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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 28, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta The Leikbridge Herald Third Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Thursday, June 28, 1973 PAGES 25-32 Watergate: a challenge of courage Senator Sam Ervin Duty is the sublimest In one year, Water- gate has become syn- onymous with scandal, arrogance and corrup- tion. Yet, despite the blackness there is light, the light of courageous people who did their job, who faced the challenge of Water- gate. In a searching, five part series, ap- pearing on this and fol- lowing pages, Ira kow, a senior editor with Newspaper Enter- prise Association, foe- uses on these people, their motives and their beliefs. WASHINGTON "Get some dirt on Brvin." This order was allegedly issued by H. R. (Bob) Haldeman, then White House chief of staff, to Repub- lican officials in North Caro- lina. Though the incident is re- latively old! news, the reac- tion gives current insight into Sen. Sam Ervin, the North Car- olina Democrat. North Carolina offic i a 1 s considered the smear directive absurd because, said Charles Jonas Jr., who headed the last two 'presidential campaigns for Richard Nixon in North Caro- lina, "Ervin's standing is im- peccable." UNCONCERNED As for Ervin himself, he re- called that report now as he sat in his book-lined office in the Old Senate Office Building. "I wasn't said the 76-year-old senator, in. his pebbled, easy resonance. "The statute of limitations long since run off on all my misdeeds." When Ervin accepted the Chairmanship of the Senate Select Committee on Presiden- tial Campaign Activities (the "Watergate" committee) he did eo with the knowledge that be would be taking some risks. Ervin is among several mo and women who have distin- guished themselves in the oth- erwise squalid Watergate case. There is, for example, Chief Judge John J. Sirica of the U.S. District Court in Washing- ton who faced possible ridicule and recriminations in bis dra- matic and successful attempt to probe deeper into the truth of the Watergate burglary. COURAGE There is, for another, Wash- ington Post publisher Katharine Graham. Despite one of the most blistering attacks by any administration ever upon a newspaper, she encouraged the continued investigative report- ing on Watergate. Ervin knew that his phone couM be taopjsd, his tax returns pulled, his state deprived of fe- deral aid and projects. If the hearings were considered par- tisan or ineffective or laugh- able, he could be disgraced. He knew might incur the wrath of his constituents. And he was right about some. He has been accused in recent weeks of "trying to crucify the of being a "dis- gusting publicity of being both a pawn of the "lying press" and a tool of the lib- erals. He also knew some peo- ple would be bored or made "sick and tired" of the contin- uing investigation. Why did Ervin expose him- self to such risks? he said. "Duty is the subHmest word in our language. I remem- ber reading something Robert E. Lee told his son, Curtis Lee, when the boy went off to school i at West Point. He said, 'Do your duty in all things. You can't do more and you should never wish to do less.' PROBLEM "I thought about the problem facing us now. I came to an in- tellectually honest conclusion, and then I did what I felt was right, regardless of the conse- quences. "I also know this might not have been popular with a lot of folks. There is a human in- stinct not to want to face evil. For those people, the sun is always shining." (However, letters to the Senate commit- tee were recently running ll-l in its favor.) "If I made any contribution to all said Ervin, "it is that I said the Senate commit- tee, by decreee of the United States Supreme Court, has the right to subpoena any witness it wants, with no exceptions." CHOSEN Ervin, the highly respected constitutional lawyer, swept aside the President's umforel- interpretation of execu- tive privilege by calling it "ex- ecutive poppycock." And he seriously threatened to have any White House aide flung hi the dink for contempt if he refused to comply. said Ervin, "it takes a whole lot to stir people." He was chosen by a land- slide Senate vote to head the Select Committee far hre rea- sons. First, as Sen. Mike Mansfield said, "Ervin was the only man we could have picked on either side of the aisle who'd have the respect of the Senate as a whole." Second, he had judicial ex- perience six years on the North Carolina Supreme Court and six years on the North Carolina Superior Court. NATIONAL Third, he was not a presi- dential aspirant who could be accused of seeking national po- litical gain. And with the televising of the Watergate hearings, Ervin has become a most highly recognisable national figure, this alter 18 years in the Sen- ate. If courage and principle make a hero, then Ervin seems to fit the description. Yet he is an unlikely looking hero, if one goes by raw-boned Holly- wood ideals. He sits in the middle of the long table in the hearing room as he and fellow committee members interrogate witness- es. His heavy eyebrows flutter nervously over dark rimmed glasses. Jowls jounce. Lower lip is trembly. A fattish hawk Continued on Page 28 Judge kept faith in system Judge John J. Sirica WASHINGTON The morn- ing of Friday, March 23, 1973, was clear but cool. Not unusual for an early spring day here. The cherry blossoms were en- deavoring to make their annual comeback. Otherwise, it was a typical Washington day. At 10 a.m., one of the most explosive moments in American history would occur. The second-floor court room of the United States District Court House was uncommonly packed, and under unusually large and stern guard. Specta- tors who jammed the court room were required to pass through metal detector. Chief Judge John Joseph Sirica appeared at 10 sharp. He looked in his black robes as severe as his reputation. He is supposed to throw the book at the convicted. Not today. He had delayed senten- cing on James McCord, one of the conspirators in the Water- gate burglary. McCord had presented him with a letter he, McCord, had written to the court. Judge Sirica had receiv- ed the letter on Wednesday in his chambers, before a steno- grapher and a few other wit- nesses. He found it one of the most remarkable of documents. He sealed it, and said he would read it aloud on Friday, DYES HAIR? Judge Sirica is 69 years old, but his dark wavy hair (Wash- ington rumor has it that he dyes his hair) makes him look younger. His eyebrows are heavy, lips are thin and his nose seems a bit flattened, perhaps from his days as an amateur boxer. He now read the letter smoothly, unemotionally. "Certain questions have been posed to me from your honor through the probation officer, dealing with details of the case, motivations, intent, mi- tigating circumstances The letter went on to link, for the first time, the White House and Watergate. The impact in the court was startling. The spectators bad come to hear something spe- cial, but they were not sure what. Evsn McCord's lawyers did not know about the con- tents of the letter that was the initial insight to the alleged network of obstruction of justice by the Nixon admnistration. This letter, induced by Judge Sirica's actions during the course of the conspiracy trial, may be the document that will result in the present admins- trations being cleansed, if not in fact toppled. WISDOM Columnist Mary McGrory said that Judge Sirica is "the man whom we owe our liber- ty, if we still have any." Sen. Sam Ervin said that Judge Sirica "showed great Continued on Page 27 LABATTS BLUE SMILES ALONG WITH YOU ;