Saturday, September 06, 2014

Nixon's Treason

I just started reading the new book about the so-called "Rosetta Stone" of what would be called Watergate titled Chasing Shadows. Based on the Johnson and Nixon White House tapes, it is well worth the read. While I don't entirely agree with the author that everything sleazy Nixon did as president was to cover up his treasonous act of sabotaging the 1968 Paris peace talks to ensure his election, there is little doubt Nixon was Machiavellian and would do anything to get elected and re-elected.

The Chennault scandal, like the rigging of the 1972 election via dirty tricks in order for Nixon to get an easy candidate to run against him in the fall elections (meaning Senator George McGovern), was a symptom, not the cause, of Nixon doing what he did. Nixon's overwhelming paranoia and hatred for his enemies were actually the causes of his lawbreaking.

Nixon's fatal character flaws made him unsuitable to be president despite being obviously intelligent and experienced in the political realm. His story is utterly tragic, not just for himself but for the country.

The Channault scandal is much worse than the somewhat similar "October Surprise" of 1980 because of the thousands of Americans and Vietnamese who died needlessly when the Vietnam War could have ended much, much earlier, and all because of somebody's presidential ambitions.

One summary of the Chennault scandal can be found from Robert Parry in this article from last month. An excerpt:

The documents – many based on FBI wiretaps – show that Johnson had strong evidence about Nixon’s peace-talk sabotage, particularly the activities of campaign official Anna Chennault who passed messages to South Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem in Washington urging the South Vietnamese leaders to maintain their boycott of the Paris peace talks.

On Nov. 2, the FBI intercepted a conversation in which Chennault told Bui Diem to convey “a message from her boss (not further identified),” according to an FBI cable. 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.’”

That same day, Thieu recanted on his tentative agreement to meet with the Viet Cong in Paris, pushing the incipient peace talks toward failure.

Several years ago, the National Archives released tape recordings of Johnson’s phone calls further clarifying the depth of Johnson’s knowledge – and anger. On the night of Nov. 2, Johnson telephoned Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois and urged him to intercede with Nixon.

It just boggles the damned mind.

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