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The Treason of Richard Nixon: From Possibility To Certainty Part Two

THE TREASON OF RICHARD NIXON: FROM POSSIBILITY TO CERTAINTY

PART ONE PART TWO

(I expect that at some point I might give an edit to what’s here, add some new material to the end, and give this a new conclusion, but for the moment, it’s more or less complete.)

THE AFTERMATH PART II

I did not begin this piece with the expectation that I would reach a point of firm conviction. I thought that the more I read on the subject, more and more uncertainty would pervade what actually took place and what effect it had on the peace talks. I found only confirmation, and this was a conclusion that I reached with dread, and no doubt this is why the subject is so assiduously avoided, because it displays vividly how untransparent a democracy can be, and how much inhumanity you can get away with, just as long as you are a little deft at hiding it. That your transgression is so grievous may perhaps make it easier to hide it, as there will be a concerted desire to deny that such a crime could take place – it couldn’t happen here. But it did!

Those looking for exculpatory evidence will have to settle for the possibility that the peace talks would have failed even without Nixon’s interference. I quote once again from Beverly Deepe Keever’s Death Zones and Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting for one such moment:

After the election, [Pham Xuan] An [a stringer hired to help with oral and written translations] and I gleaned a play-by-play of the final confrontations between Thieu and U.S. ambassador Ellsworth Bunker that revealed why the Vietnamese had backed out of going to Paris. A Vietnamese source close to the palace conversations shared with An and me his notes detailing what I described as “one of the most bizarre – if not scandalous – American diplomatic maneuvers in war-time history.”

In a nutshell the U.S. chief negotiator in Paris, Averell Harriman, made a proposal that Hanoi accepted on October 27 to begin peace negotiations starting November 6 – the day after the presidential election – for a four-power conference that would give the National Liberation Front equal status and legitimacy with the Saigon government. In Saigon, however, Ambassador Bunker had secured Thieu’s agreement to go to a three-power conference, with separate delegations representing Hanoi, Saigon and Washington, but with the NLF sitting as part of North Vietnam’s delegation. “Here is Bunker getting Thieu’s agreement to a three-way peace conference in Paris,” a stunned diplomat told me. “But Harriman had already sold out Saigon by giving away to Hanoi the most important thing of all – representation of the National Liberation Front.”

The only impediment to finding such misdeeds as the major impediment to the peace talks, rather than Nixon’s machinations, is that Nixon would bring the NLF into the talks as well. As already pointed out, both Anna Chennault and Nguyen Thieu thought they would get a better deal with Nixon, and both felt they were ultimately betrayed. The possible reason for why there was no earlier withdrawal, why the war continued for another four years, resulting in a settlement on the same terms that would have been achieved in 1968, but paid for with the dead of Laos, Cambodia, the collapse of the Cambodian government, which would lead to the genocide of Pol Pot, as well as more Americans and Vietnamese thrown away, had nothing to do with realpolitik, or domino theories, or balance of power, but the domestic coalition necessary to win re-election. This cynical take was given, of course, by Henry Kissinger, and can be found in The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Anthony Summers:

There was something else, as grave a betrayal-if it is true-as the undermining of the peace effort. Henry Kissinger, soon to find fame as national security adviser and secretary of state, offered a cynical assessment of the administration’s position a few months after meeting Nixon. “I agree that the war is a mistake,” he reportedly told a visitor. “I think it is clear now that we should never have gone in there, and I don’t see how any good can come of it. But we can’t do what you recommend and just pull out, because the boss’s whole constituency would just fall apart; those are his people who support the war effort: the South; the blue-collar Democrats in the North. The Nixon constituency is behind the war effort. If we were to pull out of Vietnam, there would be a disaster, politically, for us here, at home.”

In looking for someone or something to contradict the narrative I’ve so far presented, I turned to Conrad Black’s Richard Nixon: A Life in Full, a near hagiography written by a fan and fellow conservative. Black is a man with some ability in research, who often writes with unrestrained venom, often directing it against his eternal enemy the pious, weak, bleating liberal. I expected to find an entirely different story here, one that might deny entirely what others claim took place; instead, I found little or no dispute on the essential form of what took place, only disputes over its effects, implications, and a few of its smaller details. I wish to do justice to his argument, and do not want the reader to feel they are being manipulated into any agreement, as sometimes happens when a conspiracy theory is sold through a selective and myopic use of research, so I now give full excerpt of Black’s account. I have also left the book’s footnotes in, so readers might easily see which sources have been used for this account:

By October 20, his lead over Humphrey had shrunk in some polls to just 5 percent. Wallace’s vote had shrunk in some polls to just 5 percent. Wallace’s vote was evaporating outside his strongholds of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, as disgruntled supporters of the main parties drifted back to their natural political abodes. A profoundly regional vote might give Wallace those five states in the South, but the northern Wallace voters were fading, not wishing to waste ballots in what was starting to seem like a possibly tight election.

In these circumstances, there was a real danger of a hung election, with the Electoral College not recording a majority, and the presidential election going to the House of Representatives and the vice presidency to the Senate where almost certain Democratic majorities would presumably elect Humphrey and Muskie. Nixon began challenging Humphrey to agree that in the event of such a development, both sides would support the candidate with the larger popular vote. Humphrey piously uttered and tiresomely repeated the humbug that he would abide by the Constitution; i.e., logrolling in the Congress, no matter what he had to give away to southern committee chairmen to get to the White House.

There was an inevitability of drama throughout Richard Nixon’s career. His second try for the presidency was shaping up to a gripping climax. The North Vietnamese presumably preferred Humphrey to Nixon, and in any case knew that any de-escalation by the United States would be almost irreversible in domestic political terms. The South Vietnamese, for the same reasons in reverse, preferred Nixon to Humphrey. For Johnson and Humphrey to have any chance of claiming progress toward a satisfactory settlement of the war, both Vietnamese sides had to be roped into the talks in Paris.

Most of the journalists who have written on the next phases of this minuet are not reliable, and there is no documentation, and interviews did not yield much, so the story must be pieced together cautiously. The co-chairwoman, with Mamie Eisenhower, of Republican Women for Nixon, was Anna Chennault, widow of Second World War Far East volunteer air force commander (of The Flying Tigers) General Claire Chennault. She was a friend of Thieu’s and served as a contact between Thieu and the Nixon campaign.

Anna Chennault and the South Vietnamese ambassador to Washington, Bui Diem, had gone to the New York to meet with Nixon and Mitchell in early 1968. The Chennault conduit to Thieu was established and Nixon impressed upon the ambassador that he would be a more reliable friend of Saigon than his Democratic opponent (who hadn’t been nominated, but the choice was Humphrey or McCarthy).

From here, it becomes very tangled. Anna Chennault was a strenuous admirer of Nixon, but was romantically involved with the former chief fixer in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first two terms, Thomas G. Corcoran. Corcoran was a longtime friend of Lyndon Johnson, and Corcoran’s law partner, James Rowe, was the co-manager of Hubert Humphrey’s election campaign. Corcoran listened on an extension to one of Mitchell’s telephone calls with Chennault, and cautioned her against any violation of the Logan Act, which forbids U.S. private citizens from conducting negotiations with foreign governments. Chennault spoke to Diem and to Mitchell very frequently29. Diem was a very educated and urbane man whose family owned the Saigon Post.

Some combination of phone taps on Chennault and Mitchell, cable interceptions and decoding on the South Vietnamese embassy (despite the status of Saigon as an ally now being defended by 565,000 American draftees), and possible advice from Corcoran to Johnson or Clifford apprised the administration of the Nixon effort to restrain Thieu from becoming an agent in Humphrey’s election campaign by being overly credulous or cooperative in an election-eve Johnson peace plan30. Mitchell changed his telephone number every couple of days and Diem complained to all sides about telephone and cable intercepts on his embassy31. At one point Chennault was overhead [sic] in a telephone call to a Saigon government official, urging against an early agreement to a peace plan. When asked if Nixon was aware of her call, she said the [sic] he was not, “but our friend in New Mexico” is. Agnew happened to be in New Mexico, so it was mistakenly assumed to be him, and Johnson ordered personal wiretaps on Agnew (who had dusted off the old claim that Humphrey was “soft on communism”). Agnew knew nothing of this and New Mexico was code for something else.

Thus, Hanoi had an incentive to agree to conditions, and Saigon to oppose conditions, that would lead to a bombing pause. Chennault went to Saigon in the midst of the campaign and was in frequent contact with Ambassador Diem. There is no doubt that Johnson was trying to give himself plausible cover for a peace move and deliver the election to Humphrey, and that Nixon was determined not to be robbed of the presidency by the Democrats again. To this end, Nixon, with no illegal dealings by him or his entourage, assisted Thieu in detecting his own self-interest. The allegations have been made, but not substantiated, that Kissinger played a role in this process in Paris. In the absence of any evidence or any need for what was already being otherwise accomplished, Kissinger deserves the benefit of the doubt his enemies have created about his behavior.

The Democrats were outraged at Nixon, but what Johnson was doing was equally questionable. Nixon’s desire not to be the victim again of Democratic electoral trickery is understandable, and there is no evidence that Thieu, a wily and tenacious Vietnamese political general, needed much prompting to discern which side he favored in the U.S. election. Kissinger was playing a fairly innocuous double game of self-promotion, and there was nothing very controversial, at this early stage, in his international contacts.

On October 26, sensing that it was time to interrupt Johnson’s inexorable progress toward a peace move, Nixon, who had used the Paris discussions as an excuse not to comment on Vietnam for seven months, decided to reveal a likely bombing halt. His source was a contact of Bryce Harlow’s, who was reporting from inside the White House that Johnson was about to make a supreme effort to pull the election out for Humphrey. Nixon asked Mitchell to check with Kissinger, but Kissinger had not heard of anything imminent. Nixon purported in his last statement to be confident that was afoot was not “a cynical, last-minute attempt by President Johnson to salvage the candidacy of Mr. Humphrey.” As was often the case with Nixon, what he claimed to disbelieve was what he believed. His suspicions were rarely unfounded and were not misplaced in this case.

The next day, October 27, at a luncheon speech in New York, Johnson denied that any such thing as Nixon had alleged had been agreed, and attacked Nixon as someone “who distorts history” and had made “ugly and unfair charges.”32 That evening, Nixon warned in a nationwide radio address against the evils of a coalition government in Saigon. He was firing blind, because there was no discussion of any such thing at this point, but it was a way of muddying the waters for Johnson and investigating Thieu’s always verdant suspicions.

The same day, Hanoi accepted Harriman’s conditions, provided the Viet Cong could also attend the Paris talks. Despite all the jockeying, nearly seven months had passed in Paris with nothing substantive discussed, and nothing, not even participants, agreed, except the shape of the table. It is indicative of American war-weariness and the jumpy nerves of the election candidates and campaign organizers that anyone imagined Vietnam negotiations would proceed quickly.

The American commander in Vietnam, General Creighton W. Abrams, who had replaced Westmoreland a few months before, as Westmoreland became chief of staff, was summoned home and met with the president at 2:30 A.M., October 29, in the cabinet room. He supported a bombing halt. However, by this time, Thieu was balking. He said he would not join negotiations with the Viet Cong. Johnson and Clifford blamed Nixon, via Chennault, but did not want to acknowledge recourse to illegal telephone intercepts or diplomatic cable cracking of the South Vietnamese, which would have been, to say the least, an unseemly admission a week before the election. Johnson told his ambassador in Saigon, Ellsworth Bunker, to put all the pressure he could on Thieu. Thieu would not move, but Johnson, when he felt he could wait no longer before trying to influence the election, made his big play. On October 31, he told the nation in a television address that Hanoi had promised to respect the DMZ and refrain from attacking South Vietnamese cities, and that both the South Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were, as he delicately put it, “free” to attend the Paris peace conference as participants. This generated great euphoria, and according to some polls, Humphrey pulled ahead of Nixon. Showing iron nerves, fortified by his intelligence about Thieu’s likely lack of enthusiasm, Nixon briefly returned to his former policy of saying nothing that would compromise the peace process.

On November 2, three days before the election, Thieu publicly announced that he would not join the talks. Nixon had Finch issue a statement to the press expressing “surprise” that the players were not all in place prior to Johnson’s announcement, by which, of course, they meant that the bombing halt was a pre-emptive concession to the enemy to try to salvage the election for Humphrey.

There was great anger in the Johnson and Nixon camps at the skullduggery of the other side. But Johnson and Nixon themselves, two of the most worldly and cynical political operators in American history, were relatively philosophical. Unedifying though this great poker game seems, it was not completely discreditable. Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson, though no sane person would ever accuse either of them of taking political ethics to fault, were patriotic Americans. But their methods were unusually open to question at times.

Johnson had lost confidence in the military advice he had received, and as politically exhausted. He felt intensely the sorrow of bereaved armed forces families and could not sleep at night worrying about casualties. He sincerely wanted to move the war toward a solution before leaving office. That such a move would suit his political preferences was desirable and convenient, but to what extent domestic politics predominated in the president’s thoughts will never be known. It was nonsense for Thieu to claim that he would not sit at the same table as the Viet Cong. Most South Vietnamese disliked communism, but were more fearful of the VC and its North Vietnamese sponsors than of the Saigon government, which was still in place only because of the exertions of the United States. They needed reassurance that the anti-communists were likely to be the winning side.

On the other hand, Nixon, unlike Humphrey, Kissinger, McNamara, Clifford, and even, to a point, the beleaguered Johnson himself, still thought there was a possibility to salvage a durable non-communist regime in Saigon, and was prepared to try. Thieu could not be blamed for not wishing to facilitate the victory of those who were going to hand his country over to the communists, with or without an interval that might be perceived as decent from the comfortable perspective of Washington. There is no reason to believe that Nixon did more to motivate Thieu than to ensure that he was aware of what was obvious to anyone who carefully followed the 1968 U.S. election campaign.

On November 3, Nixon, after two days’ silence, ended his second “personal Vietnam moratorium” and responded to Johnson’s maneuver with escalated dissembling. Having approved Finch’s [Robert Finch, lieutenant governor of California, Nixon campaign manager, and a friend of Nixon's] insinuation that Johnson had made a misleading and overblown announcement about progress in peace talks for partisan reasons, he said on NBC’s Meet the Press two days before the election that he and Finch did not agree on the subject, that Nixon gave Johnson the benefit of the doubt but Finch thought the bombing pause was a political trumpery.

Finch had not issued his statement as lieutenant governor of California but as Nixon’s joint campaign manager, and this was egregious flimflam by Nixon. Nixon took it a step further, by telling the interviewer that if elected two days later, he would be happy, if President Johnson wished to go to Saigon or Paris “in order to try to get the negotiations off dead center.” Though outrageous, this was magnificent effrontery, to offer to go to Saigon, once elected, and tell Thieu to accept what he now implicitly urged him to reject. Nixon carried it off with the expressionless sincerity of a consummate actor and poker player.

It was too much for Johnson, who telephoned Nixon and demanded to know who “Fink” was and what he was up to, and asked about Chennault’s antics also. Nixon said that Finch had the same freedom of self-expression as any other American, and whatever Chennault did was on her own account and not Nixon’s. Johnson persisted in referring to “Fink” – like the father of the narrator in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, refusing to accede to facts – but he had little option but to accept Nixon’s version of his role. He knew it was bunk, but he knew the vulnerabilities in his own official line too, and there was no gain to him in insisting publicly that it was really Nixon who was accusing him of cynical political manipulations. This would do more harm to the Democrats than the Republicans. Nixon had deftly claimed to believe in Johnson’s virtue while his aides did not, and stuck to this charade with perfectly confected earnestness.

In the last full day of the campaign, Nixon continually expressed confidence in Johnson’s motives but disappointment that the hopes for peace had proved chimerical. With a doleful expression, he lamented that Johnson had, with good but over-eager intentions, sold the country a false prospectus. Given that Johnson had set out to steal the election, it must be said that Nixon’s reply, labored though it was, was a political masterpiece, upon which he embellished to the last moments before the polls opened. In his memoirs, published in 1978, Nixon maintains the same air of simple and impenetrable innocence. Johnson, in his own memoirs, professes complete political disinterest, and adds, of the opposition, “People who claimed to speak for the Nixon camp began encouraging Saigon to stay away from Paris and promising that Nixon, if elected, would inaugurate a policy more to Saigon’s liking.”33

This is a book that was published in 2008, after The Arrogance of Power by Summers (published in 2000), after the opening of the ‘X’ envelope of Walt Rostow and the declassifying of its materials by researchers. Black, a one-time publishing mogul, was in prison for corporate fraud when he wrote this book, and this no doubt may have impeded his research efforts; however, neither the Summers book or the ‘X’ envelope are obscure sources, but are in fact very well known. The lack of any reference to either, that Arrogance is not even listed in the biography, gives this section the strange quality of a massive free floating castle, barely supported by a few haphazardly placed struts of the thinnest and weakest wood. We are told “some combination of phone taps on Chennault and Mitchell, cable interceptions and decoding on the South Vietnamese embassy” is how the White House learned of the Nixon attempts to undermine the peace talks – it seems strange that Black, who has no difficulty using blunt language against his enemies refers to this incident now uses a lexicon as soft as cottonballs and ice cream to describe this bit of sabotage, as an “effort to restrain Thieu from becoming an agent in Humphrey’s election campaign by being overly credulous or cooperative”. And stranger is how he says the information was obtained, when we’ve known this very well for some time: the tip of Alexander Sachs to Eugene Rostow, who passed it on to his brother Walt, Johnson’s National Security Adviser. After this, a tap was placed on Chennault. Black footnotes his information with Nixon’s memoir, which is a slightly unusual choice of source, since Nixon makes no admission of the attempt, and makes no mention of the plot or Anna Chennault:

Black opens his writing of the episode as if it were still mostly ether, “Most of the journalists who have written on the next phases of this minuet are not reliable, and there is no documentation, and interviews did not yield much, so the story must be pieced together cautiously.” With this rather haughty dismissal, Black suggests a man who is used to effortlessly waving his hand to summon food, and has mistaken this gift with the ability to cook. He considers Anna Chennault a reliable enough source to cite her memoir for this chapter, so presumably, her interview with Anthony Summers is equally reliable. In Arrogance of Power, a book whose research appears vastly more thorough than Black’s work, Chennault is emphatic that she was employed by Nixon and Mitchell to foil the peace talks:

In the weeks that followed Chennault had several more meetings with Nixon and Mitchell in New York. They told her to inform Saigon that were Nixon to become president, South Vietnam would get “a better deal.” “The message,” she told the author, “was relayed.”

Asked if Nixon and Mitchell were trying to cut a deal to help win the election, Chennault nodded. “They worked out this deal to win the campaign,” she said. “Power overpowers all reason.”

Black also informs us, “Agnew happened to be in New Mexico, so it was mistakenly assumed to be him, and Johnson ordered personal wiretaps on Agnew…Agnew knew nothing of this and New Mexico was code for something else.” I find this to be a fascinating point, one which directly contradicts a major element of the Nixon-Chennault story. However, since Black provides no footnote, I have no idea what is his basis for believing this. We know for certain that Agnew was in Albuquerque at the time Chennault called there, and that there were several outgoing calls from the plane at this time: two to New York City, where Chennault was expected to be, one to campaign headquarters, and one to Texas, where Nixon was holding a rally that night. Agnew’s phone on the plane was not bugged; Johnson was given the records of the locations Agnew called in this time period. From “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968 Volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969, Document 212?”:

The next day, DeLoach called the President with a report on these calls. One of the phones on the plane had been used five times. The first call was made at 11:59 a.m., a personal call from Agnew to Rusk that lasted 3 minutes. The next call was made to Texas and another two calls were made by Agnew staffer Kent Crane to New York City. A fifth call was made to the Nixon/Agnew campaign headquarters at the Willard Hotel in Washington at 1:02 p.m.

The President verified that Rusk had talked with Agnew. He added: “We think somebody on the plane talked to the woman. We think pretty well that they talked to her and talked to Rusk, and talked on the same thing. And we think that they told Rusk-that they wanted to know what was happening in these relations. And Rusk made notes of it, he didn’t exactly know what time, but he estimated that it was about 2 o’clock. And hers, it was immediately followed by a call to her, we think. And what we want to know is what time that was and when it was.”

This was supplemented by the work of National Security Adviser Rostow, as discussed in Arrogance:

The most important discovery, though, was relayed to the president by National Security Assistant Rostow when all the facts were in, ten days after the Albuquerque stopover. In a brief memo, referring to Chennault as “the Lady” and to Agnew as “the gentleman in Albuquerque,” Rostow reported that there had been a call placed to Chennault.26

We are further assured in Life in Full that “allegations have been made, but not substantiated, that Kissinger played a role in this process in Paris,” and this, again, is flatly wrong given the available evidence. “There had to be secret communications between Nixon and the South Vietnamese, as we have seen,” writes Christopher Hitchens in The Trial of Henry Kissinger. “But there also had to be an informant inside the incumbent administration’s camp – a source of hints and tips and early warnings of official intentions.” Nixon reveals in his memoir who this source of information was, and from whom he learned of the bombing halt: Henry Kissinger. “Henry was the only person outside of the government we were authorized to discuss the negotiations with,” says the late Richard Holbrooke, a member of the negotiating team, in Trial. “We trusted him. It is not stretching the truth to say that the Nixon campaign had a secret source within the US negotiating team.” Though he makes a few polite noises about Johnson’s desire for peace, he ultimately presents Johnson’s fight for the peace talks as exclusively a political tactic: “Johnson had set out to steal the election” with this ploy. No mention is made of Johnson’s fight for the peace talks after the election, asking that he cease interference in the negotiations, so there might be a meeting of the two sides. Nor is it written anywhere that Johnson was upset with Humphrey as well for his speeches arguing for a bombing halt without demands, as that was also making it difficult to get the sides to the table.

Similarly, the only reason cited for not releasing the information is the illegality of the wiretaps. The major evidence against Nixon, however, was very much legal, an FBI tap begun after a reliable source had alleged Anna Chennault was sticking herself in a matter of national security. The problem wasn’t that their evidence was illegal, but that there wasn’t enough by the day of the election to credibly and ethically make a case. Johnson is upset about what’s taking place, but he’s also worried about what might happen if word got out: “This is treason.” This leads to the major reason why the information was not released then: it would have destroyed the future president, and possibly triggered impeachment proceedings while the country was in the midst of a war. It also suggests why the secret was held tight for decades; such a revelation would annihilate the trust of the public in their institutions and their servants. This was not a sexual affair, or a small piece of graft, but a presidential candidate tossing lives away so he might ascend the throne. Just as Black leaves out the phone calls after the election as Johnson continues to press for peace negotiations, he leaves out the Johnson inner circle keeping all these secrets under tight wrap, even though they could easily destroy their former opponent. Of Black’s argument that Nixon was somehow justified in his actions simply because he felt he was wronged in 1960 and deserved to win then, I will only say I think it carries a stronger reek of amorality than Black might imagine.

It is true that Johnson was relatively kind about Nixon in his memoirs, writing “I never shared the intense dislike of Richard Nixon felt by many of my fellow Democrats…I considered him a much-maligned and misunderstood man.” Though there’s also the fact left out in Black’s mention of these memoirs, that Johnson believed Humphrey would have won the election had it not been for the interference of “people who claimed to speak for the Nixon camp” in the peace negotiations1. It also fails to convey the bitterness of many about what took place, not just over a lost election but that someone had so flippantly played with lives in order to pull off an election win. Some of this ill feeling is conveyed in the book, Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency by Mark Updegrove, an account of the Johnson administration through the words of associates. “I thought the actions by those associated with the Nixon campaign,” says Tom Johnson (no relation), an adviser, “to convince the South Vietnamese government to wait until Nixon was in office were reprehensible.” Larry O’Brien, the head of the Democratic National Committee whose Watergate office was broken into by the Nixon burglars, quotes Johnson as saying, “What kind of a guy could engage in something like this?” I give full excerpt of Updegrove’s account of the scandal. Those quoted are Tom Johnson, O’Brien, Bryce Harlow, and Arthur Krim; Harlow and Krim were, respectively, advisers for Nixon and Johnson:

In mid-October, Johnson began setting the stage for a total bombing halt on the condition that the North Vietnamese de-escalate military operations, an action made as a Hail Mary to catalyze the fruitless Paris peace talks. Both sides also dropped objections to dealing directly with the Vietcong and South Vietnamese respectively. In Saigon, President Thieu gave every indication that he was willing to negotiate on those terms. Then, just before Johnson announced the halt in bombing, Thieu backed off unexpectedly. Despite pressure exerted on Thieu by the administration, he stood his ground, prompting Johnson to go ahead with the bombing halt anyway, a move he announced on October 31. By then, days before Americans went to the polls to determine their next president, the White House got a bead on Thieu’s sudden change of heart – and it pointed to the Nixon campaign.

Intelligence reports showed that Madame Anna Chennault, co-chair of Republican Women for Nixon and the wealthy widow of General Claire Chennault, the famed World War II aviator who attained hero status by leading the Flying Tigers squadron, had urged Nixon to reach out to the South Vietnamese to assure them that they would get more favorable terms from him than those Johnson was proposing. Though no evidence linked Nixon directly to Chennault, Nixon and she had broached the subject of Vietnam at a meeting in his New York apartment in which he asked her to be his “channel to Mr. Thieu.”

An October 27 wiretap revealed that Chennault had forwarded a message from “apparently authoritative Republican” sources urging “Mr. Thieu to abort or cripple the [Paris] deal by refusing to participate.” Johnson strongly suspected that Nixon had sanctioned the communication, which, in effect, hedged the Republican candidate’s bets against the probability of a galvanized peace process having a positive rub-off effect on Humphrey in the neck-and-neck presidential race.

Nixon, campaigning under the slogan “Nixon’s the One,” dangled the notion of his “secret plan for peace” in Vietnam compellingly before the American people on the hustings, with the candidate pledging to unveil its details after his election. As the contest wound down to its final days, the Johnson White House wrestled with what to do with potentially explosive implications that the Nixon campaign had, in fact, derailed the peace process.

ARTHUR KRIM: Nixon, on the record, was saying, “I have a plan [for peace] but I won’t announce it until after I’m president.” Now, as far as Nixon’s connection with that is concerned, I do not know how far it went. LBJ, of course, suspected it and probably knew more about it than he would tell me, but I’m referring to those famous cables.

Just before the weekend of the election, there was a lot of movement in Paris about their finally sitting down for serious negotiations with the South Vietnamese, at a time when the momentum was moving tremendously toward Hubert. The fact that they were going to have a real peace conference was a big factor in the momentum. The president told me very much off the record that they had this cable that Madame Chennault had sent to, I guess it was Thieu or somebody in South Vietnam saying, “Don’t cooperate in Paris. It will be helpful to Humphrey.”

* * *

In a direct exchange with Johnson, Nixon denied any part in the Chennault affair. Johnson upon getting wind of the Chennault cables, called Everett Dirksen demanding to know whether Nixon was at fault. In turn, Dirksen phoned Bryce Harlow, a Washington power broker and adviser to Nixon, who placed an early morning call to Nixon while he was campaigning in California.

BRYCE HARLOW, senior adviser and counselor to Richard Nixon, 1968-71, 1973-74: I told [Nixon], “You’ve got to talk to LBJ. Someone has told him that you’re all over the South Vietnamese to keep them from doing something about peace and he’s just about to believe it. If you don’t let him know quickly that it’s not so, then he’s going to dump. At least he says so. Ev is just beside himself. He says that Lyndon is simply enraged and we ought to do something…you’ve got to do it.” And so he did. He called him. He got him on the phone and said there was absolutely no truth to it as far as he knew.

I’m not convinced it was not true. It was too tempting a target…

But at any rate, Nixon told him no and Johnson put down his pistol, except probably Johnson didn’t believe it. But he probably couldn’t prove it, I suppose.

ARTHUR KRIM: [Johnson] said at that time that he had no evidence of how much Nixon had to do with this but rather suspected that he had. And he said he was going to call Hubert and at least give him the information, let him decide what to do with it.

LARRY O’BRIEN: [W]hen this information finally developed into something assumed meaningful with the Anna Chennault situation, it was very late in the campaign. Should you go or not go? You don’t have the documentation, but it’s clearly beyond the point of thinking wishfully of being suspicious. There is clearly something there. We were convinced of that. But I didn’t focus on that until, I’ll have to say probably 48, 72 hours before the election.

What happened was I went to California. I had our close-out meetings with our California people, trying to utilize my time over those last couple of days as effectively as I could. Humphrey came into Los Angeles very upbeat. I’ll have to say I was upbeat because the reports I received on the Texas venture were upbeat. Humphrey was the old Humphrey with all his enthusiasm. This campaign was coming to a great upbeat climax. Now, in that atmosphere, there was a brief discussion on [the Chennault] matter. I recall it was hasty. He’s going somewhere, I’m going somewhere. It probably didn’t last more than a few minutes, and I must say that my focus wasn’t total. But it did penetrate enough for me to realize that Humphrey had sufficient evidence to consider going public. But it was clear that he really didn’t want to discuss it in detail with me. Not that he was keeping me out of the circle, but he was wavering and leaning toward leaving it alone.

He expressed deep concern, made a couple of references to Nixon personally: “What kind of a guy could engage in something like this?” He was, I guess you’d have to say, shocked.

But now, in the context of what knowledge he had, I think what came across to me was his concern about utilizing it – whether it was justified, whether there was enough evidence so he could hold his head high and not be accused of playing cheap politics at the end of a desperation effort to win an election.

* * *

In the late 1970s, after Humphrey’s death in 1978, Abe Fortas and Clark Clifford informed Mrs. Johnson about the Chennault affair, asserting that Humphrey sat on the information because he believed that the country had suffered enough throughout the course of the last several years, and that going forward would only divide it further. Mrs. Johnson’s only response was “Poor Hubert.”

TOM JOHNSON: I thought the actions by those associated with the Nixon campaign to convince the South Vietnamese government to wait until Nixon was in office were reprehensible. I remain amazed that LBJ and Humphrey did not publicize the actions taken by the Nixon side in this ultra-sensitive matter. It is my belief that Nixon would not have been elected if the public had learned of the efforts to sabotage, or at least to delay, the peace talks until Nixon was president. This was kept as a closely guarded secret.

* * *

Regardless of Nixon’s denials, Johnson remained convinced that he had been complicit in sabotaging the peace process toward his own political ends and the betrayal of his country. Chennault herself put the question to rest nearly three decades later, revealing in a 1997 interview with Nixon biographer Anthony Summers that Nixon had been in the loop on all of her exchanges with the South Vietnamese leadership. Nixon had been “conspiratorial” since asking Chennault for advice on Vietnam as he geared up for the campaign in 1967. “They worked out this deal to win the campaign,” Chennault said of the assurances she gave the South Vietnamese on Nixon’s behalf. “Power overpowers reason. It was all very, very confidential.”

I do not give this lengthy excerpt simply to convey the intensity of feeling about what took place, an anger over something much larger than who won or lost the election, and which Black does his best to downplay. I do so to give the reader a proper sense of the scandal, that this is no conspiracy theory kept alive like a weak fire by a few fringe dwellers and those with an animus for Nixon, but an event that a wide range of writers and researchers can confirm did indeed took place. It is a casual belief that no historical event of any magnitude can be concealed or become invisible by forgetting, and I think this belief false in general, and false in this specific case. This incident has remained largely unknown, thanks to the self-interest of Richard Nixon and his promoters, as well as those in Johnson’s circle who feared that it might have a devastating impact beyond the president who defeated them.

As a casual example, I give the “Claimed sabotage of negotiations by Nixon campaign” section for the wikipedia entry “Paris Peace Accords” on April 9th, 2014:

Bryce Harlow, former Eisenhower White House staff member, claimed to have “a double agent working in the White House….I kept Nixon informed.” Harlow and Henry Kissinger (who was friendly with both campaigns and guaranteed a job in either a Humphrey or Nixon administration) separately predicted Johnson’s “bombing halt”: “The word is out that we are making an effort to throw the election to Humphrey. Nixon has been told of it,” Democratic senator George Smathers informed Johnson. According to Robert Dallek, Kissinger’s advice “rested not on special knowledge of decision making at the White House but on an astute analyst’s insight into what was happening.” William Bundy stated that Kissinger obtained “no useful inside information” from his trip to Paris, and “almost any experienced Hanoi watcher might have come to the same conclusion”. While Kissinger may have “hinted that his advice was based on contacts with the Paris delegation,” this sort of “self-promotion….is at worst a minor and not uncommon practice, quite different from getting and reporting real secrets.”2 Nixon asked Anna Chennault to be his “channel to Mr. Thieu“; Chennault agreed and periodically reported to John Mitchell that Thieu had no intention of attending a peace conference. On November 2, Chennault informed the South Vietnamese ambassador: “I have just heard from my boss in Albuquerque who says his boss [Nixon] is going to win. And you tell your boss [Thieu] to hold on a while longer.”3 In response, Johnson ordered wire-tapping members of the Nixon campaign.4 Dallek wrote that Nixon’s efforts “probably made no difference” because Thieu was unwilling to attend the talks and there was little chance of an agreement being reached before the election; however, his use of information provided by Harlow and Kissinger was morally questionable, and Humphrey’s decision not to make Nixon’s actions public was “an uncommon act of political decency.”5 Conrad Black agreed that there is “no evidence” connecting Kissinger, who was “playing a fairly innocuous double game of self-promotion”, with attempts to undermine the peace talks. Black further commented that “the Democrats were outraged at Nixon, but what Johnson was doing was equally questionable”, and there is “no evidence” that Thieu “needed much prompting to discern which side he favored in the U.S. election.”6

I admire this entry as I might someone who is able to carve the most elegant shapes out of the most meagre and cheap scraps of paper. It is not simply that it is very dishonest and wrong. Not simply that it is dishonest and wrong on the crucial element of the case, presenting Chennault as someone who was simply passing information from Thieu to Nixon, when the truth was more sinister, that Nixon was telling Thieu to delay participating in the peace talks until Nixon was president, at which point Thieu would get a better. It is that every footnote for this section, save one for Black’s book, is sourced to Robert Dallek’s Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, and this book presents us the same narrative as we’ve seen in other books, very much consistent with the other surrounding evidence, with Nixon and Chennault playing an active role to derail the peace talks. The only qualifier is the same piece of comfort mentioned earlier, that these peace talks might have failed anyway. Christopher Hitchens would review the book in Slate, where he scolded it for often taking the most lenient and forgiving attitude of each abominable incident of what he considered an abominable presidency. It is also, however, a kind of virtue, Hitchens believes, a point with which I agree, and for the same reason: that the lack of ideological fire, animus, or passion of the true believer, solidifies the events in the reader’s mind as indisputable.

From “Partners in Crime”:

The effect of Dallek’s book is somewhat enhanced by the extreme mildness with which he presents his findings. Indeed, wherever he can do so, he awards the benefit of the doubt. For example, in one of the most appalling instances-the Nixon camp’s attempt to sabotage the Johnson-Humphrey Paris peace talks on Vietnam in 1968-he takes the most exculpatory line that it is possible for a historian to adopt.

I excerpt this book’s description of the act of sabotage, and the reader might contrast it with the wikipedia account now written, citing this very book as its near exclusive source:

How did Nixon use the information provided by Kissinger and Harlow? And more important, did Nixon’s response to Johnson’s peace campaign break any laws and bend accepted political practices? Convinced that Johnson’s bombing halt was politically motivated, Nixon had no hesitation in exerting pressure on the South Vietnamese government of Nguyen Van Thieu to reject Washington demands to begin participating in the Paris talks on November 2, three days before the U.S. elections. Everyone involved in the negotiations believed that progress in the talks partly depended on Saigon’s presence in Paris, and most everyone inside the Nixon and Humphrey campaigns, as well as outside political observers, thought that surging hopes of peace could affect the outcome of an increasingly close presidential election.

From early in his campaign, Nixon had seen a peace settlement or even substantial movement in that direction as crucial to Humphrey’s chances in November. Consequently, in July 1968, Nixon had begun discouraging Saigon from accepting a possible invitation to join the ongoing Paris discussions. During that month, he and Mitchell met in Nixon’s New York apartment with South Vietnam’s ambassador to the United States, Bui Diem, and Anna Chennault, a co-chair of Republican Women for Nixon and the widow of General Claire Chennault of China’s World War II Flying Tigers. Nixon asked Chennault to be “his channel to Mr. Thieu via Bui Diem.” She agreed and periodically reported to Mitchell that Thieu had no intention of attending a peace conference before Nixon, hopefully became president.

On October 31, after Johnson announced the bombing halt, Mitchell phoned Chennault to say, “Anna, I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon. It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position and I hope you have made that very clear to them.” Despite Chennault’s assurances that Thieu would not agree to send a South Vietnamese delegation to the talks in early November, Mitchell said, “They really have decided not to go to Paris?” Chennault answered: “I don’t think they’ll go. Thieu has told me over and over again that going to Paris would be walking into a smoke screen that has nothing to do with reality.”

When Thieu continued to resist U.S. embassy pleas that he join the Paris talks, and Johnson heard that someone “very close to Nixon” believed he was encouraging “Saigon to be difficult,” Johnson blamed Nixon for Thieu’s uncooperativeness. At a White House meeting with diplomatic and military advisers on October 29, Johnson said, “It would rock the world if it were said [that] he [Thieu] was conniving with the Republicans. Can you imagine what people would say if it were to be known that Hanoi has met all these conditions and then Nixon’s conniving with them [the South Vietnamese] kept us from getting [a peace agreement]?”

Because he believed that Thieu might still be persuaded to join the peace talks and because he wanted to learn precisely what the Nixon camp was telling Saigon, Johnson instructed the FBI to wiretap Chennault and keep her under surveillance. He also ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to intercept cables between the South Vietnamese embassy in Washington and Saigon. Since the White House believed that violations of national security might be involved, it saw the bugging and surveillance as legal. But there were other risks: National Security Adviser Walt Rostow warned Johnson that the taps posed “real difficulties. She lives at Water Gate – a huge apartment. She is constantly seeing Republicans – the risk of discovery is high.” It was a warning that surely could have been useful to Nixon and John Mitchell in the future.

The intercepts and wiretaps, including taps on “the telephone connection in vice-presidential candidate [Spiro] Agnew’s chartered campaign plane,” confirmed that the Nixon campaign was discouraging Thieu from a part in the Paris talks. As Johnson described it later to Cartha DeLoach, the deputy director of the FBI, Chennault told the South Vietnamese ambassador on November 2, “‘I have just heard from my boss in Albuquerque [Agnew, who was campaigning in New Mexico that day] who says his boss [Nixon] says we’re going to win. And you tell your boss [Thieu] to hold on a while longer.’”

With only four days left in the campaign, Humphrey, who learned about Nixon’s activities from Johnson, wrestled with questions about whether to leak the information to the press or openly accuse Nixon of undermining the peace talks. Johnson was furious at Nixon. Aides recalled that Johnson described Nixon as guilty of “treason”: American boys were losing their lives in the service of Nixon’s political ambitions, Johnson said. The fact that Nixon frustrated Johnson’s hopes of getting a settlement before he left office also incensed Johnson, who wanted the historical record to show that he had made peace as well as war in Vietnam. Because they knew that they would have to disclose how they obtained their information if they revealed it and because they feared it might provoke a constitutional crisis and make it nearly impossible for a Nixon administration to govern, Johnson and Humphrey decided against revealing Nixon’s secret intrusion into the Paris discussions.

Nixon knew that Johnson was “mad as all get-out” over what he was doing to impede the talks. After Illinois Republican Senator Everett Dirksen told Harlow that Johnson had called in a rage, Harlow urged Nixon to speak to Johnson. “Someone has told him that you’re dumping all over the South Vietnamese to keep them from doing something about peace…If you don’t let him know quickly that it’s not so, then he’s going to dump” on you. Nixon denied any involvement, but Harlow never believed him. Stopping the peace talks “was too tempting a target. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some shenanigans going on,” Harlow said later.

On November 3, Nixon called Johnson and categorically denied that he was doing anything to disrupt the peace negotiations. Nixon’s call strengthened Johnson’s decision not to publicize the allegations, and according to a later story in the Sunday Times of London, “Nixon and his friends collapsed in laughter” after he and Johnson hung up. “It was partly in sheer relief that their victory had not been taken from them at the eleventh hour.” William Bundy says that Nixon’s “barefaced lie was his only tenable line of defense.” In 1997, Chennault revealed that Nixon and Mitchell knew everything: “I was constantly in touch with Mitchell and Nixon,” she said.

Did Nixon’s pressure on Thieu have an impact on the 1968 election? The popular vote favored Nixon by only .7 percent, 43.4 percent to Humphrey’s 42.7 percent; 13.5 percent of the votes went to Wallace. The Electoral College was a different story: Nixon had a decisive edge of 301 to 191. If Wallace had not been in the race, it seems almost certain that a majority of his votes would have gone to Nixon.

It is doubtful that successful peace talks or the likelihood of an early peace settlement would have changed the outcome. Humphrey was too clearly identified with Johnson’s unpopular administration. And though some voters might have concluded that Humphrey would steer the country on a new course, the majority saw Humphrey as likely to continue much of what Johnson had been doing in domestic affairs, where many Americans now felt he had overreached himself. And even if Humphrey ended the war, he would remain tainted with his earlier support of Johnson’s activities in Vietnam1.

Whatever my issues with this piece, we have here, indisputably, Nixon actively interfering with the peace talks via Chennault. “From early in his campaign,” Dallek writes, “Nixon had seen a peace settlement or even substantial movement in that direction as crucial to Humphrey’s chances in November. Consequently, in July 1968, Nixon had begun discouraging Saigon from accepting a possible invitation to join the ongoing Paris discussions.” I again take issue with the idea that Agnew’s place was tapped in this sentence, but the conclusion remains the same: “The intercepts and wiretaps, including taps on “the telephone connection in vice-presidential candidate [Spiro] Agnew’s chartered campaign plane,” confirmed that the Nixon campaign was discouraging Thieu from a part in the Paris talks.” John Mitchell, Nixon campaign manager, makes sure that a clear message is sent: “On October 31, after Johnson announced the bombing halt, Mitchell phoned Chennault to say, “Anna, I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon. It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position and I hope you have made that very clear to them.””

I do not focus on the small space of this wikipedia entry because it is the final authority on this matter (though for too many people, it will be), and I am not surprised that a contentious incident from the life of a controversial president would be edited in a way to cast him in the most favorable light. I place focus here because for other contentious areas, the event would be well enough known that you could imagine both sides firing back and forth salvos of edits and re-edits. In this case, this historical moment remains sufficiently unknown that many readers would not know why it was in dispute, let alone what the elements of the dispute were.

This post might be ended in a contrast with the obsessiveness given over to the conspiracy theories dealing with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There is the obvious distinction that here we were dealing with the actual killing of a beloved figure, and that of course this is going to take up more press space. What is astonishing, however, is that so many of these theories involve the military industrial complex or its representatives as the culprits in the assassination. This is an astonishing, incredibly disturbing claim, and were sufficient numbers to passionately and sincerely believe in such theories, I think it would be dangerous, even revolutionary. That the press gives such theories broad play is that ultimately there is no such danger, they are casually discussed as fantastic hypotheticals, where a few overimaginatives might throw out their ideas and the weight of evidence clearly points to the traditional solution, a lonely disaffected rootless man sought fame through the great deed of killing a great man, followed by another rootless individual seeking heroic fame by killing the first assassin. To write of the Chennault-Nixon backchannel, on the other hand, we deal with something that is very real, and for which many paid a price. If one insists that there was a very real possibility of another path in 1968, with a bombing halt a Humphrey election, and the two sides of Vietnam sitting down for talks, then one might imagine a massive drop in casualties, and afterwards, no Laos, no Cambodia bombing, no Cambodia genocide. Millions who are dead now might well be alive. That possibility is tangible enough that one can understand the avoidance of the subject and one might even understand the long silence on the part of those who lost only an election.

THE TREASON OF RICHARD NIXON: FROM POSSIBILITY TO CERTAINTY

PART ONE PART TWO

(Header image from Point Break copyright Twentieth Century Fox.)

(On April 10th, the citations for Robert Dallek’s Nixon and Kissinger were added.)

FOOTNOTES FOR RICHARD NIXON: A LIFE IN FULL BY CONRAD BLACK

29 Anna Chennault, The Education of Anna, pp. 173-177

30 Nixon, Memoirs, pp. 326-27.

31 Chennault, p. 175.

32 New York Times, 10/28/68.

33 Johnson, p. 548.

THE ARROGANCE OF POWER BY ANTHONY SUMMERS

26 Chennault told both this author and another researcher that she did not remember having received a call from New Mexico. She speculated that if she had been overheard referring to New Mexico, she was probably meaning to refer to New Hampshire, home state of Robert Hill, one of those she had nominated to Nixon as go-betweens. The documentary record, however, seems to be more reliable on this matter than Chennault’s memory. (Other researcher: conv. Catherine Forslund.)

FOOTNOTES FOR THE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE “PARIS PEACE ACCORDS”

2 Robert Dallek (2007), Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, HarperCollins, pp. 73-74.

3 Dallek, pp. 74-75. In 1997, Chennault admitted that “I was constantly in touch with Nixon and Mitchell.”

4 Dallek, p. 75.

5 Dallek, pp. 77-78.

6 Conrad Black (2007), Richard Nixon: A Life in Full , PublicAffairs, p. 553.

NIXON AND KISSINGER: PARTNERS IN POWER BY ROBERT DALLEK

1 This book does not feature citations by footnote, but via page number and the relevant text. The excerpt is taken from the pp. 74-77, and I list the relevant citations here:

PAGE 74 How did Nixon: Dallek, Flawed Giant, 584-87; Bundy, 40-41.
PAGE 75 When Thieu continued: Dallek, Flawed Giant, 585-86.
PAGE 75 Because he believed: Ibid., 586.
PAGE 75 The intercepts: FRUS: Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969, 615-16.
PAGE 75 With only four days: Ibid., 687; Dallek, Flawed Giant, 588, 591-92.
PAGE 76 Nixon knew: Ibid., 590-91; Bundy, 43.
PAGE 76 Did Nixon’s pressure: For the vote and RN’s appeal, see Ambrose, Nixon: Triumph of a Politician, 220-22. The quote about “the Silent Majority” is on 222.

FOOTNOTES

1 From “LBJ Charges Pro-Nixon Move Beat Humphrey” by Jack Anderson, a column from October 2 1971, highlighting excerpts from Johnson’s memoir:

WASHINGTON – Lyndon Johnson charges in his forthcoming memoirs that Richard Nixon’s allies insured Hubert Humphrey’s 1968 presidential defeat by secretly persuading the Saigon government to stay away from the Paris peace talks.

The former President’s memoirs entitled “The Vantage Point,” are being kept under tight wraps. But we can quote the highlights.

Here, for example, how Johnson describes the GOP-Saigon skulduggery:

“People who claimed to speak for the Nixon camp began encouraging Saigon to stay away from Paris and promising that Nixon, if elected, would inaugurate a policy more to Saigon’s liking. “Those efforts paid off.

“On November 1, after previously indicating that they would have made him the talks [sic], the South Vietnamese leaders decided not to participate. That I am convinced, cost Hubert Humphrey the presidency, especially since a shift of only a few hundred thousand votes would have made him the winner.

“I am certain the outcome would have been different if the Paris peace talks had been in progress on Election day.”

Despite this, Johnson is surprisingly kind in his appraisal of Richard Nixon. “I never shared the intense dislike of Richard Nixon felt by many of my fellow Democrats…I considered him a much-maligned and misunderstood man. I looked upon Nixon as a tough, unyielding partisan and a shrewd politician, but always a man trying to do the best for his country…”

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The Treason of Richard Nixon: From Possibility To Certainty Part One

THE TREASON OF RICHARD NIXON: FROM POSSIBILITY TO CERTAINTY

PART ONE PART TWO

The title is not an attempt at cheap provocation, but an attempt to capture the raw truth of an event almost entirely forgotten and rarely spoken of, perhaps out of conscious avoidance of the disturbing qualities of the event itself. What follows contains no new revelations, and is an attempt at arranging all available materials to craft a substantial narrative around the event, and make a thorough case of what took place, rather than to score a simple ideological point. Those who wish a more succinct piece on the same event might prefer “The Lyndon Johnson tapes: Richard Nixon’s ‘treason’” by David Taylor, or “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry. All of the documents cited in this piece are via Parry’s article, and the full outlines of the plot given below is thanks to Parry’s work and The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Anthony Summers. I do not agree with all of Parry’s conclusions on all issues, but that someone is doing such solid, vital journalism while relying solely on the individual donations of readers, is one more shameful mark of the established press now, which is happy to subsidize so many banal and unnecessary voices.

I first came across this scandal, as did many others, in 2002, when I read The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens. Though the future Secretary of State was indicted for many acts, stunning, depraved, and unknown to me, this piece of election subterfuge stood out – had it failed, most if not all of the other acts he would be involved in could not have taken place. Hitchens would, in turn, obtain the substantial proof of the allegation from The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Summers, a thorough devastation of the ex-president’s life and career. Hitchens would give a positive review of the book in the Times, “Let Me Say This About That”, and he would appear alongside Summers to promote the book, on the Australian radio program, “Late Night Live” with Philip Adams, on Wednesday, November 15, 2000. In the following excerpt from the interview, Hitchens would single out the book’s reporting and confirmation of the relevant scandal, the spoiling of the 1968 Paris Peace Talks to end the Vietnam war, as its most vital point:

PHILIP ADAMS
Christopher, Kissinger pointed out in his memoirs that Nixon rather liked people to fear his madness. Of course, in ’69, he tells Kissinger to warn the Soviet ambassador that he was out of control on Indochina and capable of anything. Is there any evidence that he behaved this way with his staff and aides, or did he just direct this terrifying prospect at the Russians?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
Oh no, there’s every kind of evidence that his staff and aides grew to recognize the symptoms. I think the locus classicus would be the Haldeman diaries, where you have an almost weary assumption by Haldeman that the president’s at it again. “The P.” as he calls it, in his diaries. And very often, Haldeman will not act on some bizarre instruction or order. Because he thinks that probably when the president either sobers up, because there was a tremendous tendency for one scotch to make a gigantic difference…or just shakes off the mood. Wait twenty four hours, and he’ll have forgotten he told me to do this, or countermand it on second thought. That’s true of what I think is the most salient chapter of Mr. Summers’s book, namely, the conspiracy, because there is no other word for it…to try and sabotage the Paris Peace Talks in 1968.

ADAMS
I’d like you to talk to that, Christopher, because it is the blockbuster revelation, isn’t it?

HITCHENS
It is-

ADAMS
Or the confirmation of it.

HITCHENS
The confirmation. You have the skeleton, and quite a lot of the flesh of the story by inference, and by induction, in the Haldeman diaries, ’cause Haldeman discusses quite freely the fact that Nixon tried, contemplated trying, using, the fact he himself had been bugged. In 1968. As a weapon against the democrats in 1972. Okay, if you think bugging is a scandal, this is Watergate obviously, what if I bring out you bugging me? And then realizing he can’t do that, without revealing why he’s being bugged. Now, that’s all in the memoirs and diaries of his closest associate. And you can also context that it was about Viet Nam he was being bugged in 1968. Now, why would they be doing this? Why would they have- Why would’ve President Johnson wanted to tap candidate Nixon, and the answer is now very plain from the book we’re discussing. That he had opened an illegal backchannel to the South Vietnamese junta and said to them, “Look, if you don’t gratify the democratic administration by consenting to the Paris peace talks, if you don’t do them that favor, and discredit their re-election campaign, you will get a better deal in the incoming Republican administration.”

ANTHONY SUMMERS
Can I break in?

ADAMS
Yes, of course Anthony.

SUMMERS
The breakthrough for me, journalistically, was to be able to obtain the FBI surveillance file. As Christopher Hitchens has said, Johnson, who was given human information, indicating human intelligence, indicating what Nixon and his people were up to in terms of trying to sabotage the peace initiative, he ordered FBI surveillance to try and establish it. In fact, he didn’t establish it fully, because the reports didn’t come in till after the election. Not least because J. Edgar Hoover was less than keen to obey the president’s order in truly expeditious fashion. But the result that we have today is the FBI surveillance file which shows quite clearly that Nixon’s intermediary, Anna Chennault, who I also interviewed extensively, many times, was in constant touch, in those days before the election, carrying messages to the South Vietnamese ambassador in Washington, talking about “her boss”. And it’s complex, and you can’t explain it in a hurry on radio, but it becomes completely clear in context, that when she talks about “her boss”, she’s talking about Richard Nixon.

The FBI surveillance file is now easily available, a document I came across on Robert Parry’s “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’”, and the text which Summers cites is as follows1:

The most succinct, and acerbic, overview of the scandal can be found in The Trial of Henry Kissinger, where Hitchens sums it up in one acrid paragraph:

Here is the secret in plain words. In the fall of 1968, Richard Nixon and some of his emissaries and underlings set out to sabotage the Paris peace negotiations on Vietnam. The means they chose were simple: they privately assured the South Vietnamese military rulers that an incoming Republican regime would offer them a better deal than would a Democratic one. In this way, they undercut both the talks themselves and the electoral strategy of Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. The tactic “worked,” in that the South Vietnamese junta withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, thereby destroying the “peace plank” on which the Democrats had contested it. In another way, it did not “work,” because four years later the Nixon administration concluded the war on the same terms that had been on offer in Paris. The reason for the dead silence that still surrounds the question is that, in those intervening four years, some twenty thousand Americans and an uncalculated number of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians lost their lives. Lost them, that is to say, even more pointlessly than had those slain up to that point. The impact of those four years on Indochinese society, and on American democracy, is beyond computation. The chief beneficiary of the covert action, and of the subsequent slaughter, was Henry Kissinger.

A more detailed overview of the conspiracy was given by a man who was within its near radius, Clark Clifford, Secretary of Defense for President Lyndon Johnson when the peace talks were thwarted, and who gave extensive space to it in his 1991 memoir, Counsel to the President, co-written by Richard Holbrooke, a member of the United States negotiating team at the Vietnam peace talks in Paris. For some lengthy book excerpts I include their footnotes, separate from this post’s footnotes, so that readers may have a solid idea on the sources of their information, and this approach is taken here:

BUI DIEM AND THE “LITTLE FLOWER”

At about this time, a new and potentially explosive factor entered the picture our discovery, through intelligence channels, of a plot – there is no other word for it – to help Nixon win the election by a flagrant interference in the negotiations.

History is filled with characters who emerge for a moment, play a critical, sometimes even decisive, role in a historic event, and then recede again into their normal lives. Such was the function of two people who played key roles in electing Richard Nixon in 1968: Bui Diem, South Vietnam’s Ambassador in Washington, and Anna Chennault, the Chinese-born widow of General Claire Chennault, the commander of the famed Flying Tigers in Burma and China during World War II.

Mrs. Chennault, a small, intense, and energetic woman who was often seen in the company of her close friend Tommy Corcoran, was chairwoman of Republican Women for Nixon in 1968. Early in the year, she took Bui Diem to New York to meet Nixon. When Diem alerted his closest friend in the Administration, Bill Bundy, to the meeting, Bundy raised no objections; it was quite appropriate for an Ambassador to meet with a former Vice President. But Bui Diem neglected to mention to Bundy that, at Nixon’s request, he had opened a secret personal channel to John Mitchell and other senior members of the Nixon team through Chennault and John Tower, the Republican Senator from Texas.10

There was almost no one in Washington as well informed as the popular and affable Bui Diem. The State Department kept him informed of the negotiations in Paris, his own government sent him reports on the Bunker-Thieu [Bunker is Ellsworth Bunker, the U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam] talks in Saigon, and he maintained close relations with many prominent Americans, especially Republican conservatives such as Senator Tower and Everett Dirksen, the Senate Minority Leader. It was not difficult for Ambassador Diem to pass information to Anna Chennault, who was in contact with John Mitchell, she said later, “at least once a day.”11 Even more important, Diem could convey advice from the Nixon camp to Thieu.

In his memoirs, Diem claims he sent only two “relevant messages” to Saigon during October. While they “constituted circumstantial evidence for anybody ready to assume the worst,” he wrote, “they certainly did not mean that I had arranged a deal with the Republicans.” Some of Diem’s messages to Saigon later became public. On October 23, he cabled Thieu: “Many Republican friends have contacted me and encouraged us to stand firm. They were alarmed by press reports to the effect that you had already softened your position.” October 27: “The longer the present situation continues, the more we are favored…I am regularly in touch with the Nixon entourage.”12 Despite his disclaimer, I believe there were other messages, delivered through other channels; Diem correctly suspected he was under surveillance by American intelligence, and tried to fool his watchers by using more secure channels.

Diem was not Anna Chennault’s only channel to Saigon. As he wrote in his own memoirs, “My impression was that she may have played her own game in encouraging both the South Vietnamese and the Republicans.” She took seriously Nixon’s request that she act as “the sole representative between the Vietnamese government and the Nixon campaign headquarters,”13 and she certainly found other routes of communicating with President Thieu [Nguyen Thieu], including the South Vietnamese Ambassador to Taiwan, who happened to be Thieu’s brother.

What was conveyed to Thieu through the Chennault channel may never be fully known, but there was no doubt that she conveyed a simple and authoritative message from the Nixon camp that was probably decisive in convincing President Thieu to defy President Johnson – then delaying the negotiations and prolonging the war. Rather proudly, she recounted one specific message she received from John Mitchell in the last few days of the campaign. “Anna,” she quotes him as saying, “I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon, It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position and I hope you have made clear to them.”14

The activities of the Nixon team went far beyond the bounds of justifiable political combat. It constituted direct interference in the activities of the executive branch and the responsibilities of the Chief Executive, the only people with authority to negotiate on behalf of the nation. The activities of the Nixon campaign constituted a gross, even potentially illegal, interference in the security of the nation by private individuals.

We first became aware of these activities through the normal operations of the intelligence community in the weeks prior to the election. Gradually we realized that President Thieu’s growing resistance to the agreement in Paris was being encouraged, indeed stimulated, by the Republicans, and especially by Anna Chennault, whom we referred to as the “Little Flower.” In total privacy – and, at the President’s direction, without consulting Humphrey [Vice President Hubert Humphrey] – the President, Rusk [Secretary of State Dean Rusk], Rostow [National Security Adviser Walt Rostow], and I discussed what to do about this attempt to thwart the negotiations.

It was an extraordinary dilemma. On one hand, we had positive evidence that the Little Flower and other people speaking for the Republican candidate were encouraging President Thieu to delay the negotiations for political reasons. On the other, the information had been derived from extremely sensitive intelligence operations of the FBI, the CIA, and the National Security Agency; these included surveillance of the Ambassador of our ally, and an American citizen with strong political ties to the Republicans.*

*It should be remembered that the public was considerably more innocent in such matters in the days before the Watergate hearings and the 1974 Senate investigation of the CIA.

In a decision filled with consequences for the election and for history, President Johnson, although furious at Mrs. Chennault, decided not to use the information or make it public in any way. There were several contributing factors to his decision:

  • Underestimation of the damage. Bunker [U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Ellsworth Bunker] continued to predict that Thieu would accept our position within a few days. As a result, the President and Rusk seriously underestimated the harm the Chennault channel caused to the negotiating efforts
  • Weakening of support for Saigon. Johnson and Rusk still worried about losing American support for Thieu if information about his behavior and motives became public. For those who liked irony, there was plenty in Thieu’s defiance of Johnson while the Administration continued to shield him from the wrath of American public opinion. President Johnson had sacrificed his political career as a result of his efforts to save South Vietnam, but as far as Thieu was concerned, Johnson was just a lame duck – the choice was between Humphrey and Nixon.
  • Effect on the negotiations. Rusk was concerned that revealing the Chennault channel would reveal to Hanoi the strains between Saigon and Washington, stiffen Hanoi’s position, and disrupt the negotiations
  • Ambivalence about Hubert Humphrey. Finally, and most important, there was the question of President Johnson’s feelings about Hubert Humphrey. Throughout the campaign, the President treated his Vice President badly, excluding him from National Security Council meetings, and threatening to break with him over the platform plank on Vietnam.15 What mattered to President Johnson at that moment was not who would succeed him, but what his place in history would be.

Characteristically, the generous Humphrey does not even mention the incident in his memoirs,16 even though one of his staff told him about Bui Diem’s efforts on Nixon’s behalf, and he could reasonably have claimed that these events cost him the Presidency.

***

Perhaps in the wake of a decade of post-Watergate revelations about intelligence activities, the decision not to go public may seem fussy and old-fashioned; but whether the President was right or wrong, it was an exceedingly tough call. Had the decision been mine alone to make, I would either have had a private discussion with Nixon, making clear to him that if he did not sent a countervailing signal to Thieu immediately he would face public criticism from the President for interference in the negotiations; or I would have allowed the incident to become public, so that the American public might take it into account in deciding how to vote. Had he been the candidate himself, this is what I believed Lyndon Johnson would have done.

All this raises a critical question: what did Richard Nixon know, and when did he know it? No proof – in the terminology of the Watergate era, no “smoking gun” – has ever turned up linking Nixon directly to the secret messages to Thieu. There are no self-incriminating tapes from the campaign, and the whole incident has been relegated to the status of an unsolved mystery. On the other hand, this chain of events undeniably began in Richard Nixon’s apartment in New York, and his closest adviser, John Mitchell, ran the Chennault channel personally, with full understanding of its sensitivity. Given the importance of these events, I have always thought it was reasonable to assume that Mitchell told Nixon about them, and that Nixon knew, and approved, of what was going on in his name.

(Picture of Anna Chennault, from the Papers of Anna Chennault, at the Schlesinger Library.)

The FBI intercept of a conversation between Chennault and an associate in the Nixon campaign, known to Johnson along with a select few others, was a possible smoking gun but one of only many that would be unveiled decades later. The vote in 1968 would take place on November 5th, and though some reporting at the time spoke of the bombing halt and the Peace Talks as a last minute maneuver crafted to swing the election in the favor of Humphrey, the work to implement the talks was on-going for a long time. Nor were the intrigues of Nixon to interfere in the talks a last minute move either, but begun a year before, with Anna Chennault, the woman who would serve as Nixon’s weapon for spoiling the talks, already brought into the fold. Despite its occasional reliance on stereotypes, perhaps the most vivid description of Chennault that I’ve come across is from Theodore White’s The Making of the President 1968, and one of the few contemporary books to devote some investigative space to the episode, which was then only unsubstantiated rumor for those outside the circles of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and their closest intimates, though which White ultimately considers to be only a deadly rumor without proof, and deciding the matter in Nixon’s favor:

There is no way of getting at the dilemma of both parties except by introducing, at this point, the completely extraneous name of a beautiful Oriental lady, Anna Chan Chennault, the Chinese widow of war-time hero General Claire Chennault. Mrs. Chennault, an American citizen since 1950, comes of a line that begins with Mei-ling Soong (Madame Chiang K’ai-shek) and runs through Madame Nhu (the Dragon Lady of South Vietnam) – a line of Oriental ladies of high purpose and authoritarian manners whose pieties and iron righteousness have frequently outrun their brains and acknowledged beauty. In the campaign of 1968, Mrs. Chennault, a lady of charm, energy and great name, had become chairman or co-chairman of several Nixon citizen committees, wearing honorific titles which were borne by many but which she took more seriously than most. In that circle of Oriental diplomacy in Washington once known as the China Lobby, Anna Chennault was hostess-queen. Having raised (by her statement later) some $250 000 for the Nixon campaign, she felt entitled to authority by her achievement. And, having learned of the October negotiations by gossip and rumor and press speculation, as did most Americans, she had undertaken most energetically to sabotage them. In contact with the Formosan, the South Korean and the South Vietnamese governments, she had begun early, by cable and telephone, to mobilize their resistance to the agreement – apparently implying, as she went, that she spoke for the Nixon campaign.

Summers, who would interview Chennault for his book, would give a more in-depth of the background between the intertwining of Chennault and Nixon in the year before the election:

The intrigues of 1968 really began the previous year. While Chennault was traveling in Asia, she received a spate of telegrams asking her to visit Nixon in New York. Robert Hill, a Republican foreign policy specialist, met her at the airport and escorted her to Nixon’s Fifth Avenue apartment. While Hill waited in another room, Nixon introduced her to John Mitchell.

Chennault agreed that day to provide Nixon with advice on Vietnam in the coming months, working through Hill and Texas Senator John Tower. “When we do things,” Nixon told her as the meeting ended, “it’ll be better to keep it secret.” He seemed even then, Chennault recalled, “conspiratorial.”

In July the following year, as the election drew nearer, Chennault went to the Nixon apartment with South Vietnam’s ambassador Bui Diem-a visit documented by both their diaries. A surviving internal staff memo addressed to “DC,” Nixon’s campaign pseudonym, pointed out that it “would have to be absolute [sic] top secret.” “Should be,” Nixon replied in a scrawled notation, “but I don’t see how-with the S.S. [Secret Service] If it can be [secret] RN would like to see. . . .”

Nixon had told Chennault he wanted to “end this war with victory,” a sentiment he now always repeated at the meeting with her and Bui Diem. “If I should be elected the next President,” Chennault recalled his telling Bui Diem, “you can rest assured I will have a meeting with your leader and find a solution to winning this war.” Nixon had met with Thieu in Saigon the previous year. Now, he told Thieu’s ambassador that Chennault was to be “the only contact between myself and your government. If you have any message for me, please give it to Anna, and she will relay it to me, and I will do the same. . . .”

According to Chennault, she met more than once that year with President Thieu in Saigon. He complained about the pressure the Johnson administration was putting on him to attend peace talks and told her: “I would much prefer to have the peace talks after your elections.” He asked her to “convey this message to your candidate.” She did. From time to time President Thieu also sent her word through Ambassador Diem. He also used other messengers, including a colonel on his military staff, apparently because he did not entirely trust his own ambassador.22

In the weeks that followed Chennault had several more meetings with Nixon and Mitchell in New York. They told her to inform Saigon that were Nixon to become president, South Vietnam would get “a better deal.” “The message,” she told the author, “was relayed.”

Asked if Nixon and Mitchell were trying to cut a deal to help win the election, Chennault nodded. “They worked out this deal to win the campaign,” she said. “Power overpowers all reason.”

“It was all very, very confidential,” in Chennault’s description. The air of intrigue was pervasive. At the July meeting Bui Diem remembered, Mitchell had been “silent, didn’t say a word.” Chennault noted that he worried constantly about wiretapping and kept changing his private telephone number. Chennault meanwhile told Nixon she could always be reached through Robert Hill, the party official who had arranged the first meeting, Rose Woods, or another prominent Republican, Patricia Hitt.

There is the possibility that even at this early point, Chennault’s interference may have been discovered, without it necessarily being connected to Nixon. The possibility exists, accompanied by all these uncertainties, because at a later date many of the documents that resulted from the surveillance of Chennault were collected, declassified, and made public. One document, however, commissioned in August 3rd, 1968, by Bromley Smith, a national security aide in the Johnson administration, remains entirely redacted. It no doubt has something to do with the Paris peace talks and Chennault, but anything else can only be guessed at. Here is all of the text that is public at this time2:

RECEIVED WASHINGTON COMCENTER
5:33 P.M. SATURDAY AUG 68

RECEIVED: LBJ RANCH COMCENTER
5:05 P.M. SATURDAY 3 AUG 68

TOP SECRET

SENSITIVE

SANITIZED

Z E V
EEA973
00 WTE10
DE WTE 2975

FROM BROMLEY SMITH
TO THE PRESIDENT
CITE CAP81797

T O P S E C R E T SENSITIVE

[REDACTED]

SANITIZED
E.O. 13526 Sec. 3.5
NLJ 10-96
By isl NARA, Date 1-10-11

At the same time that Nixon was using Chennault as an active intermediary with Ambassador Bui Diem and the South Vietnamese, he was being given top secret briefings on the diplomatic negotiations taking place between the Administration and both sides of the civil war. We have a quote from a Nixon ad man when Gloria Steinem profiled the 1968 Nixon campaign, made on September 20th of that year. Had Nixon’s attitude toward Communism changed over the years?, asked Steinem. “Oh no, absolutely not,” replies the ad man. “He understands those people. He knows you have to be tough or they’ll take us over. You see, I have some special knowledge – though, of course, Mr. Nixon has more. I happen to know he’s had top secret briefings – but I have some knowledge from old friends in the military. They come back and tell me the way it really is. If we don’t stop the Chinese here, they’ll keep right on going. Of course, he can’t say anything about Vietnam because it might interfere with the talks in Paris. Mr. Nixon’s a man of real integrity-he won’t take advantage of his special knowledge if it would help Ho Chi Minh, But he knows the enemy, and he knows they hope to win because of all these misguided sympathizers pressuring us here. I’m for him because he won’t let that happen.”3

This would lead up to a conference call between Johnson and the candidates on October 16th, a little more than two weeks before the election, where he would brief them on the negotiations taking place. Thanks to the declassification of these recordings, we now know what was said on the call. From here on, I divide the narrative of this crucial narrative of 1968 by date.

OCTOBER 16, 1968

The audio from the following call, along with its transcript, is available at the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program, record “WH6810-04-13547-13548″. The call took place between 11:41am and 11:57am, between Johnson, Republican candidate Richard Nixon, Democrat Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace, former Democrat, segregationist, and candidate for the American Independent Party. The following are excerpts where Johnson makes clear the importance of maintaining secrecy over the negotiations, and the candidates not making any counter-offers in public speeches, as this would jeopardize negotiations4:

JOHNSON
This is in absolute confidence because any statement or any speeches or any comments at this time referring to the substance of these matters will be injurious to your country. I don’t think there’s any question about that.

First, I want to say this: That our position, the government position, today is exactly what it was the last time all three of you were briefed. That position namely is this: We are anxious to stop the bombing [of North Vietnam] and would be willing to stop the bombing if they would sit down with us with the Government of [South] Vietnam present and have productive discussions. We have told them that we did not think we could have discussions if, while we were talking, they were shelling the cities or if they were abusing the DMZ [Demilitarized Zone]. From time to time, beginning back late last Spring, they have nibbled back and forth at these various items. Each time they do, there is a great flurry of excitement. Now, we have been hopeful one day that they would understand this. We don’t want to call it “reciprocity”; we don’t want to call it “conditions,” because they object to using those words, and that just knocks us out of an agreement. But we know that you join us in wanting peace the earliest day we can and to save lives as quickly as we can and as many as we can. So, one day we’re hopeful, and the next day we’re very disillusioned.

Now, as of today they have not signed on and agreed to the proposition which I have outlined to you, nor have they indicated that this would be a satisfactory situation to them in its entirety. Our negotiators are back and forth talking to them, and they have just finished their meeting in Paris this morning. But, yesterday in Saigon, because there are exchanges constantly going on, there came out a report that there was an agreement that would be announced at a specific hour. This morning in Paris the same thing happened, and [Averell] Harriman had to knock that down. We posted a notice here at the White House that said the same thing.

Now, very frankly, we would hope that we could have a minimum of discussion in the newspapers about these conferences, because we’re not going to get peace with public speeches, and we’re not going to get peace through the newspapers. We can get it only when they understand that our position is a firm one, and we’re going to stay by it. And what you all’s position will be when you get to be President, I would hope you could announce then. Because we have really this kind of a situation. If I’ve got a house to sell, and I put a rock bottom price of $40,000 on it, and the prospective purchaser says, “Well, that’s a little high, but let me see.” And he goes–starts to leave to talk to his wife about it, and [First Lady] Lady Bird [Johnson] whispers that, “I would let you have it for $35,000.” And then he gets downstairs, and Lynda Bird [Johnson] says, “We don’t like the old house anyway, and we get it $30,000.” Well, he’s not likely to sign up.

The three things that Johnson is demanding as necessary from North Vietnam is that there be no shelling of the cities of South Vietnam, no crossing of the DMZ separating the two sides of the country, and that the elected government of South Vietnam, the GVN, be at the table. These are the three things he refers to in the next excerpt, where all three candidates affirm their agreement on the need for secrecy and non-interference with the diplomatic negotiations.

JOHNSON
Now, we do not have to get a firm contract on all these three things. But I do have to have good reason to believe that it won’t be on-again-off-again Flanagan; that I won’t have to stop the bombing one day and start it the next. Now, obviously, they can deceive me, and we know that in dealing with the Communists that they frequently do that. We have had a good many experiences of that right in these negotiations.

But what I called you for was to say in substance this: our position has not changed. I do not plan to see a change. I have not issued any such orders. I will con–I will talk to each of you before I do, and all of you on an equal basis. I know you don’t want to play politics with your country. I’m trying to tell you what my judgment is about how not to play politics with it. And I know all of you want peace at the earliest possible moment. And I would just express the hope that you be awfully sure what you’re talking about before you get into the intricacies of these negotiations. Over. Now, I’ll be glad to have any comment any of you want to make or answer any questions.

HUMPHREY
No comment, Mr. President. Thank you very much.

NIXON
Yep. Well, as you know, my–this is consistent with what my position has been all along. I’ve made it very clear that I will make no statement that would undercut the negotiations. So we’ll just stay right on there and hope that this thing works out.

JOHNSON
George, are you on?

WALLACE
Yes, sir, Mr. President, and of course, that’s my position all along, too–is the position you stated, yes, sir. And I agree with you that we shouldn’t play any politics with this matter so that it might foul up the negotiations in any manner.

Though he gave his assent in the phone call, Nixon actually had a very different attitude which he was fully open about a few years later. He would also reveal that he knew in advance of the eventual bombing halt on October 31st, through a mole in the negotiating team: Henry Kissinger. It was his involvement which brought this scandal into the purview of Hitchens’ book, and it is in The Trial of Henry Kissinger that the reader can find out where this source is revealed: from the memoirs of the capo di tutti capi himself, Richard Nixon. From Trial:

There had to be secret communications between Nixon and the South Vietnamese, as we have seen. But there also had to be an informant inside the incumbent administration’s camp – a source of hints and tips and early warnings of official intentions. That informant was Henry Kissinger. In Nixon’s own account, RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, the disgraced elder statesman tells us that, in mid-September 1968, he received private word of a planned “bombing halt.” In other words, the Johnson administration would, for the sake of the negotiations, consider suspending its aerial bombardment of North Vietnam. This most useful advance intelligence, Nixon tells us, came “through a highly unusual channel.” It was more unusual even than he acknowledged. Kissinger had until then been a devoted partisan of Nelson Rockefeller, the matchlessly wealthy prince of liberal Republicanism. His contempt for the person and the policies of Richard Nixon was undisguised. Indeed, President Johnson’s Paris negotiators, led by Averell Harriman, considered Kissinger to be almost one of themselves. He had made himself helpful, as Rockefeller’s chief foreign policy advisor, by supplying French intermediaries with their own contacts in Hanoi. “Henry was the only person outside of the government we were authorized to discuss the negotiations with,” says Richard Holbrooke. “We trusted him. It is not stretching the truth to say that the Nixon campaign had a secret source within the US negotiating team.”

Though Nixon is very opaque if not rankly dishonest about many parts of this episode in his memoir, never mentioning Chennault or his successful attempt to spoil the peace talks, he is explicit and up front over the use of Kissinger to hand over information. He is equally explicit in his true reaction to the eventual halt: “anger and frustration” at what must be an attempt by Johnson to win the election for Humphrey. Nixon describes the secret diplomatic channel from the starting point of Johnson calling him on October 31st to let him know of the announcement that night of the bombing halt, then moves back to September when he first began using Kissinger to get information on the peace talks, and I follow the excerpt up until the conference call of October 16th:

More than anything else, Humphrey had Lyndon Johnson to thank for the eleventh-hour masterstroke that almost won him the election.

On October 31 I was to address a nationally televised rally at Madison Square Garden in New York. I set aside a couple of quiet hours in the afternoon, and I was sitting in my study at home making notes for the speech later that evening when the telephone rang. It was a White House operator: the President was placing a conference call to Humphrey, Wallace, and me. A moment later Lyndon Johnson was on the line.

He got right to the point. There had been a breakthrough in Paris, he said, and after wide consultations among his advisers, he had decided to call a total bombing halt over North Vietnam. He would make the announcement on television in two hours. As Johnson went one, I thought to myself that whatever this meant to North Vietnam, he had just dropped a pretty good bomb in the middle of my campaign.

Johnson said, rather defensively, “I’m not concerned with an election. You all are concerned with an election. I don’t think this concerns an election. I think all of you want the same thing. So I thought if I laid it on the line that way, and presented it to you, you would at least have a complete, full understanding of all the facts.”

Johnson explained that he had not been able to persuade Saigon to agree to the provisions of the bombing halt, so that South Vietnam would not be joining in the announcement.

When Johnson finished, and we had asked some perfunctory questions, George Wallace said, “I’m praying for you.”

Humphrey said, “I’m backing you up, Mr. President.”

I thanked Johnson for making the call and seconded Humphrey’s pledge of support.

The telephone call over, I could feel my anger and frustration welling up. Johnson was making the one move that I thought could determine the outcome of the election. Had I done all this work and come all this way only to be undermined by the powers of an incumbent who had decided against seeking re-election?

I remembered how categorical Johnson had been at our briefing earlier that summer. Then he had been contemptuous of those who wanted a bombing halt, and his arms had sliced the air as he insisted that he was not going to let one ammunition truck pass freely into South Vietnam carrying the weapons to kill American boys.

In fact, the bombing halt came as no real surprise to me. I had known for several weeks that plans were being made for such an action; the announcement was the other shoe that I had been waiting for Johnson to drop. What I found difficult to accept was the timing. Announcing the halt so close to the election was utterly callous if politically calculated, and utterly naive if sincere.

I had learned of the plan through a highly unusual channel. It began on September 12, when Haldeman brought me a report from John Mitchell that Rockefeller’s foreign policy adviser, Henry Kissinger, was available to assist us with advice. In 1967 Kissinger had served Johnson as a secret emissary, passing Johnson’s offers for a bombing halt to the North Vietnamese via French intermediaries. At one point Johnson even recommended a direct meeting, but the North Vietnamese were recalcitrant, and the “Kissinger channel” came to an end in October 1967. Kissinger, however, retained the respect of Johnson and his national security advisers, and he continued to have entr&eaute;e into the administration’s foreign policy circles.

I knew that Rockefeller had been offering Kissinger’s assistance and urging that I make use of it ever since the convention. I told Haldeman that Mitchell should continue as liaison with Kissinger and that we should honor his desire to keep his role completely confidential.

Two weeks after his first meeting with Mitchell, Kissinger called again. He said that he had just returned from Paris, where he had packed up word that something big was afoot regarding Vietnam. He advised that if I had to say anything about Vietnam during the following week, I should avoid any new ideas or proposals. Kissinger was completely circumspect in the advice he gave us during the campaign. If he was privy to the details of negotiations, he did not reveal them to us. He considered it proper and responsible, however, to warn me against making any statements that might be undercut by negotiations I was not aware of.

I asked Haldeman to have Bryce Harlow call the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen. “Have Ev tell Lyndon that I have a message from Paris,” I suggested. “Leave the hint that I know what’s going on, and tell Ev to nail Lyndon hard to find out what’s happening.”

I also told Haldeman to have Agnew ask Dean Rusk whether there was anything to “rumors” we had heard.

That same day I sent a memo to my key staffers and writers ordering them to put the Vietnam monkey on Humphrey’s back, not Johnson’s. I wanted to make it clear that I thought it was Humphrey rather than the President who was playing politics with the war.

A few days later Haldeman sent me a memorandum with more information from Kissinger to Mitchell.

Our source feels that there is a better than even chance that Johnson will order a bombing halt at approximately mid-October. This will be tied in with a big flurry of diplomatic activity in Paris which will have no meaning but will be made to look important.

After covering other diplomatic matters, the memo continued:

Our source does not believe that it is practical to oppose a bombing halt but does feel thought should be given to the fact that it may happen – that we may want to anticipate it – and that we certainly will want to be ready at the time it does happen…

Our source is extremely concerned about the moves Johnson may take and expects that he will take some action before the election.

That same day I learned that Dean Rusk had reassured Agnew that there were no new developments and that the administration would not “cut our legs off” with an announcement in October. If there were any change, he said, Johnson would call me right away. Rusk did say, however, that although there was nothing currently planned, the situation was “fast-changing.”

On October 9, the North Vietnamese in Paris publicly called on Johnson to stop the bombing while he still had the power to do so. Johnson, of course, knew what the public did not know: secret negotiations for a bombing halt were already taking place.

Three days later we received another secret report from Kissinger saying that there was a strong possibility that the administration would move before October 23. Kissinger strongly recommended that I avoid making any statements about Humphrey’s hurting the prospects of peace. Rather cryptically, Kissinger strongly reported that there was “more to this than meets the eye.” I thought that this report from Kissinger was uncomfortably vague. Why was he trying to get me to avoid making statements about Vietnam and why was he so insistent about laying off Humphrey? One factor that had most convinced me of Kissinger’s credibility was the length to which he went to protect his secrecy. But what if Johnson’s people knew that he was passing information to me and were feeding him phony stories? In such a tense political and diplomatic atmosphere, I was no longer sure of anything.

Over the next few days rumors became rampant that something big was about to happen in Paris. Reporters demanded to know what was happening, and in response to their questions, the White House press office released a statement that there were no breakthroughs in Paris and no change in the situation.

I was campaigning in Missouri on October 16 when word arrived from the White House that Johnson wanted to clarify matters with a conference call to all three candidates. When the call came, I was in Kansas City’s Union Station, about to address a large rally in the main waiting room. I took his call in a tiny room behind the platform. The “room” was like a telephone booth with a glass door. Throughout our conversation people wandered by, staring quizzically at me jammed into this closet.

We had a bad connection, so that I had to strain to make out Johnson’s words. He told us to read his Press Secretary’s statement. There was no breakthrough in Paris. The rumors were wrong. He urged us not to say anything. He said that there had in fact been some movement by Hanoi, but that anything might jeopardize it. I asked for some assurance that he was still insisting on reciprocity from the Communists for any concessions on our part, and Johnson replied that he was maintaining that three points had to be met: (1) Prompt and serious talks must follow any bombing halt; (2) Hanoi must not violate the Demilitarized Zone; and (3) the Vietcong or the North Vietnamese would not carry out large-scale rocket or artillery attacks against South Vietnam’s major cities. If these conditions were fulfilled, of course, I would support whatever arrangements Johnson could work out.

When I saw Johnson that night at the annual Al Smith Dinner in New York, he gave me further assurances that he would not accept any arrangement without reciprocity, and again requested that I be careful about what I had to say on Vietnam. After the dinner, I instructed Haldeman to pass the word that, in view of Johnson’s request, I would not be making any major speeches criticizing the conduct of the war.

Nixon had Kissinger, but he also had other sources to let him know about negotiation developments, channeled through Bryce Harlow, a Nixon campaign aide who would later serve as counselor to the president. Harlow would tell Nixon’s top aide, H. R. Haldeman, that developments were still too confused to know whether there was to be a bombing halt on the morning of October 16th, with no sources named5, along with two notes that expected a bombing halt based on information passed along from Texas Senator John Tower, one of which is the following6:

Agnew thinks something coming – (large?) day
Rusk leaked normal ease
didn’t want it known they talked =
Ottenad has told people
McW [Charlie McWhorter] heard from someone

Bryce thinks this is all smog

McWhorter was another Nixon aide; Ottenad was Tom Ottenad, a reporter for the St-Louis Dispatch who, as we’ll see later, was one of the few journalists of the time to look into the possibility that the peace talks had been deliberately sabotaged; Agnew was Spiro Agnew, Nixon’s vice presidential candidate who also, again as we’ll soon see, was the man through whom Anna Chennault would pass information on her attempts to stop the negotiations.

There was also a note from Bryce Harlow on the October 17th, citing a specific source, Rusk’s deputy, Harry W. Shlaudeman7:

October 17, 1968

TO: DC
FROM: Ellsworth

Called Rusk but he had his assistant, Shlaudeman [Harry W. Shlaudeman, Special Assistant to United States Secretary of State], talk to me. Said Rusk had already talked to Agnew. Said Rusk told Agnew the White House statement spoke for itself. Said Rusk emphasized to Agnew that there are a number of essential matters still under negotiation and discussion at Paris, that it is still up to Hanoi, that they are still working at it, that it is hard to predict, and especially emphasized that the President will be in touch with Mr. Nixon if anything important develops.

The “DC” mentioned here and in all other notes was a codename for Richard Nixon8.

That Nixon had another secret source for information about the on-going talks, someone other than Kissinger, someone high up and deep within the Johnson circle – we know this because he refers to him as such in his memoirs. Whether this man was Shlaudeman, Rusk, or someone else is unknown to me. He remains unnamed and I have come across no revelation of his identity in any other source. From RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, nearly a week after Johnson’s October 16 conference call:

On October 22, Bryce Harlow received information from a source whose credibility was beyond question. It was from someone in Johnson’s innermost circle, and, as events turned out, it was entirely accurate. I read Harlow’s memorandum several times, and with each reading I became angrier and more frustrated:

The President is driving exceedingly hard for a deal with North Vietnam. Expectation is that he is becoming almost pathologically eager for an excuse to order a bombing halt and will accept almost any arrangement…

Clark Clifford, [Joseph] Califano, and Llewellyn Thompson are the main participants in this effort. [George] Ball is in also, though somewhat on the fringe.

Careful plans are being made to help HHH exploit whatever happens. White House staff liasion with HHH is close. Plan is for LBJ to make a nationwide TV announcement as quickly as possible after agreement; the object is to get this done as long before November 5 as they can…

White Housers still think they can pull the election out for HHH with this ploy; that’s what is being attempted.

