CIA to issue guidelines on hiring foreign agents

June 20, 1995|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Faced with mounting criticism over its ties to Third World military officials involved in human rights abuses, CIA Director John Deutch said yesterday that his agency is preparing to issue its first uniform guidelines for covert officers to use in recruiting foreign agents and paid informants.

The pending directive, prompted by the controversy over the CIA's role in Guatemala, is the intelligence agency's first attempt to develop quality control over the foreign nationals on its payroll, Mr. Deutch said in an interview with reporters and editors in the Los Angeles Times' Washington bureau.

The guidelines, now being developed by new CIA general counsel Jeffrey H. Smith, are expected to force CIA case officers to become more selective in choosing whom they target for recruitment. CIA headquarters will now have preset standards for determining the value of informants before deciding whether CIA case officers should recruit them -- and whether they should be paid for their knowledge.

Still, Mr. Deutch cautioned that the CIA will have to continue to deal with unsavory characters around the world to remain an effective intelligence service.

"We are going to be issuing a clearly written guidance on the circumstances when we will deal with a particular individual," Mr. Deutch said. "But let me tell you, you are not going to be able to do the clandestine collection of in telligence with all wonderful and nice people. So you are going to have to balance here the character of the individual with respect to the intelligence you are gathering."

Mr. Deutch, who was confirmed as CIA director in May, is planning to issue the new guidelines as one of his first steps in overhauling the CIA's troubled Directorate of Operations, the agency's covert operations arm.

Traditionally, CIA officers operating under cover overseas have been given broad discretion in the recruitment of foreign officials to induce them to betray their countries.

But revelations that a Guatemalan army officer on the CIA's payroll was implicated in the murders of an American innkeeper in rural Guatemala and the torture-killing of the Guatemalan husband of another U.S. citizen have forced the agency, under congressional pressure, to review its procedures for so-called "human intelligence."

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