The Carter administration has turned for advice on the continuing crisis in Iran to George W. Ball, one of the pillars of the foreign policy establishment of the 1960s, as part of a rapidly widening review of U.S. policy toward Iran.
Ball began his temporary appointment on Monday as a consultant to the National Security Council to work on the Persian Gulf. He was personally approved by President Carter, who in his 1976 election campaign was sharply critical of the Democratic Party's foreign policy regulars.
U.S. officials who confirmed Ball's appointment said he would spend one to two weeks in Washington consulting with Cabinet-level officials and drafting a long-range study on the Persian Gulf for the NSC's Special Coordination Committee.
The administration wants to draw on Ball's expertise and knowledge of foreign affairs for long-term options rather than for the crisis of authority that has resulted from widespread upheaval in Iran for the past two months, these officials emphasized.
Ball, 68, is now an investment banker in New York and was under secretary of state, then the department's No. 2 position, in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He was high on the list as a potential secretary of state for many of the Democratic politicians who opposed Carter's bid for the presidential nomination in 1976.
In a separate development, two senior officials in the administration's intelligence community have just completed a visit to Iran and may be submitting a special report to the White House on their findings, according to government sources.
The two officials are Robert Bowie, head of the Central Intelligence Agency's analysis division, and Lt. Gen. E. F. Tighe, director of the Defense Department's Intelligence Agency. Both were in Tehran last week, but spokesmen for the two agencies declined to confirm that Bowie and Tighe were on a joint mission.
A CIA spokesman did say that Bowie went to Iran at the agency chief's direction.
Tighe's office said his trip was part of a routine visit to the U.S. defense attaches in the region. Included in the visit was a briefing by Tighe for the shah of Iran.
Operating under Bowie, who also worked on foreign policy for the Kennedy administration, the CIA's analysis division appeared to be the ultimate target of a short but sharply critical memo President Carter sent last month to his national security affairs adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance and CIA Director Stansfield Turner complaining about the quality of intelligence assessments of the turmoil that has shaken national and foreign confidence in Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi's rule.
As protests and calls for the shah's overthrow spread rapidly last month, NSC officials turned to Richard Helms, former CIA director and Richard Nixon's ambassador to Iran, for advice. Helms reportedly visited the White House for a lengthy discussion.
U.S. officials emphasized yesterday that the administration still supports the shah and feels he will survive the critical months of December and January, when religious demonstrations increase the chances for renewed protest and violent street confrontations with the army.
If that analysis is correct and the crisis does level off at the end of January, the Carter administration may be able to undertake a serious review of policies and options in the Persian Gulf around the end of January, according to one U.S. official.
Ball's appointment reportedly was recommended to the president by Brzezinski, who has from time to time brought in outside consultants to produce studies for the NSC. Ball met with Brzezinski briefly yesterday and will be seeing other Cabinet members, including Vance and Defense Secretary Harold Brown, according to White House aides.