I fired off a battery of orders: have Mitchell check with Kissinger; have Dirksen and Tower blast the moves by the White House; have Dirksen call Johnson and let him know we were on to his plans. I even considered having Harlow fly to Vietnam to talk to General Andrew Goodpaster to get a firsthand military view of the situation there. But I was simply venting my frustration; no matter what I did, Johnson continued to hold the whip hand.

The initial results of my orders raised some doubts about Harlow’s secret source. Kissinger had not heard anything about Johnson’s plan, and when Ev Dirksen confronted Johnson with the rumor, he denied it with a vehemence that convinced even his skeptical old friend. He said that there was nothing new to report from Paris, and he chided Dirksen for being taken in by such obvious rumors at this stage of his life.

During this period, Nixon was not simply receiving information from various sources on the peace talks. From The Arrogance of Power by Anthony Summers, we know from his interviews with Chennault that on the very day that Nixon was pledging fealty to Johnson, he was meeting with Chennault to undermine them:

In the weeks before the election, with growing signs of an impending bombing halt and the acceptance of peace talks, Nixon publicly voiced support for President Johnson. Privately, he admitted years later, he seethed with resentment. Today any objective reading of the notes and minutes of Johnson’s meetings that fall reveals a president sometimes too hesitant in going forward for the taste of his own aides but genuinely devoted to the cause of peace. Nixon, however, was convinced the peace initiative was at least in part a political ploy, designed to swing the election to Humphrey.

Chennault stoked this resentment, apparently flying to Kansas City to meet with Nixon on October 16, the very day that Johnson briefed Nixon and the other candidates on his Vietnam plans, urging discretion in their public statements.23 She bore with her a long written presentation that deplored the rumored bombing halt and recommended a long-term approach to the conflict. The same day Agnew received a briefing on the coming halt, originating with unnamed sources. Two days later Chennault saw the South Vietnamese ambassador again. A few days after that there was another meeting with Mitchell.

She and Mitchell were now in touch by phone almost daily. “Call me from a pay phone. Don’t talk in your office,” he would urge her. When she joked about possible wiretaps, he was not amused. Mitchell’s message, she said, was always the same: If peace talks were announced, it was vital to persuade President Thieu not to take part.

OCTOBER 28, 1968

A reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, Beverly Deepe Keever, who had arrived in Vietnam in 1962 and would stay for the next seven years, would hear of a possible story related to the Peace Talks and notified her editor. She would write of the event thirty five years later in her memoir, Death Zones and Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting (excerpt is taken from a chapter excerpt dealing with the bombing halt, “The Unexploded Election-Eve Bombshell”), and I bold the most important part:

During October 1968, I was busier than usual covering the impact of a talked-about permanent bombing halt, which was Hanoi’s precondition for entering into peace talks with the allies. Most of my dispatches were published on page 1, often leading the Monitor. I interviewed senior military commanders along the DMZ and in Saigon, secured comments from Western diplomats, including one who had recently visited Hanoi, and sought input from other sources who assessed troop movements in Laos. At the same time I was synthesizing reports that Pham Xuan An [a stringer hired to help with oral and written translations] had gleaned from sources inside and outside the palace and the Vietnamese High Command.

Then, out of the blue, I learned of such outlandish rumblings that on October 28 I sent an advisory to the Monitor‘s overseas editor, [Henry S.] “Hank” Hayward: “There’s a report here that Vietnamese Ambassador to Washington Bui Diem has notified the Foreign Ministry that Nixon aides have approached him and told him the Saigon government should hold to a firm position now regarding negotiations and that once Nixon is elected, he’ll back the Thieu government in their demands. If you could track it down with the Nixon camp, it would probably be a very good story.” I was so busy I had no chance to remember my assist eight years earlier in the NBC studios when my boss, Sam Lubell [with whom she had polled voters in key precincts about the 1960 presidential election], had predicted Nixon would lose the presidency to John Kennedy. Now, Nixon was facing Democrat Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who was saddled with President Lyndon Johnson’s increasingly controversial Vietnam policy. I received no response to my cable from Boston.

The National Security Agency (NSA), would make the following summary of Thieu’s public remarks on that day9:

THIEU’S VIEWS ON PEACE TALKS AND BOMBING HALT

XXCC
[REDACTED] 28 OCT 68 [REDACTED]
[REDACTED]
[REDACTED]

SECRET.
((THIS IS)) A SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT ON MR. THIEU’S SPEECH [REDACTED]
[REDACTED]
1. Since the Vietnamese government is ardently laboring [REDACTED] together with the U.S. side to put into practice the items that were naturally agreed upon at the U.S.-Vietnamese Honolulu Summit Conference (19 July), President Thieu emphasized the point that President Johnson must also keep his promises.

((Thieu)) said that it appears that Mr. Nixon will be elected as the next president, and he thinks it would be good to try to solve the important question of the political talks with the next president (no matter who is elected. ((Thieu)) believes that our standpoint should be prepared and strengthened now rather than in the future.

OCTOBER 29, 1968

It’s on this date that we have the event which would trigger the surveillance of Anna Chennault, which would in turn reveal her connection to the Nixon campaign. On the night of October 28th, Eugene Rostow would contact his brother, Walt Rostow, Lyndon Johnson’s National Security Adviser, about a startling piece of information he’d come across. Walt Rostow would ask that his brother dictate what he’d just relayed, so that he might pass on this important information to the president the next day. The following are the related papers, the two documents dictated by Eugene about a stunning discovery and the memo by Walt to the president introducing his brother’s findings, and identifying the source10:

October 29, 1968

Last night I received a telephone call from an old friend in New York, a man of experience and a careful and even exact reporter. He said he had attended a working lunch that day with colleagues in Wall Street. Two were men closely involved with Nixon. One of them explained to the group that Nixon was handling the Vietnam peace problem “like another Fortas case.” He was trying to frustrate the President, by inciting Saigon to step up its demands, and by letting Hanoi know that when he took office “he could accept anything and blame it on his predecessor.”

E. V. Rostow

The “Fortas case” refers to Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas, who was nominated to be chief justice in 1968, but whose confirmation was filibustered to prevent the confirmation, with Fortas eventually withdrawing his nomination. Nixon would appoint Warren Burger as Chief Justice after his election in 1968.

Oct. 29, 1968

Walt:

I had a further talk with my informant about the luncheon conversation he attended yesterday.

The man who spoke was a member of the banking community, a colleague, a man he has known for many years, and one in whose honesty he has absolute confidence. The speaker is reputed to be very close to Nixon — as close as Gabriel Hauge (it was not Hauge). (He feels he cannot give me his name.)

The conversation was in the context of a professional discussion about the future of the financial markets in the near term.

The speaker said he thought the prospects for a bombing halt or a cease-fire were dim, because Nixon was playing the problem as he did the Fortas affair — to block. He was taking public positions intended to achieve that end. 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.

These difficulties would make it easier for Nixon to settle after January. Like Ike in 1953, he would be able to settle on terms which the President could not accept, blaming the deterioration of the situation between now and January or February on his predecessor.

Gene

In this cover letter, Walt Rostow reveals the name of the source: Alexander Sachs.

Tuesday, October 29, 1968
6:00 a.m.

Mr. President:

I just called Gene and asked him to dictate to Miss Nivens what he told me last night. Here it is.

I asked him to go back to Alexander Sachs and see how much further detail he can get on the people involved and how close, in fact, they are to Nixon.

W.W. Rostow

After the election, in a report he compiled on the scandal, Walt Rostow would relate the surrounding events of these revelations11:

From October 17 to October 29 we received diplomatic intelligence of Saigon’s uneasiness with the apparent break in Hanoi’s position on a total bombing cessation and with the Johnson Administration’s apparent willingness to go forward. This was an interval, however, when Hanoi backed away from the diplomatic breakthrough of the second week of October. Only towards the end of the month was the agreement with Hanoi re-established. As late as October 28, Thieu, despite the uneasiness of which we were aware, told Amb. Bunker [U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ellsworth Bunker] he would proceed, as he had agreed about two weeks earlier. [REDACTED]

In the early morning hours of October 29 the President and his advisers met with Abrams [The American commander in Vietnam, General Creighton W. Abrams]. Before going to that meeting, I was telephoned at home by my brother, Eugene Rostow. He reported the first of his messages from New York on Republican strategy — from Alexander Sachs.

During the meeting with Abrams word came from Bunker of Thieu’s sudden intransigence. The diplomatic information previously received plus the information from New York took on new and serious significance.

President Johnson, in the course of October 29, 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.

OCTOBER 30, 1968

Deputy Director of the FBI, Cartha “Deke” DeLoach would send the following report to Johnson, a result of surveillance of the Vietnamese embassy12:

SECRET/SENSITIVE

October 30, 1968

Following from Deke DeLoach:

Early this morning, approximately 7:45 A.M., Ambassador Bui Diem of the Vietnamese Embassy was contacted by a woman who did not identify herself but whom he seemed to recognize by voice. The FBI believes this woman to be possibly Anna Chenault [sic], widow of General Clare [sic] Chenault [sic]. The woman commented that she did not have an opportunity to talk with the Ambassador on 10/29/68 inasmuch as there were so many people around. However, she thought that perhaps the Ambassador would have some more information this morning. The woman then asked what the situation is. The Ambassador responded that “just among us” that he could not go into specifics on the telephone but something “is cooking.” The woman then asked if Thailand is going to be the representative of both South Vietnam and the Viet Cong to which the Ambassador responded “no, nothing of this sort yet.” The Ambassador then suggested that if the woman had time today she should drop by and talk with him as time is running short. She replied that she would drop by after the luncheon for Mrs. Agnew today.

After receiving this, Johnson would contact his friend Georgia Senator Richard Russell at 10:25 A.M., and explain the problem13:

JOHNSON
How are you, my friend?

RUSSELL
Good. I’m sorry about the phone being off the hook upstairs. Everybody’s running around trying to fix it, and yesterday the phone was (inaudible) somebody’s listening.

JOHNSON
Got some kids. I understand you got some children in the house.

RUSSELL
No no.

JOHNSON
Every phone’s off the hook at my place when I got that sixteen month grandson. He’s a mechanic. He works on it all the time.

RUSSELL
He’s got an inquiring mind. Goes into things. See what it’s about.

JOHNSON
Well, I’ve got one this morning that’s pretty rough for you.

We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee-our California friend-has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends, both-our allies and the others. He’s been doing it through rather subterranean sources here.

And he has been saying to the allies that “you’re going to get sold out. Watch Yalta, and Potsdam, and two Berlins, and everything. And they’re [the Johnson administration] going to recognize the NLF. I [Nixon] don’t have to do that. You better not give away your liberty just a few hours before I can preserve it for you.”

One or two of his business friends divulged it first a couple of days ago, about the time he [Nixon] made the statement that he had rumors that the staff was selling out, but he did not include me in it. You saw that, didn’t you?

The “California friend” is, of course, Richard Nixon.

JOHNSON
The next thing that we got our teeth in was one of his associates-a fellow named [John] Mitchell, who is running his campaign, who’s the real Sherman Adams [Eisenhower's chief of staff] of the operation, in effect said to a businessman that “we’re going to handle this like we handled the Fortas matter, unquote. We’re going to frustrate the President by saying to the South Vietnamese, and the Koreans, and the Thailanders [sic], ‘Beware of Johnson.’”

“At the same time, we’re going to say to Hanoi, ‘I [Nixon] can make a better deal than he [Johnson] has, because I’m fresh and new, and I don’t have to demand as much as he does in the light of past positions.”

Now, when we got that, pure by accident, as a result of some of our Wall Street connections, that caused me to look a little deeper.

RUSSELL
I guess so.

JOHNSON
And I have means of doing that, as you may well imagine.

RUSSELL
Yes.

JOHNSON
And…Mrs. [Anna] Chennault is contacting their [South Vietnamese] ambassador from time to time-seems to be kind of the go-between, the Chiang Kai-Shek deal. In addition, their ambassador is saying to ‘em that “Johnson is desperate and is just moving heaven and earth to elect Humphrey, so don’t you get sucked in on that.” He is kind of these folks’ agent here, this little South Vietnamese ambassador.

Now, this is not guesswork.

The “means of doing that” are, obviously, the various intelligence agencies.

JOHNSON
Mrs. Chennault, you know, of the Flying Tigers.

RUSSELL
I know Mrs. Chennault.

JOHNSON
She’s young and attractive. I mean, she’s a pretty good-looking girl.

RUSSELL
She certainly is.

JOHNSON
And she’s around town. And she is warning them to not get pulled in on this Johnson move.

Then he [the ambassador], in turn, is warning his government. Then we, in turn, know pretty well what he [Thieu] is saying out there. So he is saying that well, he’s got to play it for time, and get it by the next few days. Now, the Soviets are climbing the wall, and Hanoi is, and of course our people in Paris are, because they have agreed that they will let the GVN come to the table. That has been the thing we have insisted on. They have met our demands. The Soviets have said that we understand that we’re gonna resume if they violate the DMZ and we can see that immediately after we make the announcement whether they are or not. We have reserved the right for reconnaissance and we have made it clear it’s an act of force, and not an act of war, in our announcement. And we got South Vietnam, and all the allies aboard on a one day. We announce it one day and we meet the next. But Hanoi wanted more time, so they demanded a couple of weeks, and then ten days, and then a week, and we wouldn’t do it, because we thought that Saigon couldn’t stand to wait that long between the time of the announcement and the time of the meeting. So we have insisted on one day because Hanoi had said productive discussions could begin the next day. So, we took them at their word. About that time, Humphrey made a fool speech in which he said that he would stop the bombing without a comma or a semicolon, he’d just make it period.

RUSSELL
Well, that’d kill the whole thing.

JOHNSON
Well, it did for ten days, and then Bundy made a fool speech. And they all of them had to dissect that and take it- (inaudible) Yes yes, the Adlai Stevenson group and they just get the tail of the dashboard right at the right time, they do the wrong thing, every time. But we wore that out, we got it back on the track. And in getting it back on the track, meantime, Nixon gets scared to death, so he gets into the thing. And it gets off the track at the other place. Now, everybody had approved the one day thing. Then they came along and approved the three day thing, and they actually got down to the wording of the announcement, a joint announcement to be made by the two of us. And it was all agreed upon, all satisfactory, and then Nixon gets on and says no use selling out now, just wait a few days. And you can’t trust Johnson, may want to, really he’s gonna pet the North Vietnamese, NLF, on the back, just like Roosevelt did to Russia. And that scares them.

OCTOBER 31, 1968

On 4:10 pm, Johnson would call Everett Dirksen, Republican Senator for Illinois, and explain to him that he’d uncovered Anna Chennault attempting to spoil the peace talk negotiations through the promise that the South Vietnamese would get a better deal with Nixon. The language is colorful, and though the transcript is my own and there may be errors, the sense is still very clear that Johnson is very upset and deeply disturbed by what is taking place. I give the most relevant excerpts14:

JOHNSON
Everett, we have said to the…first of all, I cannot tell you this, that’s gonna be quoted. Because I can’t tell the candidates, and I can’t tell anybody else. I haven’t talked to a human. I want to comply with it, trust, but I sure don’t want it told to a human.

DIRKSEN
I give you my solemn word.

JOHNSON
Alright. The situation is this: since September of last year, we have told Hanoi that we would stop the bombing. We’re anxious to stop it. When they would engage in, these are the keywords, prompt, productive discussions that they would not take advantage of. That is September. March 31st I came to the conclusion that no living man can run for office and be a candidate, and have them all shooting at him, and keep this war out of politics, and get peace. So I concluded, that I should not run because I’d just prolong the war by doing it. So I said then, we’re stopping the bombing in ninety percent, we will stop it in the rest. If there can be any indication that’ll not cost us additional lives. We got, just a lot of procrastination, up until October. During October, they started asking questions what did I mean by prompt, and what did I mean by productive. Now, the facts of life are, they tried two offensives in May and August and they got very severe setbacks. The facts are that they’ve had thirty thousand forty thousand leave the country to re-fit. The facts are that they’re not doing at all well. But they can continue to supply what they need for a very long time. But in October we started getting these nibbles. What did the president mean? What did he say when he said he had to have prompt and productive, not take advantage. We said, that we would consider productive if the GVN had to be present. They said they were just generals and stooges, and satellites, and Johnson put them in, always saying they would never sit down with those traitors. We said, you’ve got to sit down with them, before we can ever work out the future. We can’t settle the future of South Vietnam without them being present. We’re not going to pull a Hitler-Chamberlin deal. They said they would never do it. So, on October 7th or the 11th, I’ve forgotten, they said, “Well now, what else, is that all the president wants? If we would sit down with the GVN, what would he do?”

Now, they made no commitment, they didn’t indicate they accepted, they just asked the question. But, you know, in trading, when a fellow says how much would you take for that horse, you kinda think that means something. So, we followed it up, and we said, “No, we don’t want to limit ourselves. The GVN’s got to be present, and we’ve got to have productive discussions, and we think they could be productive, if they were present. But we can’t have a (pamajon?) and say we’ll do that, and say we’ll meet a year from now. It’s got to be a prompt meeting, a week, two weeks, three weeks, something like that. So, they said, “Well, if we could work everything out, we could meet the next day.” So, we came back the next day, and said, if you let the GVN come in, and we’ll meet the next day, we would like to take that up with our government. (coughs) They said, “Well, what else do you want? Is that all?” Right off that, [Averell] Harriman said, “No, these are facts of life. We know you’re not going to sell out, and engage in reciprocity, and you’re not going to accept conditions, and your pride, and your asiatic face will not let you do that. You’ve got to save face, we understand that. But we could not sit at a conference table if you were shelling the cities.” In other words, if I were talking to Dirksen in my living room, and my son was raping his wife, he’d have to get up and leave, quit trading, and run and protect her. So, we just could not sit there, if you were shelling the cities. Nor could we sit there, and have a productive discussion if you were abusing the DMZ.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And we told them all that. Told the Russians, if that gets into the paper, the deal’s off. That’s why you cannot say this to anybody, it’s gonna get in the paper. Because these folks are the most sensitive people in the world. But, we have said this, and about that time, some of Mr. Nixon’s people come in and tell both sides, “I have information about who you had a glass of beer with last night, you don’t know it, but I do.” And we have ways and means, you get my point, don’t you? You have ways and means of knowing what’s going on in the country. We know what Thieu says, when he talks out in Vietnam, we know what happens here. And some of Mr. Nixon’s people are getting a little unbalanced, and unfrightened, like Hubert did, when he said, no comma, no period. Like Bundy did. About the time you called me last week, they started going into the South Vietnamese embassy and also, sending some word to Hanoi. Which has prolonged this thing, a good deal. The net of it is despicable and if it were made public, I think it would rock the nation. But the net of it was, that if they just hold out a little bit longer, that he’s [Nixon] a lot more sympathetic and he could kinda, do better business with him than they can with their present President. And, in Hanoi, they’ve been saying that, well, if you won’t settle this thing, I’m not bound by all these things. So, I haven’t had this record, and I could make a little better deal with you. There. I rather doubt Nixon has done any of this. But there’s no question what folks for him are doing it. And very frankly, we’re reading some of the things that are happening. So, as a consequence, while Thieu and all of our allies are ready to go on a bombing ceasefire, cessation, it just may be temporary, we might be back on it in the next day, if they don’t follow these two things, if they violate the DMZ, or if they shell the cities. We could stop the killing out there, we could get everything we asked for, the GVN in there, but: they got this question, this new formula put in there. Namely: wait on Nixon. And they’re killing four, five hundred every day, waiting on Nixon.

Now, these folks I doubt are authorized to speak for Nixon, but they’re going in there, and they range all the way from attractive women to old line China lobbyists. And some people, pretty close to him in the business world. I was shocked when I looked at the reports. And I’ve got them. And so forth.

Now, I’ve been at this five years, and if I don’t wanna sell my country out, I’d have sold it out five months ago and gone on, run for president and got this war behind us, then got me re-elected. But I am a conscientious, earnest fella trying to do a job. And I’m gonna do it. I get peace at four o’clock Saturday noon, I’m damn sure gonna get it, come hell or high water, and woebe onto the guy who says you oughta keep on killing. But 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 for both of them. And I don’t think people would approve of it if it were known. So, that’s why I’m afraid to talk.

I don’t see it making any difference in the political campaign ’cause first of all, conference won’t happen till it’s over with, I think I’d be glad to say that all the candidates have a, co-operate with me and we oughta have one voice in foreign affairs. And while they criticize my conduct of the war, they have never told the enemy that he’d get a better deal. But this last few days, Dick is getting just a little bit shakey, and he’s pissing on the fire a little. Now, you oughta guide him just a little bit, because they’re not running against me, I’m not gonna be here, you’re gonna be my senator, and you’re gonna represent me, and whatever I want done, I’m gonna be down at Purnell. But he oughta go back to that old (inaudible), say…as a matter of fact, we have a transcript where one of his partners said he’s gonna play this one just like Fortas. He’s gonna take the Republicans and the Southerners and he’s gonna frustrate the President by telling South Vietnamese, just wait a few more days and he’s not connected to this war, he can make a better peace for them. And by telling Hanoi, that he isn’t running this war, didn’t get them into it, be a lot more considerate of them than I can, because I’m pretty inflexible, calling them sonsofbitches. Now, that’s not very easy to work under those conditions. Anymore than it is, when Hubert says he’ll stop the bombing without a comma semicolon but period. They neither one of them got a damn thing to do with it between now and January the 20th. And I’m gonna stop the earliest second I can. And I can stop it for nothing if I want to, I have five times before. But I’m not gonna stop it unless they agree the GVN will be at that table. I’m not gonna stop it unless they agree the GVN are gonna be at that table.

What is crucial to see here is the focus on the negotiations themselves. He takes issue with what Nixon or Nixon’s people are doing, but he also criticizes Humphrey for making declaring that he’ll end the bombing without conditions. Both of these things are making it more difficult to set up a peace conference, a conference which he emphasizes will take place after the election. If he’d simply wished to win another term, Johnson says he would have ended the bombing a long time ago: “Now, I’ve been at this five years, and if I don’t wanna sell my country out, I’d have sold it out five months ago and gone on, run for president and got this war behind us, then got me re-elected. But I am a conscientious, earnest fella trying to do a job. And I’m gonna do it. I get peace at four o’clock Saturday noon, I’m damn sure gonna get it, come hell or high water, and woebe onto the guy who says you oughta keep on killing.”

Two hours later, Johnson would again speak to all three candidates via conference call15. During the call, Johnson would once again emphasize the conditions that he’d required to halt the bombing, discreetly chastise Humphrey and Nixon for their interference, and make clear that he was soon going to announce a halt to the bombing:

JOHNSON
Do you hear me all right?

HUMPHREY
Yes, sir.

NIXON
Yes, sir.

WALLACE
Yes, sir.

JOHNSON
I have with me Secretary Rusk and Clifford and General Wheeler and Mr. Helms of the CIA and Mr. Rostow. I’m reading from – I want to read a brief background to you from my conference call to you of October 16 so you can get a predicate to what I’m about to say. I said then-this is in absolute confidence, any statement or any speeches or any comment at this time referring to the substance of this conversation will be injurious. I don’t think there’s any question about that and I know you would not want that to happen.

First, our position-the government’s position today-is exactly what it was the last time all three of you were briefed. That position mainly is this. We’re anxious to stop the bombing and would be willing to stop the bombing if they – Hanoi – would sit down with us, with the Government of South Vietnam present, and have productive discussions. We have told them that we did not think that we could have productive discussions if, while we were talking, they were shelling the cities, or if they were abusing the DMZ. That was on October 16th, when I talked to you. The next sentence said, “From time to time they have nibbled back and forth at these various items.” Each time they do, there is a flurry of excitement, and so on and so forth.

Since that time, they have sent their man back to Hanoi. We have continued to have our regular weekly meetings and other meetings. We have been in touch with a good many Governments in the world, from Eastern Europe to India to the Soviet Union, all these people working every hour to try to (a) get them to accept the Government of South Vietnam – that they’re all puppets and that they’d never sit down in a room with, and (b) trying to inform them that we would be glad to stop the bombing, but that the bombing could not continue stopped if they (a) shelled the cities or (b) if they abused the DMZ.

On Sunday night, I was informed by Paris that there were very good indications that they would let the Government of Vietnam come and be present at the conference and that they fully understood what would happen if we stop the bombing and they shell the cities or abuse the DMZ. When I got back to Washington from New York, I went back to the Soviet Union and pointed out that I did not want to deceive anybody and didn’t want them to be deceived, didn’t want to stop the bombing and have to start it again, but I wanted to make it abundantly clear that if they would let the Government of Vietnam come to the meetings and if they thoroughly understood what would happen, then I wanted to seriously consider this matter. But I had doubts – repeat doubts – that the North Vietnamese would stop shelling the cities or would stop abusing the DMZ. The Soviet Union came back to me on Tuesday or Wednesday and said that my doubts were not justified. Ambassador Harriman came back to me and said, “We have repeated to you at least 12 times-we’ve repeated to North Vietnam at least 12 times-in 12 meetings, and some meetings we repeated it several times-that we could not have a productive discussion in an atmosphere of shelling the cities or abusing the DMZ. Therefore, you may be sure we understand it.” While this was going on, we’d gone out and talked to all of our allied countries, and at that time they all tentatively agreed that this was a wise move.

Now, since that time with our campaign on, we have had some minor problems develop. First, there have been some speeches that we ought to withdraw troops, or that we’d stop the bombing without any-obtaining anything in return, or some of our folks are-even including some of the old China lobbyists, they are going around and implying to some of the embassies and some of the others that they might get a better deal out of somebody that was not involved in this. Now that’s made it difficult and it’s held up things a little bit. And I know that none of you candidates are aware of it or responsible for it, because I’m looking in my transcript here, when we talked before, and I asked for your comments. The Vice President said he had no comment, but thanks very much. Vice President Nixon said, “Well, as you know, this is consistent with what my position has been all along and I made it very clear. I’ll make no statements that will undercut the negotiations. So we’ll just stay right on that and hope that this thing works out.” And then Mr. Wallace said, “Yes, sir, Mr. President, that’s been my position all along, too, the position you stated, and I agree with you that we shouldn’t play any politics in this matter, so it might foul up the negotiations.”

Now, I concluded last March that I couldn’t as a candidate stop this war. And I concluded that I ought to stop it the first day I can. I’m going to try to stop it as soon as I can. Therefore, I am planning to issue an order-I’m meeting with the [National] Security Council tonight -I’m planning to issue an order that will stop the bombing that will set a date for a meeting where the Government of Vietnam will appear, and I’m making it very clear to the intermediaries. I can’t do it in public because they’ll say it’s a condition and reciprocal and we’ll never get an agreement-and you must not make that statement either, but I think you ought to know it. And we’re going to have to wait for 24/48/72 hours to see what happens at the DMZ and see what happens at the cities, and we may have to start the bombing just as fast as we stopped it. But I have considered this matter day and night since March 31st at least.

Johnson would again declare that his primary purpose for the bombing halt was not political: “I’m not concerned with an election. Y’all are concerned with an election.” He would state clearly that any reneging on the conditions would mean a resumption of the bombing, and all three candidates offered their support:

JOHNSON
Now, I would hope, and I’m going to say so in my statement tonight, that this would not be to anyone’s advantage, except to the countries, to peace and to the men in Vietnam.

First of all, the conference won’t be held until after the election, probably, we would hope, the 6th or 7th of November, or sometime in that period. We would hope that the Government of Vietnam would have time to get their men there and, of course, the other governments have got to get the NLF there. I would hope that all of you could say – like you said here the other day – that you felt that you didn’t want to do anything to undercut the negotiations; that you recommended peace at the earliest possible date; this is not peace, this is not a settlement, this is just one step that indicates that if they do not shell the cities, and if they do not abuse the DMZ – both of those would be great military advantages for us at a time when we’re giving up bombing that we can’t do for the next 90 days anyway on account of the weather in North Vietnam. We can use that very effectively in other places.

I told General [Creighton] Abrams to return, to give them all he’s got in South Vietnam and Laos, but be prepared for this order. The order will not go into effect for several hours after it’s issued. It’s got to go all over the Pacific, put out some 12 hours. I would think that when I get through with the Security Council sometime this evening from 8 [p.m.] on, I’ll make a statement to the public. I have confidence enough in y’all that I’ve called you even before I’ve called my own legislative leaders. I’ve told you every bit of the information I have. Every diplomatic and military adviser I have recommends this course.

I would not want it on my conscience that I had left the Presidential arena and refused to run to try to get peace, and then when they agreed, that I – the thing – the thing that I insisted on most, bringing the GVN into the table – that I said, “No, I’ve got to put it off because I’m concerned with an election.” I’m not concerned with an election. Y’all are concerned with an election. I don’t think this concerns an election. I think all of you want the same thing. So I thought if I laid it on the line that way and presented it to you, you would at least have a complete, full understanding of all the facts. I’ll be glad to give you any of the written recommendations. All the files are open to you-be glad to show you what happened. Nobody will know whether it’ll be a success or not until we really get into these discussions and these talks with the GVN present. If they shell the cities or if they abuse the DMZ, General Abrams already has his orders, and he is directed to respond immediately without even coming to Washington.

JOHNSON
Now, my position is this. I can’t wait. I have got every adviser, military/civilian/CIA/Ambassadors-Bunker, Goodpaster [General Andrew Goodpaster], Abrams – every one of them recommend this course. So, I am going to recommend it to the nation. I am going to issue the order. I would just hope you all would do likewise.

NIXON
Okay. Thank you.

HUMPHREY
Thank you.

WALLACE
Mr. President, I just pray that everything you do works out fine, and I am praying for you.

JOHNSON
Well, I need it. Any other comments?

NIXON
We’ll back you up. Thank you, Mr. President.

HUMPHREY
We’ll back you up, Mr. President.

WALLACE
We’ll back you, Mr. President.

JOHNSON
Thank you very much.

I quote again Nixon’s perspective on this discussion from his memoir:

More than anything else, Humphrey had Lyndon Johnson to thank for the eleventh-hour masterstroke that almost won him the election.

On October 31 I was to address a nationally televised rally at Madison Square Garden in New York. I set aside a couple of quiet hours in the afternoon, and I was sitting in my study at home making notes for the speech later that evening when the telephone rang. It was a White House operator: the President was placing a conference call to Humphrey, Wallace, and me. A moment later Lyndon Johnson was on the line.

He got right to the point. There had been a breakthrough in Paris, he said, and after wide consultations among his advisers, he had decided to call a total bombing halt over North Vietnam. He would make the announcement on television in two hours. As Johnson went one, I thought to myself that whatever this meant to North Vietnam, he had just dropped a pretty good bomb in the middle of my campaign.

Johnson said, rather defensively, “I’m not concerned with an election. You all are concerned with an election. I don’t think this concerns an election. I think all of you want the same thing. So I thought if I laid it on the line that way, and presented it to you, you would at least have a complete, full understanding of all the facts.”

Johnson explained that he had not been able to persuade Saigon to agree to the provisions of the bombing halt, so that South Vietnam would not be joining in the announcement.

When Johnson finished, and we had asked some perfunctory questions, George Wallace said, “I’m praying for you.”

Humphrey said, “I’m backing you up, Mr. President.”

I thanked Johnson for making the call and seconded Humphrey’s pledge of support.

The telephone call over, I could feel my anger and frustration welling up. Johnson was making the one move that I thought could determine the outcome of the election. Had I done all this work and come all this way only to be undermined by the powers of an incumbent who had decided against seeking re-election?

Johnson would announce the bombing halt on TV at 8pm that night. A partial excerpt16:

Good evening, my fellow Americans:

I speak to you this evening about very important developments in our search for peace in Vietnam.

We have been engaged in discussions with the North Vietnamese in Paris since last May. The discussions began after I announced on the evening of March 31st in a television speech to the Nation that the United States – in an effort to get talks started on a settlement of the Vietnam war-had stopped the bombing of North Vietnam in the area where 90 percent of the people live.

When our representatives-Ambassador Harriman and Ambassador Vance-were sent to Paris, they were instructed to insist throughout the discussions that the legitimate elected Government of South Vietnam must take its place in any serious negotiations affecting the future of South Vietnam.

Therefore, our Ambassadors Harriman and Vance made it abundantly clear to the representatives of North Vietnam in the beginning that-as I had indicated on the evening of March 31st-we would stop the bombing of North Vietnamese territory entirely when that would lead to prompt and productive talks, meaning by that talks in which the Government of Vietnam was free to participate.

Last Sunday evening, and throughout Monday, we began to get confirmation of the essential understanding that we had been seeking with the North Vietnamese on the critical issues between us for some time. I spent most of all day Tuesday reviewing every single detail of this matter with our field commander, General Abrams, whom I had ordered home, and who arrived here at the White House at 2:30 in the morning and went into immediate conference with the President and the appropriate members of his Cabinet. We received General Abrams’ judgment and we heard his recommendations at some length.

Now, as a result of all of these developments, I have now ordered that all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam cease as of 8 a.m., Washington time, Friday morning.

I have reached this decision on the basis of the developments in the Paris talks.

And I have reached it in the belief that this action can lead to progress toward a peaceful settlement of the Vietnamese war.

Nixon would give a speech that same night at Madison Square Garden. Again, from RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon:

While I believed that Johnson would not go out of his way to help Humphrey unless he were forced to meet a clear-cut partisan challenge, the last thing I wanted to do was to give the President an excuse to get angry with me in public. I hoped to avoid Johnson’s going all out for Humphrey with every resource at the command of the White House.

There was nothing more I could do. Even though I knew what was coming – had known about it for weeks – the timing and impact were completely in Johnson’s hands.

At the Madison Square Garden rally on October 31 I responded to the bombing halt announcement in what I considered the only responsible way: “I will say that as a presidential candidate, and my vice presidential candidate joins me in this, that neither he nor I will say anything that might destroy the chance to have peace.” One reporter wrote: “President Johnson gave Richard M. Nixon a trick and Vice President Humphrey a treat for Halloween when he announced a complete halt to the bombing of North Vietnam last night.” The bombing halt unquestionably resulted in a last-minute surge of support for Humphrey. The militant liberals came back to the fold. Even those McCarthy zealots who had pledged never to support Humphrey now had an excuse to vote for him. The bombing halt also undercut one of my most effective issues – the inability of the Democratic leadership to win a permanent peace. Studies made after the election showed that public opinion had been particularly volatile during this period, and the hope that the halt might lead to a peace settlement resulted in massive voter shifts to Humphrey.

I isolate one part of the last for emphasis, and I italicize the ending for further emphasis: “At the Madison Square Garden rally on October 31 I responded to the bombing halt announcement in what I considered the only responsible way: ‘I will say that as a presidential candidate, and my vice presidential candidate joins me in this, that neither he nor I will say anything that might destroy the chance to have peace.’”

NOVEMBER 1, 1968

Due to time differences, Johnson’s speech would be broadcast in Vietnam the next day. We might return to the memoir of foreign correspondent Beverly Deepe Keever, as she describes the speech, Thieu’s rejection, and her report to her editors on what might have prompted the reversal. This transmission, dealing with possible involvement by the Nixon campaign to foil the talks, was a major scoop, but one that was in vain. All details implying such involvement were eliminated from her reporting, because this involvement did not appear to be just politics, or diplomacy, but outright treason.

[On] October 31, Johnson announced that he had ordered a complete end to the bombing of North Vietnam within 12 hours and that the date for the first negotiation session with Hanoi was set for November 6, the day after the U.S. presidential election. Johnson’s speech was received in Saigon on November 1, which, as I reported, many Vietnamese viewed as an ill-timed insult because it was made on Vietnam’s National Day and the anniversary of the Kennedy administration’s support for the overthrow of President [Ngo Dinh] Diem. Then, just four days before the U.S. election, President Thieu surprisingly rejected Johnson’s peace initiative. In a bombshell televised speech before the National Assembly on Vietnam’s National Day, Thieu announced that South Vietnam would not send delegates to negotiate in Paris by November 6; he feared the Viet Cong’s National Liberation Front would be seated as a legitimate coequal of his government. I reported that his speech was a direct rebuke to President Johnson. “In effect, Mr. Thieu said LBJ double-crossed him,” one longtime Asia observer told me. “And Mr. Thieu is pretty nearly right.”

To explain Thieu’s stunning announcement, I cabled Hayward on November 4: “Purported political encouragement from the Richard Nixon camp was a significant factor in the last-minute decision of President Nguyen Van Thieu’s refusal to send a delegation to the Paris peace talks – at least until the American Presidential election is over.” I relied mostly on “informed sources” for my scoop – an eye-opening exclusive news report – and added that “the only written report about the alleged Nixon support for the Thieu government was a cable from Bui Diem, Vietnamese ambassador to Washington,” confirming what I had asked Hayward to check out days earlier. But my momentous scoop was not published. Hayward cabled back that the Monitor had deleted all my references to Bui Diem and to the “purported political encouragement from the Nixon camp,” which, he wrote, “seems virtual equivalent of treason.”

On the morning of November 1st, all this still lay in the future. The fraying, however, had already begun when Johnson would take a call at 8:30 am from one of the architects of the war, Robert McNamara, congratulating him on the bombing halt speech, after which the President would bring up Nixon’s interference17:

JOHNSON
Bob?

MCNAMARA
Good morning, Mr. President.

JOHNSON
How’re you doing?

MCNAMARA
I knew you’d be the only other person in town working this morning.

JOHNSON
No, no, but we have been working, you know.

MCNAMARA
I know it. I know it. I just wanted to call–I won’t take a second, but I just wanted to call and say–

JOHNSON
Please do.

MCNAMARA
Congratulations. I think it was terrific, Mr. President.

JOHNSON
What we are in trouble about, you see, are these candidates. They have been playing with them. One said he would stop the bombing–no comma, no semi-colon–period.

MCNAMARA
Yeah.

JOHNSON
So they get that and they think that if they’ll wait 10 days he’ll stop the bombing everything will be over with–that’s what Hanoi thinks. Then Nixon comes along and his people tell them that I’m not stopping the bombing and I’m not selling you out and I’m not for letting them take you over and this crowd will sell you out just like they did China, and you better wait until I get in. Now you’ve got all the South Vietnamese and maybe the Koreans thinking that. The damned trouble we’re going to have. We had this thing wrapped up, signed, sealed, ready to go two weeks ago, and we got this speech of stopping the bombing, period. So [Le Duc] Tho took off for Hanoi, and we couldn’t get him back. Then we got this ready, and we found out that they’ve been playing with the South Vietnamese, and we started watching their messages. It’s the damndest mess you ever saw. It’s just almost–well, it’s just heresy. It’s just unbelievable. So we tried to get them aboard. We had a joint announcement that they agreed on with us. But then they all got to fighting and they wouldn’t do it. So today, the last thing I heard, I was up late, was that Thieu said that this was entirely unilateral.

That the South Vietnamese had abruptly changed their demands, and that this might have been caused by interference on the part of Nixon’s intermediaries, was brought up in a phone call later that morning to Senator Richard Russell18:

RUSSELL
Yes?

JOHNSON
Lyndon Johnson. How are you, Senator? Dick, how are you?

RUSSELL
Pretty good, Mr. President. How are you?

JOHNSON
Fine. I just wanted to figure out what you thought over night and what bases you thought were untouched, what your reaction was, to the statement, and what we should have said, we didn’t.

RUSSELL
Well, I thought you made a fine statement, Mr. President.

JOHNSON
Now, the damn fools in Saigon, we don’t know what they’re going to do. Last night, they came back and made three demands on me. One was, we set no date for the conference. Well, I can’t do that, because the main thing I’m getting out of this is they let GVN come to the table. That’s what I’ve been demanding all these years, and now they’ve agreed to it. So I’ve got to have a date. And we so told–no date for the conference. Well, I can’t do that, because the main thing I’m getting out of this is they let GVN come to the table. That’s what I’ve been demanding all these years, and now they’ve agreed to it. So I’ve got to have a date. And we so told–

RUSSELL
I thought that they already agreed they’re we going to meet and talk on Wednesday [November 6 1968].

PRESIDENT
They all agreed 2 weeks ago. And then they agreed to one day a week ago. But after Nixon’s operatives got busy with them, they started playing for January. And the first statement that South Vietnam put out was that this was a unilateral action by the President. And old man Bunker stayed with them all night. They put out another one this morning that said that they hoped it would lead to peace, that you couldn’t tell what if it was good, that he really didn’t know whether any good would come from it or not, just wouldn’t predict.

According to encrypted messages sent by South Vietnam’s ambassador in the United States, Bui Diem, there was never any possibility of any agreement to a peace talk which might result in Humphrey being elected instead of Nixon. If an impasse went against Johnson and brought Nixon to power, then so be it: the diplomatic impasse would continue. From Arrogance by Summers:

In the last week of October Thieu’s ambassador, Bui Diem, sent two encrypted radio messages from Washington to Saigon. The first, he wrote in his memoirs, noted: “Many Republican friends have contacted me and encouraged us to stand firm….” The second – again, this is Bui Diem’s account – mentioned that he was “regularly in touch with the Nixon entourage.”

The former ambassador repeatedly told the author he would let him see the full text of those messages, but never produced them. His published version of the second cable, it seems, was almost certainly an exercise in damage limitation. The actual message was more troubling, according to the former State Department executive secretary, the late Benjamin Read.

Read’s notes cite Saigon’s ambassador as reporting that he had “explained discreetly to our partisan friends our firm attitude” and “plan to adhere to that position.” “The longer the impasse continues,” Bui Diem told Saigon, “the more we are favored,” and Johnson would “probably have difficulties in forcing our hand.”

This same view is expressed in a formerly top secret intercept made by the National Security Agency (NSA) of comments made by President Thieu on October 18, 1968, obtained presumably through surveillance19:

TRANSMITTED HEREWITH IS A [REDACTED] MESSAGE.
PLEASE ADVISE IF ANY LIMITATIONS ON DISTRIBUTION ARE REQUIRED.
THIS MESSAGE WAS TRANSMITTED TO THE WHITE HOUSE ONLY.
[REDACTED]
XXMMENP01FTB23108
3/0/[REDACTED] -68
[REDACTED]

THIEU’S VIEWS ON NLF PARTICIPATION IN VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT

XXCC
[REDACTED] 19 OCT 68 [REDACTED]
[REDACTED]

[REDACTED] OF WHAT PRESIDENT THIEU SAID
[REDACTED] ON 18 OCTOBER.

[REDACTED] as to whether or not the Vietnamese are opposing the U.S. in this and concerning the possibility ((of the U.S.)) making a decisive move to halt the bombing alone; the following [REDACTED]

He said the U.S. can, of course, cease bombing, but is unable to block Vietnam ((from bombing)). Concerning the enforcement of the bombing halt, this will help candidate Humphrey and this is the purpose of it; but the situation which would occur as the result of a bombing halt, without the agreement of Vietnamese government, rather than being a disadvantage to candidate Humphrey, would be to the advantage of candidate Nixon. Accordingly, he said that the possibility of President Johnson enforcing a bombing halt without Vietnam’s agreement appears to be weak; [REDACTED] just how effective can it be within the short time before the election, even though it is effectively enforced?

Though Nixon had again pledged his loyalty in the conference call, his manner was entirely different off the phone. He and his campaign manager, John Mitchell, were in a panic over the effects of the bombing halt on the election, of the possibility that their meddling had been found out, and yet they were still determined to make sure that Thieu would toe the line and the Peace Talks would not take place. From Arrogance by Summers:

On the evening of the thirty-first, during a conference call to the presidential candidates to brief them on the bombing halt, Johnson dropped a heavy hint that he was aware of the machinations to undermine his efforts. Nixon merely joined the opponents in promising the president his full support.

Behind the scenes, however, panic and pantomime gripped the Nixon camp. Mitchell [campaign manager and later Attorney General John Mitchell] went through the motions of interrogating campaign staffers-none of whom was in the know-asking if they had been “in touch with any embassies.” Then he “reassured” administration contacts that his people had not been talking to the South Vietnamese.

Chennault suddenly found she could no longer get through to Mitchell. Certain now of the wiretapping he had always feared, Nixon’s closest aide was avoiding direct contact with her. That night, however, as she was finishing dinner at the Sheraton Park Hotel, Chennault was called to the phone.

It was Mitchell, tension in his voice, asking her to call back on a safer line. When she did, he picked up on the first ring. “Anna,” he said, “I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon. It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position, and I hope you made that clear to them…Do you think they really have decided not to go to Paris?”

Realizing that the administration was working around the clock to change Thieu’s mind, Nixon’s man wanted to make sure he remained firm in his refusal.24 Thieu duly obliged. On November 2, only three days before the election, he announced publicly that his country would not take part in peace talks under present conditions.

NOVEMBER 2, 1968

The withdrawal of Thieu and South Vietnam from the peace talks on this date is described as follows in Richard Nixon’s RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon. As said already, Anna Chennault goes entirely unmentioned in this book, and is absent in this excerpt:

The Democrats’ euphoria was dampened on November 2, when President Thieu announced that his government would not participate in the negotiations Johnson was proposing.

Thieu’s reaction was totally predictable. He watched American politics no less carefully than did the leaders in Hanoi. Given his disapproval of any bombing halt, and the fact that Humphrey was now talking like a dove, it was scarcely in Thieu’s interest to acquiesce in a bad bargain. By holding back his support, Thieu fostered the impression that Johnson’s plan had been too quickly conceived and shakily executed.

Lyndon Johnson would again speak with Senator Everett Dirksen, and more so than in his other conversations, he was obviously very upset. In this excerpt, he describes the slow development of the peace talks, and their interference through Nixon. Though Clifford would write of there being no smoking gun linking the work of agents like Chennault and the Nixon campaign, and though in the past Johnson had expressed uncertainty in his phone calls about whether there was a connection between the candidate and the “old China crowd”, he obviously now believes the two elements to be linked20:

(A clip on youtube of the audio with accompanying transcript of this phone call in its entirety.)

DIRKSEN
Hello?

JOHNSON
Everett, how are you?

DIRKSEN
All right.

JOHNSON
I want to talk to you as a friend, and very confidentially, because I think that we’re skirting on dangerous ground. I thought I ought to give you the facts, and you ought to pass them on if you choose. If you don’t, why, then I will a little later.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
We have, on October the 13th, an agreement where Thieu [Nguyen Thieu, president of South Vietnam] and Ky [Nguyen Cao Ky, prime minister of South Vietnam], considering the bombing halt. At that time, President Thieu stressed, quote There must not be a long delay.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
That is, a delay between the halt and the conference.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
On October the 15th, Thieu agreed to a proposal that we worked out of 36 hours.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
On October the 23rd, after the North Vietnamese demanded two or three weeks, Thieu reluctantly agreed to three days delay. On October the 28th, we agreed on the joint announcement.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Bunker and Abrams [U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Ellsworth Bunker and Creighton Abrams, General in the U.S. Army] reached an explicit agreement with Thieu that the gap between the bombing and the talks would be two or three days. With three days the outer limit. Both Thieu and Ky stressed on us the importance of a minimum delay.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Then we got some of our friends involved. Some of it’s your old China crowd…

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And…here’s the latest information we’ve got: the agent says that she’s- they’ve just talked to the boss [Nixon] in New Mexico, and that he says that you must hold out, that . . . Just hold on until after the election.

Now, we know what Thieu is saying to ‘em out there. We’re pretty well informed on both ends. Now Nixon’s man travelling with him today, said quote He did not understand that Thieu was not aboard. Did you see that?

This spokesperson was one of Nixon’s aides, Bob Finch, whose name Johnson insisted on getting wrong. We return to RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon:

On the heels of Thieu’s recalcitrance, I asked Bob Finch to put the word out to newsmen that the prospects for peace were not as advanced as Johnson’s announcement might have made them seem. Providing background in his capacity as “an aide to Richard Nixon,” Finch explained, “We had the impression that all the diplomatic ducks were in position.” Then for the record he said, “I think this will boomerang. It was hastily contrived.”

Johnson saw the news story with Finch’s comments. He was furious, and he made his displeasure known. Bryce Harlow urged me to call Johnson to calm him down – and I did so Sunday morning, November 3.

“Who’s this guy Fink?” Johnson asked. “Why is he taking out after me?”

I said, “Mr. President, that’s Finch, not Fink.”

He ignored my correction and continued to refer to Finch as “Fink.”

It was on this day that Johnson would receive information that would be published in an FBI intercept two days later, the intercept that Summers considered so vital in confirming a link between Chennault’s efforts and the Nixon campaign, “And…here’s the latest information we’ve got: the agent says that she’s- they’ve just talked to the boss [Nixon] in New Mexico, and that he says that you must hold out, that . . . Just hold on until after the election.”21:

Received Washington CommCen
9:08 P.M. EDT Monday 4 Nov 68

Received LBJ Ranch CommCen
8:34 P.M. CDT Monday 4 Nov 68

EEA659
00 WTE10
DE WTE 4183

FROM WALT ROSTOW
TO THE PRESIDENT
CITE CAP82650

S E C R E T

THE NEW MEXICO REFERENCE MAY INDICATE AGNEW IS ACTING.

TWO REPORTS FOLLOW.

REPORT ONE:

On November Two Instant, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, reported that Mrs. Anna Chennault contacted Vietnamese Ambassador, Bui Diem, and advised him that she had received a message from her boss (not further identified), which her boss wanted her to give personally to the ambassador. She said the message was that the ambassador is to “hold on, we are gonna 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.

Was Richard Nixon in New Mexico on that day? No, he was in Texas. His nominee vice president, however, was in his plane on a campaign stop in Albuquerque when this call was made.

“Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968 Volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969, Document 212″ deals with a report of the phone calls from Vice Presidential nominee Spiro Agnew’s plane on that day, one conducted by the FBI and initiated by Johnson a week after the election. The following is from the accompanying summary:

In a telephone conversation on November 12, 1968, President Johnson discussed the Anna Chennault affair with FBI Deputy Director Cartha Dekle “Deke” DeLoach. Johnson told DeLoach that he had “some pretty good information” and “hard” evidence that the most significant directive from the Republican campaign to the South Vietnamese Government occurred by way of a November 2 communication between Vice Presidential candidate Spiro Agnew and Anna Chennault. The President therefore requested that DeLoach check all of the telephone calls originating from the telephone connection in Agnew’s chartered campaign plane at the Albuquerque airport.

The next day, DeLoach called the President with a report on these calls. One of the phones on the plane had been used five times. The first call was made at 11:59 a.m., a personal call from Agnew to Rusk that lasted 3 minutes. The next call was made to Texas and another two calls were made by Agnew staffer Kent Crane to New York City. A fifth call was made to the Nixon/Agnew campaign headquarters at the Willard Hotel in Washington at 1:02 p.m.

The President verified that Rusk had talked with Agnew. He added: “We think somebody on the plane talked to the woman. We think pretty well that they talked to her and talked to Rusk, and talked on the same thing. And we think that they told Rusk-that they wanted to know what was happening in these relations. And Rusk made notes of it, he didn’t exactly know what time, but he estimated that it was about 2 o’clock. And hers, it was immediately followed by a call to her, we think. And what we want to know is what time that was and when it was.”

There were five phone calls from the plane, one to Rusk, one to campaign headquarters, one to Texas, and two to New York City. Nixon, as said, was in Texas that day for a rally. Who was in New York City? Anna Chennault was in New York City. Item one of the “her boss” FBI cable deals with the tap revealing that Chennault had said those words. Item two in the cable dealt with her location on November 2nd22:

REPORT TWO:

The November One, last, edition of the “Washington Post,” a daily newspaper in the Washington, D.C. area, carried an article concerning Mrs. Anna Chennault. The article indicated that Mrs. Chennault intended to proceed to New York City where she would await the election results on November Five, next, with presidential nominee Richard M. Nixon.

On November Two, Instant, at Seven Ten A.M., Mrs. Chennault’s car was observed in the parking garage at Two Five One Zero [2510] Virginia Avenue, N. W.

At One Forty Five P.M., she departed her residence and entered the automobile. It was being driven by her chauffeur and proceeded to the Baltimore-Washington parkway where it was last observed heading north at Two Fifteen P.M.

Arrangements have been made with the New York office of the FBI for them to observe the car en route and to undertake discreet surveillance with reference to her activities while in New York.

The Arrogance of Power by Summers gives this episode thorough examination:

Spiro Agnew had made a campaign stop at Albuquerque, New Mexico, that day-and within the time frame that corresponded to Anna Chennault’s movements.25

Days later, when things quieted down, Johnson would order the FBI to check all calls made by the Agnew party. He was unfortunately ill served. Director Hoover, a long-term Nixon supporter on cordial terms with Chennault, had already warned her she was being surveilled. As much as possible, he told her, the bureau was merely “making a show” of obeying Johnson’s orders.

When it came to the Albuquerque calls, Hoover and his aide Cartha DeLoach ensured investigation was cursory and incomplete. Eventually, realizing he was being stalled, the president himself called to tell DeLoach: “Get me the information, and make it damned fast.”

Out of the mess, and the still partially censored files, come two salient facts. The first is that phone records show that an Agnew aide in Albuquerque, the very aide responsible for briefing Agnew on Vietnam, had made a call during the stopover to a “Mr. Hitt” at Nixon-Agnew headquarters.

Robert Hitt, an official of the Republican National Committee, was paymaster to the wireman Nixon used during the campaign to sweep for bugs and who conducted offensive bugging during the presidency. Hitt would also be named during the Watergate probe in connection with questionable cash transactions. His wife Patricia, cochairman of the campaign committee and a trusted Nixon friend from Whittier days, was as noted earlier one of the people Chennault earlier named as a potential go-between should Nixon wish to pass her messages.

The most important discovery, though, was relayed to the president by National Security Assistant Rostow when all the facts were in, ten days after the Albuquerque stopover. In a brief memo, referring to Chennault as “the Lady” and to Agnew as “the gentleman in Albuquerque,” Rostow reported that there had been a call placed to Chennault.26 Moreover, contrary to an earlier analysis, Agnew himself had had ample time to make the call.

The new information suggests a logical sequence to the events of those days. Following Thieu’s announcement that he would not join the peace talks, as the Nixon side had hoped, he faced renewed pressure from the outraged Johnson administration. In the wake of the announcement, word came to Chennault from Agnew in Albuquerque that she should urge the South Vietnamese to remain resolute.

As revealed by the wiretap on the South Vietnamese Embassy, she duly relayed the message to President Thieu that he should “Hold on,” because “we’re gonna win”: Nixon was going to win the election and would, as promised, give the South Vietnamese a better deal.

With whom did the message originate? Early on Rostow surmised in a report to the president that Agnew was “acting” on behalf of another party. While the report is still partially censored, the security assistant’s supposition is clear enough. Agnew and Chennault barely knew each other; Nixon’s running mate acted for no one but Nixon.27

(Puppets by Rick Meyerowitz, for a parody ad in an issue of National Lampoon in 1970. A description of the puppets and the shoot is described by Meyerowitz on his site, in “The Nixon & Agnew Puppets”)

From the same phone call with Dirksen quoted earlier23:

JOHNSON
I said, now, there has been speeches that some we oughta withdraw troops, and including some of the old China crowd, going in and implying to the embassies.

JOHNSON
Now, Everett, I know what happens there. You see what I mean?

DIRKSEN
I do.

JOHNSON
And I’m looking at his hole card.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Now, I don’t want to get in a fight with him there. I think Nixon’s gonna to be elected.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And I think we ought to have peace, and I’m going to work with him.

Johnson would cut even further to the quick in another part of the call24:

JOHNSON
Well, I don’t know who it is that’s with Nixon. It may be Laird [Melvin Laird, a Nixon campaign aide]. It may be [Bryce] Harlow. It may be [John] Mitchell. I don’t know who it is.

I know this: that they’re contacting a foreign power in the middle of a war.

DIRKSEN
That’s a mistake!

JOHNSON
And it’s a damn bad mistake.

He would cut even further to the bone, and say the unsayable in another fragment of the phone call25:

JOHNSON
Now, I’m reading their hand, Everett. I don’t want to get this in the campaign.

DIRKSEN
That’s right.

JOHNSON
And they oughtn’t to be doing this. This is treason.

Richard Nixon would end the day with a rally in Texas, as described in his memoir:

On the day of Thieu’s announcement, I told a Texas rally: “In view of the early reports that we’ve had this morning, the prospects for peace are not as bright as they looked only a few days ago.” It was Saturday, November 2, less than three days before the election. Bombing halt or no, the campaign had to continue. I decided to treat Johnson’s announcement as a potentially beneficial diplomatic move botched by lack of planning rather than as a straight political ploy. I told my staff to get our spokesmen asking why we didn’t have the agreement worked out with our allies.

Of course, this we did have an agreement with their allies, the South Vietnamese, a very secret one and very much for the benefit of Richard Nixon.

NOVEMBER 3, 1968

During his furious call with Senator Everett Dirksen, Johnson made clear that he wanted Dirksen to contact Nixon on what was taking place26:

JOHNSON
Well, now, what do you think we ought to do about it?

DIRKSEN
Well, I better get in touch with him, I think, and tell him about it.

JOHNSON
I think you better tell him that his people are saying to these folks that they oughtn’t to go through with this meeting [in Paris]. Now, if they don’t go through with the meeting, it’s not going to be me that’s hurt. I think it’s going to be whoever’s elected.

DIRKSEN
That’s right.

We can return to Nixon’s memoir on what he says of the events of November 2nd, where he mentions Dirksen contacting him about Johnson’s anger with him. What’s significant in this excerpt is that he mentions the statements by his aide, Bob Finch, critiquing Johnson for his failure to bring about the peace talks, but never brings up the primary thing that has Johnson furious, does not even bring it up to deny it: that he is conducting back channel diplomacy to foil these peace talks. From RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon:

The Democrats’ euphoria was dampened on November 2, when President Thieu announced that his government would not participate in the negotiations Johnson was proposing.

Thieu’s reaction was totally predictable. He watched American politics no less carefully than did the leaders in Hanoi. Given his disapproval of any bombing halt, and the fact that Humphrey was now talking like a dove, it was scarcely in Thieu’s interest to acquiesce in a bad bargain. By holding back his support, Thieu fostered the impression that Johnson’s plan had been too quickly conceived and shakily executed.

On the heels of Thieu’s recalcitrance, I asked Bob Finch to put the word out to newsmen that the prospects for peace were not as advanced as Johnson’s announcement might have made them seem. Providing background in his capacity as “an aide to Richard Nixon,” Finch explained, “We had the impression that all the diplomatic ducks were in position.” Then for the record he said, “I think this will boomerang. It was hastily contrived.”

Johnson saw the news story with Finch’s comments. He was furious, and he made his displeasure known. Bryce Harlow urged me to call Johnson to calm him down – and I did so Sunday morning, November 3.

An excerpt from the phone call at 1:54 P.M., where Johnson speaks of the three necessary preconditions of the talks – no shelling of the cities, no crossing the DMZ, the government of South Vietnam (GVN) at the table – and the failure of the talks, possibly due to Nixon offering a better deal to the South Vietnamese27:

(A clip on youtube of the audio with accompanying transcript of this phone call in its entirety.)

JOHNSON
Now, the other day, we had talked to Thieu on October the 13th, and stressed that we had to have these points, and he agreed. On October the 15th, we reviewed it with him again, and he bought a 36 hour period between stopping the bombing and the conference. On October the 23rd, he agreed to a three day delay, on October the 28th, we agreed to the communique, that we both make a joint announcement. When and if, we could clear it with them. Get them signed on. Then the traffic goes out, that Nixon will do better by ya. Now, that goes to Thieu. I didn’t say, as I said the other day, I didn’t say with your knowledge, I hope it wasn’t.

NIXON
As a matter of fact, I’m not privy to what you were doing- The whole point is this, I think one thing we have to understand here is that you know, and I know, that with the hawk/dove complex out there, as there is here. And that everybody’s been saying, “Well, now, after the election, what will happen?” And, of course, there is some thought that Hanoi would rather deal now than deal later.

JOHNSON
Oh, yes-

NIXON
They think Nixon will be tougher.

JOHNSON
Ye-

NIXON
And I understand that. And I think that’s one of the reasons you felt you had to go forward with the [bombing] pause.

But my point that I’m making is this: that, my God, I would never do anything to encourage Hanoi, I mean Saigon not to come to the table, because basically, that was what you got out of your bombing pause. That good God, we want them over at Paris. We’ve got to get them to Paris, or you can’t have a peace.

Note that Nixon affects an innocence of the peace negotiations which he himself would later refute. “As a matter of fact, I’m not privy to what you were doing,” he says, though as we’ve already seen, he admits in his memoir that Henry Kissinger, among others, is passing his campaign information, and it is through these sources that he expects there to be a bombing halt.

A little later in the conversation:

NIXON
Now, getting to the one, the key point: is there anything I could do before that on this business of South Vietnam? If you want me to do something, you know I’ll do anything, because we’re not going to let these people stop these peace things, if you think I can do something.

JOHNSON
Dick, I told [Senate Minority Leader Everett M.] Dirksen [R-Illinois] last night I thought it’d be better to do it that way than to be calling on the trips. I think this: These people are proceeding on the assumption that folks close to you tell them to do nothing until January 20.

NIXON
[Unclear.]

JOHNSON
Now, we think–

NIXON
I know who they’re talking about, too. Is it [Senator] John Tower? [R-Texas]?

JOHNSON
Well, he’s one of several. Mrs. [Anna] Chennault is very much in there.

NIXON
Well, she’s very close to John.

JOHNSON
And the Embassy is telling the [South Vietnamese] President [Nguyen Van Thieu] and the President is acting on this advice. He started doing it back about October 18, following our talk on the conversation on October 16. I had two bad breaks in the month of October. The first one came from the other side. Hanoi felt that because of what Bundy had said–Mac Bundy—

NIXON
Yeah.

JOHNSON
–that to withdraw troops, and what Humphrey had said that he wouldn’t–7

NIXON
They could wait.

JOHNSON
Well, he just said, “I don’t–I will stop the bombing, period, I don’t mean comma or semi-colon.” So, Hanoi picked up the next day and went home for two weeks. We had it all wrapped up there and then for the meeting. Now, I don’t know what’ll come out of the conference. But that was the way it was. They went off. In the meantime, these messages started coming out from here that Johnson was going to have a bombing pause to try to elect Humphrey and that they ought to hold out because Nixon will not sell you out like the Democrats sold out China.8 And we have talked to different ones. I think they’ve been talking to [Vice President-elect Spiro] Agnew. I think they think that they’ve been quoting you indirectly, that the thing they ought to do is to just not show up at any conference and wait until you come into office.

Don Fulsom’s Nixon’s Darkest Secrets, a profile of the seamiest elements of the president, has a number of hypotheses that I don’t agree with, but it does have this interesting insight into this last part of the conversation that I think is worth passing on:

In this discussion, Nixon not only threw loyal Texas Republican senator John Tower under the bus, but he also stressed the words “very close.” What Nixon was apparently alluding to was a not-so-secret affair Senator Tower was having with the fabled Dragon Lady.

The supposed lovers were both right-wingers and heavy partiers on the Washington cocktail circuit. Tower had replaced Lyndon Johnson in the Senate. The two men were bitter enemies. So Nixon probably had that in mind when he ratted out Tower to LBJ.

A former Tower associate says the senator, long after his second failed marriage, freely admitted having a long-term liaison with Chennault. Tower was very fond of Anna, and, the source added, after they broke up, Tower claimed Chennault went on to “a torrid fling” with Thomas McIntyre, a left-wing Democratic Senator from new Hampshire and a “heavy foreign policy hitter.”

Two hours earlier, Johnson had a phone call with Florida Senator George Smathers where he spoke of the “her boss” FBI intercept, and where he appears to make clear that he does not trust Nixon at all28:

(A clip on youtube of the audio with accompanying transcript of a large section of this phone call.)

JOHNSON
His folks get into it. And they say that they know how to deal with these communists, and they’re not going to be soft on ‘em. And if they’re elected, they’ll see it right on through with ‘em, and that they’ll get a whole lot better deal with Nixon than they will with Johnson.

Now, first, that comes out of one of his associates, one of his top businesspersons. That was communicated to us by means that we have of knowing it. And it was rather shocking, in the light of what he said. So I started personally watching the traffic myself, and the next day, the traffic shows that that is going in and out of Saigon.

Do you follow me?

SMATHERS
Yeah.

JOHNSON
I’m not guessing, George. I know what I’m doing, you see. [They said] that Nixon is going to win; therefore, they ought to wait on Nixon.

So what he’s doing-my judgment is, on the surface, he was playing that he didn’t want to undercut me.

SMATHERS
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Under the table, his people-and this, I think, you can tell him for sure; there’s no doubt about it-his people (a) business-wise, and (b) political-wise were saying that you ought to wait on Dick.

Now, that’s got it pretty well screwed up.

SMATHERS
Yeah, it does.

JOHNSON
That’s a hell of a note, and it’s a sad thing for people that got boys out here [in Vietnam], to have folks leaving these impressions.

SMATHERS
Right.

JOHNSON
They’re going around and implying to some of the embassies that they might get a better deal out of somebody that was not involved in this-the “somebody not involved” is what they refer to as “their boss.”

SMATHERS
Right.

JOHNSON
“Their boss” is the code word for Mr. Nixon.

Clark Clifford would make the following diary entry on this day, published in Counsel to the President:

Sunday, November 3. In growing fury, Johnson told Senator Dirksen that he knew all about Anna Chennault’s activities. Dirksen, the man who probably came closest to being a true friend of both Johnson and Nixon (and who also knew Chennault well), immediately alerted Nixon to Johnson’s fury, warning that Johnson might make it public. Nixon called the President, who was at the LBJ Ranch awaiting the arrival of the Humphreys. (Ironically, hours later, the Johnsons and the Humphreys would make their only joint appearance of the campaign, in the Houston Astrodome.) Sensitive to Johnson’s mood, Nixon realized the danger to his floundering campaign if he could not placate Johnson, and the secret channel to Saigon became public. Anna Chennault and Bui Diem, at John Mitchell’s suggestion, had convinced Thieu to boycott the November 6 meeting in Paris; Nixon now persuaded Johnson that he had had nothing to do with these activities. President Johnson again decided not to go public.

NOVEMBER 4, 1968

We have already mentioned the discovery by Saigon correspondent Beverly Deepe Keever of the interference in the Paris Peace Talks on the part of Nixon, begun on October 28: “There’s a report here that Vietnamese Ambassador to Washington Bui Diem has notified the Foreign Ministry that Nixon aides have approached him and told him the Saigon government should hold to a firm position now regarding negotiations,” she would cable her editor, “and that once Nixon is elected, he’ll back the Thieu government in their demands. If you could track it down with the Nixon camp, it would probably be a very good story.” Her investigation would continue on into November 4, two days after Thieu publicly declared that he would not participate in the talks:

To explain Thieu’s stunning announcement, I cabled Hayward on November 4: “Purported political encouragement from the Richard Nixon camp was a significant factor in the last-minute decision of President Nguyen Van Thieu’s refusal to send a delegation to the Paris peace talks – at least until the American Presidential election is over.” I relied mostly on “informed sources” for my scoop – an eye-opening exclusive news report – and added that “the only written report about the alleged Nixon support for the Thieu government was a cable from Bui Diem, Vietnamese ambassador to Washington,” confirming what I had asked Hayward to check out days earlier. But my momentous scoop was not published. Hayward cabled back that the Monitor had deleted all my references to Bui Diem and to the “purported political encouragement from the Nixon camp,” which, he wrote, “seems virtual equivalent of treason.”

What was taking place on the other side of that conversation, in the United States, would only be learned forty years later. Again, from Keever’s Death Zones and Darling Spies:

Hayward could not have known then, but his description of Nixon’s “virtual equivalent of treason” was being privately echoed at the time by Johnson when he sputtered: “It would rock the world if it were known that Thieu was conniving with the Republicans. Can you imagine what people would say if it Hayward told me within a day or so: “The alleged Nixon involvement was interesting but needed confirmation from this end-which was not forthcoming-before we could print such sweeping charges on election day. It was a good story nonetheless, and you get major credit for digging it out.” Knowing the time-honored journalistic tradition of fairness, I understood when Hayward told me that without such confirmation, the Monitor had “trimmed and softened” my lead. The Monitor’s substitute lead simply implied that Thieu had acted on his own. Upon receiving the Monitor‘s Western edition days later, however, I saw my supposed-to-be scoop relegated to page 2, with no mention of Nixon, under a one-column headline. I could hardly recognize it. Yet 44 years later I was stunned to learn that President Johnson had indeed read and agonized over my lead with his top aides. Just as this book was being readied for publication, I was queried about my scoop’s Nixon-Thieu connection by veteran investigative reporter Robert Parry. On March 3, 2012, Parry published an amazing exposé on his online investigative news service headlined: “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason.’” Parry also included links to the telltale documents he had uncovered.

Forty years later, we would learn that Saville Davis, the Monitor‘s Washington correspondent, had visited both the Vietnamese embassy in D.C. and the White House for comment on this story.

This is the memo from Walt Rostow to Johnson, informing him of Saville Davis’s visit to the Vietnamese embassy29:

FROM WALT ROSTOW
TO THE PRESIDENT
CITE CAP82675

S E C R E T SENSITIVE EYES ONLY

LITERALLY EYES ONLY FOR THE PRESIDENT
HEREWITH FULL ACCOUNT SAVILLE DAVIS – BUI DIEM CONVERSATION.

EMBASSY OF VIETNAM; INTERNAL SECURITY – VIETNAM.

A source who has furnished reliable information in the past advised that on the late morning of November Four, Nineteen SixtyEight Saville Davis, Washington Bureau. Christian Science Monitor Newspaper, contacted a representative of the Vietnamese embassy, Washington D.C., and asked for an appointment with ambassador Bui Diem. When informed that the ambassador was busy, Davis stated he wanted to check out a story received from a correspondent in Saigon and that Davis plans to come to the embassy and wait for the ambassador to see him.

Davis said that the dispatch from Saigon contains the elements of a major scandal which also involves the Vietnam ambassador and which will affect presidential candidate Richard Nixon if the Monitor publishes it. Time is of the essence inasmuch as Davis has a deadline to meet if he publishes it. He speculated that should the story be published, it will create a great deal of excitement.

DTG: 041800Z NOV 68

This is the memo informing Rostow that Saville Davis is at the White House30:

11/4/68

Saville Davis of the Christian Science Monitor is upstairs: 347-4953

He said they are holding out of the paper a sensational dispatch from Saigon (from their Saigon correspondent) the 1st para of which reads:

“Purported political encouragement from the Richard Nixon camp was a significant factor in the last-minute decision of President Thieu’s refusal to send a delegation to the Paris peace talks — at least until the American Presidential election is over.”

He said he will await WWR’s comments.

Johnson was sufficiently excited by Davis’s questions to hold a conference call with two of his senior advisers, Secretary of State Dean Rusk and National Security Adviser Walt Rostow on how to deal with it. Though Nixon accuses Johnson of playing politics with the bombing halt, this conversation heavily stresses that politics must not be played with this, not even through off the record leaks to the press. The conversation would take place on 12:27 P.M. of that day31:

JOHNSON
Hello, Dean? I think you and Clark and Walt ought to meet on this Saville Davis thing.

RUSK
Yes sir.

JOHNSON
It concerns me a great deal. I don’t want to be in the position of me being a McCarthy. I don’t know much more than I told the candidates themselves the other day, which my notes will reflect there. Namely, these folks had tentatively agreed out there to go along and then they started having doubts because we had reports of some folks-the old China Lobby-contacting embassies, et cetera. Now, I can’t get much more specific than that, A, because of the sensitivity of the source-

RUSK
Right.

JOHNSON
-and B, because of the limited nature of the information. I told Smathers that, Senator Smathers, who called saying that he understood from what I told Dirksen that I was likely to make public this information if it were confirmed and if they kept interfering with it. I also told Dirksen that I believed that the friends of one of the candidates was reporting to the folks out there that they ought to wait.

RUSK
Right.

JOHNSON
I did that on the basis of two things-one, the intercept from the Ambassador-

RUSK
Right.

JOHNSON
-saying that he had had a call and the boss said wait and so forth, and second, this China Lobby operation, the Madame involved.

RUSK
Yeah, that’s-

JOHNSON
Now, I don’t want to have information that ought to be public and not make it so. At the-on the other hand, we have a lot of-I don’t know how much we can do there and I know we’ll be charged with trying to interfere with the election. And I think this is something that’s going to require the best judgments that we have. I’m rather concerned by this Saville Davis conversation with the Embassy this morning.

RUSK
Now, which conversation?

JOHNSON
The Christian Science Monitor man called the Embassy this morning and wanted to see the Ambassador and he was unavailable. He told the party answering that he wanted to check out a story received from his correspondent in Saigon; that he planned to come to the Embassy and wait until he could see him; that the dispatch from Saigon contained the elements of a major scandal which involves the Vietnamese Ambassador and which will affect Presidential candidate Nixon if the Monitor publishes it. Time is of the essence inasmuch as Davis has a deadline to meet if he publishes it.

RUSK
Right.

JOHNSON
He speculated that should the story be published it will create a great deal of excitement.

RUSK
Right.

JOHNSON
Now, what he gets from Saigon is well and good and fine. But if he gets it from us, I want to be sure that A, we try to do it in such a way that our motives are not questioned and that if the public interest requires it, and two-and that’s the only thing I want to operate under, I’m not interested in the politics of it-the second thing is I want to be sure that what we say can be confirmed.

RUSK
Well, Mr. President, I have a very definite view on this, for what it’s worth. I do not believe that any President can make any use of interceptions or telephone taps in any way that would involve politics. The moment we cross over that divide we are in a different kind of society.

JOHNSON
Yeah.

Rostow would summarize the conclusions reached in a later report32:

FROM WALT W ROSTOW
TO THE PRESIDENT
CITE CAP82683

S E C R E T SENSITIVE EYES ONLY

DELIVER DIRECT TO THE PRESIDENT

FROM WALT ROSTOW

NOVEMBER 4, 1968

I have just returned from a meeting of over an hour with Sec. Rusk and Sec. Clifford on the China matter.

Saville Davis volunteered that his newspaper would certainly not print the story in the form in which it was filed; but they might print a story which said Thieu, on his own, decided to hold out until after the election.

Incidentally, the story as filed is stated to be based on Vietnamese sources, and not U.S., in Saigon

With respect to the body of information that we now have available, all three of us agreed to the following propositions:

–the information sources must be protected and not introduced into domestic politics.

–even with these sources, the case is not open and shut. On the question of the “public’s right to know,” Sec. Rusk was very strong on the following position: we get information like this every day, some of it very damaging to american political figures. We have always taken the view that with respect to such sources there is no public “right to know.” Such information is collected simply for the purposes of national security.

–so far as the information based on such sources is concerned, all three of us agreed: (A) even if the story breaks, it was judged too late to have a significant impact on the election. (B) the viability of the man elected as president was involved as well as subsequent relations between him and President Johnson. (C) therefore, the common recommendation was that we should not encourage such stories and hold tight the data we have.

Robert Parry’s “The Almost Scoop on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” was a follow-up to his “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’”, devoted exclusively to Keever’s explosive scoop, which might well have shifted an election and had consequences an ocean away. Keever would write of the aftermath in Death Zones and Darling Spies; this excerpt begins with quotes from Parry’s “The Almost Scoop”:

“The Christian Science Monitor‘s inquiry gave President Johnson one more opportunity to bring to light the Nixon campaign gambit before Election Day,” Parry recounts. Before deciding what to do, Johnson consulted in a conference call with Rostow, Defense Secretary Clifford, and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. “Those three pillars of the Washington Establishment were unanimous in advising Johnson against going public, mostly out of fear that the scandalous information might reflect badly on the U.S. government,” Parry explains in summing up their extended answers. Johnson agreed with his advisers. An administration spokesman told Davis: “Obviously I’m not going to get into this kind of thing in any way, shape or form.” Based on these evasive responses to Davis, the Monitor decided against publishing my lead.

My lead gave Johnson a last-minute choice of remaining silent or going public with Nixon’s ploy on the eve of the election. The scoop also crystallized a unique split-screen moment: The most decisive period of the Vietnam War, settling the conditions for ending it, was moving in parallel with a most indecisive period in the American democratic process, the U.S. presidential election.

The White House joined the Monitor in keeping vital information secret from Americans about to cast their ballots for president while GIs and Vietnamese were dying in a faraway war. My incriminating lead provided a hinge-of-history moment- for the American election, the future of South Vietnam, and the thousands of Americans and Vietnamese dying and about to die in Southeast Asia as the war dragged on for four more bloody years. In what Parry describes in another context, my lead zeroing in on Nixon’s “treason” faded away into the United States’ “lost history”-history that in this case would be written with more blood and tears.

Vice President Humphrey was also alerted by his chief speechwriter, Ted Van Dyk, that Thieu was going to hold off sending a delegation to the Paris peace talks, and that “in 1968 the old China Lobby is still alive.” Humphrey fumed, “I’ll be God-damned if the China Lobby can decide this government.” Yet that is what happened. Thieu’s explosive address made national headlines and cast doubts on Johnson’s ability to get the peace talks going and end the war. Nixon’s speechwriter, William Safire, voicing the sentiments of numerous pundits and a reputable polling firm, observed, “Nixon would probably not be president were it not for Thieu.”

NOVEMBER 5, 1968

The election was extraordinarily tight down to the day of the vote, when counting went into late evening and early morning as Nixon and Humphrey held even in the tally of electoral votes, until finally the winner broke out a lead. For those final deciding hours which bled into the sixth day, we take the perspective of the man who won, who worked so hard for this victory and for which others would pay so much; from RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon:

I placed calls to Ted Agnew and Nelson Rockefeller. They agreed that victory was just a matter of time. Then I called in my senior staff. We sat and talked for almost two hours while we waited for the reported results to confirm our predictions. Several times I asked Mitchell or Haldeman to call our people in the key states to break loose better information than the TV commentators seemed able to supply. They always came back with the same message: Don’t worry – things are going well – we’re almost there. Almost. I had been almost there in 1960. Finally, around five o’clock, Mitchell and Haldeman persuaded me to try to nap. It was clear that the outcome would not be definite until the morning and at this point I had been up for almost twenty-two hours. I couldn’t get to sleep, and after half an hour I got up again.

Just before 8 A.M. [H.R.] Haldeman brought in word that both NBC and ABC had declared me the winner in California and Ohio. But there was still no movement in Illinois, and that was what I needed to confirm victory. One more state. At 8:30 the door burst open and Dwight Chapin rushed in. “ABC just declared you the winner!” he shouted. “They’ve projected Illinois. You got it. You’ve won.”

We hurried into the sitting room where the television set was on and we watched as ABC continued to survey the electoral vote count. After we had watched for a few moments, I put a hand on John Mitchell’s shoulder and said, “Well, John, we had better get down to Florida and get this thing planned out.” Before Mitchell could respond, tears welled up in his eyes. He said very quietly, “Mr. President, I think I’d better go up to be with Martha.” This was a doubly moving moment for us both. It was the first time that anyone addressed me by the title I had just won. It was also the first time that Mitchell had directly referred to his wife’s problems, which I knew had been an immense emotional strain on him. Martha had been in a rest home during the last weeks of the campaign, and I fully understood his desire to be with her now.

I went down the hall to the suite where Pat and the girls were waiting. They were so physically and emotionally exhausted that there wasn’t the elation one would normally expect. We all kissed and embraced. Julie went to her room and then called me in. She opened her briefcase and pulled out a piece of crewelwork she had done during campaign flights around the country. It was the Great Seal of the United States, with the inscription “To RN-JN” stitched at the bottom. “Daddy, I never had any doubt you would win,” she said as she hugged me. “I just wanted something to be ready right away to prove it.”

Of those mentioned in this excerpt, Agnew would leave the vice presidency over tax evasion, Martha Mitchell would become a comical figure during the Watergate scandal for her inappropriate blurtings, eventually confined against her will because of her leaks to the press, while H.R. Haldeman and John Mitchell would serve, respectively, as a senior adviser to the president and his attorney general, before both ending up in prison for obstruction of justice in the course of the episode of breaking in and cover-up which would force Nixon from office, Watergate.

The entry from Clark Clifford’s diary on this day, published in Counsel to the President:

Tuesday, November 5. Election Day at last – I spent the day in the Pentagon, lunching with Nitze and Westmoreland, meeting with Air Force Secretary Harold Brown, and carrying out routine business. I was disgusted with the campaign – with Thieu’s treachery, with Humphrey’s vacillation, with Johnson’s failure to give Humphrey enough support, with Nixon’s clever deviousness, with Chennault’s interference. I assumed Nixon would win, but still hoped for a miracle.

The day dragged on without shape or focus. We went about our work almost numb from fatigue and suspense. In the evening I went home to await the results with a few friends, thinking back to narrow victories in 1948 and 1960. But this time, the victory would go to Richard Nixon. With it came the beginning of a generation of Republican domination of the executive branch and the end of the great Democratic tradition that had begun with FDR in 1932 and run for thirty-six years.

NOVEMBER 7, 1968

Two days after the election, Walt Rostow would send the following report with the accompanying cover letter to president Johnson33:

SECRET-EYES ONLY

Thursday, November 7, 1968
5:00 p.m.

Mr. President:

If you wish to get the story raw, read the last paragraph, marked.

Walt Rostow

DETERMINED TO BE AN ADMISTRATIVE MARKING
E.O. 12856, SEC. 1.1(a)

BY JOW ON 8/2/94

SECRET–EYES ONLY

The report:

SECRET-NOFORN

’68 NOV 7 PM 3:51

1968 NOV 7 20 43

3:39PM RNK
PRIORITY 11-7-68 RNK
TO: WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM, ATT.: MR. BROMLEY SMITH 09
ROM: DIRECTOR, FBI

(SECRET – NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION)

EMBASSY OF VIETNAM; INTERNAL SECURITY – VIETNAM.

On November Seven, Instant, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, furnished the following information:

On instant date, an unidentified male was in contact with Major Bui Cong Minh, Assistant Armed Forces Attache, Embassy of Vietnam, Washington, D.C. (WDC). The unidentified individual advised Major Minh that he had just received a call from General Westmoreland’s office, and General Westmoreland desired to see the unidentified man during the evening of November Seven, instant. In view of this appointment, the unidentified man desired to delay his visit to see Major Minh until Saturday, November Nine,

PAGE TWO (SECRET – NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION)

next. Major Minh agreed and the unidentified man and his wife will visit Major and Mrs. Minh on Saturday November Nine, next, (possibly at Major Minh’s residence One Zero Eight Zero Five [10805] Georgia Avenue, Apartment Two Zero One [201], Wheaton, Maryland).

The unidentified man inquired as to how the peace talks were coming, and Major Minh expressed the opinion that the move by Saigon was to help presidential candidate Nixon, and that had Saigon gone to the conference table, presidential candidate Humphrey would probably have won.

GP-1

“If you wish to get the story raw, read the last paragraph, marked,” is the note on the cover letter, and the notable point in the last paragraph is: “Major Minh expressed the opinion that the move by Saigon [the refusal to participate in the Peace Talks] was to help presidential candidate Nixon, and that had Saigon gone to the conference table, presidential candidate Humphrey would probably have won.”

NOVEMBER 8, 1968

A conversation between Johnson and Everett Dirksen, where the president stresses that the message must be sent to Nixon that it remains urgent for Thieu to be at the peace talks. This remains Johnson’s priority, even after the election has been decided34:

DIRKSEN
I talked to Dick this morning.

JOHNSON
Yes Edward.

DIRKSEN
He’s coming to see you about this, at 1:30 is my understanding.

JOHNSON
Yes?

DIRKSEN
And, he has your background. Now, I hated the words. I said, it seems they sent some of their boys out to spy, and tell them to wait. So you’ll know that he knows the story.

JOHNSON
Well, what was his reaction?

DIRKSEN
Well. He said he didn’t send anybody. Well, maybe not. But maybe somebody else sent somebody. But-

JOHNSON
What was his reaction to the request that he tell somebody to go on and get that Paris meeting?

DIRKSEN
He didn’t give me very much reaction. He just cindered a little by saying “We didn’t do anything.” Well, that may well be, but there a lot of those people in (inaudible). You’ll know the kind of background that you have to talk to him to.

JOHNSON
Well, now the point is this’ll not going to wait till Monday. No no. Hell no. This’ll go right now. Because if they don’t go in there this week, we’re just gonna have all kinds of problems.

DIRKSEN
I thought from the arrangement that was made, coming up here on Monday, that’d be satisfactory.

JOHNSON
No, I told you last night, I oughta, I thought I’d hear early this morning, cuz we want Thieu to get a message so he can get a delegation Saigon to Paris next week. We think we’ve held up just every day, we’re killing men. We’re killing men.

On this same day, a secret intelligence report was sent to the President on a meeting between a trusted source and South Vietnam’s ambassador to the United States, Bui Diem. What is of interest is that the counter-proposal is so minutely different from the original U.S. one, and that what is most wanted is not a resolution of the war, but a slowing down of the peace process 35:

8 November 1968

The following is a report by a reliable and trustworthy American of his breakfast meeting with the Government of Vietnam (GVN) Ambassador Bui Diem on 8 November 1968, at the residence.

