New US campaign to thwart spies. Assessments cite defects in counterespionage methods
The arrest last month of United Nations employee Gennady F. Zakharov on espionage charges and the recent expulsion of 25 alleged undercover KGB agents at the Soviet mission to the UN are being hailed as significant blows to Soviet spy operations in New York City. United States intelligence officials and others stress, however, that much remains to be done in bolstering America's ability to protect its secrets.
Officials say it will take years of work and millions of dollars in extra funding to correct the counterintelligence shortcomings brought into sharp focus in the spy trials of John Walker, Jerry Whitworth, and others who have compromised US defense secrets.
``It is probably going to take us three to four years to really develop [counterintelligence] the way it should be, but the die is cast now,'' says L. Britt Snider, assistant deputy undersecretary for counterintelligence and security at the Pentagon.
``It took 15 years to get into this problem and it is going to take some time to get out of it,'' says Roy Godson, a professor at Georgetown University and an intelligence specialist. ``We have a long way to go.''
In the wake of the so-called ``Year of the Spy,'' Reagan administration and congressional officials have conducted top-to-bottom assessments of US counterintelligence to identify American vulnerabilities to Soviet espionage. Many of the findings are classified, officials say. But here, in general, are the assessments:
Expose a patchwork system of security procedures and clearances that differ markedly from department to department throughout the federal government.
Point up the need to further restrict Soviet and East-bloc diplomats, officials, businessmen, journalists, and tourists in the United States.
Document America's continuing vulnerability to Soviet electronic eavesdropping on telephone calls and data transmissions relayed by microwave or satellite throughout the US.