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.