Tag Archives: Watergate

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 – The Pentagon Papers – Leaking and Lying in Modern Times

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 – The Pentagon Papers – Leaking and Lying in Modern Times

Time for your daily history lesson, Boys and Girls.

On this day in history the New York Times began publishing The Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg. The Pentagon Papers were officially titled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. The year? 1971.

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara created the Vietnam Study Task Force on June 17, 1967, for the purpose of writing an “encyclopedic history of the Vietnam War“. McNamara claimed that he wanted to leave a written record for historians, to prevent policy errors in future administrations. McNamara neglected to inform either President Lyndon Johnson or Secretary of State Dean Rusk about the study.”

The huge volumes of sensitive, secret, sort of secret, and real secret information about the US government was revealed to the public. Notice the appropriate word is “revealed” and not “leaked.”

For example, it revealed that presidential administrations had been and were systematically lying and/or secretly keeping activities from the media. Even more damaging, the papers revealed that the US military had secretly engaged in expanding the scope of the Vietnam Conflict.

Ellsberg was charged with conspiracy, espionage and theft of government documents. (Aka leak of such documents) Then came newly elected in 1968 Richard Nixon. The charges against Ellsberg were later dropped when Tricky Dick tried to restrain the press. Tricky Dick then ordered White House officials to dress like plumbers and to use unlawful and unethical efforts to discredit Ellsberg.

Fast forward to the end – the publication of The Pentagon Papers kicked off a new phase in politics with secret, covert and illegal (aka leaking and lying) actions by the Executive Office and all for public consumption on the social media of the day – print, radio and TV.

There were break-ins and burglaries at The Watergate Hotel and the US became embroiled in the largest constitutional crisis to date. And there were tapes of meetings with The POTUS. It all came crashing down like a House of Cards. The POTUS resigned before impeachment charges could be brought. The plumbers and lots of others went to prison. “I am not a crook” turned out to be one.

And that brings us to the present and the irony of history repeating itself. Here’s what I’m thinking. When revealed to the public The Pentagon Papers were over 1000 printed pages. Trumpet’s Twitter rants are going to be much shorter in length, but perhaps the results will be the same.

Class dismissed.


Friday, August 08, 2014

Friday, August 08, 2014

“Effective at noon tomorrow, I will resign the Presidency of the United States of America.” Calm down Sarah Palin, I am referring to Richard Mihouse Nixon and the 40th anniversary of his resignation as President of the United States. While it is all Watergate under the bridge, it still fun to recall the names. In May 1973 we watched the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by the Senator from North Carolina, Sam Ervin and his eyebrows. During the hearing the White House lawyer, John Dean said former Attorney General John Mitchell did it and WH advisers John Eherlichman and H. R. Haldeman knew about it too. Yep, even Nixon knew about it. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Archibald (who really names their child Archibald?) Cox uncovered widespread evidence of illegal wiretapping of thousands of private citizens by the administration and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors. And just think, he did all of this discovering without benefit of a computer and social media. Hey, Nixon if you are reading this from Hell, “Did you think another round of Checkers and Pat’s good Republican cloth coat could save you again?” By the end of July 1974, the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers and hindrance of the impeachment process. That last article concerned the infamous tapes and the 18 minutes that were missing. At that point Nixon was busted like ho at a cheap motel on Saturday night. At no point was a cigar involved or mentioned in the indictment. Well, we certainly did not have Tricky Dick “to kick around anymore” after that.

Here is a bit of alternative history. Alternative history is where one plays “what if” an event actually took place that changed history. When Nixon received the Republican nomination in 1968, his main party opponent was the governor of Michigan George Romney. What if George Romney had won the nomination? Maybe Mitt would be in White House today.

Nixon appealed to what he later called the “silent majority” of “socially conservative Americans” who disliked hippies and the anti-war demonstrators. I am not certain if that means they were pro-war. Here’s What I’m Thinking – as his campaign button prophetically stated – Nixon’s the One. He is the One who started it all. Nixon – Making Republicans Proud Even Today!