The Nixon Papers: The Latest Ugly Turn in an Old Story





Mr. Kutler is the author of The Wars of Watergate.

Reports circulated recently that Congress is considering a proposal to give former President Richard M. Nixon's Yorba Linda museum possession of his presidential materials, including some 46 million pages, hundreds of video tapes, and the unique cache of 4000 hours of taped conversations. Such legislation could close off public access, and allow for the destruction of millions of valuable, still-unprocessed, primary sources.

After Nixon resigned in August 1974, the Ford Administration acknowledged his ownership of the materials -- including the right to destroy them. Congress objected, however, and passed the Presidential Recordings and Materials Act in 1974, taking control of the materials, insuring their deposit in the Washington area, and providing that the records be opened and made available to the public.

During his lifetime, Nixon successfully resisted various efforts to implement the law. He devised a maze of delaying tactics, and even secured the cooperation of the National Archives to keep the tapes sealed. When the Archives was sued to force compliance with the law, Nixon intervened. His death in 1994 seemingly ended the matter, as his family and estate no longer could afford the expense of further challenges. The lawsuit was settled, with the tapes opened, access secured, and matters of ownership, possession, and control finally resolved. Or so we thought.

Now, Nixon's heirs and designees have resorted to stealth tactics to reverse settled laws and practices of thirty years and have his papers and tapes shipped to California. The proposed legislation has been promoted by a "bi-partisan," well-connected, firm of lobbyists, which contends that "it's in everyone's interest to get all the records in one place, and in the hands of the archivist." They are in one place, in "his hands," in College Park, Maryland. If the Nixon people want the material in Yorba Linda, they can copy it, and do what they want with it, including maintaining their own peculiar vision of the Nixon presidency. That undoubtedly would be a lot cheaper than sending everything to California.

Richard Nixon's heirs and friends continue to battle for control of his presidential records, just as vigorously as he did. The victory they seek would enable them to determine what may or may not be seen by historians and the public. And not incidentally, they would gain the considerable advantage of having the government provide housing for the material and maintaining their museum.

The Nixon Museum has not proven worthy of our trust. Listen to the so-called "smoking gun" tape on display at Yorba Linda. As played there, it is virtually impossible to understand the subject of discussion, and the extent of Nixon's criminal actions. Will the curators play any new tapes, ones in which Nixon bluntly and openly speaks of his hush money payments to the burglars? Not likely. At Yorba Linda materials are used to resurrect Nixon's familiar ploy of re-writing his own history, as he wished it to be. Only open, unbiased access to documents will get us closer to historical truth.

Why is this being done so secretly and swiftly? Where is the input by other interested parties, particularly archivists and historians? Important public policy decisions should be made with public scrutiny and participation. History is too important to be left to the Nixon Foundation, their lobbyists, and friends.

This issue should not be settled behind closed doors by lobbyists and fixers. The public is entitled to open hearings, hearings that will consider the financial costs and the sanctity of historical records for the proposed move.

Let the National Archives complete the processing of the President's papers and tapes. The Archives is our national repository for national records, records that speak for themselves to our history and our understanding of the past. We need no political intervention to determine such matters.

Several years ago, the Nixon Foundation received $18 million as a payment for the government's alleged "taking" of the Nixon Papers. That was a questionable concession -- one largely arranged in a manner similar to the present undertaking. But all agree that the $18 million was a form of compensation for the papers. Now, the Nixon people want control of the papers. Can we at least have the $18 million paid back to the government?

A quarter century ago, during one of President Nixon's periodic battles to gain control of his presidential papers and tapes, the Supreme Court rejected his claim. Justice John Paul Stevens noted that after three years it already was clear that the President had proven to be an "unreliable custodian" of his papers. Nothing has changed.


This article first appeared in the Boston Globe and is reprinted with permission of the author.


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More Comments:


Maarja - 1/23/2004

If anyone is interested in reading articles in the public record on these issues, see:

(1) For John Taylor's comments about federal archivists as "Hardy Boys," his criticism of Stanley Kutler and Dan Rather, etc. see John Taylor, “Cutting the Nixon Tapes,” The American Spectator, March 1998, available on December 10, 2003 on the website of the Nixon Library and Birthplace at http://www.nixonlibrary.org/newsContent.cfm?doc=TheNixons/archive/AmSpect.html

(2) For John Taylor's implication that I am a liberal, see how he contrasts me with "Nixon Republicans" in his letter published in the June 21, 1996 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. (I actually am a Nixon Republican, having worked on Nixon's 1968 campaign and having voted for him in 1972. I am pictured in The Inaugural Story, 1969.) See also Taylor's letter to the editor of the Chronicle, March 8, 1996.

