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My personal essay, “All That Glitters,” relates the story of how Nixon’s cynical political deal to postpone a truce in Vietnam ultimately cost 20,000 Americans lives and perhaps a million more Asians. Now the truth is all out, that covering up Nixon’s deal led to Watergate. An excerpt from Robert Parry’s new article, putting it all together, is below. You can find the full article at www.smirkingchimp.com and search under Robert Parry’s blog. My essay can be found at www.chilit.org, and search under my essay title.

“A favorite saying of Official Washington is that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” But that presupposes you accurately understand what the crime was. And, in the case of the two major U.S. government scandals of the last third of the Twentieth Century – Watergate and Iran-Contra – that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“Indeed, newly disclosed documents have put old evidence into a sharply different light and suggest that history has substantially miswritten the two scandals by failing to understand that they actually were sequels to earlier scandals that were far worse. Watergate and Iran-Contra were, in part at least, extensions of the original crimes, which involved dirty dealings to secure the immense power of the presidency.
“In the case of Watergate – the foiled Republican break-in at the Democratic National Committee in June 1972 and Richard Nixon’s botched cover-up leading to his resignation in August 1974 – the evidence is now clear that Nixon created the Watergate burglars out of his panic that the Democrats might possess a file on his sabotage of Vietnam peace talks in 1968.
“Shortly after Nixon took office in 1969, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover informed him of the existence of the file containing national security wiretaps documenting how Nixon’s emissaries had gone behind President Lyndon Johnson’s back to convince the South Vietnamese government to boycott the Paris Peace Talks, which were close to ending the Vietnam War in fall 1968.
“The disruption of Johnson’s peace talks then enabled Nixon to hang on for a narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey. However, as the new President was taking steps in 1969 to extend the war another four-plus years, he sensed the threat from the wiretap file and ordered two of his top aides, chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, to locate it. But they couldn’t find the file.
We now know that was because President Johnson, who privately had called Nixon’s Vietnam actions “treason,” had ordered the file removed from the White House by his national security aide Walt Rostow.
“Rostow labeled the file “The ‘X’ Envelope” and kept it in his possession, although having left government, he had no legal right to possess the highly classified documents, many of which were stamped “Top Secret.” Johnson had instructed Rostow to retain the papers as long as he, Johnson, was alive and then afterwards to decide what to do with them.
Nixon, however, had no idea that Johnson and Rostow had taken the missing file or, indeed, who might possess it. Normally, national security documents are passed from the outgoing President to the incoming President to maintain continuity in government.
But Haldeman and Kissinger had come up empty in their search. They were only able to recreate the file’s contents, which included incriminating conversations between Nixon’s emissaries and South Vietnamese officials regarding Nixon’s promise to get them a better deal if they helped him torpedo Johnson’s peace talks.
“So, the missing file remained a troubling mystery inside Nixon’s White House, but Nixon still lived up to his pre-election agreement with South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu to extend U.S. military participation in the war with the goal of getting the South Vietnamese a better outcome than they would have received from Johnson in 1968.
Nixon not only continued the Vietnam War, which had already claimed more than 30,000 American lives and an estimated one million Vietnamese, but he expanded it, with intensified bombing campaigns and a U.S. incursion into Cambodia. At home, the war was bitterly dividing the nation with a massive anti-war movement and an angry backlash from war supporters.”

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 Today’s Washington Post contains a reflective article by Woodward and Bernstein on issues around the Watergate breakin. On Meet The Press this morning, discussing that story, the authors commented that President Ford‘s decision to pardon Nixon was made in the best interests of the country, so we could “move on.”
I totally disagree.
I’ve always believed that the country would have been well-served, even if it would have been somewhat disruptive, to prosecute Nixon, like the 40 others were were convicted and served time over Watergate. Why? Because if everyday American‘s views of our Presidency had been further compromised by such a trial, we might have instilled a greater sense of humility in those subsequently elected or appointed to high office, hopefully including Congress. Substituting accountability for a “too big to fail” mentality when it comes to our nation’s political leadership would have provided a good object lesson on the value of honesty and the price of deceit for all those who came after.
President Johnson made a similar error when he failed to expose Nixon and Kissinger’s cynical overtures to the Thieu regime in South Vietnam before the election of ’68. Johnson learned that Nixon’s people had encouraged Thieu to back out of the Paris peace talks, which he did, promising that his government would get a better deal under a Nixon Presidency than a Johnson one. The result was that the war in Vietnam went on for another 5 years, with 22,000 more American fatalities. Johnson’s tapes revealed that he learned of the Nixon moves, but didn’t go public with what he called “traitorous acts” because Johnson was too concerned the revelation of these political machinations would have been disruptive to the American people. It might have been, and we might have saved many of the 22,000 American deaths that occurred because of Nixon’s election maneuverings.
Look at the economic disaster that the perverted governmental  “too big to fail” economic strategies regarding Wall Street have created. I believe that people can stand to benefit from more truth, transparency and accountability in government, and that the sense of humility those attributes would inculcate in our leadership is worth whatever temporary disruptions our society might incur.
It is high time to bring the era of Big Lies to an end.
May 2019
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