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my mind that Mr. Hoover's statement that no telephone in the Capitol has ever been tapped by the FBI is correct. That is correct.
The case you referred to, the Dowdy case, did not involve the tapping of a Congressman's telephone.
The second point that I should make is this: Let's get this whole business of surveillance and the rest into some perspective. First, when we talk about police states, there are 205 million people in this country.
Did you know, even the Nation's editors, sophisticated as you are, that over the past 2 years there were only 300 taps by the FBI through court orders?
Do you know what was accomplished from those taps? There were 900 arrests and 100 convictions, and particularly convictions in the important area of narcotics where millions and millions of dollars worth of narcotics that otherwise would have gone to the young people of America were picked up? That was why those taps were carried on.
Now let's talk about the other area which I think Mr. Risher and the people are more concerned about. They say what about the taps that are not made by court order but that are made for the national security? I checked that, too. The high, insofar as those taps are concerned, were in the years 1961, 1962, and 1963. In those years, the number of taps was between 90 and 100. Now, in the 2 years that we have been in office—now get this number—the total number of taps for national security purposes by the FBI, and I know because I look not at the information but at the decisions that are made the total number of taps is less, has been less, than 50 a year, a cut of 50 percent from what it was in 1961, '62, and '63. As far as Army surveillance is concerned, once we saw what had happened to the Democratic National Convention, that had even been carried to the surveillance of Adlai Stevenson, who later became a Senator, we stopped them.
I simply want to put this all in perspective by saying this: I believe the Nation's press has a responsibility to watch Government, to see that Big Brother isn't watching.
I don't want to see a police state. I argued the right of privacy case in the Supreme Court and I feel strongly about the right of privacy. But let's also remember that the President of the United States has a responsibility for the security of this country and a responsibility to protect the innocent from those who might engage in crime or who would be dangerous to the people of this country.
In carrying out that responsibility, I defend the FBI in this very limited exercise of tapping.
One final point: You talk about police state. Let me tell you what happens when you go to what is really a police state.
You can't talk in your bedroom. You can't talk in your sitting room. You don't talk on the telephone. You don't talk in the bathroom. As a matter of fact, you hear about going out and talking in the garden? Yes, I have walked many times through gardens in various places where I had to talk about something confidential, and you can't even talk in front of a shrub. That is the way it works.
What I am simply saying is this, my friends: There are police states. We don't want that to happen to America. But America is not a police state, and as long as I am in this office, we are going to be sure that not the FBI or any other organization engages in any activity except where the national interests or the protection of innocent people requires it, and then it will be as limited as it possibly can be. That is what we are going to do.
Mr. DICKINSON. Thank you very much, Mr. President, thank you.
NOTE : The President spoke at 9 p.m. in the Regency Ballroom at the Shoreham Hotel. His remarks were broadcast on radio.
EXCERPT FROM PRESIDENT Nixon's PRESS CONFERENCE, MAY 1, 1971
Q. Mr. President, regarding the use of wiretaps in domestic security matters
The PRESIDENT. The kind that you don't have with subpoenas, in other words? Q. Right, without court orders. The Attorney General has stated the policy
on that and he has been criticized by Congressman Emanuel Celler of New York, who says that this could lead to a police state. Would you comment on the threat of a police state in the use of this type of activity?
The PRESIDENT. Well, I have great respect for Congressman Celler as a lawyer and as, of course, the dean—as you know, he is the dean of all the Congressmen in the House, a very distinguished Congressman. However, in this respect I would only say, where was he in 1961? Where was he in 1962? Where was he in 1953 ?
Today, right today, at this moment, there are one-half as many taps as there were in 1961, '62, and '63, and 10 times as many news stories about them. Now, there wasn't a police state in 1961 and '62 and '63, in my opinion, because even then there were less than 100 taps and there are less than 50 today, and there is none, now, at the present time.
All of this hysteria—and it is hysteria, and much of it, of course, is political demagoguery to the effect that the FBI is tapping my telephone and the restsimy doesn't serve the public purpose. In my view, the taps, which are always approved by the Attorney General, in a very limited area, dealing with those who would use violence or other means to overthrow the Government, and limited, as they are at the present time, to less than 50 at any one time, I think they are justified, and I think that the 200 million people in this country do not need to be concerned that the FBI, which has been, with all the criticism of it—which has a fine record of being nonpolitical, nonpartisan, and which is recognized throughout the world as probably the best police force in the world, the people of this country should be thankful that we have an FBI that is so greatly restricted in this respect.
