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Cedar Rapids Gazette Newspaper Archive: February 20, 1974 - Page 6

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Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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   Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - February 20, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa                                Congress comes out of the closet a bit Editorial Page Wednesday, feJxuory 20, 1974 'Jusf following orders' WITH THE proposed updating of the United States crimi- nal code conies a section allowing certain defendants to plead that they were only carrying out orders. Says the provision: "It is an affirmative defense to a pro- secution under any federal statute that the defendant's con- duct in fact conformed with an official statement of law, af- terward determined to be invalid or erroneous, which is contained in an administrative grant of permission to the defendant... if the defendant acted in reasonable reliance on such statement..." Ostensibly, the provision makes sense. It seeks to absolve conscientious persons whose alleged misdeeds stem merely from obeisance to erroneous superiors. One needn't be a maker of epic decisions to un- derstand that sort of dilemma: Do what's ordered and break the law; follow the rules and draw a reprimand, or worse. Obviously, though, the pro- vision is a made-to-order escape hatch for the classic martinet type who prefers directions nncluttered by moral enigmas. History's most vivid example of the "orders are orders" rationale was 'the extermination of six million Jews during World war 11. And perhaps the best-ever refutation of such a defense also came from that horror story. Justice Robert Jackson said it in opening the Nuremburg trials: "One who has committed criminal acts may not iako refuge in superior orders nor in the doctrine that his crimes were acts of state. Theso twin prin- ciples, working together, have heretofore resulted in immunity for practically everyone con- cerned in the really great crimes against peace and mankind." Certainly, justice department thinkers were not concerned with war crimes in drafting the uni- que defense provision. Rather, the apparent goal is to protect the so-called little man caught in a damned-either-way dilemma. But the section also could absolve flagrant perpetrators of illegal wiretapping, burglary and other crimes committed upon order from the top. In that light the proposed "ac- ting on orders" defense mechanism should be scrapped in favor of the code already in force: conformance with justice and law. Military weather-warp DEEMING IT wrong for man to manipulate nature for mili- tary purposes, the United States senate last year passed (82-10) a resolution urging the government to seek a treaty banning environ- mental warfare. Then, hoping to prod the Nixon administration into acting, the senate foreign relations sub- committee on oceans and interna- tional environment held hearings Jan. 25 on progress of the proposal. Despite the senate's polite pres- suring, however, the environmen- tal warfare-question is expected to rernain on the White House's back burner indefinitely. One easily can guess the reason for reticence. Uncle Sam's func- tion as treaty seeker would con- trast somewhat embarrassingly against his role as principal rain- maker for military purposes in Indo-China. Defense department spokesmen denied engaging in meteorological warfare over North Vietnam, but declined to comment regarding alleged activities over South Viet- nam, Cambodia and Laos. Officially, then, the United States does not engage in cloud- seeding tactics. This assertion might surprise air force personnel who had seven unofficial but nonetheless wet inches of rain dumped on them accidentally by governmental rainmakers in Vietnam. .Correspondents' reports of "weather as mili- tary spokesmen call it, prompted humorist Art Buchwald to note the Pentagon's dramatic switch in strategy, from "raining bombs to bombing rain." If batching up a few rain clouds to slow enemy convoys and troops were the only tactic in question, the environmental warfare ques- tion would merit little concern. But in recent years, scientists and international lawyers, among others, have worried increasingly over possible climate, earthquake and ocean modification as well as weather manipulation. Justifia- bly, these concerns are reflected in the senate's petition for a treaty. Opponents of environmental combat argue that the practice is analogous to biological warfare, which long since has boon forbid- den among nations. Clearly, the administration should not let the issue lie dormant. Comeback for superstition Ignorance resurges By Don Oakley FOR MOST people, all this business about wilchcraft, the occult, now