1. On the way to this meeting, the news had come over the radio that President Thieu had proposed that, under the “our side, your side”, formula, South Vietnam be designated head of the Allies delegation while North Vietnam be head of the Communist one. Bui Diem had the full text of Thieu’s statement. He commented that the GVN position represented only a small change in the original U.S. proposal – rather than a totally new and different formula – but that it satisfied a number of Vietnamese concerns: it gave the GVN a more prominent status than the NLF, it would put negotiations on a Vietnamese-to-Vietnamese basis rather than a U.S.-to-Vietnamese basis, and it would clearly represent a new stage of negotiations rather than a continuation of the previous phase. Asked if he thought there was much chance of Hanoi’s acceptance, he replied “no,” but he added that it put the GVN on the offensive rather than in the position of appearing to scuttle negotiations.

2. Asked if he thought that, under one formula or another, the negotiations would be able to resume soon, Bui Diem said that he thought it would take some time. He said that he thought the fact that the U.S. now had a President-elect would slow down the planning process on the U.S. side, since President Johnson would wish to inform and seek the opinions of the President-elect’s term, and it would also take some time to repair the damage to GVN-U.S. relations. Regarding the latter point, Bui Diem said that, while there was a minor substantiative difference in the U.S. and GVN positions – such as the U.S. willingness to leave GVN and NLF status at the peace talks ambiguous while the GVN wanted more precision – much of the difficulty

DECLASSIFIED
E.O. 12958, Sec. 3.6
NLJ 00-231
By com, NARA Date 12-19-00

SECRET/SENSITIVE

Rostow would also pass on another report on Anna Chennault’s activities, accompanied by a cover letter which urged that they act on the information. Had they done so, Nixon’s political career would have been destroyed four years before Watergate36.

Literally Eyes Only

THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON

Friday, Nov. 8, 1968
7:35 am

Mr. President:

First reactions may well be wrong.

But with this information I think it’s time to blow the whistle on these folks.

W. W. Rostow

Literally Eyes Only

The report:

245 AM 11-08-68 RDR
PRIORITY
TO: WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM, ATT.: MR. BROMLEY SMITH 02

FROM: DIRECTOR, FBI

S E C R E T – NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION

EMBASSY OF VIETNAM

On November Seven, last, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, furnished the following information:

In late evening on November Seven, last, Mrs. Anna Chennault contacted Vietnamese ambassador Bui Diem and advised that the message on that date from South Vietnamese president Thieu “which our boss” was alright. She advised she had given “them” everything when she finally got back to her office to call, that “they” got the whole message.

Chennault stated the person she had mentioned to Diem who might be thinking about “the trip” went on vacation this afternoon and will be returning Monday morning at which time she will be in touch again and will have more news for Diem.

Chennault continued that “they” are still planning things but are not letting people know too much because they want to be careful to avoid embarrassing “you”, themselves, or the present

END PAGE ONE

NOVEMBER 11-12, 1968

On November 11, Nixon would visit the White House after a five day vacation in Key Biscayne, where he would meet with Johnson and his cabinet for the first time since the election. The moment is described in RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon:

On November 6 we flew aboard an Air Force jet to Key Biscayne for a postelection rest. On the way we stopped in Washington so that I could visit Eisenhower at Walter Reed Hospital. Few moments in my life have been more satisfying than entering his room as the President-elect. When he saw me, his face brightened and he said, “Congratulations, Mr. President!”

After a five-day rest in Key Biscayne we returned to New York to begin putting together an administration. Once again we stopped in Washington, this time for luncheon at the White House with President and Mrs. Johnson

When we entered the Cabinet Room, the briefers were already waiting for us: Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Earle Wheeler, Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, and National Security Adviser Walt Rostow.

The main subject was Vietnam. The travail of the long war was etched on the faces around me. These were all able and intelligent men. They had wanted desperately to end the war before leaving office, but they had not succeeded. They seemed very nearly worn out. They had no new approaches to recommend to me. I sensed that, despite the disappointment of defeat, they were relieved to be able to turn this morass over to someone else.

When Johnson and I returned to the Oval Office after the briefing, he talked with a sense of urgency. “There may be times when we disagree, and, if such time comes, I will let you know privately,” he said. “But you can be sure that I won’t criticize you publicly. Eisenhower did the same for me. I know what an enormous burden you will be carrying.” He said that he wanted to do everything he could to help me succeed. “The problems at home and abroad are probably greater than any President has ever confronted since the time of Lincoln,” he said. Johnson and I had been adversaries for many years, but on that day our political and personal differences melted away. As we stood together in the Oval Office, he welcomed me into a club of very exclusive membership, and he made a promise to adhere to the cardinal rule of that membership: stand behind those who succeed you.

Johnson would comply with this ideal in the remaining years in which he lived, demonstrating once again that the priority was not Humphrey’s election or victory over Nixon, but an end to the war in Vietnam. If he simply wished for victory over Nixon, he had enough to annihilate his career. However, just as Nixon did not show his true face to Johnson, the president did not turn up all his cards on the table either. The same day that he counseled Nixon on what lay ahead, he demanded from Deke DeLoach the information already cited, the phone calls made from Spiro Agnew’s plane on the day of the “her boss” intercept37.

A CIA intelligence cable on two private parties attended by Thieu on November 11 and 12 would report that Thieu explicitly stated that he’d sent secret emissaries to Nixon’s election campaign38:

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
INTELLIGENCE CABLE

COUNTRY SOUTH VIETNAM

DOI 11-12 NOVEMBER 1968

SUBJECT

PRESIDENT THIEU’S COMMENTS ON PEACE TALKS IMPASSE AT PRIVATE DINNER PARTIES ON 11 AND 12 NOVEMBER 1968

ACQ VIETNAM, SAIGON [REDACTED]

SOURCE

[REDACTED]

SANITIZED
Authority NLJ 10-99
By cbm NARA, Date 1-28-2011

2. During the course of a dinner on 11 November 1968, at which he presided as a relaxed and genial host and self-assured strong man, president Nguyen Van Thieu spoke critically of the unprecedented pressure to which the U.S. government had subjected him during the pre-bombing halt discussions. According to Thieu, the americans had cited the size of the U.S. commitment in blood and money as justification for insisting that U.S. interests prevail and had cited the presence in South Vietnam (SVN) of a half million U.S. troops. Thieu said he had had to remind the Americans that the government of Vietnam (GVN) contribution to the war was in fact, larger than the U.S. commitment.

Thieu characterized the U.S. government action as a “betrayal” comparable to the U.S. abandonment of Chiang Kai-Shek as a result of the Yalta, Teheran and Casablanca conferences. He complained that the Americans had sent the Australian and Korean ambassadors to badger him into accepting the U.S. point of view. Thieu observed that vice president Nguyen Cao Ky, who was not present, was fully in accord with his policy on the Paris talks question, including his recently enunciated “our side-your side” formula.

4. Thieu told his quests that during the U.S. election campaign he had sent two secret emissaries to the U.S. to contact Richard Nixon. He indicated he might reshuffle the cabinet in an effort to please the new U.S. administration, mentioning specifically the posts of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

9. Thieu said that there had been no reaction from Washington to his two-delegation proposal since the recent meeting between President Johnson and President-elect Nixon. He expects Nixon to let Johnson try to solve the talks crisis and to go as far as possible toward reaching a settlement. This would make Nixon’s own job easier after inauguration and would leave for the Nixon administration the obvious measures to be taken to disengage the U.S. from SVN, thus allowing Nixon to be the “hero” who de-americanized the war.

Nixon would detail the November 11 meeting for his memoir, and Clark Clifford would recall it for his own:

I was impressed with the controlled manner in which Nixon conducted himself: always polite and deferential to President Johnson, careful not to reveal his private thoughts on any issue that still lay within the responsibility of the President. Where Johnson liked to obscure his strategy with a stream of Texas stories and rhetoric, Nixon was self controlled, and conveyed the impression of a man weighing every word. But one could easily overlook Nixon’s skill with words, because he left such a strong impression of physical awkwardness.

Rather opaquely, Nixon said he found no significant differences between his own views on Vietnam and those of the Johnson Administration: “I will do nothing until the Inauguration unless it is seen to be helpful by you. We must present a united front” – this from the man whose agents had sung the song of dissension to Saigon only a few days earlier.

“You can be very helpful in the next sixty-five days, especially with Saigon,” I said to Nixon. “I know you want to wind this up as much as we do.”

“The quicker the better,” the President-elect replied.

THE AFTERMATH PART I

The silence of Johnson and his closest aides would be kept after the election, and after Nixon’s inauguration, until their deaths. In my research on this episode, I came across various hypotheses on why Johnson kept their silence on Nixon’s backchannel diplomacy, with the major reason given that the information had been obtained illegally, without a warrant, and that therefore it would somehow damage the Johnson White House as much, if not more, than the Nixon campaign. This misunderstands the nature of the evidence against Nixon, which was prompted first by the tip of Alexander Sachs, which led to the FBI taps on Anna Chennault. This was a major national security issue which Chennault was sticking her fingers into, meddling into secret high level diplomatic talks, and it’s to be expected that a suspect would have their phone tapped, just as they would if they sold weapons or secrets. The tapping of the Vietnamese embassy in the U.S. and the NSA intelligence from Vietnam were incidental to the case, only confirming that for the South Vietnamese leadership, Nixon was the one. Even granting that their silence during the 1968 race was tactical, it does not explain their stone silence afterwards, which was closely kept for a specific reason, given by Clark Clifford in the conference call of November 2nd: “I think that some elements of the story are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be good for the country to disclose the story, and then possibly to have a certain individual elected. It could cast his whole administration under such doubts that I would think it would be inimical to our country’s interests.” As Johnson said in his phone call with Everett Dirksen, “This is treason.”39

Two major stories would touch on the machinations of the South Vietnamese government to influence the 1968 election by sabotaging the peace talks. On November 15, The Chicago Daily News would published an article by Georgie Anne Geyer headlined “Saigon boast: ‘We helped elect Nixon’” which quoted Saigon generals gleeful over scoring Nixon’s victory, but without mentioning the Nixon-Chennault connection40:

CHICAGO DAILY NEWS, Friday, November 15, 1968

Saigon boast: “We helped elect Nixon”

By Georgie Anne Geyer
Daily News Foreign Service

SAIGON – Top Saigon officials are boasting privately they helped assure the election of Richard M. Nixon.

They are pleased about it. “We did it,” one of them said. “We helped elect an American President.”

Their reasoning is that by sabotaging President Johnson’s attempt to call a bombing halt two weeks before the elections they eliminated the support this would have brought for Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

“FIFTEEN DAYS would have done it,” one cabinet minister said, obviously pleased, “but four days wasn’t enough, and we saw to that.”

The same minister charged, privately, that since last spring, when the United States began meetings with Hanoi in Paris, Washington has been “working for Hanoi.” The Saigon government characterizes any negotiation with its enemy as tantamount to treason.

But with Nixon as President, they believe they will have not only a more understanding fellow hard-liner but also will have time. “Johnson was under pressures to get this thing over,” the minister said, “but Nixon will have at least six months or a year.”

THE GOVERNMENT has long said it does not want peace now, that it wants it only when it controls more of the country and can make better use of it. The reasoning is: “We are winning now. Why should we give up anything?”

To many American officials here it is offensive that the government for which Mr. Johnson literally gave up the Presidency and sacrificed his political career should treat him in this way.

Two days later, columnist Drew Pearson would publish “Saigon Generals Played Politics With Election”, and this would briefly mention that Bui Diem had been secretly in contact with Nixon, and may have even passed money to some of his associates 41:

Washington-Saigon Feud

Details Leak Out of Backstage Fight Between U.S. and South Vietnam

By Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson

THE EXPLOSIVE details have now leaked out about the backstage blowup between the United States and South Vietnam, which threatened to wreck the Paris peace negotiations before they start.

All along the South Vietnamese had agreed, in principle, to a bombing halt, provided they were given a place at the truce table. As the delicate negotiations were about to bear fruit, however, they suddenly began throwing up procedural objections. In both Paris and Saigon, the Americans and South Vietnamese wound up shouting angry insults at each other.

The South Vietnamese leaders become convinced that President Johnson was trying to rush through an agreement on a bombing halt just before the election in order to win votes for Hubert Humphrey. They felt strongly that LBJ was selling them out, that he was more concerned about winning the election than winning the war.

The President, meanwhile, learned that Saigon’s Ambassador Bui Diem had been in touch secretly with Richard Nixon’s people. There were unconfirmed reports that South Vietnamese leaders had even slipped campaign cash to Nixon representatives. These reports made Mr. Johnson suspicious that the South Vietnamese were trying to sabotage the peace negotiations in the hope that Nixon would win the election and take a harder line.

In the early part of the new year, another reporter came much closer to the frightening truth, though it remained without the later substantiation of the various intelligence intercepts and the explicit admission of Anna Chennault in her role. This was the journalist Tom Ottenad, mentioned briefly earlier in a Bryce Harlow note as one of those who believed a bombing halt would soon take place. His inquiries at the Vietnamese embassy in D.C. got near enough to what had taken place to set off a warning note by the FBI, passed on to Johnson in the days before Nixon’s inauguration42:

4:45PM 1-3-69 JDR
PRIORITY
TO WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM, ATT.: MR. BROMLEY SMITH 004

WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM
’69 JAN 3 PM 5:11

S E C R E T – NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION

EMBASSY OF VIETNAM; INTERNAL SECURITY – VIETNAM.

On January Three, instant, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, furnished the following information:

On the same date, Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem, Washington, D.C. (WDC), was in contact with Richard Dudman of the WDC bureau of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, this bureau having previously attempted to contact Ambassador Diem on instant date. Dudman made reference to an article which has been written for the St. Louis Dispatch, about Anna Chennault, concerning reports that Chennault had frequently been in touch with Vietnamese officials in WDC, encouraging Vietnamese officials to go slow with respect to expanded peace talks in Paris. Ambassador Diem denied these reports, stating that Vietnamese decisions are based

END PAGE ONE

PAGE TWO (S E C R E T – NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION)

on a lot of factors, mainly the problems at home (Vietnam), and not on internal politics in the United States.

Dudman questioned as to whether there had not been some concern by the White House, or by Vice President Humphrey about Chennault’s activities, further that the St. Louis Post Dispatch had information to this effect and that there had been some kind of inquiry or complaint to the Vietnamese embassy, WDC, in this regard. Ambassador Diem denied this information, commenting that he (Diem) had been in touch with many friends in WDC, both Democrats and Republicans, and again denied knowledge of an inquiry or complaint in such a matter.

Ottenad would attempt to interview Walt Rostow for this piece, and would later attempt to speak to Lyndon Johnson and his aide, Tom Johnson, on the same subject. These later inquiries were turned down, just as Rostow would refuse to answer any such questions for the January 6, 1969 article43. Rostow may have wished to blow the whistle on the backchannel diplomacy of Nixon-Chennault, but now that the choice had been made to stay silent, he would abide by it44:

1/3/69 11:40 am

Phone conversation, Tom Ottenad of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and W. W. Rostow

Ottenad: I have been working on a story that I wondered if I might talk to you about. It’s on background basis, or however you want to talk about it. It has to do with the last period of the Presidential campaign about the time of the President’s announcement of the bombing halt and steps to broaden the Paris talks. I’ve been told that during that period some Republican contacts were made with South Vietnamese officials urging them to go slow in the hope that from their standpoint, they might get a better shake under Nixon than they would otherwise, and that these contacts–contacts of this type–were made by Mrs. Chennault. We have established this from a number of sources, and it’s not really about that as such that I was inquiring, but rather about another aspect of it. I was told also that this activity had come to the attention of the Administration, and I wondered–I wanted to ask you–if that is in fact correct.

WWR: I have not one word to say about that matter.

Ottenad: Not even on background or completely non-attributable basis?

WWR: On no basis whatsoever.

Ottenad: There is no point about my asking other questions related to it.

WWR: That is correct.

Ottenad: That would be just a waste of your time.

WWR: I’m afraid that’s right.

Ottenad: May I ask about a different but somewhat related matter — because I don’t know whether you will say the same thing to that or not; if it is, of course, I’ll drop the business right there. The other matter I’ve been told of is about this same time. Contacts were made indirectly by South Vietnamese officials with the Nixon camp asking — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — asking for an opportunity to meet with Nixon or one of his aides and hinting that South Vietnamese would not take action on the question of going to Paris until after the election. My question: Did that ever come to your attention.

WWR: I have nothing whatsoever to say about it.

Ottenad’s article, published on January 6 1969, would detail the Nixon-Chennault attempt to sabotage the Paris Peace Talks. Though it would identify Chennault’s role, that she was specifically acting on behalf of Nixon was left an open question, and vigorously denied by off-the-record sources of his campaign45:

Was Saigon’s peace talk delay due to Republican promises?

TOM OTTENAD

January 6, 1969

WASHINGTON – A well-known top official of committees working for the election of Richard M. Nixon secretly got in touch with representatives of South Vietnam shortly before the presidential election.

It was in connection with an apparent effort to encourage them to delay in joining the Paris peace talks in hopes of getting a better deal if the Republicans won the White House.

The government of South Vietnam had been expected to join the Paris discussions soon after President Lyndon B. Johnson announced plans on Oct. 31 to bring both it and the Communist National Liberation Front into the peace talks and to halt all American bombing of North Vietnam. However, it delayed doing so for four weeks.

Its action is credited by some political experts, including some of Nixon’s staff, with cutting the loss of votes that his aides believe he suffered in the election from the last-minute peace move. In this view, the Vietnamese delay lent credence to Republican charges that Mr. Johnson’s action was a political maneuver to help the Democratic candidate, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

Informed diplomats as well as administration sources and a number of Republicans, including some within Nixon’s own organization, have said that Republican contact with South Vietnamese representatives was made by Mrs. Anna Chennault. The initial contact was reported to have been made a few days before Mr. Johnson’s Oct. 31 announcement.

A high ranking official at the South Vietnamese Embassy here said it was “entirely untrue” that Mrs. Chennault had urged officials of his government to go slow in joining the Paris peace talks.

Mrs. Chennault, who was born in Peking is of Chinese descent, but became an American citizen in 1950. She is a vice chairman of one of the committees planning Nixon’s inauguration Jan. 20. The attractive 45-year-old woman, who claims many friends in high government and Republican circles, is to be escorted to the inaugural ball by Gov. Warren P. Knowles of Wisconsin, it was announced recently. Her name figures in speculation for possible appointment to a key position in the Nixon administration.

In a recent interview, she declined to confirm or deny reports that she had been in frequent touch with representatives of the South Vietnamese Embassy shortly before the Nov. 5 election. “Who told you that?” she asked with a half smile.

In response to further questions the petite, vivacious woman, who rates Bui Diem, South Vietnam’s ambassador to the U.S., and other diplomats and world leaders among her friends, refused to give much information.

“You’re going to get me in a lot of trouble,” she remarked. Toying with the high collar of her Chinese-style dress, a personal fashion trademark, she continued with a laugh:

“I can’t say anything…come back and ask me that after the inauguration. We’re at a very sensitive time…I know so much and can say so little.”

Asked whether others had made contact with the South Vietnamese she replied enigmatically, “I certainly was not alone at that time.”

Friends of Mrs. Chennault have said that she was in sympathy with high South Vietnamese officials, including some of the country’s embassy here, who favored awaiting the outcome of the American presidential election before making any move toward joining the Paris peace negotiations.

High administration sources here say that key South Vietnamese officials generally favored the election of Nixon over Humphrey. They say also that they received information from Saigon indicating that many believe South Vietnamese officials there believed Mrs. Chennault was acting on Nixon’s behalf in contacts with representatives of that country. They termed this belief understandable in view of South Vietnam’s reputation for political intrigue.

When told that the Nixon forces disclaimed any connection with her reported actions, Mrs. Chennault remarked with a laugh: “You’ve covered politics. What would you expect? In politics nothing is fair.”

Although Nixon advisers say they learned of Mrs. Chennault’s activities several days before the Nov. 5 election, they apparently took no steps to halt her or remove her from her connection with the campaign. Explaining why, one G.O.P. official said, “She wasn’t our baby. She wasn’t really part of the campaign.”

Another Nixon adviser also emphasized this thought, stressing that Mrs. Chennault was not part of Nixon’s personal campaign staff.

“She was co-chairman of a volunteer organization,” he said. “She wasn’t a foreign policy adviser. We were faced with all kinds of people who claimed to speak for Nixon on various issues but really didn’t.”

Another Republican aide said, “The difficulty is she is pretty free-wheeling. She took a number of independent actions in the campaign. We had to pull her back several times.”

Some sources who are friendly to Mrs. Chennault have said privately that the Nixon camp was aware of her actions. They did not make clear, however, at what point this reported awareness developed.

Sources in the Nixon camp insisted strongly that Nixon was adamant in his refusal to make political capital out of the Vietnamese conflict or of the peace negotiations. “I saw him explode one time and say he was not going to make the war a political issue even if it cost him the election,” said one aide.

In contrast, Theodore White’s The Making of the President 1968 presented the Nixon-Chennault backchannel diplomacy as an unsubstantiated rumor that may well have blown up in the face of the Democratic party, and therefore it was best that it had been left alone and unpublicized. I give lengthy excerpt of the section of White’s book devoted to the episode:

When the American administration announced the bombing halt of Thursday night, it did so believing that it had the full assent of the South Vietnamese government. It had, however, only the assent of its president Nguyen van Thieu. And so solemnly had Thieu been admonished by the American government to keep the secrecy of the preceding weeks of negotiation that he had kept the details of agreement secret even from his cabinet, his national assembly, and his vice-president and rival, Nguyen Cao Ky. Faced with a revolt of his assembly as the news leaked, menaced by a coup d’état of his vice-president, Thieu reneged. On Friday, Saigon time (Saturday, American time) came his shattering statement, “The Government of South Vietnam deeply regrets not to be able to participate in the present exploratory talks.”

There could be no doubt that someone had blundered; of such blunders great issues in politics can be made. But over the weekend of November 1st and 2nd, with the Presidency of the United States apparently at stake, both sides approached the blunder as if it were a political explosive. Given the proper twist, it could explode either way, and one must see the temptation of the Democrats to exploit hidden opportunity, the temptation of the Republicans to exploit public confusion.

There is no way of getting at the dilemma of both parties except by introducing, at this point, the completely extraneous name of a beautiful Oriental lady, Anna Chan Chennault, the Chinese widow of war-time hero General Claire Chennault. Mrs. Chennault, an American citizen since 1950, comes of a line that begins with Mei-ling Soong (Madame Chiang K’ai-shek) and runs through Madame Nhu (the Dragon Lady of South Vietnam) – a line of Oriental ladies of high purpose and authoritarian manners whose pieties and iron righteousness have frequently outrun their brains and acknowledged beauty. In the campaign of 1968, Mrs. Chennault, a lady of charm, energy and great name, had become chairman or co-chairman of several Nixon citizen committees, wearing honorific titles which were borne by many but which she took more seriously than most. In that circle of Oriental diplomacy in Washington once known as the China Lobby, Anna Chennault was hostess-queen. Having raised (by her statement later) some $250 000 for the Nixon campaign, she felt entitled to authority by her achievement. And, having learned of the October negotiations by gossip and rumor and press speculation, as did most Americans, she had undertaken most energetically to sabotage them. In contact with the Formosan, the South Korean and the South Vietnamese governments, she had begun early, by cable and telephone, to mobilize their resistance to the agreement – apparently implying, as she went, that she spoke for the Nixon campaign.

She had, however, neglected to take the most elementary precautions of an intriguer, and her communications with Asia had been tapped by the American government and brought directly to the perusal of President Johnson.

Although Johnson had been made aware of Mrs. Chennault’s messages even before his announcement of the bombing halt, he had not taken them seriously. It was not until Saturday, with the announcement of eleven South Vietnamese senators in Saigon of their support for Richard M. Nixon(!) and the repudiation of the Paris agreement by President Thieu, that the President’s wrath was lit. By Saturday he had accused Senator Everett Dirksen of a Republican plot to sabotage peace (which Dirksen, presumably hastened to relay to Nixon headquarters); and by Sunday, Johnson was in direct and bitter telephonic contact with Richard Nixon in Los Angeles (see footnote, page 383)*.

What could have been made of an open charge that the Nixon leaders were saboteurs of the peace one cannot guess; how quickly it might, if aired have brought the last forty-eight hours of the American campaign to squalor is a matter of speculation. But the good instinct of that small-town boy Hubert Humphrey prevailed. Fully informed of the sabotage of the negotiations and the recalcitrance of the Saigon government, Humphrey might have won the Presidency of the United States by making it the prime story of the last four days of the campaign. He was urged by several members of his staff to do so. And I know of no more essentially decent story in American politics than Humphrey’s refusal to do so; his instinct was that Richard Nixon, personally, had no knowledge of Mrs. Chennault’s activities; had no hand in them; and would have forbidden them had he known. Humphrey would not air the story.

For the sake of the record, I must add that in probing this episode during the weekend of its happening, this reporter’s judgement was that Humphrey’s decision was morally, if not tactically, correct. At the first report of Republican sabotage in Saigon, Nixon’s headquarters had begun to investigate the story; had discovered Mrs. Chennault’s activities; and was appalled. The fury and dismay at Nixon’s headquarters when his aides discovered the report were so intense that they could not have been feigned simply for the benefit of this reporter. Their feeling on Monday morning before the election was, simply, that if they lost the election, Mrs. Chennault might have lost it for them. She had taken their name and authority in vain; if the Democrats now chose to air the story, no rebuttal of the Nixon camp would be convincing; and they were at the mercy of Humphrey’s good-will.

This incredible story would afterwards stay in the realm of intangible, unconfirmed mist, occasionally brought to the fore by memoirs of those involved in that election. In his own memoir, The Vantage Point, Johnson would allege that pro-Nixon forces had promised the South Vietnamese leadership a better deal, but would not claim that they were acting on the orders of Nixon himself, the allegations described in “LBJ Charges Pro-Nixon Move Beat Humphrey” by Jack Anderson, a column touting salient excerpts from Johnson’s forthcoming book:

WASHINGTON – Lyndon Johnson charges in his forthcoming memoirs that Richard Nixon’s allies insured Hubert Humphrey’s 1968 presidential defeat by secretly persuading the Saigon government to stay away from the Paris peace talks.

The former President’s memoirs entitled “The Vantage Point,” are being kept under tight wraps. But we can quote the highlights.

Here, for example, how Johnson describes the GOP-Saigon skulduggery:

“People who claimed to speak for the Nixon camp began encouraging Saigon to stay away from Paris and promising that Nixon, if elected, would inaugurate a policy more to Saigon’s liking. “Those efforts paid off.

“On November 1, after previously indicating that they would have made him the talks [sic], the South Vietnamese leaders decided not to participate. That I am convinced, cost Hubert Humphrey the presidency, especially since a shift of only a few hundred thousand votes would have made him the winner.

“I am certain the outcome would have been different if the Paris peace talks had been in progress on Election day.”

When Clark Clifford would bluntly state what he knew of the affair in Counsel to the President, it received a strange rebuke from former Nixon speechwriter William Safire, then a columnist for the New York Times who did not see the episode as an example of Nixon’s duplicity, paid for with American and Vietnamese blood, but as a precedent for the wiretapping of Watergate. The piece was “Clark Clifford’s Confession”, and here is its crux:

WASHINGTON- Do you remember what Watergate was all about? It was about the intrusion by the party in power into the rights of political challengers — the Ins using their power unfairly to block the Outs.

In his eye-popping memoirs, “Counsel to the President,” Clark Clifford shows in exquisite detail how Lyndon Johnson colluded with Moscow — and abused the power of our intelligence agencies — to try to block Richard Nixon’s challenge and swing the 1968 election to the Democrats’ Hubert Humphrey.

That revelation was not Mr. Clifford’s intent, of course; on the contrary, this Democrat, whose civilized partisanship I have long admired, charges the Nixon campaign with “gross, even potentially illegal, interference with the security affairs of the nation” by encouraging South Vietnam to avoid participating in a Paris meeting central to a 1968 election-weekend stunt.

In castigating Mrs. Chennault for foiling the scheme, Mr. Clifford is forced to reveal the basis of his suspicion of her: “the information had been derived from extremely sensitive intelligence-gathering operations of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the National Security Agency; these included surveillance of the Ambassador of our ally, and an American citizen with strong political ties to the Republicans.”

Recognizing that this was a startling admission of the abuse of government power to defeat a political opponent, Mr. Clifford footnotes: “It should be remembered that the public was considerably more innocent in such matters in the days before the Watergate hearings . . .”

John Mitchell, Nixon’s 1968 campaign manager, knew what Mrs. Chennault — who needed no guidance — was doing. Later, as Attorney General, he learned from the F.B.I. and C.I.A. exactly how the White House orchestrated N.S.A.’s eavesdropping on Nixon’s “Dragon Lady” and C.I.A.’s illegal surveillance of national-security aide Richard Allen. Returning to manage the 1972 Nixon campaign, Mitchell entrusted such unlawful intrusions to amateurs, for which he was jailed.

Clark Clifford’s memoirs confirm that. Watergate’s crimes grew from seeds planted in the power abuses of the Johnson Administration’s “October surprise.”

The piece is so brazen in its dishonesty that I’m sorry Safire is no longer alive so I might yell at him on twitter. As already stated, the wiretapping of Chennault began with the revelations of Alexander Sachs to Eugene Rostow, that high level diplomacy was being messed with. When Clifford writes “we first became aware of these activities through the normal operations of the intelligence community in the weeks prior to the election,” it is this that he is referring to. That it was an inquiry into a matter of national security whose thread appeared to lead to one of the candidates of the 1968 election, and nothing like the free ranging persecution campaign against all enemies of the Nixon White House, is a subtlety missed by Safire, but exactly the sort of dishonesty you might expect to shield against a dart that falls on a tender and vulnerable point. I was not the only one incensed by this column, which would provoke a letter from a former member of Johnson’s cabinet, “The Real Story of ’68 Vietnam Bombing Halt”, written by William Bundy, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs:

To the Editor:

William Safire’s May 23 column (“Clark Clifford’s Confession”) turns history on its head about the covert operation mounted in October 1968 by Richard M. Nixon, John Mitchell and Anna Chennault to ditch President Lyndon Johnson’s agreement with Hanoi for serious peace negotiations to end the Vietnam War. I participated in the events of that month and have recently done extensive research on the period for my own historical purposes.

Mr. Safire states that Mr. Johnson’s bombing halt announcement on Oct. 31, 1968, looking to immediate negotiations, was an “election-weekend stunt.” On the contrary, “Counsel to the President,” Mr. Clifford’s memoir, shows that Mr. Johnson’s terms for a bombing halt, worked out in late June 1968, never changed. As Mr. Clifford relates with feeling, Mr. Johnson resisted many attempts to soften or shade these terms, forcing a platform confrontation that played a big part in the disastrous Democratic National Convention in August. Some election stunt!

About Oct. 29, as Mr. Clifford recounts in more general terms, Mr. Johnson and his inner circle (of which I was not part) learned through intercepted South Vietnam Embassy cables, particularly one of Oct. 27, that Anna Chennault was conveying via Bui Diem apparently authoritative “Republican” messages urging Mr. Thieu to abort or cripple the deal by refusing to participate.

That “smoking gun” cable included promises of later favor from Mr. Nixon, including a possible visit to Saigon before inauguration if he were elected. (As Mr. Nixon well knew, “reading the mail” of allied governments of importance to United States foreign policy was not an exceptional practice in the postwar period.) Thus alerted, Mr. Johnson requested Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance of Mrs. Chennault and the embassy, and the results amply confirmed her activity.

No Clifford “confession” was needed about these actions. The surveillance was disclosed fully in Senate Committee hearings in 1975, the F.B.I. testifying that it accepted Mr. Johnson’s request based on possible violations of the Neutrality Act and the Foreign Agents Registration Act, both concerning dealings by United States private citizens with the governments of other countries. Interference such as Mrs. Chennault’s is certainly something the United States Government is entitled to know about as a matter of national security, in a situation such as prevailed in late October 1968.

On Nov. 3, two days before the election, Mr. Johnson taxed Mr. Nixon with Mrs. Chennault’s activities, and Mr. Nixon categorically denied any connection or knowledge — almost certainly a lie in light of later disclosures. In the circumstances, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Humphrey decided, separately, not to raise what would surely have been a highly divisive issue so late in a campaign. A year later, Theodore White, describing the episode in his book on the 1968 campaign, rightly called Mr. Humphrey’s decision one of the most decent actions ever taken by an American political figure.

Mr. Safire has badly distorted what was indeed a black page in American political history. Clark Clifford’s honest and unflinching account nails down the conclusion that President Johnson acted throughout in the national interest as he perceived it. We still lack an honest account of what Richard Nixon did and knew, or in what interest, other than his own political gain.

The scandal remained in the netherworld of a few tangible facts – that Chennault had contacts with the Nixon campaign, that there were allegations of Chennault contacting the South Vietnamese, that the leadership of South Vietnam had wanted Nixon to win the election – until evidence began to come into place, giving what was ghostly a solid, disturbing form. There was Anna Chennault’s open admission of her role in The Arrogance of Power by Anthony Summers, and the FBI intercept reporting her phone calls to a representative of the Nixon campaign. In 2013, the Lyndon Baines Johnson presidential library would release the recordings of the calls between Johnson, the candidates, and his advisers, making obvious and clear that this was no cheap political stunt, but a serious attempt at ending the war, that was ultimately foiled by one man’s own desires. Finally, and most importantly, was the unsealing of the contents of what would be referred to as the “X Envelope”, one of the few times that history provides us a melodramatic Rosetta stone of the kind that are commonplace in thrillers. This was a collection of relevant documents in the possession of Walt Rostow, Johnson’s former National Security Adviser, including the FBI intercept, important transcripts, and other investigative materials, some of which have been cited here, and all of which can be found in the post by Robert Parry devoted to the envelope, “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’”. Parry would describe what took place with the envelope in 1973, a few months after the death of Lyndon Johnson from a heart attack, as the Watergate scandal which would eventually destroy the Nixon presidency unfolded:

As Johnson’s presidency ended in 1969 – and at Johnson’s instruction – Rostow had taken with him the White House file chronicling Nixon’s Vietnam gambit, consisting of scores of “secret” and “top secret” documents. Rostow had labeled the file “The ‘X’ Envelope.”

Also, by May 1973, Rostow had been out of government for more than four years and had no legal standing to possess this classified material. Johnson, who had ordered the file removed from the White House, had died. And, now, a major political crisis was unfolding about which Rostow felt he possessed an important missing link for understanding the history and the context. So what to do?

Rostow apparently struggled with this question for the next month as the Watergate scandal continued to expand. On June 25, 1973, John Dean delivered his blockbuster Senate testimony, claiming that Nixon got involved in the cover-up within days of the June 1972 burglary at the Democratic National Committee. Dean also asserted that Watergate was just part of a years-long program of political espionage directed by Nixon’s White House.

The very next day, as headlines of Dean’s testimony filled the nation’s newspapers, Rostow reached his conclusion about what to do with “The ‘X’ Envelope.” In longhand, he wrote a “Top Secret” note which read, “To be opened by the Director, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, not earlier than fifty (50) years from this date June 26, 1973.”

The man who had refused to answer the questions of Tom Ottenad, who would keep his silence about a sordid nasty affair till his very death, would leave behind the answers for the far, far future46.

TOP SECRET

To be opened by the Director,

Lyndon Baines Johnson
Library not earlier than
fifty (50) years from this date June 26, 1973.

Those who wanted to know what took place would finally be given a brief mercy; though the envelope was only to be opened fifty years later, in 2023, “ultimately, however, the LBJ Library didn’t wait that long,” writes Parry in “‘X’ File.” “After a little more than two decades, on July 22, 1994, the envelope was opened and the archivists began the process of declassifying the contents.”

The end result of the duplicity in 1968 was the eventual betrayal of everyone. The soldiers, the civilians of Vietnam who would suffer the Christmas bombing, even those who thought they’d benefit from the deal, Anna Chennault and Nguyen Thieu. Anthony Summers, again in his invaluable Arrogance of Power would describe what happened after Nixon’s win:

As late as election eve the word from the White House was that the Chennault matter might “very well blow the roof off the political race yet.” In the end, though, Johnson’s advisers decided it was too late and too potentially damaging to U.S. interests to uncover what had been going on. If Nixon should emerge as the victor, what would the Chennault outrage do to his viability as an incoming president? And what effect would it have on American opinion about the war? “You couldn’t surface it,” recalled Johnson’s assistant Harry McPherson. “The country would be in terrible trouble.”

There was another reason the lid stayed on. Three days after the election Johnson was still considering whether to “blow the whistle” on Nixon. Instead, Rostow recalled, the president “actively sought and obtained Nixon’s cooperation . . . in delivering the word that the President-elect wished the South Vietnamese to proceed in moving towards a negotiation with Hanoi.”

As so often in his career, Nixon’s desperate need was to avoid exposure. Therefore, as both Johnson and Humphrey had predicted he would, Nixon now double-crossed President Thieu. He sent “strong word” to Saigon that it should reverse course and attend peace talks after all.

Anna Chennault was “flabbergasted” to find herself asked to accept Nixon’s new line. “What makes you change your mind all of a sudden?” she asked John Mitchell.

“Anna, you’re no newcomer to politics,” Mitchell responded. “This, whether you like it or not, is politics.”

Chennault stormed out in disgust, only to be harried with phone calls from other Nixon aides. At first she was urged again to send the changed signal to Saigon. When it became clear she would never agree, Nixon’s people began to fear that she might disclose the true story.29 A string of emissaries was sent to beg her not to talk to the press.

Chennault fended off reporters’ inquiries for a long time thereafter, in part, she claimed, because she feared for her safety.30 Later, at a White House function, Nixon thanked her effusively for her help in the election. “I’ve certainly paid dearly for it,” she replied curtly. “Yes, I appreciate that,” he responded. “I know you’re a good soldier.”

The best that could be said of Nixon’s duplicity is that the outcome in Vietnam would have remained the same. This, to my mind, does not make his actions any less vile. If one sells weapons or secrets to an enemy, no excuse can be made from the fact that they were not put to use, and no defense can be made from the claim that those who died as the result of the actions would have died in the war anyway, with other bullets or other weapons, they just happened to use yours. I do not see why there should be a distinction made, in this context, that Nixon’s priorities lay, after himself, with an ally rather than an enemy – it is still considered a treasonable offense when one sells classified secrets to an ally. What is most upsetting is that the will of the American people was subverted, only for the vain desires of one man. They wanted an end to the war as soon as possible, and so Humphrey, against Johnson’s wishes, argued for an unconditional bombing halt, while Nixon promised that he had a plan to end the war, though he had none, all while working backstage to delay any end that might inconvenience him. That this moment of American history is so seldom looked at is due to the very obvious reason that here we have democracy made into a sick joke, where American citizens cannot be given what they want on a simple vital issue affecting their children and their families, thanks to the collusion of a sociopath and a foreign government. While avoiding any blind or naive hopes about the peace process of 1968, Beverly Deepe Keever would speak of what might have been in an email to Robert Parry published in “The Almost Scoop on Nixon’s ‘Treason’”:

“If Johnson had confirmed my story or the Monitor had run it as filed, it’s hard for me to say what the impact would have been on the election…However, given how narrow Nixon’s margin of victory was, certainly Johnson’s confirmation might have swayed enough votes to be decisive.

“Hard for me to say without doing my own legwork, but polls I’ve come across indicate that might have been the case. Bui Diem quotes William Safire saying that Thieu made Nixon president…

“Tho[ugh] I can’t judge the impact of pre-election news about the Nixon camp’s liaison with Thieu, I think the more interesting question for me is: What would the U.S. and Vietnam be like if Humphrey had won?

“I think the final outcome would ultimately be the same for Vietnam, with the Communists seizing control of the South, perhaps via a coalition government to permit the U.S. to save face.

“And the war would have been shorter and less bloody without the incursions and bombing in Laos and Cambodia. Far fewer casualties and less cost to the treasuries on all sides.”

A lot of people would have to learn to be good soldiers. This, whether you like it or not, was politics.

WATERGATE AND THE FIREBOMBING OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE

When putting together the ‘X’ Envelope, former National Security Adviser Walt Rostow would include the following note47:

I am inclined to believe the Republican operation in 1968 relates in two ways to the Watergate affair of 1972.

First, the election of 1968 proved to be close and there was some reason for those involved on the Republican side to believe their enterprise with the South Vietnamese and Thieu’s recalcitrance may have sufficiently blunted the impact on U.S. politics of the total bombing halt and agreement to negotiate to constitute the margin of victory.

Second, they got away with it. Despite considerable press commentary after the election, the matter was never investigated fully.

Thus, as the same men faced the election of 1972, there was nothing in their previous experience with an operation of doubtful propriety (or, even, legality) to warn them off; and there were memories of how close an election could get and the possible utility of pressing to the limit — or beyond.

The two scandals were connected not simply through the callous arrogance of the central player in each, but a tangent which would remain below the surface for decades, waiting for the Chennault-Nixon episode to gather the substance of the hard proof of the ‘X’ envelope and the release of recordings and documents related to Watergate. Where I first learned of the link was, like many, in The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens. We might begin with Hitchens’ excerpt from Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman’s Diaries, an entry on January 12, 1973, when the Watergate scandal had already begun to rage full force:

The P [President Nixon] also got back on the Watergate thing today, making the point that I should talk to Connelly about the Johnson bugging process to get his judgement as to how to handle it. He wonders if we shouldn’t just have Andreas [Dwayne Andreas, a businessman and heavy political contributor who gave heavily to Hubert Humphrey; his wikipedia entry is "Dwayne Andreas" and a Mother Jones article devoted to the man is: "Dwayne's World" by Dan Carney] go in and scare Hubert. The problem in going at LBJ is how he’d react, and we need to find out from De Loach who did it, and then run a lie detector on him. I talked to Mitchell on the phone on this subject and he said De Loach had told him he was up to date on the thing because he had a call from Texas. A Star reporter was making an inquiry in the last week or so, and LBJ got very hot and called Deke [De Loach] and said to him that if the Nixon people are going to play with this, that he would release [deleted material - national security], saying that our side was asking that certain things be done. By our side, I assume he means the Nixon campaign organization. De Loach took this as a direct threat from Johnson … As he recalls it, bugging was requested on the planes, but was turned down, and all they did was check the phone calls, and put a tap on the Dragon Lady [Mrs. Anna Chennault].

Hitchens would go on to explain this cryptic post:

This bureaucratic prose may be hard to read, but it needs no cypher to decode itself. Under intense pressure about the bugging of the Watergate building, Nixon instructed his chief of staff Haldeman, and his FBI contact Deke De Loach, to unmask the bugging to which his own campaign had been subjected in 1968. He also sounded out former President Johnson, through former senior Democrats like Governor John Connally, to gauge what his reaction to the disclosure might be. The aim was to show that “everybody does it.” (By another bipartisan paradox, in Washington the slogan “they all do it” is used as a slogan for the defense rather than, as one might hope, for the prosecution.)

However, a problem presented itself at once. How to reveal the 1968 bugging without at the same time revealing what that bugging had been about? Hence the second thoughts (“that wasn’t such a good idea …”). In his excellent introduction to The Haldeman Diaries, Nixon’s biographer Professor Stephen Ambrose characterizes the 1973 approach to Lyndon Johnson as “prospective blackmail,” designed to exert backstairs pressure to close down a congressional inquiry. But he also suggests that Johnson, himself no pushover, had some blackmail ammunition of his own. As Professor Ambrose phrases it, the Haldeman Diaries had been vetted by the National Security Council (NSC), and the bracketed deletion cited above is “the only place in the book where an example is given of a deletion by the NSC during the Carter administration. Eight days later Nixon was inaugurated for his second term. Ten days later Johnson died of a heart attack. What Johnson had on Nixon I suppose we’ll never know.”

Hitchens would then go on to call Ambrose’s conclusions a little too tentative, and we can well see why, because it’s very obvious exactly what Johnson had against Nixon. The sentence from H. R. Haldeman’s entry for January 12, which begins so dramatically, “LBJ got very hot and called Deke [De Loach] and said to him that if the Nixon people are going to play with this, that he would release [deleted material - national security],” ends with the cliffhanger of a national security redaction, but this redaction is no mystery to us, we can light up the information darkness ourselves: “…that he would release everything related to the sabotage of the 1968 Paris Peace Talks by Anna Chennault under the orders of Richard Nixon, that disgusting, blood stained rat fuck cheat.”

Those familiar with Abuse of Power by Stanley Kutler, a fascinating and valuable collection of transcripts of the audio recordings from the Nixon White House, will know well that Haldeman’s diary entry was no isolated instance of focus during the Watergate scandal. The theme sounded in the diary entry, of using Johnson’s tapes as leverage, plays several times in the confidential meetings of Nixon and his intimates as they plan defenses.

A full excerpt of the entry in Abuse of Power on the conversation on July 1, 1972; Nixon with his top aide and major legbreaker, Charles Colson:

JULY 1, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND COLSON, 11:28-11:36 A.M., OVAL OFFICE

Nixon continues his fascination with wiretapping – of himself and others.

NIXON
…I don’t want an impression of the big brother thing, the White House and the President ordering buggings and snooping. But Goddamn Kennedy did it all the time. Bobby Kennedy had a record number of these bugs.

COLSON
Well, you saw Kevin Phillips? Did you see Kevin Phillips’ column this week?

NIXON
No. What did he say?

COLSON
How they bugged [Anna] Chennault’s telephones in ’68.

NIXON
Oh, in ’68 they bugged our phones, too.

COLSON
And this was ordered by Johnson.

NIXON
That’s right.

COLSON
And done through the FBI. My God, if we ever did anything like that you’d have the-

NIXON
Yes. For example, why didn’t we bug McGovern, because, after all, he’s affecting the peace negotiations?

COLSON
Sure.

NIXON
That would be exactly the same thing.

COLSON
That’s right. Well, Kevin [Phillips] did – of course, no one else will pick it up. He’s unfortunately considered our guy. But it’s very devastating point, that they should not be using that-

One on October 17, 1972, between Nixon and Democrat turned Republican John Connally, former governor of Texas48:

NIXON
Incidentally, you know the situation with regard to our own. I told you about it…That’s all it was. We are never, we are never going to put that out, you know.

CONNALLY
Well, this morning-

NIXON
There’s no reason to embarrass you. But I think that you will know what the situation is. Edgar Hoover told Mitchell that our plane was bugged for the last two weeks of the campaign. Now, the reason for bugging it, Johnson had it bugged. He ordered it bugged. And so was Humphrey’s. I think. I’m not sure about Humphrey’s. I know about ours. But the reason he says he had it bugged is because he was talking about – he had his Vietnam plans in there and he had to have information as to what we were going to say about Vietnam. But the plane was bugged, John, and that whole-

HALDEMAN
Two weeks.

NIXON
-by J. Edgar Hoover, and Johnson knew every conversation. And you know where it was bugged? In my compartment. So every conversation I had, for two weeks Johnson had it. Now, we’re not happy with it. We’re not going to say anything. It would look like hell.

A month later, we might be the most fascinating exchange on the subject, between Nixon and his close aide Haldeman. Kutler prefaces it with the note that this “is a rather cryptic exchange”, and “apparently, the two men have an agreement of mutual convenience.” The reader who has come this far, or dipped into enough of this post to get a general idea, will not find it cryptic at all, and know exactly what they’re speaking about. I give full excerpt of this session as it appears in Kutler’s book:

NOVEMBER 3, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND HALDEMAN, 10:46-10:54 A.M., OVAL OFFICE

This is a rather cryptic exchange involving Lyndon Johnson’s bugging of Nixon in 1968. Apparently, the two men have an agreement of mutual convenience; Johnson acknowledges his wiretapping of Nixon, Nixon makes no public complaints, and LBJ recognizes that Nixon did no wrong.

HALDEMAN
I talked to [former Johnson press secretary] George [Christian]. He talked to President Johnson again this morning. Johnson had his staff working all night reviewing his files and everything. Last night Johnson had his staff working all night reviewing his files and everything. Last night Johnson had said to George, you know, they’re going to deny this, and all. This morning Johnson – first of all, after reviewing the files, he’s not going to say anything. He was going to deny it. Now he’s not going to. He’ just going to slough it off.

NIXON
Good.

(Withdrawn item. National security.)

HALDEMAN
…Johnson told George, “I have no idea whether that was right or not.” He said, “I did call Nixon [in 1968] and go through the problem with him, and we agreed to have [Senator Everett] Dirksen…get it straightened out, and Dirksen met with [South Vietnam Ambassador Nguyen Van Bui] Diem on November 9 and went through all that, smoothed it over…

NIXON
You’re citing Johnson?

HALDEMAN
Johnson said that he decided at the time to interpret this as something foolish that someone did without Nixon’s knowledge, and that he and Nixon agreed to do nothing to slow the talks down, and we should look at the way he handled it in his books. That’s his position, which was that Nixon cooperated fully in proceeding with the peace talks and all that stuff. Then he said no to Christian, he said – here’s the lead-in line. He said, “It is conceivable that somebody here may have asked the FBI to follow on up this.” See, last night he said it was absolutely not true. And he said, “So maybe it’s possible that Hoover did tell the President that he was asked to do this.”

Christian then said, “You better handle this thing straight…That is true, Hoover did tell the President that; you should know that.” And he said Johnson wasn’t surprised and didn’t try to deny it at all…Now it’s clear, Johnson knows the position we’re in; he knows that you know that Hoover did the bugging and that we did nothing about it. Johnson was very grateful for that…Christian also went into great detail with him about our concern about the FBI leak and our concern that, if we try to move on this story or anything like this, it could be a trap. In other words, the FBI may be prepared to leak on this.

NIXON
That’s right.

HALDEMAN
Johnson understood that immediately. He didn’t have to spell that out at all.

NIXON
Good.

A conversation between Haldeman and Nixon begins on the tangent of preventing the Watergate burglary team from testifying against anyone in the White House by immunizing them, which leads into the recording conducted by Hoover’s deputy, Cartha “Deke” DeLoach:

NIXON
Can the Congress bring them up and immunize them? Can the court immunize them?

EHRLICHMAN
Grand jury.

NIXON
What?

EHRLICHMAN
A grand jury proceeding. The court immunizes them. And the procedure would be after they are sentenced to bring them back in – the grand jury or the Congress, either one.

HALDEMAN
But they intend – the Cubans intend not to talk, and it’s not clear what the defense is going to be with the Cubans at this point. The one thing Dean raises in the congressional thing is whether we have in any way any hard evidence that the plane [in the 1968 campaign] was bugged. The reason he asked is that he sent me a strategy on the Hill of going for an attempt to force the Congress to investigate hanky-panky in both ’68 and ’72, rather than letting them just go do an investigation of ’72 activities. And he can intercede, but we can also start moving on individual Senators and some of the problems they wouldn’t like known as to what they’ve done and not done, but also the question of whether – see, that plane bug thing was logged out. Who had the story? Somebody had it – the [Washington] Star had the story.

NIXON
Johnson admitted it, I understand.

HALDEMAN
Well, sort of.

NIXON
Did you talk to him?

HALDEMAN
No, George Christian did. He finally admitted it to George. But the question is whether there will be hard evidence on it. The only input we have on it is J. Edgar Hoover, who is dead, I presume.

EHRLICHMAN
Well, [Cartha] DeLoach is around. He’s never admitted it, to my knowledge.

HALDEMAN
Was DeLoach the one who did it?

EHRLICHMAN
Yep. Johnson called DeLoach and had him do it.

HALDEMAN
Well, maybe you do have hard evidence…

NIXON
Well, we have nothing now as far as Johnson is concerned, and we have nothing to worry about. Johnson did not support us…, and at the present time I wouldn’t [give] any damn, I’d play that right up to the hilt. What does it do to the Bureau? It’s a nasty story. It’s just too damn bad. They should not have bugged the candidate’s plane!

Nixon’s obsession that his plane was bugged during the ’68 campaign will be briefly discussed in the next section, “Oliver Stone’s Nixon”, but it appears to have been a misunderstanding on his part of what took place. Anna Chennault’s phones were bugged, because of her frequent contacts with the Bui Diem, the ambassador for South Vietnam and the rumors of her attempts to derail the peace talks. After the election, DeLoach was able to identify the area codes which calls made from Agnew’s plane on that day went to – Texas, New York City, and so on. They did not know the content of the calls or any information more specific than that. It is for this reason that it was so important that the FBI intercept establish that Anna Chennault was in New York City at the time of the calls. Nixon discovered that they had identified the contact between himself and Chennault, or come very close to it, and he’d misunderstood what methods they’d used and what they’d obtained, that the FBI had wiretapped the planes of the candidates.

Here is a conversation between Haldeman and Nixon on January 11, 1973, a day before Haldeman’s cited diary entry. The men discuss approaching Cartha DeLoach and getting the information on Johnson’s taping, and that it must be in a form of tangible, irrefutable evidence that’s usable, rather than a case of a series of people claiming knowledge of the event49:

NIXON
Have you had any further development, Bob, with regard to the bugging at – I mean in regard to Mitchell and his talks with DeLoach? If he had?

HALDEMAN
Yes.

NIXON
Did he see DeLoach?

HALDEMAN
Yes. He talked to DeLoach.

NIXON
DeLoach denies?

HALDEMAN
No. DeLoach says it’s true and that he has hard – he thinks – he has some hard evidence or some specifics that will lock the thing up.

NIXON
Will he say so?

HALDEMAN
I don’t know whether he’ll say so, but he’ll give us the information so that we can say so, and that’s all we need.

NIXON
Well, what I want is this from DeLoach. We know he knows who is in charge of that, probably is still in the Bureau, a bugger. Do you know what I mean? The point on that is that Gray gives him a lie detector test, calls him in,, or asks him – do you see what I mean…? That’s what I’d like him to do. I’d like to get it so it’s nailed down in terms of evidence, rather than that DeLoach told Mitchell or that Hoover, a dead man, told Mitchell, because Johnson will lie about this, if necessary, if we have to use it. My only view is that I would not want to use this story at all. This is something that I would use only for purposes of-

This approach ends on the next day with Haldeman’s diary entry, and the report that if this is brought up, Johnson will most certainly hit back with you-know-what.

The back channel diplomacy looms over Watergate in these conversations, but it also overhangs perhaps the most flagrant criminal act planned in the White House during that administration. This involved what is often referred to as “the firebombing of the Brookings Institute,” a shorthand phrase which misrepresents the primary intent of the act. The firebombing was not an attempt at vandalism, intimidation, or a false flag operation to be blamed on leftist radicals, but a cover for the actual achievement that Nixon wanted to pull off, a theft of papers from the Brookings vault.

The best description of this theft I have found which was planned, but never pulled off, can be found in Will, a memoir by G. Gordon Liddy, one of the leaders of the Watergate burglary team who also performed various intelligence and sabotage operations on behalf of the White House:

I continued my close association with Howard Hunt [a former CIA agent and the other leader of the Watergate burglars], often lunching with him at his club in Georgetown, and it was again through Hunt that ODESSA [a group put together by Liddy for intelligence and sabotage operations in the service of the White House] received its next assignment. Daniel Ellsberg had been associated in the past with Morton Halperin and the Brookings Institution and, according to Colson as relayed by Hunt, either or both of them were believed to be using Brookings for storage of substantial additional amounts of classified documents at least as sensitive, if not more so, than the Pentagon Papers. Further, the Brookings security vault might have evidence shedding light on the identity of any of Ellsberg’s criminal associates in the purloining of Top Secret Defense files; whether Paul Warnke and Leslie Gelb were among them; and whoever delivered the classified documents to the Soviet Embassy. Could we get into the vault, say, by using a fire as a diversion, and retrieve the materials?

The problem appealed to me because I recognized it as one turned down earlier by Jack Caulfield [a private detective used by the White House for investigations of their enemies]. He had mentioned it to me, with much rolling of eyes and nodding of the head in the direction of Colson’s office, as something too “far out” for his imagination and too risky for his nerve. I thought it could be done and so did Hunt. The problem was that the cover under which out men went in there had to be first-rate, and that meant costly. We devised a plan that entailed buying a used but late-model fire engine of the kind used by the District of Columbia fire department and marking it appropriately; uniforms for a squad of Cubans and their training so their performance would be believable. Thereafter, Brookings would be firebombed by use of a delay mechanism timed to go off at night so as not to endanger lives needlessly. The Cubans in the authentic-looking fire engine would “respond” minutes after the timer went off, enter, get anybody in there out, hit the vault, and get themselves out in the confusion of other fire apparatus arriving, calmly loading “rescued” material into a van. The bogus engine would be abandoned at the scene. The taking of the material from the vault would be discovered and the fire engine traced to a cut-out buyer. There would be a lot of who-struck-John in the liberal press, but because nothing could be proved the matter would lapse into the unsolved-mystery category.

Hunt submitted the plan for approval, but this time the decision was swift. “No.” Too expensive. The White House wouldn’t spring for a fire engine.

The task given to Liddy by his superiors was to retrieve the documents in the safe at Brookings because these were part of the national security papers which Daniel Ellsberg had taken, photocopied, and leaked to New York Times. We know that this was not an entirely honest assessment of what was expected to be found in the safe, because in his memoir, RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, the former president provides a slight variation on why he wants this mad burglary to take place:

Ellsberg was not our only worry. From the first there had been rumors and reports of a conspiracy. The earliest report later discounted, centered on a friend of Ellsberg, a former Defense Department employee who was then a Fellow at the Brookings Institution. I remembered him from the early days of the administration when I had asked Haldeman to get me a copy of the Pentagon file on the events leading up to Johnson’s announcement of the bombing halt at the end of the 1968 campaign. I wanted to know what had actually happened; I also wanted the information as potential leverage against those in Johnson’s administration who were now trying to undercut my war policy. I was told that a copy of the bombing halt material and other secret documents had been taken from the Pentagon to Brookings by the same man. I wanted the documents back, but I was told that one copy of the bombing halt report had already “disappeared”; I was sure that if word got out that we wanted it, the copy at Brookings might disappear as well.

We might take Nixon at his word here, that he still genuinely thought the bombing halt was a political act, and he wished to know of the secret planning used to launch it as an attack against the campaign during the ’68 election, or that “the events leading up to Johnson’s announcement of the bombing halt” don’t refer to what took place on Johnson’s side, but on Nixon’s. That the “one copy of the bombing halt report had already ‘disappeared’” refers to some of the papers which Rostow took with him. Nixon, whatever his paranoia, whatever his delusions, knew that the backchannel work he orchestrated in ’68 was devastating enough that he made no mention or reference to it in his own memoir, leaving our entirely the name of Anna Chennault. Johnson may well have the restraint and code of honor to stay silent about the file against Nixon – but if something like the Rostow papers fell into the hands of other Democrats, would they show anything like the same discretion? Again, the obsession with the Brookings institute safe is not a single instance in Nixon’s memoir, but surfaces several times, often in his angriest, most frightening moments in the recordings of the White House. From Kutler’s Abuse of Power:

JUNE 17, 1971, THE PRESIDENT, HALDEMAN, EHRLICHMAN, AND KISSINGER, 5:17-6:13 P.M., OVAL OFFICE

A few days after the publication of the Pentagon Papers, Nixon discusses how to exploit the situation to his advantage. He is interested in embarrassing the Johnson Administration on the bombing halt, for example. Here, he wants a break-in at the Brookings Institution, a centrist Washington think tank, to find classified documents that might be in the Brookings safe.

HALDEMAN
You maybe can blackmail [Lyndon B.] Johnson on this stuff [Pentagon Papers].

NIXON
What?

HALDEMAN
You can blackmail Johnson on this stuff and it might be worth doing…The bombing halt stuff is all in that same file or in some of the same hands…

NIXON
Do we have it? I’ve asked for it. You said you didn’t have it.

HALDEMAN
We can’t find it.

KISSINGER
We have nothing here, Mr. President.

NIXON
Well, damnit, I asked for that because I need it.

KISSINGER
But Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together.

HALDEMAN
We have a basic history in constructing our own, but there is a file on it.

NIXON
Where?

HALDEMAN
[Presidential aide Tom Charles] Huston swears to God there’s a file on it and it’s at Brookings [Institution, a centrist Washington "think tank"].

NIXON
…Bob? Bob? Now do you remember Huston’s plan [for White House-sponsored break-ins as part of domestic counter-intelligence operations]? Implement it.

KISSINGER
…Now Brookings has no right to have classified documents.

PRESIDENT NIXON
…I want it implemented…Goddamnit, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.

HALDEMAN
They may well have cleaned them by now, but this thing, you need to-

KISSINGER
I wouldn’t be surprised if Brookings had the files.

HALDEMAN
My point is Johnson knows that those files are around. He doesn’t know for sure that we don’t have them around.

JUNE 30, 1971: THE PRESIDENT, HALDEMAN, MITCHELL, KISSINGER, ZIEGLER, AND MELVIN LAIRD, 5:17-6:23 P.M., OVAL OFFICE

E. Howard Hunt, of later fame with the “Plumbers” and the Watergate break-in, was no stranger to Nixon. Here, the President wants to use Hunt’s talents for breaking into the Brookings.

NIXON
…They [the Brookings Institution] have a lot of material…I want Brookings, I want them just to break in and take it out. Do you understand?

HALDEMAN
Yeah. But you have to have somebody to do it.

NIXON
That’s what I’m talking about. Don’t discuss it here. You talk to [E. Howard Hunt]. I want the break-in. Hell, they do that. You’re to break into the place, rifle the files, and bring them in.

HALDEMAN
I don’t have any problem with breaking in. It’s a Defense Department approved security-

NIXON
Just go in and take it. Go in around 8:00 or 9:00 o’clock.

HALDEMAN
Make an inspection of the safe.

NIXON
That’s right. You go in to inspect the sae. I mean, clean it up.

JULY 1, 1971 8:45-9:52 A.M.

NIXON
When you get to [John] Ehrlichman now, will you please get – I want you to find me a man by noon. I won’t be ready until 12:30 – a recommendation of the man to work directly with me on this whole situation. Do you know what I mean? I’ve got to have – I’ve got to have one – I mean, I can’t have a high minded lawyer like John Ehrlichman or, you know, Dean [John Dean, White House chief of staff] or somebody like that. I want somebody just as tough as I am for a change…These Goddamn lawyers, you know, all fighting around about, you know – I’ll never forget. They were all too worried about the [Charles] Manson case. I knew exactly what we were doing on Manson. You’ve got to win some things in the press.

These kids don’t understand. They have no understanding of politics. They have no understanding of public relations. John Mitchell is that way. John is always worried about is it technically correct? Do you think, for Christ sakes, that the New York Times is worried about all the legal niceties. Those sons of bitches are killing me. I mean, thank God, I leaked to the press [during the Hiss controversy]. This is what we’ve got to get – I want you to shake these (unintelligible) up around here. Now you do it. Shake them up. Get them off their Goddamn dead asses and say now that isn’t what you should be talking about. We’re up against an enemy, a conspiracy. They’re using any means. We are going to use any means. Is that clear?

Did they get the Brookings Institute raided last night? No. Get it done. I want it done. I want the Brookings Institute’s safe cleaned out and have it cleaned out in a way that it makes somebody else [responsible?].

The audio of this last is on youtube, “Nixon: raw watergate tape: Orders Brookings Institute’s safe ‘Cleaned Out’”.

OLIVER STONE’S NIXON

This episode remained dormant in the three decades after Watergate, and afterwards I look at how, despite the influx of confirming information, it remained on the fringes, an incident perhaps too disturbing, too potentially disruptive, to be given public exposure. For this was a political moment where a presidential candidate did not simply act in a way which people might disagree with, but made sure to betray the people’s will. The voters of 1968 wanted an end to the war, and Richard Nixon, who claimed to speak for the common man, who claimed to write for the silent majority worked to prevent this taking place, so that a few thousand more common men might know the sweet cold dirt.

Before reaching that point, we might stop briefly in 1995, the year after the disgraced president’s death, when Oliver Stone’s Nixon was released. One might expect this man celebrated and vilified for his conspiracies, who prides himself on exposing the underside of American history to give space to this little known moment of collusion between a U.S. presidential candidate and the leadership of a foreign power, but Stone does not, and I think I know why: this conspiracy would interfere with the overarching conspiracy theory which Nixon presents. Nixon is a strange movie, in that I’m uncertain who it was made for; those ignorant of the president and his administration will be utterly lost as to what is taking place and even who many of the characters are, while those with knowledge of the events will be astonished at the dull superficiality with which it treats some of the most fascinating and squalid moments in White House history. In an otherwise perceptive review, “Poor Richard” by David Denby, has this sections contrasting this movie’s imaginative speculations with that of Stone’s JFK:

In all, Nixon sticks much closer to ascertainable fact than did JFK (which was, I admit, entirely reckless on the subject of Lyndon Johnson and the assassination of John F. Kennedy). Stone offers only one major speculative line – Nixon’s alleged involvement as vice-president in CIA plots to assassinate Castro. The plots failed, and the plotters, including Mafia gangsters and Cuban émigrés who became furious at Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs, connived in JFK’s assassination. (Or so Stone’s Nixon thinks.) Years later, even though he had nothing personally to do with Kennedy’s death, Nixon muses incoherently over the old conspiracies and secrets.

What this misses is that the movie’s entire conception is that Nixon inhabits a vast superstructure of conspiracy, by which he becomes president, who he eventually goes against, a betrayal that results in his eventual ouster from office. Nixon is played by Anthony Hopkins as a bewildered child, a middle aged man who still resembles a boy dressed in a business suit, an idiot savant with no sense for people but a genius for diplomacy. The movie makes its conception obvious in a sequence that takes place on the day before the assassination of John Kennedy. Visually, it is very well thought out. Kennedy will be killed while in his motorcade, and we start out in darkness with the corner title “1963 DALLAS” before bright lights switch on and we discover we are at a car show. The movie gives us its most striking image, one that has a power too often lacking in Oliver Stone’s movies, that of ambiguity: beautiful women in red, white, and blue walk about the car holding whips. They are chaste, yet very erotic, an eroticism in the service of industry, and the whips are either idle fun, sexual props, or symbols of menace. This points to the primary appeal for me of Nixon, the contrast of the staid square man, self-appointed representative of the silent majority, wandering among the discordant psychedelic imagery associated with the youth culture then revolting against him.

Nixon is at this car show, and he is not the villain in what follows – he wears a white hat. The true villain is the wealthy oilman named Jack Jones, and Jones invites Nixon to his mansion where a shadowy council of unnamed men meet. They despise Kennedy, want Nixon to run for president again, and they have a foreshadowing of what will take place the next day. Dialogue is taken from the script, available here:

JONES
Dick, these boys want you to run. They’re serious. They can deliver the South and they can put Texas in your column. That would’ve done it in ’60.

NIXON
Only if Kennedy dumps Johnson.

JONES
That sonofabitch Kennedy is coming back down here tomorrow. Dick, we’re willing to put up a shitpot fulla money to get rid of him — more money’n you ever dreamed of.

NIXON
Nobody’s gonna beat Kennedy in ’64 with all the money in the world.

CUBAN
Suppose Kennedy don’t run in ’64?

NIXON
Not a chance.

CUBAN
These are dangerous times, Mr. Nixon. Anything can happen.

Nixon leaves Dallas on the day of the assassination, and we have shots of him and those eagerly awaiting Kennedy looking expectantly up at the sky. The cabal that will make Nixon president controls their world like a god of the sky.

After the assassination, there’s a scene with J. Edgar Hoover and his top lieutenant, Clyde Tolson.

TOLSON
It’s between Nixon and a Kennedy again, Edgar … Who do you want?

HOOVER
Kennedy — never. He’ll fry in hell for what he did to me. But Nixon doesn’t know that, which is why I’m gonna have to remind him he needs us a helluva lot more’n we need him.

Nixon meets Hoover and Colson at the Del Mar racetrack. A race is just finishing when the horse in the lead, Olly’s Boy, crashes to the ground, the script describing it as such, “Then, Olly Boy’s right foreleg snaps. It sounds like a rifle shot.” The horse falls just as the leading horse in the ’68 election, Bobby Kennedy fell. “Who do you want?” asks Tolson. Hoover: “Kennedy — never. He’ll fry in hell for what he did to me.” Hoover and the shadowy oilmen have arranged for Nixon to be president, expecting that he’ll do their bidding. Hoover: “I’m gonna have to remind him he needs us a helluva lot more’n we need him.”

We are given no details of the ’68 election, nothing of the advertising campaign and racial manipulation depicted in vital books like The Selling of the President by Joe McGinniss and Nixon Agonistes by Garry Wills, as these would go against the movie’s thesis of a conspiratorial theory of history, a “beast” as the script calls it, that is a military industrial complex which remains an eternal power behind the throne, occasionally shuffling its figureheads. There can be no room for the Nixon-Chennault back channel either, because this would annihilate the movie’s universe and its conception of Nixon’s character. We would then have a man apart from the beast, from the security state, demonstrating full agency outside of this colossus, and working to prolong a war for his own selfish ends. If a shabby mediocrity like Nixon can act on his own against the wishes of the security state, then the colossus can’t be as all-powerful as this movie imagines it. In the service of a questionable idea, Nixon buries a substantial truth.

The only reference to the Nixon-Chennault episode anywhere this movie isn’t to be found in the film itself, but in the published screenplay, Nixon: An Oliver Stone Film, which is accompanied by a group of essays by veterans of the Watergate affair, such as John Dean and E. Howard Hunt, as well as journalists who covered the scandal. One of these is “Nixon’s Secrets” by the late newsman Daniel Schorr, a short essay that is more interesting than the accompanying film. The piece relates four of Nixon’s paranoid obsessions, what fueled those obsessions, and the lack of substantial basis for any of them. Three of the obsessions are the Bay of Pigs “Secret”, the Diem Assassination “Plot”, and the Hughes-O’Brien Threat. These involve, respectively, that beyond the seamy facts of the Cuban invasion and Castro assassination attempts there was an additional dark secret, that Kennedy had directly ordered the killing of the leader of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and that Larry O’Brien, head of the Democratic National Committee, had knowledge of a secret loan made by Howard Hughes to the 1972 Nixon election campaign, which led to the break-in attempt of the DNC headquarters at the Watergate. The fourth obsession was the previously mentioned idée fixe that Lyndon Johnson had wiretapped Nixon’s campaign plane in ’68.

The two fragments from Schorr’s essay which follow are an introductory excerpt and the full segment devoted to the bugging of the campaign plane:

It is with no sense of vindictiveness that I examine what made this talented and tormented politician go off the rails. I conclude that his paranoia, whatever its origin, led him to imagine conspiracies that he came to believe and which served as premises for action. The line between deception and self-deception seemed often blurred, leading his subordinates to act on premises that sometimes mystified them. My research leads me to conclude that Nixon nourished at least four grand delusions.

3. The “Bugged” Campaign Plane

It was an article of faith for Nixon that all the dirty tricks, surveillance, and wiretaps he sponsored were simply getting back at Democrats who had done the same things. As his favorite example he often said that in 1968 the FBI had bugged his campaign plane on orders from President Lyndon Johnson. The FBI had, in fact, wiretapped a Nixon supporter, Mrs. Anna Chennault, who served as a contact with the Saigon government. But there had been no eavesdropping on Nixon or his campaign plane. Nevertheless, Nixon told Haldeman he thought the “Johnson bugging process” could be “cranked up” to get the former President to use his influence with congressional Democrats to call off the Watergate investigation.

The message was conveyed to the LBJ ranch and Johnson countered with the threat that “if the Nixon people are going to play with this,” he would release something about Nixon. That something was deleted from Haldeman’s published diary as a national security secret. However, the secret was revealed in the book, Hoover’s FBI by Cartha D. (Deke) DeLoach, who was number 3 in the FBI and liaison with the White House in both the Johnson and Nixon Administrations. Not only did the FBI wiretap Anna Chennault but the National Security Agency intercepted and decoded cablegrams from the South Vietnamese Embassy to Saigon, urging that President Thieu hold off on peace negotiations to get a better deal from Nixon after the election.

What the FBI did not do, DeLoach says, is bug the Nixon campaign plane. For one thing, DeLoach told me, it would have been unfeasible to get a bug on a plane guarded by the Secret Service. But, soon after the election, says DeLoach, Director J. Edgar Hoover, currying favor with the new President-elect, visited him and told him his campaign plane had been bugged on President Johnson’s orders. It was a myth that Nixon believed, probably until his dying day.

The conspiratorial perspective of the movie is very close to that found in a paper by entrepreneur and investor Mark Gorton, that I came across in “The Astounding Conspiracy Theories of Wall Street Genius Mark Gorton” by Hamilton Nolan. “Fifty Years of the Deep State” puts forth the thesis that an all-powerful cabal has ruled the United States for the past fifty years, one involved in drug running and murder, their behind the scenes shenanigans occasionally poking through the veil with the Iran-Contra scandal. In this narrative, George H. W. Bush is “the greatest criminal mastermind in American history.” Those who fought against the cabal, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, are felled by assassination and scandal. The section on Nixon, (specific page in scribd document, page 8, opening section is from the very beginning):

Dear Friends and Loved Ones,

Today, Nov 22, 2013, is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. About 6 years ago, quite by accident, I took a passing interest in the assassination of JFK. My research into the assassination of JFK took me on a path into the dark underbelly of the CIA, and from there, I traced a web of criminality that ran throughout the huge sections of federal government, the political power structure, and the business interests that control our country.

As I researched more, I learned that the criminal network behind JFK’s assassination did not retire after his killing. Instead, the need to cover up past crimes has motivated them to commit more crimes in a never ending cycle that continues to this present day.

I have tracked this criminal network through time, and I have learned that this cabal has been the most significant political force in the United States for the last 50 years. Yet most people don’t have any idea that it exists.

Nixon’s Relationship with the Cabal

Nixon was not a Cabal member, but he was controllable. Nixon’s political career had been sponsored by Cabal members Prescott Bush and Dulles Brothers and their Eastern business establishment allies. During his first term, Nixon grappled with the CIA but did nothing serious to reign in its excesses.

As the Cabal behind the Coup of ’63 positioned itself for the 1972 election, Nixon still seemed to be the best option for them. Nixon had a reputation for using dirty tricks, and Nixon was certainly no angel, but much of the dirty, criminal political tricks done on Nixon’s behalf were the work of a network of people loyal not to Nixon but the Cabal.

Once Nixon was elected to his second term as president, he achieved a degree of independence that made him a danger to the Cabal. Deep down, Nixon was never as corrupt as core Cabal members, and toward the end of his first term, he began making plans to purge the entire senior leadership of the CIA. Unfortunately, Nixon did not realize that the CIA had the White House bugged and his senior staff filled with spies, so the Cabal leadership was well aware of Nixon’s plans. Nixon had a reputation for being paranoid. Yet he was not paranoid enough. His enemies had him surrounded to a degree which he did not understand.

Although Cabal members put Nixon on his path to power, they never trusted Nixon, and as early as 1966 (before Nixon is even an official candidate for President), the Cabal worked to booby trap Nixon’s administration, and in 1973, after Nixon had stopped being a compliant servant of the Cabal, they set off the booby trap in the form of the Watergate Coup, and they pulled Nixon down from power just as they put him up.

The traditional story of Watergate is one where Nixon does a bunch of bad things, gets caught, tries to cover it up, and is forced to resign; however, in reality Watergate was a plot by the Cabal behind the Coup of ’63 and corrupt elements within the CIA and military intelligence to depose Nixon.

This is a movie with a president without the freedom of movement to engage in cruel, callous tactics for the pursuit of his own ends, his entire self tied down by the complex he inhabits. He meets with the student protesters at the Lincoln Memorial, and he is startled at how adeptly they diagnose the essential truth. He is powerless, with the choice to start or end a war lying elsewhere.

STUDENT 2
Come on, man — Vietnam ain’t Germany. It doesn’t threaten us. It’s a civil war between the Vietnamese.

NIXON
But change always comes slowly. I’ve withdrawn more than half the troops. I’m trying to cut the military budget for the first time in thirty years. I want an all-volunteer army. But it’s also a question of American credibility, our position in the world…

YOUNG WOMAN
You don’t want the war. We don’t want the war. The Vietnamese don’t want the war. So why does it go on?

YOUNG WOMAN (CONT’D)
Someone wants it …(a realization) You can’t stop it, can you? Even if you wanted to. Because it’s not you. It’s the system. And the system won’t let you stop it …

NIXON
There’s a lot more at stake here than what you want. Or even what I want…

YOUNG WOMAN
Then what’s the point? What’s the point of being president? You’re powerless.

The movie’s Nixon does what he can, given his limited freedom of movement. He reduces military spending, he opens relations with Russia and China, he eventually brings the troops home from Vietnam. He stands up to the cabal which appointed him.

JACK JONES
Mr. President–aren`t you forgetting who put you where you are?

NIXON
The American people put me where I am, Jack.

JONES
Really. Well, that can be changed.

NIXON
Jack, l`ve learned politics is the art of compromise. I learned it the hard way. I don`t know if you have. Well, let me tell you this, Jack. lf you don`t like it, there`s an election in November… and you can take your money out in the open and give it to Wallace. How about it, Jack? You willing to do that? Hand this country over to some pansy poet socialist like George McGovern? `Cause if you`re not happy with the E.P.A. up your ass…try the I.R.S.

JONES
Goddamn, Dick. You`re not threatenin` me, are ya?

NIXON
Presidents don`t threaten, Jack. They don`t have to. Good day to you, gentlemen. Thank you.

It is after this that Watergate, led by former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, takes place. Hunt was at the Bay of Pigs, and he’s often named in conspiracy theories as one of the actual assassins in the killing of JFK. The movie tells us what it thinks was lost on the infamous eighteen and a half minute gap on the tapes handed over the White House: that those brought in to kill Castro would go on to kill Kennedy. They are agents of the Beast, the same Beast that is now ousting Nixon after he rebelled against it.

NIXON (on tape)
…these guys went after Castro. Seven times, ten times … What do you think — people like that, they just give up? They just walk away? Whoever killed Kennedy came from this…this thing we created. This Beast…That’s why we can’t let this thing go any farther.

We see Nixon erase this section when the ghost of his mother, Hannah Nixon, appears in the room, and his relationship to the Beast is analogous to his feelings towards his mother, a severe merciless woman. He wishes to please her, he wants her to accept him, yet he also despises and resists her. Two Kennedy brothers die, and the path is cleared for him to become president. Two of his brothers die, and his family now has the money for him to go to college. Richard Nixon pleases the Beast by sword rattling, hippie punching, bombing Laos and Vietnam. He fights against it through detente and defense cuts. “Richard Nixon is a giant of a tragic figure in the classical Greek or Shakespearean tradition,” Stone says in an interview from Nixon: An Oliver Stone Film “Humble origins, rising to the top, then crashing down in a heap of hubris. Nixon himself said that he had been to the highest peaks and the lowest valleys.” There is, however a key difference between the tragic figues of Shakespeare and this Nixon, one that is tied to the movie’s conception and fatal to its effectiveness. Shakespeare may have been worked in a society that resembled a modern police state, but his characters are ultimately free in their choices, and their tragic errors. The choices of Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Richard III, and others, are their own, not a result of entrapment with any larger system. It is this freedom which creates the tension within their characters, that the very thing they want will destroy them, yet they continue to pursue it anyway – and it is this which makes them fascinating. The contrasting lack of freedom of this movie’s Nixon is what makes him so dull.

THE TREASON OF RICHARD NIXON: FROM POSSIBILITY TO CERTAINTY

PART ONE PART TWO

(All images from Nixon copyright Cinergi Pictures; header image from Point Break copyright Twentieth Century Fox.)

(Clark Clifford’s perspective on the November 11 White House meeting excerpted from his Counsel to the President was added on April 9th, 2014. Many spelling mistakes, mostly in the transcripts, were corrected on that day as well. On April 10th, the quote from Oliver Stone about Nixon resembling a Shakespearean figure was added, as was the document dating the George Smathers conversation, as well the section of the conversation between Nixon and Johnson dealing with John Tower, and Don Fulsom’s observations on Tower and Chennault. The photo of Anna Chennault was added on the same day. The section on the conspiracy theories of Mark Gorton was added on April 11th, 2014. On April 21, 2014, the embedded youtube clip of Lyndon Johnson and Everett Dirksen’s phone call on November 2nd was added. On April 22nd, 2014, a slightly different version of this video was embedded, with two minor errors in the transcript fixed. On that same day, the youtube video of the conversation between Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon was embedded. The youtube clip of the phone call between George Smathers and Lyndon Johnson was embedded on that day as well.)

FOOTNOTES FOR COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT BY CLARK CLIFFORD

10 Most of those involved in this extraordinary episode have told their version of it, none strike me as completely candid, but they are all useful. See Anna Chennault, The Education of Anna (New York Times Books, 1980), p. 174, Diem and Chanoff, In the Jaws of History, pp. 235-46, Nguyen Tien Hung and Jerold L. Schecter, The Palace File (New York: Harper and Row, 1986), pp. 23-30.

11 The Education of Anna, p. 174.

12 In the Jaws of History, pp. 244-45

13 The Education of Anna, p. 176.

14 Ibid p. 190; and The Palace File, p. 29.

15 Carl Solberg, Hubert Humphrey: A Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984), pp. 391 and 394.

16 Hubert H. Humphrey, The Education of a Public Man: My Life and Politics (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1976)

FOOTNOTES FOR THE ARROGANCE OF POWER BY ANTHONY SUMMERS

23 It was previously thought that Chennault merely sent a letter to Nixon in Kansas City. Yet her calendar bears the entry “10/16 to meet R. Nixon in Kansas City, MO.” (Re: letter: Safire, op. cit., p. 90, and detail at Forslund, op. cit., p. 29-.)

24 In her 1980 book Chennault said she responded by telling Mitchell she thought it unwise to “try to influence the Vietnamese.” This seems at odds with her interviews with the author, cited earlier, in which she said she was told to promise the South Vietnamese they would get a better deal with Nixon in the White House. (not “try to influence”: Chennault, op. cit., p. 190.)

25 A report from Rostow to President Johnson, ten days after the event, said that the “phone call to the Lady was at 1:41 P.M. EST. . . .” Agnew had arrived in Albuquerque at 1:15 P.M. EST. Another Rostow report, drawing on FBI surveillance, states that Chennault left her Washington apartment at 1:45 P.M. EST. In his reconstruction of the sequence of events for the president, Rostow referred to having received “new times” on Agnew’s movements. The initial FBI report contained contradictory times. It also offered an earlier time-1:30 P.M.-for Chennault’s departure from home. (Rostow ten days after: Rostow to president, Nov. 12, 1968; re: Rostow and Chennault 1:45 P.M.: Rostow to president, Nov. 2, 1968, both in “X” Envelope; initial FBI report: Cartha DeLoach to Clyde Tolson, Nov. 19, 1968, FBI 65-62098-266.)

26 Chennault told both this author and another researcher that she did not remember having received a call from New Mexico. She speculated that if she had been overheard referring to New Mexico, she was probably meaning to refer to New Hampshire, home state of Robert Hill, one of those she had nominated to Nixon as go-betweens. The documentary record, however, seems to be more reliable on this matter than Chennault’s memory. (Other researcher: conv. Catherine Forslund.)

27 It was Nixon who called Johnson, not vice versa, as is often reported. Having spoken with the president, the Senate minority leader Everett Dirksen had passed word that “something had to be done in a hurry to cool him off.” According to William Safire, Dirksen thought Johnson was “ready to blow his stack-and blow the whistle on the Nixon campaign’s attempt to defeat his peace efforts by getting President Thieu to hold back. Anna Chennault’s name was mentioned.” The message was so troubling that Nixon was roused from his bed and agreed to phone Johnson. (RN made call: Forslund, op. cit., citing LBJ sources, including Defense Communications Operations Unit; Safire, op. cit., p. 93, and MEM, p. 320, contradicting, for example, Witcover, op. cit., p. 442; “something had to be done”: Safire, op. cit., p. 93.)

29 Chennault said she was pressured not to talk by Herb Klein, Nixon law firm colleague Tom Evans, Senators Everett Dirksen and John Tower, and Robert Hill. (Chennault, op. cit., p. 193-; int. Herb Klein.)

30 Chennault did not reveal what she knew for a long time, but it is not surprising that Nixon’s people were nervous. Interviewed before the 1969 inauguration by Tom Ottenad, a reporter on the trail of the story, she said: “You’re going to get me in a lot of trouble. . . . I can’t say anything . . . come back and ask me that after the inauguration. We’re at a very sensitive time. . . . I know so much and can say so little.” In September 1969 she asserted: “Whatever I did during the campaign the Republicans, including Mr. Nixon, knew about.” In 1974 she further amplified that statement: “From the first conversation [with the South Vietnamese] I made it clear I was speaking for Mr. Nixon. . . .” By 1979, with Nixon long disgraced, she was starting to offer more detail. The blanket denials of the Nixon side had upset her, but, she said resignedly, “It was a very vicious campaign. Politics is a very cruel game.” Tom Corcoran said in 1981: “People have used Chennault scandalously, Nixon in particular, I know exactly what Nixon said to her, and then he repudiated her.” (Jan. 1969 int.: Boston Globe, Jan. 6, 1969; Sept. 1969 int.: Washingtonian, Sept. 1969; 1974 int.: Howe and Trott, op. cit., p. 48; 1979 int.: Washington Star, Aug. 20, 1979; Corcoran: WP, Feb. 18, 1981, cited at Forslund, op. cit., p. 52, fn.)

