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Senator WELKER. You have heard the statement if wiretapping is dirty business—as I said before—the man who swears to tell the truth can certainly lie about the wiretap as well as he can about what he heard ?
Mr. SHINDLER. That is right. With all due respect to Justice Holmes, whom you referred to, the court of last resort, after all, is the public of this Nation. And if the facts about this wiretapping were fully laid before all of the people of America, I am sure they would endorse this legislation.
But it is just the misinformation or the noninformation, the fact that the public do not know exactly. If they had all the testimony that you have here laid before them and took the time to read it, there is no question in my opinion that that would go through overwhelmingly.
Senator WELKER. Mr. Shindler, what does an innocent person have to fear in legislation such as this, which is destined to protect the security of this wonderful country of ours, and perhaps might go so far as to protect fathers and mothers against kidnaping and maybe extortion! What does the innocent person have to fear, I ask you, based upon your years of experience ?
Mr. SHINDLER. Nothing; absolutely nothing to fear.
Senator WELKER. With respect to the wiretapping on kidnaping, and I have not committed myself as to how far I want to go in this sort of legislation, I will ask you if it is not a fact that about the only way in the world that you can intercept a kidnaper who kidnaps for ransom is to tap the wire of the parent who will receive the call from that fiend who is taking the child away?
Mr. SHINDLER. Yes, sir; no question about it.
Senator WELKER. And if you are deprived of that right, the lawenforcement agencies are handcuffed beyond a doubt; is that correct?
Mr. SHINDLER. You are taking away their right arm.
Senator WELKER. Mr. Shindler, do you have any idea, or have you made a study with respect to the provisions of House bill, as amended, which also permits the assistant chief of staff, G-2 of the Army General Staff, Department of the Army, Director of Intelligence, the Department of the Air Force, and the Director of Naval Intelligence, Department of the Navy, to do wiretapping ?
Mr. SHINDLER. The question is have I made a study of it?
Mr. SHINDLER. I have made a study of it, but I approve of their having legislation to the effect of doing it. Any law-enforcement department of our Government, any department, regardless.
Senator WELKER. I am going to visit with you and go a little further into that. I have all the respect in the world for the armed services, and I know the tremendous problem that they must have.
Since this public acclaim has gone out that this is dirty business, it would seem to me that perhaps it would be better to limit this to known, fine law-enforcement agencies, such as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. SHINDLER. There is no question about Hoover's department. When you say this, I am not talking about monitoring every conversation that comes in, if that is what you mean. I didn't mean that. I am talking about wiretapping in the law enforcement, when the
departments that you mentioned are working on something of a possible criminal nature, such as a saboteur, spy, or anything of that sort, these departments have something to do with those types of crimes, also. They originate in many of these departments, and then they get into the FBI or other bureaus.
But in those cases I should think they should have the same rights that the FBI should have. I am talking about that type of thing.
Senator WELKER. I was wondering whether or not we could not make it possible that they had to clear through the FBI?
Mr. SHINDLER. I would be in favor of that; or the Attorney General.
Senator WELKER. Of course, as I understand it—and I would like to be corrected if I am wrong—they clear through the FBI who then make these applications to the Attorney General; is that correct?
Mr. COLLINS. That is correct.
Senator WELKER. The question has been repeatedly asked me on committee hearings whether I would be willing to have some past Attorney General, who probably would differ with me in political philosophy, and I have answered this, Mr. Shindler, many times, that regardless of politics—I started as a prosecutor, I have had quite a bit of experience in criminal defense; the last case I tried was a special prosecutor on behalf of the State of Idaho–I believe that a man, regardless of political faith, who takes his oath as a lawyer and is Attorney General of the United States, will respect that oath and give us justice.
Do you believe in that?
Mr. SHINDLER. There is no question in my mind about that at all. Absolutely
Senator WELKER. Counsel, do you have any questions?
Mr. Shindler, you have been engaged in private investigative work in New York for a number of years, and consequently are familiar with all phases of investigative work involving wiretapping particularly by private individuals?
