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NCJ Number: 68357 Find in a Library
Title: WATERGATE LEGISLATION IN RETROSPECT - REMARKS
Author(s): B R CIVILETTI
Corporate Author: US Dept of Justice
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 16
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20531
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: FOUR LAWS CREATED IN THE WAKE OF WATERGATE--THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PRIVACY ACTS, THE TAX REFORM ACT, THE ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT ACT, AND THE RIGHT TO FINANCIAL PRIVACY ACT--ARE REVIEWED.
Abstract: BENJAMIN R. CIVELETTI, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL ARGUES THAT THESE ACTS, WHILE NECESSARY AND GOOD IN THEIR INTENT, ARE OVERZEALOUS AND CAN HAMPER THE SERVICE OF JUSTICE AND IMPEDE GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY. THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACTS, FOR INSTANCE, WERE ENACTED IN RESPONSE TO THE INFAMOUS 'ENEMIES LISTS' CREATED DURING THE NIXON ADMINISTRATION. THE ACT ATTEMPTED TO BALANCE THE NEED FOR OPENNESS IN AGENCY INVESTIGATIVE ACTIVITIES AGAINST THE SPECIFIC NEEDS OF GOVERNMENT TO WITHHOLD CERTAIN RECORDS. ITS PROBLEMS, HOWEVER, INCLUDE ITS INABILITY TO PREVENT CRIMINALS FROM DISCOVERING HOW CRIME IS INVESTIGATED, ITS UNREALISTIC TIME LIMITS FOR A RESPONSE TO A RECORDS REQUEST, AND THE MANPOWER AND TIME COSTS INHERENT IN ITS APPLICATION. THE TAX REFORM ACT PLACED STRICT REQUIREMENTS ON THE PROCESS OF DISCLOSING TAX INFORMATION TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. UNFORTUNATELY, WHILE PROTECTING INNOCENT TAXPAYERS, THE LAW ALSO PROTECTS WHITE-COLLAR AND ORGANIZED CRIMINALS. THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS) IS PREVENTED FROM FORWARDING VITAL FINANCIAL INFORMATION ON THESE CRIMINALS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, AND IT IS FURTHERMORE PREVENTED FROM REPORTING NON-TAX-RELATED CRIMES, DISCOVERED IN THE COURSE OF IRS AUDITING, TO THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. THE ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT ACT REQUIRES THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO CONDUCT A PRELIMINARY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION FOR VIOLATIONS BY CERTAIN EXECUTIVE BRANCH OFFICIALS AND TO APPOINT A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IN CERTAIN INSTANCES. HOWEVER, THE ACT COVERS SO MANY OFFICIALS FOR SO LONG A TIME PERIOD AND CONVERS SO MANY CRIMES THAT ITS PROPER ENFORCEMENT IS PROHIBITIVE IN TERMS OF MONEY AND TIME. FINALLY, THE RIGHT TO FINANCIAL PRIVACY ACT IS MEANT TO CRIMP AGENCIES' ABILITY TO OBTAIN PERSONAL FINANCIAL INFORMATION FOR IMPROPER PURPOSES. IT MANDATES THAT REQUESTS FOR FINANCIAL INFORMATION MUST BE MADE FORMALLY, THE INDIVIDUAL INVOLVED MUST BE NOTIFIED, AND TRANSFERS OF FINANCIAL RECORDS FROM ONE AGENCY TO ANOTHER FOLLOW PRESCRIBED PROCEDURES. IN EFFECT, IT HAS REDUCED THE WILLINGNESS OF FINANCIAL ORGANIZATIONS TO COOPERATE IN INVESTIGATIONS AND FORCES USE OF COMPULSORY PROCESS TO OBTAIN RECORDS. STILL OTHER PROBLEMS OCCUR WITH THESE ACTS. THEY SHOULD BE EXAMINED NOW THAT THE WATERGATE TRAUMA IS SUBDUED; THEIR STRONG FEATURES SHOULD BE RETAINED, THEIR WEAKNESSES REFORMED. (JLF)
Index Term(s): Federal regulations; Freedom of Information Act; Legal privacy protection; Professional conduct and ethics; United States of America
Note: PRESENTED AT THE ANNUAL DINNER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LAW SCHOOL AND ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, APRIL 25, 1980, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68357

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