FOOTNOTES FOR THE MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT 1968 BY THEODORE H. WHITE

* For Nixon, under the menace of the Anna Chennault episode, possibly about to be cast by Democrats as the great saboteur of peace, the question was the most pointed. He solved it by questioning not the President’s politics, but his judgement. In elaboration of this theme, Finch was authorized to brief the press and charge that the President had been either irresponsible or premature in announcing a deal before “he had gotten all his ducks in a row.” The President, hearing this had, on Nixon’s instructions, fluttered the ducks in Saigon, brought the matter up in his telephone call to Nixon on Sunday in Los Angeles. After Nixon had mollified the President on major matters, Johnson inquired, “Who’s this guy Fink you got?” “It’s Finch, not Fink,” replied Nixon. “What’s he doing making statements like that without your knowledge?” “Well,” said Nixon, as reported by those who overheard the conversation, “you know how it is, you had George Ball making statements in your administration.” “George Ball isn’t any longer with this administration.”

FOOTNOTES

1 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

FBI cable on Chennault mention of the big boss

Received Washington CommCen
9:08 P.M. EDT Monday 4 Nov 68

Received LBJ Ranch CommCen
8:34 P.M. CDT Monday 4 Nov 68

EEA659
00 WTE10
DE WTE 4183

FROM WALT ROSTOW
TO THE PRESIDENT
CITE CAP82650

S E C R E T

THE NEW MEXICO REFERENCE MAY INDICATE AGNEW IS ACTING.

TWO REPORTS FOLLOW.

REPORT ONE:

On November Two Instant, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, reported that Mrs. Anna Chennault contacted Vietnamese Ambassador, Bui Diem, and advised him that she had received a message from her boss (not further identified), which her boss wanted her to give personally to the ambassador. She said the message was that the ambassador is to “hold on, we are gonna 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.

REPORT TWO:

The November One, last, edition of the “Washington Post,” a daily newspaper in the Washington, D.C. area, carried an article concerning Mrs. Anna Chennault. The article indicated that Mrs. Chennault intended to proceed to New York City where she would await the election results on November Five, next, with presidential nominee Richard M. Nixon.

On November Two, Instant, at Seven Ten A.M., Mrs. Chennault’s car was observed in the parking garage at Two Five One Zero [2510] Virginia Avenue, N. W.

At One Forty Five P.M., she departed her residence and entered the automobile. It was being driven by her chauffeur and proceeded to the Baltimore-Washington parkway where it was last observed heading north at Two Fifteen P.M.

Arrangements have been made with the New York office of the FBI for them to observe the car en route and to undertake discreet surveillance with reference to her activities while in New York.

DTG: 030208Z NOV 1968

DECLASSIFIED
E.O. 12958, Sec. 3.6
NLJ 00-231
By com, NARA Date 12-19-00

2 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

top secret memo from Bromley Smith still classif

3 From “In Your Heart You Know He’s Nixon” by Gloria Steinem:

My seat mate, Ed McDaniels, a quiet forceful man who heads the Capitol Recording Company in Washington, a firm specializing in the radio and television electronic needs of political campaigns, had been with Nixon in 1960, and assured me that the candidate hadn’t changed at all. “Cuba was an issue then,” he explained, “but of course Mr. Nixon couldn’t say anything, because he might have given away the invasion we were planning. That’s the big difference: Kennedy had Nixon in a tough spot because he was Vice President, and now Nixon has Humphrey over the same barrel.”

Had Nixon’s attitude toward Communism changed over the years? “Oh no, absolutely not,” he said, obviously glad to praise his candidate. “He understands those people. He knows you have to be tough or they’ll take us over. You see, I have some special knowledge-though, of course, Mr. Nixon has more. I happen to know he’s had top secret briefings – but I have some knowledge from old friends in the military. They come back and tell me the way it really is. If we don’t stop the Chinese here, they’ll keep right on going. Of course, he can’t say anything about Vietnam because it might interfere with the talks in Paris. Mr. Nixon’s a man of real integrity-he won’t take advantage of his special knowledge if it would help Ho Chi Minh, But he knows the enemy, and he knows they hope to win because of all these misguided sympathizers pressuring us here. I’m for him because he won’t let that happen. I’m the head of this company, and I wouldn’t go out in the field for anyone else.”

We can determine when these remarks were made because the article is divided up into sequential days, and this episode takes place on a Friday, and the subsequent Sunday section tells us “Today’s New York Times carried a front page story, “Nixon Visits Negro Slum And Warns White Suburbs,””, and that piece, “Nixon Visits Negro Slum And Warns White Suburbs; SUBURBIA HEARS A NIXON WARNING”, is listed with a date of September 22, 1968.

4 The original file can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Direct link to the original file (mp3 audio): 13548. Transcript is taken from the Miller Center Presidential Recordings Program, “WH6810-04-13547-13548″.

5 From the Nixon Library’s “White House Special Files Box 35 Folder 15 – WHSF35-15″ (specific page, page 4):

6 From the Nixon Library’s “White House Special Files Box 35 Folder 15 – WHSF35-15″ (specific page, page 6).

7 From the Nixon Library’s “White House Special Files Box 35 Folder 15 – WHSF35-15″ (specific page, page 5).

8 That “DC” was Nixon’s code name in any campaign intercommunication is mentioned in The Arrogance of Power by Anthony Summers:

In July the following year, as the election drew nearer, Chennault went to the Nixon apartment with South Vietnam’s ambassador Bui Diem-a visit documented by both their diaries. A surviving internal staff memo addressed to “DC,” Nixon’s campaign pseudonym, pointed out that it “would have to be absolute [sic] top secret.” “Should be,” Nixon replied in a scrawled notation, “but I don’t see how-with the S.S. [Secret Service] If it can be [secret] RN would like to see. . . .”

9 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry. The transcript is my own:

NSA report Oct 28 1968

T O P S E C R E T TRINE

XXMMENP01FTB31108
3/0[REDACTED]T44-68
[REDACTED]

THIEU’S VIEWS ON PEACE TALKS AND BOMBING HALT

XXCC
[REDACTED] 28 OCT 68 [REDACTED]
[REDACTED]
[REDACTED]

SECRET.
((THIS IS)) A SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT ON MR. THIEU’S SPEECH [REDACTED]
[REDACTED]
1. Since the Vietnamese government is ardently laboring [REDACTED] together with the U.S. side to put into practice the items that were naturally agreed upon at the U.S.-Vietnamese Honolulu Summit Conference (19 July), President Thieu emphasized the point that President Johnson must also keep his promises.

((Thieu)) said that it appears that Mr. Nixon will be elected as the next president, and he thinks it would be good to try to solve the important question of the political talks with the next president (no matter who is elected. ((Thieu)) believes that our standpoint should be prepared and strengthened now rather than in the future.

3. As for the Vietnamese reaction to Mr. Humphrey’s statement that “Vietnam does not have the right to reject a decision to halt the bombing”, etc. etc. there was a temporary aggravation, and there was an anti-american demonstration with adherents to the Catholic and Hoa Hao religions taking the initiative.

4. The general sentiment ((both)) domestic and foreign, towards Thieu’s 22 October special proclamation was that it was good and a number of Paris newspapers supported his views (the [REDACTED] was not mentioned, and next, ((it)) will depend upon Hanoi’s attitude.

5. On the U.S. side, rumors are spreading that one cannot predict what President Thieu is going to do and is adopting a much too stubborn attitude.

Reference: at the time of the Vietnamese-U.S. talks, the Vietnamese side consisted for the most part of the president, vice president and foreign minister, the U.S. side attended with their ambassador, deputy ambassador, and Mr. Hertz, minister for political affairs.

[REDACTED]

XXHH
350

SANITIZED
Authority NLJ 10-97
By com, NARA, Date 12-17-10

10 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

Eugene Rostow memo Eugene Rostow second memo

Eugene Rostow source identified as Alexander Sac

11 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

Rostow memo (1)

May 14, 1973

MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD

The attached file contains the information available to me and (I believe) the bulk of the information available to President Johnson on the activities of Mrs. Chennault and other Republicans just before the presidential election of 1968.

As the raw data themselves indicate (and the chronologies I prepared for the President on November 7 and November 11, 1968), the story falls into three parts:

– the period from October 17 to October 29;

– the period from October 29 to the election, November 5;

– the post-election period.

From October 17 to October 29 we received diplomatic intelligence of Saigon’s uneasiness with the apparent break in Hanoi’s position on a total bombing cessation and with the Johnson Administration’s apparent willingness to go forward. This was an interval, however, when Hanoi backed away from the diplomatic breakthrough of the second week of October. Only towards the end of the month was the agreement with Hanoi re-established. As late as October 28, Thieu, despite the uneasiness of which we were aware, told Amb. Bunker he would proceed, as he had agreed about two weeks earlier. [REDACTED]

In the early morning hours of October 29 the President and his advisers met with Abrams. Before going to that meeting, I was telephoned at home by my brother, Eugene Rostow. He reported the first of his messages from New York on Republican strategy — from Alexander Sachs.

During the meeting with Abrams word came from Bunker of Thieu’s sudden intransigence. The diplomatic information previously received plus the information from New York took on new and serious significance.

President Johnson, in the course of October 29, 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.

SANITIZED
E.O. 13526, Sec. 3.5
NLJ 10-96
By isl NARA, Date 1-10-11

Rostow memo (2)

This was done, yielding the FBI evidence the folder contains.

Before the election, President Johnson asked Rusk, Clifford, and me to consider the question of whether the story should be made public. On November 4 we recommended unanimously against that course on the grounds indicated in paragraph 3 of my teletype report to President Johnson, then at his Ranch.

President Johnson agreed.

Therefore, he continued, as he had since October 29, to confine his actions to the implications of Mrs. Chennault’s effort for foreign policy. He indicated to Nixon and (probably) Dirksen that he was aware of “China Lobby” activity interfering with peace negotiations and wished it to stop. (I can only vouch personally for his reference during the conference call with the three candidates on October 31; but on the basis of President Johnson’s later recollections, it is likely that he took the matter up more bluntly with Dirksen on November 2 and when Nixon called on him at the Ranch on November 3.

After the election, he actively sought and obtained Nixon’s cooperation (via Dirksen) in delivering the word that the President-elect wished the South Vietnamese to proceed to cooperate in moving towards a negotiation with Hanoi.

Press clippings reflecting the incident we collected; and, as the file indicates, the matter arose subsequently from time to time.

So much by way of a brief guide to the file.

* * *

I would only add these personal reflections as of mid-May 1973.

I am inclined to believe the Republican operation in 1968 relates in two ways to the Watergate affair of 1972.

First, the election of 1968 proved to be close and there was some reason for those involved on the Republican side to believe their enterprise with the South Vietnamese and Thieu’s recalcitrance may have sufficiently blunted the impact on U.S. politics of the total bombing halt and agreement to negotiate to constitute the margin of victory.

Second, they got away with it. Despite considerable press commentary after the election, the matter was never investigated fully.

Rostow memo (3)

Thus, as the same men faced the election of 1972, there was nothing in their previous experience with an operation of doubtful propriety (or, even, legality) to warn them off; and there were memories of how close an election could get and the possible utility of pressing to the limit — or beyond.

W. W. Rostow

12 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

FBI intercept on Chennault

13 Transcript is partly my own and taken partly from “Did Nixon Commit Treason in 1968? What The New LBJ Tapes Reveal.” The original files can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Conversation is made up of two files. Direct links to audio files (mp3 format): 13612, 13613.

JOHNSON
Hello?

OPERATOR
Go ahead, please sir.

RUSSELL
Good morning, Mr. President.

JOHNSON
How are you, my friend?

RUSSELL
Good. I’m sorry about the phone being off the hook upstairs. Everybody’s running around trying to fix it, and yesterday the phone was (inaudible) somebody’s listening.

JOHNSON
Got some kids. I understand you got some children in the house.

RUSSELL
No no.

JOHNSON
Every phone’s off the hook at my place when I got that sixteen month grandson. He’s a mechanic. He works on it all the time.

RUSSELL
He’s got an inquiring mind. Goes into things. See what it’s about.

JOHNSON
Well, I’ve got one this morning that’s pretty rough for you.

We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee-our California friend-has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends, both-our allies and the others. He’s been doing it through rather subterranean sources here.

And he has been saying to the allies that “you’re going to get sold out. Watch Yalta, and Potsdam, and two Berlins, and everything. And they’re [the Johnson administration] going to recognize the NLF. I [Nixon] don’t have to do that. You better not give away your liberty just a few hours before I can preserve it for you.”

One or two of his business friends divulged it first a couple of days ago, about the time he [Nixon] made the statement that he had rumors that the staff was selling out, but he did not include me in it. You saw that, didn’t you?

RUSSELL
Yeah. And he sorta retracted that didn’t he?

JOHNSON
Well. No. Laird put that out. Travelling with him. They have three planes, and he’s on a separate plane and he just, his job is to spread rumors and background the press. They all like him because he’s strong for health and education and welfare. On that HEW Committee. And so, the press likes him, and he puts that out. Nixon comes along and says, “Now I have heard this but I do not believe it.” In other words, I do not believe Laird. I believe the president is not crooked. They say he is, but I don’t believe he is. He becomes a very strong defender of the president. The press resents it. They come back and say, “Well hell, why, if you don’t believe it, why’d your man put it out?” The man who wrote the story is very reliable, Merryman Smith, he’s covered the White House under four five presidents. And. But that is what happened.

The next thing that we got our teeth in was one of his associates-a fellow named [John] Mitchell, who is running his campaign, who’s the real Sherman Adams [Eisenhower's chief of staff] of the operation, in effect said to a businessman that “we’re going to handle this like we handled the Fortas matter, unquote. We’re going to frustrate the President by saying to the South Vietnamese, and the Koreans, and the Thailanders [sic], ‘Beware of Johnson.’”

“At the same time, we’re going to say to Hanoi, ‘I [Nixon] can make a better deal than he [Johnson] has, because I’m fresh and new, and I don’t have to demand as much as he does in the light of past positions.”

Now, when we got that, pure by accident, as a result of some of our Wall Street connections, that caused me to look a little deeper.

RUSSELL
I guess so.

JOHNSON
And I have means of doing that, as you may well imagine.

RUSSELL
Yes.

JOHNSON
And…Mrs. [Anna] Chennault is contacting their [South Vietnamese] ambassador from time to time-seems to be kind of the go-between, the Chiang Kai-Shek deal. In addition, their ambassador is saying to ‘em that “Johnson is desperate and is just moving heaven and earth to elect Humphrey, so don’t you get sucked in on that.” He is kind of these folks’ agent here, this little South Vietnamese ambassador.

Now, this is not guesswork.

RUSSELL
I just . . . I didn’t exactly understand how Taiwan got in it.

JOHNSON
Well, Mrs. Chennault, you know-

RUSSELL
I know that, but I didn’t understand just what Chiang has to do with it-

JOHNSON
Well, I don’t know that he has anything, except just generally that lobby. It may be [former Minnesota congressman] Walter Judd. I know it’s her.

RUSSELL
Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

JOHNSON
Mrs. Chennault, you know, of the Flying Tigers.

RUSSELL
I know Mrs. Chennault.

JOHNSON
She’s young and attractive. I mean, she’s a pretty good-looking girl.

RUSSELL
She certainly is.

JOHNSON
And she’s around town. And she is warning them to not get pulled in on this Johnson move.

Then he [the ambassador], in turn, is warning his government. Then we, in turn, know pretty well what he [Thieu] is saying out there. So he is saying that well, he’s got to play it for time, and get it by the next few days. Now, the Soviets are climbing the wall, and Hanoi is, and of course our people in Paris are, because they have agreed that they will let the GVN come to the table. That has been the thing we have insisted on. They have met our demands. The Soviets have said that we understand that we’re gonna resume if they violate the DMZ and we can see that immediately after we make the announcement whether they are or not. We have reserved the right for reconnaissance and we have made it clear it’s an act of force, and not an act of war, in our announcement. And we got South Vietnam, and all the allies aboard on a one day. We announce it one day and we meet the next. But Hanoi wanted more time, so they demanded a couple of weeks, and then ten days, and then a week, and we wouldn’t do it, because we thought that Saigon couldn’t stand to wait that long between the time of the announcement and the time of the meeting. So we have insisted on one day because Hanoi had said productive discussions could begin the next day. So, we took them at their word. About that time, Humphrey made a fool speech in which he said that he would stop the bombing without a comma or a semicolon, he’d just make it period.

RUSSELL
Well, that’d kill the whole thing.

JOHNSON
Well, it did for ten days, and then Bundy made a fool speech. And they all of them had to dissect that and take it- (inaudible) Yes yes, the Adlai Stevenson group and they just get the tail of the dashboard right at the right time, they do the wrong thing, every time. But we wore that out, we got it back on the track. And in getting it back on the track, meantime, Nixon gets scared to death, so he gets into the thing. And it gets off the track at the other place. Now, everybody had approved the one day thing. Then they came along and approved the three day thing, and they actually got down to the wording of the announcement, a joint announcement to be made by the two of us. And it was all agreed upon, all satisfactory, and then Nixon gets on and says no use selling out now, just wait a few days. And you can’t trust Johnson, may want to, really he’s gonna pet the North Vietnamese, NLF, on the back, just like Roosevelt did to Russia. And that scares them. So then they come back,

RUSSELL
How’d he get that word to them?

JOHNSON
He gets it through their ambassador here. And they are really, they think, he’s just been mad something’s gonna happen this election. And he’s just not erratic at all. Now I played no politics with them, and I’m not going to, I’ve given Humphrey more hell at their joint meetings than I have Nixon. Nixon’s been pretty responsible. But I don’t want pass up an opportunity to sit here on my fanny, till he comes in, let him just pick up like Eisenhower did the Korean thing, and say, well I did so-and-so. Same time, I don’t want another day to go that I don’t have to do when I get what I asked for. Now, the effect of the situation I’m in now is effectively letting Thieu say, well, we gotta have more time. First he says we haven’t got enough time to get a delegation there. Second, this Ky gets in it, Ky says he thinks we’re really winning militarily, just give a few more days, we’ll have everything. And then Ky demands that rather than have a coup, he’d be the adviser in Paris. And we got all those things, now we have put off and put off and we are trying to bring them aboard. After we had them aboard, on both times.

RUSSELL
I thought they were pretty firm.

JOHNSON
They were. They were all firm. Now Abrams came in, before I finally make up my mind. And he spent several hours with me. Just he and I. And then he met with a group. But he, not only recommends, he urges me, to take this action with or without them. That we cannot do any good in the North for the next ninety days anyway. That we need this power in South Vietnam, and we need this power in Laos. And in any event, the guarantees that we get on the DMZ, if they carry them out alright, we’re not bound. But what we would get at the DMZ which would be reflected two hours after we make the announcement, what we would get there, we’d get by immunity of the cities, permit him to go through the countryside, and with the psychological advantage of having these fools at the Paris meeting. Kinda wrap up the country. And he says, from a strictly military standpoint, that this military power is no good for ninety days on account of the weather. That it is needed, and will be used, you either get something for it or you don’t. Because he’s gonna use it anyway. Ninety percent of it in Laos and South Vietnam, even if it didn’t finish ordering here. He would do it there. Because he says it’s unlikely you’ll get more than one or two days a month. That you can do anything.

RUSSELL
Well, they’ve been giving whole lot of reports I didn’t understand, I hear they hit a truck and all that thing-

JOHNSON
Well, they’ve had ten days and we’re coming to the last of that ten days.

RUSSELL
I see.

JOHNSON
And by the time we put the thing into the meeting, why, there won’t be much chance. And, in any event, he says this thing has changed so radically since last August. That, not only do we no longer endanger our men, that this gives them much more protection than we’d have if we just followed the existing policy. Now I’ve heard all that, and I’ve seen all that in cables, but I just didn’t take it, I made him come in. And he is much stronger than any of your joint chiefs. His general statement was very much along the lines, of McConnell’s. If you remember it.

RUSSELL
Yes, I do quite well.

JOHNSON
So, we thought it was all gone, already, then at noon yesterday, Thieu comes in and says, no, and now the question is, do you leave him, and Korea and Thailand, they’ll all hang together, they’re scared to get peace there, so forth. So, we’ve tried to get them back on board. We don’t think they’re gonna come in the light of the Nixon thing.

RUSSELL
-Nixon, I never had much in common with him, but damn, if I thought he’d stoop to anything like that.

JOHNSON
It may be his agents. All we know is, I saw him on television this morning, in Syracuse last night. And he says that this conference must be broadened to include the Soviets. Well, we’re talking to them every day, two three times a day,

RUSSELL
I doubt they really want to see anything.

JOHNSON
They wouldn’t be in it. They wouldn’t come to it, and he just makes an ass of himself, they are scared to death, the Chinese, everything they do is subterranean. But there’s no question they’re in it, I met them Sunday night, go back to Kosygin [Alexei Kosygin] and say that he understood that I was doing this with his full knowledge, and the problem I would have on DMZ and the cities, and understand that, and not charge me with deceit. Because they didn’t abide by it, I was gonna hit them. And he came back, said my doubts about their biding by it were not justified. So, he is in it. But Nixon says, “The Soviets oughta be brought in and he says other asian countries must come to the conference.” Well, a few hours later, this is last night, this morning at nine o’clock, we get a wire from Korea, saying they oughta be in the conference. So, he’s kinda playing with the Asians, see, to divide us, and they’re trying to do what the Hanoi’s been unable to do for five years. Divide me from Korea, and Thailand. And so forth. And that’s this damn election, for what I think, seriously, what I’ll do is this. The South Vietnamese have no good reason for not coming. They say they need more time. So, I think instead of saying that-

RUSSELL
-two three months, I don’t get-

JOHNSON
Well, they said they got to get a delegation, and all that. I think I’ll say to them, well I’ll give you the next meeting we have now, normally comes up Wednesday. We had one today. That gives you a full week. Now they said three four days ago, they’d need a week or ten days. We’ll give you a full week. Now, we’re gonna stop. In the next few hours. And we’re gonna make an announcement of that. Now, we’re gonna say we have understood that you could be president at this meeting a week from now. And we hope you’re there. But in any event, we’re not going to force us to keep on bombing when we don’t want to. And when we got a chance to get them to lay off the DMZ and when we got a chance to get them to lay off the cities and when we got a guarantee you attend the meeting. Now, we just got to be that blunt. If they come on board, all and well good, if not, we’re just in shambles, I guess, but I don’t think I could defend the people of this country that I had everything I asked for and then this sonofabitch vetoed it.

RUSSELL
No, I don’t see how he can refuse to come aboard.

JOHNSON
Well, he does though.

RUSSELL
-damn well better play than that, leave him over there, let him settle it- (near inaudible line)

JOHNSON
Well, I’ve carried on five years pretty big failure happened.

RUSSELL
Well, I don’t think that. I think it’s been accepted everywhere the reason we’re in there is because they wanted us. They don’t want us, well by god, a man is not that bad, (inaudible), he said, get out now, wish you were up in the air, I thought, of course not, I’ll leave.

JOHNSON
Well, what I’m thinking, seriously of doing, I’m not talking to any of the other legislators, or anybody outside my little group. And he weren’t in it, and I thought you could get an independent evaluation of how screwey it sounded to you. What I thought of doing would be to say to them this morning, both in Paris and in Saigon, that I’m gonna say tonight or tomorrow morning, that I am stopping this action. That I have agreed with the other side to meet in Paris. On the sixth. That’s the day after the election, our next regular meeting. Next Wednesday. That day we agreed the GVN can be there. That’s what I’ve insisted on for years. And I notified them of this effect. Now, I will background, I can’t say publicly, but I’ll tell two three reporters confidentially, kind of let them leak it out, that they ought to wipe the DMZ the next few days. And I would think twenty four hours they’ll be writing stories that obviously Johnson got to them. Peace on the DMZ. And to watch the cities. Now, if I get peace there, than alright, but if I don’t, I can still bomb. In any event, I will have stopped it, and we’ll announce we’ll have this meeting. And then if they come aboard, alright, and if they don’t, well I just-

RUSSELL
I don’t see how they can afford not to.

JOHNSON
Well. Well, suppose they don’t. Where am I? If they don’t come aboard, if Korea doesn’t come aboard, I think they’d just be so afraid about having Uncle Sam out there, that they just couldn’t do it. They might think they’d have Nixon. (inaudible) Well, they don’t understand their constitutional system. They may think they got Nixon. You know, in their country, when something changes, the whole outfit changes. They don’t realize they’ll have you, and Fulbright, and the whole Congress that I’ve had. And they think that they get Nixon, they get all of Nixon’s casinos. Now, they’re not gonna- Nixon’s not gonna be able to be much harder than I’ve been.

RUSSELL
Well.

JOHNSON
And I don’t believe that publicly Nixon can take us on anyway. He may have a little-

RUSSELL
His published statements haven’t been too bad.

JOHNSON
No, no, that’s right.

RUSSELL
The leak I heard, in one speech, where he supported you much better than Humphrey was.

JOHNSON
Oh yeah, he says that, but then he says, everybody-

RUSSELL
I understand, it’s in the interest of. I see that.

JOHNSON
It’s just like my getting upset, I know Dick Russell, they say Dick Russell is so-and-so-and-so-and-so, but I really don’t believe that.

RUSSELL
Yeah.

JOHNSON
If you didn’t believe-

RUSSELL
Exact statement he made tonight.

JOHNSON
That’s right.

RUSSELL
Well. That’s a (inaudible) for sure. I just don’t see how that- that Vietnamese government though can stay out of it.

JOHNSON
Well, don’t you see this-

RUSSELL
They’ve been admitted to the table.

JOHNSON
How can I carry on a bombing, when everyone of my joint chiefs, including Abrams, say, from a military standpoint, it’s even better that I go the other route at this time? And the only thing they want assurance of is that I would resume it, if I didn’t get these actions that we expect to follow, the DMZ, the cities.

RUSSELL
Well. It’d be very difficult. It’d be very different. What is your old man out there-

JOHNSON
Bunker.

RUSSELL
Yeah. What does he think of it?

JOHNSON
He wants to give them this week. That I’m giving them. He says this morning to give them a week, and I’ll call their bluff. That gives them plenty of time, it’s not important when they show up at this meeting. If we give them a week. We were gonna have the meeting November the 2nd. He says move it back to the sixth, the seventh. And he and Abrams both have been hardly for this, had them aboard, but this other thing came into it.

RUSSELL
Does Bunker know what decision.

JOHNSON
No, I don’t think so. I don’t think we’ve got him all the intercepts and things. We have, though, Thieu’s talks to his people, and so forth, and he knows that, he knows part of it. But I’ve ordered them all sent out to them this morning. But you see it’s only natural, you look at it from Thieu’s standpoint.

RUSSELL
He’s getting something for nothing.

JOHNSON
He was staying with me, and he was supporting me, and he was going along with it. Then this guy comes in, and says, now let me show you here. Humphrey says, he’s gonna stop it period, without any comma or semicolon. Now, I’m not gonna do that. Humphrey says that he’s not gonna let you veto anything he does. Well, I’m gonna work with you. So, there’s that man looking at two horses, a bay and a black, and there’s no question that Nixon’s statements are better for him than the other, so he thinks all he’s gotta do is hold out two or three days and he’s in clover.

RUSSELL
But he hasn’t got anything to lose, because he’s been busting Humphrey with the election. And Nixon loses. Well, he hasn’t lost anything. He just took a gamble.

JOHNSON
That’s right. I think I’m gonna move ahead unless you see some reason I shouldn’t.

RUSSELL
Well, I don’t see any, but it’s yours if you think-

JOHNSON
It is. It is, but we can’t-

RUSSELL
-it’s most confused-

JOHNSON
It’s gonna be more confused when the Koreans and the Thais and all your allies say you did it just for election purposes. But the one thing, the meeting doesn’t take place until after the election.

RUSSELL
Yeah, that’s right.

JOHNSON
And I think that helps a little.

RUSSELL
I think that does. That takes some of the curse off.

JOHNSON
But the announcement comes beforehand, and they say why didn’t you do it before, and I’m gonna say because it’s Sunday night, that I got the assurances that I wanted. And I had them confirmed by Abrams yesterday. If they wanna come with me, alright, if they don’t, don’t. Okay, I just want your feel of it.

RUSSELL
Well, I’m prepared to get it, but little more, I just don’t see how they can stay out. I just don’t see how they can afford to stay out. You’re gonna be the president till January 20th anyhow.

JOHNSON
You wouldn’t let him veto you if you were me, would you?

RUSSELL
No sir, I wouldn’t.

JOHNSON
Thank you, goodbye.

RUSSELL
I would’ve been hard as hell on this matter-

JOHNSON
I have. Thank you.

14 The original file can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Conversation is made up of three files. Direct links to audio files (mp3 format): 13614, 13616, 13617.

Transcript is my own.

OPERATOR
Senator Dirksen.

JOHNSON
Put Senator Dirksen on, I’m ready. I’m in a meeting, tell him I’m in a meeting, but I want to talk, I missed him when I was at the Security Council.

OPERATOR
Senator Dirksen? It’s the president.

DIRKSEN
Are you in a meeting?

JOHNSON
Yes, but go ahead. I can hear.

DIRKSEN
You can say what is the situation.

JOHNSON
Everett, we have said to the…first of all, I cannot tell you this, that’s gonna be quoted. Because I can’t tell the candidates, and I can’t tell anybody else. I haven’t talked to a human. I want to comply with it, trust, but I sure don’t want it told to a human.

DIRKSEN
I give you my solemn word.

JOHNSON
Alright. The situation is this: since September of last year, we have told Hanoi that we would stop the bombing. We’re anxious to stop it. When they would engage in, these are the keywords, prompt, productive discussions that they would not take advantage of. That is September. March 31st I came to the conclusion that no living man can run for office and be a candidate, and have them all shooting at him, and keep this war out of politics, and get peace. So I concluded, that I should not run because I’d just prolong the war by doing it. So I said then, we’re stopping the bombing in ninety percent, we will stop it in the rest. If there can be any indication that’ll not cost us additional lives. We got, just a lot of procrastination, up until October. During October, they started asking questions what did I mean by prompt, and what did I mean by productive. Now, the facts of life are, they tried two offensives in May and August and they got very severe setbacks. The facts are that they’ve had thirty thousand forty thousand leave the country to re-fit. The facts are that they’re not doing at all well. But they can continue to supply what they need for a very long time. But in October we started getting these nibbles. What did the president mean? What did he say when he said he had to have prompt and productive, not take advantage. We said, that we would consider productive if the GVN had to be present. They said they were just generals and stooges, and satellites, and Johnson put them in, always saying they would never sit down with those traitors. We said, you’ve got to sit down with them, before we can ever work out the future. We can’t settle the future of South Vietnam without them being present. We’re not going to pull a Hitler-Chamberlin deal. They said they would never do it. So, on October 7th or the 11th, I’ve forgotten, they said, “Well now, what else, is that all the president wants? If we would sit down with the GVN, what would he do?”

Now, they made no commitment, they didn’t indicate they accepted, they just asked the question. But, you know, in trading, when a fellow says how much would you take for that horse, you kinda think that means something. So, we followed it up, and we said, “No, we don’t want to limit ourselves. The GVN’s got to be present, and we’ve got to have productive discussions, and we think they could be productive, if they were present. But we can’t have a (pamajon?) and say we’ll do that, and say we’ll meet a year from now. It’s got to be a prompt meeting, a week, two weeks, three weeks, something like that. So, they said, “Well, if we could work everything out, we could meet the next day.” So, we came back the next day, and said, if you let the GVN come in, and we’ll meet the next day, we would like to take that up with our government. (coughs) They said, “Well, what else do you want? Is that all?” Right off that, Harriman said, “No, these are facts of life. We know you’re not going to sell out, and engage in reciprocity, and you’re not going to accept conditions, and your pride, and your asiatic face will not let you do that. You’ve got to save face, we understand that. But we could not sit at a conference table if you were shelling the cities.” In other words, if I were talking to Dirksen in my living room, and my son was raping his wife, he’d have to get up and leave, quit trading, and run and protect her. So, we just could not sit there, if you were shelling the cities. Nor could we sit there, and have a productive discussion if you were abusing the DMZ.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
So, they said, well, that’s reciprocity, and we’re not gonna pay any attention to it, and they about that time, Nixon made some little statement about, we handled the war wrong, and Hubert said, he was going to stop bombing without any comma or semicolon, just period. And then Mac Bundy made a fool speech where he said we oughta stop it for nothing. And pull our troops out. So, they picked up and went to Hanoi. And they stayed in Hanoi two weeks, from October 15th to right about now. October 11th, I guess. They come back now and, all this time we have been working with everybody we knew, the governments cannot be named, because it’s a life and death to them. They may be invaded. But the Eastern Europeans have been helpful, the Indians have been helpful, the Soviets have been helpful, the French have been helpful, we’ve had them all in. And we have talked to some of them, yeah, every day. And we have told them the clock was ticking and that they could settle this in thirty days, they did 1954 in thirty days [the end of the Korean war], but that our constitutional processes did not change, we would have a new president, but Mansfield and Dirksen would still be leaders, and Russell would still be chairman of the Committee and Fulbright would likely be chairman. And those men would carry on and on, all of our joint chiefs would be the same, so they needn’t delay, even if Humphrey was elected, they wouldn’t be getting any better deal. Even if Nixon, they’re not gonna be getting any better deal. Now, this is for your information only. We get to the point where it looks like we might get the GVN in the meeting. And they understand thoroughly that they will bust up the meeting, we won’t come back here, Abrams is authorized by the rules of engagement to retaliate himself, if they shoot across the DMZ.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
By launching bombers immediately. And we told them all that. Told the Russians, if that gets into the paper, the deal’s off. That’s why you cannot say this to anybody, it’s gonna get in the paper. Because these folks are the most sensitive people in the world. But, we have said this, and about that time, some of Mr. Nixon’s people come in and tell both sides, “I have information about who you had a glass of beer with last night, you don’t know it, but I do.” And we have ways and means, you get my point, don’t you? You have ways and means of knowing what’s going on in the country. We know what Thieu says, when he talks out in Vietnam, we know what happens here. And some of Mr. Nixon’s people are getting a little unbalanced, and unfrightened, like Hubert did, when he said, no comma, no period. Like Bundy did. About the time you called me last week, they started going into the South Vietnamese embassy and also, sending some word to Hanoi. Which has prolonged this thing, a good deal. The net of it is despicable and if it were made public, I think it would rock the nation. But the net of it was, that if they just hold out a little bit longer, that he’s [Nixon] a lot more sympathetic and he could kinda, do better business with him than they can with their present President. And, in Hanoi, they’ve been saying that, well, if you won’t settle this thing, I’m not bound by all these things. So, I haven’t had this record, and I could make a little better deal with you. There. I rather doubt Nixon has done any of this. But there’s no question what folks for him are doing it. And very frankly, we’re reading some of the things that are happening. So, as a consequence, while Thieu and all of our allies are ready to go on a bombing ceasefire, cessation, it just may be temporary, we might be back on it in the next day, if they don’t follow these two things, if they violate the DMZ, or if they shell the cities. We could stop the killing out there, we could get everything we asked for, the GVN in there, but: they got this question, this new formula put in there. Namely: wait on Nixon. And they’re killing four, five hundred every day, waiting on Nixon.

Now, these folks I doubt are authorized to speak for Nixon, but they’re going in there, and they range all the way from attractive women to old line China lobbyists. And some people, pretty close to him in the business world. I was shocked when I looked at the reports. And I’ve got them. And so forth. Now, Thieu has, that’s had a little effect on Thieu. He has signed onto this back as early as October, that this is what we oughta do. As have all the allied governments, as have the French, and as have the Russians, the fact that it’s busted up is annoying. And all of our people. I told Dick Nixon, and George Wallace, and Hubert Humphrey, that we had to have prompt and productive discussions. And, in order to be productive, the GVN had to be present. It oughta be prompt, it oughta be in a matter of weeks, not two or three years. And that they wouldn’t take advantage of, that meant they wouldn’t be blowing up our house while trying to eat dinner. They wouldn’t be trying to hit the DMZ and the cities. Now, if they do hit the DMZ and the cities, we would just have to come back to bombing the next day. Now then the facts are, that as of now, the monsoon has started there. The bombing ain’t worth a damn and not gonna be for ninety days in the north. So, without telling them, we might quit anyway. If we had nothing in return. Because we need to do it in Laos where it’s drying up and they can really increase their traffic. And we need to do it in South Vietnam, where they’re trying to mount an offensive on Saigon. So, I called in all the joint chiefs, and all of them recommended that we stop. And that we take this GVN presence. I called in General Momyer [William Momyer], in charge of air force, because I knew I’d have this LeMay [Curtis LeMay] on my hands, and Momyer’s been in charge of it in Vietnam. He operates from Thailand. He’s down at Langley. And he explained to me, it wouldn’t do any good where I’m bombing now, if I can get anything out of it, I oughta do it, and then move it over to the other place, and we can’t say we’re gonna move it over because it’ll look like we’re not giving them anything, and we’re not sincere. If we’d given up bombing the north, we’d have spread more bombs on the south. But he told me, that was it. Every civilian, every military man we have talked to, and any good pastor, particularly, is very strong – but I decided I had to talk to Abrams before I reached any conclusion. He sent me a cable, and said he would do it, without the cities, and without the DMZ, if they just let the GVN be present because he in effect is going to do it anyway.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And he said, psychologically, the GVN being present will really wreck the Viet Cong because it’ll mean that their supporters, the Soviets, and the Hanoi, have really recognized them, or they wouldn’t let them come at the meeting. Well, that’s what our folks think, I don’t know, we’re gonna let the NLF come in at the meeting, so we’re not recognizing them, but they think psychologically this’ll really do them up in the South, and Westmoreland, and Abrams, and Momyer, think they’ve had them whipped since September. They think they’re whipped. So, Abrams came in at 2:30 yesterday morning, or day before yesterday morning, and he drove twenty four hours straight time, and stayed there till four o’clock. And he was just as strong as horse radish, and said this oughta be done. We took this, and I went back to Paris, and asked Paris, how many times they’d told them that they had to respect the cities and respect the DMZ and they counted up, and they came back here, and told them twelve times, now they’ve never agreed to it, because they will not agree to reciprocity. But they know that if they don’t do it, that Abrams may trigger Abrams’ reaction, just on again off again, just a matter of hours, the bombing will be resumed. So, then we went back to the Soviets, and we said we don’t want to deceive anybody, this is close to the election, it’s a very delicate period, I have told Nixon and Wallace and Humphrey all the same thing, and I’m telling you now. Nixon said, do you have to have all three of them? And I said, no, I really don’t have to have any of them, if I thought, I said, if they do any little thing, I would stop the bombing. But I’d like to have all three, and I’m gonna try and get all three. Well, in effect, that’s what we’re likely to get. So, I went back to the Russians, and said, now, we don’t want to be deceitful, and if we should start bombing, the meeting’s gotta be prompt. The DMZ’s gotta be respected. And the shelling of the cities has got to stop. And we know you can’t guarantee it, but we want you to be damn sure we know it. Because the moment we stop, if you re-start this, you’re gonna be hit with interest, and we’re gonna double the force. And Abrams is gonna come to Washington, he can do it automatically. Now, we – I, Lyndon Johnson – have grave doubts that they’ll stop shelling the cities or the DMZ because if they do, they just admit they’ve lost South Vietnam.

So, I went to Mr. (inaudible) and he came back, and he said, the doubts the president has are unjustified. That he thinks they want peace. So, then we went to the Indians, and the Indians came back and said the same thing. Now, that’s where we are. We’re here now, talking to our folks here, talking about the rules of engagement, and what Abrams would do if we stopped the bombing, if they should hit Saigon, and we’re trying to conclude that and we’re going to try and have Vance [Cyrus Vance] go back and be sure they don’t misunderstand any of the language, be sure they’re willing to let the GVN come in the room. ‘Course a communist agreement ain’t worth a dime, they might walk out. But you’re gonna have to some time test it. And Clifford says and Bus Wheeler [Earl "Bus" Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] says, you gotta test their faith, they might not mean it. But that’s about where it is. Now, no decision has been reached, no order has been issued. It takes about twelve hours from the time we make a decision…until we issue the order. The meeting, no meeting, could take place before the election. The meeting would have to take place after the election, but it’s my feeling that I ought to, the first minute I can, stop the killing if I can, and not keep justifying I quit the race for the presidency to get peace and put peace before politics. Unlike some sonofabitch like Rafferty [Max Rafferty, a California Senate candidate, whose profile on-line is here: "Rafferty, Max from The Johnson Years, Presidential Profiles."] out here in Los Angeles say, well, Johnson’s playing politics, or, I thought Dick’s statement was ugly the other day, that he had been told that I was a thief, and a sonofabitch, and so forth, but he knew my mother, and she really wasn’t a bitch. I mean, you set up a statement like that, then deny it, it’s not very good, because he knows better, and it hurt my feelings, you damn republicans get mean when you get into politics, and I think it’s cost him a lot of votes, I think he’s losing the last few days, because of that statement.

I played it clean, I talked to Eisenhower about it, I made Wheeler brief him, I’ve told Nixon every bit as much if not more than Humphrey knows, I’ve given Humphrey not one thing, and up to now, Nixon and the Republicans have supported me just as well as the Democrats and a helluva lot better than McCarthy and Fulbright and the rest of them. But he got into politics and when this goddamn Mel Laird, he told them the other day that Joe Califano and the other were shoving me. Well, Joe Califano can’t spell Vietnam, he’s never been in one meeting with me. But that’s what he put out. Now, the men I rely on are Bus Wheeler, General Westmoreland, Admiral Moorer, General McConnell the Chief Staff, General, head of the Marine Corps, General Momyer, who’s down at Langley but in charge of air, General Abrams, Ambassador Bunker, and Dean Rusk. I don’t pay much attention to even the subordinates over in the other place. Now, I’ve been at this five years, and if I don’t wanna sell my country out, I’d have sold it out five months ago and gone on, run for president and got this war behind us, then got me re-elected. But I am a conscientious, earnest fella trying to do a job. And I’m gonna do it. I get peace at four o’clock Saturday noon, I’m damn sure gonna get it, come hell or high water, and woebe onto the guy who says you oughta keep on killing. But 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 for both of them. And I don’t think people would approve of it if it were known. So, that’s why I’m afraid to talk.

Now, when I make a decision, and we’re meeting again this afternoon, and we met all morning this morning, and we’re out there and it’s 5:30 in Saigon now, we’re awaiting probably 6:30, six o’clock to see what answers they’ll get. We had to wait until Abrams got back home, he left, and he had to fly twenty four hours, so he got in there three o’clock. Straight through. When we do, the first thing I’m gonna do is call you if it’s five minutes from now, or five hours, or five days, and I never know, I thought a hundred times in the last month it’d be five hours. But nobody knows when you’re dealing with eight countries with all the folks in Paris, with all the folks in Saigon, and here. I’m gonna call you and Mike Mansfield on the phone, I’m gonna tell you exactly what I told you now. I can’t add a damn thing to it. If we stop the bombing, they are gonna agree the GVN is gonna come to the conference table promptly and productively, and we’ll stay stopped if they don’t hit the cities. And if they don’t go across the DMZ. If they do, we’ll be right back at it and Abrams got his orders and he’s here the other day. Now, we’ll just test their faith. I don’t see it making any difference in the political campaign cuz first of all, conference won’t happen till it’s over with, I think I’d be glad to say that all the candidates have a, co-operate with me and we oughta have one voice in foreign affairs. And while they criticize my conduct of the war, they have never told the enemy that he’d get a better deal. But this last few days, Dick is getting just a little bit shakey, and he’s pissing on the fire a little. Now, you oughta guide him just a little bit, because they’re not running against me, I’m not gonna be here, you’re gonna be my senator, and you’re gonna represent me, and whatever I want done, I’m gonna be down at Purnell. But he oughta go back to that old (inaudible), say…as a matter of fact, we have a transcript where one of his partners said he’s gonna play this one just like Fortas. He’s gonna take the Republicans and the Southerners and he’s gonna frustrate the President by telling South Vietnamese, just wait a few more days and he’s not connected to this war, he can make a better peace for them. And by telling Hanoi, that he isn’t running this war, didn’t get them into it, be a lot more considerate of them than I can, because I’m pretty inflexible, calling them sonsofbitches. Now, that’s not very easy to work under those conditions. Anymore than it is, when Hubert says he’ll stop the bombing without a comma semicolon but period. They neither one of them got a damn thing to do with it between now and January the 20th. And I’m gonna stop the earliest second I can. And I can stop it for nothing if I want to, I have five times before. But I’m not gonna stop it unless they agree the GVN will be at that table. I’m not gonna stop it unless they agree the GVN are gonna be at that table.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
I’m not gonna stop it unless they understand if they want that table blown up all they got to do is hit the DMZ or the cities. And if I do that, it’s complete, absolute 100% all we’ve asked for since last September. Now, I’d be glad to have any suggestions or judgements or advice, that you’ve got to give.

DIRKEN
That GVN, you mean the government-

JOHNSON
That means, these satellites, these stooges, puppets, that they’ve been referring to, that they’d never go in a room with. The people who were elected president and vice president, Thieu and Ky. That’s been the thing that’s held it up. You can’t divide up a country, settle it, if you won’t let their president come. Unless you’re Hitler, and Sudetenland, and Chamberlin, and stuff like that. So, basically, we have said they have got to have self-determination. And if you’re gonna make a decision, that affects them, whether it’s the ’52 Geneva accords, wherever you put the boundary lines, you gotta be present. They said shut up, we will never let them come in the room. Now, they started asking. If we would let them come in the room, what else would you make us do? Now, that indicates to us that we can do it, and Vance is talking to them right today.

DIRKSEN
Yeah. So that’s it.

JOHNSON
Now what do you think about it?

DIRKSEN
Well. I certainly don’t quarrel with the way you’ve handled this matter. And of course (inaudible) the fellows on my side give every (inaudible). They wonder what the impact would be if a ceasefire or a halt to the bombing could be proclaimed at any given hour. What the impact could be on the result next Tuesday.

JOHNSON
Well I don’t know what it’d be. I don’t know- First, it’s not gonna be any ceasefire.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Second, if there’s gonna be anything, which we have to decide, and which we’re trying this very minute, it would be just stopping the bombing as we’ve done six or eight times. But the big question would be: is what did they stop? If they stopped the cities, and if they stopped the DMZ, then there’d be a lot of hard negotiation that would last several months. It wouldn’t stop the war at all. But it might stop the killing temporarily. As a matter of fact, it’s been cut down to a hundred the last two weeks. And, to me, when Nixon’s 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 gonna pull the rug out on him.” I don’t see how in the hell it can be helped unless he goes to fartin’ under the cover and getting his hand under somebody’s dress. And he better keep Mrs. Chennault and all this crowd tied up for a few days cuz he’s got the right formula, and I think he done well. I think Humphrey screwed himself up. John Connolly told me he’s gonna lose Texas just because he’s shedding it on the war.

DIRKSEN
Well. That’s it. I’ll have to separate this out a little. Course he’ll call again.

JOHNSON
Well, just don’t put it in the paper. Tell him the first people- There’re gonna be two calls I’m making. And you have to be prepared to get them at any time.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
One of them’s gonna be you and Mansfield and leaders. The other’s gonna be the candidates. Both of you gonna be told the same identical thing. The damn man that says he thinks the war oughta go on under these conditions, continue to bomb when they say “Let the GVN come,” and when we tell them if they bomb the cities we’ll be resuming it in one hour, I don’t think anybody can justify that. So I think that everybody oughta have a statement ready and oughta say, “Well, they have apparently given the president what he asked for,” and this doesn’t mean we got peace at all, it just means we’re stopping the bombing and they gonna agree to let this have prompt, productive discussions that we’ve been raising hell about since September. So I compliment General Abrams, General Westmoreland for bringing them to this state of military affairs where they’ve got to agree to it.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And I’ve supported it all along, and I thank god my conscience I’ve never pulled the rug out from under my commander-in-chief. Now, that’s the way I treat Eisenhower and that’s the way you’ve treated me up to now. And don’t you get so damn eager for eighty three percent vote that you go cut me out there in the last few days.

DIRKSEN
You know I wouldn’t-

JOHNSON
I know you wouldn’t do it. I know you wouldn’t. But Dick, I don’t quite understand his people. I don’t know whether he knows it or not, but the other day he came out here, he said “They say Johnson is a thief. But I knew his daddy and I don’t think he’s a thief, and they say he’s a sonofabitch, and I knew his mother, she’s not a bitch.” Well, hell he advertised all over the country, he left, he planted the idea, he knew goddamn well I’ve been fair to him.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And I didn’t like that. And I found out Mel Laird was the one operating on it. Your friend Mel Laird.

DIRKSEN
Yeah, I haven’t seen him around. Anywhere.

JOHNSON
How’s your campaign coming?

DIRKSEN
Well, it’s coming on pretty fair.

JOHNSON
Well now, would you do this any differently than the way I’ve been trying to do it?

DIRKSEN
No, I wouldn’t.

JOHNSON
I could’ve settled this thing and stopped the bombing a month ago. But I’ve been trying to get all of my three things.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Do you understand, don’t you, that they are not agreeing that they will stop shelling the cities?

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
You understand that they are not agreeing to respect the DMZ?

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
But they do know that if they don’t do either, we’re not stopping the bombing either. So we’re right where we started. What they are agreeing, if we ever pull off the deal, that the GVN can come in the meeting, and that’s what Rusk says is absolutely imperative.

DIRKSEN
Yeah. That would be the government, the constituted government.

JOHNSON
The elected government of Vietnam. That all of these men went out there, you appointed some men to go out from your outfit, I think Rusk went, I’ve forgotten. And they watched the election. Thieu was elected, and Ky was elected. And I hope you think this is alright.

DIRKSEN
Well, I do.

JOHNSON
Thank you.

DIRKSEN
Okay.

15 Transcript taken from “Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969: Documents 142-169″, Document 166: “Transcript of Telephone Conversation Among President Johnson, Vice President Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and George Wallace”.

16 Video of the speech can be found on youtube: “The President: October 1968. MP901.” A transcript of the speech can be found at the Miller Center: “Remarks on the Cessation of Bombing of North Vietnam (October 31, 1968)”.

17 The original file can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Direct links to audio files (mp3 format): 13701. Transcript is taken from “Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969 Documents 170-192: November 1-12, 1968: South Vietnamese Abstention From the Expanded Peace Conference; the Anna Chennault Affair”, “171. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Robert McNamara”.

18 Transcript taken from “Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969 Documents 170-192: November 1-12, 1968: South Vietnamese Abstention From the Expanded Peace Conference; the Anna Chennault Affair”: “172. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Senator Richard Russell”.

19 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry. The transcript is my own:

NSA Thieu report (1)

ZCZCKAB647
PP [REDACTED]
DE [REDACTED] 2972250
P 232045Z
FM DIRNSA
TO WHITE HOUSE (ATTN: MR ARTHUR MCCAFFERTY)
ZEM
T O P S E C R E T TRINE

TRANSMITTED HEREWITH IS A [REDACTED] MESSAGE.
PLEASE ADVISE IF ANY LIMITATIONS ON DISTRIBUTION ARE REQUIRED.
THIS MESSAGE WAS TRANSMITTED TO THE WHITE HOUSE ONLY.
[REDACTED]
XXMMENP01FTB23108
3/0/[REDACTED] -68
[REDACTED]

THIEU’S VIEWS ON NLF PARTICIPATION IN VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT

XXCC
[REDACTED] 19 OCT 68 [REDACTED]
[REDACTED]

[REDACTED] OF WHAT PRESIDENT THIEU SAID
[REDACTED] ON 18 OCTOBER.

1. President Thieu pointed out the facts that had been discussed [REDACTED] along with what was reported [REDACTED] concerning the NLF delegation’s eligibility to participate in political talks, the thing they cannot come to an agreement on, President Thieu said he concurs on the items that were agreed upon at the unofficial talks between the U.S. and North Vietnamese delegations, and, as for what U.S. ambassador to Korea Porter said, the problem lies in the understanding.

He said that the reason for the Vietnamese government opposing the NLF’s participation in the political talks in an independent capacity is that the Vietnamese constitution holds the communist party to be illegal, and the point is that the NLF shifts its position at Hanoi’s beck and call; accordingly, ((Thieu)) is adopting the viewpoint that it is all right for the ((NLF)) to participate as a member of Hanoi’s delegation. He said that in the event that the NLF delegation participates in an independent capacity it would not merely mean that we are legalizing the communist party, but the communist side would maintain their coalition, and since we do not know what demands thy would make on the U.S. and Vietnamese governments, we must prevent this.

NSA Thieu report (2)

4. In this matter of the NLF delegation’s eligibility, he is conscious of the necessity of [REDACTED] clearly to the U.S. side the Vietnamese government’s viewpoint before the opening of the political talks. The reason for this is that, for the sake of protecting ourselves against the great possibility, after the political talks are held, of U.S. and world opinion criticizing just the Vietnamese government one-sidedly when the Vietnamese government’s delegation thinks the circumstances ((dictated)) withdrawing from the site of the talks on the NLF matter.

5. [REDACTED] as to whether or not the Vietnamese are opposing the U.S. in this and concerning the possibility ((of the U.S.)) making a decisive move to halt the bombing alone; the following [REDACTED]

He said the U.S. can, of course, cease bombing, but is unable to block Vietnam ((from bombing)). Concerning the enforcement of the bombing halt, this will help candidate Humphrey and this is the purpose of it; but the situation which would occur as the result of a bombing halt, without the agreement of Vietnamese government, rather than being a disadvantage to candidate Humphrey, would be to the advantage of candidate Nixon. Accordingly, he said that the possibility of President Johnson enforcing a bombing halt without Vietnam’s agreement appears to be weak; [REDACTED] just how effective can it be within the short time before the election, even though it is effectively enforced?

6. He said that since the military and political situations within Vietnam are developing to our advantage, the longer we can delay the time ((of the bombing halt)) the greater will be the advantage to the Vietnamese side.

7. He said that in the even the present government recognize the NLF, they will lose the confidence of the people and would not be able to ([REDACTED] control) them. Military authorities or a group of powerful anti-communist people might undertake a revolution.

8. At this time, [REDACTED] to President Thieu the new stand that [REDACTED] the President is adopting, as in item two of [REDACTED] that there is no difference between Korea’s stand in the matter and that of the Vietnamese government, shed light on the point that ((Korea)) is strongly backing ((the Vietnamese government)) and [REDACTED] the opinion that it is best that [REDACTED] two countries work closely together and take as much time as possible ((on these matters).

[REDACTED]
((A)) Not available.
((B)) In series check.
[REDACTED]
XXHH
800

20 The original file can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Direct link to audio file (mp3 format) is: 13706. Transcript is partly my own and partly from “Did Nixon Commit Treason in 1968? What The New LBJ Tapes Reveal.”

DIRKSEN
Hello?

JOHNSON
Everett, how are you?

DIRKSEN
All right.

JOHNSON
I want to talk to you as a friend, and very confidentially, because I think that we’re skirting on dangerous ground. I thought I ought to give you the facts, and you ought to pass them on if you choose. If you don’t, why, then I will a little later.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
We have, on October the 13th, an agreement where Thieu and Ky, considering the bombing halt. At that time, President Thieu stressed, quote There must not be a long delay.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
That is, a delay between the halt and the conference.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
On October the 15th, Thieu agreed to a proposal that we worked out of 36 hours.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
On October the 23rd, after the North Vietnamese demanded two or three weeks, Thieu reluctantly agreed to three days delay. On October the 28th, we agreed on the joint announcement.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Bunker and Abrams reached an explicit agreement with Thieu that the gap between the bombing and the talks would be two or three days. With three days the outer limit. Both Thieu and Ky stressed on us the importance of a minimum delay.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Then we got some of our friends involved. Some of it’s your old China crowd…

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And…here’s the latest information we’ve got: the agent says that she’s- they’ve just talked to the boss [Nixon] in New Mexico, and that he says that you must hold out, that . . . Just hold on until after the election.

Now, we know what Thieu is saying to ‘em out there. We’re pretty well informed on both ends. Now Nixon’s man travelling with him today, said quote He did not understand that Thieu was not aboard. Did you see that?

DIRKSEN
No, I didn’t. Who was that?

JOHNSON
We don’t know…no idea. He speaks through these unknown people. Now, we told Nixon as we told Thieu…now, let me get the transcript. While this was going on, we went out to Thieu and talked to him, and all of our allied countries, and they all tentatively agreed. Now. Since that agreement, we have had problems develop. First, there’s been speeches that we ought to withdraw troops. That was Humphrey and Bundy. Or: that we stop bombing, without getting anything in return. Or: some of our folks, including some of the old China Lobby, are going to the Vietnamese embassy and saying, please notify the President, that if he’ll hold out till November 2nd, they can get a better deal.

JOHNSON
Now, I’m reading their hand, Everett. I don’t want to get this in the campaign.

DIRKSEN
That’s right.

JOHNSON
And they oughtn’t to be doing this. This is treason.

DIRKSEN
I know.

JOHNSON
I don’t know whether it’s [Melvin] Laird; I don’t know who it is that is putting it out, but here is the UPI [item number] 48 that came in tonight.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And I’m calling you only after talking to [Dean] Rusk and [Clark] Clifford and all of ‘em, who thought that somebody ought to be notified as to what’s happening.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Here’s the Nixon release. “A highly placed aide to Richard Nixon said today: the South Vietnamese decision to boycott the Paris talks did not jibe with the confidential assurances given the three major candidates by Johnson. We had the impression that all the diplomatic ducks were in a row, said the Nixon associate.” Now, I just read you what I told them.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And I told you that, and I told everyone else. “Johnson got Nixon, democratic candidate Humphrey, and third party hopeful Wallace on a conference call about the bombing. The adviser,” Nixon’s adviser, “volunteered the GOP candidate’s reaction on the condition that he not be identified. Nixon said that the adviser felt that Saigon’s refusal to attend the negotiations could jeopardize the military and the diplomatic situation in Vietnam. And reflect the credibility of this administration.”

JOHNSON
Now, I can identify ‘em, because I know who’s doing this. I don’t want to identify it. I think it would shock America if a principal candidate was playing with a source like this on a matter this important.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
I don’t want to do that.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
But if they’re going to put this kind of stuff out, they ought to know that…we know what they’re doing. I know who they’re talking to, and I know what they’re saying. And my judgement is, that Nixon oughta play it just like he has all along. That I want to see peace come the first day we can. That’s not going to affect the election one way or the other. The conference is not even going to be held until after the election. They have stopped shelling the cities. They have stopped going across the DMZ. We’ve had twenty four hours of relative peace. Now, if Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the conference, well, that’s going to be his responsibility. Up to this point, that’s why they’re not there. I had them signed on board until this happened.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Well, now, what do you think we ought to do about it?

DIRKSEN
Well, I better get in touch with him, I think, and tell him about it.

JOHNSON
I think you better tell him that his people are saying to these folks that they oughtn’t to go through with this meeting [in Paris]. Now, if they don’t go through with the meeting, it’s not going to be me that’s hurt. I think it’s going to be whoever’s elected.

DIRKSEN
That’s right.

JOHNSON
It may be-my guess-him.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And I think they’re making a very serious mistake, and I don’t want to say this.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And you’re the only one I’m going to say it to.

DIRKSEN
Yeah. I understood they’re gonna be in Texas tonight.

JOHNSON
I don’t know. All I know is that, I read you what I told him, the three candidates, just as I told you. I said, now, there has been speeches that some we oughta withdraw troops, and including some of the old China crowd, going in and implying to the embassies.

JOHNSON
Now, Everett, I know what happens there. You see what I mean?

DIRKSEN
I do.

JOHNSON
And I’m looking at his hole card.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Now, I don’t want to get in a fight with him there. I think Nixon’s gonna to be elected.

DIRKSEN
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And I think we ought to have peace, and I’m going to work with him.

DIRKSEN
That’s right.

JOHNSON
I’ve worked with you.

DIRKSEN
That’s right.

JOHNSON
[with Dirksen assenting] But I don’t want these sons of bitches like Laird giving out announcements like this, that Johnson gave them the wrong impression. I gave them the right impression, except I gave it to him decently, when I said that you ought to keep the Mrs. Chennaults and all the rest of ‘em from running around here. Now, you see, I know what Thieu says to his people out there.

DIRKSEN
Yeah. I haven’t seen Laird.

JOHNSON
Well, I don’t know who it is that’s with Nixon. It may be Laird. It may be [Bryce] Harlow. It may be [John] Mitchell. I don’t know who it is.

I know this: that they’re contacting a foreign power in the middle of a war.

DIRKSEN
That’s a mistake!

JOHNSON
And it’s a damn bad mistake.

DIRKSEN
Oh, it is.

JOHNSON
[with Dirksen assenting] And I don’t want to say you, and you’re the only man that I have enough confidence in to tell ‘em. But you better tell ‘em they better quit playing with it, and the day after the election, I’ll sit down with all of you and try to work it out and try and be helpful. But they oughtn’t knock out this conference.

DIRKSEN
Wherever they are, I’ll try and get hold of them.

JOHNSON
Well, there are two things they ought to do. One is, they ought to stop this business of trying to stop this conference from taking place. It takes place the day after the election.

DIRKSEN
Exactly.

JOHNSON
The second thing is, we can all sit down and talk about it after that time. I’m not a bitter partisan here, and you know it.

DIRKSEN
I know. Well, I’ll try and find a way wherever they are tonight.

JOHNSON
Well, you just tell them that their people are messing around in this thing and if they don’t want it on the front pages, they better quit it, number one. Number two, we better sit down and talk about it, soon as this thing is over with, we’ll try to work out an- and they ought to tell their people that are contacting these embassies to go on with the conference.

DIRKSEN
Okay. I agree.

21 See footnote #1.

22 See footnote #1.

23 See footnote #19.

24 See footnote #19.

25 See footnote #19.

26 See footnote #19.

27 The original file can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Direct link to audio file (mp3 format) is: 13710. Transcript from “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968 Volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969, Document 187″.

28 Audio is taken from file on youtube “Smathers LBJ VN68″, via “Did Nixon Commit Treason in 1968? What The New LBJ Tapes Reveal.”. The following transcript is partly my own, and partly taken from “Did Nixon Commit Treason”.

I was unable to obtain the time and date of this conversation from “Highlights from LBJ’s Telephone Conversations: May 1968 – January 1969″. However, one can determine that it took place late in the day of November 3, 1968 from this phone call summary. Document taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’”:

Smathers to Johnson White House summary

THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON

Senator Smathers called to report on a call he got from Nixon. Nixon said he understands the President is ready to blast him for allegedly collaborating with Tower and Chennault to slow the peace talks. Nixon says there is not any truth at all in this allegation. Nixon says there has been no contact at all.

Tonight on “Meet the Press” Nixon will again back up the Presient and say he (Nixon) would rather get peace now than be President. Also tomorrow night, Nixon will say he will undertake any assignment the President has for him whether that be to go to Hanoi or Paris or whatever in order to get peace.

Nixon told Smathers he hoped the President would not make such a charge.

JimJ
11:25 am
11-3-68

JOHNSON
Then our friend-not the Vice President, but the former Vice President-

SMATHERS
Yeah.

JOHNSON
His folks get into it. And they say that they know how to deal with these communists, and they’re not going to be soft on ‘em. And if they’re elected, they’ll see it right on through with ‘em, and that they’ll get a whole lot better deal with Nixon than they will with Johnson.

Now, first, that comes out of one of his associates, one of his top businesspersons. That was communicated to us by means that we have of knowing it. And it was rather shocking, in the light of what he said. So I started personally watching the traffic myself, and the next day, the traffic shows that that is going in and out of Saigon.

Do you follow me?

SMATHERS
Yeah.

JOHNSON
I’m not guessing, George. I know what I’m doing, you see. [They said] that Nixon is going to win; therefore, they ought to wait on Nixon.

So what he’s doing-my judgment is, on the surface, he was playing that he didn’t want to undercut me.

SMATHERS
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Under the table, his people-and this, I think, you can tell him for sure; there’s no doubt about it-his people (a) business-wise, and (b) political-wise were saying that you ought to wait on Dick.

Now, that’s got it pretty well screwed up.

SMATHERS
Yeah, it does.

JOHNSON
That’s a hell of a note, and it’s a sad thing for people that got boys out here [in Vietnam], to have folks leaving these impressions.

SMATHERS
Right.

JOHNSON
They’re going around and implying to some of the embassies that they might get a better deal out of somebody that was not involved in this-the “somebody not involved” is what they refer to as “their boss.”

SMATHERS
Right.

JOHNSON
“Their boss” is the code word for Mr. Nixon.

SMATHERS
Right. Right.

JOHNSON
It’s just this simple: as soon as they say that to ‘em, they go out to Saigon with it. And we know pretty well what goes to Saigon.

SMATHERS
Yeah.

JOHNSON
Then when it goes to Saigon, he [Thieu] calls his people in, and he gives them instructions. And we know pretty well what happens in that room.

SMATHERS
Right.

JOHNSON
I don’t want you to go into that with Nixon, but . . .

SMATHERS
I won’t.

JOHNSON
That’s what’s hurting the country.

SMATHERS
Right.

JOHNSON
And obviously, it’s so sensitive, I can’t do anything about it, except just say, “Quit it.”

SMATHERS
Right.

JOHNSON
Now, I don’t say that he is doing it-I don’t know that he is. But I know what [Mel] Laird did on the plane a week ago.

SMATHERS
Yeah.

JOHNSON
And then he [Nixon] comes out and always defends me.

SMATHERS
Right.

JOHNSON
Then [California Lt. Gov. Robert] Finch comes out and defends me. It’s just like Lady Bird saying “Smathers is a crook,” and I say, “I don’t believe what Lady Bird said.”

29 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

eyes only cable Saville Davis Bui Diem

30 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

Saville Davis goes to White House for comment

31 The original file can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Direct link to audio file (mp3 format) is: 13711. Transcript taken from “Transcript from “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968 Volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969, Document 188″.

32 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry. The transcript is my own:

Walt Rostow Memo November 4 1968

EEA692
Q0 WTE10
DE WTE 4228

FROM WALT W ROSTOW
TO THE PRESIDENT
CITE CAP82683

S E C R E T SENSITIVE EYES ONLY

DELIVER DIRECT TO THE PRESIDENT

FROM WALT ROSTOW

NOVEMBER 4, 1968

I have just returned from a meeting of over an hour with Sec. Rusk and Sec. Clifford on the China matter.

1. With respect to the passage of the transcript which I had them read, they agreed that Nixon appeared clear in mind that the talks might not begin and you had made clear that they might not begin. We noted, however, that the immediately [sic] following statement could have induced some further ambiguity which Nixon did not follow up at the time: quote Dick, the talks will be held. We have a firm agreement that the North Vietnamese will bring the NLF in and the South Vietnamese will be permitted to attend. End quote.

2. With respect to McCloskey, pursuant to your instructions Sec. Rusk and Sec. Clifford agreed to instruct him to say to Saville Davis: quote obviously I’m not going to get into this kind of thing in any way, shape or form, end quote. He was so instructed in the presence of the two secretaries and myself. Having returned to my office, I have just received a report from McCloskey on his interview with Saville Davis. Saville Davis began by saying: quote I assume you will not be able to comment on this. End quote. He then showed McCloskey the story which was along the lines familiar to you. The story was headed by Beverly Deepe: quote this must be checked with the Nixon people before publication. End quote.

Saville Davis volunteered that his newspaper would certainly not print the story in the form in which it was filed; but they might print a story which said Thieu, on his own, decided to hold out until after the election.

Incidentally, the story as filed is stated to be based on Vietnamese sources, and not U.S., in Saigon

With respect to the body of information that we now have available, all three of us agreed to the following propositions:

–the information sources must be protected and not introduced into domestic politics.

–even with these sources, the case is not open and shut. On the question of the “public’s right to know,” Sec. Rusk was very strong on the following position: we get information like this every day, some of it very damaging to american political figures. We have always taken the view that with respect to such sources there is no public “right to know.” Such information is collected simply for the purposes of national security.

–so far as the information based on such sources is concerned, all three of us agreed: (A) even if the story breaks, it was judged too late to have a significant impact on the election. (B) the viability of the man elected as president was involved as well as subsequent relations between him and President Johnson. (C) therefore, the common recommendation was that we should not encourage such stories and hold tight the data we have.

Immediately following is a further item which just came in. (I assume that Bui Diem brought her in to tell her about Saville Davis’ visit.)

QUOTE
On the morning of November Four, Nineteen SixtyEight, Mrs. Anna Chennault traveled in her Lincoln Continental from her residence to the Vietnamese embassy where she remained for approximately thirty minutes and thereafter went to room

33 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

Nov 7 Cover Letter Nov 7 Report

34 The original file can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Direct link to audio file (mp3 format) is: 13722.

Transcript is my own.

OPERATOR
Senator.

DIRKSEN
Hello?

JOHNSON
Hello.

DIRKSEN
Hello?

JOHNSON
Yes?

DIRKSEN
I talked to Dick this morning.

JOHNSON
Yes Edward.

DIRKSEN
He’s coming to see you about this, at 1:30 is my understanding.

JOHNSON
Yes?

DIRKSEN
And, he has your background. Now, I hated the words. I said, it seems they sent some of their boys out to spy, and tell them to wait. So you’ll know that he knows the story.

JOHNSON
Well, what was his reaction?

DIRKSEN
Well. He said he didn’t send anybody. Well, maybe not. But maybe somebody else sent somebody. But-

JOHNSON
What was his reaction to the request that he tell somebody to go on and get that Paris meeting?

DIRKSEN
He didn’t give me very much reaction. He just cindered a little by saying “We didn’t do anything.” Well, that may well be, but there a lot of those people in (inaudible). You’ll know the kind of background that you have to talk to him to.

JOHNSON
Well, now the point is this’ll not going to wait till Monday. No no. Hell no. This’ll go right now. Because if they don’t go in there this week, we’re just gonna have all kinds of problems.

DIRKSEN
I thought from the arrangement that was made, coming up here on Monday, that’d be satisfactory.

JOHNSON
No, I told you last night, I oughta, I thought I’d hear early this morning, cuz we want Thieu to get a message so he can get a delegation Saigon to Paris next week. We think we’ve held up just every day, we’re killing men. We’re killing men.

DIRKSEN
This arrangement from Monday was made through Jim [Jim Jones].

JOHNSON
Yes, he called. Jim’s, his man talked to Jim Jones, said they were coming this way, and they’d be here Monday, so we told them, come in and have lunch. So, they’re coming to lunch. But what I’m hoping, that he will do, I think it’d be better if he didn’t have it direct from me, I think what he oughta do is just this simple thing: say “I have said I’m supporting our President.” Now: he thinks that the South Vietnamese should be at that Paris conference. And I’m supporting that, that’s my position. He oughta tell the Chennaults, and the rest of them, that by god, to get that word out there.

DIRKSEN
He said he was going to Paris if you wanted him too.

JOHNSON
No, I don’t want any travels, all I wanna him do is to get to Paris, to get the delegation there. That’s the way- Don’t do me any good for me to go there, or him to go there. We just need the Saigon delegation. Because you can imagine what Thieu and Mansfield are going to have, if we’ve got a peace conference and this fellow won’t even attend it.

DIRKSEN
I do.

JOHNSON
Now, what he does at that conference is another matter. We have told him we would not be for a coalition government, we told him we would not be for a recognizing the NLF, but he must go to the conference. Because we can’t get him one vote in the Senate if he refuses to even talk.

DIRKSEN
Well, I said that after he made the arrangements with Jim that you would’ve been informed by-

JOHNSON
No no. He didn’t mention this at all. I just told Jim to tell them. When he wanted to see me, I would be delighted to see them. But: that I had given you a message last night, that was urgent. That we’re killing men every day, while they’re sitting there doing nothing. Now if Saigon doesn’t come to that meeting, I don’t know what we’ll have to do. Rusk is ready to brief Dick, if he wants briefing. But Saigon now thinks that they will play this out and keep this thing going on. Until January the twentieth. We think that’s a mistake.

DIRKSEN
I had to shop over all of hell’s creation to find him. And all that got him here, well I guess it was a lot about (inaudible).

JOHNSON
Well, you call him and you tell him that I think this is urgent enough that he should send word to the South Vietnamese, either through me or through them. If he wants to give me a message, I’ll carry it, if he wants to go direct through the embassy, he can do it. I told him, I was gonna call you. And say, to them, that he supports the president and they should send a delegation there. And do it quick.

DIRKSEN
I’ll do my best.

JOHNSON
Thank you.

35 The original file can be found at “Highlights from LBJ’S Telephone Conversations May 1968-January 1969″. Direct link to audio file (mp3 format) is: 13723. Transcript is from the Miller Center Presidential Recordings Program, “WH6811-04-13723-13724-13725″.

36 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

Nov 7 Cover Letter

Cable on Chennault and Bui Diem

37 From “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968 Volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969, Document 212″:

212. Editorial Note

In a telephone conversation on November 12, 1968, President Johnson discussed the Anna Chennault affair with FBI Deputy Director Cartha Dekle “Deke” DeLoach. Johnson told DeLoach that he had “some pretty good information” and “hard” evidence that the most significant directive from the Republican campaign to the South Vietnamese Government occurred by way of a November 2 communication between Vice Presidential candidate Spiro Agnew and Anna Chennault. The President therefore requested that DeLoach check all of the telephone calls originating from the telephone connection in Agnew’s chartered campaign plane at the Albuquerque airport. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and DeLoach, November 12, 1968, 8:30 p.m., Tape F6811.03, PNO 1)

38 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

Thieu account two emmissaries (1) Thieu account two emmissaries (2)

Thieu account two emmissaries (3) Thieu account two emmissaries (4)

Thieu account two emmissaries (5) Thieu account two emmissaries (6)

39 See footnote #19.

40 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry. A full transcript of the article:

Columnist Georgie Ann Geyer Sabotage of Peace Ta

CHICAGO DAILY NEWS, Friday, November 15, 1968

Saigon boast: “We helped elect Nixon”

By Georgie Anne Geyer
Daily News Foreign Service

SAIGON – Top Saigon officials are boasting privately they helped assure the election of Richard M. Nixon.

They are pleased about it. “We did it,” one of them said. “We helped elect an American President.”

Their reasoning is that by sabotaging President Johnson’s attempt to call a bombing halt two weeks before the elections they eliminated the support this would have brought for Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

“FIFTEEN DAYS would have done it,” one cabinet minister said, obviously pleased, “but four days wasn’t enough, and we saw to that.”

The same minister charged, privately, that since last spring, when the United States began meetings with Hanoi in Paris, Washington has been “working for Hanoi.” The Saigon government characterizes any negotiation with its enemy as tantamount to treason.

But with Nixon as President, they believe they will have not only a more understanding fellow hard-liner but also will have time. “Johnson was under pressures to get this thing over,” the minister said, “but Nixon will have at least six months or a year.”

THE GOVERNMENT has long said it does not want peace now, that it wants it only when it controls more of the country and can make better use of it. The reasoning is: “We are winning now. Why should we give up anything?”

To many American officials here it is offensive that the government for which Mr. Johnson literally gave up the Presidency and sacrificed his political career should treat him in this way.

These officials predict, with grim satisfaction, that the Saigon government will be unpleasantly surprised with the man they think the helped put in the White House.

NIXON HAS already voiced his solidarity with President Johnson’s policies. He appointed Robert Murphy, a diplomat of long experience [to] be his liaison man with [missing] White House on foreign p[olicy] during the two-months [in]terlude before Nixon take[s of]fice.

Murphy is not consider[ed to] be the kind of man to c[omfort] dependent if obstrepe[rous] allies.

41 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry. A full transcript of the article:

Columnist Drew Pearson Jack Anderson Sabotage of

Washington-Saigon Feud

Details Leak Out of Backstage Fight Between U.S. and South Vietnam

By Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson

THE EXPLOSIVE details have now leaked out about the backstage blowup between the United States and South Vietnam, which threatened to wreck the Paris peace negotiations before they start.

All along the South Vietnamese had agreed, in principle, to a bombing halt, provided they were given a place at the truce table. As the delicate negotiations were about to bear fruit, however, they suddenly began throwing up procedural objections. In both Paris and Saigon, the Americans and South Vietnamese wound up shouting angry insults at each other.

The South Vietnamese leaders become convinced that President Johnson was trying to rush through an agreement on a bombing halt just before the election in order to win votes for Hubert Humphrey. They felt strongly that LBJ was selling them out, that he was more concerned about winning the election than winning the war.

The President, meanwhile, learned that Saigon’s Ambassador Bui Diem had been in touch secretly with Richard Nixon’s people. There were unconfirmed reports that South Vietnamese leaders had even slipped campaign cash to Nixon representatives. These reports made Mr. Johnson suspicious that the South Vietnamese were trying to sabotage the peace negotiations in the hope that Nixon would win the election and take a harder line.

THE FINAL BLOWUP really was sparked in Paris, where Ambassador Averell Harriman had carefully kept Saigon’s chief observer. Pham Dang Lam, informed on the progress of the bombing halt negotiations.

Lam understood of course that the National Liberation Front would accompany the North Vietnamese delegation to the conference. But he began bickering over whether they would sit apart from the Hanoi delegation and whether they would be allowed to display the Vietcong flag.

When he demanded that the NLF be regarded as part of the Hanoi delegation and that the negotiations be billed as a three-power conference, Harriman exploded.

“All your pretensions are out of this world!” he is reported to have scolded.

After an angry exchange, Harriman told Lam bluntly: “Your government does not represent all of South Vietnam, Mr. Ambassador, and you would do well to remember that.”

The infuriated Lam fired off a scathing cable to Saigon, accusing the Americans of tricking the South Vietnamese. The cable quoted Harriman as stating that Hanoi had agreed to nothing except that a South Vietnamese delegation could be seated.

AS IT HAPPENED, the cable arrived while President Nguyen Van Thieu and Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky were conferring in Saigon’s Independence Palace with U.S. Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and Deputy Ambassador Samuel Berger.

They had already agreed upon a joint statement which would have announced the bombing halt and the expanded peace conference. At South Vietnamese insistence, they had also agreed to add: “The two Presidents wish to make it clear that neither the Republic of Vietnam nor the United States will recognize the National Liberation Front as an entity separate from North Vietnam.”

The approval of the joint communique seemed to clear the way for a bombing halt. When Bunker informed Thieu that the peace talks would begin on Nov. 2, however, the South Vietnamese President balked. He secretly believed, it later came out, that the date had been set to help Humphrey on the eve of the Nov. 5 election.

Thieu objected that the South Vietnamese delegation couldn’t possibly be ready in time for a Nov. 2 meeting. It would take time, he said, to arrange the accreditation and transportation.

At this point, Lam’s explosive cable was delivered to President Thieu. His face clouded as he read it and he asked the Americans to step into the next room so he could consult with his advisers. After the consultation, an angry Thieu handed Bunker the cable and demanded an explanation. Bunker suggested that Lam must have misunderstood Harriman and promised to return with a clarification.

It was 1 a.m. Saigon time when Bunker and Berger hurried back to the American Embassy. They put through an urgent phone call to President Johnson, who dictated a letter to Thieu over the phone. In the letter, the President stated that he had no idea what Lam was talking about and that the United States would be bound by Bunker’s word.

Bunker hand-delivered the letter to President Thieu at 2:30 a.m. and the bombing halt was postponed 24 hours while the South Vietnamese stewed over it.

THE NEXT meeting was heated. Thieu said he had never understood that the NLF would be accepted in Paris as an independent delegation. He demanded “firm and unequivocal assurances” from Hanoi that the Paris negotiations would be between Saigon and Hanoi, not Saigon and the NLF.

Ambassador Berger replied that President Johnson had made a commitment to end the bombing and indicated that he would go ahead without Saigon’s approval. Thieu asked Berger acidly whether he was a “representative from Hanoi” and said South Vietnam couldn’t stop President Johnson from doing whatever he wanted.

Ironically, both Bunker and Berger have glowingly praised Thieu in their secret dispatches to Washington and have quietly supported him in his political struggles with his flamboyant Vice President Ky. As evidence that Thieu and Ky now stood together against Washington, however, Ky stood dramatically behind Thieu’s chair.

“You have been asking me for a year to stand behind this man,” Ky told Berger. “Well, I am standing behind him now.”

© 1968. Bell-McClure Syndicate Inc.

42 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry. The transcript is my own:

FBI Intercept Bui Diem Chennault visited embassy

4:45PM 1-3-69 JDR
PRIORITY
TO WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM, ATT.: MR. BROMLEY SMITH 004

WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM
’69 JAN 3 PM 5:11

S E C R E T – NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION

EMBASSY OF VIETNAM; INTERNAL SECURITY – VIETNAM.

On January Three, instant, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, furnished the following information:

On the same date, Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem, Washington, D.C. (WDC), was in contact with Richard Dudman of the WDC bureau of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, this bureau having previously attempted to contact Ambassador Diem on instant date. Dudman made reference to an article which has been written for the St. Louis Dispatch, about Anna Chennault, concerning reports that Chennault had frequently been in touch with Vietnamese officials in WDC, encouraging Vietnamese officials to go slow with respect to expanded peace talks in Paris. Ambassador Diem denied these reports, stating that Vietnamese decisions are based

END PAGE ONE

PAGE TWO (S E C R E T – NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION)

on a lot of factors, mainly the problems at home (Vietnam), and not on internal politics in the United States.

Dudman questioned as to whether there had not been some concern by the White House, or by Vice President Humphrey about Chennault’s activities, further that the St. Louis Post Dispatch had information to this effect and that there had been some kind of inquiry or complaint to the Vietnamese embassy, WDC, in this regard. Ambassador Diem denied this information, commenting that he (Diem) had been in touch with many friends in WDC, both Democrats and Republicans, and again denied knowledge of an inquiry or complaint in such a matter.

According to the source, Ambassador Diem, in response to a direct question by Dudman, denied that he (Diem) had been in contact with, or had attempted to contact, President-Elect Nixon during the weeks prior to the election on November Five, last. Dudman then questioned the relationship of Mrs. Chennault to the

END PAGE TWO

PAGE THREE (S E C R E T – NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION)

Vietnamese embassy, to which Ambassador Diem commented that Chennault had been in Vietnam for many years and had many Vietnamese friends. Dudman questioned as to whether Chennault had not been a frequent visitor to the Vietnamese embassy, WDC, and Ambassador Diem commented that Chennault has visited the Vietnamese embassy from time to time, but not frequently.

Dudman questioned as to when Chennault was last at the Vietnamese embassy, WDC, and when ambassador Diem could not recall exact dates, Dudman questioned as to whether Chennault had not been to the Vietnamese embassy during the weeks prior to the presidential election, but again Diem stated he could not recall exact dates.

Diem commented that he hoped they were speaking as friends and that his (Diem’s) name would not be mentioned. Dudman agreed and tentative arrangements were made to lunch together on January Eight, next.

According to the source, later on the same day another representative of the St. Louis Post Dispatch attempted to contact Ambassador Diem, but was unsuccessful.
GP-1

END AND PLS ACK

WH QSL K
DE WH AND ACK 004

43 Taken from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry. The transcript is my own:

Tom Johnson letter to LBJ about Ottendad and Hal

February 11, 1970

MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD:

Tom Ottenad, St. Louis Post Despatch, came to my academic office, BEB 716, at 3:50 p.m. yesterday afternoon.

He said he had two objectives: first, to explore the role of Mrs. Chennault in October-November 1968; second, to get historical background perspective on the war in Vietnam.

With respect to the first, I told him that I would say “not one word.” He went on to say that that was the position I took when he approached me in Washington; but certain other people who had taken that position, whom he had now seen, have given him further information. I said: “I am not in that category. I will say not one word.”

He said, “Is there any way I could change your view by giving you absolute assurances that what you told me would never be attributed?”

I said: “No. I will say not one word.”

He then went on to ask about where the war in Vietnam now stands against the background of events since 1958. I told him I did not mind talking about the broad history of the war if it were understood that it would be on deep background, with no attribution whatsoever unless I were to give explicit permission for what he would use. I then gave him an absolutely harmless account of events in certain time phases as follows:

– 1958-61: the improvement form the end of 1961 to May 1963;

– The accelerating disintegration from May 1963 until early 1964; the improvement down to Tet;

– The very radical improvement in latter 1968 and early 1969 after recovery from Tet.

He volunteered that the Nixon people have now made an assessment that Tet was the favorable turning point in the war and now have a view of the significance of Tet identical with that of the Johnson Administration.

I then left to play tennis.

Walt Rostow

Tom Ottendad attempts to interview Johnson about

return to Tom.

yb
2/27/70

ADMINISTRATION ADMINISTRATIVE MEMO

1:00 p. m.

MR. PRESIDENT:

I talked with Bob Haldeman on February 25. I told him we appreciated the contributions of Colonel Borman and Dr. Robert Gilruth from NASA.

I asked Bob had he heard anything about the Ottenad-St. Louis Post-Dispatch questions. Bob said he had not, although Ottenad had written about the Madame Chennault episode last year. I told Bob the type of questions which were being asked and that nobody had been authorized by President Johnson to say one word on the matter. I told him that President Johnson had been requested to see Ottenad but had refused,” so had I.

I also told Bob that all of our people in Austin had been directed not to say anything on the matter and had followed that guidance.

Haldeman said he was most appreciative that we had advised him of this information and would keep the telephone call completely confidential. He said that it looked as if the Post-Dispatch was trying to stir up more trouble on this matter and they sure did not need that.

Haldeman seemed genuinely pleased and surprised that we would call on such a matter and expressed his thanks again for the attitude we have been taking toward President Nixon.

Tom Johnson

44 A transcript of the document, retrieved from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry.

Was Saigon Peace Talk Delay Due To Saigon Promis

45 A transcript of the full article, retrieved from “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry:

Was Saigon’s peace talk delay due to Republican promises?

TOM OTTENAD

January 6, 1969

WASHINGTON – A well-known top official of committees working for the election of Richard M. Nixon secretly got in touch with representatives of South Vietnam shortly before the presidential election.

