Saturday, March 16, 2013

Richard Nixon, Traitor to the Republic?

It was 1968.  Richard Nixon was squaring off against the Democrat chosen to succeed Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey.

Johnson, meanwhile, had brought the leadership of South and North Vietnam to the negotiating table for peace talks that seemed to promise hope for an end to the Vietnam war.

Nixon knew that a peace accord would scuttle his chances of taking the White House and he set about convincing Saigon and Hanoi to walk away from the talks, ensuring the continuation of slaughter and suffering for many more years.

Johnson knew what Nixon was up to.  That much is clear from recordings Johnson made while president.   Some of them can be heard on the BBC News site.   Treachery?  Sure.  Treason?   Ask the thousands whose lives might have been needlessly lost to secure Richard Nixon the presidency.

New evidence has emerged that paints a much clearer picture of what was behind the Watergate burglary that brought down Richard Nixon.

Shortly after Nixon took office in 1969, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover informed him of the existence of the file containing national security wiretaps documenting how Nixon’s emissaries had gone behind President Lyndon Johnson’s back to convince the South Vietnamese government to boycott the Paris Peace Talks, which were close to ending the Vietnam War in fall 1968.In the case of Watergate – the foiled Republican break-in at the Democratic National Committee in June 1972 and Richard Nixon’s botched cover-up leading to his resignation in August 1974 – the evidence is now clear that Nixon created the Watergate burglars out of his panic that the Democrats might possess a file on his sabotage of Vietnam peace talks in 1968.

The disruption of Johnson’s peace talks then enabled Nixon to hang on for a narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey. However, as the new President was taking steps in 1969 to extend the war another four-plus years, he sensed the threat from the wiretap file and ordered two of his top aides, chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, to locate it. But they couldn’t find the file.

We now know that was because President Johnson, who privately had called Nixon’s Vietnam actions “treason,” had ordered the file removed from the White House by his national security aide Walt Rostow.

So the missing file remained a troubling mystery inside Nixon’s White House, but Nixon still lived up to his pre-election agreement with South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu to extend U.S. military participation in the war with the goal of getting the South Vietnamese a better outcome than they would have received from Johnson in 1968.

Nixon, however, had no idea that Johnson and Rostow had taken the missing file or, indeed, who might possess it. Normally, national security documents are passed from the outgoing President to the incoming President to maintain continuity in government.

But Haldeman and Kissinger had come up empty in their search. They were only able to recreate the file’s contents, which included incriminating conversations between Nixon’s emissaries and South Vietnamese officials regarding Nixon’s promise to get them a better deal if they helped him torpedo Johnson’s peace talks.

So, the68.


Owen Gray said...

Helen Gahagen Douglas had Nixon pegged from the beginning, Mound.

He really was "Tricky Dickie."

thwap said...

Terrible stuff.