Watts: Oval Office Tapes

Jun 20, 2017

As more tapes from President Richard Nixon’s oval office conversations have been released, the transcripts make for some compelling reading.

Nixon, we know now, was personally involved in ordering increased bombing raids that killed tens of thousands of civilians in Cambodia and Vietnam.

On one tape, Nixon says to his military commander that “Above all, the B-52s are to be targeted on Hanoi,” and he orders him to “Start squeezing the bejeezus out of them.”

Other tapes reveal that Nixon and Henry Kissinger secretly re-directed military resources, lied to Congress and had numbers falsified to undercount the terrible destruction of those bombing raids.

In addition, the tapes expose a coordinated effort to obstruct justice, raise money illegally, sell appointments, secretly record enemies and conduct a series of dirty tricks on political opponents.

Nixon is recorded telling Kissinger that “The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it,”

The tapes also tell the Watergate story in excruciating detail. White House Counsel John Dean reports to Nixon that paying hush-money to the Watergate burglars has already cost $328,000 in cash. More money will be needed.

“How much money do you need?” Nixon asks. Dean suggests about a million dollars.

Nixon replies, “We could get that… I know where it could be gotten.”

Now fast forward to today’s Oval Office and the conversation between President Trump and now former FBI Director James Comey. After asking his Attorney-General and Vice-President to leave the room the president is reported to have said. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Trump has flatly denied saying this. He’s also tweeted that Comey should be careful because there might be tapes.

The Nixon tapes revealed essential information about the moral character of the men and women making vital decisions about our country.

I for one, would welcome the additional insight recordings made in the Oval Office today might give us - not only on the now famous Trump/Comey exchange, but on White House thinking in general - on everything from health care to immigration to the Paris Climate Accord.

I do so hope there are tapes.