Put Out the Wick


"WE ARE NOT here to impeach Mr. Wick or to cause him additional pain," said Rep. Jack Brooks (D-Texas) during a House Subcommittee Meeting last week, adding, "certainly, he and his associates have done a good enough job of that already." Brooks is certainly half right. Last week's revelation that the United States Information Agency (USIA) had blacklisted Coretta Scott King, Sen. Gary W. Hart (D-Colo.). Walter Cronkite, Ralph Nader and Brooks himself from a government-sponsored speaking tour has publically embarrassed the agency. Harvard Professors John Kenneth Galbrath. Jorge I. Dominguez and Richard N. Cooper were also deemed untrustworthy by the list. With a large appropriation of money about to be given to the agency for a new worldwide video program, such McCarthyite tendencies must be nipped in the bud. But Brooks is generous when he says heads shouldn't roll--they most emphatically should.

It is extremely serious that USIA counsel Thomas E. Harvey threw out the damning evidence of the blacklist, and more serious still that Wick accepted his assurance that the action was "both legally proper and taken in order to correct improper management practices involved in the selection of speakers." Destroying government documents, especially when they're real activities undertaken during the '50s (one hopes) is not management practice, it is governmental malpractice. Wick reportedly knew the lists had been destroyed--a fact which makes the entire process still more heinous. All against the backdrop of continuing revelations of Wick's nation-wide taping extravaganza that has now been discovered to lead as far as California. If the policies of the agency itself should come under scrutiny, the inventors of that policy, and their counsel, whose personal transgressions now seem as serious as the possible transgressions of their agency, must also be examined.

Far from sparing Wick more pain. Congress should defend the integrity of the USIA; the House subcomittee ought to be meeting on impeaching Wick and his counsel Harvey; and their resolution should be in favor.