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Archive for the ‘Nixon’ Category

Noted with boredom: the smoking gun on the wiretapping scandal

Posted by Charles II on June 6, 2013

Not that we shouldn’t be shocked and angry.

So, DemocracyNow covered the story in 2005, and I quoted them here:

The NSA, on the other hand, does it wholesale, where they take entire streams of communications coming down from satellites, which can contain millions of communications… So that’s emails, faxes, telephone calls, cellular calls and so forth….Now, they’ve admitted it’s the wiretapping and investigation of people within the United States, domestic calls to domestic calls.

And today, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian:

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

Jessalyn Radack, a director at the Government Accountability Project, has a pretty good summary of the whistleblowers who have been trying to protect Americans from this wildly illegal and unconstitutional program.

Among Washington Democrats, there have been two who have responded with concern: Mark Udall and Ron Wyden. Obama thinks he’s made mass wiretapping legal because he gets rubberstamp warrants. But surely, to qualify as a warrant, a judicial determination has to be more specific than everybody. And the usual clods, like Dianne Feinstein, are defending this massive intrusion into our lives by saying, all they are collecting is the “metadata”: who contacts who, when, by what means, and what public documents they look at. But of course, someone incompetent or of ill intent can use that metadata to do great harm to the innocent.

Scorecard: 280 million Americans wiretapped. According to Republican Mike Rogers, exactly one terrorist attack prevented. How many innocent people suffered bad consequences, and what were those consequences? Is the NSA warehousing the content of the calls even if they don’t initially listen in (answer: almost certainly yes)? And what is the potential for abuse if another Richard Nixon gains power?

Those are the questions that ought to be asked.

Anyway, not to take anything away from Glenn Greenwald or the brave people who leaked this. It’s just that the American people seem to be deaf to issues like this. It’s they, not I, who have noted these depredations against the Constitution with boredom.

Posted in abuse of power, Nixon, NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 12 Comments »

Oh, so that’s why Nixon ordered the Plumbers to blow the safe at Brookings

Posted by Charles II on June 12, 2012

He thought that the file which would reveal his treasonous deal to prevent Johnson from attaining an end to the Vietnam War was at Brookings.

See? When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.

Posted in Nixon, Republicans as cancer | 2 Comments »

The One Party State: the True History of Watergate

Posted by Charles II on May 22, 2012

Bob Parry has a good, if somewhat long read on what really happened at Watergate up at Consortium News.

The gist of it was that the Watergate break-in of 1972 had as its main goal ensuring that McGovern was nominated despite the efforts of the Democratic regulars to prevent that from happening. After McGovern was in fact nominated, the regulars disloyally refused to support him, guaranteeing the re-election of Richard Nixon. When Watergate broke, the regulars did everything they could to sabotage the civil suit filed by the DNC against Nixon’s Re-elect Committee and ultimately installed uber-fixer Robert Strauss as party leader, from which position Strauss led the Democratic Party into decline. It is difficult to read Parry’s narration of the story without concluding that the Democratic Party was destroyed from within.

As an aside, the Democratic regulars believed–wrongly–that somehow the RFK/McGovern insurgent wing of the party had foiled Hubert Humphrey’s election. In reality, Hubert Humphrey was his own worst enemy. Even Nixon’s treason–and I use the word in its strict constitutional sense–in conducting unauthorized negotiations with the Vietnamese to block a settlement of the war did not have as much impact on the election as the clubbing of anti-war protesters on the streets of Chicago. Yes, many RFK supporters sat out the election, but they did not do so at the request of the Kennedy family or George McGovern. They were just exercising their right to vote or not vote for the person of their choice.

So was the fall of the Democratic Party a tragedy, the result of a misunderstanding by the regulars that they had to win the loyalty of their voters? Or did it represent the rise of the one-party state, in which neither conservatives nor liberals have any real representation in government?

Whatever one believes the goal of Watergate was, its effect was to greatly narrow the differences between the parties as they sought corporate money instead of people power to win elections.

Posted in crimes, history, Nixon, ratf*cking | 3 Comments »

Nixon’s Treason

Posted by Charles II on March 3, 2012

Treason is very specifically defined in the Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Robert Parry, The Consortium:

Relying on national security wiretaps of the South Vietnamese Embassy in Washington and surveillance of right-wing China Lobby activist Anna Chennault, Johnson concluded that Nixon’s Republican presidential campaign was colluding with South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu to derail the Paris peace talks and thus deny a last-minute boost to Democratic presidential nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

At the time, Johnson thought a breakthrough was near, one that could have ended a war which had already claimed the lives of more than 30,000 American troops and countless Vietnamese. Nixon, like Humphrey, was receiving briefings on the progress as the negotiations gained momentum in October 1968.

