LBJ accused Nixon of “treason” (audio)

SCHEDULING NOTE: I’ll be traveling for a while, so little or no writing for about a week. Then a resumption of work followed by more travel. The good news is that I’m working on a major climate series featuring James Hansen’s recent papers explaining why 2°C global warming (+3½°F) is, in all probability, way too much. He shows why, and also how, to keep the planet to +1°C or so at most, and then bring it cooler, back to near the Holocene norm.

Stay tuned. I’m really excited about this new addition to the climate series.

More about Republican treason, and a follow-up to my recent piece: No Republican president since Eisenhower has been legitimately elected, says Thom Hartmann.

I want to offer one addition from the last set of LBJ tapes. In it, Democratic President Johnson talks with Republican Senator Everett Dirksen, leader of the Senate Republicans, about Nixon’s attempts to get the South Vietnamese to reject peace negotiations with the U.S. and the North Vietnamese until after the presidential election.

The snippet is from a Dictaphone recording, so you’ll hear clicks at the beginning, but the voices are clear. LBJ talks about someone named Thieu (it sounds like “chew” on the tape). Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of “South Vietnam” (a “state” the Americans created in violation of the treaty between the Vietnamese Army, the army of a united country, and the defeated French). Thieu ruled “South Vietnam” from 1965 to 1975, when his government fell and the country was reunited.

LBJ was trying to bring the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table, and he needed Thieu, whose own future was at stake, to go along as well. According to the recording, Nixon’s people were encouraging Thieu’s people to boycott the administration-led talks. (Note the concern expressed to the administration by Thieu that a bombing halt, which the North Vietnam needed, be brief. That bombing was propping up his regime.)

Treason on Nixon’s part? Johnson thinks so and says so. Listen; it’s only 9 minutes long, and it’s a blockbuster, with some of the best stuff near the end. The recording is dated November 4, 1968, just before the election, which was held that year on November 5. Talk about timing. (You’re going to want to turn down the volume to about 50% almost immediately.)

At 2:15, Johnson reports to Dirksen that Nixon’s people are urging the Vietnamese to “hold on until after the [1968] election” — an obvious attempt to prevent peace from breaking out (!) and spoiling Nixon’s chances of becoming president. At about 4:00, Johnson reports Nixon’s people telling the Vietnamese that they’ll “get a better deal” after the election.

At 4:19, Johnson says explicitly “I’m reading their hand, Everett. … This is treason.” At about 5:50, he says, “I think it would shock America if a principal candidate was playing with a source like this on a matter of this importance.”

Not a crook. Something far worse. Johnson failed to recognize the face of our future.

Not a crook. Something far worse. Johnson failed to recognize the face of our future.

Near the end, Johnson expresses his reluctance to go public with the information, and he tries to use Dirksen as a back-channel to Nixon to get him to stop. He says about Nixon “I’m looking at his hole card,” but he (Johnson) doesn’t want to “get into a fight.”

Bad move, Mr. President. Bad move. After all, he says explicitly “they’re contacting a foreign power in the middle of a war” (about 9:00). What else do you think they’re capable of?

I would argue that this moment, Johnson’s silence, was the turning point in 20th century American political history. Ground Zero. Johnson not going forth with this information enabled every Republican political crime since — and every Democratic one as well, in the case of Obama’s continuation of Bush-era torture, to take just one example.

Now you know.

(All of the late LBJ tapes can be found here. For the tape I embedded above, go here and search for citation “13706”. For more Republican crimes of this nature and magnitude, go here.)


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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