A Federal Case; 4
This is a federal case a weekly show that takes up an issue of government and takes a good look in Washington D.C. and still producing for the national educational radio network. And I'd like you to tell me first of all what's it like to serve in the Armed Services Committee. What Mendo reasons like is it your own. Well it's a very rational experience. You deal with proximately 60 percent of the national budget some 80 billion dollars annually. Mr Rivers is a. What might be called by some a typical Southern gentleman. He has certainly always responded to me in a gentlemanly fashion despite some of the published that he did.
You have heard about him. All in all it's a very exciting experience. That was Congressman Lucian adze from Michigan on this program you'll hear him talk about what it's like to be a member of the House Armed Services Committee the chairman of that committee is Mendell rivers. He's known in Washington as a friend of the Pentagon as a conservative Southerner and is a war hawk. Now Lucian adds he considers himself a dovish in this interview he'll explain what that means. But first of all he's a politician in Congress that's not a C and in fact it's absolutely essential. You don't get into Congress unless people vote for you. Being a politician also means that Congressman Ed S. knows how to answer questions without offending. You didn't hear him say anything bad about his chairman Mr. Rivers for example and being a Democratic politician it means that he is not especially happy with Nixon policies. And like most politicians Nancy operates in the
mainstream. You're not going to hear him say anything very radical very far to the left or the right. He's not so devilish for instance that he thinks we should get out of Vietnam this minute or that we shouldn't have a strong defense. If I may being a politician means never forgetting the people back home. Listen to him describe the district in Michigan that he represents. I have a very interesting district because it's composed of the very wealthy and the whole gamut of working class and lower working class middle working class middle income the extreme east and of my district are the growth points. Series of five communities which are essentially silk stocking. Harper Woods which is sort of a middle class neighborhood the
east side of Detroit which is also middle class. And if you go west it's working class including the city of him Kramnik which is a largely Polish population. I have a substantial number of Irish German Greeks Italians Belgium in the district so it's a very interesting district. Wonderful people. There's been a lot of talk about cutting our military budget recently. You probably heard it the arguments go that we could cut the military to spend more on our poor and our cities. Now this is the first year that Congress has even begun to take a look at how much money they give to the Pentagon without a murmur. Some 80 billion boxes Congressman Ed see mentioned you're going to hear Mr. Nancy talk about how the Armed Services Committee works and whether we are going to see genuine cuts in defense spending. How many are only too many. There are 40 members on the committee including
a representative of Puerto Rico sits without a vote but he has a permanent seat on the Armed Services Committee. The committee is divided. Twenty three Democrats and 17 Republicans. Have you become an expert on some aspect of the military. Oh I wouldn't hesitate to categorize myself as an expert in any field in the military except that for the last seven years and services on the Armed Services Committee we do develop a pretty broad knowledge of all military matters and this includes personnel and weaponry and some aspects of foreign of foreign affairs. It's difficult to anoint yourself as as an expert in these fields but I think it's very to say that if you possess any kind of intelligence at all some of it is
bound to seep in through the years because you do have this almost constant exposure. Do you need more experts and saying well this is another problem that exists on the Armed Services Committee at the present time. Unlike other committees where there is a partisan difference there as a republican side and the Democratic side then you have a majority in minority staff and the issues that come before these other committees are divided pretty much along partisan lines and the Armed Services Committee had to it's a bipartisan approach and in many respects this is extremely desirable when you're dealing with a matter as important as the as the defense of the country. The problem however comes in when when you try to get the other side of an issue put across. There is no minority staff while there is a minority on the
committee and I might add that this is a bipartisan minority. They do not have the assistance of the of staff which makes it so much more difficult for those of us and I consider myself one of those in the minority makes it so much more difficult for us to put forth. The other side of an issue in order that the members of the House can evaluate both sides and determine where the equities. Do you anticipate that there will be a minority staff on your committee. No I don't see that it is a practical thing at the present time for the simple reason that it's the minority on the committee is sort of blew it. We don't we can't agree on all things we just agree on some things.