The Johnson administration was encouraged when North Vietnam agreed on a framework for peace talks. However, America’s South Vietnamese allies began to balk over details about how the negotiations would be conducted, objecting to any equal status for the South Vietnamese Viet Cong insurgents.

“Top Secret” reports from the National Security Agency informed President Johnson that South Vietnam’s President Thieu was closely monitoring the political developments in the United States with an eye toward helping Nixon win the Nov. 5 election.

For instance, an Oct. 23, 1968, report – presumably based on NSA’s electronic eavesdropping – quotes Thieu as saying that the Johnson administration might halt the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam as part of a peace maneuver that would help Humphrey’s campaign but that South Vietnam might not go along. Thieu also appreciated the other side of the coin, that Johnson’s failure would help Nixon.

“The situation which would occur as the result of a bombing halt, without the agreement of the [South] Vietnamese government … would be to the advantage of candidate Nixon,” the NSA report on Thieu’s thinking read. “Accordingly, he [Thieu] said that the possibility of President Johnson enforcing a bombing halt without [South] Vietnam’s agreement appears to be weak.” [Click here and here.]

By Oct. 28, 1968, according to another NSA report, Thieu said “it appears that Mr. Nixon will be elected as the next president” and that any settlement with the Viet Cong should be put off until “the new president” was in place.

Nixon’s Go-Between

The next day, Oct. 29, national security adviser Walt Rostow received the first indication that Nixon might actually be coordinating with Thieu to sabotage the peace talks. Rostow’s brother, Eugene, who was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, wrote a memo about a tip from a source in New York who had spoken with “a member of the banking community” who was “very close to Nixon.”

The source said Wall Street bankers – at a working lunch to assess likely market trends and to decide where to invest – had been given inside information about the prospects for Vietnam peace and were told that Nixon was obstructing that outcome.

“The conversation was in the context of a professional discussion about the future of the financial markets in the near term,” Eugene Rostow wrote. “The speaker said he thought the prospects for a bombing halt or a cease-fire were dim, because Nixon was playing the problem … to block. …

“They would incite Saigon to be difficult, and Hanoi to wait. Part of his strategy was an expectation that an offensive would break out soon, that we would have to spend a great deal more (and incur more casualties) – a fact which would adversely affect the stock market and the bond market. NVN [North Vietnamese] offensive action was a definite element in their thinking about the future.”

In other words, Nixon’s friends on Wall Street were placing their financial bets based on the inside dope that Johnson’s peace initiative was doomed to fail. (In another document, Walt Rostow identified his brother’s source as Alexander Sachs, who was then on the board of Lehman Brothers.)

A separate memo from Eugene Rostow said the speaker had added that Nixon “was trying to frustrate the President, by inciting Saigon to step up its demands, and by letting Hanoi know that when he [Nixon] took office ‘he could accept anything and blame it on his predecessor.’” So, according to the source, Nixon was trying to convince both the South and North Vietnamese that they would get a better deal if they stalled Johnson.

In his later memo to the file, Walt Rostow recounted that he learned this news shortly before attending a morning meeting at which President Johnson was informed by U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Ellsworth Bunker about “Thieu’s sudden intransigence.” Walt Rostow said “the diplomatic information previously received plus the information from New York took on new and serious significance.”

That same day, Johnson “instructed Bromley Smith, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, to get in touch with the Deputy Director of the FBI, Deke DeLoach, and arrange that contacts by Americans with the South Vietnamese Embassy in Washington be monitored,” Rostow wrote.

The White House soon learned that Anna Chennault, the fiercely anticommunist Chinese-born widow of Lt. Gen. Claire Chennault and a member of Nixon’s campaign team, was holding curious meetings with South Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States Bui Diem. On Oct. 30, an FBI intercept overheard Bui Diem telling Mrs. Chennault that something “is cooking” and asking her to come by the embassy.

