When the maid and the cook work for the KGB

FOR almost two months we and the Soviets have been expelling spies, newsmen, and diplomats. In the process, we have won one big and lost one not so big. There is more to come, though, and we would do well to protect what we've won. Doing that will not be easy. We lost when we traded Soviet spy Gennady Zahkarov for US newsman Nicholas Daniloff plus Soviet dissident Yuri Orlov and his wife on Sept. 29. One purpose in our arresting Mr. Zahkarov was to tell the Soviets we knew they were breaking the ``rules'' of spying by having a man who did not have diplomatic status do spying in the United States. Considering the large number of diplomats the Soviets have in our country, why must they do so much spying that they have to reach down into their bag of non-diplomats? And they know from past cases the problems it causes us and them when we catch a non-diplomat and threaten to send him to jail.

Our entrapping and arresting Zahkarov, then, was a proper way to show our pique. The Soviets have no limit to their gall, however. They immediately entrapped and arrested our newsman, Mr. Daniloff, and expected a swap. This was the third time we'd been through almost the identical scenario.

In a similar sequence in 1963, the Soviets released the American they took hostage in less than three weeks, while it was almost eight years before the Soviet spy went home. In another case in 1978, the American was home in about three months; the two Soviet spies in about 11 months. Now, in '86, Daniloff was released in 31 days and Zahkarov was only one day behind. In 1978, we also obtained the release of five Soviet dissidents in addition to our hostage; in 1986, only two.

It surely appears to the Soviets as if the potential cost to them of being caught spying with non-diplomats has gone down. The bad news, then, is that this will mean more spying in our midst.

The good news is that there will now be less spying against us in Moscow. After Daniloff arrived home, the administration boldly slashed the size of the Soviets' mission at the United Nations, their embassy in Washington, and consulate in San Francisco. The idea was to establish equality between their embassy and consulate staffs here and ours in Moscow and Leningrad. This does, though, leave the Soviets with a sizable advantage, because they have a large mission to the UN in New York. The Soviets cleverly retaliated to our move by withdrawing 260 Soviet citizens employed in and around our Moscow embassy and Leningrad consulate. We, then, did the same, but the Soviets lost only 10 American helpers. Overall, these reductions and terminations have resulted in a big plus for us.

Why? Because what has been even more egregious than Soviet spying from their offices over here in our country has been their spying from inside our very embassy in Moscow and consulate in Leningrad. The record has been blatant:

In the 1950s, our ambassador found a concealed microphone behind his desk in a bas-relief replica of the great seal of the US that had been a gift of the Soviets.

In the 1960s, we uncovered 52 microphones concealed in our embassy.

In 1978, the embassy security team was checking on security. As they moved about from room to room with their equipment, a Soviet cleaning person would inevitably knock on the door and try to gain entry. They discovered an antenna in a chimney that abutted our embassy, a room with listening equipment at the bottom of the chimney, and a tunnel to the adjacent Soviet building. The day after, the Soviets filed a formal protest with us for breaking into the chimney!

For many years, with some interruptions, the Soviets have bombarded our embassy with microwave signals. At one point we were compelled to do thorough checks on possible adverse affects on our employees' health.

In 1985, we made an issue of the fact that Soviet workers inside the embassy were spreading ``spy dust'' about. Americans would pick it up and leave a trail wherever they went outside the embassy.

After the spy-dust publicity, there was considerable talk about replacing Soviet workers in the embassy with Americans. The Soviet withdrawal of their workers has made that a fait accompli, and we are much better off. Stopping the spying inside our embassy in Moscow is, in my opinion, even more important than curtailing Soviet spying in our country.

I find it difficult to believe that the Soviets will want it this way over the long run. Our embassy may not want it this way, either, for it will be a wrenching adjustment. But it is an adjustment that we can, and should, make. Part of it will be relatively easy. A good number of the 260 have worked in personal residences as maids and baby sitters. Those who were integral to the embassy will have to be replaced by Americans. That will mean reducing our diplomatic functions somewhat to stay within the ceiling we've set for Soviet representation here and our representation there. We can make some of those reductions in areas that will hurt the Soviets more than ourselves, like commercial attach'es who help the current Soviet effort to increase business ventures between our countries.

We're ahead, but the game is not over. We must not let the inconveniences our diplomats will face temporarily in Moscow wipe out our gain.

It's far more important to hold our position in Moscow than to concern ourselves with nibbling away at the numbers of Soviets in the UN and their embassy in Washington.

The Soviets have myriad opportunities to shift their spying efforts in our country from one group to another. Spies are in their trading organization Amtorg, their office for Tass, trade delegations, cultural exchange delegations, merchant ships, and so on.

Not only will we never cut these down substantially, we really do not want to do so. When we look past spying, there are substantial advantages to encouraging more Soviet citizens to visit the US. I believe that when we expose people from a closed, repressive society like that of the Soviet Union to our open, free society, we gain. One gain we've seen recently is an increase in defectors from Soviet intelligence organizations.

Over the longer run, we want more Soviet citizens to understand us and we them, for the greatest threat to mankind is a nuclear war between the superpowers as a result of misunderstanding and mistrust. Even though it's antithetical to our interests in preventing spying, we should look forward to having more Soviets in our country in the decades ahead, not fewer. Let's at least, then, hold the line on offering Soviet spies access to one of our most sensitive diplomatic posts.

Adm. Stansfield Turner, author of ``Secrecy and Democracy, The CIA in Transition,'' was director of central intelligence from 1977 to 1981.

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