House Intelligence Committee Chairman Edward P. Boland (D-Mass.) urged the CIA yesterday to draft stricter restrictions on any domestic covert actions it plans and to step back from other proposals that would enable it to spy on Americans.
Boland said that unless the changes are made the Reagan administration's proposed executive order for intelligence activities would empower the CIA to conduct operations in the United States "from which it has been restricted by longstanding tradition and policy."
In a letter to Adm. Bobby R. Inman, the CIA's deputy director, Boland said he and other committee members also are concerned that the proposed order increasing the CIA's powers could "lead to less cooperation with the FBI on intelligence matters in this country."
Republicans on the panel took a different view. A spokesman for the GOP members said they intend to send a letter to President Reagan early next week supporting the proposed order as it stands. The draft order under consideration is the third that has been prepared for Reagan since he took office.
"Many members of the House would prefer a greater relaxation" of restrictions on the CIA, the GOP members' spokesman said. Those members, he said, feel that "the current proposal represents a reasonable compromise."
Boland, however, maintained that the CIA would be "best served if it cannot be asked to conduct intelligence activities which raise the specter of domestic intelligence-gathering."
In addition to tight restrictions on domestic covert operations, he urged the abandoning of proposals to let the CIA infiltrate and influence domestic organizations and the retention of other limits on the agency's authority to spy on unsuspecting Americans.
The changes Boland recommended go well beyond the Senate Intelligence Committee's public, and bipartisan, stand against CIA infiltration and influencing of domestic organizations. But eight or nine of the senators, including some Republicans, are said to be communicating with Reagan individually about other limits.
CIA officials reportedly have said they want to carry out domestic covert actions in a narrow and specific field now within the FBI's province. But the proposed authority the draft order would give the CIA is, on paper, much broader.
Under current rules, promulgated by President Carter in 1978, covert actions can only be conducted abroad. Such actions are defined as operations planned and executed so that the U.S. role is not apparent or acknowledged publicly.
The draft order would allow the CIA to carry out such activities anywhere in the United States as long as they support "objectives abroad" and are "not intended to influence" U.S. politics or public opinion.
In a detailed memo not made public, Boland said he strongly urged that any domestic covert action be "strictly restricted in scope, be approved by the president and be reported to the Intelligence committees, as are covert operations overseas."
Boland also recommended that the White House maintain current restrictions on infiltration of domestic organizations. They had been at their tightest under President Ford, who had imposed an absolute prohibition on any undisclosed participation of a purely domestic organization for the purpose of reporting on or influencing its activities.
Carter changed the rules to permit CIA infiltration for such purposes as establishing cover and recruiting, but he kept the ban on efforts to influence a group's activities. The Reagan draft would lift that ban and permit infiltration for any "lawful purposes."
The draft order also would lift many existing restrictions on the extent of CIA spying on unsuspecting Americans and allow the agency, for example, to collect "information relevant to the safety of any persons . . . . " Recommending changes in this area as well, Boland said he had three basic goals in mind:
* Maintaining the basic distinction whereby the CIA operates overseas and the FBI operates in this country.
* Laying down clear restrictions on CIA domestic operations "so as to prevent political misuse of the CIA."
* Encouraging cooperation between the CIA and the FBI instead of "separate and independent operations."