WASHINGTON (Sep. 24)
A confrontation between the Ford Administration and Congress regarding the Arab boycott of American firms which deal with Israel or which are managed by Jews appears certain after Secretary of Commerce Rogers Morton refused to reveal the names of U.S. companies that may be involved in the boycott.
Morton has told the House Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigation that Attorney General Edward H. Levi had given him an opinion that the law barred disclosure of “proprietary information” unless the national interest required it. He made the statement Monday after Rep. John E. Moss (D.Calif.), the subcommittee chairman, asked him why he had ignored a committee subpoena for reports made by the companies to the Commerce Department. The reports are believed to tell of contacts the companies have had since 1969 with Arab nations seeking their support in the boycott.
The subcommittee will meet early next week to decide on several courses open to it. One is to hold Morton in contempt of Congress; another is to obtain a list of the companies and send them questionnaires on the contacts a third possibility is for the subcommittee to proceed to determine the accuracy of documents it has available to it.
A subcommittee source told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that stockholders have the right to know whether the companies in which they have invested are participating or did participate in such a boycott. If they have not been so informed the companies’ failure is a probable violation of the Securities and Exchange Commission Act. The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Congress, in separate actions, have filed suits demanding that Morton make public the names of U.S. firms involved in the Arab boycott.