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Nixon archives shed light on his campaign to investigate enemies

3 December, 2008

The Nixon Presidential Library & Museum releases its largest collection of archival papers and tapes, which reflect the president’s crusade to scope out those who antagonized him.

By Christopher Goffard 
December 3, 2008

Los Angeles Times

As part of a release of archival tapes and documents Monday, the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum revealed fresh records that reflect the 37th president’s heated campaign to investigate, intimidate and smear political rivals and opponents of the Vietnam War.


Nixon, the memo reveals, had expressed special concern about an office in which he saw two pictures of John F. Kennedy. Butterfield discovered the office belonged to Edna Rosenberg, a low-level civil servant who had been on the White House staff for 41 years, longer than any other staffer. Butterfield said he “checked her file very carefully” and found the CIA, FBI and Secret Service all considered her a loyal American.           

One of the Kennedy portraits, it turned out, bore a personal inscription. Still, she was made to take it down.

“On January 14th,” Butterfield reported to Nixon, “the project was completed and all 35 offices displayed only your photograph.”


The library entered the National Archives system last year, with its first federal director, Timothy Naftali, promising historical accuracy and openness.



“The strength of our democracy is that these kinds of documents get preserved, and they are released, whether or not they shed good light on the government,” Naftali said. “In many countries in the world, these documents would have been destroyed. We’re pleased we can make these documents available and others can judge.”

Pardon my scepticism.  I don’t see the value of releasing documents 40 years after the term in office of any government official.  Are we going to be able to do anything about forty-year-old events?  Will we learn anything from this that will help us change?  Does anyone feel better knowing what they suspected is true that Nixon was paranoid, controlling, and willing to do anything to destroy his so-called “enemies?”I could say we knew it all along or you got what you deserved for voting for him, but there is little advantage in such swagger.

Despite what Mr. Naftali says, many documents still remain hidden from the public. Given President Bush’s reluctance to “find” and release information to Congress and President-elect Obama’s blocking release of every document related to his history (from birth forward), there doesn’t seem much liklihood that things will change.

Thomas Jefferson’s “educated citizen” is of little consequence if he knows nothing of his government for most of his adult life.  When the dirty little secrets come out, he can not take back his vote.  At that point, all that is left is an education in despair and hopelessness.

Of course, the real flaw in Mr. Naftali’s statement is that he thinks we are a democracy* –  one person = one vote.  Neither are not really a Republic anymore; the Federalists (Hamilton especially) seem to have won. Maybe it’s worse than that: power concentrated in the hands of a central government in partnership with financial and commercial interests that lobby and invest in legislation that becomes law, a Commander-in-Chief whose decisions and delusions are hidden from us, and an uninformed citizenry. 

I see where we have been; where are we heading?

read the story here:

*from Gk.demokratia, from demos “common people,” originally “district” (see demotic), + kratos “rule, strength” (see -cracy).  “democracy.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 03 Dec. 2008.    <>.

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