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In tapes, LBJ accuses Nixon of treason


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In tapes, LBJ accuses Nixon of treason

Johnson thought meddling derailed planned Vietnam peace talks on eve of 1968 election, according to final recordings made public.

By Mark Lisheron

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Friday, December 05, 2008

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news...05lbjtapes.html

Just days before the pivotal 1968 presidential election featuring Vice President Hubert Humphrey's bid to succeed him, President Lyndon Baines Johnson suspected Humphrey's Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, of political sabotage that he called treason, according to the final recordings of Johnson's presidency to be publicly released.

As Johnson tried to arrange peace talks between North and South Vietnam on the eve of the election, he and his closest advisers received information indicating that Nixon allies had asked that South Vietnam avoid peace talks until after the election, the tapes show.

Johnson and his advisers, Humphrey included, kept their concerns secret at the time. But given that Nixon defeated Humphrey by just 500,000 votes out of 73 million cast and that Nixon's suspected perfidy involved the unpopular war in Vietnam, there is ample cause to wonder how history might have been changed had the concerns Johnson voiced 40 years ago been made public.

The LBJ Library made those conversations public Thursday with the release of 42 hours of recordings made from May 1968 until the Johnson family left the White House in January 1969. Johnson's daughters, Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb , were on hand to listen to and comment on the tapes and their father.

Harry Middleton, the first director of the LBJ Library and the original overseer of the LBJ tape project, said Thursday that he was satisfied that the body of material complied with Johnson's wish that the American people be given the opportunity to see the 36th president of the United States "with the bark off."

Betty Sue Flowers, the current director, praised Middleton's decision 15 years ago to countermand the wishes of his old boss that the tapes be kept private for 50 years after his death. Johnson died in 1973.

"He had the foresight to say no to President Johnson," Flowers said at a news conference Thursday.

"It was easier to do when he was dead," Johnson Robb shot back from her seat in the small audience.

The final recordings take their place alongside more than 600 hours that have been released as they were processed and archived by the library over the past decade. The conversations span the breadth of Johnson's ascendancy after the assassination of President John Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 , until January 1969.

In these last months of 1968 alone, Johnson is heard offering to Sen. Edward Kennedy and his family condolences after the assassination of his brother, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert Kennedy; discussing his reasoning for the continued bombing of North Vietnam; and reacting to the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia.

With an election hanging in the balance, however, there is added drama in the flurry of calls in late October and early November concerning Johnson's attempt to bring the North and South Vietnamese governments together for the first time to discuss peace.

On March 31, under heavy pressure from the anti-war wing of his Democratic Party, Johnson shocked the American people by saying he would not run for re-election or accept his party's nomination. Instead, Johnson endorsed Humphrey, who inherited the warmonger label critics had hung on Johnson.

Luci Baines Johnson recalled the agony of her father, who she said sincerely wanted a just end to the war. She said she and her sister were stung by the protesters who picketed outside the White House.

"The last thing you would hear before you went to bed at night were protesters chanting, 'Hey, hey LBJ, how many boys did you kill today?' " Johnson said as her sister dabbed at tears.

To test the good faith of the North Vietnamese, Johnson ordered that all bombing in the north cease on Oct. 31 , six days before voters were to go the polls. The cease-fire gave the Humphrey campaign an immediate jolt — polls showed Nixon's 8-percentage-point lead had shrunk to 2 points.

The precise nature of any communication between Nixon's allies and the South Vietnamese government isn't revealed in the tapes — nor is the way Johnson and his advisers learned of them.

In the tapes, Johnson tells Secretary of State Dean Rusk: "It's pretty obvious to me it's had its effect."

In a segment aired at the news conference, Johnson tells Sen. Everett Dirksen , the Republican minority leader, that it will be Nixon's responsibility if the South Vietnamese don't participate in the peace talks.

"This is treason," LBJ says to Dirksen.

"I know," Dirksen replies, very softly.

Confronting Nixon by telephone on Nov. 3, Johnson outlines what had been alleged and how important it was to the conduct of the war for Nixon's people not to meddle.

"My God," Nixon says to Johnson, "I would never do anything to encourage the South Vietnamese not to come to that conference table." Instead, Nixon pledged to help in any way Johnson or Rusk suggested, "To hell with the political credit, believe me."

For Johnson and his top advisers, it wasn't a matter of whether Nixon was telling the truth but whether accusing Nixon of meddling would give the appearance that Johnson — rather than Nixon — was using the war to influence the election.

