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.
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.
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.
Finally after 40 years the US Government will publish The Pentagon Papers for the very first time.
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.
Watching 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.
Although reluctant to accept the job as United States Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush, Paulson acknowledged upon his arrival in Washington a credit crisis was on the horizon. Clearly Paulson notes he was naive of regulatory powers in Washington and any suggestions of financial reform in an election year were all dead on arrival.
Do they know it’s coming Hank? President Bush asked me. “Mr. President we’re going to move quickly and take them by surprise. The first sound they’ll hear is their heads hitting the floor….For the good of the country I proposed we seize control of the companies, fire their bosses and prepare to provide $100 billion of capital support for each.”
Regrettably its not Wall Street but rather Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government backed lending institutions (GSEs) that Paulson is addressing. Paulson should could have done the same for Lehman, Bear Stearns.and ALL the other institutions since they received taxpayer money to keep them afloat….on their yachts.
–When you learn that someone at a financial company made a 1 Billion bonus (yes a billion for one person) you can see where the ship was heading…right into the rocks.
This was is a rather interesting read since L. Patrick Gray wrote his first hand account leading the FBI as Watergate unfolded.
Gray was a political appointment to the FBI by Nixon following the death of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s only Director who served over 48 years as the top federal law enforcement officer to appointed by President Calvin Coolidge.
To many inside the FBI his appointment was considered a shock since he was not a career FBI agent, but rather a former Navy officer who left the armed services to campaign for Nixon.
Gray’s biggest lesson from Watergate was, as a life long Republican he was ultimately sacrificed by Nixon’s WhiteHouse over his confirmation hearings with the Senate. He was lead astray by John Ehrlichman and John Dean. As Director of the FBI he reported to Ehrlichman and not Nixon. Nixon’s men controlled access to the President.
Terrorist Attack at Chicago O’Hare
One of the surprises is Gray’s revelation of the terrorist attack planned for Chicago’s O’Hare following the 1972 Olympic tragedy. It was a rather unique peak into history, to understand how the FBI managed the threat and to learn about Gray’s actions to lead the FBI’s response.
What can you learn from a Nixon staff lawyer who pleaded guilty to approving the break-in of Dr. Lewis Fielding’s office in 1971? Plenty to my surprise. Egil Krogh‘s Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices, and Life Lessons from the White House is a story of how ‘national security’ and political zeal triggered Watergate. Krogh even closes the book with an open letter to W. Bush’s illegal wiretapping to demonstrate that our nation’s politicians and their staff have forgotten Watergate‘s 40th anniversary is just a couple years away….clearly the lesson has been forgotten as well.
Krogh joined Nixon’s White House team after working in a Seattle law firm with John Ehrlichman. Ehrlichman served Nixon as a senior consultant in the 1968 Presidential campaign and was rewarded with the role as Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs. Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman dominated the Nixon White House like no other executive staff.
Krogh was responsible for approving the break-in at Fielding’s office in order to dig up damaging evidence against Daniel Ellsberg who had leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. Ellsberg served on Kissinger’s staff. This event was the first of many illegal break-ins designed by G. Gordon Liddy‘s Operation Gemstone.
Shortly thereafter Nixon’s men would invent a Special Investigative Unit, a Nixon/GOP “police force” known as “The Plumbers” to fix the leaking of government documents to the media.
It was not a total surprise to learn Liddy was willing to kill during the Fielding break-in. Thankfully that did not happen but proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the zealots who were working for Nixon. Even Howard Hunt‘s team from Miami did not ask to be paid to break into Fielding’s office — they saw it as a patriotic act.
As most of the President’s men who served Nixon have released their own accounts of their roles in Wategate, Howard Hunt’s book American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond is no different. Hunt spent his career in the CIA from the end of WWII to Watergate. I must admit Hunt lived quite a life. He was also a respected writer having published over 45 books.
I cannot honestly believe how stupid the Republicans were in dealing with Hunt’s team from Miami. G. Gordon Liddy was the mastermind of Operation Gemstone and directed the overall planning with the White House while Hunt ran the team. Its amusing to see the amount of detail Hunt provided regarding the planning to break into DNC offices in the Watergate building.
Many believe the break-in was a one time event. In the last twenty years it has become accepted that Liddy directed four break-ins at the Watergate.
Why? A member of Hunt’s Miami team, Virgilio Gonzàlez the lock picker actually forgot to bring the correct tools to break into the DNC office. Hunt’s team had to cancel the operation while Gonzàlez actually fly back to Miami over a weekend to located a correct set of tools to successfully pick the lock.
This just proves how stupid Hunt and Liddy were regarding this group of clowns….the guy who is in charge of picking the lock to get you inside the DNC forgets to bring his lock picking tools?
And to prove life again is all about timing the NYTimes has it’s book review hitting tomorrow’s Sunday paper. The book’s title is from his writing about Cesar Millan, the noted animal trainer with the hit cable show The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.
Gladwell breaks the book into three parts: Minor Geniuses, Theories – or ways of organizing experience and Predictions we make about people. From these points Gladwell shares those articles that have stuck with him long after the New Yorker articles were published.
During Watergate Nixon’s inner circle kept the President “in the know” but as Vice President Cheney has acted to deliberately keep W. Bush out of the loop for political and potentially legal reasons. Suskind details the odd relationship developed by Bush in order to protect himself.
The 2% rule.
What does a sitting President do with a 2% approval rating with African American voters in a post-Katrina America? With midterm elections on the horizon Bush simply extended (a bit early) the voting rights act. That was the most strategic advice the GOP could offer? Did they want to hit….say 4%? This proves to be an excellent example of the political extremism underway in the Bush White House to show how the story and plans for war would be developed to further a political agenda.
Knifing the baby
Immediately following 9/11 Bush became accustomed to getting his political way with America, the mainstream media and government. History has shown this leads Presidents down dark paths. When British intelligence (MI5 & MI6) notified the US that a plan was underway by Al Qaeda to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic Bush asked British PM Tony Blair to give up the terrorists to American authorities. Blair refused saying British Intelligence had 2,000 operatives working this case for over a year. They were eavesdropping on their ring of terrorists and looked to grab higher players within 30 days. Continue reading “Latest read: The Way of the World”