Latest read: The Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate to 9/11

Richard Ben-Veniste’s book The Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate to 9/11 is a unique look at the political coverups that have engulfed Washington and the country. I find his approach to understanding the facts of highly publicized events to be a lesson in approaching internal reporting.
The Emperor's New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate to 9/11Ben-Veniste proves in The Emperor’s New Clothes that time will not and cannot alter Washington’s presidential change of power and the implications when tragic mistakes lead to institutional change.

It is clear to Ben-Veniste that established, solid governance can actually alter the accepted, institutional approaches in seeking important answers to events that bring organizations to the edge of collapse.

Clearly lessons from Watergate still ring true today. Since The Emperor’s New Clothes was published in 2009 Ben-Veniste‘s experiences as a commissioner on the 9/11 Commission have been given time to understand his successful, seasoned approach in dealing with the Nixon Administration and the conflict over Archibald Cox and the Saturday Night Massacre provide lessons in dealing with Condoleezza Rice and Attorney Generals (John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales) under W. Bush regarding executive privilege, another throwback position to Nixon and his defense of the White House taping system.

It would not be pressing to understand how Ben-Veniste is an accomplished lawyer, Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District service from 1968 to 1973. And then from 1973-1975 serving as the lead prosecutor on the Watergate Task Force. He was also a presidential appointment to the US Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group in 2000.

Robert Bork’s Saturday Night Massacre

Robert Bork died this week. While many recall his failed US Supreme Court nomination I will always remember his actions as Nixon’s hatchman during the infamous Saturday Night MassacrePlease jump to the 4:43 mark of this video:

At the time Nixon’s Watergate affair was spinning out of control. Archibald Cox, appointed as the Watergate Special Prosecutor demanded access to newly revealed White House tapes after Alexander Butterfield, the President’s Deputy Assistant acknowledged a taping system was installed by Nixon.

Nixon refused to comply with a court ruling that indeed he turn over his tapes and then ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and was fired. Nixon then ordered Richardson’s Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox but he also refused and was also fired by Nixon. Next in line was Robert Bork, then Solicitor General. He did comply with Nixon’s order and fired Cox.  Within hours Nixon ordered the FBI to seal off the offices of the Special Prosecutor, The Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General.

It was a clear and last act the Imperial President and it was a watershed moment in our constitutional.  The next day tens of thousands of Western Union telegrams flooded Congress by the American public insisting on impeaching Nixon.

Bork’s role in the Massacre, firing Cox sealed his fate fourteen years later when President Reagan nominated him for the Supreme Court.

Watergate’s Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson died Saturday. I think he will be remember more for his post Watergate actions than the Un-American acts he managed in Nixon’s White House. Regrettably today’s short attention span media will focus on the last years of his life rather than painfully share again with America the lessons of those in control of power in the beltway.

Chuck was a member of the Watergate Seven and will be forever tied to the illegal actions of breaking into the private offices of psychiatrist Dr. Lewis Fielding and stealing files relating to patient Dan Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers. We should not look past his role of authoring Nixon’s Enemies List and his role in the Vietnamization of the war in SouthEast Asia.

Continue reading “Watergate’s Chuck Colson”

The first wikileak: Pentagon Papers

Finally after 40 years the US Government will publish The Pentagon Papers for the very first time.

The Pentagon Papers

The study commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was officially titled: “United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense” and was a secret kept hidden from President Johnson. and American public for over 40 years.

The study traces US involvement in Vietnam beginning in 1945 just after World War II and ending in 1967 before the Tet Offensive.  The report, a scathing self-examination of U.S.-Vietnamese relations and the Vietnam War, led to one of the largest and most significant court battles ever concerning government secrets vs. freedom of the press.  Nixon’s demand to damage Ellsberg resulted in the Watergate scandal.

The Nixon Library has a copy in that was part of President Richard Nixon’s papers. It will be released at 9 a.m., June 13, 40 years to the day that leaked portions of the report were printed on the front page of The New York Times.

Most Dangerous Man in America ?

mdmiaWatching this documentary about Daniel Ellsberg reminded me of his rather extraordinary life that has not yet stopped. With the recent WikiLeaks sensation its worth reminding America how powerful documents can change people and governments.

I read Ellsberg’s book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers back in 2006 (review here) and realize its better than the movie.

However for today’s Gen Y its more than enough to get them visually interested in events as old as Vietnam, Watergate and Nixon.

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