AUSTIN Only a few thristy cedar-shrouded Bexar County ridges separate Fort Sam Houston, scene of a post World War 1 one-man rebellion, from Lackland Air Force Base. It was from Fort Sam that, in the 1920’s, Gen. Billy Mitchell called in San Antonio reporters and fired the first in a series of salvoes which were to lead him to court martial, resignation from the service and years of lonely pain. Today, at Lackland, a young colonel named Smyrl \(commissioned in the service Mitchell helped to waited after his Fort Sam press conference, for a “higher headquarters” to make up its mind what it will do with this saucy rebel, this The Listening Post …. Warren Fuller of Nacogdoches, Ralph Yarboroug -f ,h’s senate race campaign manager, definitely will run for the State Senate post vacated by Ottis Lock. He has not yet announced, but has told friends he “definitely is in” the race. …. Martin Dies, Jr., has told Texans in Washington that his father, Rep. Martin Dies, had received little or no response to several bids for money with which to run again for the Senate. Reason for the turndowns, according to the younger Dies : The poor showing against Ralph Yarborough. …. County Judge Torn Griffin of Bastrop County has the statewide political bug. He’s reported to be thinking of challenging either Agriculture Commissioner John White or Land Commissioner Earl Rudder. ….Elton Miller, in his column in the White Rocker, predicts Ralph Yarborough will run for re-election. “His admirers from all over Texas vvill tell you that he has no plans to come back to Texas and run for governor.” . H. M. Baggarly, editor of the Tulia Herald, put a new twist on the old argument between Washington and Austin. He wrote : : Many of our conservative friends who publish newspapers waxed eloquent as they penned patriotic tributes to Old Glory on the occasion of Independence Day. That’s fine. We need to wave the flag more often. But in the same breath, some of these writers apologized for being “old fashioned” enough to be proud to be an American and then took a crack at so-called liberal Democrats whom they accused of being enemies of states rights and those issues closely allied to states rights. We detected a note of inconsistency. It has been the so-called liberal Democrats who have been unwilling to damn the U. S. Constitution, who have been more proud to be an American than to be a Texan or a Mississippian or an Alabaman. It has been the so-called states righters who have appeared to have had about as much love for Washington as they have for the Kremlin. They are the ones who have lost sight of the old American spirit of the Fourth of July. Personally, we had rather give up our Texas citizenship if we had to make a choice. We would feel just about as much at home at Washington as at Austin. We believe we could find just about as much honesty, integrity and patriotism at Washington as at Austin. . …The Bowie County News editorializes, “Truman might have been as popular a President as Eisenhower if he had stayed off the job as much.” disturber of the garrisoned peace, this snotty youngster. One of the reporters at a Mitchell press conference, remembering years later, said, “I took down every word he said and went back to the office. It took me a week to realize what I had. I couldn’t get it through my head why he would do it.” This is not to say that Smyrl is another Mitchell or that Smyrl’s case is a Mitchell case ; it is only Bexar geography that links them, geography and an inescapable idea that both willed to sacrifice themselvesrightly or wrongly and a little blindly after the fashion of rebels always. Mitchell had the more guts, or seems to have had in retrospect ; perhaps, though it is just that rebels nowadays like a passel of the of the rest of us, are more orderly. Smyrl’s dogged insistence that Freedom is a curious commodity. It must be preserved over and over againand in many ways. Won at an Alamo, a San Jacinto, a Yorktown on this day, it must be resaved at a Marne, an Iwo Jima, a Normandy beach, a 38th parallel on the next. And freedom must also be secured over again every day, in a thousand and one ways and in a thousand and one placesmostly in ways far less spectacular than in battles and wars. Nov I do not believe that freedom for all is something distinct from freedom of the press. Rather, I believe that the ramparts of freedom are continuous, and that a breach anywhere is a threat of the whole citadel. …. the press has a special function in the defense of freedom that Ralph Yarborough has to be exercised earlier and oftener than the average citizen is called upon to exercise his. As I see it, the press’ theater of war for the preservation of freedom is within the hearts and minds of the people. It is not the press’ function to fight the conventional battles and wars, though it helps to assure victory in them. Rather, the press’ function becomes “supercritical”to use an adjective of the bomb-makers of the Atomic Age precisely at the moment when the artillery falls silent, the cruisers slip in to the their moorings and the bombers come in to their landing places. …. did you know that on June 21, 1957 a week ago yesterday a presidential commission recommended to the President and to the Congress, legislation which, in my opinion, is as dangerous to press freedom as the Sedition Act? “Buried in the 800-page report of the President’s Commission on Government Securitythe Wright Commissionis this recommendation to Congress : . …that Congress enact legislation. making it a crime for any person willfully to disclose without proper authorization for any purpose whatsoever, information classified secret,’ top secret,’ knowing, or having reasonable grounds to believe, such information to have been so classified.” “The proposed bill would make disclosures a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and by a fine up to $10,000. These penalties would apply to any person disclosing informationthe bill does not specifically mention writers or editors or publisherseven though his intentions are to help, rather than to harm, his country. The only test under the proposed bill is whether the disclosed docu he will have the court of inquiry he seeks and to hell with hints from above to keep it in the family, to hell with the consequences