It was in connection with an apparent effort to encourage them to delay in joining the Paris peace talks in hopes of getting a better deal if the Republicans won the White House.

The government of South Vietnam had been expected to join the Paris discussions soon after President Lyndon B. Johnson announced plans on Oct. 31 to bring both it and the Communist National Liberation Front into the peace talks and to halt all American bombing of North Vietnam. However, it delayed doing so for four weeks.

Its action is credited by some political experts, including some of Nixon’s staff, with cutting the loss of votes that his aides believe he suffered in the election from the last-minute peace move. In this view, the Vietnamese delay lent credence to Republican charges that Mr. Johnson’s action was a political maneuver to help the Democratic candidate, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

Informed diplomats as well as administration sources and a number of Republicans, including some within Nixon’s own organization, have said that Republican contact with South Vietnamese representatives was made by Mrs. Anna Chennault. The initial contact was reported to have been made a few days before Mr. Johnson’s Oct. 31 announcement.

A high ranking official at the South Vietnamese Embassy here said it was “entirely untrue” that Mrs. Chennault had urged officials of his government to go slow in joining the Paris peace talks. He said:

“There has been a lot of speculation about our attitude in the talks. We base our decision on a lot of factors and not on internal politics here.”

He conceded that he and his colleagues had been “in touch with a lot of our friends, both Democrats and Republicans.” He did not identify them.

The official said Mrs. Chennault had had a long relationship with South Vietnam. She is a visitor at the embassy here “from time to time – not really frequently,” he added.

Mrs. Chennault, widow of Gen Claire L Chennault, commander of the World War II Flying Tigers, was co-chairman with Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower of the Women for Nixon-Agnew National Advisory Committee and a vice chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee.

She was a hard-working fund-raiser and said she collected more than $250,000 for Nixon’s campaign. Campaign records on file in the House of Representatives show that she contributed at least $1000 herself to the G.O.P. presidential campaign.

About the same time, in a separate move, representatives of South Vietnam reportedly made contact with the Nixon camp two or three times, unsuccessfully seeking a meeting with the Republican presidential candidate and hinting that their government would put off until after the Nov. 5 election any move toward joining the Paris negotiations.

Herbert G. Klein, director of communications for the President-elect, and other Nixon aides have said that Nixon had no personal connection with either action. Both moves were said to be contrary to his expressed wish and his avowed policy of avoiding any action that might jeopardize chances for peace.

The aides say further that the reported Republican contact with South Vietnamese sources was an individual action that had not been authorized by Nixon. As for the overtures from the South Vietnamese to the Republican organization, they say that, on Nixon’s instructions, these were ignored.

Mrs. Chennault, who was born in Peking is of Chinese descent, but became an American citizen in 1950. She is a vice chairman of one of the committees planning Nixon’s inauguration Jan. 20. The attractive 45-year-old woman, who claims many friends in high government and Republican circles, is to be escorted to the inaugural ball by Gov. Warren P. Knowles of Wisconsin, it was announced recently. Her name figures in speculation for possible appointment to a key position in the Nixon administration.

In a recent interview, she declined to confirm or deny reports that she had been in frequent touch with representatives of the South Vietnamese Embassy shortly before the Nov. 5 election. “Who told you that?” she asked with a half smile.

In response to further questions the petite, vivacious woman, who rates Bui Diem, South Vietnam’s ambassador to the U.S., and other diplomats and world leaders among her friends, refused to give much information.

“You’re going to get me in a lot of trouble,” she remarked. Toying with the high collar of her Chinese-style dress, a personal fashion trademark, she continued with a laugh:

“I can’t say anything…come back and ask me that after the inauguration. We’re at a very sensitive time…I know so much and can say so little.”

Asked whether others had made contact with the South Vietnamese she replied enigmatically, “I certainly was not alone at that time.”

Friends of Mrs. Chennault have said that she was in sympathy with high South Vietnamese officials, including some of the country’s embassy here, who favored awaiting the outcome of the American presidential election before making any move toward joining the Paris peace negotiations.

High administration sources here say that key South Vietnamese officials generally favored the election of Nixon over Humphrey. They say also that they received information from Saigon indicating that many believe South Vietnamese officials there believed Mrs. Chennault was acting on Nixon’s behalf in contacts with representatives of that country. They termed this belief understandable in view of South Vietnam’s reputation for political intrigue.

When told that the Nixon forces disclaimed any connection with her reported actions, Mrs. Chennault remarked with a laugh: “You’ve covered politics. What would you expect? In politics nothing is fair.”

Asked whether she had feared that Mr. Johnson’s peace initiative might cost Nixon the presidential election, she said, “I think many people had that concern.” Asked whether she regarded the President’s move as politically motivated, she replied indirectly:

“We have been very much concerned. Every time we have a bombing halt the enemy takes advantage to supply their troops and move the men south. Our casualties in the last few weeks have not decreased noticeably.”

Mrs. Chennault said that since Nixon’s election she had received “personal invitation” from both President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam and President Chung Hee Park of South Korea “to come and talk to them as a friend.” She has made frequent trips to South Vietnam.

She said that since Nixon’s election she has encouraged “my friends” to join in the Paris peace talks. “I told them it is important for South Vietnam to send a delegation to Paris,” she remarked. On Nov. 28 South Vietnam finally announced that it would take part in the Paris discussion. However, because of a procedural dispute, the broadened talks have not yet started.

Mrs. Chennault, who is rated by many observers as a hawk on Vietnam and a hard-liner on Asian Policy has said that she regarded herself as “a bridge to build better relations between the East and the West. I understand American politics and also the feelings of our friends in Asia. But I am first an American and second a Republican.”

Although Nixon advisers say they learned of Mrs. Chennault’s activities several days before the Nov. 5 election, they apparently took no steps to halt her or remove her from her connection with the campaign. Explaining why, one G.O.P. official said, “She wasn’t our baby. She wasn’t really part of the campaign.”

Another Nixon adviser also emphasized this thought, stressing that Mrs. Chennault was not part of Nixon’s personal campaign staff.

“She was co-chairman of a volunteer organization,” he said. “She wasn’t a foreign policy adviser. We were faced with all kinds of people who claimed to speak for Nixon on various issues but really didn’t.”

Another Republican aide said, “The difficulty is she is pretty free-wheeling. She took a number of independent actions in the campaign. We had to pull her back several times.”

Some sources who are friendly to Mrs. Chennault have said privately that the Nixon camp was aware of her actions. They did not make clear, however, at what point this reported awareness developed.

Sources in the Nixon camp insisted strongly that Nixon was adamant in his refusal to make political capital out of the Vietnamese conflict or of the peace negotiations. “I saw him explode one time and say he was not going to make the war a political issue even if it cost him the election,” said one aide.

The reported overtures by South Vietnamese representatives to the Nixon campaign organization came in the last week or the presidential campaign. “On two and maybe three occasions we received messages indirectly from high South Vietnamese representatives,” a Nixon adviser has said.

The message, he said, requested a meeting with Nixon or one of his top aides. The communications suggested also that South Vietnam might delay until after the American election its final decision on whether or not to join the Paris peace talks, it said.

The Republican sources said that the Nixon camp “did nothing” about the South Vietnamese overtures. “Our instructions from Nixon were to give no response,” he explained.

46 From “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’” by Robert Parry, Walt Rostow’s cover letter:

top secret note regarding sealed documents Cover letter to LBJ Library director to be opene

LITERALLY EYES ONLY

June 26, 1973

TO: Mr. Harry Middleton, Director, LBJ Library

Sealed in the attached envelope is a file President Johnson asked me to hold personally because of its sensitive nature. In case of his death, the material was to be consigned to the LBJ Library under conditions I judged to be appropriate.

The file concerns the activities of Mrs. Chennault and others before and immediately after the election of 1968. At the time President Johnson decided to handle the matter strictly as a question of national security; and, in retrospect, he felt that decision was correct.

It is, therefore, my recommendation to you that this file should remain sealed for fifty years from the date of this memorandum.

After fifty years, the Director of the LBJ Library (or whomever may inherit his responsibilities, should the administrative structure of the National Archives change) may, alone, open this file. If he believes the material it contains might be opened for research, he should then consult the then responsible security officials of the Executive Branch to arrange formal clearance. If he believes the material it contains should not be opened for research, I would wish him empowered to re-close the file for another fifty years when the procedure outlined above should be repeated.

W. W. Rostow

The three page overview memo by Rostow is at footnote #11.

47 The document from which this quote is taken is listed in footnote #11.

48 The full transcript from Stanley Kutler’s The Abuse of Power:

OCTOBER 17, 1972: THE PRESIDENT, JOHN CONNALLY, AND HALDEMAN, 3:03-4:07 P.M., OVAL OFFICE

In August, Nixon had disavowed any intention of participating in fund-raising. But in the following meeting with John Connally, he talks a great deal about it. Connally, who had left the Democratic Party to support Nixon, was vital for fund-raising among disgruntled Democrats, and the President treated him respectfully. Nixon also informs Connally about Howard Hunt’s other activities and LBJ’s 1968 wiretapping.

SEGMENT 2

HALDEMAN
…This Howard Hunt that was in the Watergate thing, and clearly was, was before that at the White House working on Pentagon Papers stuff.

NIXON
And drugs.

HALDEMAN
And drugs. And it involved some damn sensitive stuff.

NIXON
Very good.

HALDEMAN
Very damn sensitive stuff, and he was using these Cubans, I think.

NIXON
That’s right.

HALDEMAN
For bugging.

NIXON
Trying to find out – he was working the Pentagon Papers, trying to make sure it was Ellsberg. He found out about his girlfriend. He’s the guy that got-

HALDEMAN
Of course, the tragedy of what’s happened is, by trying to do it all right we’ve succeeded in totalling fucking it up.

NIXON
The main point is, it’s three weeks before the election. The next point is that in terms of this you’ve got to – I don’t like to see us having to talk on it, and so forth. We have other things to talk about. But you’ve got to keep it away from this office. You’ve got to first [because] it’s absolutely true; and secondly, you have to condemn it. Now, as a matter of fact, when you condemn it you’ve got to b damn sure that you know what you’re condemning. I don’t need you to condemn the legitimate activities of following the other people.

CONNALLY
No, no. All you condemn is-

NIXON
Is the illegal.

CONNALLY
-is the illegal, electronic surveillance, that’s right. That’s against the law.

NIXON
So that’s what we’re talking about. The other big thing – but on other things-

CONNALLY
The point is, I would admit that. I’d have Clark MacGregor or Bob Dole, I’d say – sure, what the fuck’s wrong with this? Sure, Segretti, we hired him. You bet we hired him, and we hired him to go and case the rallies of all these people-

NIXON
See how they operate.

CONNALLY
-see what was going on, see what was acting, see how they were operating against each other.

HALDEMAN
But we’ve been accused – Muskie came out with a big long list of all the things that happened to him and he said he might sue us. They decided not to. Well, we found out why he decided not to. That whole business, like the pizzas at his party and all that stuff, which was pretty funny…

NIXON
Incidentally, you know the situation with regard to our own. I told you about it…That’s all it was. We are never, we are never going to put that out, you know.

CONNALLY
Well, this morning-

NIXON
There’s no reason to embarrass you. But I think that you will know what the situation is. Edgar Hoover told Mitchell that our plane was bugged for the last two weeks of the campaign. Now, the reason for bugging it, Johnson had it bugged. He ordered it bugged. And so was Humphrey’s. I think. I’m not sure about Humphrey’s. I know about ours. But the reason he says he had it bugged is because he was talking about – he had his Vietnam plans in there and he had to have information as to what we were going to say about Vietnam. But the plane was bugged, John, and that whole-

HALDEMAN
Two weeks.

NIXON
-by J. Edgar Hoover, and Johnson knew every conversation. And you know where it was bugged? In my compartment. So every conversation I had, for two weeks Johnson had it. Now, we’re not happy with it. We’re not going to say anything. It would look like hell.

HALDEMAN
I don’t know what the pressure is.

CONNALLY
They asked me at the press conference this morning if this went on during the Johnson administration. I said, “I don’t know; I wasn’t part of the Johnson administration; I was in Texas, being Governor of Texas.” But I said, “I would not want to give that or any other administration in my lifetime any seal of purity.”

HALDEMAN
They all laughed…

CONNALLY
Incidentally, one thought. I had lunch with [potential contributors] Del Webb and Ludwig today at lunch.

NIXON
Ludwig was there, too?

CONNALLY
Well, he’s an old tough bastard.

NIXON
He’s always whining. He’s only got $2 billion and he wants three.

CONNALLY
Yeah, he was whining at something. And I said, “What the hell have they done to you?” He was whining, oh God, about the administration.

NIXON
Herb Brownell’s his lawyer.

CONNALLY
Yes, Herb Brownell is his lawyer…I said “Well, Mr. Ludwig…I thought you all were rolling in money.” And I said, “No, we don’t make any money…We’re a million and a half short, and I said the committee’s in bad shape now because of just fellows like you, that think everybody is loaded. We’re not loaded.” But I said, “I’m not going to ask you to contribute money. Hell, if you don’t want to contribute, that’s fine; I don’t want you to do something you don’t want to do. You’ll be unhappy…if you can’t do it in good grace, if you can’t do it enthusiastically…”

NIXON
What I would have, Bob, is I’d have ten people, each of whom would not be embarrassed if somebody got up and said, I’m going to put one hundred [thousand]. Now, I know Mulcahy will start, of course, and he will start it too high, and that’ll embarrass the others. But I’d have Mulcahy there and have him – Mulcahy actually will put up – he’s not rich compared with – he’s only, Mulcahy’s only worth $75 or $80 million, but he’s willing to give ten. It’s amazing. You know him?

CONNALLY
No, I don’t.

NIXON
The most amazing, lovable Irishman.

49 From Stanley Kutler’s The Abuse of Power:

JANUARY 11, 1973: THE PRESIDENT AND HALDEMAN, 10:20-11:03 A.M., OVAL OFFICE

Haldeman informs Nixon that former FBI executive Cartha DeLoach will share his knowledge of LBJ’s bugging orders. The President decides to ratchet up the pressure on Johnson. But Nixon miscalculates. According to Haldeman’s diary, LBJ said he would counter by revealing Nixon’s back-channel dealings with the South Vietnamese government to delay the peace talks. Furthermore, by January 1973, Johnson’s influence is negligible in national affairs and particularly in his party; finally, Johnson dies on January 22.

SEGMENT 1

NIXON
Have you had any further development, Bob, with regard to the bugging at – I mean in regard to Mitchell and his talks with DeLoach? If he had?

HALDEMAN
Yes.

NIXON
Did he see DeLoach?

HALDEMAN
Yes. He talked to DeLoach.

NIXON
DeLoach denies?

HALDEMAN
No. DeLoach says it’s true and that he has hard – he thinks – he has some hard evidence or some specifics that will lock the thing up.

NIXON
Will he say so?

HALDEMAN
I don’t know whether he’ll say so, but he’ll give us the information so that we can say so, and that’s all we need.

NIXON
Well, what I want is this from DeLoach. We know he knows who is in charge of that, probably is still in the Bureau, a bugger. Do you know what I mean? The point on that is that Gray gives him a lie detector test, calls him in,, or asks him – do you see what I mean…? That’s what I’d like him to do. I’d like to get it so it’s nailed down in terms of evidence, rather than that DeLoach told Mitchell or that Hoover, a dead man, told Mitchell, because Johnson will lie about this, if necessary, if we have to use it. My only view is that I would not want to use this story at all. This is something that I would use only for purposes of-

HALDEMAN
Dean’s idea also goes the other way, which we may want to figure out a way to play around with, which is to use it on Johnson, because a lot of the problem we’re dealing with on the Hill stuff, and all you get [Joseph] Califano and some of those people into, and if Johnson turns them off, it could turn them the other way. In other words-

NIXON
Why doesn’t somebody go down and tell Johnson?

HALDEMAN
Well, here’s the other side of it. The Star is back on the story again.

NIXON
Yeah.

HALDEMAN
See, the Star had it during the campaign. They’re back on it also.

NIXON
On the Johnson bugging?

HALDEMAN
Mm-hmm. And that’ll stir Johnson up, and that gives us a way to get back to Johnson on the basis that, you know, we’ve got to get this turned off, because it’s going to bounce back to the other story and we can’t hold them – and scare him. And at his stage and with his attitude right now, he’s strutting around like crazy.

NIXON
I know.

HALDEMAN
He may decide to get word out to his troops and, if he did, that could be very helpful.

NIXON
Could Connally go to him? Who’s the best? Who could talk to Johnson about this? Mitchell?

HALDEMAN
George Christian. [Then working on behalf of Democrats for Nixon, while maintaining ties to LBJ.]…

NIXON
Call George in and say-

HALDEMAN
George knows the whole story, so you’re not letting any new-

NIXON
Well, at least it can be done…and done now…[Have] Johnson start to use some of it. He could use it not only to Califano, but possibly even to Humphrey. How do we know the Star is back on the story?

HALDEMAN
They contacted DeLoach…What I’ve got is from John Dean.

NIXON
And DeLoach says it was true and he has hard evidence; is that correct?

HALDEMAN
Yeah. I’ve got a call in to Mitchell now. I think he’s meeting with DeLoach now, as a matter of fact. He said he’d have to call me back. I called him a half an hour ago.

NIXON
The story has been a great problem. Don’t you think so?

SEGMENT 2

NIXON
…Well, get Christian in, would you, today, like today, or whenever you can, or tomorrow and say that they’re on this damn story again and are on DeLoach and he’s to go tell Johnson that we’re trying to keep an eye on it. We’ll do our best, but he’d better get ahold of Califano and Humphrey and anybody else he knows and tell them to pipe down on this thing…[W]e will use it without question, Bob, if it comes out to nut time. Do you agree?

HALDEMAN
Sure.

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Brian De Palma’s Blow Out: “Good Scream.”

(Everything I post is to some degree unfinished, but a movie about which so much can be said and so dear to my heart as this one, I will no doubt have more to say about, and so this post might be considered more unfinished than others. An invaluable resource on all things De Palma, which I have already mentioned here is the site De Palma a la Mod; an excellent resource for this specific post was the three hour plus episode devoted to this movie by The Projection Booth podcast, “Episode 140: Blow Out” hosted by Mike White, Rob St. Mary, with guest Jamie Duvall, and featuring interviews with Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz, and producer Fred Caruso. The podcast is frequented quoted in the following and I’m grateful for their diligent and in-depth work. SPOILERS for Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, The Fury, The Black Dahlia, Casualties of War, and The Parallax View. Since this is a fairly in-depth examination of this movie, it is assumed that whoever reads it has already seen Blow Out and requires no summary or description of the plot, and none is given.)

Something’s Got to Give had portrayed Marilyn as a shipwreck survivor who has been out of the world for years. She was to ask her rescuers, “Who’s President now?” Told it is Kennedy, she would respond, “Which Kennedy?”

Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Anthony Summers

PAULA
Where were you when Kennedy got shot?

HARRY MOSEBY
Which Kennedy?

Night Moves

SEGISMUND
A dream!
That seem’d as swearable reality
As what I wake in now.

CLOTALDO
Ay—wondrous how
Imagination in a sleeping brain
Out of the uncontingent senses draws
Sensations strong as from the real touch;
That we not only laugh aloud, and drench
With tears our pillow; but in the agony
Of some imaginary conflict, fight
And struggle — ev’n as you did; some, ’tis thought,
Under the dreamt-of stroke of death have died.

Life is a Dream by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

There came Death expertly threading his graceless bicycle through traffic at the intersection of Wilshire and La Brea where, because of street repair, two westbound Wilshire lanes were funneling into one.

Death so swift! Death thumbing his nose at middle-aged horn honkers.

Death laughing, Screw you, buddy! And you.

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

SEGISMUND
In all the shining circuits you have gone
About this theatre of human woe,
What greater sorrow have you gazed upon
Than down this narrow chink you witness still;
And which, did you yourselves not fore-devise,
You registered for others to fulfil!

Life is a Dream by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

I face the difficulty that anyone does who writes about one of their great passions, that the insights you have, the details you wish to point out, all an expression of the fervent excitement I have for this movie, these things have already been pointed out, are already well known, and your analysis is ultimately a self-centered demonstration, only of your own devotion, rather than giving off anything of valuable luminiscence. I do not think what follows is an entirely well worn path, and I try to avoid the rote or the obvious, but given that this is one of Brian De Palma’s most cherished films among his fans, I no doubt repeat things others have many times before. As always, it carries the value and disadvantage that it is only my view, an idiosyncratic map of a movie that has meant so much to me for many years.

STRONG AS A COBWEB IN THE WIND1

It’s often classed as a conspiracy theory movie, and though this is definitionally correct, it’s also a misrepresentation that might disappoint viewers expecting a creature of this zoological class. The approach of most of this genre of movie is polemical, and the conspiratorial schematic it presents is part of the polemic: such a conspiracy is possible, now. The Parallax View might be the most memorable example of this, attempting to make the implausible plausible, a conspiracy theory without melodrama in music, direction, or characterization, told in the language of social realism; where the assassination of political figures in the United States takes place, a cover-up with the accompanying murder follows, and the very man investigating the conspiracy becomes its patsy, the assassin’s weapon placed in his dead hand. There is the outlining of a plausible schematic, and at the same time the conspiratorial group is invested with powers that verge on the mystic. They are able to travel everywhere, they are near invisible, they can kill whoever they wish, and they are flawless in their actions, never giving themselves away or making a mistake – when they appear to do so in Parallax, they are actually just laying down a trail of breadcrumbs to lead the hero to his doom.

Blow Out inverts this almost immediately; it is not the villains who possess a power that might be considered almost divine, but the hero. Jack Terry goes out into the park to record sounds, and we see him able to hear at vast superhuman distances, the same mechanical gift which gives him entry into the world of the twisting plot that follows. He moves his microphone and picks up what to the viewer’s ears sounds like the leg rubbing clicks of some night insect, yet Jack’s knowledge of sounds is superior to ours, and he already hears something unnatural, mechanical in these insect-like sounds. They are not insect noises at all, but Burke pulling the wire back and forth of his watch, a nervous tic he falls into whenever he waits before pulling one of his acts of subterfuge, and we hear this same sinister noise when he is lying in the car before going into the garage to change the tire, and finally, before killing the prostitute at the train station.

After the sounds of the wire snapping in and out, Jack hears another sound from Burke at extraordinary distance which no one else nearby hears, the crunch of leaves as the man adjusts his position on the ground. The soundman then focuses on the owl, and the two briefly share the sides of the screen, both creatures of superhuman hearing. The owl cocks its head, picking up a sound so faraway it doesn’t even appear on the soundtrack and not even Jack hears it, the senator’s car approaching. The owl then turns its head entirely as the car drives quickly down the road and Terry shifts his attention as well, hearing the squeal of the tires long before the car is anywhere near in view.

The other trope of conspiracy movies, unused in Blow Out, is a hero moving along the nodes of the conspiracy before reaching its nexus, the heart, or one of several hearts of american power. This might be the Parallax corporation in Parallax, the top echelons of the CIA in Three Days of the Condor, the White House, no matter – but we have a sense of the hero navigating through the labyrinth and getting closer and closer to a center of the universe, the truth finally unveiled. By contrast, Blow Out begins on the fringes and stays on the fringes, with Jack’s position remaining essentially static. Jack and Sally are portrayed as being on the edges, of being unimportant people, not the Jim Garrison of JFK, but something like a face in the Dallas crowd and a minor dancer at Jack Ruby’s, through the movie’s compositions. There is Jack, on his listening expedition, the camera moving further and further out, till he is an insignificant point in the landscape.

A similar sequence, after Jack rescues Sally:

Jack is in the hospital, after the rescue, and he is sealed off in rooms while the frenzy erupts outside.

Jack is given a condescending point and summoning finger, as if he were a delinquent child, by a cop on behalf of one of the Philadelphia brahmins:

Jack and Sally meet for a drink as he tries to persuade her from leaving the city, and we have a prolonged establishing shot where the focus is split between them and the men at the bar.

There is the obvious culmination of this, where Sally fights for her life, a figure invisible to the crowd, high above the festive celebration:

That Jack and Sally remain on the edges of the conspiracy is a function and a necessity of the plot, but it also is very much to do with the position of these characters in society itself. They are part of the overly broad, overly general category “working class”, and though the label is overly vague, there is the obvious marker in both characters, which is that neither goes to university and there appears to have been no expectation that they would get a degree, joining one of the coveted professional classes, of doctors, lawyers, engineers, or tenured professors. Jack’s only recourse for acquiring a technical education is through military service – his family does not have the money for university, and Sally is not surprised that this would be his only option. America is both supposedly a classless society while being very much a country with a class hierarchy, and we can see the prevalence of such a hierarchy by the fact that characters from this class – other than cops, firefighters, and soldiers – rarely appear in movies unaccompanied with a polemical theme about their economic status. The movie must be about bettering themselves, about being someone other than themselves, about acquiring a university education – Blow Out, in contrast, is simply about these characters on their own terms. They are not made stupid, crude, or ugly as an expression of their class, they are not seen solely by those outside of their class, but rather, the movie’s perspective is their own. It’s difficult to conceive of Jack Terry having much interest in a university education, not because he’s unintelligent or incurious, but because his interest is so focused, so specialized around sound technology, that he would rightly wonder what a degree in any field would offer him. That Jack Terry fails by the movie’s end is not because of any lack of education or lack of intelligence, but because he sees the unveiling of the conspiracy as a redemption for the failed police sting, and he wants that redemption so badly that he becomes careless. This sin is not made into a problem or issue of any particular class, but a fatal error possible of every member of the audience.

I have written of an assassination plot and its cover-up, at which Jack and Sally are positioned at the very far fringes, and we now reach the final point which makes Blow Out very distinct from other conspiracy thrillers: there is no conspiracy. The events of the movie are not the result of a convergence of shadowy figures and forces, but the result of only one man, and that’s Burke. He has been given the simple assignment of having Manny Karp take photos of Sally and the governor together, and either by accident or on his own maverick initiative, he commits a murder. Everything that follows, the cover-up, the serial killings, the erasing of Jack’s tapes, the death of Sally, is Burke acting on his own, with campaign manager Jack Manners wanting nothing to do with this out of control lunatic he hired for a very simple piece of campaign sabotage.

The conversation between Burke and Jack Matters, campaign manager for the president:

JACK MATTERS
You were supposed to get some pictures of McRyan, not kill him.

BURKE
I understood the objectives of the operation…I never concurred with them. But I didn’t kill him, it was an accident.

MATTERS
You accidentally shot out the tire of his car!

BURKE
As you may recall, this was my initial plan as proposed at our meeting of June the 6th.

MATTERS
We rejected that plan, don’t you remember?

BURKE
Course I do admit I had to exceed the parameters of my authority somewhat, but I always stayed within an acceptable margin of error. After all, the objective was achieved. He was eliminated from the election.

MATTERS
Burke. I don’t know you. I’ve never seen you. Don’t ever call me again.

BURKE
Just a minute, sir. We’ve got some loose ends. I’ve changed the tire, made it look like a blow out. I’ve erased the sound guy’s tapes, so everybody will think he’s a crackpot. Karp’s disappeared, but I’ll find him. That still leaves the girl. I’ve decided to terminate her, and make it look like one of a series of sex killings in the area. This would completely secure our operation.

MATTERS
WHAT OPERATION!

The Projection Booth podcast put together an episode, “Episode 140: Blow Out”, full of vital details on the movie in which they touched on the way information on the conspiracy is conveyed, far different from that in other movies of the genre. Mike White is the co-host, along with Rob St. Mary (fragment is at approximately 24:19-26:12 in the recording):

MIKE WHITE
So, it’s an interesting story of who’s watching who and who knows what when. Because that’s the other thing that I find very interesting about this one is the way we’re being handed information, like I was talking about with the television earlier, which kinda comes back a few times. I mean, there’s Manny, we see him on the TV, and that’s when Jack’s buddy comes in, and turns on the television set for him. But this whole idea of when do we know things versus when Jack knows them? Like, Burke putting the tire, the replacement tire, with the car, Nick Ryan’s car. We know that before Jack knows, and Jack is insisting “Check the tire! Check the tire!”, you know. It’s like, okay, we already know that that’s going on, and then we know as well, because we have Burke saying “I’ve erased all of his tapes,” so they’re going to think he’s crazy, we know that before Jack knows, and we get that amazing scene, of Jack going in, and playing all of his tapes, and having everything coming out blank, and that whole camera move, you know, I don’t wanna say three sixty, because that would imply the camera was in one spot and just turning around, cuz that camera is really exploring the space and going around, throughout the entire room, and just the way we run into Jack as you’re going around clockwise, it’s just a remarkable set piece.

This unveils a crucial aspect of Blow Out, but this is only a partial aspect. It is not simply that the audience knows things before Jack learns of them, but that we know things with certainty, that Jack only hypothesizes about – and of which he never gains hard evidence. Only the audience is able to clearly see that there is no conspiracy, that all the malice which takes place is caused by Burke. For Jack, this is all a cloud of unknowing, on which he projects a vast network which doesn’t exist onto this opaque expanse. “Who’s ever in on this thing has a contacts in the police, because they want McRyan to sink without a trace,” Jack tells Sally. “They don’t want to hear about my gunshot.” There is not Burke alone, but a they: “They have erased my tapes, they’ve made you disappear, and next it’s going to be me.” The asymmetry of information between Jack and the audience begins almost immediately after the accident, when Jack dives into the water to save Sally, at the same time the audience clearly sees Manny Karp move away from his hiding place under the bridge and run away, a figure entirely unseen by Jack.

By the end of the movie, he still has no idea whether the attempt to compromise McRyan came from the opposing camp, or McRyan’s own campaign manager, the man who asked that he lie about being at the scene of the accident. Jack’s suspicion is not glib paranoia, but comes from difficult worldly experience. He worked for the King Commission2, where he saw cops take money from gangsters to avoid prosecution, and he saw cops turn on their own when these crimes were revealed. Mackey hates him for his part in this, “I know all about you and your fucking tapes, you put a lot of good cops away”, and Jack must consider the obvious possibility that Mackey is working against him out of vengeance for what he did in the past3. In something like Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, or even All The President’s Men (if we’re unfamiliar with the real-life basis of the last), we learn things at the same pace as the heroes, while in Blow Out we’re given a situation that is entirely its opposite. Jack Terry has a gift of far reaching and discerning hearing which exceeds ours, yet he learns almost nothing more of the plot behind the accident, while we are shown all.

THE DROWNING POOL, THE BAGMAN, THE BURGLARS, ASPIRIN ROULETTE

The approach of Blow Out places an emphasis on the intimate, and the vivid sensual of noise and light, rather than the traveling of a convoluted plot which twists through the nodes of the conspiracy. As already said, this conspiracy has a node of one, Burke – there is no conspiracy – except that which Jack Terry has past basis to imagine. Instead of explorations of the echelons of power, we are with the characters close-up. We are given a lengthy sequence as Jack splices together the photos of the crash accident and syncs the audio with this film where we see his dedication and skill in his work; the well-known scene where Jack discovers the disorienting violation of his audio tapes having been erased, as the camera spins dizzyingly around and we hear the absence in what’s been left, not silence, but a chugging rumble and a whirring siren; the squalid scenes between Manny and Sally where we see the desperation and misery of her life. This is the core of the movie, rather than a murder plot, which, as said, remains largely a mystery to Jack by the film’s end.

I would liken the movie’s relationship to the historical scandal which initiates the plot with Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates, which takes the event of Chappaquiddick and rather than dwell on the specifics of that actual scandal, turns it into a kind of novella of vivid, often fantastic, sensation, where a woman drowns in a senator’s car, only to be revived, and the revival revealed to be an illusion, and again she dies, but no, by some miracle survives, all on an infinite loop, the recurrence of the death and the false promise of survival an unending nightmare. The senator’s tongue down the girl’s throat melts into the choking dark water, then into the suction hose that pumps her stomach in a revival attempt, the hose becoming the senator’s tongue again. The senator is obviously Edward Kennedy, but those wishing for a scathing satire will be disappointed; no mercy is shown by Oates in the portrayal, but her focus is more abstract, creating a fantastic horror world, and portraying the liberalism of the early nineties as a kind of a church in decline, where novices such as the dead woman have lost interest in the tenets of the faith and community good works, perferring idolatry of the church elders like the senator.

A fragment of Black Water, one of the many describing the crash, conveys the hypervivid sensation which takes precedent over plot points or attempts to parallel historical fact:

She heard the single expletive “Hey!” as the car skidded into a guardrail skidding sideways, the right rear coming around as in a demonic amusement ride and her head cracked against the window a red mist flashing across her eyes but she could not draw breath to scream as the momentum of their speed carried them down a brief but steep embankment, an angry staccato tapping against the car as if dried sticks were being broken, still she had not breath to scream as the car plunged into what appeared to be a pit, a pool, stagnant water in the marshland you might think only a few feet deep but black water was churning alive and purposeful on all sides tugging them down, the car sinking on its side, and Kelly was blinded, The Senator fell against her, and their heads knocked and how long it was the two of them struggled together, stunned, desperate, in terror of what was happening out of their control and even their comprehension except to think This can’t be happening, am I going to die like this, how many seconds or minutes before The Senator moaning “Oh God. Oh God” fumbled clawing at the safety belts extricating himself by sheer strength from his seat behind the broken steering wheel and with fanatic strength forcing himself through the door, opening the door against the weight of black water and gravity that door so strangely where it should not have been, overhead, directly over their heads, as if the very earth had tilted insanely on its axis and the sky now invisible was lost in the black muck beneath – how long, in her terror and confusion Kelly Kelleher could not have said.

Because Blow Out‘s focus is on the world of its two major characters, the initiating event incidental, the accident itself has the quality of a dream of overlapping scandals, of the Kennedy assassination, Chappaquiddick, and the government cover-up of Watergate. I would argue that the movie’s lack of focus on the conspiracy event, its disinterest in outlining a surrounding labyrinth, leaves us with images, the vast park, the sinking car, the drowning woman, the dead governor, abstracting the accident like Black Water does, and partly disconnects the event from actual history – when it is very much connected to past history, in the characters of Burke, of Manny Karp, of the accident, all of which are taken from the hard details of the intersection of Watergate and Chappaquiddick, and of which I think De Palma was familiar.

Richard Nixon was obsessed with all of the Kennedys, their good looks, their charm, their wealth, their connections to the eastern establishment that he despised, an animus that ran from the brother he ran against and lost, to the last survivor, even after the debacle of Chappaquiddick. This obsession shows up in that other movie which touches on Watergate, All the President’s Men, when Carl Bernstein talks to a secretary who used to work in the White House, about one of the Watergate burglars, E. Howard Hunt:

BERNSTEIN
Did you know…Howard Hunt? Didn’t he work in the office?

SECRETARY
Yeah, I knew Howard. He’s a nice person. He’s secretive. He is secretive. But. A decent man.

BERNSTEIN
Do you have any idea…what he did?

SECRETARY
Well, the White House said he was doing some investigative work.

BERNSTEIN (smiles)
What do you say?

SECRETARY
He was doing investigative work.

BERNSTEIN
On what?

SECRETARY
Different things.

BERNSTEIN
Like what? I’m just asking you.

SECRETARY
Well…the scuttlebutt for a while was that he was investigating Kennedy.

BERNSTEIN
Why?

SECRETARY
White House is real paranoid about Teddy Kennedy. I remember seeing a book about Chappaquiddick on his desk. And he was always getting material out of the White House library, the library of congress, anything he could find.

(the previous dialogue is not from the published script of All the President’s Men, which can be found here, but is a direct transcript from the movie since there are substantial differences between the lines in the movie and that of the script.)

This obsession is also revealed in the Nixon White House tapes, in these moments where the president tells his close advisors that he wants Ted Kennedy’s Secret Service protection to be used for surveillance, in order to gather damaging information which can be used to destroy him in the 1976 presidential campaign:

(Transcripts are taken from Stanley Kutler’s Abuse of Power and the transcript at whitehousetapes.net, Thursday, September 7, 1972 – 4:47pm – 6:15pm. Audio for the first segment is the file rmn_e772_06.mp3 taken from the nixontapes.org audio archive, specific page “Chron 4 Oval Office Conversations: July 1, 1972 – November 1, 1972″, entry OVAL 772-006. Audio for the second segment is the file rmn_e772_15b, also taken from the same site, same page, entry OVAL 772-015b. The tangential issue dealing with the names Schultz and O’Brien deals with George Schultz, then head of the Treasury and Larry O’Brien, head of the Democratic National Committee. The Nixon administration was trying to go after O’Brien through IRS audits.)

The ongoing attempt to find dirt on Ted Kennedy intersected with the Chappaquiddick drowning, which prompted the Nixon White House to send out a private detective to research the area to find any witnesses or dirt they might use to further damage the Massachussetts senator. The man they sent out for the assignment, Tony Ulasewicz, is described by another Watergate burglar, G. Gordon Liddy in his memoir Will. The Caulfield mentioned is Jack Caulfield, another private detective in the pay of the Nixon White House:

We found “Tony,” later identified at Watergate hearings as Anthony Ulasewicz, at Apartment 11-C, 321 East 48th Street, Manhattan. Caulfield had described the place as “a very elaborate pad – beautiful, wait’ll ya see it. My guy Tony’s puttin’ the make on one of the Chappaquiddick broads. The joint’s wired for sound. He gets her in the sack a few times, wins her confidence, and we get the facts.”

When “Tony” opened the door, I couldn’t believe what I saw. First there was “Tony” himself; a big, overweight middle-aged man who in his best day would not exactly rival Redford. Still, Casanova himself was an ugly man, and maybe “Tony” had something only a woman could appreciate. The apartment itself was something else. It was small, so small that the “bedroom” was nothing but a tiny converted alcove with a pitiful, homemade wall erected across its opening and a curtain for a door. The wall, in which he was trying to hide a tape recorder, was covered in the fake brick sold at Montgomery Ward stores in poor neighborhoods to dress up aging kitchens. A white shag rug was on the floor, and the windows were hung with red imitation velvet drapes. The decor was strictly better-grade Juarez whorehouse circa 1951.

I note two things. Jorge Luis Borges praises the magical precision of the phrase “half as old as time,” in a poetic stanza4, as opposed to the more banal and obvious “as old as time,” and this magical precision is there in describing an apartment as “better-grade Juarez whorehouse” as opposed to simply “Juarez whorehouse”. The other, more important point, is that the description of the sleazy Ulasewicz and his tiny, squalid apartment is very reminiscent of a character we are already well familiar with, Manny Karp.

Ulasewicz’s voice, a practical, matter of the fact, guttural well familiar with the ass end of politics, comes across well in a BBC documentary on the Watergate scandal (“Watergate 1/5: Break-in”, “Watergate 2/5: Cover-up”, “Watergate 3/5: Scapegoat”, “Watergate 4/5: Massacre”, “Watergate 5/5: Impeachment”), showing up in part two, when the detective is recruited for another assignment, to pay off hush money to the Watergate burglars.

Segment running from approximately 24:24-26:35:

NARRATOR
Five days after the break-in, the burglars were brought to court to be released on bail. The president’s men set about organizing their hush money. Richard Nixon’s private lawyer, Herb Kalmbach, got the assignment.

MAURICE STANS (CAMPAIGN FINANCE CHAIRMAN)
Herb Kalmbach was a close personal friend of mine, and I trusted him in every respect. So, when he came to me and said he’d like all the money I could find up to a hundred thousand dollars, I said, “I can’t find a hundred thousand dollars,” but I know where there is some money, can you tell me anything more about it? He said, “I can only tell you it’s a matter of the White House needing some money – related to the campaign.

NARRATOR
Kalmbach collected seventy five thousand dollars of Nixon campaign funds. But he had to find someone to deliver it.

TONY ULASEWICZ
I got a call…to come down to Washington. And to meet with Mr. Herbert Kalmbach. I came to the hotel in Washington, D.C., I came up right away…he didn’t have his socks on, and he apologized for that. And I’d been in the army, in the navy, and he apologized for not having his socks on. At any rate, he got into this story, he’d met with John Dean. A park bench across from the White House. Dean said that on the highest authority, it was decided, that Herb Kalmbach would provide funds and that Tony Ulasewicz, the only one they could trust, would distribute said funds, to those who broke into the Watergate building. So now, he has an attaché case, and he’s got seventy five grand in there. The seventy five thousand now, he’s taking it out of the attaché case, and putting it on a bed. Now, seventy five grand, you know, is quite a bit of lettuce. And there was a laundry bag in the closet, one of these, very thin brown paper that you put your laundry in and leave it out by the door. And I plucked all that cabbage, and I put it into the bag, tied it up with the string, maybe twice over, put it under my arm, and said we’ll be in touch. Now, I’ll await your instructions.

Segment running from approximately 40:16-41:43:

NARRATOR
Nixon’s re-election machine looked unstoppable. But he knew that if the Watergate burglars started talking, it would be all over. So his campaign funds were used to buy more than just rallies, they bought silence. Howard Hunt and his wife began taking delivery of the hush money to distribute to the burglars.

TONY ULASEWICZ
I’m gonna do these drops at the airport. And I would- Because lockers were always handy. I’d get a locker number, I’d take the key, put the money in the locker, take the key out. And I’d tape it underneath the telephone. Then I would call on another phone, I’d call the person, whatever name we’d use, Mrs. Hunt at that time, one time Mr. Hunt appeared and picked it up, and I’d say the key is taped- Take that key and go to the locker and pick up your drop. And that’s the way we did it. And it worked very well.

If Karp is made in the image of Ulasewicz, then Burke is a replica of the Watergate burglar already mentioned, G. Gordon Liddy. There is a constricted, lunatic fanaticism to Liddy, and a blind worship of force, both of which can be seen in Burke. It is possible that Liddy’s later behavior can be traced to his overwhelming desire to serve in the army, and fight in Korea, the latter hope dashed when he busted his appendix after a bout of drinking followed by a sit-up contest. This failure to serve may have caused him to overcompensate later on, where he invested every aspect of life with the rigor of a Prussian and coiled violence of a Cossack. Liddy would work in the White House, ostensibly as legal counsel to the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), but really to perform intelligence gathering and sabotage of their democratic opponents. The political aides inside the Nixon White House would brag and brag about the presidential rallies they’d organized, which soon ran on Liddy’s nerves. “Hey, you guys,” he’d ask, “you want to see a real rally?,” after which he took them to one of his favorite movies, Triumph of the Will.

Liddy would present something called GEMSTONE to Nixon’s Attorney General for approval. GEMSTONE was a series of plans to disrupt Democratic rivals and gather information on these rivals through spies and surveillance, each element named after a gem or mineral element. Liddy does a thorough job describing the presentation in Will, and the following are some representative excerpts:

DIAMOND was our counterdemonstration plan. At the time, we still expected the [Republican convention] to be held in San Diego. I repeated my objections to the site, then pointed out that the best technique for dealing with a mob had been worked out years before by the famed Texas Rangers.

I pointed out that we would be dealing with skilled and determined urban guerillas who had been distributing manuals for violent guerilla tactics against the convention, including homemade bombs; that the Sports Arena area would be impossible to hold against a well-led mob attack; and that I proposed to emulate the Texas Rangers by identifying the leaders through intelligence before the attack got under way, kidnap them, drug them, and hold them in exico until after the convention was over, then release them unharmed and still wondering what happened.

RUBY concerned the infiltration of spies into the camp of Democratic contenders, then the successful candidate himself. COAL was the program to furnish money clandestinely to Shirley Chisholm of New York to finance her as a contender and force Democratic candidates to fight off a black woman, bound to generate ill-feeling among the black community and, we hoped, cause them difficulty with women.

EMERALD outlined the use of a chase plane to eavesdrop on the Democratic candidate’s aircraft and buses when his entourage used radio telephones.

QUARTZ detailed emulation of the technique used by the Soviet Union for microwave interception of telephone traffic, and I explained in detail the way it was done by the Soviet Embassy.

For use in gathering information at the Democratic National Convention at Miami Beach, Hunt [this is the already mentioned Watergate burglar, E. Howard Hunt] and I had an option to lease a large houseboat moored within line of sight of the Fontainebleau [a hotel in Miami]. This would enable it to be used as a communications center for CRYSTAL – electronic surveillance. It was an opulent barge, with a lush bedroom featuring a large mirror over the big king-sized bed. We’d get our money’s worth from the houseboat. It would double as headquarters for SAPPHIRE because it was from there that our prostitutes were to operate. They were not to operate as hookers but as spoiled, rich, beautiful women who were only too susceptible to men who could brag convincingly of the importance of what they were doing at the convention. The bedroom would be wired for sound, but I disagreed with Hunt’s suggestion that movie cameras be used. That wouldn’t be necessary to get the information, might cost us the women recruited who might object to being filmed in flagrante, and, as I pointed out to Howard, there wasn’t room to install them overhead anyway.

I presented a plan for four black-bag jobs, OPALs I through IV. They were clandestine entries at which microphone surveillances could be placed, as well as TOPAZ: photographs taken of any documents available, including those under lock. As targets I proposed the headquarters of Senator Edmund Muskie’s campaign on K Street, N.W.; that of Senator George McGovern on Capitol Hill; one for the Democratic National Convention at any hotel, because we had access to just about anything we wanted through all the Cuban help employed in the Miami Beach hotels. One entry would be held in reserve for any target of opportunity Mitchell wished to designate as we went along. I looked at him questioningly, but he just kept sucking on his pipe, suggesting none.

The total cost of these operations, Liddy would tell attorney general John Mitchell, was one million dollars.

John Mitchell made much of filling and relighting his pipe and then said, “Gordon, a million dollars is a hell of a lot of money, much more than we had in mind. I’d like you to go back and come up with something more realistic.”

As I restacked the charts, John Mitchell continued, “And Gordon?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Burn those charts; do it personally.”

“Yes, sir.”

Again, these plans for illegal wiretaps, break-ins, use of prostitutes for surveillance of members of an offical political party of the United States were all presented for approval to the highest arbiter of justice in the land, Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell. In Blow Out, Burke receives his orders from the president’s campaign manager, Jack Manners, with the killing of the governor and the later cover-up all rogue operations which had been presented to the campaign manager, and which he has already rejected. Who does Manners look uncannily like? John Mitchell.

There was another operation that Liddy was involved in, outside of the command structure of John Mitchell, and that dealt with a reporter named Jack Anderson, who’d infuriated the White House by his publication of stories reliant on insider leaks that were devastating to the administration. Liddy is forthright in Will about the plan of action against Anderson, put forth by fellow Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt at a luncheon, also attended by a medical doctor named Edward Gunn. Both Gunn and Hunt were formerly of the CIA.

The purpose of the luncheon, Hunt had explained to me previously, was to take advantage of the expertise of Dr. Gunn in preparing, for the approval of Hunt’s “principal,” a plan to stop columnist Jack Anderson. Even with each other, Hunt and I often, when discussing the most sensitive of matters, used the term my principal rather than identify our superiors. I, at least, had several. Hunt, to my knowledge, had only one: Chuck Colson.

Anderson, Hunt reported, had now gone too far. As the direct result of an Anderson story, a top U.S. intelligence source abroad had been so compromised that, if not already dead, he would be in a matter of days. That was too much. Something had to be done.

I took the position that, in a hypothetical case in which the target had been the direct cause of the identification and execution of one of our agents abroad, halfway measures were not appropriate. How many of our people should we let him kill before we stop him, I asked rhetorically, still not using Anderson’s name. I urged as the logical and just solution that the target be killed. Quickly.

My suggestion was received with immediate acceptance, almost relief, as if they were just waiting for someone else to say for them what was really on their minds.

Liddy would also explain in Will his justification for assassinating a journalist:

There is a point beyond which I will not go, and that is anything my conscience tells me is malum in se (evil in and of itself) or my judgement tells me is irrational. I have no problem with doing something that is malum prohibitum (wrong only because of the existence of a law prohibiting it).

An example of malum in se would be the sexual assault of a child. In every society such a thing would be recognized as wrong. It would require no act of the legislature forbidding it to inform people that it was wrong. An example of malum prohibitum, on the other hand, would be the statute prohibiting driving through a stop sign without coming to a complete halt. Absent such a law, to do so would be a morally indiffernt act.

Common sense tells us that minor problems require and justify but minor responses, and only extreme problems require and justify extreme solutions. In the case of killing it is well to remember that the Ten Commandments, translated correctly from the original Aramaic, do not contain the injunction “Thou shalt not kill.” It reads, “Thou shalt not do murder.” Quite another thing. There are circumstances that not only justify killing but require it (when one is charged with the safekeeping of a child, for example, and the only way to prevent its death from another’s attack is to kill that other person). These are all situations that require informed and responsible judgements.

A number of methods of assassination were discussed. There was the possibility of applying LSD to the steering wheel of Anderson’s car, which might trigger a disruption of motor functions, causing Anderson to fatally crash his vehicle. You could play a game called aspirin roulette, where one of Anderson’s aspirins was substituted with a lookalike pill that was a lethal poison. Another suggestion from Liddy: “I submitted that the target should just become a fatal victim of the notorious Washington street-crime rate.” One more was to smash into Anderon’s car, killing him, but making it look like one more traffic accident. Liddy would recall this last approach when he was a guest on “The Howard Stern Show” (this interview is in four parts on youtube, one, two, three, four, and the following is taken from part one, 13:35 to the end of the clip):

STERN
If you had killed Jack Anderson, like you proposed to the Nixon Administration, what would you have used? Because you did advocate an assasination.

LIDDY
Yeah. Well, what we decided to do was…we knew the route he came into the office…and it included a traffic circle.

QUIVERS
You’re going to shoot him in the circle?

LIDDY
No, you’re not gonna shoot him in the circle. There’s a way you hit the car in a certain way, and it would flip and kill him.

STERN
The bullet, when they-

LIDDY
There’s no bullet, there’s a car accident.

QUIVERS
You’re hitting the car with a bullet, right?

LIDDY
No. No. You are hitting the car with another car.

This background is brought up to make obvious that the elements of the conspiracy in Blow Out are neither radical nor fantastic, but a very real part of American history, with a few small paths changed. Rather than gather information after Chappaquiddick, imagine if Tony Ulacewicz had been tasked with getting damaging information before it had taken place. Instead of Hunt and Liddy hiring prostitutes for purposes of surveillance as part of the SAPPHIRE section of the GEMSTONE plan, Ulacewicz would bring in a woman with the objective of destroying a candidate. Instead of assassinating a journalist for the greater good of the country, we might imagine Liddy, or a figure like him, believed that the killing of a governor was one of those situations that served a greater and necessary purpose. Rather than kill the man through an ersatz car accident, he would take the suggestion of Robin Quivers, and hit the tire with a bullet. It was a situation that required “informed and responsible judgement,” to use Liddy’s phrase, and perhaps the killing of a senator or a governor fell under the category of malum prohibitum rather than malum in se. Perhaps the killing of three women to cover up the assassination might fall under malum prohibitum as well. If anything, Blow Out is perhaps more conservative in its conspiracy, because we have only the actions of a rogue agent. As we can see in the excerpted section, however, one of the top officials in the White House may well have been behind the initial order to kill Jack Anderson. We now have audio tapes of Nixon personally ordering a break-in at the think tank, the Brookings Institute5. In this movie, we have a single agent acting on his own. In reality, we had a White House that went rogue.

AUDIOPHILIA / PERSONAL EFFECTS / I AM OF BOTH YOUR DIRECTIONS

Blow Out was at first not called Blow Out, but something else entirely, as described in The Projection Booth podcast, fragment going from 46:50 to 48:00:

MIKE WHITE
The title, Blow Out, was not the original title for this film. Personal Effects was the first title for it…which I found to be a very interesting title, really, because you’ve got both the idea of the sound effects and them being your effects, but then the whole idea of personal effects, usually, when you talk about someone passing away, you are given their personal effects. And so it’s just this kind of nice play on words, and him going to Blow Out was definitely much more of a throwback to Blow Up, which I think is a very nice homage that he’s doing with the title, and you’re right, there’s definitely some nods back to Antonionni but…I don’t know, the thing when it comes to Antonionni’s films, at least the few that I’ve seen, it always feels like somebody took his movies and put them in a pot of boiling water, boiled out all the emotions, and then what’s left is what gets projected on screen? Because it just never feels like I care about any of the people in his films, it always feels like a bunch of sleepwalkers going through the motions, whereas with Blow Out, I definitely felt like there was so much emotion, and I really cared for these characters.

There are several associations with the phrase “Personal Effects”, the most obvious that it’s the name of Jack Terry’s sound engineering company, never said aloud, but there in the print on the glass of the door:

Personal effects, as White says, are the possessions you might acquire after someone’s death, which immediately makes one think of Sally, but I find the phrase hints at Sally in another way: Jack works in sound effects, while Sally works in make-up, which might be thought of as personal effects. De Palma’s movies are often extraordinarily succinct, wasting few words on lengthy exposition or backstory. We sense characters visually, through their expressions, their posture, movements, clothes, and their work. Kate of Dressed to Kill is one of the most memorable characters in any of his movies, yet she has almost no dialogue, with Kate made a tangible, memorable presence entirely in her face, as she observes, reacts, is chased, and chases back. The vocations of Jack and Sally are a handy metaphors for aspects of these characters which, in another movie, might be made more explicit.

The sensibility of a conspiracy theorist, or simply someone looking deeply into a particularly obscure world and discerning a pattern, is well captured in the profession of a sound engineer. Jack Terry doesn’t just hear at great distance through his technology, his hearing is extraordinarily acute through years of experience, able to discern small subtleties of sound. “You heard the blow out,” the cop tells Terry of what he heard on the night of the accident. “Yes I heard the blow out, but the first sound I heard was the bang.” Replies the cop: “That’s some kind of an echo.” Jack: “No. Look. I know what an echo sounds like, I’m a sound man, and, the bang was before the blow out.” He insists that the sound is there, though no one else can hear it – when Jack plays back the tape for Sally, she says, “I mean, I heard a noise, maybe it was a gunshot.” Only when she hears the sounds accompanied by Karp’s film is she able to clearly recognize the gunshot. This is very much like the closed off world of someone who might be investigating a historical or political mystery; they insist they perceive a pattern, yet others, not knowing the details of the various minor characters and coincidences of this unilluminated corner of the world cannot say with certainty whether their theory is credible, only seemingly credible, or false. This is also something like what a movie director feels – whatever the setbacks and problems in filming, whatever others say, they see a vision in the screenplay and the footage that others do not, and sometimes these certainties crashes thuddingly to the ground, and other times this mad vision is exhilaratingly right. The viewer has the luxury of certainty, the movie showing us that Burke clearly was behind the governor’s death. This certainty is often expected on the part of the audience, that the hero’s suspicions are always right, that the hero is always correct and righteous in his actions, and this very attitude is upended by the movie’s finale. De Palma is well aware of how easily the audience can fall into unquestioning assent that a movie’s protagonist is always right, and later in his career he uses this to play a rather nasty trick in Mission: Impossible. There, in an early scene, we are shown footage of a senator speaking on TV, who Ethan Hunt will impersonate at the embassy. This speech is played loud enough for the audience to easily make out every word, for us to easily discern its meeting, and this senator is greeted with withering disdain by the television host, and dismissive laughter by our heroes:

ETHAN HUNT
We’re using Waltzer?

JIM PHELPS
He’s our guy.

HUNT
Isn’t he chairing the arms services committee?

PHELPS
Not this week. This week he’s fly fishing, at the Oughterard Slough in County Kildaire with one of our best Irish guides.

CLAIRE
He won’t be back anytime soon.

WALTZER
-irrelevant at best, or unconstitutional at worst.

TV HOST
With all due respect, Senator, it sounds as if you want to lead the kind of charge that Frank Church led in the nineteen hundred and seventies.

WALTZER
No- No-

TV HOST
…and in the process destroyed the intelligence capability of this country.

WALTZER
I wanna know who these people are. And how they’re spending our tax payers’ money. We were living in a democracy, the last time I checked6.

De Palma, I think, is very much a skeptic of the national security state, and he puts what is probably the sanest attitude in this movie, and the one he probably most likely agrees with, in this marginal character who simply wants greater accountability and transparency for an intelligence agency that might well be acting outside of the constitution. This attitude may well have greater resonance in the present time than at the time of the movie’s release, given what we now know. Yet how can this senator possibly be right, if he is some reedy voiced senior, dripping in earnestness and piety, looked on with ridicule by a heroic character played by the biggest movie star in the world and mocked so mercilessly by the host of a TV show? It is perhaps helpful to note, and allows us to return to the subject of Blow Out, that this same TV host is John McLaughlin, an alumnus – like G. Gordon Liddy and John Mitchell – of the Nixon administration, where he was a speechwriter and one of the staunchest defenders of the president, even after Watergate broke7. Yet how could this Nixon devotee possibly be wrong, if a character played by Tom Cruise agrees with him?

There is nothing obviously unsympathetic about Jack Terry, there is no karmic payback in Sally’s death. Jack is more heroic and virtuous than most of us; he worked to end corruption in the Philadelphia police department, and he saves Sally from drowning. Jack is a man who is the audience’s heroic proxy, and his quest for redemption is our quest for redemption as well – we wish him to succeed as it gives us hope that we too might begin again, that we will have second and third chances. There is the expectation of movies that they will affirm our heroic fantasies, and Blow Out gives us a partial affirmation, providing us the concrete proof that Jack is entirely right in his belief in an assassination attempt, and then pulls the rug out from us – Jack fails in his mission because he badly misjudges the situation, and this misjudgement is a result of his quest for redemption by exposing the conspiracy, yet we in the audience wish him on in this reckless mission. We expect the very mechanics of the type of movie we’re watching – a thriller with a charismatic Hollywood star – will save him, that a hero in this context cannot fail. Yet he does.

Sound effects are Jack’s speciality, and make-up is Sally’s. Though we are never told any exact details about the matter, I think it can be inferred that she has suffered great abuse, and had to abide such abuse. We see her with Manny Karp as he paws at her, as she initially resists with little energy, as if she has become conditioned to expect a steady dose of such maltreatment in this life. This might be what allows Jack to act as he does in his worst moments in the movie, sending her back to get the film from Karp, humiliating her and then intimidating her into doing this, knowing that she won’t fight back.

SALLY
What are you going to do?

JACK
What do you mean what am I going to do? What are we going to do?

SALLY
What do I have to do with this?

JACK
Oh, will you cut the shit, Sally. I know what you were doing in that car.

SALLY (quietly)
What do you know.

JACK
That you and your friend Karp were setting up McRyan to be blackmailed, getting scummy pictures of you and the candidate getting laid after the Liberty Ball, right? What did you do, tell him that running water under a well-lit bridge gets you hot?

SALLY (quietly)
Who told you that.

JACK
I got a look at your earlier work. Some motel candid camera shots. You got nice tits. Who was paying you to flash them at McRyan?

JACK
Nobody wants to know about conspiracy, I don’t get it. Let me tell you something. I know what I heard and what I saw. And I’m not gonna stop until everyone in this fucking country hears and sees the same thing. And you’re gonna help me. Yeah you. You’re gonna find your pal Karp, and you’re gonna get that original film. Because this isn’t any good, I need the original. Because if we don’t get this out and in television for everybody to see, they’re gonna close the book. And any loose ends that happen to be hanging out like you or me, are going to be cut right off. So you got your choice. You can be crazy or dead, either will do.

SALLY (on the verge of tears)
Alright, alright. I’ll try and get the film. Then will you just leave me alone about all of this?

JACK
I wish I was the only one you had to worry about.

SALLY
You know if you’re trying to scare me, you’re doing a good job.

JACK
I’m trying to save our asses.

SALLY
I’ll look after my own ass, thank you.

When Jack tells Sally, “And you’re gonna help me. Yeah you. You’re gonna find your pal Karp, and you’re gonna get that original film,” he gives her the same condescending, commanding pointed finger that he received from the cop, when he was told to change his story:

There is an economic element to this intimidation as well: we see the sizes of their respective places, and Jack’s is clearly bigger, a two storey house. Money determines your importance, and whatever the miseries of his work, he is doing far better than her, has more money, is relatively more important, and this intimidates her as well. The assassination film is his project, and he forces her to do what’s necessary that it be completed. Jack stashes the audio tape away in the ceiling, and the camera takes its perspective, looking down, Jack’s guiding polar star which he makes Sally’s guiding polar star as well. When we shift to the scene at Karp’s, it ends with Manny unconscious, the camera looking down again from the ceiling on the wreckage, the outcome of Jack’s obsession.

(the respective houses of Sally, and then Jack’s)

Sally tells Jack, “I know how to fix a face”, and he asks her in the conversation at the bar, “How about if I broke a nose? How would you deal with a broken nose?”, and she says, “Ah, that’s easy.” You’re reminded that make-up is a useful skill to have to hide bruises, to conceal the personal effects of a man kicking the shit out of you. Sally, of course, knows how to apply make-up so that it doesn’t even look like she’s wearing make-up, and she’s equally able to adopt a pose where one cannot easily tell how much of it is natural girlishness, and how much a survival strategy to forget past hurts and avoid further suffering.

She is a particularly nettlesome character to some viewers, and the discussion on The Projection Booth with regards to her is especially enlightening. This excerpt conveys succinctly the broad range of feelings towards her, as well as what her character embodies, fragment running approximately from 18:54 to 22:49:

MIKE WHITE
Jack saves Sally, pulls her out of the sinking car. We’ve got the governor, who might have been the next president, in the car with them, setting off this whole political intrigue. So, what did you guys think about Nancy Allen as Sally?

ROB ST. MARY
She seems almost child-like. At times. And child-like to a point, for me, is a bit annoying. It’s almost like she’s so oblivious to what’s going on, is so sorta naive, that it’s almost, it’s kinda hard for me to have sympathy for her at times, because I’m like, you are so dumb. You can’t even kinda figure this out. There are parts where she just seems way too ten years younger than she should be, she seems like a girl in her early teens or something, and I don’t know why I got that feeling, but I definitely got it in the early go, and as she progresses, it gets better, like the character gets a little hip to what’s going on, and sorta realizes the implications of what she’s dealing with.

JAMIE DUVALL
It’s a tough performance to grapple with in many ways, and I think it was a completely brave choice the way she chose to play it. Because you could see her as a complete air-headed bimbo at the movie’s start, with the high voice and the, you think it’s too exaggerated, but I think she starts with a stereotype, and she slowly humanizes it. And I think that her idealism, her kinda wide eyed idealism, is very fitting with the theme of the movie, because she’s the stereotypical hooker with the heart of gold. In her position, she has probably seen a lot of terrible things in life, and yet she maintains that kind of wide-eyed dreamy innocence in some way. While Travolta’s character, he’s grasping at the last straws of his idealism. And this is his, through the course of the movie, this is his one chance to try and make things right. I like the contrast between those two characters and I like that the innocence in her is exaggerated.

WHITE
Yeah, there’s a telling moment towards the end of the film, I know we’ll eventually get to it, kinda want to throw out this here now: do you guys see her as just being, I know this is going to sound really frickin ponderous, but: do you see her more as a symbol of America’s innocence and, you know, Jack is maybe someone who is post-sixties whereas she is maybe pre-sixties kind of thing? Do you see her as kindof that desire for a simpler, better time and that she kinda lets some of these things, because she has been in these bad places. I know that you said, Jamie. I know that you- you see her caught in one of these candid motel photograph kind of things and yet, she doesn’t seem like she’s that person. She just seems to be kinda oblivious and wants to move on with things, and look for the better way whereas Jack doesn’t, do you see her as that symbol of innocence?

DUVALL
I do think you can very easily see her as that. She’s got her blinders on, to the dangers of the world around her. But she can’t escape them forever. And- I think there’s a reason why she’s killed in front of a big American flag, at the end of the film. I mean-

WHITE
Oh, SPOILERS.

DUVALL
Oh, I’m sorry. It’s pretty hard to avoid when you’re talking about where that character goes and what she means to the story. You know, her demise. Yeah, I think that’s a beautiful reading, and I love how you used the term countercultural, because De Palma is a countercultural film-maker. He’s always been a political minded film-maker. And I think that both of these characters kinda represent that in some way.

The startling, iconic shot just mentioned is, of course, this one:

Though an outwardly simple character, Sally has several fascinating ambiguities, such as whether she ever worked as a prostitute, how much she was involved in that work, and how she reconciles the frequently rough life of sex work with a kind and trusting disposition. The sections of The Projection Booth when Nancy Allen speaks of her character might be its most insightful moments, as she seemingly acknowledges that Sally worked as a prostitute while also denying it. We sense perhaps the protectiveness actors adopt for their own characters, but perhaps also the way an actor cannot express a detail about their character without also adopting the perspective of the person portrayed: I wear the kind of elegant expensive boots that a prostitute of the time would wear, but I’m not a prostitute since I’ve insisted on forgetting that I was ever such a thing, and so how could I be something that I don’t remember being?

A fragment that runs from 2:15:08 to 2:15:54:

MIKE WHITE
Your character, even though I sense she’s a prostitute, is one of the nicest people in the film.

NANCY ALLEN
Well, she’s not exactly a prostitute (laughs) as I said before. She is in her- She is working with this guy, this creepy detective, to expose these horrible cheating men. So, in her mind, she’s really doing a service to other women. Of course, she’s in complete denial of what she’s doing. As I am of her character, because I don’t see her as a prostitute. I see her as a very sweet, well-intentioned, young girl, who was easily manipulated and trusting, of men. So, you know, I can relate to that.

Another fragment, running from approximately 2:28:55 to 2:33:51:

MIKE WHITE
Where did you come up with that voice to do?

NANCY ALLEN
The voice came after, I had a visual, sometimes I try, just when you think about a character, and I had this visual of her as a, just a little rag doll, just a little raggedy ann, curly red haired, I don’t know, it kinda floated through me as I was walking around, as I tend to do, just mulling over characters, and I had a visual of her, and Brian wanted me to do a Philadelphia accent, which I had a really hard time with. I just hate accents so much, I was really resistant to doing it. We talked about characters like Giulietta Masina in, god, I’m going blank now- You know, not so bright, well intentioned, kindof character, do you know the movie I’m thinking of? With Giulietta Masina and Anthony Quinn? What is that movie, I know you know what one I’m talking about, I know what one I’m talking about.

WHITE
Is it La Strada?

ALLEN
YES! Thank you. Brilliant. You win the prize. So, we were talking about that, and I said, what if I just do kindof a New York-ese, not well educated kind of way of talking that, and just- The idea of, I was trying to think, why do women, certainly the women that I know, [goes into higher pitched, babyish voice, which sounds a lot like Sally] You know, this is kind of one of their voice days. [back to normal] And I thought, well, you know what? These are women who are resistant to growing up, keep their child like qualities, it works for them to a point, I mean, obviously, as you get older it’s a little bit unappealing. But- so- Maybe that’s going to justify- Take that idea and apply it to this character. And so, that’s where that came from. I will tell you, I think one of the first things that I shot was the hospital scene. With John. Who was unshaven, and wouldn’t wear make-up, and poor George Litto, who was producing at that time, came to the set, and he said “I’m paying three million dollars to a movie star, and he won’t wear make-up?” And then he looked at me and said, “Are you…you using that voice throughout the whole picture, or just in this scene?” And he just walked away, shaking his head, he didn’t know what to do with either of us. That’s where all of that came from.

WHITE
Whenever I think of you in the film, I think of your voice, but I also think of that coat, that you wear.

ALLEN
Oh, yes! [laughs] YES. There were many of those. Ann Roth made, six or eight of those, with the fox collar and…yeah yeah yeah, it was a great coat.

WHITE
It was like crushed velvet?

ALLEN
EXACTLY! Very good. Indeed it was. And I had very expensive boots. Always very expensive boots, because Ann Roth had done Klute, and she’d done a lot of research about hookers and girls like that, and they always had good shoes. Great boots.

WHITE
But you weren’t a hooker?

ALLEN
Well, THAT’S RIGHT. That’s what I say. [laughs]

WHITE
I guess the coat helped my perception of that.

ALLEN
She [Ann Roth] had such a great touch of detail, I don’t know if anyone has noticed it, because there’s probably only one scene where it’s visible to the eye, but when I talked to her about the character and I told her my visual concept, and things I was thinking about with her, and the idea, that some day she was going to be a make-up artist, a movie star. I liked the idea that this young girl had an idea about lucky charms, and things like that. So, she put together, I still have it somewhere, it’s a rabbit’s foot, on a thin pink satin ribbon. That I always wore, and it was either under- but I always wore that charm when we were shooting. It was, those little details really make a difference when you have something like that. That’s what’s so great about the collaboration of film, where an actor can work with another actor, and a director, and a costume person, and make-up person, and really great costumes, and wonderful hair and make-up, it really fleshes out a character, and all of a sudden you look at yourself, and you go, yeah, that’s her. That’s it. This is it exactly, and you start to feel it in a big way.

This mixture of ambiguity and simplicity, the kindness, the voice, all make me link this character to an actress now inextricably connected to the Kennedys, and that would be Marilyn Monroe. The accident at the heart of the movie, which might feel like a dreamy conflation of american tragedies, might carry the echo of a lost hypothetical: what if Marilyn Monroe had hooked up with the one Kennedy brother she didn’t, and was there in the car with him at Chappaquiddick? Though I think Allen has a wider range, I can see Monroe’s peculiar genius making her a perfect fit for the part of Sally had Blow Out somehow been made in the 1950s, one of those roles where she would have been great, but which would also provoke the question of whether she was acting, or just playing Marilyn Monroe…or whether she’s always playing Marilyn Monroe. This tragic icon would get paid $50 to be photographed nude by Tom Kelley, who would sell the pictures for $500, which then went into a calendar that made a profit of three quarters of a million dollars; “He says he heard all about our fine divorce work and offers us six grand,” says Manny Karp, explaining the meeting with Burke for the McRyan job. “Six? You told me three,” says Sally. “Yeah, well, three before and three after,” says Karp. Sally: “When were you going to tell me about the three after?” Monroe, we’re told in The Genius and the Goddess, “was a prostitute, in cars on shady side-streets, in return for small amounts of money to buy food,” just as Sally had to do paid sex work to survive; the most striking similarity is that Monroe, despite the very grim circumstances of her life, was able to exhibit a girlish, open-eyed, friendly atttitude, and how much of that was affect beneath which the actual Marilyn was enwrapped is an open question. Nunally Johnson, a screenwriter and friend of Monroe would say that she was “generally something of a zombie. Talking to her is like talking to somebody underwater“, and this might be something like the exasperation people have with Sally, where you might ask, what part of you isn’t gauzy cotton candy?8

I don’t think I’ve ever had this complaint with the character, because Sally has always made perfect sense to me, someone who has been very badly hurt over and over again, and has made herself into a strange kind of creature, an unknowable amnesiac submissive, to avoid being hurt again. In her first scene after the drowning, Sally moves about drugged, finally so comatose she has to be pushed onto her bed. In her last scene, she’s dragged about in a tight grip by Burke. Manny gets her in the beds of men for divorce work. Jack pushes her into retrieving the film from Manny. Throughout the movie, she acquiesces to being a device in other plots, culminating in the last, which she finally resists, a victim in a series of killings. We might see in the three characters of Jack, Burke, and Sally, a trinity, with Jack the middle point. Burke is technically adept like Jack, able to tap into and re-wire the phone system much like the title charcter of Three Days of the Condor, yet he is a sociopath, a man entirely without any sense of the humanity of others. Jack does have this feeling, along with Burke’s precision and focus, yet when his obsession overtakes him, when he forces Sally to retrieve Karp’s film, he loses this empathy. Sally has none of the engineering gifts of these two men, but is far more compassionate, with a far greater sense of the feelings of others, and this makes her guilt ridden, and it compels her to forget, to sometimes act as if some things never took place. “Manny, we got him killed,” she says tearfully to Karp, about governor McRyan’s accident. “Don’t give me any of this conscience shit,” says Karp. “You’re a pig, Manny,” she says, “And I’m a pig too.” Though it’s never said openly, one reason why Sally connects with Jack, feels such sympathy for him, is that they both know what it’s like to be haunted by the past, a death they feel complicit in causing.

One can understand why Allen felt the rabbit’s foot so crucial, because this is a character, whatever her outward circumstances, who somehow remains wide eyed and optimistic. She believes that luck will guide her to a better life, and this is the same magical thinking cure of most Hollywood movies, that we needn’t worry, that things will somehow turn out for the best in the end. The rabbit’s foot will protect Sally’s life, and Jack Terry will somehow prevail, save her, and become a hero by uncovering an American coup, and in another movie we can easily imagine this happy ending. But not this one. The one detail that Allen misremembers is that the rabbit’s foot was not a hidden talisman serving as just a helpful lodestone to the actress visible only in one scene – it is prominently displayed throughout the movie, another example of De Palma effectively using the visual, clothing and props, to convey a character well. Sally is wearing the rabbit’s foot when she dies:

I see Sally as someone like Marilyn Monroe, where we’re no longer sure where the artifice begins and ends, but I also see her as a play on the types we might see in the kind of exploitation movie that’s shown in the opening. Sally would be the squeaky voiced Bimbo, but rather than leave her as the flat expendable type of a low grade horror movie, she’s made into something complicated, a woman of kindness, suffering, and desperation. She’s accompanied by another possible type from the exploitation movie, the nameless hooker played by Deborah Everton, who in another movie would be a woman to be hated, the Bitch or Slut. Though we know almost nothing of this character, the performance makes this character into something other than a flat type as well, a woman who has to put up with lousy, tiresome, nasty work for her pay. She can turn on a charming, luminiscent face and turn it off on a dime, which aren’t simply the skillset of a hooker, but the basic necessity of anyone in the service industry, whether you’re a waiter, counter person, barista, or tech support, with the demand that you remain friendly towards the customer putting you on the edge of hating the customer as well. The hooker gives a beaming smile to Burke, then with a quick turn it fades off, the fade out accompanied by the clank of the telephone door. The friendliness is machine like, just as working in the service industry is like an unending lesson in how to be a friendly machine, and you have to be a friendly machine because you have no other choice. “You need the money that bad?,” Jack asks Sally about her extortion work. “C’mon, you know where I work,” she replies. “I get paid to smile my ass off and show the twenty seven colored lipsticks they’re pushing. You know how much I make? Shit is what I make.”

Rather than hating this prostitute for the coldness you need to make it through the day doing certain kinds of work, we empathize with her. Any hatred for this character, who might be the nasty Bitch the audience is supposed to hiss at in another movie, does not emanate from anyone sympathetic who we might connect with, but the lunatic serial killer Burke, who stares after her with cold loathing. We’re briefly given something of this perspective in Blonde, the fictional account of Marilyn Monroe’s life by Joyce Carol Oates, when it enters the mind of the photographer who shoots Monroe’s calendar. “Shooting a girl’s ruined face and her breasts jiggling and her ass and she’s young-looking as a kid stuffed into a woman’s body, innocent like something you’d want to smudge with your thumb just to dirty up.” These women move from exploitation types where their killings would be simply a dramatic musical cue and gore, blood dripping over bare tits, say, to a place where their deaths have a tragic weight, where the audience resists the possibility that Sally might die. The women have a sorrowful end, but the movie does not smudge them with its thumb. After Sally’s death, she is reduced back to something inhuman again, a mere sound effect, an accompaniment for a horror movie’s routine, expected death that means nothing. Her last breath on earth is now a small useful element, like gristle or copper residue, left over from one industrial process that can be re-used in another, in this case the manufacture of low cost nudie slashers. We are given a horror movie where the victims are more substantial than we expect them to be. We get the deaths promised in the film’s mock opening, and at the same time, not what we wanted at all.

As always in De Palma, there is voyeurism. If voyeurism is an activity where we, the observers, are allowed the excitements of sex and violence without cost or involvement, then movies might be thought an ideal expression of this form, the same privilege as in real life, but where the observed activities will play out exactly as we wish – the man or woman will take off their clothes until they’re fully naked, the hero will wreak cruel vengeance, the woman in peril will be saved. All three of these describe vicarious fantasies of De Palma’s movies, and in all three movies, the fantasies are subverted. Dressed to Kill provides us sexual voyeurism, where Nancy Allen’s Liz strips down to her bra and panties, then turns on a lunatic killer by describing her fantasy of submitting to sex at knifepoint. We are then given a near recreation of this same fantasy, with Liz first showering nude when the same lunatic killer enters the house, and then Liz in a state of helpless and abject terror before her throat is cut. The very thrills that turn on the deranged killer are there to turn us on as well. We are given a titillating close-up of an unconscious nurse unzipped of her uniform, the kind of chest bursting outfit only found in exploitation movies and porno, before we shift perspective to see who is peeking on this erotic vision, and we see whose eyes we share, those of the masturbating grotesques of the asylum. The director plays the same trick on us as we gawk at a sapphic pairing in The Black Dahlia before we cut to the voyeur, another crippled grotesque, and, of course, the beginning of Blow Out, where we peek on co-eds in panties, bra, or less, and we are revealed in the mirror as one more deformed, moronic lunatic.

Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill

Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill

Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill

The Fury is about a young man gifted with telekinesis who is programmed to hate the arabs he is told murdered his father, and his perspective becomes so distorted that he lashes out with rage and kills some Saudi sheiks visiting the United States. He is presented to us as a damaged sociopath, but when the movie’s other telekinetic character, who throughout has always been afraid of the destructiveness of her powers, finally unleashes her abilities to annihilate her enemy, it is our catharsis. The images that shape the sociopath of the movie shape us as well9.

Though Sally does sex work, like Liz in Dressed to Kill, at no point is the idea of sexual fantasy played with. Though Sally is a beautiful woman, the movie’s perspective is distinctly unerotic. Here, I think one might mention one last trait of Sally which she shares with Marilyn Monroe, and this is why Sally is the center of a fantasy, but not a sexual one. What recurs in every account and biography of Monrone’s life was her extraordinary vulnerability, a reaching out for a love that would save her. This, I think, is part of the fantasy of Monroe after her death, that you might be this man – if only she’d known you! – whose love would be subtle and tender enough to rescue her from the claws and rusty nails of this wretched life. There is the similar fantasy of the end of Blow Out, a vulnerable child-like woman unable to fend for herself who will be rescued by the hero, the hero a proxy of ourselves, redeeming everything in his life that has gone before. The Fury and Dressed to Kill foil the audience’s desires implicitly, you are given what you want, but you are likened to a monster. Blow Out is explicit, the fantasy is destroyed. The woman in trouble dies.

AMERICAN LIGHTNING / MEMORIES OF THE U.S.A. / THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION

As already said, the characters of Blow Out, people without college educations, people who would be considered part of that vague and stigmatized grouping, “working class”, are often placed on the fringes and the bottom tier roles of American movie life, the top roles reserved for executives, lawyers, doctors, and other members of the professional class, and the Philadelphia they live in is a visual reflection of this. What we see of the city is squalid and dirty, with an underlying current of despair and exhaustion, a sense perhaps of a partly abandonned city, a chunk of the population having already left for the outlying suburbs. We are given unflashy, unvarnished grit, a place of greys and faded light all the while the bright divisions familiar to all, of the American (and French) tricolor recur again and again, standing out in this stark landscape, before becoming the light that overcoats the tragic night scene at the liberty bell.

The color theme begins with the joke opening. The dancers in red and white negligées, the blue light behind them. Blow Out is a serious movie, but not self-importantly serious, and this scene contains one of my favorite lines in a De Palma movie for its beautiful delivery, “Oh, go to Sue. Fuck off.”:

The dominant red of the room in which the couple have sex. Red, obviously, is a good color to associate with sex. The main part of Blow Out is a movie without erotic sex (does anyone consider the blow job in the train station to be erotic?) and the only time this strong, overwhelming red recurs is in episodes of violence. The red of Manny Karp’s room when he forces himself on Sally, and is then knocked out by a beer bottle, the red light of the construction site where the first woman is killed, and the red light of the tower where Sally dies.

The red, white, and blue seen very briefly in one of the passing students:

The opening ends abruptly and we are in the screening room. Jack is in a blue shirt, there are the red curtains, and the man running the console wears white.

Small hints of the theme in the props of Jack’s office, the red white and blue of the schedule and the clock; the news with the liberty day logo and the newscaster in a tricolor outfit:

We leave the color scheme almost entirely in the pastoral setting of the accident, except for one element, the woman’s red coat:

During their first moments together after she’s recovered, Jack and Sally are in a setting which feels like a kind of purgatory, overwhelming white without any of the three colors:

This creates a striking contrast with the motel setting, where the colors come into play stronger than ever before. The cars in the parking lot bathed in red light from the motel insignia, which is a bell pattern in neon:

Burke changes the tire; blue coat, blue bag, red screwdriver, red wire cutters:

The red, white, and blue wallpaper of the motel room, the red, white, and blue bed settings, the blue drapes, the blue doors, the red phone, the red ashtray, the red chandeliers, Jack’s blue shirt, Sally’s white gown:

The red, white, and blue of the design on the door of the editing room where Jack puts together the edit of the accident photos and his sound recording:

The outside shot of Jack’s building as he finishes the edit of still photos and sound, red fire engine doors and red car, Jack works in a red shirt. Jack almost always wears combinations of red and blue:

There is the student of the opening that we briefly glimpse, in a red, white, and blue pattern, and the first victim who we follow for an extended period wears the very same tricolor mix, first spotted on an escalator where she is preceded by a crowd with prominent red and blue:

The two passing women who briefly obscure our gaze during this pursuit:

The red, white, and blue of the bus that blocks our view:

The red light that bathes the construction site, that shades Burke’s face, the tricolor pattern of the poster, which matches the pattern of the motel wallpaper, the red and blue of the victim’s sweater:

The red, white, and blue of the construction machines as we rise away from the building site:

With Mackey, Jack is now in all blue:

Jack goes to Manny Karp’s photo place, in red, shop with red dresses, passerby in blue:

At Manny Karp’s place, the red of the carpeting, the blue of the cop’s uniform, the whites of the photos. A sidenote: the pictures on the wall and the wallpaper make clear that the motel room at the beginning is in the same motel, perhaps the same room, where Sally and Manny do their divorce work:

Jack bullies Sally into getting the photos back from Manny, he’s in blue, she’s in red:

The overwhelming red of Manny Karp’s place:

Jack at the scream auditions, all blue, red curtains, the director in red:

The editing room when the tapes are erased, blue door, red extinguisher against white background:

Jack at home, red shirt, red cabinet, blue phone, white wall:

Jack and Sally speak on the phone, red shirt for Jack, white housecoat with blue trim and blue phone for Sally:

The red, white, and blue of the prostitute and the sailor in the train station:

The woman alone now in the phone booth:

Red dress, blue toothbrush, white bristles:

Sally in the train station; strong reds in this movie are associated with violence, and a group of children cross the station floor, the chain of red foreshdowing her doom:

Jack realizes something is wrong, red shirt and blue outfit:

As the chase begins, blue jeep and red car in the parking lot:

The tricolor of the parade members is obvious. The crowd sequence flooded with red and blue light should be well remembered by anyone who has seen the movie, and the following is a brief overview. The obvious zenith is Sally in front of the American flag, followed by the soldiers in revolutionary garb ringing the bell:

After Sally’s death, we move to a snow covered landscape, a bookend to the white background of the hospital room where Jack and Sally first spoke. Jack is all in blue, and he wore a blue trenchcoat and blue tie when he discovered Freddie’s body:

The white backgrounds of the snow covered park and the hospital room are one bookend, the other is the camera traveling from the tree leaves, to Jack’s technical equipment, till we reach a close-up of Jack himself, which is a mirror of the sound engineer on his listening expendition. Then, we moved along the antenna, now we move along the earphone wire:

The liberty bell strangler was finally killed, red white and blue:

We revisit Sally’s death in this last scene, and so the dominant color is the red of the studio drapes:

The use of this motif goes beyond the simple purpose of dramatic movement from low volume to crescendo; that these colors, recognizably American colors, reach their full bloom in a tragic act of violence that takes place in the background of a patriotic ritual, suggest the contradictions of the American character, a fascination with violence while denying that such attraction exists, or that the violence one is attracted to is anything but righteous, and yet this ambivalent fascination is not entirely a bad thing: it provided a vital heart to American movies and literature for decades. The finale of Blow Out is horrifying, but it’s also bravura, brilliant film-making, it’s gorgeous. Blow Out opens with a couple having sex in a room filled with red, and when the same dominant red appears later, it’s always there when violence is about to take place. This is a movie about a country at a time when violence was considered more acceptable than sexual desire, but it’s also about two characters, Jack Terry and Burke, whose sexual energies are subliminated in their obsessions. Film-making is an obsession as well, and the rich blooming colors of the ending are a counterpoint to the tragedy, but they are also the bright lights of ecstasy, the obsession fulfilled of the film-maker.

On The Projection Booth‘s “Episode 140: Blow Out”, the movie’s upsetting terminus was discussed by both producer Fred Caruso and Nancy Allen, as well as the possibility of a happier coda.

This fragment runs approximately from 1:55:30 to 1:57:17 (audio is occasionally quirky here, but is entirely audible and coherent):

FRED CARUSO
Let me tell you about the end of the picture. I mean, the film was well-received, as a decent business, but there was always the question, “Should Nancy Allen have lived at the end?” When John Travolta goes to the hospital and sees her, should her eyes have opened, should they have kissed on the lips, the music comes up, and a happy ending at the end. Yes, he could still be the soundman, he could still go back to his laboratory, he could still hear all of that stuff…but rather than making it such a sad, sad ending, black veiled, black cloud over the picture, what should the real ending have been in the movie? That was a question the studio had, George Litto had, I had, Brian had, and then Brian of course, said, “Look, that’s the ending of my movie. That’s how I end my movie. If the audience likes it, fine. If the audience don’t like it, fine.” So, there’s always been a controversy as to would the picture have been more popular with an audience, and done more business, if, and also if you recall, the one sheet advertising that you saw in the newspaper and the front of the theater, was a picture of John Travolta, black and white, with a horror scream, his face looked like a horror scream, and it said Blow Out, which made that look like a horror movie. Rather than a suspense love story. That’s the question, which would have been better, which would have been the better way to do it. I don’t know. But that was always wandering in the background, even as the picture got released.

