The case of Casey: will he survive growing opposition?

Will William J. CAsey be forced t resign? President Reagan is known to believe that his CIA chief will be able to hold his job unless, as one White House aide puts it, "there is a new revelation -- beyond any of the charges against Casey that we have yet seen."

Questions have been raised about Mr. Casey's financial dealings before he took his appointment as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The call for Casey to resign has been gaining in intensity on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Barry Goldwater (R) of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, thinks Casey damaged himself irreparably by making Max C. Hugel head of CIA covert operations. Mr. Hugel resigned when he was charged with being involved in questionable business dealings in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, this city is again absorbed by the possibility of yet another public official falling by the wayside because of allegations of misconduct.

The President himself made one comment, caught on television, which showed him expressing some uncertainty as to whether he would stick with Casey.

But since then, Mr. Reagan has let it be known that he believes Casey is doing a fine job at the CIA and has said he is standing fully behind him.

It also is understood that the President has heard from several senators who have urged him to withhold judgment until all the facts are in and have been carefully weighed.

Reagan is indeed withholding judgment on Casey -- but taking the position that Casey is innocent of allegations against him unless some impressive proof of these charges comes to light.

This Reagan position stops considerably short of the well-remembered words of President Carter when, as the storm clouds gathered over T. Bertram Lance, he said in stout defense of his Office of Management and Budget director: "I'm proud of you, Bert."

Should some new charges against Casey prove out, or old charges be substantiated, it will be easier for Reagan to move away from his CIA chief -- to let him know through aides that his registration would be appreciated.

A federal district court judge has ruled that Casey participated with several others in an investment offering that "omitted and misrepresented facts" to investors. A response from one of Casey's lawyers was that Casey was a passive investor and did not violate the federal security law.

The New York Times has published a report that Casey failed to tell the Senate earlier this year about his stock holding in one corporation and a gift of $10,000 interest in another business venture.

Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D) of New York, vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the committee will ask Casey to provide information about how much federal income tax he paid and, if legally possible, would seek to obtain copies of his tax returns.

Meanwhile, defenders of Casey were making themselves heard, including Sen. Paul Laxalt (R) of Nevada; Stanley Sporkin, CIA general counsel and former enforcement chief at the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Leonard Mark, former director of the US Information Agency.

Two other Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, Sens. William V. Roth Jr. of Deleware and Ted Stevens of Alaska, have joined Mr. Goldwater in calling on Casey to resign.

They, like Goldwater, say they think Casey's ability to run the CIA was severely damaged by the bad judgment he displayed in putting the inexperienced Hugel in such a high-level position.

Over the weekend, the storm over Casey showed not sign of subsiding. The prediction among veteran observers here is that Casey may be able to save his job, that something more m ust be uncovered before his departure becomes inevitable.

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