Johnson Complains

On Oct. 31, at 4:09 p.m., Johnson – his voice thick from a cold – began working the phones, trying to counteract Nixon’s chicanery. The Democratic president called Republican Senate Leader Everett Dirksen and broached a concern about Nixon’s interference with the peace talks. Johnson said he considered Nixon’s behavior a betrayal because he had kept Nixon abreast of the peace progress, according to an audio recording of the conversation released by the LBJ Library in late 2008.

“I played it clean,” Johnson said. “I told Nixon every bit as much, if not more, as Humphrey knows. I’ve given Humphrey not one thing.”

Johnson added, “I really think it’s a little dirty pool for Dick’s people to be messing with the South Vietnamese ambassador and carrying messages around to both of them [North and South Vietnam]. And I don’t think people would approve of it if it were known.”

Dirksen: “Yeah.”

Referring to his political trouble with Democrats as well as Republicans, Johnson continued, “While they criticized my conduct of the war, they have never told the enemy that he’d get a better deal, but these last few days, Dick is just gotten a little shaky and he’s pissing on the fire a little.”

Johnson then told Dirksen, “We have a transcript where one of his partners says he’s going to frustrate the President by telling the South Vietnamese that, ‘just wait a few more days,’ … he can make a better peace for them, and by telling Hanoi that he didn’t run this war and didn’t get them into it, that he can be a lot more considerate of them than I can because I’m pretty inflexible. I’ve called them sons of bitches.”

Dirksen responded by expressing the Republican concern that Johnson might spring a breakthrough on the peace talks right before the election. “The fellas on our side get antsy-pantsy about it,” the Illinois Republican said. “They wonder what the impact would be if a cease-fire or a halt to the bombing will be proclaimed at any given hour, what its impact would be on the results next Tuesday,” Election Day.

Johnson denied he would play politics with the war and recalled Nixon’s pledges to support his handling of the war. Johnson said, “With Nixon saying ‘I want the war stopped, that I’m supporting Johnson, that I want him to get peace if he can, that I’m not going to pull the rug out [from under] him,’ I don’t know how it could be helped unless he goes to parting under the covers and gets his hand under somebody’s dress.”

Knowing Dirksen would report back to Nixon, Johnson also cited a few details to give his complaint more credibility. “He better keep Mrs. Chennault and all this crowd tied up for a few days,” Johnson said.

Bombing Halt

That night, Johnson announced a bombing halt of North Vietnam, a key step toward advancing the peace process. The next morning at 11:38, he discussed the state of play with Sen. Richard Russell, D-Georgia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Johnson again mentioned Nixon’s secret maneuverings though expressing hope that his warning to Dirksen had worked.

Nixon has “had these people engaged in this stuff,” said Johnson, amid loud honking to clear his sinuses. “Folks messing around with both sides. … Hanoi thought they could benefit by waiting and South Vietnam’s now beginning to think they could benefit by waiting, by what people are doing. So he [Nixon] knows that I know what he’s doing. And this morning they’re kind of closing up some of their agents, not so active. I noticed that one of the embassies refused to answer their call.”

However, on Nov. 2, Johnson learned that his protests had not shut down the operation. The FBI intercepted the most incriminating evidence yet of Nixon’s interference when Anna Chennault contacted Ambassador Bui Diem to convey “a message from her boss (not further identified),” according to an FBI cable.

According to the intercept, Chennault said “her boss wanted her to give [the message] personally to the ambassador. She said the message was that the ambassador is to ‘hold on, we are going to win’ and that her boss also said, ‘hold on, he understands all of it.’ She repeated that this is the only message … ‘he said please tell your boss to hold on.’ She advised that her boss had just called from New Mexico.”

In quickly relaying the message to Johnson at his ranch in Texas, Rostow noted that the reference to New Mexico “may indicate [Republican vice presidential nominee Spiro] Agnew is acting,” since he had taken a campaign swing through the state.

That same day, Thieu recanted on his tentative agreement to meet with the Viet Cong in Paris, pushing the incipient peace talks toward failure. That night, at 9:18, an angry Johnson from his ranch in Texas telephoned Dirksen again, to provide more details about Nixon’s activities and to urge Dirksen to intervene more forcefully.

Posted in history, Nixon, treason | 1 Comment »

In which it is proven that America has no historical memory

Posted by Charles II on May 15, 2011

Sad (read the comments and learn how I wasted an afternoon).

Rick Perlstein: smart. Not smart enough to realize that there is context to a historical situation that needs to be considered when talking about things that happened before you were born.