This fragment runs approximately from 2:23:00 to 2:24:30:

MIKE WHITE
I heard that there was a different ending to the film at one point.

NANCY ALLEN
A different ending? No, we, myself, [editor] Paul Hirsch, and…I forget who else, really lobbied to…once John got involved, and then you have the two of us together…my argument, well, Paul Hirsch said, “You can’t have- John Travolta can’t not save the girl.” (laughs) You can’t kill her. And people are going to love these two, and they’re going to hate you for doing this. My feeling was, she can die, but you have to really have to let them have that moment together, we have to feel that maybe there’s love, maybe there’s something, so people can really feel his loss. So, there was conversation. There was never a different ending. The only thing different, as I said earlier, there were no parades, there were no mummers’ parades, there were no fireworks, none of that existed, that was all developed to make it a bigger, more important picture, now that we had John in there. “Wait a minute, this is John Travolta,” you have to make- I believe it was George Litto who talked to Brian and said you know, we gotta do this, gotta make this bigger, so, that’s how that piece developed. But, Paul and I, whoever else was vying for a slightly different thing with John and I, we lost, John and Brian said, “NOPE,” it’s not happening. So, that’s what I remember.

The death of Sally does not strike me as capricious sadism, or arbitrary in any way, or anything other than organic to the material, a finale that feels necessary just as the death of Anna Karenina feels necessary, where one cannot imagine any other possibility that wouldn’t ring false, a betrayal of the story. The movie’s closing would have no tragic power if De Palma had contempt for this character, and killed her off because he wanted her to die. It has a tragic power because he, like the audience, wants this character to live, just as he wants Oanh of Casualties of War to live, and yet if these women were to survive, it would make everything that came before it meaningless. It would transform these movies into their antithesises, where none of the choices of the characters had any dramatic weight, because the very structure of the movie would ensure that these decisions would have no consequence, because events would always turn out for the best. What I’ve just described is a shared trait of most Hollywood movies now, and one which makes them, whatever the overdramatic stakes and whatever the portentous music, so entirely lacking in tension, for the simple fact that the game is rigged, and we are sure the heroes will end up in the proper winning square, whatever they’ve done beforehand on the playing board.

Though I know some have dismissed the last scene as a ludicrous twist, I can only see it as striking a very uncomfortable, uncannily truthful note. Jack Terry once used his skills for investigation, and he now uses them again for the purpose of perceiving more deeply. Sally Bedina is someone who forgets or pretends to forget the most difficult episodes of the past, and her gifts lie in concealment. Jack Terry is discouraged from looking deeper at a mysterious accident, and encouraged by the governor’s aide and the police to adopt something closer to the attitude of Sally, to stop remembering what’s so inconvenient. “We’d like you to forget about her, forget you ever saw her,” Lawrence Henry, the governor’s friend asks of Jack, speaking of Sally. “One playmate just vanishes from McRyan’s car, just like that?,” asks Jack. “That’s right,” says Henry. This kind of amnesia of historical events is often wrongly attributed as unique to the United States, when it very much isn’t, though it’s perhaps most striking in America because of its many virtues. It is an amnesia that perhaps began with its very birth, with the idea that no man or woman who was enslaved was truly human, and so this historical crime never actually took place. “Your past catching up with you?” someone asks a nervous Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. “I told you darling,” she replies. “I don’t have any past. ‘Marilyn’ was born yesterday.” There is a tradition, occasionally an American tradition, to cleave the horror from great tragedies to make something more palatable and profitable. In Gone With the Wind, the slaves are happy men and women who fight on behalf of their masters. M*A*S*H begins as a satire of the bloody absurdities of the Viet Nam war, and ended up an incredibly successful sitcom without any connection to the horrors of that war. The mass death and devastation of New York City is replayed as a background of colorful apocalypse in Man of Steel and Star Trek: Into Darkness. The horror of this last contains an extra frisson because it was connected to something very real, very upsetting, and now it is spliced into something without any such weight – and this splicing is exactly what Jack Terry does. He still has evidence of the conspiracy, having made a copy of the audio tape, and he could easily put it together with a series of photos again, since all that Frank Donahue ever wanted was just the audio tape. Jack Terry, however, has stopped investigating, and now he’s trying to do what Sally does, which is to just forget.

Jack Terry is involved in image-making, and throughout the movie, we are shown images made that turn out to be misleading, wrong, false, or exploitive, the surface horror of the viscera, rather than the squalid horrors of Sally’s life. “When these policies are carried out, and the economic climate improves, as we expect it will…the people will rally to support the president, in the upcoming primaries,” says campaign manager Jack Matters on TV in the opening. “A lot can happen between now and then.” The “lot that can happen,” which the TV doesn’t reveal has nothing to do with the policies, but the photos of Sally with McRyan. We are told on TV that the first woman is the victim of a ritual sex slaying, when we know her death is part of a cover-up plot. The movie ends with the news telling us that Burke was finally killed by Sally, when we know it was Jack. Neither Jack nor Sally are ever mentioned as being anywhere near the accident site. The news is misleading, or it is callously opportunistic. “EXCLUSIVE! PHOTOS OF MCRYAN’S DEATH!” blares the newstand ad for the magazine with the pictures that Jack edits together, and the PHOTOS OF MCRYAN’S DEATH! have nothing to do with any larger investigation of the accident, but blood, guts, corpses. Jack works on movies that are horror and death as entertainment, and the newspapers are in the same business as well.

Jack Terry returns to cheapie horror, where blood, and death, and killing, disconnected from anything is acceptable. In this, he might also be tracing the very arc of his creator, who started out as a political film-maker before becoming very successful making thrillers, and would always arouse revulsion when he moved back into anything political. A movie about a sex criminal like Dressed to Kill or a fictionalized account of a crime fighting squad like The Untouchables is just a fun night at the movies. To make a movie about sex criminals in an actual historical context, with a very real individual fighting for justice in Casualties of War is to touch a third rail that everyone wishes did not exist. The problem with Jack Terry isn’t that he’s so emotionally destroyed that he uses a tragedy for its necrokineticism to give a cruel flourish of an exclamation mark to a terrible movie’s scary moment, because this kind of exploitation is commonplace and expected. The problem is that Jack Terry just can’t forget.

(On March 25th, 2014, some exact quotes were added, specific livelier substitutes in place of generalizations; no meanings were altered. Some new images were added as well, such as the comparison of the houses of Jack and Sally, as well as the text on the pointing fingers of Jack and the cop. The section on the hooker played by Deborah Everton was added as well. On March 26th, some small fixes were made, footnote #3 about Mackey in the flashback and the comparison of the personality types of Sally, Jack, and Burke was added. On March 28th, the text was again edited for various aesthetic fixes, and small issues of grammar. No new material was added on thate date. On April 14th, 2014, the excerpt from Hunter Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt was added to the footnote on John McLaughlin.)

(All images from Blow Out copyright Orion Pictures. Images from All the President’s Men copyright Warner Bros. Images from Dressed To Kill copyright Filmways and associated producers. Images from Mission: Impossible and The Fury copyright Paramount Pictures. Images from The Black Dahlia copyright Universal Pictures.)

FOOTNOTES

1 This subhead, as well as the part of the later subhead, “I am of both your directions”, is taken from the stanzas of a poem by Marilyn Monroe, excerpted in Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Anthony Summers:

Life -
I am of both your directions
Existing more with the old frost
Strong as a cobweb in the wind
Hanging downward the most
Somehow remaining
those beaded rays have the colors
I’ve seen in paintings – ah life
they have cheated you…
thinner than a cobweb’s thread
sheerer than any-
but it did attach itself
and held fast in strong winds
and singed by leaping hot fires
life – of which at singular times
I am both of your directions-
somehow I remain hanging downward
the most
as both of your directions pull me.

2 The King Commission is an obvious substitute for the real life Knapp Commission (the wikipedia entry, “Knapp Commission”), which arose after Frank Serpico would testify to corruption in the NYPD. A number of movies feature the Knapp Commission, or an obvious stand-in, in their plots, including The Pope of Greenwich Village and Prince of the City. De Palma would spend many years developing Prince before it was taken away, to be directed eventually by Sidney Lumet.

In her interview on The Projection Booth, “Episode 140: Blow Out”, Nancy Allen would explain the connection between Prince, Blow Out, and the King Commission scene, fragment runs from 2:28:00 to 2:28:55:

MIKE WHITE
That flashback, with Travolta, to that moment where the cop got killed, just adds so much to our understanding of him.

NANCY ALLEN
Oh yeah. It really does. And that was Brian’s opportunity, that was his wink and nod to Prince of the City, which he was originally supposed to direct. So, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that story, Prince of the City? About the corrupt cop. Well, he spent a lot of time developing it, he spent a lot of time with that cop, so I think this was Brian’s way of saying, well, you took the movie away from me, but I’m going to put a little bit of it in here anyhow. So, it served a good purpose, it exorcised those feelings for him, but I also think it served the character very well.

3 The further twist to this suspicion is that Mackey was there when things went very wrong at the taping of the undercover cop. When they’re prepping him, Jack very clearly says, “Mackey, hand me the tape.” No doubt Jack always considers the possibility that the whole incident might have been a case of internal sabotage to destroy the commission.

4 From the lecture “Jorge Luis Borges – The Metaphor [Conference]“ (youtube link):

Since I spoke of “as old as time,” I must quote another verse, a verse that is perhaps bubbling up in your memory. I can’t recall the name of the author, I know it quoted in Kipling in a not too memorable book of his, From Sea to Sea. “A rose red city / Half as old as time”. Had the poet written “A rose red city / As old as time,” he would have written nothing at all. But half as old as time, gives it a kind of magic precision.

5 An article from the time when this tape was first released is “Tapes Show Nixon Ordering Theft of Files” (author unlisted):

Recently released audiotapes capture President Richard M. Nixon ordering his top aide, a year before the Watergate burglary, to break into the Brookings Institution and steal its files on Vietnam, The San Francisco Examiner reported today.

The newspaper quoted from a conversation between Nixon and his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, part of 201 hours of private tapes released this week by the National Archives.

During a conversation on June 30, 1971, in the Oval Office, Mr. Nixon asked Mr. Haldeman to take the institution’s files relating to the Vietnam War, the Examiner said.

According to a partial transcript provided by the newspaper, Mr. Nixon said to Mr. Haldeman: “The way I want that handled, Bob, is through another way. I want Brooking — just to break in. Break in and take it out! You understand?”

A transcript of a meeting from Stanley Kutler’s Abuse of Power, where breaking into the Institute was discussed:

JUNE 17, 1971, THE PRESIDENT, HALDEMAN, EHRLICHMAN, AND KISSINGER, 5:17-6:13 P.M., OVAL OFFICE

A few days after the publication of the Pentagon Papers, Nixon discusses how to exploit the situation to his advantage. He is interested in embarrassing the Johnson Administration on the bombing halt, for example. Here, he wants a break-in at the Brookings Institution, a centrist Washington think tank, to find classified documents that might be in the Brookings safe.

HALDEMAN
You maybe can blackmail [Lyndon B.] Johnson on this stuff [Pentagon Papers].

NIXON
What?

HALDEMAN
You can blackmail Johnson on this stuff and it might be worth doing…The bombing halt stuff is all in that same file or in some of the same hands…

NIXON
Do we have it? I’ve asked for it. You said you didn’t have it.

HALDEMAN
We can’t find it.

KISSINGER
We have nothing here, Mr. President.

NIXON
Well, damnit, I asked for that because I need it.

KISSINGER
But Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together.

HALDEMAN
We have a basic history in constructing our own, but there is a file on it.

NIXON
Where?

HALDEMAN
[Presidential aide Tom Charles] Huston swears to God there’s a file on it and it’s at Brookings [Institution, a centrist Washington "think tank"].

NIXON
…Bob? Bob? Now do you remember Huston’s plan [for White House-sponsored break-ins as part of domestic counter-intelligence operations]? Implement it.

KISSINGER
…Now Brookings has no right to have classified documents.

PRESIDENT NIXON
…I want it implemented…Goddamnit, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.

HALDEMAN
They may well have cleaned them by now, but this thing, you need to-

KISSINGER
I wouldn’t be surprised if Brookings had the files.

HALDEMAN
My point is Johnson knows that those files are around. He doesn’t know for sure that we don’t have them around.

6 The dialogue from the movie is my own transcript, as it is a little different from the script which can be found here. The speech by Waltzer is whole and uninterrupted in the screenplay, but the themes are the same:

SENATOR WALTZER

I’ll go you one further. I say the CIA and all its shadow organizations have become irrelevant at best and unconstitutional at worst. It’s time we throw a little light on the whole concept of the Pentagon’s “black budget.” These covert agency subgroups have confidential funding, they report to no one — who are these people?! We were living in a democracy the last time I checked.

7 A photo of McLaughlin and Nixon, taken from “John McLaughlin (host) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”:

From “Jesuitical Defense is given for Nixon” by Philip Nobile, an interview with McLaughlin from the time of Watergate:

Only one White House staffer would dare say that – compared with some ecclesiastical skeletons, Watergate is like the “peccadilloes of novice nuns.” He is the Rev. John McLaughlin, a Jesuit priest and presidential speechwriter. Although Father McLaughlin once ran for the U.S. Senate as a liberal Republican peace candidate, he now is a member of Richard Nixon’s church. The dictionary defines “Jesuitical” as “crafty, cunning, equivocal. Father McLaughlin is certainly all that in defense of the President. I have never heard a more benevolent explanation of the Watergate mess. Charity begins at home but McLaughlin abuses the virtue by whitewashing the entire affair.

Q. Aren’t you uncomfortable serving Richard Nixon in these times?

A. No. I believe the President is morally innocent in the developing events.

Q. You mean the President is without sin himself?

A. The most he can be charged with is holding too loose a rein on subordinates but the price of holding tighter would probably have meant forsaking singular and important initiatives, both foreign and domestic, which I would not have wanted to see him do.

Q. Why are you so convinced of Richard Nixon’s innocence? Despite everything that has been revealed so far, how can you still believe he has committed no wrong?

A. I know from the President’s demeanor, his habitual thinking regarding matters of ethical significance, his deference to people, his determination to leave lesser details to others and others to keep these details from him – the confluence of these factors leads me to that conclusion of the President’s innocence.

Q. If you were a betting man, would you wager that the President will serve out his term?

A. I certainly would.

McLaughlin also makes a brief, but memorable, appearance in Hunter S. Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt:

At that point in time, most of Nixon’s traditional allies were beginning to hear the death shrieks of the banshee floating over the White House lawns at night, and even Billy Graham had deserted him. So Clawson [White House Communications Director Ken Clawson], in a stroke of cheap genius, put a sybaritic Jesuit priest and a mentally retarded rabbi on the payroll and sent them forth to do battle with the forces of Evil.

Father John McLaughlin, the Jesuit, wallowed joyfully in his role as “Nixon’s priest” for a month or so, but his star faded fast when it was learned he was pulling down more than $25,000 a year for his efforts and living in a luxury apartment at the Watergate. His superiors in the church were horrified, but McLaughlin gave them the back of his hand and, instead, merely cranked up his speechmaking act. In the end, however, not even Clawson could live with the insistent rumor that the Good Jesuit Father was planning to marry his girlfriend. This was too much, they say, for the rigid sensibilities of General Haig, the White House chief of staff, whose brother was a legitimate priest in Baltimore. McLaughlin disappeared very suddenly, after six giddy weeks on the national stage, and nothing has been heard of him since.

But Clawson was ready for that. No sooner had the priest been deep-sixed than he unveiled another, holy man — the Rabbi Baruch Korff, a genuine dingbat with barely enough sense to tie his own shoes, but who eagerly lent his name and his flaky presence to anything Clawson aimed him at. Under the banner of something called the “National Citizens’ Committee for Fairness to the President,” he “organized” rallies, dinner parties and press conferences all over the country. One of his main financial backers was Hamilton Fish Sr., a notorious fascist and the father of New York Congressman Hamilton Fish Jr., one of the Republican swing votes on the House Judiciary Committee who quietly voted for impeachment.

8 The excerpts from The Genius and The Goddess by Jeffrey Meyers:

The nude calendar that Mankiewicz mentioned originated in May 1949 when Marilyn was an obscure and occasionally impoverished model.Tom Kelley photographed her perfect body, a modern Venus, in several poses and paid her a modest $50. He sold the pictures for $500 to a company that put them on calendars, sold them throughout America and made a huge profit of $750,000. In the best photo Marilyn is shot sideways (to hide her pubic hair) and from a ladder ten feet above her. Her long wavy blond hair flows from her backtilted head and mingles with the blood-red waterfall of drapery beneath her.

It’s sadly ironic that Marilyn herself did not live to see the sexual revolution and suffered greatly for being its symbol. She’d experienced intense sexual pleasure with Jim Dougherty and with Fred Karger in the mid-1940s; but by the 1950s, under the stress of promiscuous sex and stardom, she’d become frigid. In the late 1940s, when she was modeling and trying to break into movies, she rarely had natural and spontaneous sex. Instead, she was a prostitute, in cars on shady side-streets, in return for small amounts of money to buy food. It’s astonishing – after all her acting lessons and her brief appearances in movies – that she would not only sell her body for the price of a meal, but would also risk humiliation and shame, predatory pimps and police, robbery and beating, sadism and sodomy, venereal disease and pregnancy.

Employing a metaphor that colleagues often used to describe the frequently remote, self-absorbed and almost somnambulistic Marilyn, the screenwriter and producer of the movie, Nunnally Johnson, said Marilyn “is generally something of a zombie. Talking to her is like talking to somebody underwater. She’s very honest and ambitious and is either studying her lines or her face during all of her working hours, and there is nothing whatever to be said against her, but she’s not material for warm friendship.” Johnson also felt she was as unresponsive as “a sloth.You stick a pin in her and eight days later she says ‘Ouch.’” Despite Marilyn’s difficulties, this first Cinemascope picture was a great success and grossed five times its lavish budget of $2.5 million.

9 The Fury and Dressed to Kill are discussed in greater depth on this site in “Brian De Palma’s The Fury, Or: Hollywoodland” and “Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill, Or: Two Women”. The Black Dahlia is discussed at very, very great length in a five part series of posts: one, two, three, four, five.

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Roger Stone: Pretty Reckless Is Going Straight To Hell Part Ten

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

(“Fires burn in Maidan,” image by Alexander Koerner via Getty, via Gawker’s “16 Gripping Images from Kiev’s Day of Fire and Blood” by Max Read. Photo title is by Read as well.)

These were not men familiar with the day. Darkness was their element, and it will cling to what they did forever.

“Heroic Darkness” by Garry Wills

THE KILLING OF GEORGIY GONGADZE / ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY

What was the impetus for this very long series, what pushed me into writing something about Roger Stone, was not anything that took place in his home country, but far away, and it’s only at this essay’s very end that we have reached it. The impetus lay in the following unexamined detail of Matt Labash’s profile, “Roger Stone, Political Animal”:

I arrange to see Stone in Manhattan, where he spends roughly one day each week, and Miami, where he lives. But beforehand, he threatens to take me to Ukraine, where the local press has outed him as being involved in the parliamentary campaign of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an Orange Revolutionary alum who’s been mentioned as a future president. Like many American political consultants, Stone does the odd election overseas, though he likes to keep it quiet, since it often causes a local furor because “Americans are now hated everywhere in the world–thank you, George W. Bush.”

“I don’t particularly want to go,” he says. “Our lives will be in danger. We will have bodyguards. Plus, the food sucks.” On the upside, he says, we’ll have a buxom translator named Svetlana, and “We can stop over in Amsterdam on the way home, for all the obvious reasons.” But, it turns out we don’t need to go; his guys on the ground have it covered. But it’s a constant struggle, he says: “The Russians love intrigue.” As though he doesn’t.

He is in perpetual dispute with Lytvyn’s local advisers, who he calls the Politburo. They deliberately mistranslate his ads to reflect their own clunky slogans, and he resents their interference, since what could they know about winning free and fair elections, being recently converted Commies and all. The atmosphere is charged enough that he has now taken to sending secret messages directly to the candidate, nicknamed “Mister.” Since his team assumes all their communications are monitored, they use code names such as “Buckwheat” and “Beetle.” Stone’s is “Mr. Pajamas,” the same one used by ur-Nixon Dirty Trickster Murray Chotiner, one of his personal heroes and mentors. (Lytvyn’s party was successful in the elections.)

We have this same campaign mentioned in Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Dirty Trickster”:

He ran one of the quixotic independent bids for New York governor of the billionaire Tom Golisano; helped defeat a pro-environment voter initiative in Florida, in 1996; and ran a political campaign in Ukraine. (“I’m the father of the yard sign in Ukraine,” Stone told me. “They say, ‘Comrade is genius.’”)

The fragment from Labash’s piece illustrates his skills as a writer, why reporters are drawn to Stone as a subject, as well as the limitations of taking Stone mostly on his terms – you get colorful noise, and not much else. We have the buxom translator, the impolitic putdown of George W. Bush, the machinations of the Americans and the locals pitted against each other, all interesting, all excitedly buzzing around the most crucial point, barely noticed and which Labash gets wrong, “the parliamentary campaign of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an Orange Revolutionary alum“. The Orange Revolution, as is generally known, was a revolt against a venal government that was seen as a supplicant and puppet of the Russian state. Ukraine was led by the very corrupt Leonid Kuchma, who then handed over the reins to Viktor Yanukovych, who won in an election that was widely seen as rigged, and this is what triggered the Orange Revolution. After squabbling between the Orange Revolution leaders, Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Russian Yanukovych would return to power, and after the first massive protests since the Orange Revolution, was overthrown this weekend. This is a very quick and very dirty overview of Ukraine’s political history, and I give it only to place Volodymyr Lytvyn, Roger Stone’s candidate, in context. The phrase “Orange Revolutionary alum” suggests a man from outside the regime. Lytvyn was not only in the Kuchma administration, he ended up one of its highest ranking members. Under Kuchma, he was Head of the Presidential Administration, then became Chairman of the Parliament. Lytvyn’s leaving the Party of Regions, the party of Kuchma and Yanukovych, suggests less a sudden rush of idealism, than opportunism. The eponymous party set up by Lytvyn after leaving Party of Regions, the Lytvyn Bloc, would run in the post-Orange Revolution elections, and eventually end up supporting Yanukovych and the Party of Regions303. This, again, is a rough description of what took place, but my intent is not to give a full detailing of Lytvyn and party politics, but to make clear how misleading “Orange Revolutionary alum” is as a descriptor. All this, however, is momentary exposition for the matter I really want to get to, one of the many events that incited the Orange Revolution, which was heavily reported on in Ukraine, and that Roger Stone, a man who prides himself on his savvy and knowledge of political trickeries must have known of when he took on this client. This man who was so impassioned by the lawless killings which he accuses Lyndon Johnson of, must have known of the allegations made, with far greater support than anything in Stone’s The Man Who Killed Kennedy book, that Volodymyr Lytvyn and Leonid Kuchma had been behind the killing of a journalist who was very critical of the Kuchma regime, a man named Georgiy Gongadze.

Easily the best source for information on this murder that I’ve found is “The Gongadze Inquiry: An investigation into the failure of legal and judicial processes in the case of Georgy Gongadze”, drafted by David Crouch and Simon Pirani. This compilation of reports did not have as its objective the solution of the killing or the indictment of specific assassins, only the assessment of the on-going failure of a proper inquiry into the death, the failure to conduct a thorough investigation. It is a model of a straightforward, diligent inquiry – we may perhaps debate what it is to be “unbiased”, but I think every reader knows what it is to have a sense of trust or distrust in a piece of reporting, and never do we distrust what is presented in “The Gongadze Inquiry”.

This investigative failure began immediately with the discovery of the Gongadze’s headless body, found near Kiev (Kyiv), in Tarshcha. Rather than give any weight to the details which identified the corpse as that of the missing Gongadze, investigators insisted that the journalist was still alive, then neglected to put the body into the cold storage that would have helped preserve it for a later autopsy. When journalists came to the Tarshcha morgue to claim the body, it was seized by the authorities and taken to Kiev. The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs told parliament that the body was too short to be Gongadze’s, and anyway, this body had been buried in the ground for the past two years304.

The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs would later report that Gongadze had been seen in a café the day after he’d gone missing. The Minister of Internal Affairs would state the same thing. The day after the body was found in Tarshcha, the Prosecutor Geenral would claim that Gongadze had been seen on a train. Later, another Prosecutor General would say he’d received information that Gongadze was still alive. No attempts appear to have been made to investigate any of these claims. DNA tests of the body indicated that a 99.6 probability that it was Gongadze’s. The prosecutor general would announce to parliament that there weren’t sufficient grounds for believing the body to be Gongadze’s. When further tests raised the probability to 99.9%, the Proseuctor General finally confirmed the body to be Gongadze’s and launched a murder investigation305.

After London’s The Independent revealed that leaked government documents showed senior government officials obstructing the Gongadze investigation, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced the detention of a “Citizen K” who had not only been prosecuted for other beheading crimes, he had also confessed to the killing of Georgiy Gongadze. “We are almost certain he did it,” announced the Prosecutor General’s Office. A month later, on July 2004, a coalition of groups – the Institute of Mass Information, the Ukrainian Law Organization, the International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland – wrote to the Prosecutor General requesting information on the suspect Citizen K, which the office was obliged to give under the Ukrainian Law on Information. Approximately a month later, the coalition would receive a reply from the Proseuctor General’s Office, signed by the Department of the Investigation of Very Important Cases. The reply stated that, contrary to reports, “Citizen K” had not been arrested in connection to the Gongadze killing and that the investigation was on-going. A month later, the Prosecutor General’s Office would make a similar public statement: “Citizen K” had no connection to the Gongadze case, an investigation which was on-going. The lawyer of Georgiy Gongadze was also sent a letter: at the present time, there are no suspects in the killing of Georgiy Gongadze. No arrests have been made306.

“Citizen K” was not the first suspect to be put forward, and then abandonned. There was also “Citizen D” and “Citizen G”, also known respectively as Cyclops and Sailor, also known as Igor Dubrovsky and Pavlo Gulyuvaty, members of a criminal gang who’d disappeared in late 2000. The Prosecutor General would announce with certainty in 2001 that D and G were the killers of Georgiy Gongadze, and the case had been solved. A Kiev newspaper would soon publish that both D and G had been filmed at a wedding the day Gongadze disappeared. It would also soon be discovered that both Citizens D and G had not disappeared, but were alive, well, and outside jail. The claim of the Prosecutor General would be retracted307.

Despite the appearance of these alternate suspects, there was already evidence which pointed a finger to a very specific point, within and at the very apex of the government of Ukraine. These were tapes made by Mykola Melnichenko, a former bodyguard of Leonid Kuchma, of a meeting in which journalist Georgiy Gongadze was discussed. I excerpt the paragraph from “The Gongadze Inquiry” which gives it first mention. I bold two relevant parts:

In November 2000, one of ex-president Kuchma’s guards, Nikolai Melnichenko, released recordings which he claimed he had made in the president’s office. On at least five occasions from 12 June to 3 July 2000, ex-president Kuchma and his ministers — head of the president’s administration Volodymyr Lytvyn, minister for internal affairs Yuriy Kravchenko, chief of the security service Leonid Derkach — discussed following Gongadze closely, “crushing” him, “taking care of” him and “throwing him to the Chechens”. Mr Lytvyn, now speaker of parliament, is apparently heard suggesting to Mr Kuchma that he should “let loose Kravchenko to use alternative methods”.

The Prosecutor General’s office would dismiss the possibility that the recordings were authentic, and open up slander proceedings against Melnichenko. It would be alleged that the Ukrainian opposition had fabricated the recordings in order to frame Kuchma308.

In 2004, the same document leak which unveiled the obstruction of the Gongadze investigation would also reveal that undercover police teams had conducted surveillance of Gongadze up to his abduction and disappearance. These police teams fell under the command of General Oleksiy Pukach, of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or the MIA. Before his disappearance, Gongadze himself sent an open letter to the Prosecutor General complaining that he was being followed. In the Independent‘s published document leak, on the day after Gongadze disappeared, Pukach would tell his officers to forget that they’d ever followed Gongadze. After this document leak, one investigative possiiblity that was begun was that Gongadze had been murdered by the “werewolves” a group of current and former police officers who kidnapped citizens for random, and sometimes later killed them. The MIA would conduct an internal investigation. They would declare that they had been unable to discover whether or not they’d followed Gongadze because relevant documents had been destroyed and MIA employees had declined to co-operate309. A year before, in August 2003, an MIA police officer named Ihor Honcharov died while in custody. Letters from Honcharov made public would reveal that he had told the Prosecutor General the names of the police officers involved in the surveillance of Gongadze. He would also allege that Gongadze had been killed on the orders of the then head of the MIA, Yuriy Kravchenko, the same Kravchenko who’d been at the recorded meetings as Lytvyn and Kuchma: “On at least five occasions from 12 June to 3 July 2000, ex-president Kuchma and his ministers — head of the president’s administration Volodymyr Lytvyn, minister for internal affairs Yuriy Kravchenko, chief of the security service Leonid Derkach — discussed following Gongadze closely, “crushing” him, “taking care of” him and “throwing him to the Chechens”.” Honcharov was a former member of the werewolves, and he warned the Kiev directorate in charge of organized crime of their existence, after which he received a savage beating. Two months later, he died in police custody. The leaked results of a secret autopsy concluded that Honcharov’s death was the result of a series of injections of Thiopental which had halted his breathing. There was no legitimate reason for injecting Honcharov with Thiopental, said doctors. Following this break, the Prosecutor General’s Office would declare that they had come close to solving the case. In October 2003, General Pukach would be arrested and charged with destroying evidence. At the end of October, President Kuchma fired the Prosecutor General who’d ordered the arrest. A week later, Pukach was released from prison, and in 2004, before the document leak revealing the MIA surveillance and the “Citizen K” incident, he was cleared of the charges 310

All this was recounted in the first report put out by the coalition of journalist groups looking into the lack of a proper investigation of the death of Gongadze. The second, issued in September 2005, after the Orange Revolution, was titled “The Instigators Are Getting Away”. Mykola Tomenko, who had resigned as deputy prime minister following the start of the rupture between Orange Revolution factions of Yulia Timoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko, would accuse Volodymyr Lytvyn, along with others, of trying to hinder the investigation and doing everything possible to restrict discussion of the Gongadze murder in parliament and the press311.

Since the publication of the first report, Viktor Shokin, deputy Prosecutor General, would allege that Gongadze was kidnapped by a group of serving MIA officers, led by Pukach, who had been beaten him, and then strangled Gongadze with Pukach’s belt. Pukach and a second group of people then moved Gongadze’s body to Tarashcha, where it was found. Valeriy Kostenko, Mykola Protasov and Oleksandr Popovych, three of the MIA officers led by Pukach in the kidnapping, would be indicted. All three would implicate Pukach in the killing. All three would eventually confess to committing the murder, with Protasov getting thirteen years, while Kostenko and Popovych would get twelve312. Pukach had fled the country. In 2005, various press would report that Pukach was in Israel. On the Melnichenko tapes, Volodomyr Lytvyn is “apparently heard suggesting to Mr Kuchma that he should “let loose Kravchenko to use alternative methods””. This Kravchenko was Pukach’s superior, Yuriy Kravchenko. On March 3, 2005, President Yushchenko would announce the case solved and the Prosecutor General would make a public statement saying they were inviting Kravchenko to give evidence. The next day, Kravchenko’s body was found at his country villa with a note declaring himself innocent of wrong doing, and blaming everything on the intrigue of President Kuchma and his entourage. Both the Ukrainian Security Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office considered the death a suicide, but there was one unusual detail to this suicide – Kuchma was a man of considerable military experience, with the usual weapons training, and this suicide involved being shot twice in the head, with a gunshot wound to the chin, and a gunshot wound to the temple. Melnichenko, the man who’d recorded the tapes incriminating Kuchma and Lytvyn, would travel to the U.S., where he was granted asylum. Though the Prosecutor General would go to the United States in an attempt to interview Melnichenko, they failed in this task. A friend and frequent collaborator of Melnichenko’s, Aleksandr Litvinenko, would state that Melnichenko had not made the recordings on his own – but had worked with others. Litvinenko, as is well known, would die in 2006, from radiation poisoing which was believed to be a successful assassination attempt313. In addition to Kravchenko and Pukach, two other senior MIA officers, Eduard Fere and Yuri Dagayev, may have been involved in the Gongadze killing. Aleksandr Popovych, one of the three men found guilty of direct involvement in the murder, would tell investigators that Pukach, Fere and Dagayev had met after the killing to discuss the need to rebury Gongandze’s body. One possibility put forth was that Dagayev, who was also Kuchma’s chief of staff, had conspired with Fere and Pukach to organize the killing, without the knowledge of Kuchma or Kravchenko. “We regard this as a credible hypothesis that should be further tested,” concluded “The Gongadze Inquiry”. In 2003, Fere would suffer a stroke which would put him in a vegetative state. He had fallen into a coma, and lost all muscle movement and power of speech. Three weeks after Fere’s stroke, Dagayev would also suffer from a stroke, which would lead to his death. “Not surprisingly,” wrote the “Inquiry”, “the fates of Dagayev and Fere have been the subject of a considerable amount of media speculation.” Fere would eventually die as well. The “Inquiry” concluded: “Suggestions that they may have been poisoned have been published in the Ukrainian media, and we believe that this issue should be considered by the PGO [Prosecutor's General Office].”314

“The Instigators Are Getting Away” was not idle in its choice of who had escaped justice – those who had ordered the killing, rather than those who had committed the murder. It described the nature of resistance to a thorough investigation, and the way this resistance had changed from before and after the revolution:

In the period since the “Orange Revolution”, the character of political resistance to the investigation of the Gongadze case has changed. Before then, the pressure was directed to obstructing the investigation at all levels. This year, the pressure appears to us to have been directed towards concentrating attention on some of the immediate perpetrators of the crime in order all the better to prevent those who ordered it being brought to justice.

As we stated in our previous report, it is widely assumed that during the “Orange Revolution” an understanding was reached between former President Kuchma and current President Yushchenko, providing immunity from prosecution for Kuchma and some of his associates, with reference to the Gongadze case and other high-profile cases. This is considered by analysts both within and outside Ukraine as a convincing interpretation of events. President Yushchenko has denied the existence of such a deal. We make no assumptions on this issue.

They give a lengthy quote from Mykola Tomenko, the deputy prime minister who’d resigned after the collapse of the Orange Revolution government, about who the investigation must ultimately look at, and why the investigation was impeded: “For me, the ‘Gongadze affair’, which I wanted so much to speed up, is the case of Leonid Kuchma and, as experts think, Volodymyr Lytvyn. Possibly, there was no arrangement with Kuchma. But there was, to a large extent, a conscious decision not to enter into direct conflict with several political players. I have the feeling that a certain group of politicians have agreed on a collaboration that will guarantee that they won’t come in for any attention from the law-enforcement agencies. I say once again that, if I were the prosecutor, I would start with the case of Kuchma, since the ‘Gongadze affair’ is derivative and is directly connected with the case of Kuchma.”

The most astonishing sign of this resistance was a report on Gongadze killing which parliament refused to hear or make public – a report written by one of its own parliamentary commissions. The contents of this report are hinted at in “The Instigators Are Getting Away”:

Some indication of the contents of the parliamentary commission’s report, the suppression of which we referred to in our first report, were given by the commission’s chairman, Hryhoriy Omelchenko, in an interview on 18 March 2005. He said that the report names former President Kuchma and former Minister of Internal Affairs Kravchenko as the organisers of the murder; it names parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and former defence minister Leonid Derkach as being responsible for “instigating the perpetration of violent acts” against Gongadze. Omelchenko said that the report had cited evidence from the Melnichenko tapes and “evidence from witnesses”. This all suggests that the motive for preventing publication of the report is precisely that it concentrates on the issue of those who ordered the murder, rather than the perpetrators.

Commission chairman Omelchenko had proposed delivering his report on numerous occasions in 2003-04, and been blocked from doing so. In March 2005, the issue came up again at a meeting of the conciliation commission of parliamentary fractions, which declined to approve the timetabling of a report by the Omelchenko commission. Socialist fraction leader Oleksandr Moroz, addressing a parliamentary session, said the decision was a “disgrace”, aggravated by “dubious excuses that allowing the commission to report would violate some political agreements”. In a subsequent interview, Omelchenko claimed that the pressure to block the commission’s report emanated from President Yushchenko and speaker Lytvyn. He said: “I have exhausted already all the possibilities provided by the law to force this question through. The only things I haven’t done is to smash up the rostrum, seize people by the lapels, tear my shirt or declare a hunger strike in protest. […] at the conciliation council Oleksandr Moroz, Anatoly Matviyenko [deputy from the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc] and your humble servant [i.e. himself] once again demanded from the speaker a hearing of the commission of inquiry’s report. But there was nothing doing. Volodymyr Lytvyn got nervous and looked irritated. And he replied that he had talked with President Yushchenko, and the latter had requested that the report not be heard, in order not to politicise the situation.”

The third, and final, section of the inquiry is titled “Official Obstruction Is Rewarded”. The explanation for the title was given in the following paragraphs:

The title of this third report – Official Obstruction Is Rewarded – refers, in particular, to the award to former Prosecutor General Mikhail Potebenko in February 2007 by President Yushchenko of the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise. It was Potebenko to whom Georgiy Gongadze appealed for help in July 2000, when he realised he was being followed; it was Potebenko who ignored that appeal. It was Potebenko who repeated to the public fanciful and illogical hypotheses about Gongadze’s disappearance, which he probably knew had no foundation. It was Potebenko who continued to obstruct the investigation of the murder by refusing to consider the “Melnichenko tapes” and other crucial evidence. It was Potebenko who was ultimately responsible for carrying out an effective investigation of Gongadze’s murder, which, the European Court later found, the authorities failed to do.

That the Ukrainian president has presented Potebenko with a state honour – while the investigation of those who ordered the murder has moved far too slowly during the two-and-a-half years since the Orange Revolution – epitomises the official indifference, and even opposition, to dealing with many of the issues raised by the case.

It was in this final section that there was a synopsis for Volodymyr Lytvyn, including a transcript of that moment when Georgiy Gongadze’s name came up, and the suggestion was perhaps made to destroy him.

3.5.3 Volodymyr Lytvyn

The involvement in the Gongadze case of Volodymyr Lytvyn, one of Ukraine’s most senior parliamentarians, stems from his alleged participation in conversations with President Kuchma about harming Gongadze that were recorded by Melnichenko. Lytvyn was an aide to President Kuchma from 1994 to 1999, and was then appointed head of the president’s office, a position he held throughout 2000. From 2002 to 2006, i.e. both before and after the Orange Revolution, Lytvyn was the parliamentary speaker. The “Melnichenko tapes” record four conversations where doing harm to Gongadze is discussed, the participants in which are Kuchma, Kravchenko, Leonid Derkach and Lytvyn. The conversation in which Lytvyn allegedly participated reads as follows. This version is based on the copy of the tapes stored at the International Press Institute in Vienna, translated into English by J.V. Koshiw, author of a book on the Gongadze case:

[Kuchma] Give me the same about Ukrayinska Pravda and … And we will decide what to do with him. He has gone too far.

[Lytvyn] I need to begin a [court] case.

[Kuchma] What?

[Lytvyn] Start a case? [undecipherable]

[Kuchma] Good.

[Lytvyn] The case – we will make in duplicates.

[Kuchma] No, I don’t need a case.

[Kuchma] Ukrayinska Pravda [the news website founded and run by Gongadze] well is simply too much – the scum, fucker, Georgian, Georgian.

[Lytvyn] Gongadze?

[Kuchma] Gongadze. Well, who is financing him?

[Lytvyn] Well, he actively works with […] Moroz [Aleksandr Moroz, speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and leader of the Socialist Party], with Grani [a newspaper sponsored by the Socialist party]. On Saturday I saw … with [Socialist MP Volodymyr] Makeyenko.

[Kuchma] Maybe take the MP to court, let the lawyers take it to court. This goes to the prosecutor, right?

[Lytvyn] No, let loose Kravchenko, in my opinion, decide how, and also [Horbanyeyev, or Komanyeyev?] and Kholondovych [who was head of the main directorate for logistic control of the MIA].

[Kuchma] Simply shit – is there any limit, after all, son-of-a-bitch – he needs to be deported – the scum – to Georgia and thrown there on his ass!

[Lytvyn] Take him to Georgia and drop him there.

[Kuchma] The Chechens should kidnap him and ask for a ransom!

(Source: IPI, GO3007p2.dmr, 0:07:38-0:10:45, July 3, 2000).

We have found no record of any comment by Lytvyn on the Gongadze case prior to the Orange Revolution. During the revolution, Lytvyn, who had formerly been a strong Kuchma supporter, switched sides and declared his support for the re-running of the elections that the revolution’s supporters had demanded. Having retained his position as parliamentary speaker, he began to comment publicly on the Gongadze case.

In October 2005, Lytvyn addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Ukrainian integration into European institutions and other issues. The following question was asked by Matyas Eorsi, a Hungarian deputy:

Mr Eorsi (Hungary). We were very pleased to hear President Yushchenko say that the Gongadze case would be investigated, but we also heard that you personally were one of those who were heard on the Melnichenko recording discussing how to get rid of the critical journalist, Gongadze, with former President Kuchma. I should very much like to hear your comments.

The official transcript of the session in English, which is not a literal translation, records the answer as follows:

Mr Lytvyn said the situation was not as clear as had been suggested. Certain phrases had been added to the report [of the Ukrainian parliamentary commission on the Gongadze case], there was no conclusion, and he rejected any suggestion of politicisation.

A reporter from Ukrayinska Pravda was present, and, having heard Lytvyn speaking in Ukrainian, recorded that Lytvyn had also said that “international analysis” had found that the Melnichenko tapes had been doctored. Lytvyn also said that the report of the Ukrainian parliament’s commission on the Gongadze case, which had suggested that Lytvyn was implicated in the murder, was “not objective”. If such “international analysis” exists, it has never been published. On the other hand, the most substantial international analysis of the tapes, by former FBI agent Bruce Koenig – who, unlike the specialists mentioned by Lytvyn, made his conclusions public – showed, on the contrary, that the sections of the “Melnichenko tapes” recording conversations about Gongadze had not been doctored.

In our opinion Lytvyn, who has elsewhere stated that he hopes that the Gongadze case is resolved, could help the investigation by explaining: which “international analysis” showed that the Melnichenko tapes had been doctored and why has it not been published? How does he account for the contradiction between this and the analysis by Koenig and other specialists? Why has he not done more in the years that have passed to resolve these issues? Does he have any record of his conversation with President Kuchma on 3 July 2000, and it what way was it falsified? We have written to Lytvyn to ask for comment on these issues, and received no reply.

In July 2009, General Oleksiy Pukach would be arrested. The deputy Prosecutor General would declare that they had been following Pukach for two years, and had always known where he was. “Why then,” the Gongadze Inquiry report asked the obvious question, “was Pukach arrested in July 2009, and not earlier?” And the second obvious question: “Was he previously under the protection of elements in the law enforcement agencies?” Pukach would direct investigators to Belotserkovsky district where fragments of a human skull were found. Forensic investigators would confirm that the remains were the skull fragments of Georgiy Gongadze. Pukach’s lawyer would tell the press that enough evidence existed to indict Kuchma, Lytvyn, and other top officials. In late January, 2013, Pukach was found guilty of the Gongadze murder, and sentenced to life in prison. One of the presiding judges asked if he accepted this sentence. “I will accept it,” he replied, “when Kuchma and Lytvyn join me in this cage.”315

The preceding, which appears to have been a lengthy tour through the Gongadze report is ultimately a simplification. I have spoken of a single Prosecutor General, as if this was an immutable force out of Kafka, unyielding to appeal, when the Prosecutor General changed several times over the course of time, most notably with the removal of Svyatoslav Piskun, who was dismissed when Pukach was arrested for destroying evidence of Gongadze’s surveillance, only to be reinstated after the Orange Revolution. This simplification also does not fully go into the extent of the intimidation against those simply trying to conduct a proper inquiry into the murder. The preceding synopsis is not intended as a substitute for the actual report, and I would encourage readers to look at the actual “Inquiry” and its thorough examination of a murder case little known in the west, and an investigation seemingly stymied for its inconvenience to the highest powers of the state.

Within this narrative, we might see the death of Georgiy Gongadze as a second pole in the life of Roger Stone, a reprise of an opening melody. Stone began in the Nixon Administration as part of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), and it was another associate of CREEP, G. Gordon Liddy, who was tasked with killing Jack Anderson, a reporter who, like Giorgy Gongadze, was making things difficult for the government through his critical reporting. There is some description of this given in Liddy’s memoir, Will, but a more succinct account of the methodology of the planned killing was made when Liddy was a guest on “The Howard Stern Show” (this interview is in four parts on youtube, one, two, three, four, and the following is taken from part one, 13:35 to the end of the clip):

STERN
If you had killed Jack Anderson, like you proposed to the Nixon Administration, what would you have used? Because you did advocate an assasination.

LIDDY
Yeah. Well, what we decided to do was…we knew the route he came into the office…and it included a traffic circle.

QUIVERS
You’re going to shoot him in the circle?

LIDDY
No, you’re not gonna shoot him in the circle. There’s a way you hit the car in a certain way, and it would flip and kill him.

STERN
The bullet, when they-

LIDDY
There’s no bullet, there’s a car accident.

QUIVERS
You’re hitting the car with a bullet, right?

LIDDY
No. No. You are hitting the car with another car.

QUIVERS
You know, you had the most imprecise plans. There’s no way you’re gonna guarantee you’re gonna kill a guy in a car.

STERN
No wonder Nixon thought you were nuts. You know I felt bad for Nixon, you nuts were running around, planning assassinations, I don’t think he had any clue-

This last statement eludes – and Liddy allows it to be eluded – that fellow Watergate burglar had first brought up the possibility of killing Anderson, and he did so at the behest of Charles Colson, very much a close associate of Richard Nixon. The assassination was proposed by Hunt at a luncheon attended by Liddy and a medical doctor named Edward Gunn. Both Gunn and Hunt were former members of the CIA. From Will, the luncheon where this killing was proposed, and where Liddy clearly alleges that this order comes directly from Colson:

The purpose of the luncheon, Hunt had explained to me previously, was to take advantage of the expertise of Dr. Gunn in preparing, for the approval of Hunt’s “principal,” a plan to stop columnist Jack Anderson. Even with each other, Hunt and I often, when discussing the most sensitive of matters, used the term my principal rather than identify our superiors. I, at least, had several. Hunt, to my knowledge, had only one: Chuck Colson.

Anderson, Hunt reported, had now gone too far. As the direct result of an Anderson story, a top U.S. intelligence source abroad had been so compromised that, if not already dead, he would be in a matter of days. That was too much. Something had to be done.

I took the position that, in a hypothetical case in which the target had been the direct cause of the identification and execution of one of our agents abroad, halfway measures were not appropriate. How many of our people should we let him kill before we stop him, I asked rhetorically, still not using Anderson’s name. I urged as the logical and just solution that the target be killed. Quickly.

My suggestion was received with immediate acceptance, almost relief, as if they were just waiting for someone else to say for them what was really on their minds.

Furthermore, Liddy would also allege that he’d been told to go ahead and “get rid of” Anderson by the head of CREEP, Jeb Magruder. The following is the relevant excerpt from Will:

At lunch with [E. Howard Hunt] I brought up the matter of killing Jack Anderson. He told me to forget it, from which I concluded that the decision from Colson, I assumed, was negative. I inquired no further. A short while later Magruder called me into his office to deliver another whining complaint about Anderson. One of my first assignments from him had been to check out a rumor – which proved impossible to substantiate – that Anderson had been involved in a land fraud on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Another was that he had sent someone to break into our committee headquarters but was thwarted by our security. I checked that one with McCord and he knew nothing about it. I was in no mood for any more of Magruder’s petty carping about Anderson, so I tuned him out; but one sentence came through loud and clear: “Gordon, you’re just going to have to get rid of Jack Anderson.”

For serious reasons of state I had just offered to kill Anderson for the White House and been turned down. Now this pipsqueak wanted to put out a contract on him for no more reason than that he was a general pain in the ass.

This, of course, leaves hanging the unanswered question, whether Magruder had authority to sign off on his ownsome, the killing of a well-known journalist, or whether he had to get a head nod or implied assent from someone higher up for this order to be given. That there was no penalty or repercussion for the planning of this assassination is explained in another brief exchange on “The Howard Stern Show”. “Conspiring to murder someone, though, I think would put you in prison for life,” said Stern. “Only if you take, see…the conspiracy laws are very interesting,” replied Liddy. “You and I could sit here, and conspire to kill Bababooey all day long. But unless, and until, either one of us takes one affirmative action to advance that, there’s no crime.” Stern: “So, the planning is not a crime?” Liddy: “No.”316 We might see these two parallel cases of Stone working for politicians associated with the killing of reporters as either an ascent or a descent. He had started out in the employ of any administration where the murder of journalists was only planned, and he had ended up with a client where substantial evidence pointed to him having actually done the deed.

We might return now to the Labash piece where Lytvyn is brought up. “But beforehand, he threatens to take me to Ukraine, where the local press has outed him as being involved in the parliamentary campaign of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an Orange Revolutionary alum who’s been mentioned as a future president.” This is the campaign of 2007, seven years after Gongadze was killed. The Melnichenko recordings were well known throughout Ukraine, and known to many outside the country. The first two reports of “The Gongadze Inquiry”, “The Failure of Legal and Judicial Processes” and “The Instigators are Getting Away”, had already been published in 2005. “But,” writes Labash, “it turns out we don’t need to go; his guys on the ground have it covered.” Stone handled the campaign from a distance, and one of the people who must have handled it on the ground was Michael Caputo. It was Caputo who ran Carl Paladino’s campaign while Stone ran that of Kristin Davis in the 2010 New York governor’s race, with both denying collusion (the governor’s race is discussed in part seven). We know that Caputo was there because that’s where he met his wife. On his old blog, there is the post, “Great News: I’m getting married Sunday!”, followed by the detail: “I worked on the 2007 Ukrainian Parliament Elections and met my fiance as she worked for my local campaign colleague.”317

It must have been while working on this campaign that Caputo wrote “Ukraine elections” for the Washington Times on September 12, 2007, strangely without any disclosure of his involement in the election which would take place on September 30th. Caputo would give mention of the candidate he worked for near the end of the piece, and I bold it:

[In] late August, Yulia announced she had secretly surveyed 30,000 Ukrainians. Her conclusion: the elections will certainly exclude all parties except hers and those of her top two tormentors. She refused to provide the polling research — perhaps the largest pre-election survey in world history — expecting voters to take her claim as an article of faith. Some are balking, especially in western and northern regions where her failure to back banking reform is blocking cash wired from family expatriates working abroad.

With this, Yulia urged the electorate to choose among mega-blocks instead of wasting votes on smaller parties. But contrary to her mythical survey, reliable research shows other parties may pass the 3 percent minimum threshold and join the Rada. Among them are the communists and the party of democratic reformer Volodymyr Lytvyn, former speaker of the Rada who kept the rowdy legislature from devolving into anarchy during the Orange Revolution. Rested and ready after losing re-election in 2006, he is a fresh face in a tired crowd of self-interested politicians.

What purpose Caputo had for being in Latvia in 2005, when he wrote “Journey to Latvia”, again for the Washington Times, I’m uncertain. Both Lytvyn and the man and the coalition he ended up joining, the Party of Regions, moved towards the Russian axis and away from the EU; “Journey to Latvia” appears to favor such a tilt towards Russia. In both Latvia and Ukraine, a contentious issue is the teaching of the Russian as an official language to be taught alongside the native language. In 2012, there would be a high turnout as over 75% of Latvians rejected Russian as an official language. It was this very same issue that was so incisive as to finally pull Lytvyn away from his support of the pro-Russian Party of Regions – this, I believe, did not demonstrate anything like idealism on Lytvyn’s part anymore than his movement away from Kuchma expressed idealism, only a practical analysis of what positions are tenable and which aren’t. Caputo does not appear to see this in “Journey to Latvia”, portraying the language issue as an inconsequential football, tossed around by the chattering class: “Only politicians really care about this debate. Comments by a Latvian legislator or Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue, are ignored by most of the young professional class.” One has the sense that Caputo knows far better than native Latvians what is good for Latvia: “[President Vaira Vike-Freiberga] has moved in the right direction recently, mostly because her anti-Soviet administration now recognizes Russia-oriented investment fuels its economic growth. As the historical crossroads of Eastern Europe, Latvia better hope it stays that way: Their economic opportunity will remain anchored in Russia for decades.”318 I am reminded of the comment William Windorf makes regarding the environmental devastation which locals in the Bahamas fear will take place when you have a casino set up with a cruise ship supplying it with Miami tourists every day: “Some locals quite frankly don’t understand that there are natural growing pains whenever a major improvement is brought to an area.”319

Though Melnichenko recordings had already given proof that Lytvyn was involved in the orders to kill Georgiy Gongadze when Caputo worked for the candidate, and though Lytvyn would go on to support the Yanukovych government, which might be seen as either pro-Russian or making Ukraine into a vassal state of Russia, and all this might be seen as support for authoritarianism, do not think this meant that Caputo had anything like open mindedness about political beliefs back in the United States. “Commie Book Ban” by Rob Jordan would describe the briefly successful attempts by Frank Bolaños to have a Miami-Dade school board ban a comic book from the early 1960s, Vamos a Cuba, which gave no mention of the political persecutions of Castro. Bolaños would make an attempt at the Florida state Senate, Caputo was his press officer, and they made sure to emphasize the issue of Bolaños’s stand on the comic book. That you might be against communism and still think this all was obnoxious grandstanding, was a view Caputo had no tolerance for. “The last vestiges of Communism will live and breathe in America. It’s in the school system.” This comic book was brought in with the specific intention of roiling the Cuban community, Caputo alleged. These events took place in 2006, a year before Caputo would help Volodymyr Lytvyn get elected. “He needs to be deported – the scum – to Georgia and thrown there on his ass!,” said Leonid Kuchma on the Melnichenko recording. “Take him to Georgia and drop him there,” said Caputo’s candidate, about the reporter whose headless corpse would later be found. Frank Bolaños would lose the election. One teacher at the high school where Vamos a Cuba had been pulled, who was also a Cuban exile, had a blunt reaction to the scandal about the comic book, that might be taken as a reaction to other things as well: “These people make me vomit.”320

Though this post was originally written and posted on February 24th, I briefly move both forward and backward at once in time, making an addition on the 2nd of March, where I quote from a WBEN radio broadcast made by Michael Caputo where he speaks eloquently and movingly about what was taking place in the Ukraine on the day of that radiocast, February 20th, the events which would culminate in the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich, and, at this date, the takeover of parts of Crimea by a Russian sponsored private army, with the very real possibility of war between Ukraine and Russia. From that February 20th broadcast, perhaps unnecessarily, I bold the second to last sentence, which stands out for me (taken from the beginning of “2-20 Michael Caputo in for Sandy Hour 2″):

What a day. I know we talk a lot abou this…college diplomas for rapists idea, from our quizzical governor…I don’t know, really, if this is the most important thing going on today…I’ve been up for several hours, I’ve had trouble sleeping…I don’t know if you’re catching the news…it’s been on our news break on the hour. They are murdering people in the streets of Kiev today. My in-laws are in Ukraine, my brother-in-law lives in Kiev, he sides with the protesters, and luckily for our family, he has not been spending recently his time in the Maidan Square there. I woke up…of course, as some of you know, my wife and I have an eighteen month old…at fifty one years old that was not done on a dare. But she woke me up a little bit this morning, a little early this morning, I have not been able to get back to sleep because the images coming out of Kiev, they are frightening. Just frightening. And uh, a very important point was made on twitter today, by somebody who I follow, I forget who made it, but this violence, in Kiev, in just the last couple of days, is far worse than any of the violence when the wall was falling back in ’89-’90. Those time frames. If you remember the violence that was happening then, it was wall to wall on our news stations. In Kiev, they’re actually firing right into the crowd, with AK-47s. Firing straight into the crowd. The hotel that is right on Maidan Square, the Kiev Hotel, the Kiev Hotel is now an emergency room. It’s a triage. People are dying right and left. By the way, so are the police. The police are mostly being injured and kiled by firebombs, by Molotov cocktails. And what bothers me is- I have a direct connection with this, because my in-laws are there, my wife is from there, we spend time there, it’s a frightening thing. I have been trying to talk to my in-laws about coming over to the United States, maybe staying here, and now we may escalate that. It’s really frightening, I mean, we don’t know here in the United States, the kind of life that they lead in places like Ukraine, which was devastated, whole cities leveled during World War II. And now the…after that, they suffered under the yoke of communism for many, many years. And the last several years, they have suffered under the oligarchs and the relative fascists who run the country, and basically, do not respond to the people, we’ve seen democratic oriented leaders poisoned over there, we’ve seen people killed, journalists murdered. And now the people, in the Square, in Maidan Square, being shot down like dogs.

On March 1st, a moronic troublemaker would try to reconcile this lamentation with his past election work, by raising the issue of Volodymyr Lytvyn and Georgiy Gongadze on twitter. Caputo would soundly dismiss any implications of the tweet, whether it be his connections with Lytvyn, or links between Lytvyn and Gongadze’s murder, I have no certainty:

I leave this brief shift forward to the future of this edit, and return to the original post.

Caputo was on the ground in Ukraine, and Stone was planning the campaign from afar, but they were not the only Americans involved in the country at that time. “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington” by Glenn R. Simpson and Mary Jacoby would describe how various top tier americans went into the former Soviet colony to, as they say, help out. There was the notable example of William Sessions, the former head of the FBI, who’d become a lawyer for Semyon Mogilevich, who his former agency considered one of Russia’s most powerful organized crime figures and had the distinction of being on their “most wanted” list. Sessions would approach his former agency with a deal: Mogilevich would provide them with vital information related to Islamist terrorism, if they could work out his legal problems. The FBI turned down the offer321. The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU) was an advocacy group for Viktor Yanukovych and his political bloc, The Party of Regions, co-founded by Leonid Khazara, another Party of Regions member, and Tony Podesta, of the lobby shop the Podesta Group and brother of Clinton chief of staff Jon Podesta, and it was formed to lobby in favor of Yanukovych and the Party of Regions without registering under the Foreign Agent Act, all of which was described in “How Foreign Governments Make Sure You Don’t Know They’re Lobbying You” by Rosie Gray322. It would do so through various methods, and one of them was by paying bloggers to write stories in favor of Yanukovych, and being nasty with the opposition. On Breitbart News, the story on the current uprising in Ukraine which led to the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, “Chaos in Kiev: Yanukovych flees, Tymoshenko free”, would receive the comment from the charmingly named “gun_nut”, “Ukraine is a reminder on how quickly freedom can be lost, but that it can be regained when good people stand together for freedom. I only wish my fellow Americans had such courage.”323 At the time of the Ukraine elections, Ben Shapiro of the same site would write, “Yanukovych is not the pro-Putin stooge many make him out to be, and Tymoshenko is not the pro-Western ally many make her out to be.” Later, Shapiro would write, “It’s no surprise to see the woman who once hugged Suha Arafat shilling for a Ukrainian opposition that makes governing deals with reported Nazi knockoffs,” when Hillary Clinton supported the opposition. The ECFMU would re-tweet two of the Breitbart pro-Yanukovych stories. “Exclusive: How Ukraine Wooed Conservative Websites”, again, by Rosie Gray, would go into great detail in the ways in which conservative bloggers were paid off to portray Yanykovych as a force for stability and those protesting his regime as jew hating monsters324. The founder of Breitbart had often raved about “the well-funded, well-oiled, John Podesta–led machinery” and the “Clinton/Podesta cabal”. Perhaps it would gladden his heart that after his death, the Podesta cabal and the Breitbart cabal had finally found a way to work together, for a greater purpose325.

Yanukovych was able to win his way back to power through the work of political consultant Paul Davis, and there was a strange contradiction here, because Davis was also a high level consultant to the McCain campaign, and John McCain was passionately against the pro-Russia shift that Yanukovych represented. This was not an outlier or an exception – this same Janus phenomenon would take place again in 2012, with Mitt Romney taking a hard line against Russia, while one of his top advisors, Vin Weber, worked for the ECFMU326. Davis was a partner in a lobbying firm, a firm that was a shifting chimera that somehow has managed to show up in many stages of this piece, constantly changing its name, and the other name in that firm, the man whom Davis had served as deputy when he’d managed the Republican convention in 1996, was in Ukraine as well, and he’d also played a very big part in the election of Viktor Yanukovych327. He’s right there in Marc Champion’s “In Ukraine, a Friend of Russia Stages Sweeping Political Makeover”:

As Mr. Yanukovich prepared for parliamentary elections due the following spring, one of his key backers — Rinat Akhmetov, a billionaire metals magnate from Donetsk — recommended he hire Paul Manafort, who had worked on then-Sen. Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. Mr. Manafort, now a prominent Washington lobbyist, had been advising Mr. Akhmetov as he explored taking his business, SCM Holdings, public on Western financial markets.

With another election fast approaching, Mr. Manafort declined in an interview to talk about the specifics of the campaign advice he gave Mr. Yanukovich. But according to people involved in the Party of the Regions’ campaign in spring 2006, Mr. Manafort advised on such basics as how to target and appeal to voters. He also produced a slick campaign film and coached Mr. Yanukovich on his presentation.

Yanukovych was also helped out by Bruce Jackson, who arranged the visit of Yanukovych to D.C., where the future head of Ukraine met with Vice President Dick Cheney. Rinat Akhmetov, the Ukrainian metals magnate billionaire, would give $300 000 to the human rights charity of Jackson’s wife328. “A lot of people are making a lot of money off Ukraine’s political competition,” Jackson would say in “With cash, Ukraine’s political foes bring fight to Washington” by Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel. “The Yulia-Yanukovich competition has definitely spilled out of the country. Both sides are heavily invested in representation in Washington,” Jackson also said. He and his group, the Project on Transitional Democracies, however “did not lobby”329. “How Democracy Fails: Ukraine is the case in point” was a piece by Jackson in the Weekly Standard, the same venue for Matt Labash’s profile “Roger Stone, Political Animal”, deeply critical of the leaders of the Orange Revolution. However, democracy made a surprising recovery under Yanukovych, according to an interview with Jackson, “A year of Yanukovych, seen from abroad” by Mykola Siruk, written in 2011: “If we look at the objective facts, President Viktor Yanukovych and the new government had a very good year in 2010.” How could you not get objective facts from Bruce Pitcairn Jackson? “Generally, we can consider Ukraine a ‘new Poland,’ not a new Belarus. This is all very good. But Yanukovych isn’t getting any credit for it. Everyone hates the government.” Why do you think that is, he’s asked, and there followed a moment of confusion in the answer. “The mentality of the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] is not helpful. I met the head of the SBU. Maybe he is a little naive, a little young, and maybe not everything is under his control. But this is not a thug. He is trainable and we can fix it.”330 Who, you wonder, is this we that can fix this? The Ukrainians? Jackson, Manafort, and whatever hacks Rinat Akhmetov throws money at? “If you are a dictator, you know that the end of your ruling is near the moment you hear that a man named Bruce Pitcairn Jackson is taking a closer look at your case,” was the fulsome intro to another Jackson interview for the World Security Network, one that made you feel like an old cartoon where someone had switched the exit and entrance signs. “Berlin sees itself as the busines partner of Moscow and the explainer of Kremlin activities to the West…The positions which Germany has chosen for itself are quite controversial and have encountered significant criticism,” said Jackson in the interview331 Sometimes, Jackson sounded an awful lot like William Windorf, Karla Von Stetten, Philip Dodge, Richard Knox, Facebook persons who enthused unending belief in Genting, Scott Israel for Broward sheriff, and buying a copy of The Man Who Killed Kennedy, so much that you weren’t sure these people existed, they sounded so much like they were under the control of someone else332. As a reader, you were confused as to why Berlin being a business partner of Moscow was now a bad thing, because in “Ukraine Votes: The country faces enormous economic challenges as it heads to the polls”, Jackson tells us that Ukraine’s destiny was between the economies of both Russia and Europe: “The culture and history that Ukraine shares with Russia is a matter of historical fact, and history cannot be rewritten by election or referendum. Similarly, the intimacy of Ukraine’s relations with Europe is established by history, geography, and shared economic interest. Ukraine will always be close to and independent of both Russia and Europe, and there is nothing any of Ukraine’s parties can do about it.” It sometimes felt as if the only person with freedom of movement in this world was Bruce Jackson333

“Why We Need a Reset” was also by Bruce Jackson, about the U.S. taking a new approach after the election of Yanukovych: “Over the past two decades we have been consistently wrong about the political character of Ukraine, the values and aspirations of its people, and the profound weaknesses of its government and economy.” You wonder again about that we. By we, do you mean you, Mr. Jackson? “Washington has neither seen Ukraine clearly as it is nor understood its aspirations properly.” Among the many mistakes it had made, according to Jackson, was accusing “former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma of murdering journalist Georgiy Gongadze before having second thoughts.” Jackson had more to teach the reader. “Washington’s engagement should not be limited to the most prominent political personalities.”334 The next part was the most fascinating:

It must also normalize relations with the Ukrainian business community, particularly with the so-called “oligarchs.” The top ten business leaders in Ukraine control vast industrial conglomerates each of which employs as many as a quarter of a million workers directly and supports several million Ukrainians indirectly. For better or for worse, these oligarchs are the single most important political constituency in Ukrainian politics, the source of funding for all political parties, and the most pro-European voice in Ukrainian society. Their self-interest lies in closer relations with the European Union to gain market access, in political stability to improve the business environment, and in the reform of a government whose past dysfunction has only devalued their assets. Engaging Ukrainian politicians without engaging their constituency is a mistake.

As said, Rinat Akhmetov, one of those oligarchs, gave over a quarter of million dollars to a charity of Bruce Jackson’s wife. If you wanted to find some background on Jackson, there was “Minister Without Portfolio” by John Judis from 2003. It described a free floating shadow, who worked for Lockheed Martin while also promoting the expansion of NATO, fundraising for the Republicans, and was finance co-chairman of Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign. A “prominent neoconservative” is quoted as saying that Jackson is the “nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us.”335 You had to wonder at all that “translate” contained. One paragraph of “Portfolio” gave a very clear idea of the nexus:

Jackson maintains that Lockheed actually disapproved of his work on the committee and even tried to fire him, but that seems difficult to believe. In the mid-1990s, Lockheed, like other defense firms, was suffering from the post-Cold War stagnation in the U.S. defense budget. The company knew that once countries from Eastern Europe were admitted into NATO, these nations would have to make their equipment, much of which was manufactured in Russia, “interoperable” with U.S. and Western European military hardware. That might well have meant that they’d have to buy new planes from Lockheed. If the countries didn’t have the money, Congress could supply the loan guarantees.

Jackson would then be brought in by the Bush adminstration to rally support for the Iraq war, and it was Jackson who was behind the idea of the Vilnius 10, a group of european nations who would join the coalition of the willing. The article emphasized that this may have been a coalition sometimes more willed than willing. “When the war began,” wrote Judis, “Slovenian Prime Minister Anton Rop finally said it had been a mistake to sign the declaration. The Slovenian press blamed pressure from Jackson, acting on behalf of the United States, for the initial decision to sign.” A Slovenian columnist would refer to the “Bruce Jackson threat” as the force which moved Slovenia to war336. This was written in 2003, before the consequences of the war became an obvious disaster, and before his involvement in the Ukraine, yet something about Jackson deeply alarmed Judis then, the idea that a man unknown, unaccountable, unvoted on by any man or woman, had such power.

Whatever one thinks of NATO expansion and the war in Iraq, it should be clear that something is very wrong here. NATO expansion is not necessarily a bad thing. And some countries may have wanted to endorse the American invasion of Iraq. But the Bush administration shouldn’t be holding entry into NATO hostage to support for its war in Iraq, or trying to gull the public about the size of its “Coalition of the Willing.” Even worse, it shouldn’t be getting a private citizen — with no accountability to the public, the Congress or even the administration itself — to do its dirty work.

The Iraq war would end up a fiasco of poor to no planning, one which cost the lives of too many for the creation of a corrupt and dysfunctional state, where ten, twenty, or more, now sometimes die in a single day from the bombs of Al-Qaeda. Viktor Yanukovych, the man who Jackson cheerleadered on, is, at the time of my writing this post, on the run and wanted for murder. Those are what I think Bruce Jackson might refer to as objective facts.

We have here the mess of points that might usually be called conspiracy, with a hidden order unveiled through a conspiracy theory. We have near invisible powers exerting great influence at a distance, and distorting how the world is seen according to their convenience. Paul Manafort helps get Viktor Yanukovych elected, Roger Stone and Michael Caputo work to get Volodymyr Lytvyn into parliament, and Lytvyn will support Yanukovych in exchange for getting to be speaker of the parliament again. Jackson will arrange a meeting between Yanukovych and Dick Cheney, a meeting that is possible through Jackson’s work in Iraq, where he was able to strongarm various countries into joining up as a condition for belonging to NATO, after which they would have to buy equipment from his former employer, Lockheed Martin. Caputo will chastise the opposition to Lytvyn all while presenting himself as a fair-minded man without a stake in the fire. Caputo and Jackson, another fair-minded source, will dismiss the issue of what the official languages of countries like Ukraine and Latvia are as things of no consequence. We have the eerie quality of the octopus somehow playing all parts; though Breitbart was founded by a man who despised John Podesta, they write supportive pieces of Yanukovych out of service to his brother. Unlike a conspiracy theory where some mystic order is hidden, here the arrangement is obvious and in plain sight. This was only a hidden order if you were surprised that practical financial considerations would be overwhelmed by ideology or moral virtue.

It all reminded me of an old piece from 1988 I’d just come across, “Panamania” by Joe Klein, which involved the complicated case of the former ruler of Panama, Manuel Noriega. Though the explicit line of the U.S. government was that it wished Noriega to step down, apparently he’d also been visited by a political consultant, Daniel Murphy, who was former deupty director of the CIA and George H. W. Bush’s former chief of staff, and Murphy had given Noriega an entirely different message, that he did not have to step down right away, but could wait until the next year. Noriega supposedly placed greater weight on the counsel of the private consultant than the public statements of the government337. “Why,” asked this article, “would Noriega give more credence to a private businessman than to ‘official’ representatives of the U.S. government?” Answer: “Ever since the CIA overthrew the government of Guatemala in 1954, the notion that there are two U.S. governments has been quite popular in Latin America,” says Frank McNeil, a former ambassador to Costa Rica. “There is the official government, which says one thing; and then there is the CIA and Pentagon, which pursue our real interests. A lot of this is myth and nonsense, of course, but some of it is based on experience.” We might speak of a first state, those who hold public office, a second secret state, that of national security, and a third invisible state, belonging to no nation, whose interests are entirely its own, occasionally allied with representatives of the first and second states, or employing them as a convenient enemy, though this opposition reflect nothing of their actual political identity, which was somewhat apolitical, part of the third state. So you have the phenomenon of Ben Shapiro attacking Hillary Clinton over her support of the opposition in Ukraine, which he does at the bidding of Tony Podesta’s ECFMU, while Rick Davis advises John McCain, who also supports the Ukrainian opposition, while Davis and his partner, Paul Manafort, support Yanukovych. Viktor Yanukovych may well have seen this mix of voices in a similar manner as Noriega did, that the true state, the important state, is the third shadow state of political consultants and secret money, not the first state, which ultimately derives its power from the third, rather than the other way around. This is the most cynical and sinister reading of this mess of relationships, and I don’t know if I believe in it, but I consider it a possibility.

Within this same third state was Roger Stone, who’d later try to raise a few bucks by peddling a conspiracy story involving Lyndon Johnson, which based on his unpublished memoir, Stone didn’t even believe. It was a tale with Lyndon Johnson committing eight murders out of rancid political ambition, while Stone himself had worked for Volodymyr Lytvyn, who appeared to have been involved in a plot of far more substantial basis, which started with the killing of a reporter, and then result in Yuriy Kravchenko committing suicide by shooting himself twice in the head, while two other members of his ministry, also believed complicit in the plot, would suffer from devastating strokes within the same year, strokes which would kill both off338. Why invent a story, you might want to ask Roger Stone, when you could just write what you know? The story of Volodymyr Lytvyn and Georgiy Gongadze, or Paul Manafort getting mixed up with a front group for Pakistani intelligence, or who exactly gave $150 000 to set up Take Back Our Judiciary, that Florida group in the 2000 election, or whether there’s any link between a war continued in Angola and a war begun in Iraq over chemical weapons where the evidence turns out to be bunk and with the same woman from Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly involved in both cases, or whether the Libertarian Party in 2012 was taken over for the purpose of a vote split? There was no hidden order, no masons, no lizard kings to any of this. People did things for money. You won elections so a certain select group could collect prizes, while the only thing that majority got was having their seething rage briefly fed. Those who had wealth to spare to sink into Super PACs, those who Bruce Jackson refers to as a politician’s “constituency”, would get whatever they wanted, while the rest of us would have to beg for clean food, unpoisoned water, and the possibility of children not shot dead by random lunatics, and all you’d get instead was virulent anger, pitting all against all, and you could always count on some large part of opinionmakers to give a hard, smug sneer at how powerless and impoverished we were, how we were always losing politically because we were too amoral, or too angry, or too stupid, or too inconsistent, never because we simply lacked the money to buy the politicians so we might actually get the sparest conditions of a decent life.

You just needed a certain gift to do that kind of work, a kind of sociopathy which reduced the human beings you dealt with to nothingness, a nothingness where nothing human was hurt or destroyed as a result of your gambits, and I will not grant Roger Stone much, but I will grant him that: I think he has that gift. That Roger Stone is both part of various conspiracies, and publishes a conspiracy theory might be viewed by some as ironic, two sensibilities in contradiction, when I see them as two sides of the same coin, people as mere marionettes, who you place in your plots accoring to your convenience. Stone ends The Man Who Killed Kennedy with the often cited fact that of the fourteen hundred witnesses to the Kennedy assassination, seventy had died unnaturally – their deaths are torn from whatever circumstances might have caused them, so they might be given sense in the conspiracy superstructure339. We might move away from abstractions to one of the actual lives lost, briefly but very well-sketched in Lawrence Wright’s memoir, In the New World, when Wright goes to find an exotic dancer for his fraternity’s party:

I took a seat. In a moment Delilah came out and shimmied through her big number. She had a shiny appendectomy scar that I hadn’t noticed before, but in the stage lights it seemed phosphorescent. Then, to the admiring astonishment of the Iowans, Delilah came to my table and ordered a Dr Pepper. She was in her mid-thirties, I calculated, or a little older—twice my age, in any case. She had black hair and olive-toned skin, which was probably the inspiration for casting herself as an Egyptian. However, she affected a Zsa Zsa Gabor accent along the lines of “Vere are you from, dahlink?” She was a walking cultural malaprop.

I admitted I was from Dallas.

“No kidding? Dallas?”

Her Hungarian accent fell aside and was replaced by the more familiar nasal tones of North Texas. I asked if she knew Dallas. “Yeah,” she said, “I know that goddamn town too well.” We sat quietly for a moment. Being from Dallas was an awkward bond to share.

“I used to work for Jack Ruby,” she volunteered.

She seemed to want to talk about him. He was a nice man, she remembered, but “a little crazy.” It was Ruby, the Jewish impresario, who put her together with “Hava Nagila.” Delilah gave me her telephone number, and I told her I would call next semester concerning her performance at Tulane. She said I could come to her apartment for “coffee.”

All summer long I thought about that invitation.

I was already alarmed at the direction my life was taking. When I fled Dallas for the university, I left behind a sweet Christian girlfriend. She had given me a Bible for my eighteenth birthday. “Cherish this book always, Larry, and diligently read it,” she admonished on the flyleaf, but I had fallen into the hands of the Sybarites and the existentialists, and when I returned to Dallas that summer I felt like a moral double agent. Half of me was sitting with my girlfriend in church, underlining Scripture with a yellow marker, and half (more than half) was scheming of ways to lead my little Christian exemplar into one of life’s dark passageways.

I was lying on her lap, with that thought in mind, watching the ten o’clock news, when a photograph of a black-haired woman in a belly dancing costume flashed on the screen.

“That’s Delilah!” I said, sitting up.

What?”

“Shh. I know her.”

Her name, it turned out, was Marilyn Magyar Walle. She had just been murdered in Omaha, shot eight times by a man she had been married to for a month. Her association with Jack Ruby was noted. My girlfriend looked at me with an expression of confounded decency.

“Do you have something you want to tell me, Larry?”

I wasn’t the only one who marked Delilah’s death. The conspiracists were keeping a list of “witnesses” who had died since the assassination, a list that grew and grew. By February 1967 seventeen others had died, including two more strippers who had worked for Ruby (one was shot to death, the other was found hanging by her toreador pants in a Dallas jail cell). Most of these deaths were from natural causes or explainable under other circumstances, but in the aggregate they had a weight they wouldn’t have had by themselves. Seven of the victims had given testimony to the Warren Commission, six others had been interviewed by the Dallas police or the FBI. What are the chances, one might wonder, that so many people connected with the assassination would be dead in three and a half years? An actuary in London said the odds against all of them being dead in that time were 100,000 trillion to one—a figure that throws mysterious shadows across the otherwise unmysterious fates of car wrecks, failing hearts, jealous husbands, and disappointed suicides.

This moment, succinct and without wasted space, affected me deeply, and it is without difficulty that one can imagine why this small portion of time and space persisted in Wright’s memory, while all other moments around it melted away. It shows us nothing extraordinary, only a woman doing her best under shabby circumstances, yet it suggests the vast unimagined expanse of those other seventy lives, for which their crisscross over the assassination was but a single incidental point. I do not think Roger Stone has the possibility of conceiving that expanse, only seeing people as points that might be co-ordinated in one pattern or another340. The most apt passage for a long essay on Roger Stone comes not from any book on politics, but an examination of sociopathy, A Criminal History of Mankind by Colin Wilson, which notes that crime is often an act of domination, an expression that the perpetrator is strong and the victim is weak, that the most violent and disturbing crimes often lack a material motive or practical reason, because their sole purpose is domination. This, I think, is the prime mover of Roger Stone, whether it be the Redlich mailer, or yelling at Eliot Spitzer’s father, or making up stories about Eliot Spitzer and black socks, or labeling Hesham El-Meligy the Al-Qaeda candidate, none of which have any political purpose, but are done solely to hurt the victims. Stone’s career is forever bound to a sex scandal and there is something connected to sex in the criminal act, and this act of humilation as well, which Wilson illustrates through a quote from De Sade’s Justine341:

That night, after a quick round of buggery with Saint-Fond, I withdrew to my apartment. But I couldn’t sleep: so stirred up was I by Clairwil’s violent words and actions, I had to commit a crime of my own.

My heart beating wildly at the evil thoughts racing through my brain, I leapt out of bed and dashed to the servants’ quarters. There I stole a butler’s clothes and a guard’s pistol. Then, looking very much like a gentleman of fashion [the narrator is a woman], I slipped into the night.

At the first street corner to which I came, I stationed myself inside a doorway and waited for someone to pass. The prospect of the crime which I was about to commit thrilled me like nothing I had ever experienced. My body glistened with sweat. My insides churned with the turmoil which precedes sexual congress – a fundamental excitement which honed all my senses to a fine cutting edge. I was aflame, ablaze now, for a victim.

Roger Stone begins work at the White House, and he is soon brought into the realm where he might exercise his will. The head of CREEP says “there would be some “after hours work” if I proved to be a young man who had the ability to keep his mouth shut,” Roger Stone writes in his unpublished memoir. “I had an immediate erection.”342 Roger Stone’s life is a pornography by a man who elected anti-pornography presidents, where victims have the desires of others imposed on them, the entire mass of their life reduced to an infinitely small point in space. This essay is an attempt at anti-pornography by an infinitessimally small point in space, resistant to all restriction, constraint, and limiting.

POSTSCRIPT (March 8th, 2014):

Bruce Jackson had cheerleadered the election of Viktor Yanukovych, and praised Yanukovych during his time in power, and he appeared, without shame or remorse, to offer more advice after this very man had slaughtered those who’d protested his regime. The important thing, now that the protesters were in power, was for Kiev to compromise. “Kiev has always been more of a compromise than a capital, and if it loses the ability to compromise, it loses its credibility as a capital,” said Jackson in Steven Erlanger’s “After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility”:

What worries him, Mr. Jackson said, is that the new government is too beholden to the people’s movement on the Maidan. He is also concerned that it is not reaching out sufficiently to the east and needs the credibility of both presidential and parliamentary elections to answer Mr. Yanukovych’s charge, echoed in Moscow, that those politicians of western Ukraine, who have regularly lost elections, have seized power instead.

In essence, he suggested, the revolutionaries “have knocked out the foundations of modern Ukraine,” and they need to be restored in a way that recognizes the diversity of the country.

Sudden, unmediated political change in countries like Ukraine rarely goes smoothly, he said, pointing to the Rose Revolution in Georgia, whose main proponents are now out of office and many in exile after an administration that inevitably produced some achievements but considerable disappointments, aided by Russian efforts to keep Georgia unstable.

The Times story made no mention of Jackson’s past praise of Yanukovych, or the quarter million dollars that Rinat Akhmetov, the magnate who’d given heavy financial backing to Yanukovych, had contributed to the charity of Jackson’s wife.

Jackson still didn’t think much of Europe, offering a few dismissive comments over the concerns that their diplomats were spied on in “Scandale Prism : la NSA aurait aussi espionné l’Union européenne” by Laure Mandeville (my translation from the french). The emotion of the europeans over this is ridculous, said Jackson. “Any partnerships that work will require surveilling.” “The whole world spies on itself,” he would continue. Whatever could be learned from spying on a diplomatic european delegation would be of little interest anyway343.

On March 6th, Stone’s frequent associate would point out something already obvious to many, that RT.com (Russian Televsion) is a Kremlin controlled network, and as a result any coverage of the conflict in Ukraine would be slanted heavily in favor of Russia:

These tweets warning away viewers from the Kremlin dominated programming were notable for the following reason. In November of last year, two weeks before the protests began, Roger Stone promoted his book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy, on this very network in an appearance on “Breaking the Set” (youtube link) with Abby Martin; it was Martin, along with Liz Wahl, who would publicly dissent over the network’s coverage of the Ukrainian crisis344. James Kirchick, in “Watch RT, Putin’s TV Network, Call the Cops on Me” as a happy outlet for the fringier elements of american dissent, “a willing disseminator for their angry and conspiratorial worldview,” and that was the ideal place for Stone to advertise his book on how an american vice president killed an american president.

On March 5th, Politico would publish a brief profile, “Mystery man: Ukraine’s U.S. political fixer” by Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, of Paul Manafort, whose whereabouts remained unknown after the exile of Yanukovych:

His friends once called him the Count of Monte Cristo.

Today, Paul Manafort is more like The Invisible Man — a worldly political pro whose latest adventure, whispering in the ear of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, has handed him a supporting role in a bona fide international crisis.

On Monday, as Russian gunships menaced the Ukrainian fleet in the Black Sea, Manafort’s former business partner Roger Stone sent out an email to a small group of friends asking wryly: “Where is Paul Manafort?”

A multiple-choice list of options followed, including: “Was seen chauffeuring Yanukovych around Moscow,” and “Was seen loading gold bullion on an Army Transport plane from a remote airstrip outside Kiev and taking off seconds before a mob arrived at the site.” The final option was: “Is playing Golf in Palm Beach.”

The answer to Stone’s query is currently unclear. Manafort’s current location and involvement in Ukraine, not surprisingly, are a mystery. He did not respond to messages sent to half a dozen email accounts or answer calls to nearly as many phone numbers at addresses in Virginia and South Florida.

What’s already certain is this: Even among the many American strategists who test their fortunes abroad, Manafort’s journey from the front lines of the Reagan revolution to the right hand of a Moscow-backed Eastern bloc pol straight out of central casting ranks as one of the more unusual escapades of the Washington consulting class.

