The editorial ``Post-Cold-War Spying,'' Feb. 24, observes correctly: ``The need for intelligence gathering is one of the sad realities of a wicked world.'' The end of the cold war has not resulted in a decrease in the amount of intelligence gathering by the United States and Russia. Both countries reoriented their intelligence collection priorities to reflect the end of open hostility and the beginning of limited cooperation.
To expect Russia to cooperate with the US in the damage assessment of the results of Aldrich Ames's alleged spying and to suggest that friendly powers don't spy on one another - as the Clinton administration did - is naive and hypocritical. The US maintains a highly developed intelligence gathering system to obtain necessary information on Russia and other world powers. In the past the US has cautioned at least two friendly powers against aggressive intelligence targeting.
The timing and subsequent spin given to the Ames affair made it seem more important and urgent than the central issue of the present US-Russian relationship: the evolution of Russia, with US and international assistance, into a politically and socially stable, economically viable nation.
As devastating as the high-level penetration of the CIA by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and KGB has been, it is time for the Clinton administration to be realistic about the culture and craft of intelligence and to concentrate on delivering support to the Russian institutions, political parties, and policies (not personalities) that are committed to long-term progress. William F. Dunkelberger, Randolph, Vt.
Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115