National Affairs: THE DEBATE ON WIRETAPPING

Congress Must Make New Rules for the FBI

Congress may have thought it less important that some offenders should go unwhipped of justice than that officers should resort to methods deemed inconsistent with ethical standards and destructive of personal liberty.

IN those ringing words, pronounced by Justice Owen Roberts in 1937, the U.S. Supreme Court (Justices Sutherland and McReynolds dissenting) upset a smuggling conviction on the ground that essential evidence in the case against the smugglers had been obtained by wiretapping. Since then, the ban on wiretap evidence in federal courts has stuck, shielding not only smugglers but members of Communist espionage rings.

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