This is not a police state. I have been to police states. I know what they are. I think that the best thing that could happen to some of the Congressmen and Senators and others who talk about police states is to take a trip-I mean a trip abroad, of course [Laughter]—and when they go abroad, try a few police states.
This isn't a police state and isn't going to become one.
I should also point this out: Where were some of the critics in 1968 when there was Army surveillance of the Democratic National Committee at the convention, I mean? We have stopped that.
This administration is against any kind of repression, any kind of action that infringes on the right of privacy. However, we are for, and I will always be for, that kind of action that is necessary to protect this country from those who would imperil the peace that all people are entitled to enjoy.
STATEMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
In response to erroneous and misleading allegations made by Senator Kennedy in a letter to other senators concerning electronic surveillance, the Department of Justice issued the following statement today:
In the interest of protecting the security of the United States, is necessary to use electronic surveillance devices for intelligence gathering purposes. In seeking to balance the Government's obligation to protect the nation with the legitimate right of citizens to maintain their privacy, the number of surveillance devices have been decreased substantially in the past ten years, both in terms of devices in place at any given time and also the total number in use during a given year.
For instance, in 1969, 1970 and 1971, FBI records show that there were never more than 50 wiretaps in operation at any one time, except in two instances, one in 1969 and one in 1970 where authorizations overlapped for a matter of days. Except for those two overlaps, the total number of telephone surv inces has consistently been below 50 for this three year period. Microphone surveillance has never exceeded six at any one time in 1969, 1970 or 1971.
The cumulative total for the year 1970 was 97. In addition, there were a total of 16 microphone surveillances used in all of 1970. From January through October 15 of 1971, there were never more than 43 wiretaps operating at one time, and a total of 79 wiretaps and six microphones for the entire period.
During the 1960-61 period, however, the figures were significantly higher. On February 8, 1961, for instance, there were 145 electronic devices in operation, 78 taps and 67 microphones, according to a Department letter sent to Senator Ervin's committee. On January 10, 1961, there were 85 wiretaps in operation, Director Hoover said in a letter to the then Attorney General, Robert Kennedy. On the day in 1961 that FBI Director Hoover testified before a Congressional Committee, he said there were 90 wiretaps in operation.
By comparison, there were 32 wiretaps and 4 microphones in operation yesterday in connection with national security matters.
Any assertion that “the total amount of Federal electronic eavesdropping without court permission far exceeds the eavesdropping with judicial approval" is false. The number of court authorized devices in 1970 was 180, compared to 113 national security devices installed.
Court authorized taps, which are used solely for gathering evidence for use in criminal prosecutions, are limited to 30 days' duration. There is no such limit for national security taps, which are solely for the purpose of intelligence gathering. To compare the two for the purpose of drawing inappropriate and preconceived conclusions does not serve the public interest.
INTERVIEW OF RICHARD G. KLEINDIENST BY ELIZABETH DREW ON
"THIRTY MINUTES WITH ..." JUNE 14, 1971 Announcer. “Thirty Minutes With ... Richard Kleindienst Deputy Attorney General, and Elizabeth Drew.
Miss DREW. Mr. Kleindienst, when your Administration came into office it was very critical of the previous Department of Justice. How do you think what your Department has done in the years it's been in power now differs from the way the old group ran the Justice Department?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, we felt we had a reason to be critical as a result of either the policies of the preceding Administration in the Department of Justice, or probably more accurately, the lack of policies, and I guess, as a self serving statement, we think that we have had policies that have been effectuated and programs that have been put into being that fulfilled a very distinct need and what had come to be a lack in the enforcement of the federal laws in the Department of Justice.
To be specific, I think that the energy, the resources, the personnel and the money that the Congress has been willing to give this Administration and this Attorney General in the field of organized crime, in the field of narcotics, in the field of civil rights enforcement, in the field of antitrust enforcement, have really been remarkable, aggressive steps forward in these vital areas.
If I had to characterize it, again beneficially from the standpoint of this Administration, I think we have been engaged in doing things and less talking about them, and I think perhaps the preceding Administration was doing an awful lot of talk about a lot of things and not too much of the doing.
