« ForrigeFortsett »
Miss DREW. (Laughing] We're not going to get to them all, but one I wanted to ask you about is gun control. Do you think that people should be permitted to have handguns?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, some people should and some people shouldn't. I essentially
Miss DREW. What about a law against handguns? That's around.
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, I essentially believe that, with the exception of a few areas of this, that that is a matter for state and local authorities.
Miss DREW. Why?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. The handgun situation is one thing in New York City than it is in Idaho or Nevada or another area. I think that there is some legitimate part to play for the federal government, but I don't think it's the kind of situation where you want to run in and have a federal response to it.
Secondly, I think it would be almost impossible to go out and confiscate every gun in the United States. If people of a criminal bent wanted to keep guns, they would. There's also a legitimate interest on behalf of the law-abiding person to use guns for hunting.
Miss DREW. Now, I'm talking about handguns, not rifles.
Mr. KLEINDIENST [continuing]. Or for recreational support. I'm talking about handguns. I'm talking about
Miss DREW. Handguns for hunting ?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Sure, for recreation. Not hunting on handguns, but for recreation
Miss DREW. Well
Mr. KLEINDIENST. And then, I think there's also an interest in-on behalf of an individual citizen to be able to have a handgun in his house for his own self-protection. So that when you start weighing all of the interests, I think it's pretty difficult to urge a comprehensive, standard, federal solution to this problem ; and I think the Congress has rejected that. I think that they turned that approach down.
Miss DREW. Senator Kennedy was here last week, and 1-he was talking about this, and said tha he reason this Administration doesn't come out for this kind of control is it's overly influenced by the National Rifle Association. Do you have any response to that?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, I'd hate to comment about the groups that overly influence Senator Kennedy.
Miss DREW. Well, go ahead. He talked about you.
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, I think—I don't think that the National Rifle Association overly influences this administration.
Miss DREW. Excuse me. He really didn't say "overly.” I did that wrong. He said, "influenced.”
Mr. KLEINDIENST. I think the position taken by the President on this subject matter is consistent with the position that he took in the campaign, and I wish Senator Kennedy would be as forthright in campaigns as President Nixon has been. And then thereafter be consistent in his-in his role as a senator, you know, about the things he said in campaigns. There's nothing inconsistent about this Administration's campaign posture on gun control, than it has backed up since it's been here, and I personally think it's the correct position.
Miss DREW. Well, I don't know that you answered me, but that's all right.
We just have a couple of minutes left, but I wanted to get in a little bit about your own background. You grew up in—what was it? Winslow, Arizona ?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Winslow, Arizona, uh-uh. A little town, a little railroad town in the northeastern part of Arizona. My grandfather homesteaded there in 1909. He had been born in Washington, D. C., as a matter of fact.
Miss DREW. And then you—you went to Harvard, didn't you?
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, I did a lot of things before I got to Harvard. I did a lot of dishwashing and automobile mechanic work. I was a cook and a waiter. I was at the University of Arizona for a year before World War II, I was in the service, and then transferred to Harvard College after World War II, in 1946. Then I went to the law school, and when I graduated from law school, I went back to Phoenix, where I practiced law, for twenty years.
Miss DREW. You know, the we were talking about wiretapping before, and as you know, a lot of people—as you said, people think more is going on than is. And a lot of people think their phones are being tapped, and
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Uh-huh. I know it, and that's a bad thing in a free society, you know.
Miss DREW. Well, that's what I wondered-wanted—if that bothers you, that that's going on now.
Mr. KLEINDIENST. It bothers me, but-
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, I think some politicians are trying to exaggerate the problem for strictly political purposes, and politicians who should know better. Because the general policies of the Attorney General under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, has been almost the same. And yet I think it's for political reasons that the matter has become one of hysteria right now. When it could just as easily have been that when you had Democratic Presidents.
And I think it's been for political reasons that some politicians, the Democratic Party, who seek to defeat President Nixon, are trying to make or manufacture an issue out of it. If they were as sincere two or three years ago as they are now, they could have done it then. So I therefore attribute it to political motives.
Miss DREW. You know, there is a sort of fear, really, I guess would be the right word
Mr. KLEINDIENST. By some.
Miss Drew. Well, I was about to say something else- of this Justice Department. How does that make you feel, to be part of something like that
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well-
Mr. KLEINDIENST. Well, so long as I know that it's not valid, it doesn't bother me. I'm disturbed that—that anybody would create false impressions about me or the Attorney General in this area. We feel that we're very careful, we're very moderate men. We all of the men in this Department are trained lawyers, that was our career before we got there, it's going to be our career when we leave. And if you are a good lawyer in a free society, you take very ser: vusly the guarantees of the Constitution, the rights of individual citizens; you re very jealous in guarding civil liberties
Miss DREW. We're out of time, I'm sorry. Get-two more words.
