Kenneth L. Adelman, President Reagan's embattled choice to be director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, fought back against his critics yesterday, saying that "my integrity has been unfairly maligned" by charges that he misled Congress in his confirmation hearing.
Adelman released a four-page statement in an attempt to refute specific charges by several senators that his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee appeared to contradict memos he had written before his testimony.
"I wish to take this opportunity to explain my views and to correct misleading and inaccurate reports printed on this matter," Adelman's statement said.
His statement, and support he received yesterday from State Department spokesman John Hughes, appeared to set the stage for a bitter debate when the nomination reaches the Senate floor, probably early next month.
Sen. Paul E. Tsongas (D-Mass.), a leader of the anti-Adelman faction, said late Wednesday that he plans to submit written questions to Adelman based on his memos and committee testimony. And, Tsongas added, if the answers are not satisfactory to him, he will consider calling Adelman for another round of questioning by the committee.
A move to recall Adelman was discussed at a closed committee meeting Wednesday but defeated by a vote of 12 to 5.
Adelman's statement, which was cleared by the White House, was prompted by the release Wednesday by the Foreign Relations Committee of memos showing that Adelman had, before his confirmation hearings, discussed major personnel changes with top State Department officials and had selected a Reagan administration official to investigate "the ACDA personnel situation."
The committee also released a memo from U.S. strategic arms negotiator Edward L. Rowny to Adelman that urged Adelman to "get good people in--bad out" and contained a list of ACDA personnel with specific criticisms of many of them.
In answer to questions by members of the Foreign Relations Committee, Adelman said several times that he had not begun to deal with personnel matters and that any talk of a purge at the ACDA was just rumor.
In his statement yesterday, Adelman said he had "absolutely no intention of, nor ever spoke of, undertaking a 'purge' or 'housecleaning' at ACDA."
He said he had "not solicited" the Rowny memo and "did not discuss the substance of the memorandum aside from the most cursory remarks of a very general and hurried nature."
In one note released by the Senate committee, Adelman had written that the memo was "Ed Rowny's very confidential views on people." But yesterday, the Adelman statement said he had merely "assumed" they were Rowny's views. He noted that Rowny subsequently said the paper "was prepared by his staff and did not represent his views, then or now."
Adelman's statement described his establishment of a "procedure . . . for handling suggestions others would have on personnel matters." That system, he said, involved selection of a friend, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Robin West, who, Adelman's statement said, was "to serve as a primary repository of personnel papers or information passed along to me."
Adelman did not mention West or his personnel role during the repeated questions on personnel matters by committee members. One government official said yesterday that "it never occurred" to the nominee "that it was important to tell the committee" about West.
Adelman cited a March 20 story in The Washington Post as an example of articles "containing factual errors or misleading statements" that had plagued his nomination fight.
The article reported that a purge had been discussed at two Capitol Hill meetings with Adelman before his confirmation hearings. Adelman's statement said "there was absolutely no 'talking of purge at ACDA' whatsoever" at one of the meetings.
And he denied that the second "private meeting" had taken place, saying he had "had only a brief hallway conversation" with Senate aide Michael Pillsbury, who was mentioned in the story. "And that," the statement said, "did not touch upon personnel matters."