Nixon & Civil Rights
To the Editor:
In “Nixon So Far” [March], Maurice J. Goldbloom compares the “distinctly poor” civil rights policy of the Nixon administration with its record on civil liberties, in which he finds evidence of a “split personality.” But another way of describing the Nixon administration’s defense of the Bill of Rights would be “half-hearted.” For example, Mr. Goldbloom neglects to mention Attorney General Mitchell’s ukase that the Justice Department can wiretap without the formality of judicial permission. While noting the administration’s reluctance to utilize the concentration camps provided for in the McCarran Act, Mr. Goldbloom fails to compare the proposed preventive detention of criminals with such awkward notions as presumption of innocence and the right to liberty unless the deprivation accords with due process of law. For most of the history of Anglo-Saxon law, this latter phrase has meant trial by jury. . . .
But Mr. Goldbloom’s most glaring oversight is his claim that only the Chicago conspiracy trial can be considered a political prosecution. He ignores the Black Panther party, but Vice President Ag-new has not forgotten these “completely irresponsible, anarchistic . . . criminals”; nor has Assistant Attorney General Leonard who calls them “hoodlums” and then says “we’ve got to get them.” Local police scarcely need such encouragement to harass this revolutionary political organization, but the Nixon administration must share the blame for the repression which has become obvious even to those who find the Black Panthers’ ideas distasteful.
Stephen J. Whitfield
Newton Highlands, Mass.