In the end, the South Vietnamese stayed away from the proposed peace talks. And Johnson listened to his advisers and suggested to Humphrey that he not use what he had learned.

"For God's sake, you want everybody to know you don't play politics with human lives, that we did what's right," Johnson tells Rusk on one of the recordings.

In several of the recordings, Johnson wonders what will become of a Democratic Party so riven by the war that it would not unite behind Humphrey.

"I'm sorry I let you down a little," Humphrey tells Johnson.

"No, you didn't; no you didn't," Johnson replies. "A lot of other folks (did), not you. You fought well and hard."

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In tapes, LBJ accuses Nixon of treason

Johnson thought meddling derailed planned Vietnam peace talks on eve of 1968 election, according to final recordings made public.

By Mark Lisheron

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Friday, December 05, 2008

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news...05lbjtapes.html

Just days before the pivotal 1968 presidential election featuring Vice President Hubert Humphrey's bid to succeed him, President Lyndon Baines Johnson suspected Humphrey's Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, of political sabotage that he called treason, according to the final recordings of Johnson's presidency to be publicly released.

As Johnson tried to arrange peace talks between North and South Vietnam on the eve of the election, he and his closest advisers received information indicating that Nixon allies had asked that South Vietnam avoid peace talks until after the election, the tapes show.

Johnson and his advisers, Humphrey included, kept their concerns secret at the time. But given that Nixon defeated Humphrey by just 500,000 votes out of 73 million cast and that Nixon's suspected perfidy involved the unpopular war in Vietnam, there is ample cause to wonder how history might have been changed had the concerns Johnson voiced 40 years ago been made public.

The LBJ Library made those conversations public Thursday with the release of 42 hours of recordings made from May 1968 until the Johnson family left the White House in January 1969. Johnson's daughters, Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb , were on hand to listen to and comment on the tapes and their father.

Harry Middleton, the first director of the LBJ Library and the original overseer of the LBJ tape project, said Thursday that he was satisfied that the body of material complied with Johnson's wish that the American people be given the opportunity to see the 36th president of the United States "with the bark off."

Betty Sue Flowers, the current director, praised Middleton's decision 15 years ago to countermand the wishes of his old boss that the tapes be kept private for 50 years after his death. Johnson died in 1973.

"He had the foresight to say no to President Johnson," Flowers said at a news conference Thursday.

"It was easier to do when he was dead," Johnson Robb shot back from her seat in the small audience.

The final recordings take their place alongside more than 600 hours that have been released as they were processed and archived by the library over the past decade. The conversations span the breadth of Johnson's ascendancy after the assassination of President John Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 , until January 1969.

In these last months of 1968 alone, Johnson is heard offering to Sen. Edward Kennedy and his family condolences after the assassination of his brother, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert Kennedy; discussing his reasoning for the continued bombing of North Vietnam; and reacting to the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia.

With an election hanging in the balance, however, there is added drama in the flurry of calls in late October and early November concerning Johnson's attempt to bring the North and South Vietnamese governments together for the first time to discuss peace.

On March 31, under heavy pressure from the anti-war wing of his Democratic Party, Johnson shocked the American people by saying he would not run for re-election or accept his party's nomination. Instead, Johnson endorsed Humphrey, who inherited the warmonger label critics had hung on Johnson.

Luci Baines Johnson recalled the agony of her father, who she said sincerely wanted a just end to the war. She said she and her sister were stung by the protesters who picketed outside the White House.

"The last thing you would hear before you went to bed at night were protesters chanting, 'Hey, hey LBJ, how many boys did you kill today?' " Johnson said as her sister dabbed at tears.

To test the good faith of the North Vietnamese, Johnson ordered that all bombing in the north cease on Oct. 31 , six days before voters were to go the polls. The cease-fire gave the Humphrey campaign an immediate jolt — polls showed Nixon's 8-percentage-point lead had shrunk to 2 points.

The precise nature of any communication between Nixon's allies and the South Vietnamese government isn't revealed in the tapes — nor is the way Johnson and his advisers learned of them.

In the tapes, Johnson tells Secretary of State Dean Rusk: "It's pretty obvious to me it's had its effect."

In a segment aired at the news conference, Johnson tells Sen. Everett Dirksen , the Republican minority leader, that it will be Nixon's responsibility if the South Vietnamese don't participate in the peace talks.

"This is treason," LBJ says to Dirksen.

"I know," Dirksen replies, very softly.

Confronting Nixon by telephone on Nov. 3, Johnson outlines what had been alleged and how important it was to the conduct of the war for Nixon's people not to meddle.

