Sen Dick Clark (D-Lowa) said yesterday, "It is increasingly clear that President Carter has made the decision to reinvolve the United States in the Angola civil war."
Clark based his accusation on what he termed Carter public statements about the desirability of repealing the so-called Clark amendment that precludes any U.S. aid to promote military or paramilitary operations in Angola.
Clark said that if Carter really does not want to reinvolve the United States in Angola, "he ought to say so."
White House press secretary Jody Powell said last night: The president has not made any decision to take any action that would be contrary to the Clark amendment or any law and is not going to."
Carter "has never said publicly or privately that he thinks it ought to be repealed," Powell said of the Clark amendment.
It was learned yesterday that Carter's deputy national security adviser, David Aarson, and Adm.Stansfield Turner, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, called on Clark earlier this month to discuss the transfer of U.S. arms through third parties to Angolan and Ethiopian groups fighting Soviet and Cuban-supported forces.
The purpose of this U.S. aid would be to tie down the Cubans in those two countries and make them reluctant to enter the guerilla war in Rhodesia, those officals reportedly told Clark.
Turner is said to have shown Clark a plan outlinig transfer of equipment through a third party to the United Front for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Savimbi, which is conducting a guerilla struggle against Angola's Marxist central government.
Clark reportedly told Turner such aid would be against U.S. law, but said he would study the idea. When they talked again a few days later, the Iowa senator strongly opposed the idea.
Turner later reported on Clark'sattitude to a National Security Council meeting called to discuss possible aid to UNITA in ANgola. According to a source, national security adviser Zbigniew Brezezinski "groaned" on hearing Turner's report.
Before Turner visited Clark, Brzezinski's deputy, Aaron, called on the senator to talk about possible indirect aid for Eritrean rebels fighting the troops and Soviet equipment. Aaron also mentioned possible new U.S. aid to Angola, but only vaguely, a sourve said.
In a related development yesterday, Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) decided to challenge the administration's contention that congressional restrictions have tied the president's hands in Africa and made it difficuult to deal with the challenges posed there by Soviet and Cuban intervention.
In remarks to be delivered on the Senate floor this week, McGovern will engaged in "a public relations venture." He implies that it is the workof "certain officals whose frustration at being unable to control complicated international events - and to establish an image as tough-fisted wielders of power - has compelled them to place the blame on congress."
The Washington Post reported last Friday that the Carter administration had been working for two months on a plan to funnel arms and equipment through other countries to African guerrilla forces fighting Cuban and other soviet-backed troops in Ethiolia and Angola.
Apparently, that was the plan Turner presented to Clark earlier this month.
Clark's refusal to acquiesce preceeded by several days the first public expressions of frustation by the administration about "restrictions" allegedly impinging on presidential freedom of maneuver in Africa.
The White House has now repeated those expressions of frustration several times but has not yet asked for specific remdies.
Senate aides who spent Monday and yesterday studing all existing legislative restrictions on the administration's freedom of action in Africa concluded that there are only two substaintial ones.
One is the Clark amendment, enacted in 1976, prohibiting involvement in Angola. The second is the so-called "Brooke amendment" prohibiting aid to the government of Ethiopia.
Since the government of Ethiopa is now avowedly hostile to the United States and is being actively supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba, the Senate aides concluded that the only operative restriction now in force is the Clark amendment on Angola.
In a May 4 press conference, carter said, "We have no intention to intercede in any war in Angola." A few days after that Turner called on Clark to outline the Plan for transferring arms to Angolan UNITA rebels.
White House officials noted yesterday that carter has never publicly mentioned the Clark amendment. in remark to Newspaper editors Friday, Carter referred to "very tight constrain from laws that control my action in Africa!"
A list of congressional restraints issued by the State Department over the weekend did not list any other than the Clark and Brooke amendments as formally precluding presidential action in Africa without any escape clause.
Other legislative restraints can be overridden if the president declares the U.S. national interest is involved - or words to that effect - before talking certain kinds of action.
One such restriction prohibits milltary or paramilitary operations in Zaire unless the president determines that it is in this country's national security interest. Carter made such a determination last week in authorizing participation in rescue operations in Zaire.
McGovern would invite the administration submit legislative proposals if it had specific ones in mind.
McGovern said the list of "restrictions on presidential authority released by the State Department "consisted of nothing more than a compilation of those provisions of foreign aid law which establish certain prohibitions or limitations"on U.S. aid, which he called typical of foreign aid law.
Through McGovern is often outside the mainsteam of Senate opinion, well-placed Senate sources said yesterday that his views on this issue seem consistent with many members'.
The majority leader, Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), has denied that Congress has "tied the President's hand s" in Africa.