On March 5th and 6th, Stone would tweet the following:

POSTSCRIPT (March 9th, 2014):

On March 8th, Roger Stone and one of his associates found an interesting way to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Stone would retweet the following:

This would prompt the reply from the writer Rebecca Jaramillo (@RebeccazWriting), “Stay Klassy – and way to woo the womens, #GOP!”, which would lead to an interchange between Jaramillo and Stone, culminating in the following: “Ignorant Bitch!”345:

After this, Andrew Miller (@andrewmiller83) would also attack Jaramillo. Miller worked on the Johnson campaign, as well as the campaigns of Carl Paladino and Kristin Davis. He is the stepson of Dianne Thorne, a longtime associate of Stone’s who would end up working in the sheriff’s office of Scott Israel. The work of Miller and Thorne on the Johnson campaign is described in part eight, while Thorne’s association with Stone is written about in parts six and seven. Miller would tweet that “@RebeccazWriting is one mouthy, loud-mouthed ignorant cunt”346:

Miller would also tweet “@rebeccawriting. You should stop tweeting about politics- you only betray you stupidity.- YOU started the name calling- bitch.”:

There was something strange to this last tweet, reminiscent of the identities of William Windorf, Philip Dodge and others described in part nine. It was the exact same tweet, word for word, which was sent out by Roger Stone, even the mistake of it being sent out to @rebeccawriting instead of @rebeccazwriting, “@rebeccawriting. You should stop tweeting about politics- you only betray you stupidity.- YOU started the name calling- bitch.”:

This of course raises the question of whether Andrew Miller is especially slavish in his devotion to his master, or whether these last two tweets were made by Stone, taking over Miller’s handle as a convenient cut-out. Both outbursts led to obvious reactions from @rebeccawriting, Rebecca Wells347:

The allegations mentioned by Stone against Bill Clinton are refuted, I believe, in Jeffrey Toobin’s A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. Fred Dicker’s “Assault claim vs. Carl’s aide Stone” describes the assault allegations made against Roger Stone in the 2010 election for New York’s governor. Whether these allegations have ever been refuted in any place is unknown to me:

The key campaign adviser to Republican gubernato rial candidate Carl Paladino once attacked and injured an attorney who was working as his aide in what a police source described as a “domestic incident,” the upstate woman has claimed.

The alleged assault by Roger Stone against Lora Como, 40, a former employee of the state Senate, occurred inside his Chelsea apartment last Thanksgiving weekend and left her with bruised ribs, Como told The Post.

Como, who says she spent months working for Stone, 58, in Florida and New York, claims they had a confrontation at his studio apartment at Chelsea Landmark, 55 West 25th St., after he allegedly flew into a rage because she had smoked a cigarette and he didn’t like the smell.

“He threw me to the ground and bruised my ribs. He was hostile and menacing and I wanted him arrested for assault and I went to the police,” said Como, who state payroll records show worked as a Senate research analyst from September 2006 to April 2009.

Stone, who is married, acknowledged that he had a major disagreement with Como at his apartment, but denied her version of the events.

“When I asked [her] to leave she became irate. I completely reject her assertion that I ever hit her or abused her in any physical way,” Stone said.

This is how Roger Stone and his associate, the former leadership of the 2012 third party campaign that was portrayed as an idealistic alternative to the amoral duoply of the United States, celebrated International Women’s Day348.

(from “Pictures from the TPM Holiday Party”, photo of Roger Stone by Victor G Jeffreys II.)

(Some small edits to improve comprehension or make simpler, more effective sentences were made on February 25th, 2014. The section on the attempted killing of Jack Anderson was also added on that date. A few footnotes on this date were added as well, such as footnote #340, quoting from The Man Who Killed Kennedy on the statistically high number of unnatural deaths as well as the list of people who appear to have been killed in association with the Gongadze case. The paragraph about the third state, also added on the same 25th. Februayr 26th, 2014: the addition of footnote #341 with the excerpts from Colin Wilson’s Criminal History of Mankind. Footnote #325 was added on February 28th. The adding of the Wills epigraph was made on March 8th, 2014. On March 10th, some edits were made to the second postscript for reasons of better readability – nothing in meaning or implication was changed, and the screenshots of the page as it was with the twitter embeds extant were added. On March 22nd, the material on the luncheon of G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, and Edward Gunn where they spoke about assassinating Jack Anderson was added.)

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

FOOTNOTES

303 Two articles which provide a good illustration of the Orange Revolution’s collapase are “Ukraine’s Political Paralysis Gives Black Eyes to Orange Revolution Heroes” by Clifford J. Levy and “Former Ukraine Premier Is Jailed for 7 Years” by Ellen Barry. The death of Georgiy Gongadze is mentioned in “Soviet Shadows, Ukrainian Ghosts” by Nicholas Kristof.

A quick overview of Lytvyn’s career is “Volodymyr Lytvyn: The Cry-Baby Candidate” by Serhiy Kudelia:

The speaker of Ukrainian parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn rose to prominence as President Kuchma’s political protégé. He joined Kuchma’s presidential administration in mid-1990s and rose through the ranks to become its chief in 1999. Despite his academic background (he taught history in Kyiv University prior to joining government), Lytvyn proved to be a master of political intrigue.

During his years in the Presidential Administration, Lytvyn played the role of a grey cardinal supplying Kuchma with information about his critics and planning tactical moves to eliminate opposition. He first became the parliament’s chairman in 2002 with a heavy-handed pressure over MPs from Kuchma. Once in his new role, Lytvyn distanced himself from his boss and tried to establish himself as a politician in his own right. His constant maneuvering between Kuchma’s loyalists and opposition allowed Lytvyn to broker round-table talks in the heyday of the Orange Revolution resulting in the constitutional compromise.

Following a defeat in 2006 parliamentary election, his bloc gained enough votes from disillusioned Yushchenko’s supporters in the Central Ukraine to get into the parliament in 2007. Since then he played his cards as a leader of the faction, which can tip the balance in the parliament in favor of one of the two largest factions. This helped him to return in the speaker’s chair following a deal with Prime Minister Tymoshenko during a 2008 crisis, when the parliament was on the verge of a dissolution.

That Lytvyn would go on to support Yanukovych is well-known, and there in the BBC story “BBC News – Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych forms coalition”:

Ukraine president forms coalition

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has secured a coalition in parliament and one of his loyalists has been named as the new prime minister.

Parliament approved the nomination of ex-Finance Minister Mykola Azarov as prime minister shortly after the coalition agreement was announced.

Mr Azarov said his priority was to push through a “realistic” budget for 2010.

Mr Yanukovych had been trying to pull together a loyal coalition after winning presidential polls last month.

He has faced resistance from defeated presidential contender and outgoing Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was forced out in a vote of no confidence last week.

On Thursday Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said that the coalition had been formed on the basis of an agreement signed by the Party of the Regions, the Communist Party, and his Lytvyn bloc.

304 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 12)”:

After a corpse had been found in Tarashcha, a town near Kyiv, on 2 November 2000, in the space of two weeks information was revealed which indicated that the headless torso was probably Gongadze: its physical dimensions, jewellery found with the corpse, the stomach contents, and shrapnel wounds to the hand. However, rather than allowing for this probability, which soon became a certainty, investigators tried to convince the public that the corpse was not Gongadze’s and that he was still alive.

It is reported that Ukraine’s chief coroner, Yuriy Shupyk, removed the stomach contents but gave no instructions for the rest of the body to be moved to cold storage in Kyiv. The corpse therefore continued to decompose in the local morgue. On 15 November journalists arrived at the Tarashcha morgue to claim the corpse, which was suddenly and inexplicably seized by the police and taken to Kyiv. The next day, deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Mykola Dzhyha told parliament the corpse was too short to be Gongadze and had been in the ground for two years.

305 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 12)”:

In the meantime, officials emphasised that there were sound reasons to believe Gongadze might still be alive. On 25 September, Mr Dzhyha said Gongadze had been seen in a Kyiv café the day after he disappeared; the Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Kravchenko repeated this information on 6 October. On the day after the corpse was found, [first] deputy Prosecutor General Serhiy Vynokurov announced that Gongadze had been seen on a train in Donetsk Region. On 10 January 2001, Prosecutor General Mykhaylo Potebenko told the media he had received new information which “suggests that the journalist is still alive”.

In January 2001, Russian forensic experts issued the results of DNA tests on the corpse, which indicated a 99.6 per cent probability that it was Gongadze’s. Despite this, the Prosecutor General announced in parliament: “There are no sufficient grounds to say that the body is that of journalist Gongadze unless additional forensic examination is made.” He said Gongadze could have been kidnapped by Ukrainian politicians in order to discredit their political opponents.

Six weeks later (22 February 2001), however, the Russians forensic experts raised their estimate of the probability to 99.9 per cent. On 26 February, the Prosecutor General confirmed that the corpse found in Tarashcha was Gongadze’s, based on these results. Only then did he launch a murder investigation. In other words, at least another six weeks had been lost in the investigation just because of a 0.3 per cent probability that the corpse was not Gongadze’s.

306 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 16)”:

On 21 June 2004, the press department of the Prosecutor General’s Office declared that a suspect, “Citizen K”, had said he killed Gongadze. A spokesperson announced: “The man’s testimony is corroborated by the circumstances of the crime, such the time [of the crime] and some other key facts established by the investigation, including the beheading [of Gongadze].” 30 Citizen K had previously been prosecuted for several other murders that involved beheading, the spokesperson said.

In July 2004, the Institute of Mass Information, the Ukrainian Law Organization, the International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland wrote a formal letter of inquiry to the Prosecutor General to ask for information about Citizen K under article 9/32/33 of the Ukrainian Law on Information. A reply was received from the Prosecutor General’s Office on 13 August, signed by chief of the Department of the Investigation of Very Important Cases. Mr A. Chumachenko stated that Citizen K had not been arrested as part of the Gongadze case, and that an investigation was continuing. His letter said only that all theories would be examined and none had yet been ruled out

307 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 17)”:

Dated 1 March 2001, the Ukrainian delegation’s report to the Council of Europe stated that the Prosecutor General’s office was analysing the possible involvement in Gongadze’s murder of “Citizens D and G”, who belonged to an organised criminal group and whose corpses had been found and identified. The report stated: “The Prosecutor General of Ukraine is analysing the information on [the] possible involvement in the murder of G. Gongadze of Kyiv residents belonging to one of the organised criminal groups — citizens D. and G., who disappeared at the beginning of November 2000.

“Citizens D and G” stood for Igor Dubrovsky and Pavlo Gulyuvaty, also known by their nicknames Tsyklop (Cyclops) and Matros (Sailor). The president of Ukraine, the Minister of Internal Affairs and his deputy, the Prosecutor General and his deputy, all proceeded to announce that the case had been solved and that citizens D and G had murdered Gongadze.

Within a few months, however, this allegation was revealed to be completely untrue, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office were forced to retract their earlier statements.

On 6 March 2001, the deputy prosecutor general in charge of the Gongadze case, Mr Bahanets, said on Ukrainian television that: “A group of people from a criminal group may have been involved in Georgy Gongadze’s disappearance. One of them has a nickname Cyclops. They took a journalist, a Georgian, to a forest to get him to pay some debts.”

However, on 25 May a Kyiv newspaper revealed that the two criminals blamed for Gongadze’s death had both been filmed at a wedding on the day Gongadzedisappeared.

308 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 21)”; Svyatoslav Piskun was the Prosecutor General, and Victor Shokin was his deputy:

Mr Piskun spelled out the implication: that the Ukrainian opposition had fabricated the recordings, and possibly murdered Gongadze, in order to frame ex-president Kuchma for the murder. Mr Shokin repeated this allegation: “The motive was indeed to frame the president.”

309 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 25)”:

On 14 July 2000, Georgy Gongadze sent an open letter to the Prosecutor General to complain he was being followed. Senior Ukrainian state officials at first denied the fact of surveillance, then made contradictory statements which continue to this day, despite prima facie evidence of Gongadze’s surveillance by police before he was murdered.

From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 26)”:

In June 2004, information from leaked documents from the prosecutor’s investigations in 2003 was published in the Independent (London). The documents appeared to show that MIA undercover police teams carried out surveillance on Gongadze for weeks until the time of his abduction on the orders of General Pukach. They showed that the surveillance continued until Gongadze’s disappearance on 16 September 2000; on that day, Pukach told officers to forget that there had been any surveillance operation against Gongadze. The original documents were later published on a website. At first Prosecutor General Vasylyev stated that he was “very dubious about [publications] with quotations from anonymous sources, or from mythical employees of law enforcement bodies”. Only six weeks later did the Prosecutor General’s office state at a press conference that the documents were genuine.

From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 27)”:

Despite this clear statement confirming the surveillance of Gongadze, the MIA announced a new investigation into the matter. On 14 September, the ministry reported the results of its investigation, saying it had not been able to establish whether Gongadze had been followed because documents had been destroyed and employees denied any surveillance. Two days later the ministry qualified its initial statement, telling journalists that it was in no position to say yes or no.

310 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 63)”:

Ihor Honcharov, the witness who died in custody in August 2003, gave detailed evidence of the operation of a gang, whose members of which included policemen, who kidnapped and murdered people for money. This gang, of which Mr Honcharov was a member, has become known in the press as the “werewolves”. Mr Honcharov alleged that the gang abducted and killed Gongadze on the orders of Internal Affairs Minister Kravchenko. He also said that, after he informed the head of Kyiv’s directorate for combating organized crime about these facts, he was given a savage beating and warned not to tell anyone else. Two months later he died in custody and the body was hastily cremated. Fearing for his life, Mr Honcharov had written letters, referring to these issues, and requested they be published in the event of his death.

Mr Honcharov’s evidence points to the possible existence and operation of illegal “death squads” within the Ukrainian state. Despite the seriousness of this evidence, and the authority of its source, the evidence available to this inquiry strongly suggests that the Ukrainian authorities have failed to mount a proper investigation. Very early on, suspicions were aired that Mr Honcharov did not die a natural death. In November 2003, the respected Ukrainian newspaper “Zerkalo Nedeli” revealed that specialists had concluded that Mr Honcharov was administered a series of injections, in particular a preparation that paralysed the breathing. In December 2003, however, Prosecutor General Vasylyev told a news conference: “A medical examination did not establish the cause of death as violent.”

In June 2004, the “Independent” (London) published information based on leaked documents, including a secret autopsy on Mr Honcharov which showed he was injected with a drug called Thiopental, an anaesthetic. The newspaper concluded: “The autopsy and tests performed for the government by six experts show Honcharov was injected with Thiopental, which the experts said probably led to death. Doctors have told The “Independent” that there would have been no legitimate medical reason to use the drug.” 117 Only after this publication did prosecutors for the first time say that a Mr Honcharov did not die of natural causes, as previously claimed, although they denied that the death was caused by injection of drugs. The Prosecutor General’s office said it had opened a criminal investigation into Mr Honcharov’s death in May, 2004; the results showed the cause of death was a blow to the spine.

From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 29)”:

In October 2003, the investigation appeared to have reached a climax with the arrest of General Pukach in the Gongadze murder case, charged with destroying evidence of Gongadze’s surveillance by police. At this point, however, further progress of this investigation was halted. On 29 October Mr Piskun was sacked by President Kuchma, for reasons that are still unclear. Mr Pukach was released from custody a week later (he was cleared by a Kyiv court in April 2004). Ex-President Kuchma dismissed Mr Piskun after a request from the Presidential Coordinating Committee for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption, which accused Mr Piskun of “committing serious breaches of current legislation and committing dishonest actions”. The committee further accused Mr Piskun of “over-politicising” his office, of failing to implement presidential decrees, and of large-scale corruption.

311 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 63)”:

The issue of political interference in the Gongadze case was raised. Mykola Tomenko, having resigned as deputy prime minister, accused Petr Poroshenko, leader of the Our Ukraine group in parliament; Mykola Martyninko, senior aide to Yushchenko; Oleksandr Tretyakov; and Volodymyr Lytvyn, parliamentary speaker, of trying to hinder the investigation and of “doing everything they could” to hinder discussion of the Gongadze case in parliament and in the media. Lytvyn dismissed Tomenko’s statement as “nonsense”. Myroslava Gongadze, widow of Georgiy, said at a news conference that Lytvyn should explain what role he had played in the case, and said that she was “alarmed” by Yushchenko’s position on the issue and the “lack of political will” to drive forward the investigation.

312 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 64)”:

A detailed account of how the murder was committed, based on statements by the accused and by witnesses, had previously been given in interviews by Viktor Shokin, deputy Prosecutor General. According to Shokin, Gongadze was kidnapped by a group of serving MIA officers (i.e. policemen), led by Pukach and including the three mentioned above. Gongadze was taken to the Belotserkovsky district, where he was beaten and then strangled with his own belt by Pukach. Pukach and a second, different, group of people, subsequently moved Gongadze’s body to Tarashcha, where it was discovered.

From the BBC’s “Ukraine journalist killers jailed”:

A court in Ukraine has sentenced three former police officers to prison for the murder of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

Mykola Protasov was given a sentence of 13 years, while Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych were each handed 12-year terms.

Mr Gongadze’s death, in 2000, sparked widespread protests in the Ukraine.

His family said the high-profile trial had failed to bring the masterminds behind the killing to justice.

313 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 70)”:

On 4 March, the following day, Kravchenko’s body was found at his country villa, with two gunshot wounds, one to the chin and one to the temple. A note to his family, found on his body, said he was innocent of wrong-doing and had “fallen victim to the political intrigues of President Kuchma and his entourage”. SBU director Turchynov and other officials have stated that the available evidence shows that Kravchenko committed suicide. The PGO also considers that the death was suicide, although it has opened a murder case with respect to it. Interior affairs minister Lutsenko has stated, “I have doubts about this suicide, but nothing more than that”.

314 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 88)”:

The death of Dagayev and illness of Fere, together with the death of interior minister Kravchenko and the disappearance of Pukach, mean that, with respect to the organisation of Gongadze’s murder within the MIA, none of the most important potential witnesses known to investigators can be questioned. Not surprisingly, the fates of Dagayev and Fere have been the subject of a considerable amount of media speculation. Fere suffered from a stroke in June 2003 that left him in a vegetative state; since then he has been in a coma, in the central MIA hospital, and is not expected to recover; he has lost his functions of muscle movement and speech. Three weeks after Fere’s stroke, Dagayev also suffered from a stroke which led, after an unsuccessful operation at an Austrian clinic, to his death. Suggestions that they may have been poisoned have been published in the Ukrainian media, and we believe that this issue should be considered by the PGO.

315 From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 115)”:

On 21 July this year, Pukach was arrested in the village of Molochky in Zhytomyr Region, in an operation conducted jointly by the Prosecutor’s General Office (PGO) and officers of the Ukrainian security service (SBU). The PGO stated subsequently that, during questioning, Pukach told investigating officers where Gongadze’s head was buried. The site was searched, and in August, a skull that is almost certainly Gongadze’s was found.

From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 115)”:

On 28 July, the PGO confirmed at a press conference that fragments of a human skull, which investigators believed to be Gongadze’s, had been found in Belotserkovsky district in Kyiv Region, near Sukholisy. Investigators had searched a site the location of which had been identified by Pukach. In the weeks that followed, Ukrainian forensic experts confirmed that the skull belonged to Georgiy Gongadze. Investigators have now decided, with the agreement of Myroslava Gongadze, to arrange for further confirmation of the identity of the skull, by foreign experts using DNA techniques, working together with their Ukrainian colleagues.

From “Kiev police chief jailed for Gongadze murder” by Roman Olearchyk:

A senior police officer found guilty of carrying out the gruesome murder of a journalist 13 years ago implicated a former Ukrainian president and his aide as he was sentenced on Tuesday.

The parting words of General Oleksiy Pukach will mean doubts will linger over the case that has haunted Ukraine ever since September 2000, when Georgy Gongadze, an opposition journalist, disappeared.

His headless corpse was discovered two months later in a forest 75 miles from Kiev.

Listening from behind courtroom bars while Kiev’s Pechersk district court read out its guilty verdict, Pukach, 60, grasped a prayer book and bowed as he was jailed for life.

But when one of the three judges asked if he accepted their verdict, he replied: “I will accept it when Kuchma and Lytvyn join me in this cage” – a reference to Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s president from 1994 to 2005, and Volodymyr Lytvyn, the former speaker in parliament, whom Pukach accuses of ordering the murder.

“Ukraine Gongadze case: Court convicts journalist’s killer” by Irena Taranyuk:

A Ukrainian court has convicted a former police chief of murdering journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000, a crime which rocked the country.

The court in Kiev found that Olexiy Pukach had killed the journalist, then cut off his head. It sentenced Pukach to life imprisonment.

Pukach confessed but said he had acted on the orders of the late Interior Minister, Yuri Kravchenko.

The murder sparked protests against the president at the time, Leonid Kuchma.

An attempt to prosecute Mr Kuchma for ordering the killing collapsed in December 2011 when a judge ruled that secret audio recordings which apparently incriminated him could not be used as evidence, as they had been obtained through “illegal means”.

316 From “Howard Stern – G. Gordon Liddy interview 1 of 4″ (4:35-5:16):

STERN
Conspiring to murder someone, though, I think would put you in prison for life.

LIDDY
Only if you take, see…the conspiracy laws are very interesting. You and I could sit here, and conspire to kill Bababooey all day long. But unless, and until, either one of us takes one affirmative action to advance that, there’s no crime.

STERN
So, the planning is not a crime?

LIDDY
No.

STERN
It’s the efforts.

STERN
Right. We got a plan to rob the bank. No problem. One of us goes out steals a car for the getaway. Now, there’s a problem.

317 From “Reasonable Shade of Green : Michael R. Caputo”, a screenshot of the post:

That Caputo worked with Stone on the campaign in the Ukraine is also evidenced in this piece, “The Quiet Americans” by Chris Bragg, on Caputo working again in that country in 2011:

How do you follow up managing a campaign for a candidate who made anti-gay remarks, was caught forwarding pornographic emails and nearly traded blows with a newspaper columnist?

Apparently you hightail it for Ukraine, a place where things can also get pretty hairy.

“Last time around, my Ukrainian campaign manager was murdered,” said Michael Caputo, Carl Paladino’s former campaign manager, via an email from that country. “Tough place, but Ukraine is a cakewalk compared to the New York governor’s race—and off Fred Dicker’s beat, thankfully.”

Caputo, a sharp-witted consultant who has worked everywhere from Nicaragua to Russia, has returned to Ukraine to work as a strategist during that country’s parliamentary elections. He is one of a number of New York consultants who have gravitated to the sometimes risky business of working for foreign clients, a trade that can prove especially appealing during off-year election cycles in New York.

On Caputo’s previous campaign in Ukraine alone, he was joined by flamboyant Republican strategist Roger Stone and Western New York Democratic operative Steve Pigeon—a veritable dream team of New York dirty tricksters.

“Last time around, my Ukrainian campaign manager was murdered,” Caputo is quoted as saying. This is Oleg Sheremet. It was a killing that received no notice or mention that I can find in the western press.

“Murder of Political Strategist from Litvin’s Bloc: New Blood to be Shed?!” (no credited author):

On November, 30 in the evening unknowns shot down political strategist from Litvin’s Bloc, “Land and resource clearing centre” commercial manager Oleg Sheremet in Borispol. According to Litvin’s bloc representatives, he had been advising on land issues. According to Interior Ministry Chief department PR centre in the Kyiv Region, the day before at 11:20 p.m. militia was informed by a nurse from city hospital in Borispol citizen of Ukraine was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. He died of injuries in the hospital.

The regional department of the Interior Ministry brought an action on that incident. Sheremet was murdered near the entrance to his house on Holovatogo, 69 with 5 shots.

Ukrainian politicians gave their comments on murder of Oleg Sheremet, 41. Particularly, the Party of the Regions’ people’s deputy Vladimir Sivkovich considers the murder of “land and resource clearing centre” commercial manager happened as a result of the land conflict between two business groups.

“Sheremet was on the side of one of the business-groups which struggled for land shares concerned with Bolshaya Alexandrovka rural residents. Some entrepreneurs purchased shares. Other businessmen forged documents, were successful in the actions and sold that land one more time”, told Vladimir Sivkovich in the commentary for Segodnaya.

According to deputy, 2-3 owners were pretenders at one ground area. “Sheremet had been drawing those procedures. Also he was a middleman. As a result, both business-groups suffered from it. According to my data, the matter is about only over US $50 mn”, reported Vladimir Sivkovich.

Besides, one advisory institute for land valuation in the Kyiv Region has been involved into scandal. It is founded in order to monopolize information about lands, shares, its sellers, purchasers, owners and centralized bribes scheme has been made. “It should be liquidated. Otherwise blood will be shed one more time”, ProUa cites people’s deputy as saying.

From Caputo’s Public Relations photos on his site, Caputo is the leftmost:

The photo carries the caption: “In Kiev for 2007 Ukraine parliament elections (RIP Oleg Sheremet)”

318 From “Journey to Latvia”:

Unlike any other residents, Russians who want citizenship must endure a Latvian language proficiency exam. The accompanying bureaucracy takes sometimes up to a year to finalize applications. Meanwhile, passports are held for paperwork purposes and the Byzantine process frustrates applicants at every turn.

But local Russians like Alexander Nacharov aren’t much concerned about citizenship. Born and raised in Latvia, his Russian parents sent him to Moscow where he graduated from TOURO College in finance. Today, as the head of Baltic operations for a leading global investment firm, he embodies the “noncitizen” debate. Like many Russians at the entrepreneurial core of Latvia, he is unwilling to forgo the international travel associated with his nascent business.

“I am Russian to my toes,” Mr. Nacharov told me over lunch in Jurmala, the picturesque nearby Baltic Sea resort. “I am also very proud of my Latvian roots. I don’t think I truly suffer from discrimination; it’s more an inconvenience, like a traffic jam.”

In fact, his opinion mirrored those of most young Latvians I met: Only politicians really care about this debate. Comments by a Latvian legislator or Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue, are ignored by most of the young professional class.

Despite popular indifference, the “noncitizen” issue repeatedly lights up the political landscape. Mrs. Vike-Freiberga has moved in the right direction recently, mostly because her anti-Soviet administration now recognizes Russia-oriented investment fuels its economic growth. As the historical crossroads of Eastern Europe, Latvia better hope it stays that way: Their economic opportunity will remain anchored in Russia for decades.

Perhaps the Bush Summit will help steer the Latvians away from this reeking policy of discrimination. But for everyday Latvians and Russians, who still rarely mix, the visit is politics as usual. “We know the debate must work itself out soon,” Mr. Nacharov told me. “Meanwhile, I am a man without a country who is willing to wait and see.”

A piece on the strong reaction to the official language bill in Latvia is “Latvians reject Russian as official language” by Associated Press and one on the strong reaction to the idea in Ukraine is “Political Maneuvering Stalls Language Bill in Ukraine” by David M. Herszenhorn.

319 A screenshot from “Bahamas National Trust calls for disclosure on Bimini facility”:

William Windorf Bahamas National Trust cropped

William Windorf or “William Windorf” is discussed in part nine, under the section “Empty Voices, Empty Rooms / I Bring the Applause”.

320 From “Commie Book Ban” by Rob Jordan:

The first to seize the talisman was school board member Frank Bolaños. Within days of Amador’s formal complaint, he called for a suspension of the standard review process and an immediate ban of the book. His proposal shifted the debate from a nuanced discussion to a polarizing yes-or-no vote.

When, at the April meeting, school board member Ana Rivas-Logan voted to allow a review process instead of an immediate ban, she found herself targeted by Radio Mambí, a popular station among hard-line exiles. Rivas-Logan, who was born in Nicaragua after her family fled Cuba in 1960, paraphrased one commentator’s advice to listeners: “Let’s not forget, when it comes to election time, that Ms. Rivas-Logan is Nicaraguan.” Other board members who voted to review rather than ban the book were labeled Communist and anti-Cuban.

Two months later, when the issue came before the board again, Bolaños challenged his colleagues in stark terms. “They will have a choice to either define themselves on the side of truth and with the Cuban community or on the side of lies and against the Cuban community,” he said. Board vice president Perla Tabares-Hantman, running for re-election, said she was fulfilling her “duty as a Cuban-American” in voting to ban the book. Board member Marta Pérez, also up for re-election, compared the book to “pornography” and “books about Devil worship,” saying there was no place in school libraries for such things.

After Tabares-Hantman and Pérez had weighed in, board member Evelyn Langlieb Greer, appearing exhausted and exasperated, warned of “caving to political imperative” and urged common sense in the wider community. “Your fight is with [Castro],” Greer said to the vocal, exile-filled audience. “Your fight is not with the Miami-Dade County school system over a book for five-year-olds.”

Historians chalked up another only-in-Miami moment that day when the school board voted to override the committees’ recommendations and ban Vamos a Cuba. The board also circumvented its own review process by banning all 24 books in the elementary-level travel series.

The excerpt dealing with Caputo:

This, believe it or not, was Seamans in a diplomatic mood. In another e-mail, he called Bolaños an “absolute idiot … grubbing for votes,” and referred to his press officer, Michael Caputo, as an “insignificant terd [sic].” The latter comment was in response to a Caputo e-mail implying Seamans had lost his colleagues’ respect and was surrounded by sycophants as he “preen[ed] and careen[ed] about town.”

A political operative and head of his own public relations firm in Miami Beach, Caputo boasts credentials that include work on the presidential campaigns of George Bush Sr. and Jack Kemp, Boris Yeltsin in Russia, and rightist Alfredo Cristiani in El Salvador. So why is Caputo working on the campaign of an aspiring state senator? He says he joined Bolaños’s campaign because he admired the candidate for showing “real stones” in taking up the fight against Vamos a Cuba.

Killing time outside a Little Havana restaurant, with his candidate still inside, Caputo radiated a focused intensity. The 44-year-old consultant described himself as a “cold warrior” who is also, oddly enough, a Grateful Dead fanatic. He maintained that the book-banning issue has been a “gift” to his candidate. Campaign contributions to Bolaños skyrocketed in the weeks after he took his stance, and droves of reporters have descended on the relatively unknown politician.

For the opposition — those, like Seamans, who say Bolaños is grandstanding for political gain — Caputo had no patience. People might not want to face this ugly truth, he said, but America and its freedoms are still under attack from an old foe. “The last vestiges of Communism will live and breathe in America. It’s in the school system. Some bureaucrat bought [Vamos a Cuba] …” with the intention of tweaking the Cuban exile community, Caputo said as he stabbed the air with an imaginary shiv. “Somebody did this.”

What Caputo considers an act of principled self-defense has been largely viewed, outside the exile community, as shameless pandering. Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, for instance, decried the creation of an atmosphere “where you can get pelted with batteries for being insufficiently anti-Castro.” Ray Taseff, chairman of the ACLU Greater Miami Chapter Legal Panel, called Bolaños’s stance “irresponsible. It’s demagoguery at its best.”

Coky Michel, a Coral Gables Senior High School teacher and Cuban immigrant, put it more succinctly: “These people make me vomit.” Michel said she’s tired of a vocal and extreme minority speaking for all Cuban-Americans.

That Frank Bolaños lost his election is mentioned in “There’s Something Fowl in North Miami” by Francisco Alvarado, a brief piece on other Caputo shenanigans:

Local campaign strategist Michael Caputo likes to employ some fowl play in his election day tactics.

In the mid-1990s, Caputo busted out his patent-pending tactic of using a man-in-a-chicken-suit-to-tail-opponents when he worked for Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s campaign.

Back when he was spokesman for ex-School Board Member Frank Bolanos’ failed campaign against state Sen. Alex Villalobos, Caputo had a volunteer don a chicken suit too. Bright yellow and bearing the nickname, “Demolobos,” the chicken trailed Villalobos when both camps failed to agree on a debate.

321 From “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington” by Glenn R. Simpson and Mary Jacoby:

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation director William Sessions once condemned Russia’s rising mafia. “We can beat organized crime,” he told a Moscow security conference in 1997.

Today, Mr. Sessions is a lawyer for one of the FBI’s “Most Wanted”: Semyon Mogilevich, a Ukraine-born Russian whom the FBI says is one of Russia’s most powerful organized-crime figures.

Mr. Sessions is trying to negotiate a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice for his client, who is charged with racketeering and is a key figure in a separate Justice Department probe of energy deals between Russia and Ukraine.

Mr. Sessions’s client, Mr. Mogilevich, is accused in a 45-count racketeering and money-laundering indictment in Philadelphia of masterminding an elaborate stock fraud using a web of shell companies in Europe. The Justice Department also is investigating whether there are any ties between Mr. Mogilevich and a recent series of billion-dollar natural-gas deals between Russian gas giant OAO Gazprom NRGP.RS 0.00% and Ukraine, people familiar with the matter said. The probe is being led by the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.

According to people familiar with the matter, Mr. Sessions recently approached former colleagues at Justice with an unusual offer: Mr. Mogilevich would provide the U.S. with intelligence on Islamist terrorism if prosecutors opened negotiations to resolve his legal problems in the U.S. Federal prosecutors rejected that offer, lawyers and others familiar with the matter said.

322 From “How Foreign Governments Make Sure You Don’t Know They’re Lobbying You” by Rosie Gray:

WASHINGTON — The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, an obscure nonprofit based in Belgium, was founded by a former top official in Ukraine’s governing party and appears to be a proxy for the country’s pro-Russian government. In 2012, the group hired a pair of high-powered American lobbying firms to advocate on its behalf.

But what those lobbyists, who include Obama-era Democratic superlobbyist Tony Podesta, are actually doing is a mystery. Unlike the Washington firms hired directly by foreign governments, Ukraine’s leadership has slipped its American agenda through an increasingly popular loophole in the federal law intended to regulate foreign activity in the United States, allowing it to follow the minimal disclosure practices required of domestic corporate lobbies, not the extensive ones demanded of registered foreign agents. It’s a loophole now used by a range of post-communist governments, in particular, with money to burn and no particular love of transparency. And it offers a path to the end of a disclosure regime put in place in 1938, amid American concern over the effects of Nazi propaganda.

Any entity controlled and funded by a foreign government is formally required to be registered as a foreign principal. But as long as the entity is formally a nongovernmental organization and isn’t funded by a government — a chamber of commerce, an advocacy group, or some other entity — the law does not apply.

“For better or for worse, it’s legal,” said Joseph Sandler, a Democratic lawyer and expert on FARA law.

Those groups register instead under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, whose roots are in anti-corruption crusades of the 1990s, but which is far less onerous. The two laws “evolved in completely different ways,” Sandler said. In particular, an LDA filing shows you very little about what the lobbyists actually did for their clients, while FARA filings require disclosures of specific duties and expenses.

The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine offers a particularly clear case study in this method. The Center is a nongovernmental organization in Brussels that, its website says, is “a unique ‘Modern Ukraine’ organisation based in Brussels and operating internationally as an advocate for enhancing EU-Ukraine relations.”

The group has a strong tie to the Ukraine’s government: It was founded by Leonid Khazara, a former senior member of parliament from Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. The Centre is established as a nongovernmental organization in Brussels. It lists no staff on its website save for two employees on the Contact page, and a spokesperson didn’t return requests for comment.

But for that skeleton staff, the ECFMU was represented by two lobbying firms, the Podesta Group and Mercury/Clark & Weinstock, during a period in which a flurry of pro-Yanukovych stories appeared in the American conservative blogosphere. The EFCMU’s managing director, Ina Kirsch, tweeted out two of the stories, from Breitbart News. The bloggers declined to identify the source of the stories’ pitches, and said they hadn’t been compensated for writing them.

From “American Bloggers Praised Ukrainian President Before Election” by Associated Press:

At Breitbart, Ben Shapiro also dove into Ukrainian matters around the time of the election. On October 22nd, he wrote, “Yanukovych is not the pro-Putin stooge many make him out to be, and Tymoshenko is not the pro-Western ally many make her out to be.” And “President Obama’s flip-flopping on the Yanukovych administration is accomplishing nothing but driving Yanukovych closer to Moscow. No wonder Ukraine is falling back into the Russian sphere of influence.”

Later, he criticized Hillary Clinton for allegedly siding with the Ukrainian opposition despite its forming a coalition with far-right nationalist party Svoboda, and trying to “throw the election from Viktor Yanukovich to his opposition.”

“It’s no surprise to see the woman who once hugged Suha Arafat shilling for a Ukrainian opposition that makes governing deals with reported Nazi knockoffs,” Shapiro wrote.

323 A screenshot of the comment from “Chaos in Kiev: Yanukovych flees, Tymoshenko free”:

breitbart ukraine revolt screenshot

324 That this slur was used against the Ukrainian opposition is not to dismiss that this vile passion is there in the country, and that it is there among some members of the opposition.

“Are Ukraine’s Jews Screwed?” by Adam Weinstein attempts to get at the question, and that this hateful feeling is there among both supporters and opponents of Viktor Yanukovych:

In this atmosphere, plenty of critics are asking: Should the West distance itself from the revolutionaries?

This is not an academic question reserved for uppity web pundits. Anti-Semitism has a long and hoary history in Ukraine. I should know; my Weinstein ancestors supposedly braved pogroms by Cossacks and Tatars for centuries in Kamenetz-Podolsk, a western citadel town, before bugging out in the 19th century—part of numerous waves of Jewish refugees who fled the nation to join the diaspora in Western Europe, the U.S., and eventually, Israel. World War II and the Holocaust are believed to have wiped out two-thirds of those who remained.

This is the pre-revolutionary cultural status quo in Ukraine.

Now, take away street policing. Make this a state that’s somewhat drunkenly weaving between stable governments, goaded on not just by native rightists but by Russian puppeteers and their sympathizers, too. In the absence of laws, and enforcers of laws, all of that cultural antipathy starbursts, and it burns the Jewish community, and every other hated group that doesn’t have a champion.

So: Yes, there are anti-Semitic, fascist elements who are relatively well-placed among the revolutionaries who booted Viktor Yanukovich out of the presidential mansion. But the revolution itself isn’t a Nazi revolution, and defenders of the previous oligarchy aren’t exactly friends of the tribe, either. No side is especially friendly to Jews or any other religious, ethnic, or sexual minority, because this is Ukraine.

But there are rays of hope: First, among young Jews themselves, many of whom have been on the front lines in Kiev. “I want to let you know that lots of people who study Hebrew together with me are going to Euromaidan after classes every single day,” one young woman says on a video recorded on the street several weeks ago. “My friends, my coworkers from the Jewish Channel go to the Maidan too… Here, at Euromaidan, it doesn’t matter which nationality you are.”

Then there are the antifascists, the students, the left-leaning demonstrators, the pacifists, who estimate that right-wing dullards make up about 30 percent of the protesters—an outsize bunch, considering their poor showings at the polls. “Lots of people want to manipulate the people here,” one antifascist says. But on the whole, they’re simply against the old order and in favor of a more participatory democracy.

Some of the complexities are also described in “Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine” by Timothy Snyder:

What does it mean when the wolf cries wolf? Most obviously, propagandists in Moscow and Kiev take us for fools—which by many indications is quite justified.

More subtly, what this campaign does is attempt to reduce the social tensions in a complex country to a battle of symbols about the past. Ukraine is not a theater for the historical propaganda of others or a puzzle from which pieces can be removed. It is a major European country whose citizens have important cultural and economic ties with both the European Union and Russia. To set its own course, Ukraine needs normal public debate, the restoration of parliamentary democracy, and workable relations with all of its neighbors. Ukraine is full of sophisticated and ambitious people. If people in the West become caught up in the question of whether they are largely Nazis or not, then they may miss the central issues in the present crisis.

In fact, Ukrainians are in a struggle against both the concentration of wealth and the concentration of armed force in the hands of Viktor Yanukovych and his close allies. The protesters might be seen as setting an example of courage for Americans of both the left and the right. Ukrainians make real sacrifices for the hope of joining the European Union. Might there be something to be learned from that among Euroskeptics in London or elsewhere? This is a dialogue that is not taking place.

The history of the Holocaust is part of our own public discourse, our agora, or maidan. The current Russian attempt to manipulate the memory of the Holocaust is so blatant and cynical that those who are so foolish to fall for it will one day have to ask themselves just how, and in the service of what, they have been taken in. If fascists take over the mantle of antifascism, the memory of the Holocaust will itself be altered. It will be more difficult in the future to refer to the Holocaust in the service of any good cause, be it the particular one of Jewish history or the general one of human rights.

325 From Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!, the excerpts where John Podesta gets a mention:

And you could tell right away that her well-funded, well-oiled, John Podesta–led machinery was of no use to her at a moment when Americans were connected like never before, when wedges were blunted and impotent.

He isolates threats to the reign of the far left and the reign of his father’s cabal of Clinton/Podesta and the organized left. He’s a vicious guy. He falsely slandered James O’Keefe as a racist, we disproved it—

Perhaps I’m being a bit hubristic, but I’m convinced that this was the meeting in which Obama and Clinton decided to put John Podesta in charge of the ACORN response team.

Naturally, the usual Podesta/Media Matters apologists leaped to diminish the encounter (which was fairly widely reported). Media Matters “Senior Fellow” Eric Boehlert called my oral and written reports about the event “the Phantom Egg,” calling into question my truthfulness.

That

326 “Vin Weber, Top Romney Adviser, Lobbying for Ukraine Group” by Eli Lake:

One of Mitt Romney’s top foreign-policy advisers recently took a side job: Burnishing the reputation of the government of Ukraine, a country condemned by international human rights groups and European governments for alleged corruption, unlawful imprisonment of opposition figures and a slide into authoritarianism reminiscent of Putin’s Russia.

According to forms filed in May under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, Vin Weber, a former Minnesota Congressman and special adviser to Romney, is a registered lobbyist for a Brussels-based group known as the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The group’s mission, according to its website, is to push for a comprehensive trade agreement between the European Union and to strengthen ties with the United States. Its founding president was Leonid Kozhara, a senior member of parliament for Ukraine’s ruling Party of Regions.

On the campaign trail and on his website, Romney has criticized Russia, promising that as president he would “be forthright in confronting the Russian government over its authoritarian practices,” and contrasting his more-hawkish stance with President Obama’s “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has at times sought closer ties with Vladimir Putin even as he has courted the West. In 2010, Yanukovych extended the lease for the Russian Navy’s use of a Black Sea port in Sevastopol. This week, he will meet with Putin in Yalta for a major summit.

327 From “New Questions Over McCain Campaign Chief’s Ties To Ukraine” by Seth Colter Walls:

How much does John McCain know about his campaign manager’s lobbying history and potential current business interests inside Ukraine — and when did he know it?

The stakes of the answer to that question are increasing, due both to the continuing controversy over the role of lobbyists in McCain’s second presidential run, as well as the press inquiry into the connections between McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and the global business and political interests in Ukraine, a country represented by the lobbying firm that bears his name — Davis-Manafort.

The Davis lobbying firm offered political consulting services to the pro-Russian “Party of Regions” inside Ukraine. (To do so, the firm did not have to register as a “foreign agent” under U.S. law, because it was operating outside the United States.) The Party of Regions wound up on the wrong side of the 2004 “Orange Revolution” that captured many a heart in the West (including John McCain’s). Since then, the firm, which Davis co-founded, has been described as instrumental in organizing a political comeback for the once-discredited Party of Regions, which emerged victorious in 2006 legislative elections.

From “Lawmakers Seek to Close Foreign Lobbyist Loopholes” by Barry Meier:

For instance, a lobbying firm owned by Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager, has worked in recent years for a Ukraine politician, Viktor Yanukovich. Both Mr. McCain and the Bush administration supported the opponent of Mr. Yanukovich, who had close ties to Vladimir V. Putin, then the president of Russia and now prime minister.

During this time, however, Mr. Davis’s firm, Davis Manafort, never registered as a lobbyist for Mr. Yanukovich even though Paul Manafort, Mr. Davis’s business partner, had met with the United States ambassador in Kiev on Mr. Yanukovich’s behalf.

In a related development, Mr. McCain may have first become aware of Davis Manafort’s activities in Ukraine as far back as 2005. At that time, a staff member at the National Security Council called Mr. McCain’s Senate office to complain that Mr. Davis’s lobbying firm was undercutting American foreign policy in Ukraine, said a person with direct knowledge of the phone call who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A campaign spokesman, when asked whether such a call had occurred, referred a reporter to Mr. McCain’s office. The spokesman there, Robert Fischer, did not respond to repeated inquiries.

Such a call might mean that Mr. McCain has been long aware of Mr. Davis’s foreign clients. Mr. Davis took a leave from his firm at the end of 2006.

328 From “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington” by Glenn R. Simpson and Mary Jacoby:

The former Dole strategist Mr. Manafort and a former Dole fund raiser, Bruce Jackson, have received fees and donations from Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, the political patron of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yanukovich.

Messrs. Manafort and Jackson played prominent roles in the Ukrainian’s recent visit to Washington. The visit included meetings with U.S. officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney. A company controlled by Mr. Akhmetov donated $300,000 in 2005 to a human-rights charity run by Mr. Jackson and his wife, an Internal Revenue Service document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal shows. Mr. Jackson said he was grateful for the support.

329 From “With cash, Ukraine’s political foes bring fight to Washington” by Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel:

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) – Rival political factions facing each other on the streets of Ukraine have also enlisted heavyweight lobbyists in Washington, some with connections at the highest levels of U.S. government, to promote their causes to American policymakers, media and members of Congress.

Among the high-profile lobbyists registered to represent organizations backing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s government are prominent Democratic lobbyist Anthony Podesta and former Republican congressional leaders Vin Weber and Billy Tauzin.

Meanwhile, Yanukovich’s most prominent political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister who is serving a seven-year prison term for alleged abuse of power, is represented in Washington by former Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery, a partner in the law firm Wiley Rein LLP.

The sums of money involved are substantial. Over the last two years, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-based organization sympathetic to Yanukovich and his political party, has paid $560,000 to Weber’s firm, Mercury, and another $900,000 to Podesta Group Inc, for a total outlay of $1.46 million, according to a U.S. Senate database.

The database shows total payments over the same two years of $810,000 to Wiley Rein by Oleksandr Tymoshenko, a Ukrainian businessman and husband of Yulia.

“A lot of people are making a lot of money off Ukraine’s political competition,” said Bruce Jackson, president of the Project on Transitional Democracies, which advocates Western-oriented reforms in Eastern Europe.

“The Yulia-Yanukovich competition has definitely spilled out of the country. Both sides are heavily invested in representation in Washington,” Jackson said. He said he and his group do not lobby.

330 From “A year of Yanukovych, seen from abroad”:

Mr. Jackson, you usually visit our country in critical moments. You may know that early this year European Commissioner Stefan Fule and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia visited our country. They both expressed concern regarding the “selective” political prosecution of the opposition during their negotiations with the Ukrainian authorities. What can you say about it?

“Yes, this is a critical time. If we look at the objective facts, President Viktor Yanukovych and the new government had a very good year in 2010. They reached an agreement with the IMF, initiated intense negotiations regarding the free trade area with the EU, signed the Action Plan on visa regime liberalization. They saw the country growing again, and did not go bankrupt like Greece. Generally, we can consider Ukraine a ‘new Poland,’ not a new Belarus. This is all very good. But Yanukovych isn’t getting any credit for it. Everyone hates the government.”

Why do you think this happens?

“I would say there are three explanations. First, the judiciary in Ukraine is a disaster.

“Second, the mentality of the SBU is not helpful. I met the head of the SBU. Maybe he is a little naive, a little young, and maybe not everything is under his control. But this is not a thug. He is trainable and we can fix it. I’ve been in Bulgaria and Romania and I’ve seen much worse. The third reason is that now that political ‘water’ has receded and there is no political fighting, we can look directly at the economy of Ukraine. We see a serious corruption problem. People are saying it’s getting worse and worse. I am not sure it’s worse. I think it’s the first time we really looked at it. If there were no big companies here before, now those who came here are drawing more attention to it. The corruption here is a precondition of doing business. And I don’t think it’s all government corruption, I think we’ve got traffic police, doctors, education — it’s the entire structure of the economy.”

331 From a World Security Network interview with Nathalie Vogel:

WSN: It seems that for the US administration, even the French are better Atlanticists than the Germans nowadays, why is it so?

Bruce Jackson: President Sarkozy is immensely popular in Washington and seems to us to say all the right things. I suspect that the perceived difference in French and German foreign policies lies in what they have chosen as priorities. Sarkozy emphasizes his commitment to make the EU more efficient by implementing the Lisbon Treaty, making Europe stronger by building up ESDP, and by reaching out to North Africa in a Mediterranean Union. These initiatives are non-controversial and modestly popular here. Conversely, Berlin sees itself as the business partner of Moscow and the explainer of Kremlin anxieties to the West. And, on occasion, Chancellor Merkel sees herself as the “schoolmarm” of Europe who restrains the excessive enthusiasm of the new democracies in Europe’s East by saying “Not so fast, boys.” The positions which Germany has chosen for itself are quite controversial and have encountered significant criticism.

332 Those for whom the names William Windorf, Karla Von Stetten, Philip Dodge, Richard Knox mean nothing will find more about these people in part nine, under the section “Empty Voices, Empty Rooms / I Bring the Applause”.

333 From “Ukraine Votes: The country faces enormous economic challenges as it heads to the polls”:

Various theories have been advanced to explain the prolonged political crisis in Ukraine, all of them at best partially true and most completely false. The original explanation was that Ukraine’s frequent, indecisive elections were part of the process of building a Ukrainian nation. While there may be some superficial truth to the perception that people from Lvov, Odessa, and Dnipropetrovs’k are not overly fond of each other, everyone believes (even politicians) they are part of a Ukrainian nation and are fiercely patriotic.

About a year ago, a second theory appeared which held that the elections would be a decision on whether Ukraine would be a pro-Russian state or a pro-European state. This theory is demonstrably false and intentionally misleading. The culture and history that Ukraine shares with Russia is a matter of historical fact, and history cannot be rewritten by election or referendum. Similarly, the intimacy of Ukraine’s relations with Europe is established by history, geography, and shared economic interest. Ukraine will always be close to and independent of both Russia and Europe, and there is nothing any of Ukraine’s parties can do about it. We can be confident that this election is not about violating the iron laws of geopolitics.

334 From “Why We Need a Reset”:

Over the past two decades we have been consistently wrong about the political character of Ukraine, the values and aspirations of its people, and the profound weaknesses of its government and economy. With the exception of the success in dismantling Ukraine’s strategic nuclear forces, the United States has gotten very little if anything right about Ukraine or its politics. Beginning with the infamous “Chicken Kiev” speech in July 1991 wherein U.S. President George H.W. Bush exhorted Ukraine to stay within the Soviet Union through the apotheosis of the democratic credentials of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, Washington has neither seen Ukraine clearly as it is nor understood its aspirations properly. Along the way, U.S. diplomacy has isolated Ukraine for selling Kulchga radars to Iraq that turned out never to have occurred, accused former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma of murdering journalist Georgiy Gongadze before having second thoughts, and has driven public support for NATO from roughly 50 percent in the late 1990’s to less than 10 percent today.

335 From “Minister Without Portfolio” by John Judis:

One prominent neoconservative familiar with Jackson describes him as the “nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us.” After Jackson had left the government, he joined Martin Marietta in 1993, which merged in 1995 with Lockheed to become part of the nation’s largest defense contractor. In 1997 he became director of global development and was put in charge of finding new international markets for Lockheed.

Jackson was extremely active in Republican politics. He was finance co-chairman of Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign and drafted the foreign-policy plank of the 2000 Republican convention platform. But his most important outside work was with the U.S. Committee on NATO, which he founded in 1996 and on which he served as president. Board members included Perle, Wolfowitz and Stephen Hadley, now the deputy national-security adviser but then a partner in the Shea & Gardner law firm, which represented Lockheed.

336 On the Vilnius 10 declaration, from “Minister Without Portfolio” by John Judis:

The declaration not only angered the French and Germans, it didn’t sit well with some of the governments that signed it. In Slovenia, Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel came under attack for signing the declaration. On Feb. 13, he distanced himself from the declaration. “In everything that it does … Slovenia is representing the stance that the Iraqi crisis must be resolved within the United Nations, i.e., within the Security Council,” he said. When the war began, Slovenian Prime Minister Anton Rop finally said it had been a mistake to sign the declaration. The Slovenian press blamed pressure from Jackson, acting on behalf of the United States, for the initial decision to sign. Rupel, columnist Sasa Vidmajer wrote, had “buckled under … Bruce Jackson’s threat.”

337 From “Panamania” by Joe Klein, on the mixed signals of the United States to Manuel Noriega:

Who is Admiral Daniel Murphy and why should we be intrigued by his visit with Noriega in Panama last November?

Murphy says he was there as a private businessman, a political consultant for undisclosed clients. This may, in fact, be true – but there is far more to Murphy than that: He is George Bush<s former chief of staff, a former deputy director of the CIA, and a former supervisor of the vice-president's task force on drugs. He and the Korean Tongsun Park arrived in Panama just as Noriega and the State Department were close to makign a deal for the dictator's departure.

"Noriega was ready to go," says José Blandón, the Panamanian who represented Noriega in the negotiations. "He knew the drug indictment was coming. He knew the Panamanian economy was in trouble. He was tired and wanted out. In September, he told me to negotiate a deal for him."

This was Blandón's deal: If the pending drug indictment could be quietly forgotten, Noriega and his top henchmen would leave the country in April 1988. Blandón says Elliott Abrams, the assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, agreed to the package – Abrams won't comment – in early November, and Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage gave Noriega the official word in late December. By then, however, it was too late.

"Noriega started to back off after he spoke to Murphy in November," Blandón says. "He said Murphy offered him a better deal: He could stay until March of 1989. He said Murphy had spoken to George Schultz and Colin Powell about it – and he began to question my loyalty and wonder why he could get a better deal from Murphy than from me."

338 The figure of Johnson and eight murders is mentioned many times in The Man Who Killed Kennedy, here is one:

The former president was racked not only with pain in his final days but guilt, undergoing psychotherapy in an attempt to unburden himself from a political past that included as many as eight murders and was ended in shame. Intimates said that Johnson had even smoked marijuana to deal with his demons—the pastime of the counter-culture that had driven him from the White House.

339 From The Man Who Killed Kennedy:

It is also astounding how many witnesses and those believed intimately connected to the Kennedy assassination met untimely and abnormal deaths. In his recent work, Hit List, which contextualized the many bizarre circumstances of deaths surrounding the assassination, Richard Belzer estimated that in the fourteen years following the incident, out of the approximately 1,400 witnesses, seventy have died unnaturally. The odds of this happening has been mathematically calculated as 1 in 715 million trillion trillion.

It should be noted that the death of witnesses from what appear to be death under such unusual circumstances as to suggest assassination, is far more striking and more substantial in Gongadze case. From “The Gongadze Inquiry (specific page 107)”:

Finally we draw attention to the opinion of Vasily Silchenko, deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission, who felt able to reinforce Moisyk’s conclusions more forcefully outside the formalities of parliament, in an article that called for a change to the law on the protection of witnesses:

The strange and unexpected death of the nurse from the Tarashcha morgue, the early death of Dagayev, the coma that has struck Fere, the “suicide” of Kravchenko … And more: the death in a custody cell of Goncharhov, the grenade attack on Nesterov, a member of the “werewolves” gang, who was being guarded by the militia […], the disappearance of Pukach even after he was arrested, the “small calibre bullet” in the skull of Irina Radzievskaya [an important witness in the case of the death of Kravchenko]. … And these were all important witnesses, who had things to say about the Gongadze case! And they all in one way or another were in the field of vision of the law enforcement agencies or special forces. How many more “coincidental” deaths must there be in this chain, until it becomes impossible to refute the obvious logic?

340 A very similar point is made about Stone’s CREEP associate in “Johann Hari: My Interview with G. Gordon Liddy”:

He says that the US has shown insufficient Will (the way he says it, the word should always be capitalized) in its foreign policy too. While the Nixon administration was spraying tonnes of napalm and poison over Vietnam, he complained the policy was “too soft.” He says now, “I wanted to bomb the Red River dykes. It would have drowned half the country and starved the other half. There would have been no way the Viet Cong could have operated if we had the will-power to do that.”

But what about the millions of innocent people who would have been murdered? “Look at Dresden. Millions of people died there too.” And it hits me: he just can’t see them. They are un-people, specks of red dust on a distant map, obstacles to his Will. Their suffering is as irrelevant as that of the chickens he decapitated with such glee sixty years ago in New Jersey.

341 Three appropriate excerpts rom Criminal History of Mankind:

Most children experience curiosity about sex; in the criminal, it seems to be an obsession that narrows down the focus of his consciousness to the idea of exploring the forbidden, of committing stealthy violations of privacy. His sexuality becomes tinged with violence and his criminality with sex. One of the most puzzling things about many cases of rape is the damage inflicted on the victim, even when she makes no resistance. This is because, in the criminal mind, sex is a form of crime, and crime a form of sex. The passage from de Sade is a remarkable illustration of this connection – Juliette’s intense sexual excitement as she waits to commit a crime.

THE DISADVANTAGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
One day in 1960, at precisely ninety seconds before midday, a young student named Klaus Gosmann walked into a block of flats on the Tuchergarten Strasse in Hersbruch, near Nuremberg. He was a quiet, serious young man, known to his few acquaintances for his deep interest in mystical theology: his daydream was to find a job as pastor at some quiet little country village, where he could lead a life of dedicated service.

He chose a flat at random and knocked on the door. A young man opened it. It was thirty seconds to midday. Gosmann said: ‘Sir, I wish to ask you a question and I shall not repeat it.’ ‘What?’ ‘Your money or your lives?’ At that moment, the bells of the local churches began to chime midday, making a deafening noise. Gosmann drew a revolver from his pocket and carefully shot the young man in the heart. The man’s fiancée, who was looking curiously over his shoulder, began to scream. Gosmann shot her through the head. Then, before the bells had finished chiming, he turned and walked home. There he wrote up the story of the murder in his diary. He was pleased that he had timed it to a second – so that the bells would drown the shots – and that he had remained perfectly calm and controlled.

Gosmann committed four more murders during the next seven years. One was of a bank director – again at precisely midday – from whose desk Gosmann snatched a few thousand marks. Another was of a doorman in a bank he had just robbed – the man was reaching to his pocket for his glasses when Gosmann fired. And to obtain more weapons, Gosmann shot the widow who ran a gun-shop in Nuremberg and her twenty-nine-year-old son. His next crime was his undoing. In July 1967, he snatched the handbag of a woman in a department store; when she screamed he fired at her but missed. He also fired at a store official who chased him and hit his briefcase. Beaten to the ground, he was thinking; ‘How ridiculous – it can’t be happening.’ He fired one more shot, killing the man who had chased him. Then he was arrested.

Why did Gosmann kill? No doubt a psychiatrist would be able to uncover the roots of the obsessions and emotional disorders that turned his thoughts towards crime. (He revered the memory of his father, an army captain, who had been shot by the Americans at the end of the war.) But the central motivation was undoubtedly the need to bolster his self-esteem. Gosmann felt himself to be weak and inadequate – a thinker who was incapable of action. His crimes were a deliberate attempt to strengthen his identity. And just as some couples enjoy sex more if they can see themselves in a mirror, so Gosmann tried to add a dimension of reality to his crimes by describing them in his diary. In prison he wrote in his journal: ‘I would say there is a great difference between me and Raskolnikov [in Crime and Punishment]. Just as long as I don’t get it in the neck from the judge, I don’t have to consider myself as the perpetrator. Raskolnikov always thought of himself as the perpetrator…’ It is an interesting comment that reveals that even his present situation had not succeeded in rescuing him from his sense of unreality: ‘How ridiculous – it can’t be happening.’ Gosmann did ‘get it in the neck’ from the judge; he was sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of release.

Crime is basically the assertion of the ‘I’. ‘I’ strike someone in the face; ‘I’ order the bank clerk to hand over the money; ‘I’ pull the trigger.

342 From Dirty Tricks:

343 The original french text from “Scandale Prism : la NSA aurait aussi espionné l’Union européenne” by Laure Mandeville:

Ces nouvelles révélations ne tombent pas bien pour Washington, confronté, sur le dossier Snowden, à des tensions avec Moscou et Pékin. «Si ces révélations sont vraies, nous allons avoir des semaines de rhétorique européenne dure, mais j’ai du mal à imaginer que cela puisse faire dérailler les négociations sur l’accord de libre-échange dont l’Europe a plus besoin que nous», commente Sean West, de l’Eurasia Group. Le lobbyiste républicain Bruce Jackson, expert des relations transatlantiques, a relativisé la polémique, jugeant «ridicule» l’émoi des Européens et estimant «que tout mariage qui marche a besoin de renseignements». «Tout le monde espionne tout le monde», a-t-il dit, doutant en revanche de la réalité des écoutes de la délégation diplomatique européenne, vu le «peu d’intérêt» qu’elle représenterait en termes de renseignement.

344 From “Russia Today presenter hits out at Moscow over Ukraine” by The Guardian:

An American anchor on Russian state television has delivered an emotional rebuke of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and criticised the media’s biased news coverage.

Russia Today responded by saying it was sending Abby Martin to Crimea so she could learn more about the situation.

Martin, a Washington-based journalist with the English-language channel, wrapped up her show on Tuesday by saying “what Russia did is wrong” and that military intervention was never the answer.

“Exclusive: RT Anchor Liz Wahl Explains Why She Quit” by James Kirchik describes the story behind Wahl’s dramatic exit.

345 Should the tweets of Roger Stone relevant to this episode be deleted, the following are screenshots:

roger stone twitter misogyny part1 roger stone twitter misogyny pt2

346 Should the tweets of Andrew Miller relevant to this episode be deleted, the following are screenshots:

andrew miller tweets

347 Should the tweets relevant to the Rebecca Wells part of this episode be deleted, the following are screenshots:

rebecca wells pt1 rebecca wells screeenshots pt2

348 Should the tweets on this page be deleted, the following are screenshots of the page as it appeared when the tweets were still extant:

part ten with tweets pt1 part ten with tweets pt2

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Roger Stone: Pretty Reckless Is Going Straight To Hell Part Nine

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

(Originally, this piece was intended to be made up only of nine parts. Due to the already excessive length of this section, there will now be a tenth, which will be posted on February 24th.)

He stood still on the sidewalk for several seconds: How had it all begun? Why had Liddy asked them to go into the DNC? The radio had this morning mentioned that Brezhnev would be visiting Cuba this week. Détente or no détente, the fundamentals still applied. Maybe there had been Cuban money going to the DNC. For the first time, standing here by a curb, Hunt asked himself: Had Manuel Artime – wasn’t he a friend of Rebozo’s? – somehow been connected to the burglary? Perhaps even been its prime mover? Had Manuel asked him to do it?

He was certain of nothing. While outlining his memoirs, he had noticed how speculations kept getting tangled in actualities, how he sometimes disappeared into several narratives concurrently and ended up unsure of which one he’d really lived.

–Thomas Mallon’s Watergate

For instance, we may be getting ready to decide that the CIA was the real producer of Watergate (that avant-garde show!), but where is the proof? We have come to a circular place. The CIA occupies that region in the modern mind where every truth is obliged to live in its denial; facts are wiped out by artifacts; proof enters the logic of counterproof and we are in the dream; matter breathes next to antimatter.

“A Harlot High and Low: Reconnoitering through the secret government” by Norman Mailer

“Because your crystal ball / Ain’t so crystal clear”
“Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys

THE WELL DRESSED MAN PART NINE: I PALINDROME I / MARTYRS / THE SECRET HISTORIES / EMPTY VOICES, EMPTY ROOMS

Part eight of this long piece ended on political characters seemingly playing their very opposite, where we lose certainty of whether anyone is truly playing their role, or whether they’re playing a double game. Roger Stone works on a series of conservative causes, claims that he wishes the United States had gone to war against Saudi Arabia, but also laments the fact that both parties are in favor of military intervention and manages the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential ticket. His company uses its connections to Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum to get a military contract, then he appears at a Quincy Tea Party rally decrying excessive federal spending. He is saddened that there are only two parties, yet he proudly claims that he helped destroy a third choice, the Reform Party. “The republican establishment in Washington does not like John McCain,” he says on November 3, 2008. “He really is a maverick.” One month later, he complains that “McCain, who’s an establishment figure,” cut his own throat when he signed the bailout bill in the summer of that year, that his being part of the establishment is what lost him the race. “Why consider running for Governor? And why now?” he is asked, when he briefly made noises about running as the head of the Florida state. “Like most Floridians, I am dissatisfied with our choices,” he replies. Rick Scott has lost his way, he says. Charlie Crist, on the other hand, “is a dangerous chameleon that believes in nothing.”242

That he often appears to have no connection to any position, except his own practical interest, makes one wonder if perhaps Stone might not have been playing a true role as a consultant for the Gary Johnson campaign, but rather, attempting to achieve the very opposite, a split vote to bring about a victory for Mitt Romney. There is the equal question of Bruce Fein, who took a very hard right position with regards to war and foreign intervention, a commaless approach to capturing and killing terrorists, before suddenly changing position and demanding that Dick Cheney be brought to trial. He works as a consultant for Ron Paul, a lawyer for Lon Snowdon, Edward’s father, and works on Rand Paul’s lawsuit against the NSA – though at two crucial points, there are outbursts that seemingly sabotage the proceedings. He expresses suspicion that Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange may be exploiting Snowden. He and his wife accuse Rand Paul of plagiarism. His wife, Mattie Fein (also known as Mattie Lolavar), has an equally strange history, heading up a think tank whose purpose was setting up a government in Iran after a regime change, and who was allegedly part of a political operation with Roger Stone’s consulting firm, IKON, which involved obtaining information from Israeli intelligence, while at the same time making sure never to attribute the information from this source. We might ask if Bruce Fein is also playing a dual role, a man who is a mole within the anti-surveillance community, attempting to cripple it from within. This question does not arise, I think, out of paranoia, but a secrecy as plentiful and ever present as oxygen, placing all characters under suspicion – is this person’s outward intent in fact obscuring the actual intent, an intent that is entirely its inverse?

I PALINDROME I

The secrecy that surrounds Bruce Fein is that of the defense industry and the surveillance state. The obscurity surrounding Roger Stone is the vast force of secret money now ever present in elections. As for how this enshrouds everything in mystery, I give as an example an incident from the 2012 Broward Sheriff’s race, a race already touched on in part seven. As already said, this was a campaign between Al Lamberti and Scott Israel, with heavy money for Israel’s political advertising going to the controversial Elnatan Rudolph. The anti-Lamberti ads were bought by Citizens United for Reform, and all of these ads can be seen on the Citizens United for Reform channel on youtube. During this barrage against Lamberti, a set of mysterious videos were uploaded to youtube. They were short simple monologues by a woman obviously reading a script, who accused Scott Israel of having an affair with her when she was seventeen and forcing her to get an abortion. They had the qualities of attacks associated with Roger Stone, personal and cruel, like the Warren Redlich mailer, like calling Hesham El-Meligy the Al-Qaeda candidate, like Janet Rzewnicki and Ann Stone alleging that Tom Carper hit his wife, that Dan Gelber was against jewish schools, like Stone claiming with certainty that a Michelle Obama “whitey” tape exists243 – yet in this case the attacks were launched against the very candidate that Stone was alleged to be helping, a candidate who would later hire two of his associates, Dianne Thorne, longtime girl friday, and Michale Colapietro, his ghostwriter on The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. All three of these monologues are still on youtube, “ScottIsrael2012: The Real Scott Israel for Broward Sheriff”, “ScottIsrael2012: The Real Scott Israel for Broward Sheriff – Take 2″, “ScottIsrael2012: The Real Scott Israel for Broward Sheriff – Take 3″, and I give a still accompanied by a transcript from the third (stills and accompanying transcripts for the other two are at the footnote)244:

Hi Scott, it’s me again. You know, that…at seventeen, because of you, I had to have an abortion. And now, I’m finding out that you have three kids. And a kid from another marriage. And a kid from another marriage. And a wife of twenty years. And you’re happily married. Like…are you serious? Do you really think I’m stupid? I mean…we’ve been, you know, working together. For quite a while. And, I’m just finding this out now. I’m pretty taken back, especially for a former policeman, Susan must be really happy with you. She must be so thrilled with you for having an affair. With a seventeen year old girl. Who you got pregnant. And had to have an abortion. Yeah, I’m sure she’ll be really happy about that one. Well, good luck.

Israel would immediately issue an angry response. It was another ad funded by Citizens United for Reform, this one featuring the candidate’s wife, “Susan Israel’s Statement on Sheriff Al Lamberti’s Lies”. The following is a transcript of the ad:

Sheriff Al Lamberti and his supporters have sunk to a new low. Attacking my family and falsely accusing my husband, Scott Israel, of marital infidelity. I know politics is dirty, but this is too much. As a wife and a mother, I have to speak out. Al Lamberti has gone too far. Hiring some actress to make false claims of marital infidelity against my husband in a dirty video is low. Even for a Republican like Al Lamberti. Accusing my husband of statutory rape? A crime? This is an outrageous lie. Al Lamberti should be ashamed of himself. Lamberti has smeared my husband, Scott Israel, with a video that attacks my family, and even makes fun of my children. Scott Israel is a good and honest man. A good father, and a good husband. These attacks are despicable lies. It’s an assault on my family, on my husband of twenty one years. It’s disgusting, hurtful, and it’s absolutely false. Bringing up my children is beyond the pale. It tells you what kind of man Al Lamberti is. On TV, Al Lamberti is lying about my husband’s twenty five year record in law enforcement. He knows that the charges of misconduct against my husband were fully investigated and proven false. Lamberti knows the files are not missing, but legally expunged because the claims were false. My husband is a good man. Scott Israel will end the politics and the self-dealing in the sheriff’s office. He’ll bring diversity to the top ranks of BSO [Broward Sheriff's Office] and he’ll end racial profiling, and protect the rights of gays and lesbians who work at BSO, which isn’t happening today. Al Lamberti, you should be ashamed. Don’t believe the lies about my husband, Scott Israel. Scott Israel is a good man, and qualified to be sheriff.

These youtube clips were properly considered contemptible – yet here is where my suspicion comes in, where things are their opposite, an optical illusion in which black birds flying east are suddenly white birds flying west. Would it not be incredibly effective to post a group of gutterball smears, against your own candidate, as a kind of effective fire insurance for your own attacks 245? Your candidate is not the villain, but the victim. I do not suggest these things out of any feeling against Scott Israel or for Al Lamberti – only that the attack made by this woman, one that is cruel, stupid, and obvious, is seemingly so much like a Roger Stone attack, and because of the secrecy surrounding the massive funding of any campaign now, even a tiny sheriff’s race in Broward, Florida. Perhaps the only route to an answer to who was behind these youtube clips, and what their true intent was, lies with an ancient and well-worn directive: cherchez la femme. Who is this woman, and were these clips a misguided act of malign volunteerism, or was she hired, and by whom?

This strange attack leads us into another unusual event, one entirely forgotten and one unknown to me until my research for this post, during the 2011 Republican primary. Though now forgotten, there was a time when Texas governor Rick Perry was high up in the polls, on the cover of Time, a formidable threat to Romney, and a strong contender for the party’s nomination. It was during this brief moment of crackling desire for a Rick Perry presiency that someone took out a full page ad in the Austin Chronicle weekly, a simple question in the large black font best associated with six episodes of a galactic saga246: “HAVE YOU EVER HAD SEX WITH RICK PERRY?” After that was a more specific, equally blunt question in smaller type: “Are you a stripper, an escort, or just a ‘young hottie’ impressed by an arrogant, entitled governor of Texas?” The man who’d paid for this ad was an Austin resident named Robert Morrow, and he’d soon explain why he’d put up this ad. “What it boils down to is this: is that Rick Perry is a man who campaigns on christian values,” he said on the Alex Jones “Infowars Nightly News: Special Report” (on youtube: “Infowars TV Interviews Rick Perry Sex Scandal Accuser 1/2″ and “Infowars TV Interviews Rick Perry Sex Scandal Accuser 2/2″) “He uses bible buzzwords for political gain, he appears on-stage in Houston with all these preachers, yet he’s living a double life.” How did Robert Morrow know about Rick Perry’s infidelities? “The reason I know that, Alex, is because Rick Perry, his enabling entourage and I, like the same women.” (partial transcript at the footnote)247

JONES
Well, that’s quite a charge. Again, I’m gonna be honest with you, Robert. You wouldn’t even be here right now if a lot of people I know vouched for you, and said you were a stand-up guy, they’ve known you for many many years. Some of them a decade, I’ve known for a decade. And, I’m not saying, oh, you’re lucky to be here. I’m saying, I wouldn’t have you here, if a lot of people I know and trust, said you were a stand-up guy. That means two things are happening. Either all these people who are telling you this information are lying to you; or they’re telling the truth. And either way, this is dangerous. So, let’s get into the allegations.

MORROW
Okay, the reason they’re credible is because there are multiple allegations. I met a stripper a couple years ago, she said “I was working on-stage in a club, and a man comes up to me, and he says, ‘Here’s five hundred dollars. That’s just for starters if you come with me.’” Because that’s what a dancer might make in a whole night, with table dances and tips like that. She said, “Sure, I’ll do it,” and she got into her regular clothes, and she was delivered to…Rick Perry. And when she got to Rick Perry, she told me a couple years ago, before the 2010 gubernatorial race, she said that she and Rick Perry started fooling around, and she was trying to give him a “Monica Lewinsky”, I think it was oral sex, and her words to me were, “I think he was too coked up, to get it up.” K? After they’d been playing around for a while, and it was time for her to go, Rick Perry paid her an outrageous sum of money well into the four digits. Rick Perry’s not a rich man; he’s only worth a million or two dollars. It’s not a lot of money compared to who he runs around with. It makes me think that Rick Perry is taking bribes and illegal gifts from his entourage to fund his extra-curricular activities. And that was just one lady.

Morrow didn’t just have one reliable source for the information, so far he had two. “I know other women in town, strippers, young hotties, some escorts, and this is what blew me away: I heard from another lady, who’s had direct dealings with Rick Perry’s entourage.” She had met with Rick Perry’s entourage- no, actually, she’d heard from an unnamed man, a story about Rick Perry and his entourage.

MORROW
I know other women in town, strippers, young hotties, some escorts, and this is what blew me away: I heard from another lady, who’s had direct dealings with Rick Perry’s entourage. And she told me, this man told her, when Rick Perry goes on the road, he gets the quote “young hotties”. Hence, I use the phrase “young hotties” in my ad. And he told her, he says that they take these young women and they go back to Rick Perry’s hotel room, and they’re literally having orgies and group sex in the hotel room. Perhaps, maybe, Rick Perry is having sex with a woman on a sofa and his friend is having sex with another young hottie on a bed. So, that was two. Now, the second person who told me this, is very credible, she’s educated, she knows her way around the world politically here in Austin, she’s not some sortof seventeen year old runaway on drugs or something. She’s somebody who runs with the elite of Austin, Texas. So that was the second source on that. So, after I heard that, I said, “It is confirmed.” Rick Perry is obviously being flagrantly adulterous, his entourage is procuring strippers for him, renting the hotel rooms, calling the escort services, then recently, this week, yet another young lady who’s friends with yet another popular, long-time escort, said that, yeah, you know, this lady, her friend, had a tryst with Rick Perry in one of the nicer hotels in Austin, Texas. So, that’s three right there. And I’ve been unable to get these people to go public for obvious reasons, you know, trying to get a stripper, or an escort, or a gay, closeted gay man, to go public is very difficult for obvious reasons, hence my ad. So I took out this ad, “Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?” as a plea, to the greater community, to quit covering for Rick Perry, this you know, christian buzzword spouting hypocrite, who’s leading a double life.

It is confirmed. Rick Perry, Morrow assured Jones, was in a dangerous place. Rick Perry was sitting on a keg of “slut fueled nitroglycerine,” according to Morrow. “On the womanizing,” said Morrow, “I’m not just 99% sure that Rick Perry’s running around with strippers and hookers, I’M ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SURE ON THAT.” If you were willing to shout it out on TV, how could it possibly be wrong? There were the strippers, the escorts, the young hotties, but there were also something else. Alex Jones had done his research, and he knew something about the Republican party: “the main way to enter the upper echelons of the Republican party is homosexual sex.” That’s what goes on in Bohemian Grove, that’s what goes on in Skull and Bones, that’s what goes on in Gayle, as Jones says it. Rick Perry had an honor known to only a select few: “you type Rick Perry into Google for years, and ‘gay’ comes up.” Morrow had confirmation on this rumor as well. An “incensed homosexual man” had revealed that an ex of an ex had had sex with Perry. It is confirmed.

JONES
Well, I’ve gotta say, Robert, that…we’ve seen what’s happened with a New York governor who passed a law to take the property away from men who hire prostitutes, throw them under the jail, while he was visiting high end prostitutes. We’ve seen all these Republican leaders caught in bathrooms, and going after their pages. We know about Bohemian Grove. And so, doing my research, I know that to get into the upper echelons of the Republican party, especially, they don’t feel comfortable around you, unless you’ve done some things they can use against you. And the main way to enter the upper echelons of the Republican party is homosexual sex. That’s what goes on in Skull and Bones, in Gayle [this is exactly how I hear Jones say it, and I think his implication is clear], that’s what goes on at the same time in Bohemian Grove. So I know that stuff goes on. Again, I mainly stick with the issues that I can prove. And we’ve all heard these rumors living in Austin. And there’s been newscasts about the rumors of Rick Perry…I would completely, still, ignore all of this if he wasn’t out there saying, I’m a christian conservative leader, you need to get behind me. And then knowing, he’s actually the opposite in his real policies. And even in the last election cycle for governor, conservative groups did actually discover his bankrolling of porno parlors across Texas. And that’s now a big issue again. And then, when I first saw this, I didn’t believe it, I went and found it on the state ethics commission website, it is true, that when he was in Florida, in a famously alternative life-style area, I want you to talk about that, he visited the La Te Da, men in drag, cabaret. And he later said, “Well, no, my wife visited that.” Yeah, right. So, it just continues to crop up. And so because it was christian conservatives that have gone after him in the last few campaigns over some of these reports, he’s now trying to become that. And I saw Ron Paul supporters really getting after him in events in the last few years, so now he’s trying to become Ron Paul. He is a political chameleon. And so, the question comes down to: is this some elaborate hoax, where people are lying to you? Are you lying? Which people who know you say you’re not. Or, is this a dirty trick? Of disinformation. Or is it true? But, what do you say about the porno parlor bankrolling and the transvestite visiting?

MORROW
Okay. Well, Alex, as you know, living here in Austin, Texas, the rumors of Rick Perry’s homosexuality and gay affairs have been voluminous, intense, and will just not go away.

JONES
Oh, you type Rick Perry into Google for years, and “gay” comes up.

MORROW
And, there’s-

JONES
The first thing.

MORROW
There’s so much smoke…that it has to be fire. And I want to tell you something, Alex. I never believed the gay rumors on Rick Perry for years and years and years, and then I certainly didn’t believe them when I found out all about these stirppers and escorts, he and his entourage are cavorting with. That has changed. I’ve come into credible information that Rick Perry is a rampant bisexual adulterer, not just strippers and young hotties, but gay men as well. This monday, before I even ran this ad, an incensed homosexual man contacted me, and he says, “You know what? After seeing Rick Perry on that stage in Houston, with all those extremist preachers, all that hardcore anti-gay rhetoric, I just can’t take it any more.” He said that an ex of his ex, had sex with Rick Perry. A gay fling many years before he became governor, and that he wants to take this guy public, and he and his friend are going to approach this man, who had sex with Rick Perry according to them, and get him to go public. And I said, well, what I did was I gave them to a reporter who’s working the gay angle on Rick Perry, and he’s having some progress, by the way, and so maybe, eventually, in a few months, these reporters work these stories, nail down these sources, we will move beyond the hearsay stage on Rick Perry as a rampant bisexual adulterer, to the credibility stage of people coming forward. So, the whole point of me running that ad is folks, there is so much stuff out there, you know, if you know, if you’ve been involved with him, sexually at all, or you know people who have, please come forward. And let’s go on the record, and get it above board, because people need to know.

Morrow’s anger over Perry’s bisexuality may not have been entirely anger over hypocrisy. In 2005, the same Robert Morrow would send out an email accusing Margot Clarke, who was running for a city council seat, of only caring about three groups of people. “Clarke’s supporters are … environmental radicals, socialists, and ‘in-your-face’ homosexuals who demand that the rest of society worship salamanders and support ‘gay’ marriage.” You can google an article I wrote on Perry, said Morrow on the radio show “Outcast Austin” (episode “OutCast Austin – Volume 173 – 08/23/2011 – Interview with Robert Morrow”), when his Perry ad appeared. “It’s called ‘Tea Party Fraud Rick Perry is Political Herpes’.” “You’re a very subtle man, I see, Robert,” replied the host, Steve Rice248.

Though Jones has a reputation of being a hard nosed skeptic, he gave a credulous reception to Morrow’s claims. However, it was on the “Exclusive Interview: Rick Perry Smear Artist Speaks Out” episode of “The Gill Report” (parts one and two) that Morrow was asked harder questions. He opened early with a variation on the same line, “Rick Perry, his enabling entourage and I, like the same women,” that he also used on “Outcast Austin”, “Rick Perry, his entourage and I, like the same women. How can I be more clear than that?” Asked the “Outcast Austin” host, “Those are nice wholesome girls, is that what you mean?”249 When did you discover that Rick Perry had this propensity for hotties, asked Steve Gill, the host of “The Gill Report”. Was it before 2006, the last time you’d voted for him? “Well, it’s…no. It was not, actually it’s because I have a propensity for hotties. And it just turns out that Rick Perry, his entourage, and I, like the same women.” There was something strangely insistent by Robert Morrow that he liked the same women as Rick Perry, as if it were a talking point, and so perhaps the next part of “The Gill Report” was inevitable250:

GILL
Now, your facebook says you like guys too, there have been a lot of stories that you also swing the other way as well. I mean, is that, like-251

MORROW
Well, on facebook it says who do you want to be friends with, and I want to be friends on facebook with both men and women. So- I’m just interested in women in-

GILL
You do not have sexual relationships with men? So, the claims that you’re gay are not true?

MORROW
It’s ridiculous. I will say this-

GILL
But you’re also saying that Rick Perry’s gay too. You’re saying Rick Perry not only likes young women, you’re also throwing out the implication that he’s also gay.

MORROW
Absolutely. I want to tell you that that second one right there. About the womanizing, I am 100% sure on that, because like I said I know strippers, young hotties, people who’ve been with Rick Perry and his entourage. I never believed the gay rumors about Rick Perry that have been going around for about eight years now. Especially when I learned about the womanizing, I did not believe them. However, that has changed, because I’ve been in contact with some very angry homosexuals who’ve called me about Rick Perry.

GILL
And it’s easy for someone to say I had sex with somebody. I mean, a gay guy could call me today and say, “You know, I had sex with Robert Morrow,” and I could take out a full page ad and that would have the same credibility in terms of fact based that you’re relying on.

MORROW
Well, but- that’s true. On Monday-

When the host made this simple testing of Morrow’s claims, the confidence ended, and was replaced by angry, nervous insistence:

GILL
So, should we traffic in these kind of unsubstantiated rumors in the political arena? Is that the Ron Paul way?

MORROW
I have nothing to do with Ron Paul’s campaign.

GILL
Wait- wait- you just said you’ve campaigned and you’ve been a Ron Paul supporter.

MORROW
I think, you know, Ron Paul is not putting me up to this, because Ron Paul doesn’t run around with the young hotties that me and Rick Perry, and his entourage do.

GILL
We don’t know. Somebody could call me today and say “I had sex with Ron Paul,” and we could put it out there as the fact, and it would be just as based as what you’re doing. I mean, anybody can say anything.

MORROW
Listen carefully to me, okay? I met a stripper about two years ago. And, before the 2010 governor’s race, and she told me, that she was in the club one night. And a guy comes up to her and says, “Here’s five hundred dollars. Just come with me.” And of course, five hundred dollars is about what a dancer would make all night-

GILL
Keep in mind, you weren’t there, all you’re saying is that what a stripper, because man, I know, strippers, and hookers on drugs, if I’m gonna go for somebody that’s absolutely is credible, that is absolutely believable, no question about it, are you operating on is what a stripper told you, right?

MORROW
Steve, hold on for a second.

GILL
Well, isn’t that the case.

MORROW
Go ahead. Hold on for a second. She was very credible, and she told me these things-

GILL
She’s a very credible stripper.

MORROW
Hold on, hold on. She told me these things in confidence, not in the context of a presidential campaign or a gubernatorial campaign. So she says she was taken to Rick Perry, because Rick Perry does not go into strip clubs himself, he has an entourage go grab the girls, and so she was taken to him, and then they started-

GILL
Based on what she says. Based on what she says.

MORROW
I-i-i-it’s true.

Morrow couldn’t challenge the fact that it was all secondhand information, rumor and innuendo, because all he had was the hot gas of rumor and innuendo.

GILL
It’s true because she said it.

MORROW
I don’t have a blue dress with Rick Perry’s semen on it. I have reports from credible women in Austin, Texas-

GILL
Who are strippers and prostitutes and hookers.

MORROW
Strippers and hoo- Escorts and people- And friends who have-

GILL
Who get paid money to do whatever somebody wants them to do. Do you think there might at least be the shred, Robert, that somebody might be paying her to tell stories?

MORROW
Yes-

GILL
Because she’ll take money to do other things.

MORROW
Well Steve, you have to understand that- There’s a couple things. I learned about these things several years ago, not in the context of a presidential or gubenatorial race. They had no idea I was a political activist, who happens to hate Rick Perry’s guts, which I do for many reasons, but politically, and from what I know about his personal life. And so the reason-

GILL
But all you know about his, again, all you know about his personal life is what these hookers, strippers, and prostitutes have told you.

“The Gill Report” then got closer to the essential question of almost all politics, the one Alex Jones somehow had never been able to ask, “Who’s funding this? Who’s funding these ads?”:

MORROW
You know, it’s true, unless you’re there yourself, you don’t know to the one hundredth percent level-

GILL
You don’t know on any percent, other than, they are telling you a story that you can’t verify at all. Let me move to the other- Who’s funding this? Who’s funding these ads?

MORROW
I pay for it myself.

GILL
What do you do for a living?

MORROW
I’m a self-employed investor.

GILL
Self-employed investor. And apparently, you’ve done real well for yourself, if you can take out full page ads.

MORROW
Yeah.

GILL
What’s the source of your investments?

