Page 4 article text (OCR)
The Reporter , Opiiiipii ' JRft- ' '. . ' ..-".••.. .'.':.: ; -./.. / •/ /:•:''.• •;••. William Van Alstyne Editorials Analysis Columns Letters Impeachment action constitutionally significant Dover-New Philadelphia, O. Founded July 12, 1903 Harry R. Horvltz, Publliher Harry Yockey, Editor William F. LaM««, General Manager James E. Davis, Managing Editor PageA-4 Saturday, August 3, 1974 'Exorcist ' decision everyone 9 s Does a minister have a right to decide what offends your sense of morality when it comes to movies? Does a teacher have a right to decide that a book does not contain objectionable material and make it a mandatory reading assignment for a student? Does any individual — be he (or she) a minister, teacher or whoever — have a right to tell you what you must or may not read, what you must or may not see at the local movie house. We don't think so. THIS WEEK, Rev. Wesley Hunt of. New Philadelphia First Baptist Church began seeking legal recourse to stop the showing of the movie, "The Exorcist." The film, although he said he has not seen it, obviously offends the principles by which he has chosen to live. Many others probably concur with Rev. Hunt, although they have been less vocal. Rev. Hunt is perfectly within his rights to voice his opinion and take whatever action his conscience dictates — within the framework of the laws that have been adopted to govern this land. Rev. Hunt's rights, however, do not include the right to prohibit others from seeing the film if they so desire. This is not a case where an entire community has risen with one voice and demanded that the Shea Cinema be closed because it's showing "The Exorcist.'' If that occurred we could agree with Rev. Hunt — the movie should be banned locally. But it hasn't. Action to stop the showing of "The Exorcist" constitutes a form of censorship that this community and nation can ill afford. Is the movie objectionable? That's a decision each adult must reach himself. If you are opposed to "The Exorcist" don't go. If there are enough like you, the film will soon close for lack of patronage. That's the best kind of censorship; the kind we can live with. But we don't believe anyone has the right to stop someone else from seeing the film simply because it offends him. WHICH BRINGS US to the teacher and the mandatory reading assignment. That, too, represents an area in which an individual imposes his sense of propriety on another — a kind of reverse censorship, since we're on that subject. A few years ago a New Philadelphia High student — a minister's daughter, incidentally — went home in tears because a book given as a mandatory reading assignment violated many of the principles she had been taught at home and in church. The assignment was not a free choice — such as each individual has in the case of whether to see "The Exorcist" but — and we repeat — it was mandatory. The teacher obviously had no objections to the book in question and probably considered it a literary classic. But the girl objected to it and so did her father. He went through the book, underlining all the phrases and passages he considered objectionable. The father went to school officials with the copy of the book that his daughter had been assigned. They backed the teacher — in their view the material was not all that bad — but they agreed that because of the objections raised by the minister-father and his daughter she should be given an optional assignment. That, too, was a form of censorship, but in this case it was a parent acting in what he felt were the best interests of the child — the same kind of restraint that can be used by parents who don't want their children to see "The Exorcist." Sunday morning in church I'll be waiting for my minister to give his views on "The Exorcist." I'll be disappointed if he doesn't. I haven't seen many movies in recent years because — in my judgment at least — there haven't been very many good ones. But I'll take my minister's advice into consideration, along with the opinions of some friends who have seen the film, and I'll decide whether I should see "The Exorcist." But one thing is certain, it'll be my decision and I'll have to live with it and my conscience NORM SINGLETON. Responsibility prevails When the possible impeachment of President Nixon first began to be spoken of, there were many worried comments about the only precedent — the impeachment and subsequent Senate trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. One heard it said that if proceedings were begun against Mr. Nixon we could expect a repeat of the bloodthirstily partisan attack on Johnson by what one historian has called "as baleful a group of buzzards as ever perched in the House." In the event, such fears have been wholly set to rest. Whereas the Johnson impeachment proceedings and trial were hustled along with little respect for requirements of due