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August 12, 1978 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-08-12

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The Michigan Daily-Saturday, August 12, 1978-Page 9
American admits Letelier murder

WASHINGTON (AP) - Michael
Townley, an American expatriate,
pleaded guilty yesterday to taking part
in the plot to assassinate Orlando
Letelier, a former Chilean diplomat
who was killed when a bomb exploded
in his car here in 1976.
In a plea bargaining arrangement
with the government, Townley, 35,
pleaded guilty to a single count of con-
spiracy to kill a foreign official.
HE ALSO AGREED to be the gover-
nment's key witness in its case against
three high Chilean secret police of-
ficials and five anti-Castro Cuban
exiles. In exchange for this, Townley
will get a 10-year prison sentence and
the possibility of parole after three
years and four months.
After hearing Townley give a detailed
account of his role in the assassination,
U.S. District Judge Barrington Parker
said he accepted the agreement in the
interest of justice. However, Parker
declined to sentence Townley im-
mediately, and gave no explanation of
why he was deferring the sentencing.
Last week, Parker declined to accept
Townley's plea because the judge said
he needed more time to examine the
agreement and the indictment in the
case and wished to act, he said, out of
an abundance of caution.
PARKER REPEATEDLY asked
Townley whether he was aware that he
was waiving his constitutional right to
an indictment, a jury trial, and even the
right to appeal by pleading guilty
yesterday.

"I understand fully, your honor,"
Townley replied. He said he acted
without coercion.
U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert told
Parker that without Townley's
cooperation, the case against the others
would collapse, even though Silbert
said the government is prepared to put
scores of other witnesses on the stand to
corroborate Townley's testimony.
SILBERT, NOTING that the charge
against Townley carries a maximum
sentence of life in prison, compared the
case to the Watergate prosecution in
which the government attorney was
also involved.
Silbert said the murder of Leteler
was the work of a tight-knit conspiracy
of the type that requires inside infor-
mation if the case is to be cracked.

"To obtain this vital testimony, we
had to be prepared togive," he said.
WITHOUT THE testimony of
Townley, the government couldn't
make its case, Silbert added. "He is in-
dispensable."
Townley's lawyer, Seymour Glanzer,
said that Townley consulted with high
Chilean officials after his arrest and
that they released him from an
obligation to remain silent.
Glanzer added that the decision to
cooperate was solely Townley's.
As part of the agreement, the gover-
nment also said it would "make
provisions for the safety and well-
being" of Townley's family.
IN DESCRIBING his activities in the
days leading up to Letelier's death,
Townley said he carefully checked on

the former diplomat's movements in
Washington, then purchased some ar-
ticles such as baking tins and friction
tape, to complete assembly of the
bomb.
"I assembled the device. I placed the
device myself in Letelier's car while it
was parked outaide his home," Townley
said.
When asked by Parker if he knew the
bomb would explede, Townley said he
had some doubts. "I thought I pushed
the safety switch to the off position and
taped it. There was a question in my
mind, if it slipped back, to the on
position," he said.
Townley said he got word that the
assassination plot had succeeded after
he arrived in Miami after planting the
bomb. Townley said he then informed
the Chilean intelligence agency that
Letelier was dead.

Books:,In His Image
(Continued from Pages8)

Summer Arts
Staff
OWEN GLEIBERMAN
Arts Editor
STAFF WRITERS: Michael Baadke, Karen
Bornstein, Peter Manis, Stephen Pickover,
Christopher Potter, Eric Smith, R. J. Smith,
Kerry Thompson, TimYagle.

the DNA from the egg is removed and
replaced by, not a sperm cell con-
taining half the needed DNA, but an in-
testinal cell from any other frog. The
intestinal cell has the full amount of
DNA, so the pronuclei aren't needed.
The new baby frog has all the genes
from the frog which donated the in-
testinal cell. This means the tadpole, as
far as physical structure and genetic
structure are concerned, is an exact
replica of the donor frog. The resulting
tadpole is a clone.
The consequences of this procedure,
if applied to humans, are staggering.
Two Richard Nixons. Two or more
Cheryl Tiegs. A Laurence Olivier for
every theater in the country.
But there are several major obstacles
which make these frightening and
joyous possibilities highly unlikely. It is
terribly difficult, under the correct
conditions and with special equipment,
to remove the DNA from an egg, and to
fuse the egg and cell with fully-
complemented DNA. But it is difficult
for division of the embryo to continue
past a certain multi-celled stage. Most,
abort after a few days.