Posted in history, Nixon | 7 Comments »

LBJ Knew Traitors When He Saw Them

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 6, 2008

Blue Texan passes along this story:

In a segment aired at the news conference, Johnson tells Sen. Everett Dirksen, the Republican minority leader, that it will be Nixon’s responsibility if the South Vietnamese don’t participate in the peace talks.

“This is treason,” LBJ says to Dirksen.

“I know,” Dirksen replies, very softly.

Confronting Nixon by telephone on Nov. 3, Johnson outlines what had been alleged and how important it was to the conduct of the war for Nixon’s people not to meddle.

“My God,” Nixon says to Johnson, “I would never do anything to encourage the South Vietnamese not to come to that conference table.” Instead, Nixon pledged to help in any way Johnson or Rusk suggested, “To hell with the political credit, believe me.”

For Johnson and his top advisers, it wasn’t a matter of whether Nixon was telling the truth but whether accusing Nixon of meddling would give the appearance that Johnson — rather than Nixon — was using the war to influence the election.

Nixon was, of course, lying:

On October 31, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced on live television that the North Vietnamese government had agreed to continued peace talks in Paris, and to a cessation of attacks on South Vietnamese cities. In return, the U.S. would immediately stop bombing North Vietnam, and peace talks, this time including the Vietcong and the South Vietnamese government, would resume on November 6.

Almost overnight, LBJ’s “October Surprise” delivered a much-needed shot of adrenaline to the moribund campaign of his Vice President and would-be successor, Hubert Humphrey, who had been trailing Richard Nixon in the polls throughout October.


But Nixon had an October surprise of his own. In the days leading up to LBJ’s announcement, the Nixon team met secretly with Anna Chan Chennault, a wealthy supporter of Chiang Kai-shek, co-chair of Republican Women for Nixon, and confidante of South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu. At Nixon’s behest, Chennault informed Thieu that Nixon would secure a better deal for his country, and that the Democrats were effectively prepared to sell out Saigon in order to secure peace at any price, as the phrase would later go. If Chennault could convince Thieu to stay away from the negotiating table, LBJ would look foolish, and the Democrats’ eleventh-hour gambit would fail.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Posted in LBJ, Nixon, rightwing moral cripples, Vietnam | 9 Comments »

The man behind the curtain

Posted by Charles II on March 6, 2008

CMike brought to attention a fascinating piece blogged at The Economist. Briefly, President Nixon ordered the Fed Chairman to goose the economy to knock down unemployment and help win the 1972 election. He got what he wanted and inflation broke out, not to be quenched until the wrenching Reagan recession drove unemployment to levels not seen since the 1930s.

By a curious coincidence, the current Fed Chairman is also dropping interest rates even though this action is clearly inflationary.

Posted in economy, Nixon | 2 Comments »

Welcome Eschaton Readers!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 7, 2007


And thanks to Avedon Carol for the linkage.  :-)

While you’re here, may I recommend this amusing story of how, contrary to Fred Thompson’s carefully-cultivated “smart tough guy” image, he was Nixon’s cabana boy whose water-carrying was repaid with contempt by Tricky Dick and his inner circle?

I love this choice excerpt on loyalty to the Republican Party (aka Nixon) — change the names, and it could have come from Bush’s Oval Office:

Five days later, Buzhardt reported to Nixon that he had primed Thompson for the Dean cross-examination.

“I found Thompson most cooperative, feeling more Republican every day,” Buzhardt said. “Uh, perfectly prepared to assist in really doing a cross-examination.”

Later in the same conversation, Buzhardt said Thompson was “willing to go, you know, pretty much the distance now. And he said he realized his responsibility was going to have be as a Republican increasingly.”

Posted in abuse of power, Fred Thompson, Nixon, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples | 1 Comment »

New tapes on Agnew, Nixon, Kissinger

Posted by Charles II on July 1, 2007

Jules Witcover has a new book, Very Strange Bedfellows, and has made available audio (and transcripts) of Nixon whining and swearing and breaking the law, Kissinger kissing his rear end, and Agnew wheedling right up to his indictment. The funny thing is Nixon was the only one in the room who knew about the taping and was doing it to improve his historical reputation.

It’s difficult to come up with a phrase to describe how bad these people were. 

Posted in abuse of power, corruption, Nixon | 2 Comments »

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