exorcism, is so much amusing non- sense, a passing fad. Not so with many of tho more sugges- tible, however. Clergymen have been called lo the aid of teen-agers terrified after seeing the current film about devil possession. Church officials have been flooded with inquiries from persons who believe lhat they, or others, are possessed by demons. Inevitably people have come forward with stories of how Ihcy underwent exor- cism, even as theologians have found it necessary lo warn lhal Ihe movie distorts church teachings. It would be funny if it were not in some cases quite tragic. It is also sad lo be told Don Oakley thai in this supposedly rational and scientific age, such a film is on the way to breaking all records. The Salem trials are not really that far behind us. Those who feel lhat science has taken Ihe "myslcry" out of life (as if Ihe universe were not still full of mysteries) should look Into Ihe story of Ihe long bailie between science and superstition. At one time, waves of mass hysteria swept over Europe. These were nol fads bul deadly serious disturbances to Ihe social fabric. Over Ihe centuries, millions of human beings perished in purges of witches and devils. Those who dared claim that there were ralional explana- tions for dieasc, earthquakes, the motion of (he planets, oflen did so at Ihe peril of their lives. It is only the slow and painful accretion of scientific knowledge over the centuries that enables us today to laugh at supcr- slilion. Bul science is reportedly oul of favor among the young, and the univer- sities, those bastions of rationalism, now offer them courses In astrology, witchcraft and the occult. Will they now appoint resident exor- cists? Newspaper Enterprise Assoclollon By Prudence Crewdson Conflresilpn.il Quarterly WASHINGTON In 1973, for the first time in at least two decades, the number of congressional committee meetings held in secret dropped off sharply. A Congressional Quarterly study shows that only 16 percent of all committee and subcommittee sessions were closed to tin- public and press last year, compared with 40 percent in 1972 and similar figures for the past two decades. The dramatic reduction was largely the result of a March, 1973, decision by the house lo require each committee either to drafl legislation in the open or take a public vote on whether its proceedings should Up closed. The senate rejected an attempt by reformers to adopt the same procedure. Tho figures reflect the difference. House committees, which have been more secretive in the past, closed only 10 percent of their meetings in 1873, while senate committees closed their doors 55 percent of the time. In the house, the powerful armed ser- vices, appropriations, and ways and means committees closed their bill-writ- ing sessions more oflen than any of the others, although even they were more open I han iu past years. In the senate, Iho armed services, rules, and administration and public works committees were the most secre- tive. Kvfonucis svlw Uaikvtl the house unli- socrccy rule are pleased with the results. Although some members and aides remain dubious, they seem to be adjust- ing to the new system. "Many important and complicated pieces of legislation were drafted by committees in open session and brought to the house for votes with no more delay than in earlier years when secrecy concluded Common Cause, the "citizen lobby" that pushed for the new rule and has -been monitoring its oiwration. Opponents of the rule warned that it would encourage members to show off for the press and allow lobbyists to intrude tin deliberations. "If wo open up our executive sessions to the public every lobbyist in America is going to bo warned Hurley 0. Staggers, chairman of Ihe houso interstate and foreign com- merce committee. After a year in which his committee held open mark-ups on such crucial and con- troversial subjects as petroleum alloca- tion and emergency energy conservation, Staggers Ihinks that "in some cases, it's been better than before." But "there are still some cases where closed mark-ups are he added. "We wouldn't have liad 150 amendments lo Ihe energy bill if the lobbyists hadn't been in there." When house committees did shut their doors, they sometimes met resistance. The house ways and means committee held closed sessions to draft the interna- tional trade reform bill throughout the summer, but later in the year opened up most of its sessions on pension reform, social security and federal debt-ceiling legislation. "I'll be damned if I'm going to spend the next year and a half explaining to my people why I voted against open meet- James A. Burke (D-Mass.) declared in June, as he reluctantly voted against a majority of ways and means members who decided to close the doors during deliberations on tho trade bill. As the mark-up sessions proceeded