The Army has lifted the security clearance of Pentagon scientist Aldric Saucier on charges that he steadily lied about his academic credentials since he was hired 23 years ago.

Saucier, an outspoken critic of the multibillion-dollar Strategic Defense Initiative, was required to turn in his badge yesterday and has been barred from access to classified information at all government and contractor facilities where he has a clearance on file. The action was first reported in Defense Week.

The Army has been trying to fire Saucier since Feb. 14 for "unacceptable performance," but the dismissal notice has been set aside under provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Act requiring a Pentagon investigation of his charges of waste, mismanagement and fraud in the SDI program.

With that inquiry still underway, Col. James F. Roberts, chief of staff at the Army's Strategic Defense Command headquarters, told Saucier in an April 7 letter that his clearance was being suspended and formal revocation was pending, because of "recently discovered information that you knowingly and willfully falsified official government documents leading to your fraudulently obtaining your appointment as a federal civilian employee."

Saucier, Roberts said, claimed on his government employment form in 1969 that he had a bachelor's degree in applied physics and a certificate in propulsion and nuclear engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles "when you had not in fact earned such credentials."

Jeff Ruch, a lawyer for Saucier at the nonprofit Government Accountability Project, said Saucier took courses at UCLA but "never maintained he had a degree" from there. Although the government employment form states he has such degrees, Ruch said Saucier contends he never wrote that and he "never bothered to look at the form" after 1969.

Saucier, however, told a reporter last November that he had a bachelor's degree in physics and "an advanced degree in propulsion and nuclear engineering" from UCLA. Yesterday, he said that "if it came out that way, that's not what I meant to say." He said all he meant to say was that he had attended UCLA and would have gotten the degree and certificate if he had finished.

Ruch said the suspension suggests growing concern at the Pentagon "about the disclosures Aldric is making {to Defense Department investigators} concerning management of the classified portion of the 'Star Wars' budget." He said it also indicates that past background checks have not been very thorough.

"There have been prior attempts to remove Aldric's security clearance and all have been rebuffed," he said. "This raises a question about why they're trying to dredge this up after 23 years."

Ruch said the government recruited Saucier "not on the basis of his academic credentials, but on the basis of his experience" as an aerospace and research engineer.