A battery of top former Ford administration defense and intelligence experts has fired new salvos against the Carter administration's alleged political disclosure of the top-secret "Stealth" aircraft program, Monitor correspondent John Cooley reports.
Retired Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, in a letter sent to another retired admiral, charged that President Carter had personally approved the leak of information on the radar-resistant plane project. Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indian released Admiral Zumwalt's charge that the leak was "unbelievably harmful to the national security" because it gave the Russians a "five- year head start" in countermeasures.
Earlier, President Carter told newsmen in New Jersey that the charge, by Ronald Reagan supporters, was "absolutely irresponsible and false" and that onle the existenc -- no details -- of Stealth had been revealed.
In a separate news conference here after release of the Zumwait letter, three top defense and intelligence aides of the Ford administration, all listed as advisers of Governor Reagan, charged that the administration disclosures had done "real damage" to US security.
Retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former President Ford's national security assistant; Dr. Ray Cline, a former CIA officer and State Department intelligence and research director; and Dr. John Lehman, deputy director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under Mr. Ford, all said the top-level White House and Pentagon confirmation of Stealth's importance had undoubtedly helped Soviet intelligence agencies, despite earlier publication of details.
Defense Secretary Harold Brown's announcement that Stealth was of "highest importance," and that "indeed it changed the strategic balance," ensured that "if [Soviet President] Brezhnev didn't know this importance, he knows it now," General Scowcroft said.