Mr. SHINDLER. Yes.
Mr. COLLINS. Could you give us any opinion as to how extensive private wiretapping is today?
Mr. SHINDLER. This is only my opinion because there is no way of anybody getting an honest answer, percentagewise, how many people now, how many jobs have we done the same thing. There is no way of knowing. I know it and nobody else would know it. So I don't know about the other fellow, except what I hear.
There are hundreds of detective agencies, thousands in this country, and I know the heads of hundreds of them. And I have traveled a great deal so I know, from talking with these men over the years, that they do it generally.
I also know from lawyers, and 90 percent or more of my clients are lawyers—I know from their telling me about cases. They say that in court the client's wire must have been tapped because certain questions were asked about which the information could not have been obtained any other way unless someone had been listening in on telephone conversations. So they asked me what they could do about it. It is too late; they have it. There is no way of making them
prove they did it. Whether they violate the law or not, there is no way of going back and proving that you had that conversation; the information came only on that one conversation and your wire was tapped.
So I know from talking with lawyers all over the country, private, detectives, that it is quite general. That includes Washington, D. C.
Mr. COLLINS. I assume it is quite generally known that people not engaged in law enforcement, in the investigating profession, also tap wires?
Mr. SHINDLER. We are requested dozens and dozens of times each year where we have to turn it down flat. An individual wants a certain wire tapped and we can't do it, and that ends it. There are other people they might be able to hire to do it, and in some instances they do.
Senator WELKER. Mr. Shindler-if you will allow me to interrupt again counselor—there is not any question in my mind. As I stated before, if a man wanted to be dishonest, as we have had evidence here, he could alter a wiretap.
But I will ask you if it is not a fact, based upon your years of experience, that that would be the best way in the world to lose his case by a defense attorney catching the alteration of the wiretap?
Mr. SHINDLER. It certainly would be.
Senator WELKER. In other words, if John Jones stood out in that room and told a deliberate lie about you and the Senator from Idaho, then Mr. Jones is put up on the stand before a jury of his peers, he is given his direct examination and he is given cross examination; then you and I would take the stand and deny that allegation and explain wherein it had to be wrong; I answer a question of fact for the jury, and I am one of those individuals who still believes in the verdict of a jury, even though at some times I have been rather saddened by them.
Do you agree with me on that?
Mr. COLLINS. Mr. Shindler, as a private investigator, if you are called upon to do some private wiretapping, do you have certain standards that you follow, or certain ethics?
Mr. SHINDLER. Very definitely.
Mr. SHINDLER. The only way today, since the legislation is as it is, that we would even consider such a thing, is for a client who is being threatened, has been receiving threats, blackmail or threats or other types over his phone; there is only one way of finding and locating that party and getting the evidence necessary. So we tap his phone in his office with his permission.
So it is his phone, it is not any stranger's. He has knowledge of it, he has ordered us to do it, and he is paying us to do it. And then we get a record of what the person says, and as a result of those calls we are able to locate the part of the city from which the person is making those calls, and frequently we can pick them up at the telephone booth where it happens.
This evidence is not out, it is not necessary. We get it as a result. We locate the person who started the blackmail, and we stop it wherever the case may be.
We are justified in doing that work. It is ethical to do it.
Mr. COLLINS. The investigator would tap his client's phone, but he would not try to put on illegal taps ?
Mr. SHINDLER. If he did it on your phone without your knowledge, he is committing a crime for which he can go to prison. It is not only unethical, he is a crook under the eyes of the law. If he is caught he can go to prison.
Mr. COLLINS. From your knowledge and again confining it to New York City and New York State-do you believe there is a considerable amount of illegal private wiretapping going on!
Mr. SHINDLER. Yes, there is. There is no question about it.
Mr. COLLINS. Senator Welker pointed out that we are primarily concerned with trying to secure wiretap legislation so as to make admissible in evidence information obtained by wiretaps. The legislation pending before us is confined to two approaches: One, the wiretaps upon the express, written approval of the Attorney General; and, secondly, following the pattern of the New York State law, of an ex parte crder.
