Officials at the International Communication Agency tried last month to censor portions of an outspoken magazine article by one of the former American hostages in Iran, on grounds it did not conform to current U.S. policy.
The article appeared in the Feb. 26 issue of Stern magazine in West Germany, apparently with some but not all the deletions made. In any case, the deletions appear to have been made not because of U.S. goverment objections, but simply because the magazine's editors deemed that article too long.
It was the fourth and final installment by John Graves, a veteran ICA official who had been stationed at the U.S. embassy in Tehran as a public affairs officer.
Graves was highly critical of American foreign policy as he summed up his views of what led to the "Iranian fiasco." He said he concluded, in imaginary conversations during his captivity, that the underlying problem, as far as U.S. policy was concerned, was that "we do not . . . remain true to our ideals. Instead we identify ourselves with governments who do not share our own democratic principles."
"For years," Graves also said according to a translation back from the German version, "the leaders of American foreign policy have thought and acted only in terms of anticommunism," making of it what he called "a religious crusade" that causes us to "act and react completely irrationally."
ICA spokesman Henry B. Ryan, who reviewed Graves' articles, said he called for "sizeable" cuts from the fourth installment under regulations proscribing active duty officers from writing material that is "inconsistent with current foreign policy."
Ryan would not spell out the portions that he wanted censored, but he said it was clear to him from wire service accounts of the version published in Hamburg that "not all the cuts were made."
The ICA spokesman said Graves voluntarily submitted the articles for review and cooperated in trying to get Stern to make the cuts. But Graves was vacationing in Guadeloupe when Ryan called for the deletions and there was some difficulty in convincing the magazine that Graves had authorized the changes.
When Graves finally called the magazine's Washington office directly from Guadeloupe, a member of the magazine's staff here recalled, "it was too late."
The editors in Germany had already cut the article because "it was too long," but further changes were impossible, said Bridget Klare of Stern's Washington bureau.
Graves, who is writing a book on his experiences, could not be reached for comment, but Ryan said the same objections will apply when the book manuscript is submitted for review.
"John knows that," Ryan added. "We have no argument whatsoever with John and I think he has no argument with us. . . . The material we wanted taken out all concerned foreign policy, not his experiences as a hostage.