Cedar Rapids Gazette, February 20, 1974, Page 6

Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette February 20, 1974

Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - February 20, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa MMMMMHMHMMM OvCongress comes out of the closet a bit Editorial Page Wednesday, February 20, 19/4 Just following orders' WITH THE proposed updating of the United States criminal 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 prosecution under any federal statute that tile defendant’s conduct in fact conformed with an official statement of law, afterward 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 understand that sort of dilemma: Do what’s ordered and break the law; follow the rules and draw a reprimand, or worse. Obviously, though, the provision is a made-to-order escape hatch for the classic martinet type who prefers directions ftncluttered by moral enigmas. History’s most vivid example of the “orders are orders” rationale was the Nazis’ extermination of six million Jews during World war II. 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 take refuge in superior orders nor in the doctrine that his crimes were acts of state. These twin principles, working together, have heretofore resulted in immunity for practically everyone concerned in the really great crimes against peace and mankind.” Certainly, justice department thinkers were not concerned with war crimes in drafting the unique defense provision. Rather, the apparent goal is to protect the so-called little man caught in a damned-either-way dilemma. Hut 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 “acting 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 military purposes, the United States senate last year passed (82-10) a resolution urging the government to seek a treaty banning environmental warfare. Then, hoping to prod the Nixon administration into acting, the senate foreign relations subcommittee on oceans and international environment beld hearings Jan. 25 on progress of the proposal. Despite the senate’s polite pressuring, however, the environmental warfare question is expected to remain on the White House’s back burner indefinitely. One easily can guess the reason for reticence. Uncle Sam’s function as treaty seeker would contrast somewhat embarrassingly against his role as principal rainmaker 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 Vietnam, 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 modification,” as military 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 question 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. Justifiably, these concerns arc 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 been forbidden among nations. Clearly, the administration should not let the issue lie dormant. Comeback for superstition Ignorance resurges By Don Oakley FOK MOST people, all this business about witchcraft, the occult, 41 rid now exorcism, is so much amusing nonsense, a passing fad. Not so with many of the more suggestible, however. Clergymen have been called to 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 that tin y, or others, are possessed by demons. Inevitably people have come forward with stories of how they underwent exorcism, even as theologians have found it necessary to warn that the movie distorts church teachings. It would be funny if it were not In some cases quite tragic. It is also sad to be told Don Oakley that in this supposedly rational and scientific age, such a film is on the way to breaking all records. The Salem trials arc not really that far behind us Those who feel that science has taken the “mystery” out of life (as if the universe were not still full of mysteries) should look into the story of the long battle between science and superstition. At one time, waves of mass hysteria swept over Europe. These were not fads but deadly serious disturbances to the social fabric. Over the centuries, millions of human beings perished in purges of witches and devils. Those who dared claim that there were rational explanations for diease, earthquakes, the motion of the planets, often did so at the 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 super-stition. Rut science is reportedly out of favor among the young, and the universities, those bastions of rationalism, now offer them courses In astrology, witchcraft and the occult. Will they now appoint resident exorcists? Newspaper Enter prise A**oc lotion By Prudence Crewdson Conal c»»lonal Quarterly WASHINGTON - In 1973, for the first time iii at least two decades, the number of congressional committee meetings held iii secret dropped off sharply. A Congressional Quarterly study shows that only Hi percent of all committee and subcommittee sessions were closed to tilt' public and press last year, compared with 40 percent in 1972 and similar figures for the past two decades. Tile dramatic reduc tion was largely the result of a March, 1973, decision by the bouse to require each committee either to draft legislation iii the open or take a public vote on whether its proceedings should be* closed. The senate rejected an attempt by reformers to adopt the same procedure. The figures reflect the difference. House committees, which have been more secretive in the past, closed only IO percent of their meetings in 1073, while senate committees closed their doors 25 percent of the time. In the house, the powerful armed scr-vices, appropriations, and ways and means committees closed their bill-writing sessions more often than any of the others, although even they were more open than in past years. Iii the senate, the armed services, rules, and administration and public works committees were tile most secretive. Reformers who backed the house anti-secrecy rule are pleased with the results. Although some members and aides remain dubious, they seem to be adjusting 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 prevailed,” concluded Common Cause, the “citizen lobby” that pushed for the new rule and has been monitoring its operation. Opponents of the rule warned that it would encourage members to show off for the press and allow lobbyists to Intrude on deliberations, “lf we open up our executive sessions to the public every lobbyist in America is going to be there,” warned Harley (). Staggers, chairman of tho house interstate and foreign commerce committee. After a year in w Inch his committee held open mark-ups on such crucial and controversial subjects as petroleum allocation and emergency energy conservation. Staggers thinks that “in some cases, it’s been better than before.” But “there are still some cases where closed mark-ups are better,” In* added “We wouldn't have had 150 amendments to the energy lull 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 international 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. ‘Til be damned if I'm going to spend the next year and a half explaining to my people why I voted against open meetings,” 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 the trade bill. As the mark-up sessions proceeded through the summer, it was no secret that both the free-traders who supported the bill and the labor lobbyists who opposed it had inside contacts who kept them regularly informed of developments. But Ray Dennison, ail AFL-CIO lobbyist, says he always prefers open mark-ups because they equalize things and keep everyone honest. “Fifteen administration spokesmen were up there inside the committee feeding (members) Those pesky, darned alarmists!’ HHH i    ' ate SOTPeople s forum Poetry pri To the Editor: I have a question about the annual poetry day contest for Iowans, which perhaps can be clarified by one of your readers. Is there some law or statute which prohibits cash awards for minors in this state? Awards for poems in the various categories pay up to $10 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 insignificance of the cash awards, I feel there should Ik* equality in the awards given, regardless of age. Also, why do those contestants In the public schools need the signature of their teachers to make their poems eligible when others do not? I work daily with numbers of adolescents. many of w hom 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 age of the poet. There are good poems and not so good poems written by people of all ages I find it unfortunate that we may be discouraging a valuable creative outlet for our young people, if only in a seemingly small way. All too often trulyA intl her    Vie 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. Jim Davis HiawathaMessages this Int of shortages came to you as a public service More tomorrow when there will be 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. I nontaxpayer: Richard Nixon.” Those gems may not win the Nobel prize for literature, hut I assume everybody who *jaw them got the message. Baul Tremaine Route I, MarionGas hogs ? To the Editor: Concerning the age-old problem of the news media’s ability to 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 ears (Feb. 15 on WMT-TV) have the knowledge and reasoning to understand what is really involved in their dissatisfaction. I feel confident iii stating that a very large percent of police ear 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 are iii no way geared toward good gas mileage. In addition, the equipment specified by city officials at the time of original ordering of these automobiles contained no 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 Rapids safety commission is a special "pursuit" engine equipped with a four-barrel carburetor and many other features to provide the maximum net horsepower with the best possible durability. In laymen’s terms it is a “power wagon “ In Steinbeck's terms it Is a "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 to reveal it to the masses. Steinbeck’s testimony reflected, iii my estimation, a distaste for Chrysler Corporation and in turn for First Avenue Plymouth, Inc. The truth is they received exactly what they ordered. Lynn I.. Gingrich Sales representative First Avenue Plymouth, Inc. 3837 First Avenue SFQuestions To the Editor: The editorial on nuclear energy in The Gazette Feb. 17 prompts me to ask: 1. lf nuclear power generation is as safe as it is represented to in*, why can’t we purchase insurance to cover damages caused by nuclear accidents? Insurance companies cover many risks greater than the 1,000,000 to I hazard which the experts compute for a nuclear accident. 2. Assuming that the Duane Arnold Energy Center is indeed IOO percent foolproof, someone is responsible for the safety of transporting the radioactive wastes from the plant. I F. isn t. Who is? Does the carrier have sufficient insurance to 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 question 3. Is it true* that the emergency core cooling system has never been tested under conditions approximating those in a nuclear generating plant? I have read that it has failed repeatedly in small scale tests. Ruth Sterner 2410 Bever avenue SF Insights the administration line . . . arid they made statements we knew were false,” In* charged Government officials are allowed to attend closed mark-ups to provide technical assistance. Al Unman (I)Ore ), who temporarily replaced the ailing Wilbur I). Mills (I)-Ark.) as the committee’s chairman in July, contends that the officials were there to represent “the public interest” — not to lobby. “I would rather have indepth, competent staff and open meetings, but on trade we didn’t have that,” he told CQ. “Tile idea is to equalize access to information,” says Common Cause vicepresident David Cohen. “Lobbyists and power-brokers have* all Hu* information they need already. The public needs more.” Ile credits his group and other reformer! with pressuring the ways and means committee into opening up its sessions after the trade hill deliberations. Reformers see the new house rule as only one step toward their goal of "government iii the sunshine.” Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.) plans to open hearings iii March on his “sunshine bill,” which would open up not only almost all congressional committee sessions — including house-senate conferences — but meetings of multimember federal agencies as well.So we’re all nuts w By Russell Baker ASIIINGTON — The White House is attacked by a stolen helicopter. The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear. H I Mencken The main subject of conversation In the salons of the eastern seaboard is gasoline. A summons for the President of 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 Biao, 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 w ho 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 preserv e the right of privacy the government subpoenas telephone records from AT & T to find out which 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 Agnew. A former vice-president of the United States who copped a plea on income-tax fraud, Agnew is said to be a cinch to clear big money from his forthcoming 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 Mitchell, the man who was made attorney general to restore law and order iii the United States, goes on trial on charges of perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The government is trying to get Americans to reduce their dependence on the automobile, so it budgets $4 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. Rennie Davis, former apostle of new-left radicalism, becomes an apostle of the Hi-year-old Guru Maharaj JI, "the perfect master." Gen. Alexander Haig, the President’s right-hand man, suggests there may be “a sinister force” capable of erasing tape recordings inside the White House. The secret service wiretaps the President's brother. Tile Pentagon Is caught filching classified papers from the White House, which sponsors a burglary to search for psychiatric data on a man who has given classified Pentagon papers to the press. All this describes the condition we call sanity. Hr* Yoi* I lint* V*r yk« ;

  • Alexander Haig
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • Charles Colson
  • David Cohen
  • Jim Davis Hiawathamessages
  • John Mitchell
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull
  • Lawton Chiles
  • Lin Biao
  • Lynn I.
  • Maharaj Ji
  • Owen Lattimore
  • Ray Dennison
  • Rennie Davis
  • Richard Nixon
  • Robert Jackson
  • Spiro Agnew
  • Valery S. Panov

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Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Issue Date: February 20, 1974

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