Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
February 22, 2011
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
July 30, 1976
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP90-01208R000100240007-0.pdf94.75 KB
u_ i STAT.- Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/02/22 : CIA-RDP90-01208R000100240007-0 ^ / ARTICLE APPEARED NEW YORK TIDIES -Y ONPAGi/ A_7J 30 JULY 1976 Hangover From",:' Watergate -By Tom Wicker After President Ford abandoned his opposition to a-special prosecutor to investigate wrongdoing within the.; Government, the Senate included such an office in its Watergate reform bill. But. Mr, Ford isn't showing much in- terest in acting on his own to curb executive -excesses -or clean up past offenses. He .recently ordered . the Justice Department, for example, to go into ccurt for a restraining order against ; .a House subcommittee's attempt to obtain Federal .wiretap records from'. American - Telephone . and Telegraph 'Company. Mr. Ford contended that it ,would be an "unacceptable risk" to the national security to let the sub- j committee have the records it had -subpoenaed from A.T.&T. It may be true that the House in .the past has not been . sufficiently scrupulous in maintaining the security of sensitive documents, and the Ad- 'ministration's concern' may therefore, be reasonable.. Yet,. how is Congress 'to- operate. - as a? -real check on -the -Executive if the President can nullify I a Congressional subpoena with a claim 'of national security. - Judge'Oliver Gasch, 'who' issued the temporary order, has. the matter under advisement and may yet rule in favor of - the subcommittee.. But with the echoes, of Watergate' scarcely" faded'.' from the Washington 'air,' Mr. Ford would 'have acted more reassuringly if `he had'sought some security ment with the subcommittee chairman, Representative Moss of California, rather than going into court to protect ; 1 By'doing so, as subcommittee law- yers pointed out, he ranked 'duly elected members. of Congress as.less trustworthy than Justice Department officials, Federal Bureau of Investiga- tibn agents and the large number of A.T.&T. employees who-have seen the! secret documents. He also raised the! question whether there ,may not . be more to hide than "national security"; information in the wiretap records.: Nor is this the only instance inl which- an, executive branch ."cover-up" I might at least be suspected.: A.- Justices Department official recently told The New York Times that the department's lawyers had recommended against the prosecution. of Central In'telligence' Agency officials involved in the illegal' opening of mail between the United States and Communist countries. Opening mail, by' the C.I.A. or any- one else, was clearly against the 'law throughout the 20-year period when the agency engaged in the practice. Yet, the Justice Official Explained, the department's lawyers had concluded that during all that t;ne there had been "a continuum of Presidential, au- trority" that had made the C.I.A. mail- -openings legal after all- But since when have Presidents been- able to make legal what the law says is illegal, by a continuum or any o+her' kind of-authority? And even if there were-some such power inherent in the office, what about ' the report of the 'Senate Select' Committee on Intelli- gence that it had found no documen- tary evidence that any President had "authorized" the mail openings? Aside from these tittestions, how- ever, why should the Justice Depart- meet take it upon itself to decide such .matters? There is ample c,?iden ce that the mail openings took pl:ice, ngatlnst the statutory law. That seems reason enough to prosecute those responsible, and if the defendants wanted to claim a "continuum of Presidential author- ity" as a . defense. t`ir courts could decide the validity of such a claim. Justice Department lawyers already have recommended to Attorney Gen- eral Levi that no indictments be sought as a result of C.I.A. assassination olots against Fidel Castro of Cuba and the Late -Patrice Lumurrrba 'of,' then, the Congo. Nor does it appear that perjury action will be taken against the former C.I.A. director, Richard Helm, for his questionable statements to Congress on the agehcy's involvements in Chile. If no'evidence of legal offenses.in these cases exists, of course there should be no, prosecutions.' But it is-' hard to see how that could be so, at least in the mail-opening :natter. And if such evidence does exist-no :natter what exculpatory theories the defend- ants might offer in court-no special prosecutor ought to bey needed-to order ` indictments. Mr. Ford's sudden switch tr- support' of a special prosecutor may have rep- resented a sincere change of heart: But it may also have reflected the Demo- crats' recent show of interest in Water- gate as' an issue against him. In either case, action by Mr. Ford's own Administration would speak louder than any number of words from him. !,- Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/02/22 : CIA-RDP90-01208R000100240007-0