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Court Ruling on Noriega Tapes

December 01, 1990

In response to "Court Heads in a Dark Direction," editorial, Nov. 20:

I am sorry to disagree with you regarding the CNN-Noriega situation. I customarily agree with Justice Thurgood Marshall's views and yours on these subjects.

But the issue presented is not a First Amendment issue at all. If one falls into the trap of comparing the Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights of an accused with the First Amendment rights against prior restraint, one is in the impossible situation of comparing constitutional rights and prohibitions. An important constitutional principle will suddenly become second best.

The accused was an accused before the stealing of his private conversations occurred. His rights existed prior to the consideration or the existence of any other right. If we permit the theft, by anyone, of an accused's private property, and the subsequent use of that property, chaos results with district attorneys and newspapers competing for the best thieves and telephone tappers that money can buy.

No, the government attorneys must be disbarred or suspended for substantial periods. They cheated. Where is the editorial about their reprehensible conduct?

MERLE H. HORWITZ

Los Angeles

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