process, today's proceedings have been a model of care and deliberation and attention to the basic concept of fairness. The Judiciary Committee, in the present instance, has taken two-and-a-half months to consid- DUNAGIN'S PEOPLE "THAT WA6NT A OF Ot# JUST er evidence and assemble the case against the President; it has followed this with exhaustive televised debate in which every member had ample opportunity to speak. The President's counsel was permitted to address the committee, to question witnesses, to present elaborate rebuttal issued alongside the committee findings. In contrast, the House special committee of 1868 put together nine articles of impeachment in less than a week. In the Johnson case, floor debate in the House lasted only four days. Today, the House is expected to debate for perhaps as much as 100 hours over a penod of a couple of weeks. Herman Pritchett, a past president of the American Political Science Assn., writes that a century ago "The Senate was rushed to trial, Johnson's attorneys were refused time to prepare, rulings of the presiding officer, Chief Justice Salmon Chase, were repeatedly voted down, evidence supporting the president was kept out of the record." This time around, should the House vote impeachment, the Senate is prepared to consider the question with scrupulous care, granting the President's lawyers the fullest opportunity to argue against a vote to remove him from office. The current proceedings, in short, are giving and presumably will continue to give the lie to (in Pritchett's words) "the image of impeachment as necessarily a partisan, vindictive bloodletting." The move to call President Nixon to account is being conducted in a notable spirit of solemn responsibility. (Editor's Note: Van Alstync Is n professor of law at Duke University.) During the long march toward impeachment action against President Nixon, my view has been that the "high crimes and misdemeanors" of the Constitution's impeachment clause should bestrlctly construed. I have quoted Alexander Hamilton, who said that "in a case of such great delicacy, no doubtful authority should be claimed." And, for a good deal of the last six months, I have worried a great deal about the constitutionality of Mr. Nixon's proposed impeachment. Anger and frustration has come from many places — impeach the President because of Cambodia; impeach the President for his tax return; impeach the President for "defying" the subpoenas of Congress; impeach him for impounding funds, for dismantling programs, for firing Archibald Cox, for ITT, for the "dirty tricks" and for everything that makes the President's defenders draw close around him. The sheer array of "impeachable" offenses and the utter passion with which they were pressed on the one side and opposed on the other made me feel we were much too close to the edge of unreality. AND YET, how very strange that when the vote on the first article of impeachment came in the House Judiciary Committee — after four days of debate, six months of preparation, and more than a year after the opening of the televised Watergate hearings, my first the small society thought was simply: "My God, it really works." As the committee came finally to this conclusion, and as I looked again at the first article it had just approved, everything truly seemed to be all right. The impeachment clause does work after all. This was what It was meant to do, and the original concerns that accounted for its presence in the Constitution have now, for the first time, been fulfilled. To appreciate the constitutional sigif i- cancc of what has just transpired in Congress, one must take time to compare — and to think about — the only other significant uses that have been made of the impeachment clause. There have been only two of these — neither resulting in conviction. The four instances of conviction were frankly unremarkable and unhappy instances of personal shortcoming in no way comparable to the impeachment of a President. THE FIRST of the two major tests of the impeachment clause arose within the first two decades of the writing of the Constitution. It involved the impeachment of a Supreme Court justice, Salmon Chase — an irascible Federalist colleague of John Marshall. Quite clearly, impeachment of Justice Chase was animated less by a sense of anger concerning the arrogant manner in which he had conducted several trials under the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 than by partisan fury aimed at ripping out the remnants of the Federalist Party that had entrenched itself in the national judiciary. by Brickmon Thomas Jefferson, newly-elected as the first Democratic President, made little secret of his Intention to go after Chief Justice Marshall If Chase were convicted. The honest independence of the Supreme Court might even now be in doubt had this first major test of the impeachment clause succeeded. The near-miss of the