And each of us has his own little area of interest and concern. And as I say some things we can agree on others you can't well how are you going to designate stack people. Do you assume this kind of role. Sometimes you win the minority sometimes when you're with the Make majority. I'm the last to say that majority has always been wrong. When that committee how many voted against the ABM when they final vote on the ABM this year has not been taken at this time. It's anticipated there will be eight members voting against it. As near as we can determine one could use that yes. Do you think there is a more critical tension being paid to the military within your means. Oh I don't think there's any question about it. I think that part of this
stems from the people. Congressmen and Senators are true representatives of the people and when there is a feeling of concern in the country this is reflected in the Congress. And it makes it easier for the individual members of Congress to make their views known on the on the subject. One of the problems in dealing with military matters is that there's so vast and. And difficult to thoroughly understand and as a consequence through the years members of Congress have just been intimidated by this tremendous spread of problems that exist in the military and they spend so much easier to accept the recommendations of the various both armed services committees and then when called upon to explain your vote you could say
that you just went along with the experts that you believed in a strong defense for the United States and not be subjected to the criticism that you're soft on communism where you want to give our country away to foreigners or things of this sort. For the first time in my tenure in Congress that feeling is disappearing and members are taking a more close look at what is going on. And indeed while I don't anticipate any final success in terms of halting the deployment of the ABM I think that this is the real value of the debate that has taken place. What about the future. Do you think there will be even more close scrutiny of the military that will result in cuts and certain kinds of military power. I don't think there's any question about it. Barring of course some kind. Conflagration that will unify the
people once again. What might be termed the military direction. But in the absence of some kind of major conflict that will require this kind of mobilization of our population I think that the military is going to be scrutinized very carefully and it has to be because there is such a tremendous amount of money being spent in this direction. Much of which should be diverted to the problems we have at home. I think that there will be some cuts in military spending simply because the majority also is beginning to see the absolute necessity of trimming down some of the vast expenditures that have been authorized in previous years so that even though the minority may think that we should go farther the majority is also inclined toward making some god. Now some of these cuts are both going to be accompanied by
increases in in other areas as for example the shipbuilding bill which which the chairman is proposing at the present time something in excess of 2 billion dollars while he's going to support some cuts in other areas that may equal that or exceed it. Nevertheless he is going to propose the increase however as a practical matter when this reaches conference with the Senate because the Senate has passed nothing of this kind. It will be trimmed down and the net result will be the defense budget something less than what the Defense Department has requested. Well Congressman rumors have a number of Navy and Army and therefore things the lessons from his state. Surely there must be some pressure exerted from those factions. Oh I don't think there's any question about that. And of course that's part of the problem with respect to the entire Armed Services Committee
most of the members aspired to the committee because they came from districts in which there were substantial military installations. And one has to concede that it's much easier for me to. Be somewhat critical of the military when I don't have any military installations in my in my district. On the other hand other members who have substantial installations have a constituency that is certainly oriented in another direction. And as I say that's part of the problem. Now listen as he discusses what he thinks is the trouble with this Republican administration when he gets into the anti-war sentiment and what he thinks is happening to that. I see you have a picture of Vice President Humphrey and your war we would hope these were. Yes I was but I want to see all the ways in which you think the country would have been different had he been alive. Well I'm going to have to be extremely candid.
Certainly I think that the Vice President Humphrey would would be more willing to speak out on some of the problems he he indicated a more. Double approach to the settlement of Vietnam particularly in the closing days of the end of the campaign. But on domestic matters I think that that his approach toward desegregation in the in the South would have been a little more strident. I think that he would not tolerate the kind of raising of prices that that is going on in our major industries today without a peep coming from the White House. That kind of moral leadership is absolutely essential if we're going to curb this horrible inflation that is
resetting the country at the present time. And one can't say that the Vice President Humphrey would would be solving all of the problems that exist in the country today. There are simply so great so gigantic that that it staggers the mind when you start addressing yourself to their solution because solving one problem creates frequently it can in its place. But I I do believe that the inclination to speak out on these things would be there and that's the greatest value of the presidency as I see it. How active have Nixon administration congressional liaison people down in trying to influence your votes on certain issues. I quickly reflect over the roof over recent months I cannot recall being contacted by the White House on any issue.
Of course you know the White House has not had too many issues of before the Congress this year. I think back I can't I can't recall any that were strictly inspired by the White House. Certainly there hasn't and there haven't been any specific bills presented which were labeled as White House bills. This is one of the things that most of us in Congress would like to see more done would have would be more appreciative of it. If the White House didn't send some more specific legislation to us rather than just general messages because it's it's one thing to be for or against certain general propositions and you know there are a I suppose that we could all agree on almost everything because we we all have the best interests of the country at heart.
Nobody likes poverty Nobody likes war but when it comes to putting these things into a legislative form then you have your difficulty and the Congress could use the assistance of all the experts that the president has at his command. Do you think the Nixon administration is not moving fast enough toward talks with the Russians. Yes I'm very concerned about the president making major foreign policy addresses and devoting a very small portion of those talks to. Just the international disarmament and I refer specifically to the talk given in Colorado and the one recently at the United Nations in both those cases. Attention to disarmament was was very modest. Let me ask you this. How much anti war mail Have you received.
Very little I think that the moves that the president has made while I find it extremely difficult to come up with a with a general policy as a result. Nevertheless the mood with respect to the activating the naval vessels lowering the drag cause. The stopping of the bombing momentarily. And statements coming from the White House these moves have succeeded. Whether they would be designed to do that or not I don't know but at least they have succeeded in throwing the opposition off balance and consequently I think that the people are at this time at least hopeful and they see some action some home and as a result they don't
express themselves in letters to members of Congress as they did several months ago. Let's get back once again to the the anti-war sentiment in this country. Why do you think that has it has come to exist. Primarily because of the kind of people you want your war that we are engaged and yet no doubts about the kinds of people that we're supporting there are in the in the Saigon government the general the porous the war but that is that has existed before. So it so that there is a difference of opinion this difference has been vocalized in the press on the radio and on television.