to military ambition and future \(his future is shot now, win or lose, he having determination that he will not be quiet, though he speaks, so far, properly and orderly, only to his military superiors, takes guts, too, only of a different kind. One thing Smyrl shares with Mitchell and all known rebels of the type : A bullheadedness, a stubbornness, an utterly ingenuous idea fixed that here is the place where and a moment when all this nonsense must stop. This admixture of qualities leaps out from the Smyrl telling of his own storyeven though that story is couched in the words of a man who for 14 years had spoken most went had been classified by a government official. NOTE : on June 29, at San Antonio, before the convention of the Texas Press Association, Sen. Ralph Yarborough made a major speech attacking the Eisenhower Commission on Government S e c u r it ythe socalled W r i g h t Commission. Much of what he said went unreported by the press, the Observer included, because of the implications of remarks he had made about Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn, in the opening of the speech. Here, excerpted, is the speech. Why did the commission recommend this bill? There already are laws under which newspapers can be prosecuted for knowingly publishing information harmful to the nation. The test of these existing laws is whether there is intent to do harm to the country, not whether a bureaucrat somewhere has decided a document should be classified. In my opinion, the proposed bill is an extension of a dangerous threat to freedom of the press contained in a letter written on May 17, 1954 by President Eisenhower to Defense Secretary Charles Wilson. This letter, which I thought the press never protested strongly enough, was written during the Army-McCarthy hearings. Its aim was to prevent Army Counsel John Adams from testifying as to conversations with Deputy Attorney General William P. Rogers and Assistant to the President Sherman Adams. The letter was couched in very broad terms and talked of the right of the executive branch of our government to keep certain things “confidential.” This was the place where danger to the press lurked. Almost immediately after the latter was written, executive department agency heads in our federal government began applying the precedent set by the letter. Budget D i r e c t or Rowland Hughes, using the precedent, refused to allow witnesses to be questioned and certain papers to be produced in connection with handling of the now-famed Dixon-Yates contract. Hughes, citing the letter, said records and conversations involved in reaching decisions within his department were “confidential.” Logically extended, the Eisenhower letter gave to the head of every executive agency, and those acting for him, a precedent for making “confidential” anything they pleased to cover up. Here was a parasol under which government heads could stand any ly in the jargon of the military service and written mostly in the numbered paragraphs of the blimpbellied inexplicably-clung-to military report. What is important about Smyrl their wrongness or their rightness. Mitchell’s Air Force came to pass, though he did not see it and it was only the other week in Washington that a review board got around to looking over his records with an eye to what it called, in an unguarded, pants-down press statement ‘slip,. “righting a wrong.” And the condition of whiCh Smyrl complains has already, although perhaps only ‘because the Smyrl stink has yet to blow off the Bexar ridges, been changed. No, what’s important about rebels is that we shall have them when we need them. It has grown mighty comfort ble, undisturbing, lazy, thoukhtlesS \(why think when it is fat, dumb, happy lately, here abouts. LYMAN JONES time an information seeking reporter or, for that matter, a Congressional investigating committee, asked him questions. Many times since the letter was written, reporters and Congressional investigators have heard this phrase : “We consider that information to be confidential under the President’s May 17, 1954 letter to Defense Secretary Wilson.” Bureaucrats using this phrase and its variations have not pleaded that the nation’s security is involved or that information-seekers were after loyalty files, or diplomatic papers or socalled “raw” investigative files. They simply, and arbitrarily, said : “confidential.” No all-out fight was made by either the press or the Congress to outlaw the precedent set in the Eisenhower-Wilson letter, although such a fight should have been made, on a purely non-partisan, non-polit-ical basis. And now, we are faced with the recommendation of the Wright “Commission on Government Security” of June 21, 1957. Let us assume that no fight is made against this proposal, either. Let’s assume that it has long been the law of our land. What would have happened in the past few years, had such a law been on our statute books? Here are but a few of the stories of critical national interest which you could never have printed:: The story of the late Bert Andrews, of the New York Herald Tribune, that President Franklin Roosevelt had agreed at Yalta to allow entrance of the Ukraine and Bylorussia to the United Nations. This story was published and no one has ever questioned but that its publication was in the nation’s best interests. The series of stories by Paul Anderson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch which led to the full disclosure of the infamous Teapot Dome scandals could not have been published, had this proposal been our law. Arthur Krock of the New York Times in the early 1930’s could not have printed stories informing this nation that its government intended to go off the gold standard and to initiate the NRA. I have already mentioned DixonYates …. …. I am not condemning the whole report of the Commission on Security. Many of its recommendations are admirable, notably a proposal that henceforth persons accused shall have the right to be confronted by their accusers. But a proposal that would allow bureaucrats to cover their tracks even their illegal actsby the simple process of stamping “classified” on a document, cannot be condemned strongly enough. THE REBELS AT BEXAR A BROODING IN THE SKY 11
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