Former CIA director Stansfield Turner is having difficulties with CIA censors over a book he is writing about running a secret intelligence business in a democratic society.
As CIA director under President Carter, Turner pressed litigation against former CIA officer Frank W. Snepp III for refusing to submit his book about the fall of Saigon to agency review. Now censors have called for deletion of portions of three of the seven chapters that Turner has produced.
Charles E. Wilson, chairman of the CIA's publications review board, said that one chapter was "particularly troublesome" because it was "episodal in its narrative." But he played down the idea that a court fight might be imminent, and said he was optimistic that the matter could be resolved amicably.
Turner has retained former CIA general counsel Anthony Lapham, but has not lodged even an administrative appeal of the CIA's initial deletions. In fact, Wilson said, Turner called earlier this week to say that he had rewritten the main chapter in question and was sending in the new version.
The former CIA director, who has become a prominent critic of Reagan administration intelligence policies, particularly covert operations against Nicaragua, could not be reached for comment. But he told The New York Times earlier that the deletions in that segment, which relied on the anecdotal approach, "in effect mean there's not much message left."
Snepp, who has been forced to give the government $200,000 in profits from his book, "Decent Interval," because of a 1980 Supreme Court decision, said that the decision was so sweeping that "now they can justify cutting out just about anything."
Snepp added that "nobody can delight in the spectacle of a fellow citizen struggling against the rigors of official censorship, but this time 'round, I really feel like a guy who says, 'I told you so.' "