S CIENTISTS DO NOT know much
about the processes which cause
cell division to continue. Does
something in the egg "activate" the in-
testinal cell DNA, making it suddenly
capable of initiating and nurturing life?
If one pricks an egg, is it capable of
beginning to divide by itself, irrespec-
tive of whether it has the full amount of
DNA?
Might this step be connected in some
way as an ignition step? If so, when
does the other nucleus take over, if at
all? Scientists are still looking for the
answers to these and other questions.
Even assuming that a clone is born
(the embryo would be transplanted into
a surrogate mother), to duplicate the
exact upbringing of the original donor
is impossible. The clone would be in-
fluenced by different environmental
factors, different food, different
history, different stimuli. Rorvik
discusses research indicating that a
clone would be mentally closer to its
donor than identical twins are to each
other-but this point is disputed.
Rorvik's tall tale consists of the
following: A rich orphaned
businessman, called Max, after reading
extensively on cloning, calls Rorvik and
asks him to find a doctor who would be
willing to clone him. He will set up all
the necessary facilities and is prepared
to pay one million dollars or more. Ror-
vik hems and haws, but finally accepts
the offer.
An emotionally immature doctor is
located and the research begins.
Surrogate mothers are selected, human
eggs are removed after injecting a fer-
tility drug into women about to undergo
surgery for tubal litigations, and a
clone is born.
T HIS BOOK MIGHT make a good
suspense thriller if Rorvik hadn't
used ninty;five percent of it for
philosophizing, discussing his battered
conscience, to clone or not to clone.
Despite use of quotations from respec-
ted scientists and theologians Rorvik's
quaint and humorless phrasing -,is
tedious to the point of nausea. "Dr.
Callahan wished, and wished
desperately, it seems to me, that
Kass-or anyone for that matter-could
once and for all prove what the essence
of humanity was ... I shared, that
wish. I wondered how long this period of
self-interpretation would perisit (we
were still wondering on page 200). I

wondered if it might never end, won-
dered if, indeed, the essence of
humanity might be not to know and
thus always feel compelled to test the
waters-to steal fire from heaven, as
I'd said before, in perpetual hope of
discovering what did not exist: the
I limits of humaness." The orchestra
swells as Rorvik and clone walk into the
test tube.
It is intriguing (and perhaps not coin-
cidential) that the book should be
published when the test tube baby scare
is at apeak. Rorvik talks of Dr. Shettles
and the problem at Columbia Univer-
sity, where his superior Dr. Wiele had
"destroyed a test-tube specimen con-
taining, he (Shettles) said, the sperm
and egg of a Florida dentist and his
wife, a patient of Dr. William J.
Sweeny."
He also mentions Dr. Bevis at the
University of England at Leeds who
passed around a press release prior to a
talk he was to give the British Medical
Association which stated that he had
acheived three in vitro fertilizations
from women who had fallopian tube
blockage and had successfully tran-
splanted the three embryos into the
mothers who conceived normally.
The fact that the media sen-
sationalized the simple, useful and
harmless process of in vitro fer-
tilization, thus causing a public uproar,
does help defend Rorvik's "caution" in
reporting more specific details of the
experiment.
However, what is the use of telling
half a secret? Once it's known, the rest
of the information only serves to sub-
stantiate, not hinder the teller's
veracity. Of course, he absolves him-
self from criticism by being the first to
admit that "I entertain absolutely no
expectations from anyone, scientist or
layman, will accept this book as proof
of the events described herein . . . I
hope, however, that many readers will
be persuaded of the possibility, even the
probability of what I have
described ... "I became aware of the
possibility and probability when I read
Robert Heinlein's science fiction novel,
Time Enough for Love, a book which
involves cloning and rejuvenation. A
fiction, just like Rorvik's.
Stephen Pickover is a recent LSA
graduate whose knowledge of
zoology is exceeded only by his sen-
se of the dramatic.

Film: Laura Mars

(ContinuedfromPages)
petrifyingly vapid and giggly as the
prime objects of Laura's lens. The
talented Rene Auberjonois is ex-
cruciatingly miscast as Laura's
swishy, gratingly unpleasant business
manager, though he does manage to
squeeze in a one-second Lloyd Bridges
imitation that is by default the best
thespian moment in the film.
NOW AND THET a dwarf
mysteriously appears on the scene clad
in tux or business suit, hts presence
perhaps meant to symbolize the
decadence and perversity of Laura's
world. To point out t e such an
anatomical elitism never worked even
for Fellini is perhaps lending Peters
and Kirshner too mugh creative
credence, since Eyes displays no real
evidence of any coherent intent,
thematic or judgemental-

Which brings us back to the original
question: just why was this -vapidly
mechanical tribute to blankness con-
cocted in the first place? Though Eyes
of Laura Mars' deficiencies surely exist
through ineptitude rather than some
exitentialist intent, I still wonder if this
film might prove a significant and
baleful augury of this already wretched
cinema year.
Many modest-budget "art" films are
chronically (and sometimes justly) ac-
cused of championing inconsequence,
of exaulting monotonous pointlessness
at the expense of their audiences. Is it
conceivable that big-budget Hollywood,
mired in its surrent and frantic quest
for escapism, has inadvertently begun
to land four-square on this same murky-
gray target? At least disasters like The
Betsy or House Calls contain fat, ob-
vious targets for one to critically pun-
cture; Doing the same to Eyes of Laura
Mars is like trying to slug it out with an
unimaginative but leeringly amorphous
ghost.

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