CIA Director William J. Casey yesterday delivered to the Senate Intelligence Committee a two-foot stack of documentary material defending his personal business dealings over a decade and his appointment this year of Max Hugel as chief of clandestine operations. Hugel was forced to resign earlier this month over allegations of improper stock trading practices.
The material respresents the major thrust of Casey's defense, as he struggles against prominent Republican senators calling for him to step down.
Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.) yesterday gave qualified support to Casey. Jackson, interviewed on "Meet the Press" (NBC, WRC), said Casey ought to admit that he made a "tragic mistake" in appointing Hugel. Jackson pledged, however, "I'm going to do all I can to make sure he [Casey] has his day in court" before making a judgement on the allegations against him.
In transmitting the documents, Casey said in a letter to committee Chairman Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) that he would "be pleased to appear personally before the committee" to answer questions and added that he "believes it is in the best interest of the country that this matter be handled expeditously."
A committee spokesman said that no decision had been made on whether to seek testimony from Casey, who managed President Reagan's 1980 campaign.
The documents, which were delivered to the Senate committee at 2:15 p.m., arrived in about 20 cartons because the CIA had duplicated them for each committee members and for the staff.
A spokesman said that Goldwater and the committee's vice chairman, Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), will receive a preliminary report this afternoon on Casey's documents and written responses to committee questions.
The full committee will meet Tuesday to hear a report and possibly recommendations from Goldwater and Moynihan and to consider whether to extend the inquiry.
Goldwater, along with Senate Republican whip Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.), have called for Caey to resign.
Jackson's comments yesterday echoed the caution urged Saturday by Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) when he called on senators to avoid rushing to judgment. Said Laxalt: "Mr. Casey is not going to permit a lifelong good reputation to be jeopardized in this matter without being fully heard and fully defended and I applaud him for that."
Jackson, who said he was not speaking as Casey's defender, nevertheless attacked what he called a "McCarthy period" atmosphere surrounding the inquiry. "It looks to me that they're trying to lynch him in public," he said.
The Washington senator quickly dropped the analogy after he was asked if he was applying the criticism to Goldwater, Casey's chief critic to Goldwater, Casey's chief critic on the committee. Jackson said he was not referring to Goldwater, but to "the attitude and the tone on the part of a long list of people. I think very clearly they are trying to do Mr. Casey in."
Jackson said he hopes that an appearance by Casey before the committee will give him an "opportunity, under oath, to respond to the questions that have been raised." He added, however, that the public should be excluded from the initial process.
"The first thing you do, in order to protect the good name of anyone, is to have a closed session so you can find out the truth or falsity of these matters and then go public," Jackson said.