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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 1973
Citing national interest' .. .
HE "NATIONAL INTEREST" has be-
come a ubiquitous term.
Every time the President is asked to
justify his refusal to release tapes of his
Watergate conversations, the term seems
to find its way into his response.
It happened again Wednesday, when
Nixon obliquely rationalized breaking the
law so long as it is done in the "national
He has justified his approval of a 1970
intelligence plan which included bur-
glaries and opening of mail in the same
rHE SECRET BOMBING of Cambodia
in 1969 and 1970 had to remain se-
cret, he says-it was in the national in-
John Ehrlichman, the President's for-
mer top domestic advisor, found the bur-
glary of a psychiatrist's office perfectly
justifiable-it was done in the interests
of national security.
National security and the national in-
terest are terms which are inviolate.
They cannot be attacked; to'do so would
be to turn them into partisan issues.
Whenever the national interest is in-
voked as the justification for a policy,,
we are told that criticism of it must end
and we must unite behind whatever the
policy may be.
As Henry Kissinger said last month,
"the foreign policy of the United States is
not a partisan matter. It concerns the
THE PRESIDENT, it seems, would like to
extend that concept to his Adminis-
tration as a whole
Defense spending, Nixon said at his
latest press conference, should not be cut.
"We can have the finest domestic pro-
grams in the world but it isn't going to
make any difference if we don't have our
freedom and if we're not around to enjoy
them," he said.
This is not merely another appeal to
that familiar phrase, national security.
It is a renewed call to the anti-com-
CHRISTOPHER PARKS and EUGENE ROBINSON
Co-Editors in Chief
ROBERT BARKIN..................Feature Editor
DIANE LEVICK ....,..........Associate Arts Editor
DAVID MARGOLICK ...........Chief Photographer
MARTIN PORTER . . ....... . .........Magazine Editor
KATHY RICKE ..............Editorial Director
ERIC SCHOCH .. .....Editorial Director
GLORIA SMITH ..... ...................Arts Editor
CHARLES STEIN ......................... City Editor
TED STEIN .. ........ ........ Executive Editor
News: Bill Heenan, Eugene Robinson,
Charles Stein, Rolfe Tessem, Rebecca
Editorial Page: Zachary Schiller, Eric
Schoch, David Yalowitz
Arts Page: Diane Levick
Photo Technician: David Margolick .
munism and the overblown fear of a
Soviet attack we have suffered from since
World War If.
National interest and national security
are terms which deserve careful scrutiny.
When national leaders implicitly or ex-
plicitly justify a policy on the basis that
it furthers the national interest, we
should investigate to see just what the
national interest is.
SUCH AN IMPLICIT justification came
at the President's Wednesday press
conference, when Nixon said he will veto
a bill which would raise the minimum
wage to $2.20 an hour.
It would increase both unemployment
and inflation, he said, and would thereby
run contrary to the national interest.
Before we accept such an argument-
or any supposedly based on what is good
for the nation as a whole-we should
look closely at the facts.
In this case, we might very well agree
with Sen. Harrison Williams (D-N.J.)
when he says that a Nixon veto is likely
to "perpetuate a legally sanctioned class
of working poor.,,
AND RATHER THAN blithely accepting
the argument that an increased mini-
mum wage would bring higher prices, and
thus run counter to the national interest,
we might do well to look at historical
The "national interest" can be a dan-
gerous term. It only becomes dangerous,
however, when it replaces logic and serves
as a reason in itself.
... for burglary
THE INDICTMENT of former Presiden-
tial domestic adviser John D. Ehr-
lichman and three other former White
House aides should bring little surprise
in view of Ehrlichman's testimony be-
fore the Senate Watergate hearings.
Ehrlichman admitted in July that he
had knowledge of a planed "covert" op-
eration to obtain files from a psychia-
trist who had treated Daniel Ellsberg. The
former adviser denied knowing of the
burglary itself, carried out by a White
House "plumbers" team in September,
Ehrlichman's defense of the break-in
as a national security operation permis-
sible under the powers possessed by the
Presidency has implications far beyond
the burglary itself.
LIKE THE ISSUE of President Nixon
surrendering his taped Watergate
conversations, the burglary case goes to
the roots of Presidential power.
There is only one answer to the ques-
tion of whether White House employees
should be allowed to break into citizens'
homes and offices for "national security"
purposes: They should not be permitted
to do so.
By TED STEIN
WASHINGTON - WHY did it happen
here? That thought comes to you when
you stand in front of a house where a
murder has been committed a few hours
before. Why is a police seal pasted across
this particular lock. If you're close enough
to read the warning to keep away, you're
probably close enough to have heard the
victim's screams (if there were any).
Murder is commonplace in the city. You
read about it all the time, but you never
really feel it. As the laterafternoon sun
fades behind the grey-brick townhouse
where Diane Zilinski, 24, was murdered, it
can be felt. The white paint on the house's
window frames is peeling. The patch of
grass nearby is long and weedy. The
people returning to their homes close by
are strangely silent.
There is no-reason for death here on this
block of well-kept townhouses in Washing-
ton's fashionable and historic Capitol Hill
district. Only that a psychopath hid in a
darkened apartment and waited.