through the summer, it was no secret that both the free-traders who supported Iho bill and the labor lobbyists who op- posed it had inside contacts who kept them regularly informed of develop- ments. But Ray Dennison, an AFL-C10 lob- byist, says he always prefers open mark-ups because they equalize things and keep everyone honest. "Fifteen ad- ministration spokesmen were up there inside the committee feeding (members) 'Those pesky, darned People's forum creative attempts are stifled, in our schools, our jobs, and in our society in general. Young people, and I hope I'm not generalizing, have the desire to be creative and to express themselves, something I find distressingly lacking among older people. There seems to be plenty of room for encouragement for all. To the Editor: I have a question about the annual poetry day contest Jor lowans, which perhaps can be clarified by one of your readers. Is there some law or statute which prohibits cash awards for minors in this stale? Awards for poems in the various categories pay up to in the adult and college entries, and yet senior high, junior high and elementary winners receive only certificates of merit for their efforts. Although I realize the insig- nificance of the cash awards, I feel there should be equality in the awards.given, regardless of age. Also, why do those contestants in the public schools ncad the signature of their teachers to make their poems eligible when others do not? I work daily with numbers of adoles- cents, many of whom write poetry as one of their means of self-expression, and a lot of it is quite good. Having been in the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa, I have read a good number of poems by college students of all ages. I find it difficult to make a comparison of poetry by the ago of the poet. There are good poems and not so good poems writ- ten by people of all ages. I find it unfortunate thai we may be discouraging a valuable creative outlet for our young people, if only in a seemingly small way. All too often truly Another View Jim Davis Hiawatha Messages 'This liil of shortages como lo you as o public som'co. Mora tomorrow wfion will bo more shortages." To the Editor: On my recent regional sales tour, the most interesting billboard I saw said: "If Nixon fell into the ocean, a lot of the sharks would yell for Help." Most interesting bumper sticker: "America's No. 1 nontaxpayer: Richard Nixon." Those gems may not win the Nobel prize for literature, but I assume everybody who ijaw them got the mes- sage. Paul Tremainc Route 1, Marion 'Gas hogs'? To the Editor: Concerning the age-old problem of the news media's ability lo express aspects of a situation to intensify their point and to emit those which tend to lessen the blow, I hope viewers of the recent newscast which put such a shadow on the value and performance of Chrysler's new Plymouth police cars (Feb. 15 on WMT-TV) have the knowledge and reasoning to under- stand what is really involved in their dissatisfaction. I feel confident In staling that a very large percent of police car operations is done against the curb. It does not take a statistician to realize that gas mileage does not include the many hours the car is at an idle. Also, maneuvers performed by a police vehicle arc in no way geared toward good gas mileage. In addition, the equipment specified by city officials at the time of original or- dering of these automobiles contained nn reference either directly or Indirectly to good gas mileage. Therefore, these special cars were ordered with the emphasis on power and performance. The "400 engine" referred to by the Cedar Itaplds safety commission is a special "pursuit" engine equipped with a four-barrel carburetor nml many other features lo provide the maximum net horsepower with the bcsl possible durability. In laymen's terms It Is a "power wagon." In Steinbeck's terms It Is n "gas hog." My reasons for writing are not to prove or disprove the findings of our city's safety commissioner, but simply to express my dissatisfaction on the manner and terminology used lo reveal it lo the masses. Steinbeck's testimony reflected, in my estimation, a distaste for Chrysler Corporation and in turn for First Avenue Plymouth, Inc. The trulh is Ihey received exactly what they ordered. Lynn L. Gingrich Sales representative First Avenue Plymoulh, Inc. 3837 First Avenue SE Questions To the Editor: The editorial on nuclear energy in The Gazelle Feb. 17 prompts me to ask: 1. If nuclear power generation is as safe as it is represented to be, why can't we purchase insurance lo cover damages caused by nuclear accidents? Insurance companies cover many risks greater than the lo 1 hazard which the ex- perls compute for a nuclear accident. 