"My God," Nixon says to Johnson, "I would never do anything to encourage the South Vietnamese not to come to that conference table." Instead, Nixon pledged to help in any way Johnson or Rusk suggested, "To hell with the political credit, believe me."

For Johnson and his top advisers, it wasn't a matter of whether Nixon was telling the truth but whether accusing Nixon of meddling would give the appearance that Johnson — rather than Nixon — was using the war to influence the election.

In the end, the South Vietnamese stayed away from the proposed peace talks. And Johnson listened to his advisers and suggested to Humphrey that he not use what he had learned.

"For God's sake, you want everybody to know you don't play politics with human lives, that we did what's right," Johnson tells Rusk on one of the recordings.

In several of the recordings, Johnson wonders what will become of a Democratic Party so riven by the war that it would not unite behind Humphrey.

"I'm sorry I let you down a little," Humphrey tells Johnson.

"No, you didn't; no you didn't," Johnson replies. "A lot of other folks (did), not you. You fought well and hard."

While the tapes are new, the story isn't. Both Johnson and his Secretary of Defense, Clark Clifford, discuss Nixon's meddling in their memoirs. Anthony Summers later contacted Mme. Chennault, the alleged go-between between Nixon and Vietnamese President Thieu, and she admitted her role in the plot. The evidence on this point is so strong, in fact, that mainstream historian Robert Dallek treats it as an established fact in his recent book Kissinger and Nixon.

Thus, history shows that Nixon 1) interfered with the peace process in 68, while telling the American public he had a secret plan for peace, and 2) dragged the war out for 4 more years while hoping to win "peace with honor" and assure his own re-election. History also shows that his dragging the war out, and bombing Cambodia, helped de-stabilize that country, and led to the deaths of millions at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Thus, Nixon's lies and deceptions led to the deaths of millions, and he is one of history's greatest thugs. Ironic considering he wanted people to view him as a "peacemaker".

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  • 4 weeks later...

Compare now of today to Nixon on the issue of war...

Today Obama (whom I think the world of, so far) promised to be done the war in just months, as time went by that increased in time to six months now it is much longer but he will bring the troops home.

What is it that they feel it is easy to bring a war to a close when Military wants it to go on?

The same holds true for Nixon. So does history repeat itself.

Books later on show Nixon at a much more broader look than in his earlier years.

As a young school kids said to Nixon YOU cannot STOP THE BEAST, CAN YOU? Not even a Pres. can do that? They can start a war easier as Bush did even when the cards were stacked up against it to be of logic? Even Obama said that. Biden as well, WHY?

Seems we as American Citizens do not know the full stack of deck as they say they try to put it out, is what I see?

I do think Well of Nixon knowing more facts than I did at the time of the 70's.

I do hope I will continue to care a great deal for Obama as time goes by... Maybe he will not have as much as a hard time as Nixon once had.

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  • 1 month later...
[...]

Thus, history shows that Nixon 1) interfered with the peace process in 68, while telling the American public he had a secret plan for peace, and 2) dragged the war out for 4 more years while hoping to win "peace with honor" and assure his own re-election. History also shows that his dragging the war out, and bombing Cambodia, helped de-stabilize that country, and led to the deaths of millions at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Thus, Nixon's lies and deceptions led to the deaths of millions, and he is one of history's greatest thugs. Ironic considering he wanted people to view him as a "peacemaker".

__________________________________________________________

Johnson says that he would never consider trading on human lives for political advantage (LOL), and Nixon does exactly that, big time. Johnson privately tries to assume the moral high ground vis-a-vis Tricky Dickie. Must have had a good ol' west Texas hardscrabble hill country epiphany. Gol durn.

Regarding Nixon, this probably explains how and why I saw Nixon actually bow his head (what a surprise) when the prayer was given the one and only Sunday morning that I got all dressed up in my "church clothes" and attended the late morning service at the La Jolla Presbyterian Church in the summer of '68, even though I had no Idea that Nixon would be there, or was even in town for that matter. Luck of the Irish, Tommy O'Mochain. (For not bowing my own head I have ever since been begging for God's forgivness .) It was obvious to all that the reason he was in in church was simply to atone for his evil deeds! It was so obvious! (Naw... He was just in La Jolla to confer with Hoover and Murchison at the Del Charro. It was during the Del Mar racing season, after all.) LOL

--Thomas AKA The Secret Sharer (apologies to Joseph Conrad) B)

Edited by Thomas Graves
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