What you favor in the editorial "New Course for CIA," May 28, is fine: an end to covert operations and a turn away from reflexive hostility to the Soviets.But how can you take President Bush's choice of Robert M. Gates as a sign of commitment to either of these changes? In sworn testimony about his knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair, Mr. Gates told literal truths clearly deceptive in intent. This calls into question his willingness to notify Congress about covert operations - much less halt them. And his "respected" career as an analyst rests on a series of implacably hard-line statements about Gorbachev and others. The Senate must not only probe Gates' past, it must ask whether he would favor covert operations to break up the Soviet Union. Our ideals for democracy and self-determination are one thing. But they are surely undermined, both abroad and at home, by covert operations to this end. David Keppel, Essex, Conn.

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