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Richard Nixon Segues from Thinking About the Hiss Case to Using "Any Means" in Political Warfare

A one hour conversation between President Nixon, H.R. Haldeman, and Henry Kissinger; 8:45-9:52 AM, Oval Office, July 1, 1971:

Nixon segues from the Hiss case to using "any means" against his political opponents to burglarizing the Brookings Institution and planting evidence pinning the burglary (and possibly the firebombing?) on the political left.

Thinking about the Hiss case leads Nixon by association first to the thought that he needs (a) someone like Whittaker who will "work his but off and do it honorably" and (b) someone else who will work hard dishonorably; then to the thought that he is in a war and needs to use "any means" against his opponents; then to the thought that he is surrounded by fools who have not yet carried out his orders to burglarize (and firebomb?) the Brookings Institution and plant evidence that the deed was done by somebody else.

This raises questions:

Stanley L. Kutler, ed. (1997), Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes (New York: Free Press: 0684841274), pp. 7-8.

Nixon:...This is what I want. I have a project that I want somebody to take it just like I took the Hiss case, the Bentley case, and the rest.... And I'll tell you what. This takes--this takes 18 hours a day. It takes devotion and dedication and loyalty and diligence such as you've never seen Bob...


Nixon:... Now do you see what we need? I need somebody... I wish you could get a personality type, oh, like Whittaker* who will work his butt off and do it honorably. I really need a son of a bitch like Huston who will work his butt off and do it dishonorably. Do you see what I mean? Who will know what he's doing and I want to know too. And I'll direct him myself. I know how to play the game and we're going to start playing it.

Nixon: When you get to Ehrlichman now, will you please get--I want you to find me a man by noon. I won't be ready until 12:30--a recommendation of the man to work directly with me on this whole situation. Do you know what I mean? I've got to have--I've got to have one--I mean, I can't have a high-minded lawyer like John Ehrlichman or, you know, Dean, or somebody like that. I want somebody just as tough as I am for a change.... These Goddamn lawyers, you know, all fighting around about, you know--I'll never forget....

Nixon: These kids don't understand. They have no understanding of politics. They have no understanding of public relations. John Mitchell is that way. John is always worried about: "Is it technically correct?" Do you think, for Christ's sake, that the New York Times is worried about all the legal niceties? Those sons of bitches are killing me. I mean, thank God, I leaked to the press. This is what we've got to get--I want you to shake these [unintelligible] up around here. Now you do it. Shake them up. Get them off their Goddamn dead asses and say, now, "That isn't what you should be talking about." We're up against an enemy, a conspiracy. They're using any means. We are going to use any means. Is that clear?

Nixon: Did they get the Brookings Institute raided last night? No? Get it done. I want it done. I want the Brookings Institute's safe cleaned out and have it cleaned out in a way that it makes somebody else responsible.

*Stanley Kutler identifies this "Whitaker" as a last name--the last name of John C. Whitaker. In context it seems more likely to me that "Whittaker" is a first name, with Chambers as the last name.

Professor of Economics J. Bradford DeLong, 601 Evans Hall, #3880
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
(510) 643-4027 phone (510) 642-6615 fax

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