Antiwar Groups in Cambridge File Suit Against Government

Two Cambridge antiwar organizations, a civil liberties fund, and a military counseling service filed suit Friday in U.S.District Court charging that Federal, state and local officials had tapped their telephones.

The suit, filed on behalf of Mass Pax, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), the Legal In-Service Project and the Civil Liberties Legal Defense Fund, will attempt to halt the alleged electronic surveillance and will ask damages fees of $100 per day since the four organizations say they discovered the wiretaps and $50,000 for "exemplary damages."

Kleindienst and John Doe

U.S. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst is one of the 13 people being sued. The list also includes William E. Williams, district director of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service; Cambridge Police Chief James Reagan; the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company and John Doe, an unknown Federal agent.

When the organizations suspected the wiretap last February, they tested the phones with a relative field strength meter, designed by Clyde Wallace, owner of the Spy Shop in Washington, D.C. The meter revealed the presence of a radio frequency used only for wiretapping on all of the telephones at 67 Winthrop St., Cambridge, where the four organizations had offices. Wallace retested the phones Thursday and said he found the radio signal "still emanating."

Proof is Conclusive

Roger Parks, the attorney prosecuting the suit, said the proof that the phones were tapped is so conclusive that it will not even be an issue in the case. Instead, the prosecution will try to establish that the surveillance was illegal and show that the government was responsible for it.

"This case will test whether the government has an obligation to the people to account for its surveillance efforts," he said.

Park said he expects the case to come to trial within two months, but "of course it depends upon how much time the government wants to spend claiming executive rights before the trial."