Chase impeachment led Alexis de Tocqueville to suggest that the Impeachment clause may have been a mistake in the American Constitution. Noting that the clause only operates to remove the impeached person from office — not allowing for the imposition of fines, jail, death, or attaint (as was true in English practice) — de Tocqueville suggested that the very leniency of the clause would lead to its abuse. It could tempt Congress, when dominated by one party or faction, to bring down any President not subservient to its will. Within 20 years, de Tocqueville's apprehension was tested by the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. Here, the near corruption of the impeachment clause was not its use in an action of party fury, but its use as an improper expression of congressional frustration. IN THIS RESPECT, it closely resembled the use proposed against President Nixon because of vetoes he had issued, impoundments he had ordered, programs he had discontinued, and because of his assertions of executive privilege — all to the utter frustration of a Congress that has felt belittled and throttled by executive controls. Andrew Johnson's impeachment was precipitated by his lack of sympathy with Reconstruction, as designed by Congress, and clearly not by the debatable constitutionality of the Tenure of Office Act — which Johnson challenged by firing his secretary of war. Had Johnson been convicted, de Tocqueville might still have been an excellent prophet, for the impeachment clause would have been used as a device of congressional supremacy, which it was clearly not intended to be. Were Richard Nixon to be impeached Jack Anderson Police academy student papers give chilling look at torture WASHINGTON - Students at the International Police Academy, a school run by the State Department to train foreign policemen, have developed some chilling views about torture tactics. After a lengthy investigation, we have found no evidence that the academy actually advocates third-degree methods. But we have read several student papers, which discuss the use of torture to break suspects. "As a last resort. . .," wrote a Nepalese inspector, torture is "practical and necessary." A South Vietnamese policeman wrote that "threats and force can pull out any truth in a minimum time.'' A Zaire officer agreed "force or threats" will expedite an investigation but warned: "This tactic must not be known by the public." Another student from Nepal told how "carelessness" by interrogators had caused death, thereby creating "another trouble." The State Department-run academy has been accused of teaching torture tactics. The movie "State of Siege," for example, showed the schools' graduates torturing political prisoners. An investigator for Sen. James Abourezk (D-S.D.) told us he had seen a number of theses written by the academy's students in support of torture tactics. The papers were written in English, Spanish and French, he said, and were kept in locked, steel cabinets. My associate, Joe Spear, accompanied by Spanish and French translators, paid a call upon the police academy, which is located in an old streetcar garage called the "Car Barn" in Washington's swinging Georgetown section. They were shown evidence, selected by the school's administrators, who tended to prove that the school doesn't teach torture tactics. Their own documents, however, reveal an ambivalent attitude toward torture. FOR EXAMPLE, the lesson plan includes instruction in "Interviews and Interrogations." This teaches foreign policemen to question suspects in soundproof, windowless rooms with "bare walls." They are instructed to use such interrogation techniques as "emotional appeals," "exaggerting fears" and psy- chological "jolts." They are taught to observe the "physical state of the subject" for "sweating," "color changes," "dry mouth," and rapid pulse and breathing. The lesson plan also states, however, that "so-called third degree tactics" should not be used. It is argued that these techniques lower the interrogator's '' self-respect,'' impair'' police efficiency,'' lower'' the esteem of the police in the public eye" and lead to "false confessions and miscarriages of justice." The foreign policemen, who come to the academy from such repressive governments as Brazil, Chile, Pakistan, South Vietnam and Uruguay, are told that "a prisoner must be treated according to legal and humanitarian principles." But our examination of the student papers showed that many students graduate without showing much effect of their "humanitarian" training. Here are a few excerpts: — Tdan Dinh Vo, South Vietnam: "Based on experience, we are convinced there is just one sure way to save time and suppress stubborn criminal suspects — that is the proper use of threats and force." — Lam Van Huu, South Vietnam: "What do we mean by 'force and threat?' Physical force — beating, slapping, electrocuting. Threats — physical, shaking a fist in the face of the subject; verbal, saying 'Listen, I'm going to break your neck if you don't confess.' " — Inspector Madhav Bickrum Rana, Nepal: "Many a times police officers have gained valuable clues by the use of (drugs)... The water torture is a simple and ancient method of letting a tap drip on a man's head at a certain interval. This is very effective in breaking a tough man and can make a raving lunatic of any human being after an hour..." — Gonzalo Wilches Sanchez, Colombia: "It is undeniable that in innumerable cases, the interrogator is forced to use systems of moral or physical coercion to obtain truth that the person knows." — Bemonatu Mpanga, Zaire: "The use of force or threats during an interrogation can be seen as one of our police tactics to be used for the expedition of an investigation . . . Above all, the press should not have the slightest information about our methods of procedure.'' FOOTNOTE: Sen. Abourezk has introduced legislation that would eliminate the State Department's Office of Public Safety, which runs the International Police Academy. Washington Whirl Army Secretary Howard Calla way has frozen the reserve promotion of former Nixon campaign lawyer Paul O'Brien, who was implicated in the Watergate hush money case. A Pentagon spokesman told us Callaway discovered O'Brien had been promoted to brigadier general, froze him in his rank as colonel and is now giving the case "further evaluation" ... Sen. Strom Thurmond (R- S.C.) and Rep. Wayne Hays (D-Ohio), feel they are too well-known to bother with name tags. At a recent testimonial dinner, both men scorned name tags claiming that "everyone knows me.'' William F.Buckley Jr. for his vetoes, impoundments, or clnlms of executive privilege (claims, It Is Important to remember, that he abandoned following adverse rulings in the federal courts in the only cases where issue has been joined in the courts), It would be too close for comfort to the trial of Andrew Johnson. The hard core of the impeachment clause is clearly not represented In the abortive trials of Justice Chase and President Johnson - that is, by these political uses. That core is represented by the need to make some provision against outright corruption, executive criminality, and the culpable failure of a President to restrain or to police his subordinates when they disregard the rights of the people, this threatening liberty. The House Judiciary Committee satisfied even the most strict constructionists of "high crimes and mis- • demeanors" when it required its staff to produce clear and convincing evidence of a manifest obstruction of justice to fashion its first article of impeachment. Conservative constructionists will be struck by the virtual paraphrase of not less than three federal criminal statutes in the first article of impeachment alone. Beyond that technical nicity, more- overi it is virtually unquestionable that willful failure to make inquiry and to press for the prompt accountability of immediate subordinates who perpetrate responsibility that the impeachment clause is meant to reach. And it is this willful failure which both of the first two articles of impeachment emphasize. • THERE IS, here, no theory of "high crimes and misdemeanors" that runs riot over the separation of powers, which seeks to whip the office of the President into line, or which thinly contrives an obviously worthless charge to ventilate some petty, partisan frustrations. This is not to say that Mr. Nixon shall necessarily be convicted in the Senate (even supposing House approval of the committee-drafted articles) or to suggest that in the end the weight of evidence will be sufficient to convince fair- minded persons to judge him guilty of sufficient complicity in, or condonation of, the wrongs of his subordinates to require his removal. The point is really a different, quieter one. It is only that the extraordinary procedure of the House Judiciary Committee, the exceptional latitude it has granted to the President's own counsel, and the sheer length of its own debate and reconsiderations have, thus far, worked out reassuringly well. The political animus of the Chase and Johnson impeachments now seems clearly absent from what this committee has done. The charges that have been approved — with one possible exception — lie well within the core of the impeachment clause, reaching as they do to the basic integrity of the Presidency itself. But the possible exception must be noted, and my feelings of reassurance must be predicated upon the assumption that the article — narrowly approved by a vote of 21 to 17 — impeaching the President solely for resisting the committee's subpoena and without a court test of the committee's claim, will ultimately not be approved by the House. One ought not to be elated, surely, but neither need we feel ashamed. Sobered, perhaps, and consoled to know that thus far this