A task force headed by Central Intelligence Agency officials has put together a series of proposals that would enable U.S. intelligence agencies to cast off current restrictions on spying in the United States.
The recommendations would abandon the Carter administration's standard of using "the least intrusive" means possible. The regulations are being developed for an executive order to be issued by President Reagan.
Formal congressional approval would not be required.
The suggested new rules, sources said, would allow infiltration of domestic groups when that is deemed "necessary" instead of ruling out such infiltration unless it is "essential."
The proposed new rules were reportedly developed without consultation with the Senate or House Intelligence committees. The Justice Department, which has had control of such policies, was not advised of the proposals until last week, sources said.
Other features of the new strategy for the U.S. intelligence community would include a sharp reduction in the attorney general's authority over intelligence activities and renewed authority for the CIA, including the power to infiltrate domestic groups.
The current executive order was issued by former president Carter in January 1978 after secret consultations with members of Congress that lasted more than a year.
According to several sources, a "secret" or classified label has been stamped on the proposed new executive order. But, according to CIA General Counsel Daniel B. Silver, there is no draft executive order.
"There are . . . simply a bunch of ideas and proposals," he said. "There are lots of things on paper but nothing . . . submitted for the president's signature or anywhere near that."
The proposals grew out of a meeting last January involving Reagan, presidential aide Edwin Meese III and the intelligence agencies who discussed problems of terrorism and intelligence. Invited to submit solutions, the agencies came up with ideas so diffuse that the White House wanted them coordinated. Silver was put in charge of the task force.
The basic change in approach from the Carter administration, sources said, was development of a 30-page proposal that authorizes, instead of restricts, collection of intelligence data and use of "intrusive techniques."
"The CIA is trying to take back control over its own operations, and it has managed to word the [proposed] executive order to give it more authority to conduct intelligence activities and surveillance in the United States," one source said.
Silver said he is confident that the administration will check with the relevant congressional committees before taking final action.
Another official indicated that at least three weeks will be required before any final proposal could be submitted for Reagan's signature.