(3) For accounts of Dr. Kutler's litigation over public access to the Nixon tapes, see Seymour Hersh, "Nixon's Last Coverup," The New Yorker, December 14, 1992; Jack Hitt, “Nixon’s Last Trump,” Harper’s, August 1994.

(4) For historian Joan Hoff's article reflecting an historical researcher's perspective on the Nixon records, see Presidential Studies Quarterly, Winter 1996.

(5) For my article on the Nixon historical materials and Presidential records in general, see "Watergate's Last Victim," Presidential Studies Quarterly, Winter 1996.


MT - 1/2/2004

Can there be any possibility that the Bush name was not mentioned in Nixon's records?


Maarja - 11/20/2003

COPIED FROM
http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-Diplo&month=0311&week=c&msg=t9jtJj0Xuv0257rs2vGYEw&user=&pw=
Sorry, there was a garbled passage in my earlier cut and paste from the H-diplo post. Here is the actual posting.
From: Maarja@aol.com
List Editor: "H-DIPLO [Fujii]"
Editor's Subject: Nixon, Vietnam, attempts to block disclosures [Krusten]
Author's Subject: Nixon, Vietnam, attempts to block disclosures [Krusten]
Date Written: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 07:17:50 EST
Date Posted: Wed, 19 Nov 2003 15:22:56 -0800
In a post to H-Diplo on 10/20/03, Eric Bergerud wrote: "It was no secret that many 'Henry watchers' inside and outside the administration thought that Kissinger considered Thieu expendable. (Thieu thought this.) He did not desire the fall of SVN, but believed that LBJ and others had grossly overestimated the harm that a Hanoi victory would have on America's position."

Most List readers are familiar with the wealth of White House records on the Nixon administration held at the National Archives' Nixon Project in College Park, MD. Less familiar is the story of the Archives struggle to open tapes and documents for public research. For example, in 1987, Nixon's lawyers sought to have removed from the Archives and returned to the former President as "personal" a passage in H. R. Haldeman's notes for November 18, 1972 that read: "K having probs. w/ Thieu - P. told him to go ahead - get best deal let Thieu paddle his own canoe." The notes, jotted down by chief of staff Haldeman as he met with President Nixon, refer to the President's discussion with Kissinger of efforts to end the Vietnam War, K standing for Kissinger, of course, and P for President.

Historians would now be lacking access to such information if the standards used by Nixon's lawyers had prevailed. The National Archives' archivists had okayed the 11/18/72 notes, and many other Nixon documents, for public disclosure in 1987. Nixon's attempt to have the notes declared personal and returnable to him stopped their public release. Only after Nixon died in 1994 did the National Archives release most, but not all, of the thousands of so-called "contested items" from Haldeman's meeting notes and other files. For a number of reasons, Archives' officials appear not to have felt able to release the notes their staff had okayed for disclosure while Nixon still was alive.

Consider how widely the standards formulated with the assistance of government lawyers and applied by federal archivists differed from those of Nixon's representatives. Other Haldeman notes okayed for opening by archivists but blocked from disclosure in 1987 and held until after Nixon's death, include the following: "Everyone in BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] is Jewish. Look at all sensitive areas. Ck. Jewish involvement. Esp. uncover Jewish cells & put in non-Jew in chg of each."

Even notes related to Watergate did not escape Nixon agents' attempts to have them withdrawn from government custody and returned to Nixon. Had Nixon, rather than the Archives, prevailed, historians would now lack access to a note from 11/30/72 note that read,"I have a good talk w/ Rose re Watergate & Segretti so she know the facts - put in on Mitchell - we're protecting him adds up P is protecting John Mitchell."

