A Public Service Message from theAmerican Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. the civil rights of citizens by illegal surveillance, wiretapping and similar crimes. In reaching these conclusions, we in no way dispute Senator Ervin’s reasons why changes are required in the Justice Department. We agree whole-heartedly with Senator Ervin’s remarks on the importance of the Department of Justice, on the need for the American people to have faith in the fairness of our system of justice and on the doubts that have risen in the public mind about the Department’s activities in the Watergate scandal. In Watergate, we had a Justice Department which refused to recognize or consider that its superiors in the Executive Department may have been guilty of criminal behavior. It reported the result of its investigations of wrong-doing to those who may have planned and participated in the crimes and in this way contributed to the obstruction of justice. It arranged for the special appearance of witnesses from the Administration before a prosecutor instead of the grand jury and sought to restrict grand jury questioning of possible White House involvement in the Watergate scandal. But, there have been other questionable actions and nonactions by the Justice Department in recent years. They were also the result of improper political considerations in the development and carrying out of policy. In the field of civil rights, the Justice Department has gone beyond merely implementing a new policy of the administration, but it has effectively nullified Congressional enactments in some areas through tactics of non-enforcement. While its recent actions on voting rights and employment may have been vigorous, \(although it opposed extension of the housing are in violation of Congressional requirements. It has also shown its disregard of Constitutional requirements by a conscious policy of restricting the rights of demonstrators in the Nation’s Capital. A more fundamental problem arises in the misuse of the concept of national security. Of course the problem has been present in the FBI for over thirty years. A substantial argument can be made that the FBI has usurped the power to engage in domestic intelligence since 1939. While its power to investigate crimes is clear, the Presidential directives on which the Bureau has relied to check into “subversive activities” do not appear to grant the power it has claimed. Nor do any statutes grant it such authority. Its extraordinary intelligence activities, its extensive files, its direct avenues to Congress has rendered it impregnable over the years. And it has used this power for direct political purposes. It has tried to convince the public that movements for change were inspired by subversives or were the product of agitators, or that the nation should not move for reform of basic institutions because the Soviets would rejoice. It created and expanded its jurisdiction to implement the political ideology which J. Edgar Hoover endorsed. The problem of the recent Justice Department has been that it has been infected by the FBI abuses of the Hoover years. The Justice Department has found a new and more effective device to gather intelligence from those it considered is enemies–namely, the grand jury. It has taken over the FBI’s concept of national security and foreign intelligence and used them to justify wiretaps, infiltration, and surveillance of political dissidents. Its conspiracy indictments have embraced the cold war terminology and ideology of Hoover. Obviously, it has done nothing to check into the FBI’s expansion of power. The experience of the FBI and the Justice Department in recent years had been that illegality breeds deception and deception breeds illegality. The way to deal with the misuse of power in the national security area is to take steps to eliminate the practice directly, not through structural changes in the Department. Mail drops, Pen registers, wiretaps must be eliminated or greatly curtailed except where necessary to uncover the commission of a crime. Other abuses connected with the collection or dissemination of data must be dealt with by specific legislation. These problems transcend most of the recent concerns about partisan influence in the Justice Department. Obviously there are serious inroads into the rule of law when partisan political input is the crucial factor in prosecutorial decisions. Anti-trust enforcement, for example, has been compromised for, decades because powerful interests have been able to exert pressure on both Democratic and Republican administrations to influence anti-trust decision. One would hope that it would be possible to minimize this problem by requiring disclosures of all contacts between the decision-maker in the Department and all outsiders who ask about particular casesincluding legislators, White House figures or and parties themselves. But the line between economic policy and partisan politics may blur in this area and the best safeguard is to:. appoint people of integrity to positions of responsibility. Detailed papers on each of these subjects were prepared at our Justice Department conference and will be made available to this Committee. These criticisms do not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the Justice Department must be totally independent of the Executive branch. It can well be argued that prosecution is and should be an Executive function that flows directly from the Executive obligation to execute the laws. If a President is elected on a platform of vigorously enforcing anti-trust or civil rights laws, or of the criminal laws generallv. a l ,.: he should have a Department of Justice which will carry out: his pledge. It would not do for a carry over Attorney Gener. from a prior administration to say that he does not believe in vigorous enforcement of these laws and he will not take steps to bring prosecutions. It is true that in many states and cities the Attorney General or District Attorney is elected directly by the people and is independent of the Chief Executive. But a governor or a mayor controls the police forces and so has a direct input in the way in which laws are enforced. Creating an independent Justice Department with an Attorney General who appoints the U.S. Attorneys in each district as well as the Director of the FBI means that the President is almost totally removed from the process of law enforcement. We do not believe that it is desirable to Make the prosecution function so distant from the political ptocess. The Attorney General must be made more responsible to the public and their needs, not less. If we are concerned about the danger of Watergate, the answer lies in a permanent special. prosecutor’s office, not in taking away general law enforcement from the Executive branch. We would hope that the courts would continue to check on abuses of power by the Justice Department and that Congress and the public would exercise a more direct supervisory function. The efficient and fair administration of justice is too important to us all. We must, therefore, make a re-evaluation of our assumptions about this key department of government.
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