MORROW
It’s a local paper, you know, it was a pretty piece of coin, but it’s not nearly the money Rick Perry and his entourage- Here’s what goes on: Rick Perry does not get the girls himself. He has an enabling entourage, who gets the girls, in ritzy hotel rooms, very nice ones here in Austin, and they’re the ones who call the escort services, just like Tiger Woods entourage would be getting girls for him.

GILL
But you actually had the girls coming forth and saying this. That’s what your ad is trying to do, is get some girls to come forth and say, okay, I had sex with Rick Perry.

MORROW
Here’s where we’re at, Steve. I’ve been unable to get these women to go public, to go on the record, in front of a reporter-

GILL
Maybe because it’s not true.

MORROW
It is true.

GILL
Okay. Because you’re gonna believe your hooker friends.

“The Gill Report” soon returned to the question of the ad. Did Morrow pay for the ad to run in a weekly newspaper, or a daily newspaper?

MORROW
It’s a local weekly newspaper. The Austin Chronicle.

GILL
How much is this thing costing you?

MORROW
No comment. I pay for it with my own money, though.

GILL
Did they give it to you for free?

MORROW
Noooooo. No.

GILL
So…why won’t you tell us what you’re paying for it?

MORROW
I just keep that private. That’s the only thing I’m not releasing.

GILL
I mean, their ad rates are public, aren’t they?

MORROW
Yeah, I pay normal ad rates. You can call them and find out how much I pay.

GILL
Now you said you were an investor, I’m a little bit intrigued by that. What kind of investments do you make on behalf of people?

MORROW
Oh. I’m a self-employed investor. I don’t manage other people’s money. I never said that I did, so don’t, don’t make that assumption.

This simple and most essential question, what Robert Morrow paid for the ad, he refused to say. It all came from the money he’d earned as an independent investor. An article from 2008, “Some people just love to hate the Clintons” by Adam C. Smith, would suggest that the money Morrow paid for this ad didn’t come from his brilliant investment skills, but the privileges of the one percent. In “Some people,” he was described as someone “who has no steady job but enjoys a family inheritance.” Back then, he was obsessed with the Clintons. Smith meets with Morrow for lunch. “Chelsea is the seed of Web Hubbell and not Bill Clinton. Would I bet my life on it? No. I would bet my pickup truck,” he says, the angry stream interrupted by chomps of salmon. “Hillary Clinton was sleeping with both of her law partners, Webb Hubbell and Vince Foster. And she’s a lesbian, too.”252 Robert Morrow was obsessed with Hillary Clinton. Robert Morrow was obsessed with Rick Perry. But there was one man, more than any of the others, who Robert Morrow was especially obsessed with, and that was the man who’d murdered JFK. “You’re also real big into the whole CIA killed JFK business-” said Steve Gill. “I think Lyndon Johnson and his Texas oilmen used their CIA military connections to kill John Kennedy,” Morrow replied. “That is my personal opinion. Many people think that.” Morrow would make this belief into his personal identity. His twitter handle was @LBJCIAkilledJFK. It was a belief that was the very same as the thesis of Roger Stone’s book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. The book’s preface had the line, “This book stands on the research of citizens who have doubted the government’s version of events as depicted by the Warren Commission, including,” and there among the included was the man who’d fought Hillary Clinton between bites of salmon his parents’ wealth had bought. The book’s chapter, “Lyndon Johnson – The Man,” carries the indictment “Veteran JFK assassination researcher Robert Morrow correctly labels Johnson a ‘functioning lunatic.’” I’d say it takes one to know one, but how well functioning is Robert Morrow? In the last chapter, there is a final mention, hosannas to the martyred few who dare to ask questions about that terrible day: “Anyone who asks probing questions, no matter how sound, are dismissed as crackpots. Courageous Americans who have dedicated their lives to seeking the facts of the assassination-citizens like Mark Lane, Vincent Salandria, Robert Morrow, Raymond Marcus, and Mary Ferrell-have earned this flaky distinction.” Oh, I don’t think Morrow is a crackpot because he investigates Kennedy assassination theories. I think he’s a crackpot because he writes things like “George Herbert Walker Bush and his Homosexual Pedophilia”: “George Herbert Walker Bush is a notorious and long time homosexual pedophile – both from his days as a Houston congressman in the late 1960′s and his involvement with the Franklin pedophile ring, based in Omaha NE and run by Bush friend Lawrence E. King, of the 1980′s.” “This book will change history forever!” is one enthusiastic blurb on Amazon for The Man Who Killed Kennedy, a blurb by a historian named Robert Morrow253. In a Reason TV interview promoting the book, “Did LBJ Kill Kennedy? (And Why It Matters): Q/A with Roger Stone”, Stone was asked about his next book project. “Talk a little bit about your future,” the interviewer prompts. “Yeah, I’ve got a couple different books in mind,” Stone replied. “I’d like to do a book on Hillary Clinton. I don’t believe Chelsea Clinton- I believe Chelsea Clinton is the daughter of Webb Hubbell, and Hillary Clinton, and I’m gonna try and prove that in print.”254

(activist Mary Krenek, Roger Stone, and Robert Morrow at an event promoting The Man Who Killed Kennedy255)

I note the obvious qualities of the Perry attack which are so similar to others launched by Stone, that it is personal, cruel, obvious, and stupid. The ad was supposedly paid for by Morrow, a man who occasionally traded stocks, but otherwise without work, who refused to say exactly how much he had to shell out for the full page, insisting that it was the one thing he would not reveal. As mentioned in part eight, Stone’s old colleague, Charlie Black, was on the Romney team as an informal adviser. Evangelicals were resistant to Romney, a Mormon, while Perry could reliably count on their support – unless, of course, they started believing the rumor that he was unfaithful, or that he was in the closet. The ad was paid for by CASH, Citizens Against Sexual Hypocrisy, and in 2008, Stone had set up a group called CUNT, against Hillary Clinton, whose letters stood for Citizens United Not Timid. Stone had a simple rule for these kinds of nasty attacks, one given in Stone’s Rules: “Use a cut-out. Front men are indispensible.”

MARTYRS

I will not give a thorough review of The Man Who Killed Kennedy, and if the book has not been soundly dismissed as lousy scholarship, that is only because it has been largely considered amateur hour work beneath consideration. Its only notable aspect is that it might be seen as a continuation of Stone’s attempt to redeem the administration he was inextricably part of, the one headed by the master criminal whose every grin appeared a rictus of pain, whose face now lodged between the hard old deltoids of Roger Stone, a clump of thousands of dark points. The Man Who Killed Kennedy puts forth the thesis that it was Lyndon Johnson who was behind the killing of the 35th president, acting out of hatred for the man at the top of the ticket, and to halt an ongoing investigation into one of his aides, Bobby Baker, which threatened to destroy his career. Watergate comes about not because of the paranoia and arrogance of the Nixon administration, but because Nixon demanded certain classified files from the CIA related to the Kennedy assassination. “Nixon’s effort to obtain the JFK assassination records,” writes Stone, “was an attempt to seize leverage over the rogue agency. This was to be Nixon’s “insurance policy” against the CIA.” The agency, feeling threatened, deliberately placed double agents among the Watergate break-in team, who made sure that they would be arrested, the team would be found out, the plot discovered, and Nixon forced to resign. “This is why I believe Watergate was a CIA operation,” writes Stone, “that capitalized on the stupidity and amateurishness of G. Gordon Liddy, CREEP Campaign Director Jeb Magruder, and John Dean, the three Nixon aides who advanced the plans for the Watergate break-in, which leaked to the CIA.”256 Watergate is no longer an act of executive arrogance, but a martyrdom that comes about as a president wrestles with an out of control security state.

Rather than go through the book’s main plot point by point – and leaving out entirely tangential areas like George H.W. Bush’s supposed complicity257 – I think I can show the overall extraordinarily poor scholarship of The Man Who Killed by looking at two crucial areas. Stone’s thesis hinges on a group of men who were part of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, including CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, being involved in the assassination of the president. A key piece of supporting evidence is Hunt confessing to his part in the assassination on his deathbed, with this confession made public by his son, Saint John Hunt258. Stone makes no mention of Hunt denying for decades that he had any part in the assassination, going so far as to sue the writer Jim Maars for defamation when he wrote an article that alleged he took part in the killing. We are told in Stone’s book of a Marita Lorenz testifying under oath that she saw Hunt pay off an assassination team, testimony that was made at this very defamation trial – yet the context of a libel trial goes entirely unsaid in the book. Most of the Hunt family was estranged from Saint John Hunt, who’d had a difficult life dealing with drug addiction, and they were vocal in condemning the confession as exploitation of a man who was eighty eight and suffering from the effects of old age259. I will confess to be a non-conspiracy theorist with regards to the Kennedy assassination; however, I can conceive without difficulty a far more convincing and honest presentation of a hypothesis where Hunt is a key player, yet one which acknowledges his lifelong denial and the conditions of his near-death confession. Stone’s book does not simply not acknowledge these things, it refuses to even admit them, giving no mention of these details – Hunt’s lifelong denial, the lawsuit, the family’s condemnation of the confession as exploitation – that have just been given here.

The book is premised on Stone’s authority, that he was there, or at one of the theres, the Nixon White House when Watergate went down, and yet the work involving this subject might be even shoddier. As said, Stone lays out a hypothesis that the CIA agents on the team, James McCord and E. Howard Hunt, deliberately sabotaged the mission in order to bring down the White House. Again, Stone makes no effort to acknowledge the accounts which might utterly annihilate this thesis. G. Gordon Liddy, a Watergate veteran who achieved even greater fame than Stone by making himself into a flat cartoon, the congenial neo-fascist, would write of his role in various CREEP activities in what should be considered an essential book of american history, the memoir Will. Though I am unsympathetic towards Liddy, I find his account to have an honest tone, without exaggeration, where the writer appears to have no hesitation presenting himself as ridiculous, brutal, or unsympathetic. Woodward’s blurb on Amazon strikes a similar note: “His story rings true…It is credible.” Liddy is a former FBI agent, with no experience in the CIA, and Stone alleges no such experience in his book. Liddy is explicit in his memoir that it is he who brought both Hunt and McCord onto the team260. The CREEP plumber team’s break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters was to begin with their going into the Watergate hotel, taping down some of the locks on the inside, then re-entering the hotel once the DNC offices were empty. During this operation, a security guard removes the tape placed on the locks, which causes incredible tension among the Watergate team. After being caught, Hunt would eventually plead guilty, something Liddy would refuse to do, with Liddy never speaking to Hunt again as a result. I emphasize this point to make clear that Liddy does not write anything in his memoir to exculpate Hunt out of sympathy for the man. He is, however, very clear that it was his decision and his decision alone that they went into the Watergate after that, which would result in them being caught. Hunt, Stone’s supposed double agent, is depicted as passionately opposed to the decision to go forward. After it’s discovered that the tape’s been removed, “Hunt was sure it had been a guard. He wanted to abort [my italics].” It is Liddy, the former FBI agent, the man with no experience in the CIA, who overrules the seniormost man in the team who is conneted to the CIA, Hunt, in order to send them back into the hotel, and it is because of that decision that the team is caught261. You might attempt to put forth a theory which includes Liddy’s role, or finds some evidence that disproves his account in Will; however, any serious piece of scholarship must reckon with Liddy’s account, and The Man Who Killed Kennedy does nothing of the kind.

Most peculiar is Stone’s citation of Watergate: The Hidden History by Lamar Waldron for his theory on the Watergate burglary: “Investigative journalist Lamar Waldron makes a compelling case in his book, Watergate: The Hidden History, that the purpose of the break-in was to obtain records detailing Nixon’s authorization as vice president for the CIA recruitment of Mob assassins to assist in the assassination of Fidel Castro.” Stone’s praise does not appear isolated to the space within his own book – a user named “Roger J. Stone” on Amazon also gives a full throated endorsement of the work (link): “Although as a long time Aide to Richard Nixon I interpret some things differently, Waldron’s scholarship cannot be questioned. This is a fascinating history with starts [sic] to connect the Bay of Pigs invasion, the JFK Assassination , Watergate and the Nixon pardon. I cannot recommend this book enough.”262 The praise is unexpected, in part, because the Nixon of Waldron’s book is one of the most unsympathetic portrayals out there, an incredibly corrupt man whose path to the White House is funded by mob money, and who wins elections through lowball anti-semitic attacks. The Nixon White House of Waldron’s book resembles less a political operation and more a criminal enterprise. There is another, more germane point as to why Stone’s praise is unexpected. To re-iterate, Stone’s thesis is that Watergate was the result of the CIA taking out Nixon after he asked for files incriminating the agency in the Kennedy assassination. Waldron’s thesis, directly and explicitly, contradicts this. The first chapter of Hidden History gives an overview of its perspective:

This book carefully documents how Nixon’s ties to the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Fidel Castro became inexorably linked to the Mafia’s two massive Hoffa bribes to Nixon. While CIA assassination plots with the Mafia may seem like old news now, it’s important to remember they were only first revealed to the American public in 1975, after Nixon’s 1974 resignation. In 1972, Nixon-and his CIA Director, Richard Helms-would have gone to any lengths to keep voters from finding out about his Castro assassination plots. Those plots were entwined with Nixon’s huge Mafia bribes for Hoffa, and the exposure of those massive payoffs during the 1972 campaign would have dominated the headlines and shattered Nixon’s chances of winning reelection. Richard Nixon was worried that the Democrats (and the Chilean embassy) had one specific Dossier that, if released, could unravel everything. That Dossier-the previously mentioned compilation of CIA attempts to assassinate Castro, which spanned Nixon’s terms as Vice President and President-was the main target of the Watergate burglars, as one of them admitted after his arrest.

It is the paragraph on CIA head Richard Helms, and his protégé, E. Howard Hunt, that includes a sentence that runs entirely counter to Stone’s thesis. I bold it:

Once Hunt was a White House operative, he continued his close ties to Helms and was in a position to provide a steady stream of important information to his mentor. CIA Director Helms was so fond of Hunt that he gave visitors to his office copies of the hack spy novels Hunt wrote. More important, it’s now documented that in the weeks leading up to Watergate, Helms was involved with pitching a TV series based on Hunt’s novels to Hollywood producers. That should end speculation that has persisted for years, that the failure of the last Watergate break-in was a CIA operation deliberately designed to bring down Nixon.

Again, there is nothing wrong with praising a book as quality scholarship, and then arguing with one of its key points. However, if you cite such a work, offer the highest praise for its diligence, then I think you are obligated to address why such a book is wrong on a central interpretation with which you disagree. The Man Who Killed Kennedy offers nothing of the kind.

The most important point of Stone’s book, one unnoticed by its largely sympathetic reviewers on the fringe right, is that the concept of Watergate as a CIA coup was an idea already pushed at the time of the break-in by the Nixon White House, as an attempt to shift blame for this engulfing disaster. The following excerpt from Johnathan Schell’s The Time of Illusion, an excellent history of the Nixon years, conveys this well:

All the Watergate defendants but one were following the White House scenario to the letter. The exception was James McCord. He was seething with scenarios of his own. He hoped to have the charges dismissed, and besides, he had been angered by what he understood as a suggestion from one of his lawyers that the blame for the Watergate break-in be assigned to the C.I.A., his old outfit, to which he retained an intense loyalty. There was some irony in the fact that McCord’s anger had been aroused by an Administration plan to involve the C.I.A. in its crimes. McCord believed that Nixon’s removal of C.I.A. director Richard Helms, in December of 1972 – at the very time that McCord himself was being urged to lay the blame for Watergate at the door of the C.I.A. – was designed to pave the way for an attempt by the Administration itself to blame the break-in on the agency and for a takeover of the agency by the White House. He had worked for the White House, but he did not see the reorganizational wars from the White House point of view. He saw them from the bureaucrats’ point of view; in his opinion, President Nixon was attempting to take over the C.I.A. in a manner reminiscent of attempts by Hitler to take control of German intelligence agencies before the Second World War. The White House, that is, belatedly discovered that it had a disgruntled “holdover” on its hands. And this particular holdover really was prepared to perform sabotage; he was prepared, indeed, to sabotage not just the President’s policies but the President himself, and, what was more, he had the means to do it. McCord was putting together a scenario that could destroy the Nixon administration. In a letter delivered in December, to his White House contact, the undercover operative John Caulfield, McCord pronounced a dread warning: If the WHite House continued to try to have the C.I.A. take responsibility for the Watergate burglary, “every tree in the forest will fall,” and “it will be a scorched desert.” Piling on yet another metaphor of catastrophe, he wrote, “Pass the message that if they want it to blow, they are on exactly the right course. I am sorry that you will get hurt in the fallout.” McCord was the first person in the Watergate conspiracy to put in writing exactly what the magnitude of th Watergate scandal was. Many observers had been amazed at the extreme hard line that the President had taken since his landslide reelection – the firings in the bureaucracies, the incomprehensible continuation of the attacks on Senator McGovern, the renewed attacks on the press, the attacks on Congress’s power of the purse, the bombing of Hanoi. They could not know that at the exact moment when President Nixon was wreaking devastation on North Vietnam, James McCord was threatening to wreak devastation on him.

That there was a deliberate attempt from almost immediately after the break-in to try and mislead FBI investigators into thinking it was a CIA operation, and this attempt was initiated from the apex of the White House, is conveyed effectively in the invaluable Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes by Stanley Kutler. Here is when the idea is first given mention:

JUNE 21, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND COLSON, 4:00-5:15 P.M., EXECUTIVE OFFICE BUILDING

Nixon aides, such as Haldeman and Colson, later developed a fondness for explanations that blamed the CIA for Watergate. This conversation is probably the origin of the idea, anxious as they were to “develop a theory.” It probably also is the beginning of their notion that “Watergate was stupid and therefore the President could not have done it.” Throughout the affair, Nixon contemptuously dismissed wiretapping as a serious issue; he insisted that he had been bugged in 1968, typically adding, “Everyone did it.”

SEGMENT 1

COLSON
…I think that, I think that we could develop a theory as to the CIA if we wanted to. We know that he [Hunt] has all these ties with these people.

PRESIDENT NIXON
He worked with them.

COLSON
Oh, he was their boss, and they were all CIA. You take the cash, you go down to Latin America.

These excerpts further show the development of blaming the break-in on the CIA, of lying about CIA association to the FBI to stop the investigation, but begin first with the possibility of blaming the break-in on the columnist Jack Anderson:

JUNE 22, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND HALDEMAN, 9:40-11:25 A.M., EXECUTIVE OFFICE BUILDING

HALDEMAN
Yes. We’ve got another thing which has taken hold a little bit, which is we’ve started moving on the Hill, letting it come out from there, which is that this whole thing is a Jack Anderson thing, that Jack Anderson did it. That’s what the Hill guys think, that this is – and we’re trying to move that around now. We started a rumor yesterday morning and it’s starting to come back already.

PRESIDENT NIXON
What?

HALDEMAN
That Jack Anderson has put all of this together, he was bugging the Democratic offices.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Oh, yes.

HALDEMAN
Becaue these Cubans are tied to him. These are agents he’s used, and now he’s trying to do a diversionary cover-up of this other thing, and all this other stuff. The great thing about this is it is so totally fucked up and so badly done that nobody believes-

PRESIDENT NIXON
That we could have done it.

HALDEMAN
That’s right…

PRESIDENT NIXON
Well, it sounds like comic opera, really.

HALDEMAN
It really does. It would make a funny Goddamn movie.

PRESIDENT NIXON
I mean, you know, here’s these Cubans with their accents. [Laughing]

HALDEMAN
Wearing these rubber gloves, standing there in their well-made, their expensive well-made business suits, wearing rubber gloves, and put their hands up and shouting “Don’t shoot” when the police come in. It really is like a comic opera…Also they have no case on Hunt.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Why?

HALDEMAN
Because there is no case on Hunt. They have not been able to make him. They can’t put him into the scene at alll.

PRESIDENT NIXON
We know where he was, though.

HALDEMAN
But they don’t. The FBI doesn’t.

PRESIDENT NIXON
That’s right.

HALDEMAN
They’ve pursued him and been unable to tie him in at all to the case.

PRESIDENT NIXON
What about the disappearance? He’ll come back?

HALDEMAN
Well, they’ve got no warrant for him, so they don’t care whether he disappeared.

PRESIDENT NIXON
He has disappeared?

HALDEMAN
He has disappeared.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Yes, the Hunt thing is beginning to run out recently.

HALDEMAN
The legal people, the FBI, who are running the investigation, have no – there’s no way to fix Hunt on the case. They have issued no warrant for him. They don’t care whether he disappears or not. The only thing is, is his name’s in the phone book, in the guy’s address book. But so is the hotel clerk’s name.

JUNE 23, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND HALDEMAN, 10:04-11:39 A.M., OVAL OFFICE

HALDEMAN
The FBI interviewed Colson yesterday. They determined that would be a good thing to do…An interrogation, which he did, and that, the FBI guys working the case had concluded that there are one or two possibilities: one, that this was a White House [operation], they don’t think that there is anything at the Election Committee – they think it was either a White House operation and they had some obscure reasons for it…Or it was a-

PRESIDENT NIXON
Cuban thing-

HALDEMAN
-Cubans and the CIA. And after their interrogation of-

PRESIDENT NIXON
Colson.

HALDEMAN
-Colson, yesterday, they concluded it was not the White House, but are now convinced it’s the CIA thing, so the CIA turnoff would-

PRESIDENT NIXON
Well, not sure of their analysis, I’m not going to get that involved…

HALDEMAN
No, sir. We don’t want you to.

PRESIDENT NIXON
You call them in. Good. Good deal. Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we are going to play it.

HALDEMAN
O.K. We’ll do it.

PRESIDENT NIXON
Yeah, when I saw that news summary item, I of course knew it was a bunch of crap, but I thought, that, well it’s good to have them off on this wild hare thing because when they start bugging us, which they have, we’ll know our little boys will not know how to handle it. I hope they will though.

HALDEMAN
Good, you never know. Maybe, you think about it…

PRESIDENT NIXON
When you get in these people…say: “Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that” – without going into the details – don’t, don’t lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it. “The President’s belief is that this is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And because these people are plugging for, for keeps, and that they should call the FBI and say that we wish for the country, don’t go any further into this case,” period…

JUNE 23, 1972: THE PRESIDENT AND HALDEMAN, 1:04-1:13 P.M., OVAL OFFICE

PRESIDENT NIXON
…Hunt….knows too damn much and he was involved, we have to know that. And that it gets out…this is all involved in the Cuban thing, that it’s a fiasco, and it’s going to make the FB – ah CIA – look bad, it’s going to make Hunt look bad, and it’s likely to blow the whole, uh, Bay of Pigs thing, which we think would be very unfortunate for the CIA and for the country at this time, and for American foreign policy, and he’s just gotta tell ‘em “lay off”…

HALDEMAN
Yeah, that’s, that’s the basis we’ll do it on and just leave it at that.

PRESIDENT NIXON
I don’t want them to get any ideas we’re doing it because our concern is political.

HALDEMAN
Right.

PRESIDENT NIXON
And at the same time, I wouldn’t tell them it is not political…

HALDEMAN
Right.

PRESIDENT NIXON
I would just say, “Look, it’s because of the Hunt involvement.”…

That what took place under the Nixon administration was in fact a centralization of power, a creation of an octopus of executive overreach, with such agencies as the FBI, the CIA, and the IRS made into weapons against any enemy of the Nixon White House, is a point obviously ignored by Stone and, again, well conveyed by Schell. I give lengthy excerpt:

In 1969, the Administration had sought to establish working links between the Justice Department and the C.I.A., among others; now, in June of 1970, the President ordered a “reassessment” of the government’s intelligence-gathering activities at the highest level. Haldeman assigned Tom Huston, who had once been an Army intelligence officer, and who described himself as a “Jeffersonian Republican,” to oversee the work. On June 5th, as the uproar over the invasion of Cambodia was subsiding, the President called in Director Helms of the C.I.A.; the Director of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover; the head of the National Security Agency, Vice-Admiral Noel Gayler; and the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Donald Bennett. He asked them all to meet with Huston to work out a coordinated plan for dealing with internal threats. At the first meeting, Huston informed the group of a decision by President Nixon that in facing the domestic threat, “everything is valid, everything is possible.” After several meetings, the group agreed on a plan. A secret corps made up of representatives of the four intelligence agencies; the counter-intelligence agencies of the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; and – if the Interagency Group on Domestic Intelligence and Internal Security, as the new corps was to be called, thought it necessary – the State Department, “and such other agencies which may have investigative or law-enforcement responsibilities touching on domestic intelligence or internal security matters,” and overseen by the White House, would be, in effect, empowered to commit a wide variety of crimes against the members of any group that it suspected of being subversive. The Interagency Group would be empowered to open mail, to tap telephones without warrants, and to break into people’s houses and offices. Huston knew that these activities were criminal: he wrote that surreptitious entry was “clearly illegal” and “could result in great embarrassment if exposed.” Of course, the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. had been doing all of these things for years without written instructions from the White House; yet the Nixon Administration, in proposing the new plan, was attempting to do much more than ratify an existing state of affairs. For one thing, the White House envisioned a broadened scale of operation, and one objective of the Interagency Group was to be “maximum use of all special investigtive techniques, including increased agent and informant penetration by both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.” For another thing, whereas in earlier days, the unlawful spying upon and harassment of American citizens had had to be secret tosome extent from the highest officers of the government, now an instruction had gone out from a President ordering the agencies to break the law. In other words, all restraints internal to the executive branch were to be lifted. The proposed coordination of the agencies into a single force would be an important step, too. The citizen who ran afoul of the F.B.I.’s Cointelpro program or the I.R.S.’s Special Service Group might suffer serious interference in his life, but the person whose name got onto the computers of an organization that commanded the combined resources of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the N.S.A., the D.I.A., and the I.R.S., not to mention the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the other agencies and departments of the government, would be up against a virtually irresistible foe. He would be up against a secret police organization that could reach into his life in countless ways – into his work, into his public life. Even more dangerous, however, than the links of the agencies to each other would be their link to the White House. By placing the Interagency Group under White House guidance, the Administration would be able to direct it towards targets of its own choosing; and since the President was inclined to believe that his political adversaries were also adversaries of the nation – for no number of C.I.A. reports could shake his conviction that the disorders at home were planned abroad – the new group could become a powerful political instrument in his hands.

The frightening creation of the Interagency Group on Domestic Intelligence and Internal Security, an incredibly powerful entity for surveillance and persecution, an obvious first step for police state tyranny, goes expectedly unmentioned by Stone, as this would immediately make his claim of a CIA coup ridiculous, that these entities which had been designed to enforce state laws had already had their independence subverted, so that they would enforce or not enforce the law as it convenienced Richard Nixon. It is perhaps equally to be expected that Stone cleaves off the work of the plumbers as rogue actions, separate from CREEP activities. When one looks at Liddy’s main project, a series of coded assignmentts under the umbrella name of GEMSTONE, it becomes very obvious that Liddy’s work was very close to that of CREEP, and to that of Stone throughout his career: the secretly funded subversion of the opposition, through smears, division, pranks, and surveillance. Among GEMSTONE projects, there was RUBY, the secret infiltration of democratic campaigns, just like Sedan Chair II, the mole hired by Roger Stone. There was COAL, and you really had to give an unfriendly laugh to that name, because that GEMSTONE project involved the clandestine funding of a candidate who was a black woman, which would “force Democratic candidates to fight off a black woman, bound to generate ill-feeling among the black community and, we hoped, cause them difficulty with women.”263 This, of course, bears an obvious similarity to Stone’s work on the 2004 Sharpton campaign, which he helped staff and made loans to, in order to create dissent within the Democratic primary, and which, hopefully, would diminish the enthusiasm of black voters in the general election. Liddy and Hunt simply took these activities a step further. Gaining opposition research not just through moles placed in rival campaigns, but through break-ins and burglaries. This leads to another striking omission in Stone’s discussion of Watergate: Stone does write at all of the fact that the first target of the Watergate burglary team was Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon war secrets. Ellsberg was smeared, the office of his psychiatrist was broken into in an attempt to find some compromising material, and when he spoke at an anti-war rally the Watergate burglar team tried to give him a severe beating264. None of this, nothing related to the case of Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the defining whistleblower case of that era, is mentioned by Stone. This is, perhaps, a canny move on his part. There are differences, but there are also striking similarities between Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, two men who helped expose secret histories, and the way in which the Nixon White House used every lowball tactic to destroy Ellsberg would make obvious that Nixon was no victim of the security state, but one who used the security state as a mafioso uses a baseball bat and a quarry, as tools to dispose of one’s enemies.

When Watergate erupted, it exposed the long use of the surveillance state inside the country, which in turn would set off the investigations into the secrets of what might be called the hidden state within the state. It would be thanks to the Church Committee, headed up by senator Frank Church, that the history of clandestine warfare and secret assassination attempts would be exposed. This point also goes unmentioned by Stone in The Man Who Killed Kennedy, most likely because it makes his whole ludicrous schemata even more ludicrous. The CIA wants to bring down Nixon because he’s trying to rein them in, so they take him down through the use of CIA double agents on his plumber team, even though the very use of such agents is what triggers an in-depth investigation into the agency and greater oversight than they’ve had in decades. Frank Church, the man who headed up the committee, would lose his seat in 1980, thanks to the work of Roger Stone’s NCPAC. In Secrets, Daniel Ellsberg explains the various attempts he makes to leak the information of the Pentagon Papers out to the public. Before going to the New York Times with the Papers, Ellsberg contacted several politicians about conducting a filibuster and reading the Papers into the congressional record. Among those he went to were George McGovern and Mike Gravel. Though McGovern was initially fully willing to take on the responsibility of reading the papers, he would eventually back down out of fear of reprisals. Gravel, however, would never abate in his commitment to read the papers on the floor of congress, if such a step was necessary. McGovern would also be defeated through the efforts of NCPAC in 1980. Gravel would lose the race for the vice president’s slot on the 2008 Libertarian Party ticket to scamdicapper Wayne Allyn Root265.

THE SECRET HISTORIES

The Man Who Killed Kennedy is rooted in the author’s revelation that what he writes of is a secret he’s been privileged with, an extraordinary message that has had to be held tight until this time. It includes moments that no doubt any person would remember the rest of their lives, such as president Nixon abruptly startled when he realizes he’s met Jack Ruby before, or an American ambassador stating outright that there was a secret plot to the assassination, or an Attorney General encouraging Stone to write a book on the secret plan behind the murder – though only at a safe fifty year distance. I do not make these episodes more melodramatic than they are, they are inherently melodramatic, and if they actually took place, the events themsleves could not help but be sick with the gravitas of a world suddenly shaken and tilted, the supposed clean lines of history now revealed to be a schizophrenic dust cloud.

This is a moment from the introduction involving former ambassador John Davis Lodge, brother of former ambassador to Vietnam during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Henry Cabot Lodge:

In 1979, we sat in his Westport, Connecticut, home enjoying a cocktail. I knew that JFK had planned to fire ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge upon his return from Dallas on November 24, 1963. I also know that Lodge knew why he had been summoned to see the President.

Lodge had done Kennedy’s dirty work coordinating a campaign with the CIA to assassinate Catholic Vietnamese President Diem. I couldn’t resist asking John Lodge about his brother.

“Did you ever ask your brother who really killed Kennedy?” I said.

His lips spread in a tight grin. “Cabot said it was the Agency boys, some Mafiosi,” he looked me in the eye . . . “and Lyndon.”

“Did your brother know in advance?” I asked.

Lodge took a sip of his Manhattan.”He knew Kennedy wouldn’t be around to fire him. LBJ kept him at his post so he could serve his country.”

This episode has such a powerful effect on Stone that it puts him on the fateful path by which he now gives us the secrets of the killing, “It was then that I eventually decided to write this book.”

This is another moment, with the former president:

I spent hours talking one-on-one with former President Nixon in his office at 26 Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan, his apartment on the East Side, and later in his modestly appointed townhouse in Saddle River, New Jersey. Nixon was neither introspective nor retrospective in the conversations. “The old man,” as staff called him behind his back, was passionately interested in what was happening today and what would happen in the future, but it was difficult to get him to dwell on the past. Generally speaking, when we talked about his peers and the circumstances surrounding the Kennedy assassination, he would grow taciturn, blunt, and sometimes cryptic. When I asked him point blank about the conclusions of the Warren Commission into the assassination of President Kennedy, he said “Bullshit” with a growl, but refused to elaborate.

It is Nixon who gives him the kindling for Stone’s theory:

Based on my conversations with him contained in this book, Nixon indicated that Johnson was a conspirator and ordered the CIA to deliver all records pertaining to the Kennedy assassination to the White House after his inauguration in 1969 in order to confirm his belief. As we will see later, this request would play a key role in Nixon’s downfall in Watergate.

The moment with John Mitchell, former Attorney General:

When I was on the Committee to Re-elect the President staff in 1972, direct communications with “Mr. Mitchell” as everyone called him, were a violation of the chain of command. I reconnected with the former attorney general during my service in Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign. Mitchell helped recruit former Kentucky Governor Louie Nunn for the small Reagan for President Committee headed by Senator Paul Laxalt. I saw Mitchell pretty regularly from 1976 to 1988.

Mitchell, who had discussed Nixon’s thoughts and beliefs regarding the Bay of Pigs and the JFK assassination, helped me interpret many of Nixon’s more oblique references to both. Mitchell knew he was revealing truths that, prior to the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations hearings, would be viewed as “kooky.”

Even then, I was fascinated by the controversy surrounding JFK’s murder. “I might write a book about it someday,” I told Mitchell. He took the out the pipe that had been clenched between his teeth, “Wait until the fiftieth anniversary,” he said. I agreed. For those who wonder why I have waited until now to write this book, you now have your answer.

Here’s when Nixon reveals that he once knew Jack Ruby:

“Johnson was vain, cruel, loud, devious, and driven,” Nixon told me.

Many of the same Texas oilmen who wrote big checks for Dick Nixon also wrote big checks for Johnson.

“He liked to squeeze their nuts,” Nixon said. “He would tell them the oil-depletion allowance was in trouble unless they coughed up cash—and milked ‘em.”

“That was the difference between Lyndon and me,” Nixon snorted after a very dry martini in his Saddle River, New Jersey home. “I wasn’t willing to kill for it . . .” Nixon grew silent and pensive, staring into his martini. I knew from my years as a Nixon loyalist and “Nixon’s man in Washington” during his post-presidential years when a conversation with “RN” was over and when not to speak.

Nixon stirred.

“It’s a hell of a thing. I actually knew this Jack Ruby fella. Murray Chotiner brought him in back in ’47. Went by the name Rubinstein. An informant. Murray said he was one of Lyndon Johnson’s boys . . . we put him on the payroll,” Nixon’s voice trailed off.

What went unsaid was that Nixon had realized the connection between Johnson and the execution of Lee Harvey Oswald. I knew Murray Chotiner had been the eminence grise of Nixon’s early political career. Chotiner was a Los Angeles mob lawyer who ran Nixon’s first campaign for Congress in 1946 and his 1950 campaign for the Senate. That Chotiner brought Ruby in was no surprise—his mob connections ran deep. Chotiner had strong connections with Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, and Mickey Cohen. He was also the middleman between Louisiana mob kingpin Carlos Marcello and Nixon.

This is further confirmed, in a colorful anecdote by Nick Ruwe, Nixon’s former deputy chief of protocol:

Nick Ruwe told me that, on November 24, 1963, he arrived at Nixon’s Fifth Avenue apartment—an address he shared with Nelson Rockefeller ironically—to accompany Nixon to a lunch with Mary Roebling, a New Jersey socialite and Nixon family friend at Cote Basque. It was 12:30. Ruwe came into the room as Nixon turned the TV off. He had just witnessed Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruwe told me, “The Old Man was white as a ghost. I asked him if everything was all right.” “I know that guy,” Nixon muttered. Ruwe said that Nixon didn’t elaborate. He knew better than to ask questions.

I think whatever eventful life you’d led, you would always remember these moments, that they would be like a powerful magnet buried within you, distorting anything you saw on the assassination, as if you’d seen an unveiled vision no one else had, and any history without its mention would seem false to you. Henry Cabot Lodge believed that the vice president had killed the president of the United States. Richard Nixon recognised Jack Ruby because he’d known Jack Ruby. All of history would contort around those poles, and any time you’d speak or write about the assassination, those two details would inevitably protrude, and one could understand, without difficulty, that Roger Stone could, rightly or wrongly, believe that Lyndon Johnson had been behind the assassination, that some malevolent puppeteer was behind Jack Ruby, that Ruby’s killing of Oswald was a killing for hire. Whatever oaths I swore, my sense of that event would distort in that fashion. Lyndon Johnson was directly involved in the killing of the president, he’d known Ruby and put him on Nixon’s payroll, which meant he’d been behind the killing of Oswald, he’d been behind the whole shebang.

Now, Roger Stone has accued Lyndon Johnson of murder, murder of a president, and it is perhaps an idiosyncrasy that we treat death due to warmaking as a different category than plain old murder, but we do. If Stone were to level these same charges, with plausible accompanying evidence, when Johnson was alive, then he would face trial for murder, a separate and unrelated judgement from the obscenity of the Vietnam war. I’ve given this lengthy preface, because if a man makes such a charge of murder, not a random or provoked outburst, but hundreds of pages devoted to the allegation, and there is evidence that the accuser does not believe the allegation, then I think it is incumbent to publish such evidence. As said at the very beginning of this long piece, I came across what appears to be a memoir of Roger Stone’s on a very public, very legal document sharing site, which displays a voice uncannily like that of Stone’s, and replete with obscure details which would not be easy to pull off by a casual hoaxer. In this memoir, he also gives lengthy space to the assassination, and he does mention Lyndon Johnson as a possible player. The essential, indisputable players, however, the ones to which he gives the majority of his focus, is the mob. He makes no mention of this Lodge anecdote. He makes no mention that Nixon knew Ruby. He does not write at all of Ruby being put on anyone’s payroll, or Johnson knowing Ruby in any way. Though he writes of politicos such as Nixon at great length in other parts of the book, he does not write at all of Nixon, of Lodge, of Ruwe, or of Mitchell clamping down on his pipe and giving fateful suggestion. These episodes that would reverberate through anybody’s life, are not there at all, as if they never took place.

That Stone’s perspective on the assassination in his memoir causes one not simply to question the credibility of the theory he puts forth, but whether he even believes his own allegation, is why I now give lengthy excerpt to the relevant sections in his memoir. The excerpt starts from his discussion of the mafia’s involvement in politics and the presidential killing, continues through his bringing up Lyndon Johnson as a possible player, to the chapter’s very end. I note, perhaps unncesssarily, that this memoir was written in 2008, after his conflicts with Eliot Spitzer, and long after any discussions with Nixon, Lodge, Mitchell and Ruwe (who died in 1990266) would have occurred:

I make the concluding note that Stone himself is quite severe on those who he believes manufacture or embellish history. According to Nixon, the supposed lies of The Final Days caused Pat Nixon to have her stroke. This, it should be emphasized, is according to Richard Nixon, which, in turn, is according to Roger Stone in Dirty Tricks. “There is simply is no corroboration that the 37th president walked
around late at night talking to the Presidential portraits,” writes Stone. In the next paragraph, he smears Carl Bernstein by having him hit someone up for a loan for ten grand after they’ve just met. Again – this bears the caveat, according to Roger Stone. During a recent conference on the anniversary of Watergate, Stone would tweet out a blurred photo of Bernstein holding his book as a kind of endorsement. When you’re trying to hawk a book with a conspiracy that you don’t even believe, and your most prestigious promotional venues are “Off the Grid with Jesse Ventura”, I guess you take what you can get267. “When I wrote about Roger Stone 28 years ago,” Jacob Weisberg tweeted, who’d written the first and now unavailable profile of Stone, “State-of-the-art Sleazeball”, “I thought he was a menace.” With the publication of The Man Who Killed Kennedy, Weisberg had changed his mind. “Turned out he was merely a fool.”268

EMPTY VOICES, EMPTY ROOMS / I BRING THE APPLAUSE

I have stressed that Roger Stone is a man of no fixed beliefs, and yet reading about the Nixon era also clarifies what is permanent in the man, that the tactics and tools of that time would be used the rest of his life. When such gutterball shivings were exposed during the Watergate hearings, the reaction was of horror. That these same tactics were then recounted in Matt Labash’s “Roger Stone, Political Animal” and Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Dirty Trickster” as funny games, suggest an apathy in the press and a gangrene in democracy itself: we are powerless, and we will be badly treated, so we may as well laugh at the tricks of those who maltreat us. One reads Liddy’s memoir, and you suddenly sit up when he describes a counterdemonstration organized to attract attention away from anti-war rallies which take place after the mining of Haiphong harbor, because this organization of an almost entirely Cuban crowd in Miami suddenly makes you think of the faction of the Brooks Brother riot that Roger Stone supposedly organized in Miami during the 2000 election, not the Republican operatives inside the building, but a mainly Cuban crowd outside, a crowd that nobody appears to have seen except Roger Stone269. There are also these two moments, again from Schell’s The Time of Illusion, both showing off the same tactic, which might cause those familiar with Roger Stone’s career to suddenly laugh in recognition.

Here is one instance:

Charles Colson, using a White House apparatus for placing spurious advertisements in the press, ran an ad in the Times titled “The People vs. the New York Times” and taking the Times to task for an editorial critical of the mining [of Haiphong]. The advertisement did not say so, but “The People” in this case were the people in the White House. Over at the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, part of the staff was put to work sending in thousands of fraudulent “votes” to an informal television poll of public reaction to the mining. Donald Segretti got in touch with a number of his saboteurs in Florida and ordered them to stop harassing the Democrats long enough to send in messages of support. When all the instructions had gone out just about every spy, saboteur, con man, extortionist, forger, impostor, informer, burglar, mugger, and bagman – for that, astonishingly, is what they were – in the employ of the White House was at work manufacturing the appearance of public support for the President.

Here is another:

The Republican Convention brought to perfection in microcosm a Nixonian style of action which had been developing since he first assumed office. For years, the President’s speechwriters and public relations advisers had been engaged in a novel enterprise. Most Presidential speechwriters have restricted themselves to writing what the President employing them is to say, but President Nixon’s speechwriters also involved themselves in writing what was said about the President by others. They wrote the plays, and they wrote the reviews, too. The White House writers wrote speeches for Administration officials and friendly members of Congress to deliver about the President. (At the Convnetion, they even wrote the cues for the applause to those speeches.) They wrote rigged letters-to-the-editor and telegrams-to-the-editor with messages like “Thank goodness this country has President Nixon.” They had organized campaigns of telegrams of support to be sent to the White House, tried to arrange for newspaper columns to be written supporting the President. And, since the President’s speechwriters are, probably to a greater degree than any other employees of the government, creatures of his power – are, in fact, his alter egos, or “ghosts” – it could be said that the praise for the President which they arranged was in fact praise of the President for himself.

Whenever anybody wrote anything about Stone on-line, or about The Man Who Killed Kennedy, or sheriff Scott Israel, or the gaming company Genting, you started to notice a pattern in the comments. Enthusiastic support from the same names, over and over again, people who commented only about those things and nothing else, a tiny loud tribe of obsessives who wrote with ardor only of Roger Stone, a Broward sheriff’s race, Genting, and The Man Who Killed Kennedy.

There was someone named “Philip Dodge”, who showed up in the small number of comments for “The FishbowlDC Interview With Roger Stone”. Commenter mucholderguy had a nasty, funny quip: “He’s real brilliant in his own mind, isn’t he?” Philip Dodge had a lengthy reply: “Stone is playing with the reporter. For whatever reason he is being disarming and you seemed to have bought a ticket, too! Don’t be fooled. This is the man that advised Ronald Reagan how to win the cold war and saved us all from annihilation.” SteveGreer70 was as unimpressed as mucholderguy: “Roger needs better hair” Dodge, again: “Stone has been known to wildishly alter his coiffure over the years. Looks to me like he’s setting in for some serious business. The Libertarian Party is currently buzzing with rumors about a big move Stone is considering and I don’t mean the news that he has his favorite candidate the Manhattan madam Kristin Davis running for Mayor of New York City.”270 Who Philip Dodge was, and why he was so passionate about Roger Stone remained mysterious. The Philip Dodge Facebook page was minimal – he was a member of the Libertarian Party of Florida, a fan of Ron Paul’s, a man whose activities were entirely devoted to The Man Who Killed Kennedy, with one strange quality to his physical appearance in his AV. It was not that of a celebrity, but of another unknown man entirely, that of Hal Jones, President and CEO of Hal Jones Development, who was involved in Destination Resorts. Whether this was a case of Jones posting comments endorsing Roger Stone’s book under an alias, while retaining his own profile picture, or someone creating a dummy acount and carelessly filching the picture of Hal Jones for the profile, unaware of how easily these things can be traced, I leave to the reader’s judgement.

(Taken from “The FishbowlDC Interview With Roger Stone”; the Facebook page of Philip Dodge; “Circuit Events Host Committee – Circuit of The Americas – Home of the Formula 1 US Grand Prix | Nov. 15-17 2013″)

(Hal Jones headshot, taken from “Circuit Events Host Committee – Circuit of The Americas – Home of the Formula 1 US Grand Prix | Nov. 15-17 2013″ and the headshot from Philip Dodge’s Facebook)

“Of course I read it and found it fascinating,” commented Philip Dodge in the story “Roger Stone’s New Book Says LBJ Killed JFK”. “Not only is it impossible to put down once you start reading sensational detail after sensational detail, but Stone supplies evidence every step of the way to make his case.”271 “Corsi challenges Bill O’Reilly to JFK-assassination debate”, was the headline, and Philip Dodge had something to say: “Roger Stone is the only one in the mix that actually sat in on many a secret meeting alongside Tricky Dick in the post-LBJ White House.” Anything else? “Sources like Daily Beast and National Enquirer all indicate the Roger Stone book will be the ‘history changing’ epic among the latest crop of books and that’s probably why it has risen to #1 in presales at Amazon.”272 “Ventura: LBJ Had The Most To Gain From JFK Assassination”. Philip Dodge, the comment below: “The important book to remember will be Roger Stone’s which doesn’t come out for two more weeks. In the book ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ’ Roger Stone performed laborious research on subject matter and materials that he gleaned from a place no one else has, namely the Post-LBJ White House right at Nixon’s side when many a secret was bandied about. It is no accident that Jesse Ventura’s book makes the same assertions but it is the Stone book that will be providing the proof including fingerprints.”273 There was “The List: Facts about President John F. Kennedy’s love of sports”, which Philip Dodge managed to make about his usual obsession. “There are many, many new revelations about JFK, LBJ and Nixon in Roger Stone’s new book ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ’ where Stone uses his insider knowledge having served presidents to spell out the truth about corruption, power, greed and the greatest crime of the 20th century.”274 Surprisingly, Philip Dodge had something to comment on at “Roger Stone: ‘Nixon thought LBJ killed Kennedy’”: “This book is an amazing work. While nearly a hundred books about JFK were written this season, this one has risen to number #3 with it having been in circulation for less than three weeks and that happened for a reason. Roger Stone is a stickler on the facts. He performs exhaustive research. For those of you who have not read the book yet I would suggest that you do it sooner rather than later.”275 “NY Times best selling author Roger Stone to visit Palm Beach for book signing” had this comment by Doug: “This guy’s conclusions are flimsier than one-ply toilet paper.” Philip Dodge replied: “Anybody with a wit of sense that really read Stone’s book could not make such a statement. It is chock full of multiple arguments that would stand up well in a court of law. I would urge readers to examine it for themselves and not rely on worthless internet chatter.”276

jakeslaw would comment on “Ex-GOP Bad Boy Roger Stone Eyes Florida Run”, “Roger stone and his wife Ann were part of the problems that the GOP has had these many years. They would compromise on principles to gain power. They support abortion and think it is just about money.” Philip Dodge: “Stone was smart enough to jump ship to the Libertarians at the last minute before the smell came in. Chastise him as you may, he in ernest [sic] represents the same values we believe in and I would take a governor founded in Barry Goldwater’s conservatism any day compared to a pompus [sic] Rick Scott who looks like a bald-headed turtle or a ‘not yet out of the closet’ former gov like Crist.”277 – incidentally, in 2011, Roger Stone joined the board of GOProud278. “Roger Stone pondering a campaign for Florida governor with an emphasis on pot”, once again, had Philip Dodge: “I am grateful to Stone for advising Reagan how to win the cold war and the result was that we were all saved from oblivion. Stone possesses the brass to turn Florida into the leading state to save the entire country. I know he has the money to beat Rick Scott and Charlie Crist is now a joke so the question is: Are Floridians ready to embrace a third party Libertarian candidate? I dare say, yes!” There was also a comment from a lovely blonde, Juanita Feenis: “Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are wimps. Stone represents a kind of personality with guys and wisdom that would rival Chris Christie’s ‘baron of governors’ status.”279 Feenis had also commented on “Ex-GOP Bad Boy Roger Stone Eyes Florida Run”: “When I grew up, my father would watch Roger Stone on CNN’s ‘Crossfire’ all the time and remarked how much sense Stone made. That was back when CNN actually had some ratings. As far as I’m concerned, Stone is well qualified, better known and better liked than the current or former governor in the upcoming election. If he runs, he will have my vote.”280 Feenis also had an opinion on “CBS Omits Spitzer’s Political Opponent Allegedly Provided Him With Prostitutes”: “Jay Leno asked Eliot Spitzer ‘How could you be so stupid?’ and Eliot Spitzer had a rambling answer. I don’t think Spitzer is sane. The disgraced former Governor and AG is not the right person to control the taxpayers money. He has the temperament of a pit bull. I’ll take calm, cool, collected, and smart any day when it comes to handling money which is why I think Kristin Davis is a better fit for the job.”281 “Eliot Spitzer to Jay Leno: ‘Hubris’ was my failing”: Ms. Feenis: “Folks, he is nuts. I don’t want him controlling my money. Spitzer makes Kristin Davis look more and more like the best candidate for comptroller with every appearance he makes.”282

Feenis was a fascinating, well rounded woman. She wanted to see Roger Stone elected governor of Florida, she wanted Kristin Davis as comptroller of New York City, but she also had a passionate interest in the gambling industry. She had something to say with regards to “Boyd Gaming retains ownership of the name ‘Stardust’”: “While the casino industry has been ever expanding in America, the economic strain and ubiquity of gambling houses has created a slump in general revenue. Certain Asian sectors like the one’s [sic] Genting thrives in are not experiencing any slump at all. They can bring in beaucoup hard dollars and entice foreign tourism like no one else.”283 “Genting buys Echelon for $2 billion Resorts World Las Vegas”: “It is a great day for Las Vegas! Genting will literally bring in billions per year to the economy. Jobs, local money, Vegas is back! Sheldon Adelson is turning over in his grave…oh wait, he’s not dead yet! No matter. Genting will be bringing in enough rich Asians to provide the entire city with a much needed stimulus even the Sands.” Here, she was joined by another woman, Karla von Stetten: “Genting resorts have their own fanbase. This new complex will bring in droves of foreign tourists. After four years of misery we now have been presented with salvation. Go Genting!”284

What were Von Stetten’s other interests? “Who was Lee Harvey Oswald? Questions linger after John F Kennedy’s assassination”, Von Stetten: “The new Roger Stone book ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ’ explains all these things once and for all and does so in a very entertaining and authoritative manner. Remember, Stone was Nixon’s side kick back in those days and they discussed many a secret.”285 “CNN’s Tapper to Eliot Spitzer: Shouldn’t You Have Gone to Jail?” Von Stetten: “Spitzer is a vile and contemptible individual that should never be permitted to hold public office.”286 “Manhattan Madam to Eliot Spitzer: ‘Gosh, It’s Going to Be a Fun Race!’” Karla Von Stetten says: “Throughout his career he has been a bully who used underhanded tactics on anyone (including innocents) that got in his way. He had a miserable record as a prosecutor losing almost all of his trials. Spitzer has never paid for any of his illegal acts. He should go away and live off the rest of his father’s money and not that of the taxpayers. I’m voting for Kristin Davis.”287 “Letters at 3AM: JFK and That Hard Rain” Karla von Stetten: “TUESDAY. ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ’ author Roger Stone will visit Austin to answer questions and sign books. As a longtime political operative, Roger Stone advised every Republican president from Nixon to ‘W.’” This got a reply from another commenter, Richard Knox: “I always enjoyed watching Roger Stone on the old CNN Crossfire when he would guest host. I am excited to hear he has a best seller. Where will he be appearing in Austin on Tuesday?”288

Just as Philip Dodge bore a startling resemblance to Hal Jones, Karla Von Stetten appeared to be an exact double for a Michèle, who appeared in a German magazine as their “Page One girl”, “Michèle of Stetten AG” (NSFW), or “Michèle aus Stetten AG”. Stetten AG is, I believe, Stetten, of the canton Aargau (AG) of Switzerland.

(first image taken from screenshot of “CNN’s Tapper to Eliot Spitzer: Shouldn’t You Have Gone to Jail?”, second is a screenshot of Von Stetten’s Disqus profile from the same link, third is a screenshot of the twitter handle @KarlavonStetten, fourth is taken from “Michèle of Stetten AG” – NSFW)

The Richard Knox who replied to Von Stetten shared many of her interests, as well as those of Philip Dodge, and Juanita Feenis. “Eliot Spitzer to Jay Leno: Wall Street Rooting Against Me” Knox: “Spitzer seemed at home in Hollywood. That’s where he should stay. What are the statutes of limitations on blackmail, whore-mongering or the Mann Act? We don’t need a lunatic to take care of NY taxpayers hard earned money. California is the ideal place for him where he will fit in fine with celebrity reprobates.”289 “Florida poll: Charlie Crist tops Rick Scott” “Good news for Charlie Crist, right? Maybe not,” wrote Knox. “Now that he has flip-flopped on the marijuana issue to help his lawyer pal John Morgan line his pockets, Crist has further alienated even the most disenchanted Republicans. Now please tell me what’s the chance that Charlie Crist who is despised among black voters given his ‘Chain-Gang’ Charlie reputation oppressing minorities is going to shine in the Democratic strongholds of Florida like Miami-Dade?”290 Knox was incredibly knowledgeable about some obscure politicos. “FBI Arrest Mayors Of Miami Lakes and Sweetwater in Florida: Mike Pizzi, Manuel Morono Charged in Corruption Schemes” Knox: “Today’s environment where government employees feel empowered to make up stories against decent public servants like Michael Pizzi makes me scratch my head and wonder if America will ever come back from the cataclysmic brink. Pizzi is about as innocent as they come. The consulting firm of Becker & poliakoff hired a bottom feeding individual Jose Keichi Fuentes along with his partner Richard Candia. When the firm got put in a spotlight implicating them of having conducted criminal acts, the various stooges had to get thrown under the bus starting with Candia who was also arrested in this recent bust. I do not trust the FBI.”291

Knox’s interest in obscure politicians was matched by William Windorf, a man with a single Like on his Facebook page, for The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. “Cats would not ‘grab a banana and eat it’ because he knew it was sprayed with camouflage to disguise the fact that the fruits and vegetables were all past their prime at Gristedes,” Windorf posted to “John Catsimatidis Spending Big on Billboards, Lip Balm and Candy”, about John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota’s opponent in the New York City Republican mayoral primary. “This is why he was fined over and over again along with selling tainted meat and fish. Where did you think all the money came from to pay for billboards?” “Few Mayoral Candidates Stand Up to Chassidim on ‘Metzitzah B’peh’” provoked this reaction from Windorf: “I heard Catsimatidis had been repeatedly fined for foisting bad food products on the customers and I knew he was vulgar from his cussing remarks at the Republican meeting but what I just leanred was that he maintains no personal hygiene whatsoever.” This comment at The Jewish Press also featured a complaint from Philip Dodge. “Catsimatidis used to spray dye coloring on his fruits and vegetables at Gristedes to conceal they were rotten inside from the unsuspecting public. Talk about non Kosher he received fines for selling rotting meat and fish. This is not the man I want for my mayor.”292 Karla Von Stetten was equally upset about the hygiene of Catsimatidis. “Daughter of Republican Mayoral Hopeful John Catsimatidis is Sort of a Mini-Celebrity in China”, Von Stetten: “Her appearance is quite provocative to the Chinese. It is notable that she has been quoted in the Times for repeated scolding her mayoral candidate father just how dirty Gristedes is.” “Which NYC Mayoral Candidates Think Spying on American Muslims is Unconstitutional?”, Von Stetten: “I see they left Catsimatidis out, probably strategically. According to the Empire State Ledger nobody wants to sit next to him because he hasn’t bathed or brushed his teeth.”293

“Roger Stone previews ‘CIA coup’ theory of Watergate at Woodward-Bernstein event” got this comment from Windorf: “I am delighted to hear that Roger Stone is releasing another book. “The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ” was an excellent book which I keep on my coffee table in the living room. It always draws comments from my guests. Stone being the greatest living authority on Nixon means we will finally be presented with the truth about Watergate.”294 “How a Texas Paper Brought Down Billie Sol Estes”, also had Windorf: “It is curious for him to die right when his name comes back into the news thanks to Roger Stone’s new book implicating LBJ and pals in the Kennedy assassination. Billy Sol Estes is a key figure in the book,” which prompted this reply from David: “Mr. Windorf – Roger Stone’s book is not to be released until later this year. I am curious as to where you saw the information about Billie Sol Estes.” David received no reply from Windorf295. “Bimini SuperFast Makes Inaugural Voyage” was a story about a cruise from Miami to a gambling resort on Bimini. The enterprise was owned and run by the gaming company Genting, also known as Resorts World, and the story got a comment from Windorf. “I had a really good time on the ship, especially in the Aqua Bar and Grill. I would highly recommend this get-away for anyone with an extra $49 bucks and some time to kill while visiting Miami.” Windorf had other things to say about the Bimini SuperFast and Genting. “Controversial resort opens up Bimini to the world”, Windorf: “Resorts World is well known for making dramatic improvements to anywhere they set up shop. Because Bimini is environmentally sensitive, you can’t rush them with their plans to carefully tip-toe through the offshore area in a way to preserve and protect the reefs and beaches. Some locals quite frankly don’t understand that there are natural growing pains whenever a major improvement is brought to an area.” “Bahamas National Trust calls for disclosure on Bimini facility”, Windorf: “The Genting Group is known worldwide for being highly sensitive to the well being of local areas where they break ground. Environmentalists can expect to finally have an ecosystem that is well protected and living symbiotically with the activities of the mooring dock. It is a win-win situation.”296 “Analysts give mixed reviews for Genting’s Strip plans” prompted a lengthy reply from Windorf. “Genting has performed a bit of magic and Las Vegas will greatly benefit from it. Genting will pull in rich tourists from all over Asia. Vegas gets plenty of fresh dollars and the other Genting properties like New York which is oing quite well and Miami, yet to be built see first hand how Genting a formidable and well respected world player brings prosperity wherever they set up stakes.” He was not alone in his enthusiasm for the gaming multi-national. “Analysts aside, there is no other force on this Earth that is willing and able to do what Genting is doing in Las Vegas,” said Juanita Freenis297. “Disney Said to Be Dishing Big Bucks in Tallahassee, Preparing for Destination Casino Fight”, again brought out Windorf, against Disney and someone he saw as one of their paid for allies. “There should be a moratorium how many times “expert” testimony spouted by academicians like Robert Jarvis, obviously a paid hack, gets published.” His appearance was notable here, because right below he was joined by Philip Dodge, making a similar complaint. “I follow the casino/gambling fight carefully and frequently see Robert Jarvis on the wrong side of the issue. He is right that Disney is scared but in this case Disney and No Casinos are stealing from Florida’s future,” Dodge wrote. “Jarvis has worn out any credibility he might have once had by being a go-to professor willing to say whatever any reporter wants to hear in order to further his name recognition.”298

“Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb: Brawling Over Her Ex on New Year’s Eve?”, about a financial executive who briefly considered a Florida Senate run and his better known actress girlfriend, featured a strange moment of fusion. There was William Windorf commenting on the story, “Nick and Sofia were not fighting with each other. Rather, they were fighting off the bodyguards of well known South Beach thug Ferrydoun Khalilian who has a way of rubbing people the wrong way. It’s over now and Khalilian will soon be deported anyway”; but there was the profile picture of Philip Dodge, the profile pic of Hal Jones. This was a subject which clearly impassioned William Windorf, because he also commented on “Sofia Vergara & Boyfriend’s NYE Fight Caused Boob Explosion?!”: “Despite reports like these, Nick and Sopia were not fighting with each other, rather they were fighting with moronic bodyguards from Iranian thug Ferrydoun Khalilian who’s claim to fame was co-owning failed nightclubs with Paris Hilton. Now he’ll have a hard time staying at a Hilton.” 299

Depending on who was behind “William Windorf” and “Philip Dodge”, we might have had a confrontation between two old adversaries in the comments for the Independent Political Report post, “Roger Stone Considers Run for Florida Governor”. Both Dodge and Windorf made enthusiastic noises about a Stone candidacy. Dodge: “Nixon and Reagan were not advocating the legalization of marijuana but Roger Stone is along with promoting a number of forward thinking Libertarian ideals. He could bring nationwide publicity to the Libertarian Party. Let’s see what he has to say at his next appearance.” “Roger Stone might have some detractors here at IPR (Do I detect some jealously?),” wrote Windorf. “Libertarians do not otherwise have any candidates in Florida that could even come close to Stone in political savvy, financial resources and national notoriety.” Dodge’s claims got a reply from Warren Redlich, the man who’d been smeared by Roger Stone and who’d soundly beat Stone’s own candidate Kristin Davis in the 2010 New York governor’s election. “By all means listen to his lies and decide how good they sound.” Redlich had a fairly strong suspicion of what was taking place. “Would anyone be surprised that this is William Windorf’s only comments on IPR, and Phillip Dodge only has 2 comments, both supporting Stone,” wrote Redlich. “I smell troll.”300

(Profile pictures of Juanita Feenis and William Windorf, taken from the Facebook pages of Windorf and Feenis.)

All of these characters were passionately interested in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and all of them were strongly supportive of Scott Israel. Most of them were there for “Update: Demos Fed Up With Sheriff’s Blunders”. William Windorf: “Where is the poll to prove the assertion that the ‘demos are fed up?’ No evidence, no proof whatsoever is cited. Citizens who know the crime rate has gone down (not conspiracists who think the statistics are faked) feel the sheriff has done quite well during the first leg of his service.” Karla von Stetten: “What I glean from this hatchet job of reporting and commentary is that the so-called missteps of the sheriff have reduced the crime in the country. Good job Israel. Have the rest of you Lamberti loving whiners considered that your vehemence bring down the Esprit de corps at BSO, diminishes the respect of the community for the department and actually makes Broward a more dangerous place to live?” Dick Knox: “Let’s face it, the few democrats mentioned never supported Israel to begin with. I’ll bet Israel requested that budget increase to keep veteran officers on the job and maybe get them a tiny raise. You can’t blame him for that.”301 Richard Knox would also comment on two stories by Bob Norman. One dealt with the past record of one of the sheriff’s hires, “Legal problems may stop BSO hiring”, Knox: “Am I the only one that looks at this report and smells something bad? It looks like Sheriff Scott Israel’s office unearthed the legal ‘trouble’ that she forewarned the Sheriff about namely some bounced checks from her college days which she made restitution on. Does that warrant a big investigative news story? Oh wait, there were some unpaid traffic tickets too! Watch out!” The other had to do with the hiring of associates of Roger Stone, “Sheriff Scott Israel makes new hires to ‘connect with community’”. Knox: “Dianne Thorne was briefly involved with a different Tea Party than the one Bob Norman is trying to associate her with. It really seems like Bob Norman is accusing Sheriff Israel of somehow playing dirty pool here but is doing so without any evidence.”302

One might play this game endlessly, and so I stop now, to give thanks303. Thank goodness this country has President Nixon. Thank goodness this country has Sheriff Scott Israel. Thank goodness this country has Genting. Thank goodness this country has Roger Stone, the man who saved our world from nuclear annihilation.

(Since publication, some small errors in spelling have been made. Some pictures of Johnson and Dodge were added for comparison, and the point about the striking similarity between Von Stetten and a page one model was added on February 23rd. The comments Von Stetten made about John Catsimatidis and the detail about Robert Morrow’s Margot Clarke email were added on that date as well. February 23rd, 2014 also saw the addition of the material on William Windorf and the Bimini SuperFast. On February 26th, the material on Charlie Crist and Stone’s contradictary statements on John McCain were added to the opening paragraph. On that same date, the reference to Dodge and Windorf both showing up on the page “Disney Said to Be Dishing Big Bucks in Tallahassee”, about the fight between Disney and Genting, was added. The points about Carl Bernstein and the accompanying footnote were added as well. Jacob Weisberg’s tweet – also added on February 26th. The footnote #256 dealing with Jennifer Fitzgerald, James Parrott, and George H.W. Bush was added on February 28th, as was the footnote dealing with other possible sock puppets like Adele Jeter and Erica Benafucci. Footnote #245 dealing with smears used as a counterattack on “Buzzsaw” was added on March 3rd, and the epigraph from Norman Mailer’s “A Harlot High and Low” was added on the 4th. On March 15th, the section dealing with Stanley Kutler’s Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes was added.)

ROGER STONE:

PRETTY RECKLESS IS GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE PART SIX

PART SEVEN PART EIGHT PART NINE PART TEN

FOOTNOTES

242 Most of these contradictions have already been discussed, and sourced, in previous parts. The use of earmarks is discussed in part six. The strange contradictions are discussed in part six and briefly in part eight. Stone’s use and misuse of third parties, alongside his mourning the lack of a third party is discussed in part eight.

I give a partial transcript of his speech at Quincy, “quincy 912 09 Roger Stone” (part one) and “quincy 912 10 Roger Stone” (part two):

There is no doubt that when the Republicans had the leadership in the White House and in Congress, we did spend more than we should have, both parties, including my own, are complicit in what has happened to America. Because since Ronald Reagan was president, I’m sorry, conservatism in our domestic policy has not been tried, and therefore, has not failed. I think it’s funny that those on the left, the people who so revere the civil rights protests, and anti-Vietnam war protests, of the 1970s and the 1960s. The anti-war movement. When it was them, who were screaming the obscenities…but now, they say, you, all of you, well, most of you…were paid by the insurance companies to be here. Put up your hands, how many got paid to be here today? The HMOs, did they pay you? The insurance companies? Exactly. This is a real grass roots rebellion. As I said earlier, this White House has their head in the sand.

The quote about McCain being a member of an establishment and an actual maverick comes from “Roger Stone on New Media and Old Campaign Tricks” conducted on November 3, 2008. The following is taken from a partial transcript that can be found in part eight, footnote #204. I bold the mention:

GILLESPIE
How brilliant a political strategy was the Palin pick? [the delivery conveys no irony, and there is no subsequent laughter]

STONE
Breathtaking. Because it takes advantage of discord in the democratic party caused essentially by the dumping of Hillary Clinton. They not only don’t nominate her, even though she gets eighteen million votes, they don’t consider her seriously for the ticket, leaving the Republican party a big fat opening. Now, a lot of people thought that all of the women who supported Hillary were ultra-liberals and therefore they couldn’t possibly be attracted by a Palin candidacy. That’s turned out to be false. Many of the women who supported Hillary supported her because they felt it was important to elect a woman president, they thought the role of women was expanding, this would be history making. We’re gonna get thirty percent of the people who voted for Hillary. They’re gonna vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. And that’s very significant. I also like it because it wrenched control of the Republican party away from the party establishment. The republican establishment in Washington does not like John McCain. They don’t like him because they can’t trust him to go along and keep his mouth shut. He really is a maverick, I disagree with Matt Welch in this regard. [a reference to the Matt Welch book: McCain: The Myth of a Maverick] And Sarah Palin didn’t go to Yale. She’s not part of the fraternity here in town. She’s truly an outsider in the sense that McCain is an outsider. So I think that she is out of the Goldwater Reagan Laxalt brand of western frontier conservatism which is not an Ivy league establishment eastern institution brand of republicanism. I think she’s a breath of fresh air.

The quote about McCain being an establishment figure is taken from the interview, “TPMtv: Josh Marshall Enters… THE STONE ZONE”, conducted on December 3, 2008:

JOSH MARSHALL
What about the whole thing suspending the campaign…there was a big rap against McCain towards the end for just being erratic…That was obviously a key word for the Obama campaign…

STONE
The problem here…I never thought there was anything wrong with suspending his campaign…and going to Washington as a device that served to get everybody’s attention. The problem is what he did when he got to Washington, which was, in essence, embrace a bailout that now, in retrospect, doesn’t smell too good. Both its efficiency, its effectiveness, really did what it was supposed to do…in fact, the money’s going to places we told people it was going to. McCain’s classic mistake: he had no rationale for his candidacy, in the post-economic crash period. He was handed one: folks, I went to Washington, I saw the deal on the table. I agree with the House Republicans, it stinks. It’s not a main street deal, it’s a Wall Street deal. It’s bailing out the same thieves that got us into this mess. I’m against it. Evidently, Senator Obama and his party are for it. That’s the difference between us and them. Let him struggle. Now he has a rationale to run on this campaign and close on it. Instead, McCain, who’s an establishment figure, goes to Washington, signs on the Goldman bill, of, by, and for Goldman Sachs…we bail out AIG because Goldman has a position there…but we don’t bail out Lehman Brothers because they’re not in the Goldman quagmire…I mean, it’s an amazing piece of legerdemain to come to the legislature…McCain shouldn’t have endorsed it, he’d have had a populist issue to close on, and he might have won the race.

The quote about Crist being a chameleon who believes nothing is taken from “Roger Stone: A gallus-snapping campaign for governor?” by Jacob Engels:

Why consider running for Governor? And why now?

Like most Floridians, I am dissatisfied with our choices. As someone who believes in limited government and fiscal responsibly, I have become disappointed in Governor Scott as of late. He founded his political career opposing government-mandated healthcare and he is now embracing it.

He seems to be abandoning what got him elected. Throwing money at teachers won’t fix our broken education system yet that is what he seems to be proposing. Former Governor Charlie Crist is even more dangerous. He seems to change positions like the wind. I’m not sure what he stands for, other than the election of Charlie Crist.

Scott is a good man who seems to have lost his way. Crist is a dangerous chameleon that believes in nothing. We’ll see.

243 The following is a transcript of “Roger Stone Brings Up the Infamous ‘Whitey’ Tape!” (youtube). The bolded sections are where Stone gives it mention:

GERALDO RIVERA
Roger, I want to start with you. You have some news, or at least your own incendiary prediction on Michelle Obama’s allged vulnerabilities. What do you know, or at least, what do you think you know?

STONE
Well, there’s a buzz which I believe now to be credible, some indelible record exists of public remarks that Michelle Obama allegedly made, which are outrageous at worst – at best – but could be termed racist, including some reference to white people as “whiteys”. Allegedly. And there’s been a race here, Geraldo-

RIVERA
Now, wait a sec- wait a sec- Roger, you can’t just say that when there’s no proof for it-

STONE
No no, let me finish. There’s been a race here between Clinton research people who are seeking this tape, and the republican opposition researchers and the Republican National Committee. I now believe a network has this tape, I believe that reliably, something like that could roil the race, which explains why, to me, Hillary Clinton is staying in this race. What other reason is there to stay in this race, other than hoping that there is a bomb, at high level, Clinton operatives say there is a bomb of this nature. I have heard that from credible-

RIVERA
Hold it there…okay. We hear that you heard it. Let me go to Michael Brown for his response, and let me also point out that Roger Stone was the person who said that he heard that New York governor Eliot Spitzer was using the services of prostitutes, and at least in that incendiary allegation, there was some facts behind it, and ultimately it was proven true. But Michael Brown why don’t you respond to what you just heard from Roger Stone?

BROWN
Well, I’m not gonna question whether he believes what he’s saying is true. But I will say that the Republicans are up to their usual stuff, when they cannot beat Democrats on issues, they always go personal negative. That’s what this is all about. We’re gonna see this for the next six months from the Republican party, this is what they do. I don’t know why we should be shocked by all of this. I think they’re starting a little early, they’re probably off their timeline a little bit…I’m not surprised by this, it has nothing to do with anything except flat-out politics, and it’s ugly, and these are the kinda things that don’t help the American people come to the polls to vote. They don’t keep people inspired and I’m sure the Obamas will obviously prevail on issues like this and stay focused on issues, assuming he’s the nominee.

STONE
This really has very little to do with the general election, this has a lot to do with why Hillary Clinton is staying in this race. Look, there’s already a buzz in Washington. At least seven news organizations have contacted me, wanting to know, how to get their hands on this tape, giving me more information than I had after I spoke to each one of them. I now believe the tape exists, I believe a network has it. If this pans out to be true, based on Michelle Obama’s previous comment, that this was the first that she had been proud of her country…which I think shows, an attitude that is problematic.

RIVERA
And I’ll give you a hundred bucks if it’s true. I’ll give you a hundred bucks if it’s true. I don’t believe it’s true. Michael Brown, you respond.

BROWN
Well, his premise is that this is why Hillary Clinton is staying in, hoping that this bombshell derails Senator Obama’s nomination effort. That’s not why Senator Clinton is staying in the race. She’s staying in the race, hoping that now she has the popular vote lead, the superdelegates will say, maybe Senator Clinton is the best person to take on John McCain. That’s why she’s staying in the race. She wants to make the argument to superdelegates. And to obviously put out this notion that there’s some race between the Clinton campaign and the news media organization is nonsense. This is a republican tactic-

STONE
And the republicans.

BROWN
And the republicans. Roger, you and I both know that this is a republican tactic, this is what they do. And this is what we’re going to continue to see for the next six months, because they have no answer about the war, they have no answer about gas prices, they have no answers about health care, so they do smear. That’s what they do.

RIVERA
Michael Brown, thank you. Roger Stone, thank you, we’ll see.

244 A still from the first along with transcript:

Hey, Scott. You never told me you were a policeman. And as for Susan, twenty years of marriage, I thought it was only fifteen. Yeah. So, I guess you didn’t include that in our…six month little relationship we’ve been having. But of course, that’s between you and me. Let’s hope no one, including your triplets, see this video. Have a nice night.

A still from “Take 2″ along with transcript:

Hi, Scott. So, you already know I had to have an abortion because you have a wife and three kids. Really, Scott? Twenty years? A wife of twenty years? Susan, or whatever her name is. Triplets? I mean- Is this for real? Like, you know I was only seventeen when this had to happen, honestly I just can’t believe this.

245 I believe there is evidence of Richard Nixon emplying a similar tactic at some point during his career, it is just a question of finding it. However, Stone is certainly familiar with this approach, as might be seen in a fragment from the episode of “Buzzsaw: LBJ and the Killing of JFK with Roger Stone (Nov 24, 2013)”. I make no attempts to argue the many claims made in – that Robert Kennedy’s catholicism and Barack Obama’s race were advantages in their elections – only quote this to make clear that Stone is familiar with this method of attack, and that he considers it an effective form of attack. Excerpt runs from 34:33 to 35:56, I bold the relevant portion:

ROGER STONE
The military industrial complex is not ideological. They’re about money and power. They’re neither right nor left. They will invent a candidate on the right and left if they need one. So, people were upset about George W. Bush; so, they created Barack Obama. Who’s fully unqualified to be president of the United States. Who served in the state Senate, and the U.S. Senate, and has written two biographies, but no major legislation of any kind. So, the military industrial complex, the American media establishment, they can go either right or left depending on what’s required at the time.

TYREL VENTURA
And it makes sense, coming out of the Bush presidency, with Cheney and all of that, we’re feeling very constricted, we’re feeling very down, we need a new champion of the people.

STONE
Plus they take advantage of the democratic [sic - most likely "demographic" is meant here] change. We have more and more minority voters. So, maybe it was time for the first minority president. Being black was not a detriment to his candidacy, it was an asset to his candidacy. Just like Kennedy’s being catholic was a benefit, not a drawback. In fact, Bobby Kennedy had millions of pieces of violently anti-catholic literature attacking John Kennedy printed, he put Hubert Humphrey’s name on it, and he mailed it to the voters in West Virginia. All the catholic households, only.

246 The incongruous use of this font was brought up in many places, including the comments for “‘Have You Had Sex with Rick Perry?’ Asks Ad” by Maureen O’Connor, such as devinhoward’s “Interesting font choice. Is CASH going to use the information to exploit weaknesses in a large battle station? A small exhaust port maybe?” (link)

247 Quotes and excerpts of this Alex Jones program taken from the following partial transcript:

JONES
We are joined by Robert Morrow, the man of the hour, to tell us about himself and why he’s running this ad, and what evidence he has that indeed Rick Perry is gallavanting around, being a hypocrite, telling us he has all these christian values…I should add that it’s also coming out in newspapers across the country that Rick Perry is an investor in a chain of porno movie outlets. That’s all over mainstream news. And the religious right is running an attack ad against him for that. And, I did confirm in the Texas ethics commission, filings that Rick Perry reportedly did go in Florida to a male drag queen…uh…strip club to see some type of event…and there’s reports on that going back two years. So we’re gonna talk about it all. Where there’s smoke, is there fire? I mean, I’ve heard these rumors for many, many years. Robert Morrow, tell us a little bit about yourself, and then why you’re doing this.

MORROW
Well, Alex, I’m a local political activist here in Texas. I’m a three time delegate to the Texas state Republican convention, 2006, 2008, 2010. I have voted for Rick Perry in the past, 1998, 2002, 2006. What it boils down to is this: is that Rick Perry is a man who campaigns on christian values. He uses bible buzzwords for political gain, he appears on-stage in Houston with all these preachers, yet he’s living a double life. The reason I know that, Alex, is because Rick Perry, his enabling entourage and I, like the same women.

JONES
Well, that’s quite a charge. Again, I’m gonna be honest with you, Robert. You wouldn’t even be here right now if a lot of people I know vouched for you, and said you were a stand-up guy, they’ve known you for many many years. Some of them a decade, I’ve known for a decade. And, I’m not saying, oh, you’re lucky to be here. I’m saying, I wouldn’t have you here, if a lot of people I know and trust, said you were a stand-up guy. That means two things are happening. Either all these people who are telling you this information are lying to you; or they’re telling the truth. And either way, this is dangerous. So, let’s get into the allegations.

MORROW
Okay, the reason they’re credible is because there are multiple allegations. I met a stripper a couple years ago, she said “I was working on-stage in a club, and a man comes up to me, and he says, ‘Here’s five hundred dollars. That’s just for starters if you come with me.’” Because that’s what a dancer might make in a whole night, with table dances and tips like that. She said, “Sure, I’ll do it,” and she got into her regular clothes, and she was delivered to…Rick Perry. And when she got to Rick Perry, she told me a couple years ago, before the 2010 gubernatorial race, she said that she and Rick Perry started fooling around, and she was trying to give him a “Monica Lewinsky”, I think it was oral sex, and her words to me were, “I think he was too coked up, to get it up.” K? After they’d been playing around for a while, and it was time for her to go, Rick Perry paid her an outrageous sum of money well into the four digits. Rick Perry’s not a rich man; he’s only worth a million or two dollars. It’s not a lot of money compared to who he runs around with. It makes me think that Rick Perry is taking bribes and illegal gifts from his entourage to fund his extra-curricular activities. And that was just one lady.

JONES
Well, that’s one source. Before you went public with all of this, and contacted me a month ago, you say you were contacted by high-end escorts as well.

MORROW
I know other women in town, strippers, young hotties, some escorts, and this is what blew me away: I heard from another lady, who’s had direct dealings with Rick Perry’s entourage. And she told me, this man told her, when Rick Perry goes on the road, he gets the quote “young hotties”. Hence, I use the phrase “young hotties” in my ad. And he told her, he says that they take these young women and they go back to Rick Perry’s hotel room, and they’re literally having orgies and group sex in the hotel room. Perhaps, maybe, Rick Perry is having sex with a woman on a sofa and his friend is having sex with another young hottie on a bed. So, that was two. Now, the second person who told me this, is very credible, she’s educated, she knows her way around the world politically here in Austin, she’s not some sortof seventeen year old runaway on drugs or something. She’s somebody who runs with the elite of Austin, Texas. So that was the second source on that. So, after I heard that, I said, “It is confirmed.” Rick Perry is obviously being flagrantly adulterous, his entourage is procuring strippers for him, renting the hotel rooms, calling the escort services, then recently, this week, yet another young lady who’s friends with yet another popular, long-time escort, said that, yeah, you know, this lady, her friend, had a tryst with Rick Perry in one of the nicer hotels in Austin, Texas. So, that’s three right there. And I’ve been unable to get these people to go public for obvious reasons, you know, trying to get a stripper, or an escort, or a gay, closeted gay man, to go public is very difficult for obvious reasons, hence my ad. So I took out this ad, “Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?” as a plea, to the greater community, to quit covering for Rick Perry, this you know, christian buzzword spouting hypocrite, who’s leading a double life.

JONES
Well, I’ve gotta say, Robert, that…we’ve seen what’s happened with a New York governor who passed a law to take the property away from men who hire prostitutes, throw them under the jail, while he was visiting high end prostitutes. We’ve seen all these Republican leaders caught in bathrooms, and going after their pages. We know about Bohemian Grove. And so, doing my research, I know that to get into the upper echelons of the Republican party, especially, they don’t feel comfortable around you, unless you’ve done some things they can use against you. And the main way to enter the upper echelons of the Republican party is homosexual sex. That’s what goes on in Skull and Bones, in Gayle [this is exactly how I hear Jones say it, and I think his implication is clear], that’s what goes on at the same time in Bohemian Grove. So I know that stuff goes on. Again, I mainly stick with the issues that I can prove. And we’ve all heard these rumors living in Austin. And there’s been newscasts about the rumors of Rick Perry…I would completely, still, ignore all of this if he wasn’t out there saying, I’m a christian conservative leader, you need to get behind me. And then knowing, he’s actually the opposite in his real policies. And even in the last election cycle for governor, conservative groups did actually discover his bankrolling of porno parlors across Texas. And that’s now a big issue again. And then, when I first saw this, I didn’t believe it, I went and found it on the state ethics commission website, it is true, that when he was in Florida, in a famously alternative life-style area, I want you to talk about that, he visited the La Te Da, men in drag, cabaret. And he later said, “Well, no, my wife visited that.” Yeah, right. So, it just continues to crop up. And so because it was christian conservatives that have gone after him in the last few campaigns over some of these reports, he’s now trying to become that. And I saw Ron Paul supporters really getting after him in events in the last few years, so now he’s trying to become Ron Paul. He is a political chameleon. And so, the question comes down to: is this some elaborate hoax, where people are lying to you? Are you lying? Which people who know you say you’re not. Or, is this a dirty trick? Of disinformation. Or is it true? But, what do you say about the porno parlor bankrolling and the transvestite visiting?

MORROW
Okay. Well, Alex, as you know, living here in Austin, Texas, the rumors of Rick Perry’s homosexuality and gay affairs have been voluminous, intense, and will just not go away.

JONES
Oh, you type Rick Perry into Google for years, and “gay” comes up.

MORROW
And, there’s-

JONES
The first thing.

MORROW
There’s so much smoke…that it has to be fire. And I want to tell you something, Alex. I never believed the gay rumors on Rick Perry for years and years and years, and then I certainly didn’t believe them when I found out all about these stirppers and escorts, he and his entourage are cavorting with. That has changed. I’ve come into credible information that Rick Perry is a rampant bisexual adulterer, not just strippers and young hotties, but gay men as well. This monday, before I even ran this ad, an incensed homosexual man contacted me, and he says, “You know what? After seeing Rick Perry on that stage in Houston, with all those extremist preachers, all that hardcore anti-gay rhetoric, I just can’t take it any more.” He said that an ex of his ex, had sex with Rick Perry. A gay fling many years before he became governor, and that he wants to take this guy public, and he and his friend are going to approach this man, who had sex with Rick Perry according to them, and get him to go public. And I said, well, what I did was I gave them to a reporter who’s working the gay angle on Rick Perry, and he’s having some progress, by the way, and so maybe, eventually, in a few months, these reporters work these stories, nail down these sources, we will move beyond the hearsay stage on Rick Perry as a rampant bisexual adulterer, to the credibility stage of people coming forward. So, the whole point of me running that ad is folks, there is so much stuff out there, you know, if you know, if you’ve been involved with him, sexually at all, or you know people who have, please come forward. And let’s go on the record, and get it above board, because people need to know.

JONES
Well, these rumors have been rampant around here in Austin since high school, but…they could just be that, political…retribution against Perry by his enemies, then the rumor gets picked up, and gets parroted by people that are seeking private attention, “Oh, I know Rick Perry,” that could be a possibility, where it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, that this rumor got started, and now different groups are lying to you.

MORROW
Well, Alex, on the womanizing, I’m not just 99% sure that Rick Perry’s running around with strippers and hookers, I’M ONE HUNDRED PERCENT SURE ON THAT.

JONES
Well, you told me that you liked…these women…and that you go to some of these and separately, without them knowing you’re politically active, they were volunteering this?

MORROW
What makes their story so credible is, that these ladies, who are about the age of Rick Perry’s twenty-four year old daughter, Sidney, they’re in their mid-twenties, they told me these things in confidence, and not in the context of a presidential campaign or a gubenatorial campaign. It was just chitchat. They had no idea I was a political activist, they had no idea I hated Rick Perry’s guts for other reasons, because of political reasons and so forth.

MORROW
I’ll tell you this. Rick Perry, Alex, is sitting on a keg of…slut fueled nitroglycerine that if it ever exploded would make Anthony Weiner look like a mere pimple popping.

248 Robert Morrow’s email is mentioned in “Naked City: News briefs from Aus