EXCERPT FROM INTERVIEW WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN MITCHELL,
ON "THE DAVID FROST Show", April 7, 1971
FROST. Welcome back. Talking with Attorney General John Mitchell. E ybody gets very worried by the phrase, “electronic surveillance," and sees 1984 just around the corner. Electronic surveillance really means two things, doesn't it? Wiretapping and bugs. How.much, really, is there going on at the moment?
MITCHELL. Well, if I can put this into context, because there are different facets to it. There are really three facets to it. Number one is the courtauthorized electronic surveillance that we have been using against organized crime and kidnapping and counterfeiters, and so forth. I believe that, since we have come into office in January of 1969, there have probably been up to date about 300 of those, most of which of course are wiretapping. And of course we have to file a complete report in the federal establishment, with everything, including how much it costs us to do it. We have never had a single complaint from anybody about that.
The second aspect of it, of course, is what we refer to as the national security area, in which we exercise, or at least I do, under the direction of the President, the same powers that have been exercised by very Attorney General and President since they invented the system. And I can say right here and now that we have used it less than some of our predecessors in office. And I would also say that this nonsense of some of these paranoid people that think that the Congressmen or Senators are being bugged or they hear a click on their phone and they think they're being bugged is just absolutely nonsense.
FROST. That's just the phone company, is it?
MITCHELL. That's the bad wiring, or what ever it may be.
Now, the other aspect of it I'd like to point out, that in this legislation of 1968 that we are using we now in the federal government have a handle of getting at individuals in the private sector and unauthorized local police forces, and so forth, which were using electronic surveillance, wiretapping and the rest of it. And we have quite a number of prosecutions. So that I would say that, far and away, since this legislation and since the activities are carried
as I have described them, there is much less likelihood of an individual being wiretapped than there ever was befored, because of our prosecutions of the private detectives and the rest of them that had been using it over the years.
FROST. In the two areas where you do operate, and the area one, in chasing criminals of one sort or another, how many of those 309, is it, since you've come into office?
MITCHELL. Well, they go on-it's slightly over 300, I believe, at the last reporting or counting. But they go on from day to day; the number will change. And of course they are put on for a limited period of time. Most of them are 15 days. The maximum is 30 days. And if you want to use it longer in some big racket operation, you'd have to go back to court and get an extension on it.
FROST. And are there more or less in section two, in the area of national security?
MITCHELL. More or less than what?
MITCHELL. Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Much, much less. There are less than 50 of them.
FROST. Less than 50?
MITCHELL. Oh, yes, yes. And there again, of course, they relate to particular subject matters at a particular time.
FROST. I see. And how long do they run for? They can run indefinitely?
MITCHELL. Well, they could run indefinitely, but of course in most cases that would be entirely nonproductive because—I hasten to point out that what we are looking for is intelligence that we need for the security of this country. And so that it isn't appropriate in most cases to just put on a wiretap and leave it there.
FROST. What is the exact number? It is much under 50 at the moment? MITCHELL. It's never been disclosed.
FROST. It's never been disclosed. But when you said it's less-well, it's less than 50, and that is less than some previous administrations.
MITCHELL. Yes, considerably so.
FROST. It went much higher, then. But I mean I presume a lot of the material-as you say, you want intelligence. A lot of material you must get from a wiretap is, "Could you send around two pounds of butter" and lots of—I mean how many people does it need to operate one wiretap?
MITCHELL. It doesn't need anybody. It's all done automatically, if you want it done that way.
FROST. But I mean how many people are needed to listen to everything? I mean do you need six people per wiretap or ...
MITCHELL. No, it depends on, of course, where the tap is and where the phone is used and how it's used and so forth.
[From the New York Times, June 12, 1971) MITCHELL UPHOLDS WIRETAP OF "DANGEROUS” RADICALS
(By Fred P. Graham) WASHINGTON.-Attorney General John N. Mitchell said today that “never in our history has this country been confronted with so many revolutionary elements determined to destroy by force the Government and the society it stands for."
In a speech in support of the Nixon Administration's contention that it can wiretap "dangerous" radicals without court approval, Mr. Mitchell declared that "the threat to our society from so-called 'domestic' subversion is as serious as any threat from abroad."
He made the statements as he gave his most detailed legal argument thus far in support of the Administration's assertion that the threat from foreign and domestic elements was indivisible, and that the President had the authority to wiretap both without court authority.
Lawyers inside the Government and out expressed surprise that Mr. Mitchell would take this legal issue to the people as he did today in a speech and a press release, because the question is now before the Supreme Court in the form of an appeal by the Justice Department.
REJECTED BY APPEALS COURT
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected the Administration's argument last April, ruling that when the Government wished to wiretap domestic groups, it must obtain judicial approval. Asserting that that decision was wrong, the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to review it.
In the past, when matters have been pending before the Supreme Court, Justice Department officials have avoided making statements that might be regarded as exerting pressure upon the justices.
Mr. Mitchell's statements were made in a 15-page speech prepared for delivery tonight before the Virginia Bar Association in Roanoke. It was released this afternoon by the Justice Department's press office, together with a threepage press release that quoted Mr. Mitchell as specifically disputing the Appeals Court ruling.
