Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.) has concluded after a two-month investigation that there is "not one iota of evidence" to support charges that U.S. intelligence agencies spied on former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young last summer.
In a report made public today, Aspin concludes: "I now feel quite confident that no U.S. intelligence agnecy was violating the law and keeping a watch on Andy Young."
Aspin is chairman of the House Intelligence oversight subcommittee. The report he issued was his own.
Young was forced to resign the U.N. post after it became known that he had violated official U.S. policy instructions by meeting secretly July 26 with Zehdi Labib Terzi, the Palestine Liberation Organization observer at the United Nations.
Young later asserted that, before he admitted the meeting to State Department officials, the department had in its possession a "very accurate report" of his session with Terzi. In an Aug. 19 TV interview, Young said: "I don't know how they got it, but I have seen such a report."
That touched off a rash of speculation in the press and elsewhere that some federal agency such as the FBI or the Central intelligence Agency had bugged Young's New York apartment or had kept him under surveillance.
However, Aspin said his investigation had established that the report cited by Young was about another meeting where the PLO official was not present and that there is no evidence, direct or indirect, pointing to any improper conduct in the incident by U.S. intelligence agencies.
The Washington Post reported on Aug. 21 that the State Department had received on July 30 an intelligence report about a Young luncheon meeting on July 26 with the U.N. ambassadors of Kuwait and Syria. The report said the two Arab ambassadors had suggested that Young talk with Terzi, although it gave no indication that such a meeting actually was agreed upon.
Young, Terzi and the two Arab envoys did get together that evening, but State Department officials have insisted that they never received any third-person report of that meeting. Instead, they say, the report later described by Young refers to the luncheon meeting earlier that day when Terzi was not present.
Aspin's report corroborates the State Department's account. He notes that, with the exception of Terzi, the participants in the two meetings were the same and adds: "I surmised at first that perhaps Mr. Young thought that the report he read of the noon lunch was in fact a report of the evening meeting."
But, Aspin's report continues, "Mr. Young tells me that he was under no such misapprehension but that he felt constrained under the circumstances from fully clarifying the situation. He has confirmed to me since that to his knowledge there is not and was no intelligence report of the evening meeting."
In addition, Aspin says, he has concluded from his ivestigation that it was unlikely, as some reports have said, that Israeli intelligence agents violated U.S. law and eavesdropped on the apartment where Young and Terzi met.
"It seems probable that Israel did know that some sort of meeting took place," Aspin says. But, he adds, there were several ways through which Israel could have learned of the meeting without violating U.S. law, such as having agents inside the PLO or in Arab countries with knowledge of the encounter between Young and Terzi.