[These] access battles may not be just something that happened in the past. Physical custody of the Nixon records may change in the near future. Recent Congressional action appears to open the door to negotiations with the privately run Nixon Foundation to transfer Nixon's tapes and documents from the National Archives at College Park to a Nixon Library in California. Stanley Kutler, an occasional poster to this List, noted in an op ed in the Boston Globe on 11/8/03, "Nixon's heirs and friends continue to battle for control of his presidential records, just as
vigorously as he did. The victory they seek would enable them to determine what may or may not be seen by historians and the public."

To read Dr. Kutler's op ed, go to http://hnn.us/articles/1788.html">http://hnn.us/articles/1788.html on the History News Network. To read my comments on the tactics used by Nixon's representatives to pressure the National Archives and its staff, read the related thread at HREF="http://hnn.us/comments/23582.html">http://hnn.us/comments/23582.html . My comments describe how Nixon's agents attacked the Archives' professional staff, rather than merely debating how public access standards should be applied. If acting in conformance with law and with the Archives' core values provided us government employees little or no protection during the 1980s and 1990s, what will protect our successors,
and the Nixon records, now that a deal may be struck to allow the tapes and documents to be transferred to California?

Maarja Krusten
Historian and former National Archives Nixon tapes archivist (1976-1990)
Maarja@aol.com


maarja - 11/20/2003

I addressed some of the Nixon public access battles in a recent post to H-net's H-diplo discussion log. The bloodiness of the battles while the Nixon records still were under the control of the National Archives in the Washington, DC area does not bode well for access battles in a Nixon Library in California. Although that post is available at
http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-Diplo&month=0311&week=c&msg=t9jtJj0Xuv0257rs2vGYEw&user=&pw=
I also have copied the text below!
From: Maarja@aol.com
List Editor: "H-DIPLO [Fujii]"
Editor's Subject: Nixon, Vietnam, attempts to block disclosures [Krusten]
Author's Subject: Nixon, Vietnam, attempts to block disclosures [Krusten]
Date Written: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 07:17:50 EST
Date Posted: Wed, 19 Nov 2003 15:22:56 -0800
In a post to H-Diplo on 10/20/03, Eric Bergerud wrote: "It was no secret that many 'Henry watchers' inside and outside the administration thought that Kissinger considered Thieu expendable. (Thieu thought this.) He did not desire the fall of SVN, but believed that LBJ and others had grossly overestimated the harm that a Hanoi victory would have on America's position."

Most List readers are familiar with the wealth of White House records on the Nixon administration held at the National Archives' Nixon Project in College Park, MD. Less familiar is the story of the Archives struggle to open tapes and documents for public research. For example, in 1987, Nixon's lawyers sought to have removed from the Archives and returned to the former President as "personal" a passage in H. R. Haldeman's notes for November 18, 1972 that read: "K having probs. w/ Thieu - P. told him to go ahead - get best deal let Thieu paddle his own canoe." The notes, jotted down by chief of staff Haldeman as he met with President Nixon, refer to the President's discussion with Kissinger of efforts to end the Vietnam War, K standing for Kissinger, of course, and P for President.

Historians would now be lacking access to such information if the standards used by Nixon's lawyers had prevailed. The National Archives' archivists had okayed the 11/18/72 notes, and many other Nixon documents, for public disclosure in 1987. Nixon's attempt to have the notes declared personal and returnable to him stopped their public release. Only after Nixon died in 1994 did the National Archives release most, but not all, of the thousands of so-called "contested items" from Haldeman's meeting notes and other files. For a number of reasons, Archives' officials appear not to have felt able to release the notes their staff had okayed for disclosure while Nixon still was alive.

Consider how widely the standards formulated with the assistance of government lawyers and applied by federal archivists' differed from those opening by archivists but blocked from disclosure in 1987 and held until after Nixon's death, include the following: "Everyone in BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] is Jewish. Look at all sensitive areas. Ck. Jewish involvement. Esp. uncover Jewish cells & put in non-Jew in chg of each."

Even notes related to Watergate did not escape Nixon agents' attempts to have them withdrawn from government custody and returned to Nixon. Had Nixon, rather than the Archives, prevailed, historians would now lack access to a note from 11/30/72 note that read,"I have a good talk w/ Rose re Watergate & Segretti so she know the facts - put in on Mitchell - we're protecting him adds up P is protecting John Mitchell."

