New York Times

Department of Justice Begins Searching Inquiry with a View to Prosecutions

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5. — Searching inquiry into the utterances of German language newspapers in the United States, socialistic magazines, and literature of so-called peace societies and associations, regarded as likely to lead to prosecution in some instances, is being conducted by the Department of Justice.

The department considers its position strengthened by the recent decision of Federal Judges Hough of New York and Speer of George in sustaining the action of Postmaster General Burleson in refusing privileges of the mails to The Masses and The Jeffersonian.

Recent utterances and activities of Mayer Thompson of Chicago and The Republican, a newspaper which supports him in connection with the so-called convention there of the People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace, are also being scrutinized.

The Department has held repeatedly that it is not its function to prohibit or to break up pacifist meetings or conventions, but a close scrutiny of the utterances of speakers and others at such meetings is maintained to determine violation of the Espionage act.

Included in the investigation of alleged seditious publication and others of a character regarded as open to question are individual newspapers and magazines published in German in this country and the advertising and other literature of the American Union Against Militarism, the People’s Council, the League of Conscientious Objectors, and other organizations affiliated with them or of a similar character.

The time is not far distant, in the opinion of some officials, when the Government will begin prosecutions. Hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles whose propriety is admittedly open to two interpretations have been placed before officials here. In most instances,  it is said, these articles have been cleverly worded so as to bring them virtually within the law, while at the same time creating the effect desired.

A large number of the articles and editorials under investigation do not attack the Government, but centre their criticism upon allies of the United States. What proceedings, if any, can be taken in these instances, it was said, depends wholly upon the wording of each article.


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