But I think there's another factor here that. It may be offensive to song but I think nevertheless it is it's important and that is the whole question of the student deferments from the draft. Well President Nixon has that that he would have bought the drive. And do you think that's I don't believe that's realistic. I would be opposed to it. Because I think we would be developing and he lead armed forces here that might possibly constitute a threat to our form of government and I think we're much better off diluting the armed forces through the infusion of civilian types. The driver does at the present time. The congressman now discusses the larger questions of whether we do need a strong defense or reorganization of the Pentagon or what the role of the military should be.
Do you feel that we need a strong defense. Or I don't think there's any question about that. Till such time as we can arrive at international agreements and here of course is where we do have the very difficult problems and this is the area in which I'm very concerned about how our present administration is is proceeding. But until such time as we can arrive at international understanding. I don't want to place my future in the hands of the Soviet Hawks any more than I want to place it in the hands of the Chinese hawks or American hawks. And this is the difficulty. There have been some proposals that the Department of Defense be changed to name at least of the Department of Peace. Do you think that's kind of a corny idea. Well I don't want the Department of Peace.
As I understand the proposal isn't to merely change the name of the Department of Defense but it's an operator to set up a separate cabinet post in order to make efforts at or increased efforts at peace in the world and certainly the goal of this kind of movement is very laudatory. However I I really think it would be assuming the responsibilities of the State Department primarily of the Defense Department and some of the president's prerogative and national defense. It's not corny but I think it's somewhat somewhat naive and I have reservations about it serving the real purpose that its proponents think it will. When we gave him that he thought that although there might be some cuts in military spending in some areas that this might be
balanced by an increase in other areas. Does that mean then that you personally believe that after the war is over that there won't be a significant cut in the military budget. That's a very difficult question to answer. I think there will be some cut in the military budget particularly if we're going to be able to cut down on the number of men that we have in the armed forces. This strangely enough is where are most of our money goes it costs us on the average of $10000 per man annually which of course means if we cut our military forces by a million one hundred thousand men that's a billion dollars. If you project that to a million men and get it down to what our prewar forces were somewhere in the neighborhood of two and a half million man you can see that you have a
10 billion dollar savings right there which theoretically would be available for local programs internal programs. I say theoretically because traditionally this same willingness to spend money on our cities is not there. There is in spending money. The area of defense he would favor those kind of cuts after the war. Oh absolutely I think that again so much however depends upon what what kind of understanding we arrive at with other countries. You get where we are right back to what we where we were when I started. I responded to your question about a strong defense. I think the country does have to be prepared. Unfortunately there are hawks and doves in all the capitals of the
world and I don't trust them. Regardless of where they are I think I know I know I trust our own hawks here more than than I do Hox in other capitals because I think here the people have some control over them. Unfortunately in other areas governments are different than the people don't control them and more independent action can be taken on their part. And I certainly don't want to place this country in the position of being exposed to the whims and intentions of. Hawks abroad if you can imagine a pretty ideally set up Department of Defense say five years from now how would it look. I hesitate to give a given off the cuff response to that I haven't really thought about it because I never felt that I would be in a position to set up an
ideally set up Defense Department. Why not. Perhaps I should and make some some feeble efforts in that direction. I don't think that there is anything really basically wrong with the organization of the Defense Department. I'm a little concerned about the expressed intention on the part of the president secretary of defense to. Grant more autonomy to the individual secretaries because I think this defeats the idea of a secretary of defense which as I understand it is to sort of listen to all of the secretaries and then make a decision in the national interest based upon that information rather than have each individual department go its own way. This is the idea of the Defense Department I think its very good. Basically the organization of the Defense
Department is some it's a question of how this is going to be administered and what kind of orders are going to be issued by the commander in chief in the White House. So you think we can have a plan a strong bonds with an anti-ballistic missile system as long as we have some meaningful disarmament thought for the Russians. Oh yes well as a matter of fact we do have a very effective defensive system and I anti-body who says that our retaliatory power is not credible at the present time is just speaking fairy tales because. We still go I think with the argument that our power credible
player Mr. Ned's he is not talking fairy tales but although he is sitting on the Armed Services Committee as a dissenter and as a liberal he does believe in a strong defense. He does vote with the majority of his committee sometimes. He is very aware of some kind of communist threat and actually he does not really give great hope to the Congress watchers who say we will see large cuts in military spending in the near future. Or did those people in the country who would like to see our military organization literally reorganized. It is sad that we don't have more Lucian neds hes on the Armed Services Committee and it is also sad that we dont have Congressman who are even more outspoken critics.
- A Federal Case
- Episode Number
- Producing Organization
- National Educational Radio Network
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- "A Federal Case" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-38-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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