The press release characterized Mr. Mitchell's speech as asserting that such wiretapping “meets the constitutional test of reasonable search and seizure and that such surveillance is necessary to permit the President to fulfill the obligations of his office."
PRESIDENT'S DUTY In his speech, Mr. Mitchell based his case on the President's constitutional duty to protect the country.
"Were the President to permit the overthrow of [the] Government by unconstitutional means, he would be violating his constitutional oath,” he said.
“The Constitution of the United States cannot possibly be construed as containing provisions inconsistent with its own survival. It is the charter for a viable government system, not a suicide pact."
He asserted that there was no dividing line between hostile foreign forces and domestic elements seeking to overthrow the Government. Domestic subversives are “ideologically and in many instances directly” connected with foreign interests, he said. If it were possible to separate the two, he added, "history has shown greater danger from the domestic variety.”
Mr. Mitchell said that surveillance of such groups was not affected by a 1967 Supreme Court decision, Katz v. United States, that held that wiretapping was covered by the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, and that the police must obtain wiretap warrants before using eavesdropping devices.
He argued that it was not unreasonable to wiretap subversives or suspected bombers. The distinction to be drawn, he said, is not whether the subjects are foreign or domestic, but whether the wiretaps are used for “intelligence" or prosecution purposes.
When they are used to gather intelligence, and the information is not to be used in court, he said the President and his officials were in a far better position to know if a device should be installed than the Federal judges across the country.
"You cannot separate foreign from domestic threats to the Government and say that we should meet one less decisively than the other," Mr. Mitchell said. “Either we have a constitutional Government that can defend itself against illegal attack, or in the last analysis we have anarchy."
[From the Nation, June 14, 1971]
MISLEADING THE PRESIDENTS—THIRTY YEARS OF WIRE TAPPING
(By Athan G. Theoharis) [Mr. Theoharis, associate professor of American history at Marquette University, is the author of Seeds of Repression: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of McCarthyism (Quadrangle Books) and The Yalta Myths: An Issue in American Politics, 1945-55 (University of Missouri Press). The research for this article, in which Mr. Theoharis was assisted by Paul Quirk of Marquette University and Lynn Parsons of Wayne State University, was supported financially by the Truman Institute for National and International Affairs.]
The history of government use of wire tapping, particularly during the early years of the Truman Presidency, provides one reason for concern over White House-Justice Department relations. In 1940, responding to the outbreak of war in Europe and the subversive role played during the 1930s by Fascist parties in France, Austria and Czechoslovakia, the Roosevelt administration supported legislation to legalize wire tapping in “national defense” cases. At that time Rep. Emanuel Celler (D. N.Y.) had introduced a bill that would have amended section 605 of the Communications Act of 1934 and permitted the FBI, subject to the approval of the Attorney General, to wire tap in cases involving interference or attempts to interfere with the national defense by sabotage, espionage, conspiracy, violation of the neutrality laws, or "in any other manner.” Information thus obtained was to be admissible as evidence. The Congress failed to enact the legislation and, lacking legislative authorization, President Roosevelt on May 21, 1940 issued instead an executive order stipulating:
I have agreed with the broad purpose of the Supreme Court decision [in Nardone] relating to wiretapping in investigations. The Court is undoubtedly sound both in regard to the use of evidence received over tapped wires in the prosecution of citizens in criminal cases; and it is also right in its opinion that under ordinary and normal circumstances wiretapping by government agents should not be carried out for the excellent reason that it is almost bound to lead to abuse of civil rights.
However, I am convinced that the Supreme Court never intended any dictum in the particular case which it decided to apply to grave matters involving the defense of the nation.
It is, of course, well known that certain other nations have been engaged in the organization of propaganda of so-called “fifth columns” in other countries and in preparation for sabotage, as well as in active sabotage.
It is too late to do anything about it after sabotage, assassinations and "fifth column" activities are completed.
You are, therefore, aut orized and dir ed in such cases as you may approve, after investigation of the need in each case, to authorize the necessary investigating agents that they are at liberty to secure information by listening devices direct to the conversation or other communications of persons suspected of subversive activities against the Government of the United States, including suspected spies. You are requested furthermore to limit these investigations 80 conducted to a minimum and to limit
them insofar as possible to aliens. (Emphasis added.) With the end of World War II and Harry S. Truman's accession to the Presidency, the issue of continuing this directive came into question. In July 1946, Tom C. Clark, Truman's Attorney General, pressed the President to continue the wire-tapping authorization. Exploiting Truman's anxieties about deteriorating U.S.-Soviet relations, the active role of the U.S. Communist Party in civil rights and labor activities, and recent disclosures of subversion or lax security procedures, Clark wrote the President on July 17, 1946 :
Under date of May 21, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a memorandum addressed to Attorney General Jackson, stated :
"You are, therefore, authorized and directed in such cases as you may approve, after investigation of the need in each case, to authorize the necessary investigating agents that they are at liberty to secure information by listening devices direct to the conversation or other communications of persons suspected of subversive activities against the Government of the United States, including suspected spies."