The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 10, 1976 · Page 85
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 85

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Friday, December 10, 1976
Page 85
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Palm Beach Post, Friday, December 10, 1976 E13 Levi's Refusal of Wiretaps In 6 Spy Cases Disclosed We've sold 78 of these fabulous townhouses. Only 6 remain. (Doesn't that tell you something?) By NICHOLAS M. HORROCK (c) New Yor Times WASHINGTON - Senior intelligence officials said Wednesday that Atty. Gen. Edward H. Levi has refused to approve any requests for wiretaps in counterintelligence cases and that efforts to combat hostile foreign intelligence services are being hampered. In a series of interviews, officials familiar with the counterintelligence efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency, said privately that six requests for electronic surveillance of Americans or resident aliens have been made to the attorney general during the past year and he has declined to approve them. In these cases, the officials said, the. requests were for telephone wiretaps. They were instances where the counterintelligence experts believed the American or resident alien was in contact with agents of hostile intelligence services and compromising national security. The instances demonstrate sharply the controversy between the protection of civil liberties in the United States and efforts to take steps considered necessary to maintain national security. U.S. counterintelligence agencies do conduct electronic surveillance of the intelligence officers and offices of hostile foreign intelligence services operating in this country. It is common knowledge that the United States wiretaps officials of Communist-bloc nations it suspects are engaged in espionage. But the counterintelligence surveillance presents a thornier stall the tap. They do not fault Levi's judgment as a lawyer, but suggested that the Department of Justice must "rethink" the criteria for such surveillance. "I personally do not know the answer," one senior official said, "but there are problems that worry us." He said they had information that foreign intelligence services had developed "agents of influence" in this country, attempted to erode the American political process and had made efforts to gather traditional national security data. The sources said Levi had told them that if they "feel" strongly that the taps were neessary they ' could seek approval from the courts under the provisions of Title III of the U.S. Code. The intelligence officials have declined because they would have to disclose their informants or sources of suspicion. Robert Havel, director of public information at the Department of Justice, declined to comment on the six cases, but said Levi had been "very willing to discuss his standards for such wiretaps." In a speech to the Los Angeles County Bar Association last month, he said there were no "warrantless wiretaps" against American citizens. The system of review, which requires that the intelligence agencies make signed requests that are then considered by the criminal division at the Justice Department and a special committee of officials with presidential appointments, is an effort to halt such practices as former Atty. Gen. John Mitchell's signing wiretap orders on White House aides at the oral requests of political appointees. It is clear that the senior officials of the intelligence community want to alert the incoming officials of Jimmy Carter's administration to their problems. Whether a Carter-appointed attorney general will relax the controls is not known. But Vice President-elect Walter F. Mondale was a key member of the Senate select committee on intelligence and a strong supporter, as was Levi, of legislation that would set up a court order system for the precise type of wiretaps that concern the intelligence officials. This proposal did not come to a Senate vote this year but may be reintroduced in the next Congress. The proposal set up a system whereby the intelligence services could ask for warrants in closed-door sessions with selected federal judges. Atty. Gen. Edward Levi . . . cited insufficient cause problem. One senior official described it hypothetically: "We believe that Ivan Ivanov, a Soviet intelligence officer, has compromised Joe Zilch, an American or resident alien, with entry to national security data, and that person is meeting with the Russian and supplying him information. They have sought to wiretap Joe Zilch." Levi, these officials said, has told them in each instance that they had insufficient "probable cause" to in- If you've looked high and low, and the only houses you like carry out-of-reach prices don't give up. 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