President Carter, fully implemented.
The new plan does grant has Turner all the powers he sought, such as Cabinet rank and sole authority to speak publicly on intelligence matters. But it conclusively defines his authority to formulate the intelligence missions not only of the CIA but also for all other governmental intelligence agencies.
his confirms Turner's operational overseeing of intelligence agencies, such as the National Security Agency and Pentagon intelligence services, which dwarf the CIA in budget and personnel.
Each of the component agencies, according to administration officials, will continue to regulate its operations, analyses and interpretations of raw data.
"Everyone concerned with this believes that while it's improtant to have the best possible coordinated intelligence coming out of the CIA, it's also important that competing points of view be preserved," said one drafter of the executive order.
Meanwhile, the order sets out limits on the kinds of domestic activities the intelligence agencies may engage in during peacetime, with particular emphasis on protecting the rights of American citizens.
The order limits covert actions to foreign locales and stipualtes that, except in time of war, only the CIA will take part in them. "There will be no Cointelpro," said one administration official, referring to the FBI's massive effort to undermine U.S. dissident groups in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Inside the United States, the order forbids spy agencies from making contact with academic or other research organizations without letting officials of the organizations know with whom they are dealing.
Also, it forbids their undisclosed participation in private organizations unless they are made up primarily of persons of foreign nationality and are thought to be working for foreign governments.
The plan gives the Attorney General power to veto proposed covert actions.
Congress also is brought into the picture. Its intelligence committees will be informed in advance of proposed covert actions, although they will have no veto.
The executive order is the product of a review begun shortly after Carter took office a year ago. It was jointly worked out by the staffs of the intelligence committees and the office of national security affairs adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Within the next two weeks the Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to offer a bill to establish a statutory charter for the intelligence agencies.
The legislation reportedly will put more emphasis on protecting individuals' right to privacy than does the executive order.
How the provisions of the order, as well as the legislation, will work out is another matter. The legislation is intended to provide a statutory charter for intelligence operations. However, intelligence agencies are less susceptible than most to public scrutiny and governed more by the exi-gencies of events and presidential attitude than by guidelines.
The order does not appear to resolve fully the conflict between Turner and other governmental figures such as Defense Secretary Harold Brown over control of defense intelligence operations.
Brown, as a member of the National Security Council, clearly would retain an influential role in the top echelon of intelligence decision-makers. Turner's authority is also diluted to some extent by the Attorney General's veto over covert action projects.
"Turner wanted to become intelligence czar, with Cabinet-level rank," said a source familiar with the thoughts of intelligence officials outside the CIA. "As it's all sorted out, he's not. He's the first among equals, and that's as it should be."
"The most important changes" the order makes, said an administration official, are in the areas of new protections of the constitutional rights of Americans.
Under the plan, the Attorney General, for the first time, gets the power of prior review over a wide range of intelligence operations.
They include television monitoring or continuous surveillance of American citizens and resident aliens in the United States; military intelligence operations in the United States; the testing of electronic interceptors in the United States, and the method of disposing of information obtained during the testing; mail openings abroad and the collection of information on citizens and resident aliens without their consent.
These restrictions will apply not only to individuals but also to organizations composed substantially of citizens or resident aliens.
The order does not prohibit intelligence agencies from making use of reporters, teachers, students or any other specific group of Americans.
The order would permit the channeling of money to political factions within foreign governments and the use of agents to try to destabilize foreign governemtns, an official said.