THE UNFORSEEN act of a madman has
changed the lives of people who knew
Diane Zilinski. And as a summer reporter
for the Washington Star-News, it is my
job to talk to some of them. There is an
awesome unreality in such a task. In a
few hours a person's life takes shape and
the city will have a biography of sorts.
It is the only one that will ever be writ-
Chasing murders is where reporters are
tested. You find yourself doing impossible
things that cannot be done if you think
about them. You're expected at six in the
morning, for instance, to climb the steps
of a tenement in search of parents and
neighbors of a 13 year-old girl raped and
By JAMES WECHSLER dissemb
AND WHAT is new since last we cord.
met? Returning from an Aug-
ust holiday one would like to re- THE P
port the discovery of some new, sion, of
cheerful perspective on the national bodiane
condition. You will find no such freely a
reassurance here. If these weeks ticed on
of flight and meditation have pro- speech t
duced anything, it is the sense that Wars -
our predicament is graver than lected f
many are willing to acknowledge orations
and that things are far more likely with fla
to deteriorate rather than improve But th
in the forseeable future. tionalys
What emerged more clearly than occasion
ever during an interval of libera- justify t
tion from daily deadlines and in- ted duri
stant commentary is the portrait August2
of a leaderless, floundering coun- Mr. N
try. The crisis in our political in- country
stitutions is rendered more omi- whether
nous by spreading economic an- warned
archy and the bankruptcy of policy- that co
makers in that realm. Adminis
The increasingly remote rela- tion. Th
tionship between the country and who bel
its two top men was epitomized in has tes
a caption under separate photos of who do)
President Nixon and Vice President knows t
Agnew on page one of last Sun- tape of
day's Times. It cryptically report- between
ed that "the White House refused to could he
permit photos" of their meeting. question
THUS AMERICANS were left could h
to wonder whether Mr. Nixon had about Jo
decided that photographic proxi- es to fed
mity to his Vice President would ing thel
further tarnish his own withered ers on t
image or whether Mr. Agnew pre- that Byr
ferred to seem to be going it alone. Ehrlichn
No doubt both camps will soon seriously
leak their private versions of the have bee
affair. Meanwhile, we are reduced been an
to the speculation usually associat- Byrne w
ed with shadowy power struggles his FBI
in the Soviet and Chinese hierar-
chies, or in our native underworld. EVEN
The only useful information re- veterant
leased about the conference was premise
that they had not discussed the pos- ly on tr
sibility of an early Agnew resigna- bate see
tion. In the present atmosphere that still foo
statement inevitably strengthened enoughc
the suspicion that this was the persuade
central topic of discussion and per- related i
haps contention. iness ofi
For the moment, at least, Agnew But th
can still legitimately invoke the designati
presumption of innocence in the Secretar
tawdry matters to which his name contextc
has been linked. Mr. Nixon's case desperat
is quite a different matter. For It did n<
regardless of the evidence con- have se
tained in the tapes he has so versy ab
steadfastly suppresssed, he is al- in some
ready plainly guilty of massive from Ca
brutally murdered the night before. What
was she like? What were her hobbies? Was
she a good student? Somehow the questions
are asked, and from contorted, tearful
This is not one of the times you have
to, tell people why you're talking to them.
The news has traveled swiftly, and they
are prepared. On other occasions you are
the first to tell them. Tell them their lives
have been shattered. Sometimes they break
down, and won't say anything. Usually they
speak, if only in a barely audible whisper.
"I looked in and saw her wallet and
credit cards out on the kitchen counter, so
I knew something was wrong," he relates.
Then, with a landlord who has a key, he
enters the apartment and finds her lying
against the stairs leading to the second
floor, "covered with towels very neatly ar-
ranged so that only her feet were show-
MAKE NO MISTAKE about this one.
It's grisly. The kind of murder that makes
homicide detectives on the metropolitan po-
:. .}::.Y..,'".: .;r, .}: ;.v i":."<:v:::.. :.v::. :: :: ": :"
"What was she like? What were her hobbies? Was she a good
student? Somehow the questions are asked, and from con-
torted, tearful faces, answered."
But always, there is a long pause that
tears at you.
THE NEIGHBORS of Diane Zilinski aren't
very helpful on this day. They describe her
as a "cheery, but quiet" person, "a very
gracious lady." Most of them don't know
her at all, and are only shocked that a
murder has happened on their block. "Why
this is the first time in a long while that
there's even been a crime on the street,"
says a tanned women in a print dress.
Much of the gut information for the story
comes from Diane's employer, Berkeley
Bennett. He found the body and tells what
the police won't. His voice is unemotional
unlike most of the others. He says he
reached his administrative assistant's house
about 11 a.m. after she failed to show up
for work, and went around to the back,
where the door was cvhained, but slightly
lice force impossible to deal with. They
like to say,'"It's been quiet all around,"
and today they can't. Murder powerfully.
drives home the reality that the police are
helpless when it comes to protecting a
large city from the ravages of maniacs.
When asked whether the victim was sex-
ually molested, they give an unheard of
"no comment". It means that the body
was badly mutilated.
