The recent retraversal by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of their Watergate reportage is a welcome, albeit flawed, corrective to the decades of efforts by Nixon and his cheerleaders to rewrite history.
I say “flawed” because it is not entirely correct. For example, there is this passage:
On June 17, 1971 — exactly one year before the Watergate break-in — Nixon met in the Oval Office with his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, and national security adviser Henry Kissinger. At issue was a file about former president Lyndon Johnson’s handling of the 1968 bombing halt in Vietnam.
“You can blackmail Johnson on this stuff, and it might be worth doing,” Haldeman said, according to the tape of the meeting.
“Yeah,” Kissinger said, “but Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together for three years.” They wanted the complete story of Johnson’s actions.
“Huston swears to God there’s a file on it at Brookings,” Haldeman said.
“Bob,” Nixon said, “now you remember Huston’s plan? Implement it. . . . I mean, I want it implemented on a thievery basis. God damn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.”
For reasons that have never been made clear, the break-in apparently was not carried out.
Now, Nixon did order — repeatedly — that the safe at the Brookings Institute be blown and the file stolen. The file, however, a) wasn’t there anymore, and b) didn’t just contain what Woodward and Bernstein says it did, but something much more dangerous as far as Nixon was concerned. As Robert Parry reports:
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