This access battles may not be just something that happened in the past. Physical custody of the Nixon records may change in the near future. Recent Congressional action appears to open the door to negotiations with the privately run Nixon Foundation to transfer Nixon's tapes and documents from the National Archives at College Park to a Nixon Library in California. Stanley Kutler, an occasional poster to this List, noted in an op ed in the Boston Globe on 11/8/03, "Nixon's heirs and friends continue to battle for control of his presidential records, just as vigorously as he did. The victory they seek would enable them to determine what may or may not be seen by historians and the public."


To read Dr. Kutler's op ed, go to http://hnn.us/articles/1788.html">http://hnn.us/articles/1788.html on the History News Network. To read my comments on the tactics used by Nixon's representatives to pressure the National Archives and its staff, read the related thread at HREF="http://hnn.us/comments/23582.html">http://hnn.us/comments/23582.html . My comments describe how Nixon's agents attacked the Archives' professional staff, rather than merely debating how public access standards should be applied. If acting in conformance with law and with the Archives' core values provided us government employees little or no protection during the 1980s and 1990s, what will protect our successors,
and the Nixon records, now that a deal may be struck to allow the tapes and documents to be transferred to California?

Maarja Krusten
Historian and former National Archives Nixon tapes archivist (1976-1990)
Maarja@aol.com



Maarja - 11/18/2003

Apologies for the typos in my post above. Most notably, there should be a period between Archives and Hugh Hewitt in the section quoting the former director of the Nixon Foundation's Nixon Library. The section should read:

"More than any other Presidential foundation, the California-based Nixon Foundation has reflected an aggressive sense of advocacy which is at odds with the professionalism and objectivity of the employees of the National Archives. Hugh Hewitt, director of the private Nixon Library [in California], said in July 1990 that if he had his way, researchers "seen as anti-Nixon would be denied access." He singled out Bob Woodward as a researcher who would be denied access."


Maarja, former Nixon archivist - 11/18/2003

Modern Presidential records are administered under three different controls. (1) Before Watergate, Presidents donated their papers as personal property, imposing access restrictions on them through transfer deeds of gift. (2) Nixon's tapes and files were placed in Government custody by a 1974 law requiring release of the "full truth" about Watergate, as well as material of “general historical significance.” (3) Starting with those of Ronald Reagan, Presidential records are considered Government property, to be administered under objective standards for release.

The National Archives, which houses Nixon's records, preserves the "essential evidence of governmental action." Its nonpartisan, objective archivists apply laws to screen historical information for public release. I once was one of them. (I left the Archives in 1990 to take a job as a government historian at another federal agency, where I am still employed.) The nonpartisan, professional standards of archivists do not always mesh with the political and emotional objectives of Presidential families and Foundations. Here’s why that culture clash now looms over the government archivists working with the Nixon tapes and records.

In 2002, the Washington Post's Paula Span asked who really runs Presidential Libraries: "The archivist of the United States appoints each library's director after "consultation" with the ex-president, but that's a euphemism. . . .foundations don't dematerialize after the libraries get turned over to the National Archives; they still wield purse-string power, funding exhibits and setting priorities, sometimes in ways the professional staff appreciates, sometimes not."

More than any other Presidential foundation, the California-based Nixon Foundation has reflected an aggressive sense of advocacy which is at odds with the professionalism and objectivity of the employees of the National ArchivesHugh Hewitt, director of the private Nixon Library, said in July 1990 that if he had his way, researchers "seen as anti-Nixon would be denied access." He singled out Bob Woodward as a researcher who would be denied access. In September 1990, John Taylor took over as director of the Nixon Library. He described an epiphany about Nixon, saying, "I would find it personally distressing to recall that I had not been loyal to him before, because my feelings run so deep." A California politician agreed: "John is a gut-level and fiercely devoted Nixonite. . . someone who recognizes the enormity of the contribution . . . not distorted by the vicious liberal media that harangued [Nixon] so many years."

It is too late to debate the fairness of the Nixon records statute, which called for disclosure during a President's lifetime of "abuse of power" information, before release of other historical information about his Presidency. Nixon resented that during his lifetime -- it must have grated on him that most Presidential Libraries first released the most innocuous files about former Presidents, while the law called on the Archives to concentrate first on screening information about Watergate and other abuses of power.

