AFTER FURTHER inquiry, we return to the matter of the peace groups, which we wrote about on Wednesday. We now believe that the available public record does not support our calling the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom a Soviet front, and we apologize for having done so. The question arose in connection with the advisory role being played by WILPF and by Women Strike for Peace in a new organization called Peace Links, and our apology extends to these groups as well. We do not mean to suggest that any of the groups advising Peace Links is a Soviet stooge.
Officials and members of WILPF and Women Strike for Peace have participated in activities of well-known international Soviet-dominated groups, the World Peace Council or the Women's International Democratic Federation. The American part in these activities, the American groups insist, involves only innocent attendance at meetings, exchanges of literature, and so on, and entails no Soviet funding or control.
The Department of State recently characterized the WILPF as an international front for the Soviet Union, and has designated the group as Communist-affiliated for purposes of granting visas to foreigners. However, the WILPF's American section of more than 10,000 members denies that the international organization is a front and says that, in any event, the American section is autonomous. The State Department confirms that its characterization of the group was not directed toward the American section.
Certainly there is no question of denying anyone's right to take part in international peace-group activities, or of questioning someone's loyalty on the basis of such participation. Nor does such activity justify a conclusion that the American groups are being "guided" by Kremlin wires.
Our anxiety goes to something else. Moscow often seeks to exploit Western citizens who, as private individuals, enter issue-oriented forums in which the Soviet bloc participants, while claiming to be otherwise, are creatures of the KGB. We are in no position to claim our own judgment is infallible. We do believe that at the heart of this issue lies a question of political judgment, and nothing more.