Rep. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Calif.), citing "sharp policy differences" with intelligence officials over his public discussion of U.S. photo-reconnaissance capabilities, announced yesterday that he is resigning from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Congressional sources said Brown had been strongly criticized by senior officials of the Central Intelligence Agency and the top-secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) at the Pentagon, which manages U.S. spy satellite operations, after he discussed U.S. military satellite capabilities generally in speeches on the House floor earlier this year.

Although Brown said that he was relying on open, published sources for the satellite information in the speeches, Air Force Secretary Edward C. Aldridge Jr. and others complained to Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio), the intelligence committee chairman, that the remarks constituted a breach of security because Brown also had access to classified information, the sources said.

Ultimately, after what one source described as a "deterioration" of his relations with the intelligence community, Brown decided to resign in order to speak more freely about intelligence matters without interfering with the committee's work.

"I was starting to feel like a second-class citizen . . . not being able to openly discuss information that I had been discussing before I joined that committee," Brown said. "My resignation . . . is a protest to the administration's use of the classification system to prevent members of Congress from engaging in vital national debates."

Brown, who joined the intelligence committee in 1985, advocates declassifying more information about spy satellites so that the public can gain a wider appreciation of their role in observing Soviet military activities.

He has badgered the administration about spending too much money on space weapons and, for the past three years, has been a key sponsor of a congressionally approved ban on tests of the Air Force's antisatellite weapon, a program Aldridge strongly supports.

Congressional sources said Brown, a 12-term veteran, particularly rankled the Pentagon by repeatedly referring to the top-secret NRO in a March 31 speech, noting its existence was "officially classified, although anyone can read about {it} in various unclassified articles, reports and books."

In the speech, Brown called for public release of satellite photos in NRO archives, arguing that they are "loaded" with information of commercial and historical value.

Brown also cited widely published data on top-secret U.S. KH11 photo-reconnaissance satellites, noting that U.S. officials "still refuse to acknowledge {their} existence, even though since 1977 the Soviet Union has owned a KH11 operator's manual" because it purchased one from a former CIA officer.

An Air Force spokesman declined to comment.

"What I found was that their classification of what was secret was stupid," Brown said yesterday. Yet, as a member of a committee that is routinely briefed on classified matters, he said, he found himself held to a "higher standard" in which his statements were expected to be less informative than those of other legislators.

"It led to my deciding the most effective way to pursue this was to get off the committee," Brown said. "Nobody asked me to resign," he added. "In fact, the {committee} leadership said it was my judgment to make as to the best thing to do."

Brown criticized not only the intelligence community, which he described as "locked into an ancient era" of secrecy, but his colleagues on the committee, who exercised what he described as only "weak" oversight of intelligence activities.

"Many of them, but not all of them, do not spend enough time to become familiar with the details of what we can do," Brown said.

Brown will be replaced by Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.).