Miss DREW. Then you feel you've achieved a lot more in these areas-
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Yes, we do. Take civil rights enforcement. I think for political reasons some segments of our society haven't beeen willing to give the President and the Attorney General in this Administration the
Miss DREW. You mean blacks, don't you? I mean, let's
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, I'd say black Democrats, and apparently at this time in our history most of our—the black political leaders are Democrats. But to give this Administration the proper credit that they deserve for increased enforcement in every areas of civil rights enforcement, and then also the miracle of school desegregation in the South of last year without divisiveness, without confrontation, where they in effect, notwithstanding some 15 years following the Brown decision, using the total community, black and white leaders alike, brought an end to our desegregated school districts in the South.
I think the same comparison could be made in organized crime. This Administration, I think through the leadership and the basic strength of Attorney General Mitchell, is now using on cohesive, cooperative, coordinated basis, all of the resources of the federal government: Internal Revenue, the FBI. Customs.
Miss DREW. Well, those strike forces were started by Ramsey Clark, weren't they?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Yes, they were. There were five strike forces when we came in. There are now 18 or 19, and there will be B by the end of this year. But the essential difference is that we have as a matter of committment, when we came in, the full cooperation of all the branches and departemnts of the executive branch of the government, the Tax Division, the Antitrust Division, Internal Revenue, the FBI, Customs, Secret Services, the United States Attorneys offices, working together in a cobesive way to bring results.
One marked difference, of course, is the fact that this Administration is willing to use court-ordered electronic serveillance in organized crime cases, as a result of which in some 280-approximate such court-ordered electronie surveillances in the last two years we've obtained about 900 indictments in organized crime type situations, and then I think you know that Ramsey Clark, the former Attorney General, absolutely refused to use this technique which was given to the Department of Justice by the Congress.
Miss DREW. Well, that brings up a lot of things that well-
Miss Drew (continuing). That we'll be getting into. I wanted to ask you, and we will get to electronic devices in a few moments, the Attorney General, in talking about the need for the right to use wire taps without court orders, made a speech over the past weekend in which he said, “Never in our history has our country been confronted with so many revolutionary elements determined to destroy by force the government and the society it stands for." I'd like to talk about what he means.
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, I think he means that on a relative, comparitive basis in our country today there are probably more in terms of numberssubversives, or people who reside in the United States who actively advocate the overthrow of the institutions of our government under the Constitution by either force or violence, or by some other means. As a result of the increased number of such persons and I'm not talking just about political dissent in a free society. I'm talking about the increased number of persons who advocate the overthrow or the elimination of the government of the United States as we know it under our Constitution.
Miss Deew. How much danger are we in of overthrow of our government?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, I don't think either the Attorney General or I feel that as of right now there is any appreciable danger of our country being overthrown by this number of persons. However, I think that he feels, and I share this opinion myself, that if this government and this society stood by, did nothing, and let the number increase year after year, apparently with the approval of society, that kind of a person who would advocate the overthrow of our government by force or violence or some other means to substitute in place of it a non-Constitutional form of government, we perhaps would arrive sooner than we wish at a point where the threat would be real.
Misy Drew. How do you keep the number from increasing?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, you keep it from increasing, it seems to me, by public debate and disclosure, by being sure that those who actually advocate this kind of conduct are exposed. Secondly
Miss DEEW. Exposed ?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. To expose to the public so that you and I and the public know that an individual really is a person who advocates the overthrow of our government. He's not just a person addressing himself to some of the problems of America, problems that all of us are dedicated to solving.
We also feel that when these persons violate the laws that the Congress enacts and let me provide a footnote there. The only jurisdiction that the Department of Justice has is the enforcement of a valid Constitutional law of the Congress. No other law. It's not laws that we make ourselves, or would like to make ourselves, but it's just the laws of the Congress. Many of those laws of the Congress strike at illegal conduct and activity of persons like this, which constitute in some respects criminal conspiracy. We believe that those persons should be prosecuted if in fact they are violating a federal law on the same basis as the organized criminal or any other type of federal criminal in the United States.
Because some of their conduct strikes at what we call our national security, the basic security of this government, we feel that if it's of that kind that a
Miss Deew. What sort of conduct is of that kind? That's what I'm trying to. understand, is what you think of as a threat to national security.