As a former government archivist with the Archives’ Nixon Project, I personally would like to have seen the “abuse of power” material opened along with other historical information, in order to provide a broad picture of what was happening during his Presidency. Be that as it may, the courts decided those issues long ago. And by now the Archives has been able to open enough general historical information about Nixon that a fuller picture of his Presidency is beginning to emerge. But Dr. Kutler's alarm is justified.

The biggest problem for overnment archivists, past, present and future, lies in the tactics used by Nixon’s advocates to pressure the National Archives. Instead of focusing on public access standards in fencing with the government, the Nixon lawyers and spokesmen repeatedly have attacked the professional staff of the National Archives. They have referred to archivists as "junior prosecutors" The former President's lawyers unfairly charged my former boss at the Archives, a highly regarded Vietnam veteran who had voted for Nixon, with anti-Nixon bias. I, too, did my job so dispassionately when I worked for the Archives with the Nixon tapes, John Taylor slapped me with the "liberal" label. He couldn't tell from my work that I had voted for Nixon and Reagan—and that is how it should be — archivists are supposed to be neutral and objective. Only after Nixon died was the Archives able to release the Watergate tapes. Even then, John Taylor sneered after release of Watergate tapes that "the archivists have done their worst."

If acting in conformance with law and with the Archives' core values provided us government employees no protection during the 1980s and 1990s, what will protect our successors now that a deal may be struck to allow the tapes and documents to be transferred to California? The Archives' silence through the years in the face of attacks on its staff by Nixon spokesmen only shows the enormous power of Presidential foundations. That doesn’t bode well for my former colleagues at the Archives’ Nixon Project.

Unfortunately, the historical community mostly has been silent on these important but complex issues, except for Dr. Kutler and a few others. (Just look at the H-net discussion logs, almost no mention of the Nixon records issue in recent times.) Although it takes time to unravel the complexities, the Nixon records issues merit a hard and close look.





Jonathan Dresner - 11/15/2003

Well, the bill itself sounds OK, but it's still very much dependent on the good sense (and scholarly independence) of people like the US Archivist and institutions like NARA. The politicization of history through access restriction is still entirely possible, but perhaps less likely than it originally sounded.


editor - 11/15/2003

FROM BRUCE CRAIG: COALITION FOR HISTORY 11-14-03

NIXON RECORDS REVISITED
For over 20 years following President Richard Nixon's resignation, a host of legal battles focused on resolving controversial issues pertaining to the ownership and possession Nixon's presidential records. With Nixon's death in 1994, the government's purchase of the Nixon collection for $18 million, and the enactment of the Presidential Records Act in 1974, the former president's and the government's right to possession of these collections was deemed settled. Once again though the ultimate disposition of the government records emerged this last week as an issue of concern to historians, archivists, and presidential scholars.

Tucked away in the conference version of the Transportation/Treasury appropriations bill that funds the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is a provision focusing on the Nixon presidential records. The language was added to the bill with the mutual consent of Republican and Democratic Congressional negotiators.

Negotiators agreed to amend a part of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-526) that prevents the government owned Nixon tapes and papers from leaving Washington D.C. The language advances the ultimate goal of consolidating all of Nixon's personal and presidential papers and related materials at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California. The bill was sponsored by Rep.
Thomas M. Davis (R-VA) and advanced on behalf of the Nixon library with lobbying assistance provided by the firm Cassidy & Associates, Nixon daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower, and former President Gerald Ford. .

The inclusion of the language in the conference version of the Transportation, Treasury, and General Government appropriations bill is procedurally unusual, though not unprecedented. Legislative rules and procedures provide that, ordinarily, only those items raised in the House or Senate bill that remain unresolved may be addressed in conference -- the Nixon provision broke that rule as it was a "new" item for discussion. It was not mentioned in either the House or Senate passed versions of the appropriations bill. Incorporation of the language in the conferenced appropriations bill means that it will become law without opportunity for public hearing or a full airing of related issues, several of which remain unaddressed or unresolved.

As previously reported ("Private Nixon Library Exploring NARA Affiliation Options" see NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE; Vol. 9, #41; 24 October 2003) the Nixon Library Foundation -- the private organization that currently owns and operates the library and birthplace -- considers enactment of this measure an important first step in long-term initiative to eventually have the library/birthplace become a full-fledged NARA facility. Should this occur, the anomaly of President Nixon being the only president between Herbert Hoover and Bill Clinton to not have a government-operated presidential library would be abolished.