2. Assuming that the Duane Arnold. Energy Center is indeed 100 percent foolproof, someone'is responsible for the safety of transporting the radioactive wastes from the plant. I.E. isn't. Who is? Does Ihe carrier have sufficient in- surance lo cover an accident? What precautions are being taken against hijacking or diversion? Considering the number of truck accidents involving spilled cargo, this is an important ques- tion. 3. Is il Irue lhal the emergency core cooling system has never boon tested under conditions approximating those in a nuclear generating plant? I have read lhat it has failed repeatedly in small scale tests. lUith Sicmcr 2410 Bcvcravenue SE Insights ono permanent otnoflon ol Iho inlorior man is topr, Mencken Ihe administration line and they made slateincnts we knew were lip charged. Government officials are allowed lo attend closed mark-ups lo provide technical assistance. Al Ullman who temporarily replaced the ailing Wilbur D. Mills (0- Ark.) as the committee's chairman in July, contends that the officials were there to represent "the public interest" not to lobby. "1 would rather have in- depth, competent staff and open meet- ings, but on trade we didn't have he told CQ. "The idea is to equalize access to in- says Common Cause vice- president David Cohen. "Lobbyists and power-brokers have all the information they need already. The public needs more." llo credits Ills group and other reformers with pressuring tho ways and means committed into opening up its sessions after the trade bill delibera- tions. Reformers the now houso rule as only ono step toward their goal of "government in the sunshine." Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.) plans to open hearings in March on his "sunshine which would open up not only al- most all congressional committee ses- sions including house-senate conferences but meetings of mulli- member federal agencies as well. So we're all nuts By Russell Baker WASHINGTON The White House is attacked by a stolen helicopter. The main subject of conversation in the salons of the eastern seaboard is gasoline. A summons for the President ot the United States to testify in a criminal court in California is lost eight days in the U.S. mail. A cultural revolution just begun in China attacks Confucius. Beethoven, Lin Piao, the Italian movie maker Antonioni, Franz Schubert, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Owen Lattimore, a scholar who was attacked by American McCarthyites a generation ago on grounds that he was sympathetic to communism. The President of the United States declares on national television that he is not a crook. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the writer who wanted to stay in Russia, is thrown out by the Soviet government. Valery S. Panov, the dancer with the Kirov ballet, who wants to leave Russia, is compelled by the government to stay. Shortly after the President tells congress he wants more done to preserve the right of privacy the government sub- poenas telephone records from AT T to find out whicli persons newspapermen have been calling up. After years of refusing to import Cuban cigars because we don't like Cuba's foreign policy, Americans accuse the Arabs of blackmail for cutting our oil imports because they don't like our foreign policy. A gas pumper in New York is attacked three times in one day by knife-wielding women. The first novelist in literary history to enjoy secret service protection is Spiro Agncw. A former vice-president of the United States who copped a plea on in- come-tax fraud, Agnew is said to be a cinch to clear big money from his forth- coming novel about a vice-president. He goes golfing in Palm Springs, Calif., under secret service protection. All over the United States people say they have been invaded by the devil. John Mitclioll, the man who was made attorney general to restore law and order in the United States, goes on trial on charges of perjury, conspiracy and ob- struction of justice. The government is trying to got Americans to reduce their dependence on the automobile, so it budgets billion for highway construction this year. Charles Colson, who once said he would walk over his grandmother for Richard Nixon, says he has found Christ. Itonnio Davis, former apostle of new-left radicalism, becomes an apostle of the Ili-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji, "the per- fect master." Gen. Alexander Haig, the President's right-hand man, suggests there may bo "a sinister force" capable of erasing tape recordings inside tho White House. The secret service wiretaps the President's brother. The Pentagon Is caught filching clas- sified papers from the White House, which sponsors 11 burglary to search for psychiatric diiln on a mini who liiis given classified Pentagon papers to tho press, All this describes the condition we call snnlly, flow Yolk Tlmm Sirvlct   

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