A Beginning

THE INDICTMENT Friday of seven of President Nixon's former top aides for conspiracy to obstruct justice, perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to the FBI is an important and welcome step in the right direction, and we share Nixon's hope for quick impartial trials. Presumably there will soon be more indictments, for burglary and other crimes, and there should be quick impartial trials for those, too. But the Watergate grand jury left a number of important figures more or less associated with the Watergate investigations unindicted and in some cases uninvestigated, even though there seem to be solid grounds for suspecting them of crimes even more serious than those in Friday's bill of indictment. These men should be brought to trial, too, by indictment or impeachment:

Jerry W. Friedheim. Friedheim's connection with the Watergate investigation is admittedly a bit tenuous, so in one sense he doesn't belong here at all. But in another sense he belongs with the men indicted for trying to cover up the plumbers' unit's subversive activities, because as press secretary to the Pentagon, Friedheim tried to cover up the continuing bombing of Cambodia. When American bombers destroyed the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi in December 1972, Friedheim acknowledged that there might have been minor incidental damage to "the hospital the enemy calls Bach Mai." If conspiring to cover up a burglary by lying to the FBI is grounds for indictment, then so is conspiring to cover up a wave of terror-bombing by lying to the American people.

Harold S. Geneen. Among the plumbers' unit's activities was spiriting Dita Beard, a lobbyist for International Telephone and Telegraph, away from reporters inquiring into ITT's contributions to Nixon's re-election campaign. The gifts were apparently intended to get an anti-trust suit dropped--as it later was, at Nixon's personal insistence. ITT's President Geneen should probably come to trial for bribery. But just as some of the alleged Watergate consirators should have been tried years ago for other matters--things like ordering illegal mass arrests of political dissenters, as John N. Mitchell did during the Mayday demonstrations of 1970--the most serious charges against Geneen aren't related to Watergate at all. They have to do with his company's admitted attempt to foment disorder in Chile in 1970, and the improper influence it and companies like it evidently exerted in getting the United States to offer the tacit support to the Chilean government's opponents that helped make September's coup possible. Geneen may be an accessory before the fact to the political killings Chilean generals have carried on since then, in part to protect ITT's profits.

Alexander Haig was one of the generals who ran the Indochina war. In the last year, he's become one of President Nixon's chief advisers, helping to preside over the Nixon's administration's apparent attempts to obstruct the course of justice in the Watergate investigation.

Jake Jacobsen. As the agent of the modern-day dairy trust, Jacobsen was instrumental in its negotiations with the Nixon administration for a hike in the price of milk--negotiations that became smoother after the industry made a large donation to the re-election campaign. Like Geneen, he should be tried for bribery.

Henry A. Kissinger '50. Last spring, Nixon asked Kissinger to ask for public understanding. The effect was a bit tarnished when, a week later, Kissinger was caught secretly wiretapping his subordinates. But Kissinger is implicated in more serious crimes than that. His apparently genuine service to peace in the Middle East in the last few months doesn't bring to life the Indochinese children his foreign policy killed--and if his new diplomatic efforts are motivated by the same concern for stability, whatever its cost in human blood and aspirations, that lay behind his Indochina policy, they're not even reassuring for the future.

Richard G. Kleindienst '47. As attorney general, Kleindienst agreed to drop the ITT antitrust suit. He was a top Justice Department aide during Mitchell's early assaults on civil liberties, and he may run into some trouble soon for possible obstruction of justice with another grand jury--the one investigating the Kent State killings of 1970. Kleindienst tried to bury that investigation, just as Haldeman and Ehrlichman tried to bury theirs.

Richard M. Nixon. The grand jury evidently had more than enough to indict him if he'd been a private citizen, and, if only because it just investigated Watergate, it barely scratched the surface. In fact, the most substantive issue the House Judiciary Committee was looking into, Nixon's illegal and secret bombing of Cambodia (secret in the United States--the Cambodians knew about it), seems to be vanishing from the public eye. Nevertheless, Nixon carried on and through native surrogates continues to carry on the undeclared and probably illegal war begun by his predecessors in the White House, a war which has killed a million and a half people and kills more every day.

Elliot L. Richardson '41. Richardson won praise from liberals throughout the United States for his resigning after Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox '34. In the excitement, they forgot his performance as secretary of defense--his approval of the Christmas terror-bombing which they rightly denounced at the time as unconstitutional, illegal and murderous. Some liberals have short memories; Vietnamese with friends and relatives who died that Christmas probably remember better.

Gerald R. Warren. As Nixon's deputy press secretary, Warren has consistently prevaricated, lied, and generally helped cover things up.

Ronald L. Ziegler. It's tough to make Gerald Warren look like George Washington, but Ziegler does his best. He's also Nixon's chief adviser these days, by many accounts, which means he's managing to add the power of a Haig to the servility of a Friedheim.

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This list isn't exhaustive by any means, though it indicates the kinds of people an impartial system of justice ought to be looking into. There's no mention on it of Gerald R. Ford, for example. As minority leader of the House, Ford was consistent and instrumental in his support for the Indochina war. So were lots of other people, of course, but since Ford is now next in line for the presidency, he's a convenient and unusually important representative example. Ford's other public acts--his consistent opposition to social welfare programs and his call for the impeachment of Justice Douglas for writing an article in Evergreen Review--would be enough by themselves to make opposing him (next week when he comes to speak at the Harvard Republican Club, for example) important. But these acts aren't criminal. Waging aggressive war is, and it's important to consider whether financing it--as Ford and his less powerful colleagues may have done--is too.

Many people would like to let the sleeping dogs of war lie still. But dismissing them is like saying, as President Nixon says, that a year of Watergate is enough. He's right, but the responsibility for the inquiry lies with the criminals, not the investigators. While the people responsible for past actions, holding the assumptions that led to the past actions, remain in power, there can be no forgetting of the past, no amnesty that lets killers kill again.

Amnesty should come only when the American people have insured that presidents' men will no longer bug the opposition's headquarters, burgle psychiatrists' offices, offer judges bribes, or bomb villages filled with innocent people and throw soldiers fighting for their country's liberation from helicopters. Restoring justice may be a radical and painful process, but it should start now. Friday's indictments should be only the beginning.