NARA and Nixon library officials claim that the change in the law was necessary to clear the way for the Nixon Foundation and NARA officials to begin formal negotiations that ultimately may lead to the establishment of a new NARA-operated presidential library. Nixon library and birthplace director John Taylor has indicated to the National Coalition for History that scholars will be included in discussions that are to take place in the future between NARA and the foundation officials.

It should be noted that the bill language does not specifically mandate that the papers be moved to the Nixon library (though it remains the most likely repository for the records). It merely empowers the Archivist of the United States to "transfer such recordings and materials to a Presidential archival depository in accordance with section 2112 of title 44, United States Code." This language insures that in order to move the government-owned Nixon materials, the Nixon foundation would have to meet the stringent requirements that apply for establishing NARA presidential libraries. For example, the foundation would have to provide a suitable archival facility to house the documents (estimated at 35,000 sq. feet) without cost to taxpayers. Second, once an appropriate facility is donated, NARA would have a free hand to staff and operate the archival facility to NARA standards, and presumably the library/museum as well. According to director Taylor, should the library be brought into the NARA system, the foundation would no longer run or operate the library and birthplace but would turn the facility over to the government to operate.
The foundation would then focus on the fundraising/support activities that typically are carried out by non-governmental presidential foundations that currently support other presidential libraries.

After hearing that a bill was being crafted scholars expressed concern about language involving continued access to the records. To this end, the measure insures that: "Nothing in section 103 of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act...as amended by this subsection may be construed as affecting public access to the recordings and materials referred to in that section..."

At present NARA's Washington D.C.-based Nixon records project office holds a total of 46 million documents, of which 37 million have yet to be processed. By best estimates there are still three to five additional years of work needed to complete the processing of the White House tapes.
In all likelihood, by the time the Nixon Library Foundation raises the needed funds and constructs a facility to house the presidential materials, the processing of the tapes would be finished. The processing of other Nixon records would still be ongoing.


Nixonlandius - 11/14/2003

>

Don't count on it. When I made my first research trip to the National Archives to listen to the Nixon tapes I discovered the Boss lamenting, with distaste, that if he invited his friend Ray Price to Tricia's wedding he would have to invite that awful William Safire as well.

No sane former Nixon staffer wants the public to hear the tape excerpts about them. The old man insulted just about everybody, somewhere, at least once.


Jesse Lamovsky - 11/14/2003

Ms. Cornett,

Not to go off-topic here, but...

Drug sweeps in public schools- locker searches dogs prowling through student parking lots- have been going on for a few years now, although most of them aren't as... dynamic as this one. Just chalk this very, very ugly incident up as yet another benefit of the drug war. Hip-hip-hooray.

Laying exclusive blame on Mr. Bush may be a tad myopic.


Barbara Cornett - 11/13/2003

Mr Dresner, I think you are correct in that people before Nixon had respect and awe for the country's presidents but now politicians are placed in the same catagory as used car salesman. They are treated with total disrepect by the corporate media which might be acceptable if the behavior was in regard to public policy rather then personal destruction. The corporate media should not be allowed to treat our public people or public debates the way that they do nor should they be allowed to control public debate.

After Woodward and Bernstein, every reporter, and I use the term loosely, thought they had to go out and dig up dirt on every public person. A situation that has deterierated into career ending orgies of tv blitkriegs against the hapless victims of corporate media thugs who pass as journalists.

When car companies advertise their vehicles they don't come out during Sept when the new models are introduced and show the cars and urge everyone to buy one. They come on tv every day and show ads over and over and over. In this same manner tv 'news' showed Clinton kissing Monica over and over and over. They were not reporting they were advertising and trying to sell people on impeaching Clinton and becoming outraged. They report serious stories such as Bush's lies one time and then move on. In this way they can say they reported them. But everyone knows how tv works and thats why car ads show over and over.

Those are two things which came out of the Nixon Presidency, but if he was so terrible then why do Presidents today actually go beyond the bad things he did and create even worse examples of criminality while the press watches it all happen in silence?

