Tighten security in Moscow

THERE is more than enough embarrassment to go around from the unfortunate Marine espionage case in Moscow to explain some of the recrimination - and dubious solutions - now being heard. That a serious security lapse has transpired is certain. That several Marines assigned to guard the US embassy in Moscow are involved is also likely. But responsibility for the incident goes far higher than just the young defenders of the embassy gates. Questions have to be asked: How adequate is the selection and training process for Americans assigned to vital security positions abroad? How effective are the counter-espionage programs ostensibily designed to prevent such spying incidents before they occur? And, most important, should secrecy and subterfuge continue to play such a big role in the diplomatic process in an age of instant and open mass communications?

Unfortunately, no one can be totally surprised at what happened in Moscow, namely, that at least two young military guards apparently let Soviet intelligence agents into the US embassy. The Soviets have always been alert to intelligence gathering among official - and often, unofficial - Americans living in Moscow. One need only think back to 1960 after the U-2 spy incident to those dramatic pictures of an indignant Henry Cabot Lodge showing Americans a massive replica of the Great Seal of the US from the American embassy in Moscow - in which the Soviets had planted a listening device. And among security lapses, there was the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon a few years ago.

Spying, unfortunately, is part of the way governments deal with each other. To think that the US does not engage in such espionage, while the Soviets do, is to miss the larger point.

Those persons responsible for this latest lapse in US security should be held responsible. President Reagan was apparently warned two years ago by his advisory panel on intelligence about significant security problems at the US embassy in Moscow. Why were such concerns not heeded? And if it is true, as some reports have it, that vital electronic equipment inside the mission has been tainted through planting of listening devices or other surveillance systems, why were such machines not replaced - or subjected to frequent inspection?

Surely security links at the embassy must be tightened. That means better training of personnel. The jurisdictional dispute as to who is ultimately in charge of Marine guards and other security personnel - ranking officers or state department officials - needs clarification. Investigators, and Congress, also need to conduct a thorough inquiry into the embassy's Marine guard unit, since there are new allegations that other guards may have been involved in indiscretions.

The diplomatic process requires privacy. Messages must be sent. Instructions received. But a lot of what is done in secret could probably just as well be done in public view. The more often governments conduct their relations openly - with positions expressed honestly - the less reason there will be for the suspicion, bribery, and enticements that lead to espionage such as the latest in Moscow.

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