Morton Halperin was named director of policy planning at the State Department yesterday, the highest position he is likely to win without running a congressional gantlet for anti-CIA views, which he said he has abandoned.
As director of policy planning, a post which does not require Senate approval, he will advise the secretary of state on all policy issues from a supposedly independent position not tied to regional bureaus within the agency. He was appointed without fanfare.
His earlier controversial views critical of the CIA and overseas projection of U.S. military force had proved a lightning rod for critics and led to his dropping out of consideration for a Pentagon position in 1994.
But in an interview yesterday by phone from New York, Mr. Halperin said he has "abandoned the idea of abandoning CIA covert actions" and also dropped opposition to unilateral U.S. military operations overseas.
"We should have a clandestine capability particularly, now with the threats from terrorism, international criminals and proliferation," he said.
"When the threat of national security is at stake, I would prefer we act multilaterally, but at times we must act alone."
After withering criticism in confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee led by Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, Mr. Halperin withdrew from consideration for a position that had been created for him: assistant secretary of defense for peacekeeping and democracy.
He was then hired in February 1994 by the Clinton administration's National Security Council as senior director for democracy - a post he gave up to join the Council on Foreign Relations and then to serve as senior vice …