There is an article at wsws.org about how the Washington Post shrugs its shoulders at the torture of someone

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/nov2003/arar-n13.shtml

and also an article about how the policies of the Bush adm result in crimes against the rights of US citizens

US: Gunpoint police raid at South Carolina school
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/nov2003/raid-n12.shtml

I think Nixon was more liberal then a lot of democrats today and given the total corruption of the media and politics today, I can't find it within myself to hate him the way a lot of people do. I have seen people such as Christopher Hitchens attack him and I don't think Nixon was any worse a character then Hitchens is and he was certainly no worse then today's corporate media people and FOX network.

I don't think the Nixon Presidential papers should be allowed to be destroyed and I hope that history faithfully records the antics of his enemies as well.

btw Congress has just given Bush the 87 billion that he requested and they refused to allow a bill that would make it a crime for any company to steal any of the money thur fraud or to steal from the people of Iraq. They did it by voice vote so the public would not know how they voted. We should allow Nixon to rest in peace. He has paid enough of a price for his crimes while today's criminals get richer and richer as Cheney still receives hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from Haliburton while 'serving' as VP of the US.


Jonathan Dresner - 11/13/2003

Nixon was, from a policy standpoint, a very effective president, overseeing the final stages of the Great Society. Politically, he was brilliant, staging immense foreign policy shifts without appearing shifty, and weathering the first OPEC crisis without a political scratch. I have deep disagreements with some of his policies, and have been pleasantly suprised by others as I learn more over the years. He wasn't a terrible president.

Nixon was a maniacal paranoid, as simple-minded about his electoral strategies as he was subtle with his foreign policy, and the damage which he has done to US politics and the presidency were immeasurable because they keep getting worse. His VP, and my Maryland's great shame, Spiro Agnew, was a viscious political operative in addition to being corrupt. The Watergate break-in was a small part of his "opposition research" campaign, digging up dirt on opposing candidates to leak to the press at opportune moments. The cover-up made use of political campaign money, not to mention officials of the US government, in a cavalier and thoroughly corrupt way.

The shock of discovering the depth of the fiscal and moral corruption of that president placed a stain on the presidency that has not been erased. The tactics that he used to gain and hold the presidency created the downward spiral of attack ads and "talking points" which have turned presidential elections into an advertising blitz, rather than a national conversation.

Maybe a lot of it would have happened anyway. But Nixon was the first to get caught doing all of it at once, and our national respect for the office and the men who fill it have never been the same since.


John Brown - 11/13/2003

W's systematic manipulation of the entire US government to maneuver this country into war makes Watergate look like a high school prank. How does breaking into a hotel and a psychiatrist's office compare with perpetrating a "WMD" fraud that leads the entire country into war? Bush is light years ahead of Tricky Dick.


Barbara Cornett - 11/13/2003

Nixon is villified and put down by everybody and it seems like people pile it on because everyone else is. Was Nixon really that much worse then other presidents or is he just a scapegoat? There have been some truly scumy presidents and I would apprecitate it if someone could tell me what he did that was so horrible.

Breaking and entering at the Watergate was bad but what about Reagan making a deal with the Iranian hostage takers behind Carter's back? What about IranContra? What about Bush and his family ties with the bin laden family or his connection and protection of Ken Lay? What about taking office illegally as a result of the Supreme Court actions? What about illegally fencing protestors blocks away from where Bush speaks and denying them their Constitional rights?


Stanley I. Kutler - 11/12/2003

Fie.


VJ - 11/12/2003

Where are all the comments on this outrage? Is there any defense of the indefensible here once again? No Bill Safire to sally forth with pithy quotes from the Medici's? Why is it that with the most consequential and immediate of issues involving real history being distorted, destroyed or worse, we get so little traffic or commentary form our fellow readers? Are they too busy all defending St. Ron elsewhere? Just wondering if Clinton could ever get away with this level of brazen BS and corruption from beyond the grave. Just simply amazing, and we still have Nixon's 'fruits' guiding us in this new age war. Plus ca change...


Oscar Chamberlain - 11/11/2003

And they should also proofread better.


Oscar Chamberlain - 11/11/2003

Whatever one thinks about Nixon and his Administration, this would be a horrid thing to do to the historical record.

Nixon's presidency was not normal, and he left office because he was found to have consistantly lied and obstructed justice. If there was any case for his heirs to have power over access to the papers, the 18 million dollars settled it.

The question is simple: if you believe that Americans should have access to complete records of Nixon's administration you should oppose this.

If you do not, then you oppose the development of the most accurate possible history of Nixon's presidency.