A magazine article describing a former CIA agent's activities in Uganda went on sale here today containing 16 words the CIA had wanted deleted.
But Tom Bates, editior of the montly Oregon Magazine, refused to identify which 16 words out of the article's 7,000 were the ones the Central Intelligence Agency objected to. Bates, who agreed to make 28 deletions, said disclosure of the 16 words might make the CIA more likely to seek punitive damages.
The article - "I Was Idi Amin's Basketball Czar" - is the first of two parts in the magazine. It was written by Jay Mullen, who was a CIA agent in Uganda from 1971 to 1973 as a college faculty member and coach of the Ugandan national basketball team.
An often lighthearted account of his activities. Mullen's article also provides a glimpse of CIA methods, and examples of brutality and murder by Amin's government, including disappearnce of Americans and Ugandans.
The article reports that:
CIA agents in Uganda discovered a plot by a Palestinian guerrilla team to attack the American embassy there. The plot was abandoned because U.S. construction engineers had improved security at the embassy after the murder of the American ambassador to the Sudan in 1973.
A CIA agent eavesdropped as the Palestinians arriving in Uganda were informed by a sympathizer that the embassy had been made impregnable.
Until U.S. relations with Amin chilled in 1972, the CIA gave the government of Uganda "training-advisory assistance" in exchange for the opportunity to tap the telephones of resident Russias and Chinese.
A novel plan - which Mullen does not describe - to plant an eavesdropping device in the Chinese embassy was called off at the last minute because it could have endangered improving U.S. relations with China.
Mullen's training was in CIA "safehouses" where radios and televisions were continually played to thwart "technical penetrations." A typical safehouse was an apartment containing "mediocre furniture, lamp-shades still encased in cellophane, often with the price tags still dangling on them; a few sentimental pictures on the walls; kitchen cabinets that were barren except for a few teabags, instant coffee, powered cream, sugar cubes and paper cups."
In Africa, Mullen worked with Ugandan nationals called "assets" by the CIA, who provided the bulk of the information. One man, who was given the sobriquet "D. B. Rasty" by Mullen, provided a "flood of information" in a James Bond style.
"My Ugandan experience included 'friendship' with KGB agents who would probably have been happy to see me dead, a trip through the Ugandan outback with student leaders who later vanished, a beating by Amin's thugs, encounters with more than one attractive and dangerous lady and, not least, a chance to work with one of the more astounding African spies who ever penetrated an enemy intelligence service [Rasty]."
The CIA's concern about the article became public last week when the 46,000 circulation magazine asked a federal judge to issue a restraining order against further government action under terms of a contract with Mullen giving the CIA a right to review any information he proposed to publish about the agency.
The order was denied, and after unsuccessfurl negotiations over the disputed 16 words, Bates decided to publish the article on schedule. The article appeared with blotches obscuring the deleted passages, many of which apparently would have given clues about the identities of Mullen's contacts.
Mullen's CIA background became public last year when he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Oregon legislature.