part of the Constitution, the impeachment clause, is still alive and well. Media not responsible for Judiciary findings Reader Viewpoints Don't bow to evil-doers To the Editor: When the people of these United States are herded like cattle and refused their constitutional rights, it is time to ask: When did God give anyone the right to manipulate hundreds of children's lives and say, "This is your home, now give us your lives'".' Wfien the Nixon administration was f;ught, why was he not impeached for malicious destruction of the taxpayers' money? Why did he use innocent victims as alibis, such as by raising prices for his misfortunes in life? Lastly, how much longer are the Christians in this world going to let people like him take advantage of our innocent children who have to steal to eat? How much longer will he go on believing that he is sent from heaven to condemn God's people for being humble? Jesus has already died for our sins and we need not bow down to evil-doers just because they have ego complexes. Anne Marie Hyer 610Ashwoodln.NW New Philadelphia NEW YORK — Concerning the morning after, a few observations: — You can get away with saying that "the media" got Nixon into trouble, but you cannot get away with saying that the media got him impeached by the Judiciary Committee. It has been a very long road from the Scotch tape on the doorlatch to the impeachment voted by the Judiciary Committee, and there is no doubting the importance of the role the press played in keeping alive the national curiosity about the subterranean legions whose maladroit fingers per- iscoped at Watergate on June 17,1972. But the hearings of the Judiciary Committee were not Jacobinical in nature. There was no sense of the crowd, waiting outside greasing the axle on the tumbril, with the tricoteuses waiting at Execution Square to have a ringside view of the royal blood. Over at the Senate, with a lot of ham — but republican ham, in retrospect; not show-trial ham — the facts slowly came out. Over at the Justice Department, relays of lawyers heard and analyzed testimony. And, at the House of Representatives, 38 representative Americans — and representative Americans include left-wing demagogues, and right-wing ultra-montanists — listened to a great deal of evidence, and arrived alter very considerable deliberation at a thoroughly defensible verdict. "Defensible" is — or ought to be — everybody's operative word here. It is one thing to disagree with the verdict of the majority, another to declare it indefensible. The Judiciary Committee has aoted responsibly. — And it has distilled the charges against Mr. Nixon into three categories: roverup, abuse of presidential power and contumacy. The first of these counts is what 1 choose to call the chicken-thief count. It is not, in my judgment, ol enduring interest. And although the maxim is that nobody is above the law, the historical fact of the matter is that some people are, in isolated circumstances; and that the question isn't whether the law should deal with them, but should we hope that the law should succeed in doing so. There are a lot of people who think that Senator Kennedy was guilty, at Chappaquiddick — of something a whole lot graver than what gets you a year's suspension of your driver's license — but who are not anxious to press the point beyond where it has already been pressed. A lot of people believe that his punishment will prove to be the loss of the presidency, and that, really, is quite a lot of punishment. A lot of people feel that Nixon's punishment, for all the chicken thief aspects of Watergate, has been quite enough, and that to insist on the last full measure, namely his ejection from office, is too much. The situation is of course complicated by Mr. Nixon's insistence on his absolute virginity in all matters. — The second and third counts against Nixon are those that serious men will most be concerned with, for reasons as simple as that the findings of the Senate will govern, or rather influence, President Nixon's successors. Did Nixon invoke powers recklessly when he organized the plumbers, and when he authorized the FBI and the CIA to act in certain ways? Did his (brief) flirtation with the Houston security proposals put him in the way of his oath of office? Has his refusal to yield to the House the tapes it subpoenaed amounted to an act of contumacy which, paralleling as it does Nixon's refusal to give the material to the special prosecutor, we now have the Supreme Court's word for it, undermines the lawful authority of the Congress? There is more to be said in the next lew weeks, and a great deal more to be said after the House votes impeachment, which it is all bin certain to do. Meanwhile it becomes increasingly the obligation of the individual citizen to separate the man from the issue, and to show a different kind of concern for the fute of each: Richard Nixon, and the republic.