Now, from your experience in this field through many years, what are your feelings about these two approaches? Would you care to express any opinion as to which you would think would be the most expeditious and in the best public interest?
Mr. SHINDLER. The beginning of your question was two approaches ? Mr. Collins. We have two approaches before us. One is that the wiretaps would be made upon the express, written permission of the Attorney General; secondly, that the Attorney General would have to go to court and get a court order from a judge before he can make the wiretap.
Mr. SHINDLER. My experience is that it should be the first, that the Attorney General should have the right to decide right then and there. The other delays and many times causes the crime not to be solved as a result of that. I am all in favor of the Attorney General having that authority.
The second one, to me, is ridiculous.
Senator WELKER. Mr. Shindler, the committee has been honored to have you here. On behalf of the chairman, Mr. Wiley, and the entire committee, we want to thank you profusely for coming down.
I am very happy to have met you.
Mr. SHINDLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am glad to have seen you.
Senator WELKER. The next witness will be Mr. Bernstein, attorneyat-law of New York City.
STATEMENT OF NAHUM A. BERNSTEIN, ATTORNEY AT LAW,
NEW YORK CITY
Senator WELKER. Will you state your name, and your residence ? Mr. BERNSTEIN. My name is Nahum A. Bernstein, of the law firm of Silver & Bernstein. I reside at Locust Avenue, Rye, N. Y. My office is at 20 Pine Street, New York City.
Senator WELKER. And you are engaged in the practice of law.
Would you tell the committee principally what type of law you practice? Is it trial work, civil work, or general !
Mr. BERNSTEIN. We do a vast amount of trial work, particularly in the Federal courts. My partner, Mr. Silver, is present district attorney of Kings County, having at the last election succeeded Mr. Miles McDonald. He was formerly Assistant United States Attorney, Chief of the Bureau of Indictments of the Southern District, and Special Assistant to the Attorney General.
Mr. COLLINS. Would you give some of your other background, Mr. Bernstein, for the record, as to your private law practice? Were you in service during the war?
Mr. BERNSTEIN. Yes.
In conjunction with Mr. Silver, we conducted for over 4 years the heart-racket investigation in cooperation with the United States Attorney, which resulted in the conviction of over 100 individuals, including the leading law firms in the insurance field in New York City, unhonorable doctors, and so on.
In the course of that inquiry I supervised the installation of numerous setups for recording both room and wire conversations. That is one investigation. We recorded over 5,000 records; which could be a great many more conversations, there are many on each record.
During the war I was with the Office of Strategic Services. I headed up and wrote the so-called bibles for police methods. taught wiretapping and microphone work and other police methods almost daily for a period of years during my course of service.
Since then I have been very close to the situation in the State of New York, particularly the problems relating to the practical problems of wiretapping, and the problems of obtaining a court order in order to effect wiretapping.
I should state the auspices under which I appear here.
I appear here because Mr. Ted Pearson of the Bar Association of the city of New York recommended that I appear here, to discuss or give such aid, if I can, with regard to the practical problems rather than the legal or theoretical problems relating to the bill you are considering Therefore, the first issue
and I think it the most important issue I would like to take up-is the question as to whether the requirements of a court order would, in fact, hamper the job of the law enforcing agencies.
I don't know that I am any more competent than anyone else to advise the committee as to the value of a court order, or what sort of course it should adopt, but I think I am competent to advise the committee as to what will happen in the field, if you adopt one course or the other as a practical matter.
I disagree with a great many things the last witness testified about. I am of the firm opinion that much of what I consider loose thinking about this subject comes as a result of perfect good will, but by people talking in terms of general principle rather than in practical problems, just what does happen.
In order to do that, I would like to, if I may, sir, tell you just what happens in the field when we wiretap.
Senator WELKER. Very well. We would like to hear that.
Mr. BERNSTEIN. I am talking about many thousands of installations, not only that I installed or supervised, but in my association with the leading wiretappers of this country and the work they have done.