Three years ago, during confirmation hearings on his nomination as attorney general, Edwin Meese was run over the coals by Senate Democrats for what they viewed as a history of corruption. cronyism and insensitivity to minorities. Little did the libs know then about Edwin Meese, humanitarian. Had they realized the truth, his confirmation might have been a breeze.
For those in doubt. Meese has been demonstrating his thoughtful and caring side in two current affairs. The first is that of Karl Linnas.
Poor Karl was sentenced to death by the Russians in absentia 25 years ago for atrocities allegedly committed as commandant of a Nazi concentration camp in occupied Estonia. In 1981, a federal district court in New York ruled that the evidence "overwhelmingly supported" the Soviet charges, and stripped Linnas of U.S. citizenship for omitting his Nazi past when applying for immigration in 1951.
Linnas was a cause celebre of Eastern European emigre groups who, with vocal support from former Reagan adviser and speechwriter Patrick Buchanan, impugned the reliability of Soviet claims and lobbied for a shutdown of the Justice Department's search for resident war criminals.
Attorney General Meese responded by seeking a friendlier haven for Linnas. Last week it appeared that Panama, stung by threats of withdrawal of U.S. aid for a lackluster campaign against drug traffickers, would in the words of its ambassador grant asylum "on humanitarian grounds" to the man accused of crimes against humanity. But the otter was rescinded, and the Supreme Court cleared the way for handing Linnas a one-way ticket to Moscow.
It's his compassion for a foreign guest failed to convince Americans of Ed Meese's humanitarian core, surely his valiant efforts to improve life in the depressed South Bronx will change minds. I'm referring to Meese's intervention, while counselor to the president in 1982, on behalf of the Bronx defense contractor, Wedtech Corp.
In 1982, Meese was in close touch with his longtime friend and personal lawyer, Bob Wallach. Wedtech had hired Wallach that same year. The following year Wallach would receive some $600,000 in stock for promoting Wedtech's case in Washington for a no-bid $32 million contract to supply the Army with engines. But in 1982, the Army was not about to sign. Enter Ed Meese.
After receiving half-a-dozen memos from Wallach, Meese instructed his staff to see what they could do to help. Ever concerned about the little guy, he assigned Deputy Presidential Counselor Jim Jenkins the task of convening a pow-wow involving Wedtech. the Army and the Small Business Administration. Following the meeting, the Army dropped its objections and awarded the Bronx firm its richest contract up to that time.