Two days later a Marine stationed at
the barracks across the street from the
crime is charged with first degree murder.
The accused, Lance Cpl. Charles Harman,
21, served as a barracks guard for five
months. On the morning the body was
found, he played golf with a fellow Marine
guard. "From what I know it seems im-
possible," Harmon's friend told me. "He
couldn't, have played golf as well as he
did." Harman played his round close to
Too much of working with tragedy only
numbs you. Al Lewis has been the Wash-
ington Post's police reporter for more than
thirty years. He comes into the press room
at the police headquarters with his thermos
and brown-bagged' lunch, looking more the
part of janitor than reporter. 'His white
shirt is open at the collar, and his pleated
grey slacks don't fit. And his face is
as rumpled as his clothes. After thirty
years, it's all the same. So Al can eat a
sandwich with one hand and write a story
about an ax murder with the other.
SLOWLY THE STORY about the pretty,
brown-haired woman falls into place-she
had worked as an administrative assistant
for a trade union, a legal secretary, and a
stenographer for the FBI. But it is the
people who worked with her in the Hexagon
Club, a local drama group that raises
money for charities, that knew her best.
Diane had worked on the production side
of shows for about five years.
"She was a great, big-hearted person who
never asked anything of anybody else,"
says a club member. The club's president,
Richard Morgan says, "She- was a person
who really loved life and people, I have
no idea of what we're going to do without
What he says next seems to sum up the
feeling I had by the- end of the day. "The
saddest thing is that you read a story in the
papers about this and you never associate
it with the person, you never say, "Hey,
that must have been an outstanding person.'
Here the person was outstanding."
Ted Stein is Executive Editor of -The
Ming - on
vacation:. Little ,changed
the public re-
MOST FLAGRANT confes-
course, involves the Cam-
expedition. Mr. Nixon now
dmits the deception prac-
his countrymen; in his
to the Veterans of Foreign
an audience carefully se-
or one of his rare public
- he boasted about it
he tattered banner of "na-
security" he waved on that
ican hardly be invoked to
he bland fraud he commit-
ng his press conference on
ixon told the press and the
that day, for example, that
L. Patrick Gray had
him of deeds being done
uld "mortally wound" his
tration was an open ques-
ere are, he said, "some
ieve" Gray spoke as he
tified; there are others
not. In fact, Richard Nixon
he answer. It is on the
the recorded conversation
Gray and himself. How
dare to suggest that the
defied clear resolution?
resident also said t h e r e
ave been nothing sinister
hn Ehrlichman's approach-
eral judge Matt Bryne dur-
Ellsberg trial because oth-
.e White House staff knew
ne was meeting with both
man and himself.' Was he
contending there would
en no public shock if it had
nounced at the time that
as being interviewed about
MANY of Mr. Nixon's
apologists now accept the
that he tramples reckless-
uth. The only serious de-
ms to be whether he can
A enough of the people
of the time - or at least
them that Watergate and
nfamies are not "the bus-
ere is no end in sight. His
ion of Henry Kissinger as
y of State was, in the
of his press conference, a
e public relations p 1 o y .
ot steal the show. It may
rved to stimulate contro-
bout Kissinger's complicity
of the dirtiest business -
imbodia to wiretapping.
BTwVkArABOUi ~r WA? 'ATI
"Waving the flag of national security"
One comes back convinced the
storm will not fade away, even
though there may be lulls, and
that it is time Congress began to
take seriously proposals for alter-
ing our system of succession
through a route more acceptable
than impeachment. One proposal
now being drafted would call for a
Constitutional amendment permit-
ting Congress, by two-thirds vote,
to oust an incumbent and set up
a new national election within 90
days of such action; It will be
explored in detail in atlater col-
umn. While this formula, or some
variation thereof, would offer no
overnight remedy for the present
numbness and frustration, it could
become a major issue in the 1974
Congressional election. It c o u 1d
even make those contests a national
plebiscite embodying an unmistak-
James Wechsler is editorial page
editor for the New York Post.
Copyright 1973, the New York
per. _ _. , _,,,,,,,, y +
x : _ , . _
' n" ,
'. ® ...
Executive privilege at the
By DICK WEST
WASHINGTON - Ancient scrolls,
some of which appear to con-
tain variations of biblical narra-
tives, continue to turn up in the
Dead Sea area.
At the moment, I understand
scholars are trying to piece togeth-
er a crumbling parchment + h a t
"These consultations must necessarily be held in
strict confidence, he continues. Otherwise, his ad-
visers would riot feel free to speak frankly and
without fear of their points of view being miscon-
- But Mozus, or Mozis, refuses to
reveal the nature of the confer-
ence, citing executive privilege.
H° explains that the chosen lead-
er of a group of people must seek
advice and counsel from a great
variety of. souirces, including Divine
These consultations m'Ist neces-
breach of confidentiality and that
the contents of the tablets should
therefore be made public.
Mozus, or Mozis, rejects the de-
mand, insisting that the tablets
were inscribed for historical pur:-
poses'. He says different people
reading the tablets might interpret
them in different ways.