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Watergate Becomes Sore Point at Nixon Library

Officials at the National Archives have curated a searing recollection of the Watergate scandal, based on videotaped interviews with 150 associates of Richard M. Nixon, an interactive exhibition that was supposed to have opened on July 1. But the Nixon Foundation — a group of Nixon loyalists who controlled this museum until the National Archives took it over three years ago — described it as unfair and distorted, and requested that the archives not approve the exhibition until its objections are addressed.(emphasis mine)

The foundation went so far as to invoke Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, noting that those presidents surreptitiously taped White House conversations before Nixon stepped on the scene.

Bob Bostock, a former Nixon aide who designed the original Watergate exhibit and has been enlisted by the foundation to challenge the installation, filed a 132-page letter of objection to the archives last week, claiming that the exhibit lacked the context needed to help young visitors learning about Watergate to understand exactly what Nixon did.

Taping and wiretapping go back as far as F.D.R.,” Mr. Bostock said. “It lacks the context it needs: that Nixon was not the first president to do some of these things and that some of these things had been going on with many of his predecessors, in some cases, much more than he did.”

Time for another moment of reflection of the ironies of that anti-American values movement called Conservatism. As we have Paul Ryan (R-WI) launching yet another stealth attack on  Medicare, Social Security and the middle-class. Tea nuts raging on about dismantling government and state secession to form federalists states, we the tax payers via the National Archives are forced to support a wing-nut museum and it’s promulgation of Con revisionist history, because it could not support itself as a private enterprise.

“I worked for Mr. Nixon during the last five years of his life,” Mr. Bostock said. “Definitely the president did things that were wrong. He said so himself. The real question always comes to, Did the actions that he took that were wrong, did they merit impeachment and removal from my office? My view is that they did not reach the level of offenses for which he could be impeached and convicted.” (emphasis mine)

This good blogger is a little upset that Adam Nagourney let the Watergate was all about wiretapping meme go unchallenged,

The president’s men, sometimes at Nixon’s instructions, sometimes with his knowledge, and sometimes perhaps without his direct instructions or knowledge but always in keeping with his general orders to his stop staff, also planted spies in the camp of Democratic campaigns; broke into Democratic headquarters, photographed documents, and planted bugs; broke into the the office of a Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in order to learn things that could be used to destroy his image in the press; attempted to plant left-wing materials in the home of the guy who shot George Wallace; planned to (and perhaps did) selectively leak classified materials about foreign policy in order to hurt the Democrats; forged materials about foreign policy (the death of South Vietnam’s President Diem) in order to plant false stories in the press that would hurt the Democrats; wiretapped government officials; paid a private investigator to tail Ted Kennedy; performed other dirty tricks such as forged letters intended to manipulate the Democratic presidential nomination process (efforts that may indeed have been successful); and other illegal, abuse and unethical actions — this is not a comprehensive list.

Those were the original crimes.  What followed was obstruction of justice as the White House, with the active leadership of the president, lied to FBI investigators and grand juries, destroyed evidence, suborned perjury by prearranging false testimony; suborned perjury by paying off witnesses and either promising or at least hinting at the promise of presidential pardons in exchange for false testimony, and using the authority of the presidency to derail and undermine FBI investigators and prosecutors.  Again, the president was personally actively involved in all of those things.

As A plain blog about politics notes Nixon’s impeachment was a done deal. The House Judiciary Committee had voted in favor of impeachment. The articles of impeachment are on-line. Just a snip,

On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.

The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan included one or more of the following:

1. making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

2. withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

3. approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;

4. interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees;

5. approving, condoning, and acquiescing in, the surreptitious payment of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities;

6. endeavouring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States;

7. disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States, for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability;

8. making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct: or

9. endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Bostocks’ idolatry of a criminal is not an uncommon conservative trait . After reading all three articles of impeachment the only argument that could be presented in Nixon’s defense is that is was a conservative president and when a Republican presidents breaks the law its legal. An argument Nixon himself made. Watergate was not just about wiretaps or the break-in at the hotel for which the scandal is named. Watergate is an umbrella term for a vast assortment of blatantly criminal activity and various attempts at covering up those crimes. Nixon even manged to drag the CIA into it all, CIA Releases Files On Past Misdeeds – Assassination Plots, Domestic Spying Cited

Prompted by the then-unraveling Watergate affair, and by fears that CIA involvement in that scandal would be exposed along with other illegal operations, the agency combed its files for what it called “delicate” information with “flap potential.” The result was a collection of documents the CIA called the “family jewels.”

While anyone concerned about the constant attempts at revisionism of the Bush 43 years should continue to keep the record straight, his supporters attempts to polish up the Bush legacy for history are doomed. In another 25 years we’ll  – if all goes as it should –  have another document dump of the “family jewels”. Bush and the neocons will look just as bad as they do now only with more damning evidence.

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