Director of Central Intelligence William H. Webster is planning to remove at least two of the agency's top covert operations officials as part of "a general housecleaning" in the wake of the Iran-contra scandal, congressional and intelligence sources said yesterday.
The CIA's deputy director for operations, Clair E. George, and its chief of counterterrorism operations, Duane R. (Dewey) Clarridge, will be dismissed or allowed to take early retirement, sources said. The two would become the first senior agency officials to be disciplined for their roles in the affair.
In addition, the chief of the CIA's Central American task force, Alan D. Fiers, also may lose his job over the scandal, the sources said.
All three men worked with former White House aide Oliver L. North, who was fired in November, and former CIA Director William J. Casey, who died in May, to maintain a flow of supplies to the Nicaraguan rebels when U.S. aid to the contras was prohibited by Congress.
Some intelligence officials also have accused George and Clarridge of attempting to cover up their roles in the affair while lower-ranking officers were being disciplined. The CIA suspended at least two field officers, one stationed in Honduras and another in Costa Rica, for aiding the contras despite the ban.
"There's going to be a general housecleaning," a knowledgeable source said.
A CIA spokeswoman, Kathy Pherson, said she could not comment on specific cases, but said that no agency officers had been dismissed because of the scandal.
"Judge Webster isn't going to take action until all the facts are in," she said. "All the evidence isn't in yet."
But other knowledgeable sources said that Webster had spoken privately of his decision to relieve the two senior operations officers of their duties.