Past and Future: Nixon, Watergate and Celtics-Heat Playoff Final
Separately, my electronic inbox today provided a thought-provoking video collage in preparation for the seventh game playoff final scheduled for June 9 between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. It's entitled, There Is No Better Video That Sums Up The Difference Between The Heat And Celtics.
“If you haven't seen it ... don't miss it!" say those who compiled it from an entity called Boston Bar-Stool Sports.com. "If you have seen it, watch and laugh again.”
Especially on a weekend, it's probably a good idea to take at least a temporary respite from such sober reflections as those on Watergate, the Constitution, war, crime and justice. Nonetheless, I found enough deeper meaning in the Celtics-Heat video contrasting the different ceremonies announcing their "Big Three" stars so that I recommended it to the parents of my younger relatives: I thought it provides what might be called teachable moments. Is it better to proceed with humility or an attitude? Clearly, there's a great difference of opinion at the highest levels of sport, as elsewhere.
Three decades ago, I reported from court-side at Boston Garden and elsewhere while covering the Celtics during the playoffs as a newspaper reporter. Coaches sometimes like to say, “There is no ‘I” in ‘Team.’” But Miami's LeBron provided one of the greatest individual performances in NBA play off history June 8 in helping Miami tie its series 3-3 for the decisive game tonight, and we'll be seeing shortly what the true lessons will be.
Regarding Richard Nixon and Watergate, kindly read below excerpts from the Woodward and Bernstein appraisal. Below also are recent commentaries alleging that Presidents Bush and Obama have also greatly exceeded their powers under the Constitution -- but with scant effective oversight from Congress or anyplace else.
Nixon, who lived from 1913 to 1994, was President from 1969 to 1974. He is the only President to resign the office. He did so in August 1974 following news reports and congressional hearings documenting how Republican operatives affiliated with the White House were caught burglarizing Democratic National Committee, then located at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC. Often forgotten with the passage of time is that Vice President Spiro Agnew, Nixon's self-righteous hatchet-man orator, was forced to resign because of separate criminal allegations regarding massive tax cheating. Nixon resigned after Congressional Republican leaders told him they lacked the votes to prevent his impeachment and conviction for crimes. As a part of the deference shown the powerful, neither Nixon nor Agnew was prosecuted criminally, with Nixon receiving a pardon in advance by his successor, GOP President Gerald Ford.
Woodward and Bernstein now reflected on those times with the benefit of massive release of documents and tape record unavailable to them at the time of their most important reporting in the early stages of the scandals. They begin:
As Sen. Sam Ervin completed his 20-year Senate career in 1974 and issued his final report as chairman of the Senate Watergate committee, he posed the question: “What was Watergate?”
Countless answers have been offered in the 40 years since June 17, 1972, when a team of burglars wearing business suits and rubber gloves was arrested at 2:30 a.m. at the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office building in Washington. Another answer has since persisted, often unchallenged: the notion that the cover-up was worse than the crime. This idea minimizes the scale and reach of Nixon’s criminal actions.
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Update: At left is a rarely published photo showing former President Nixon's first public appearance following his resignation from the Presidency. To polish his image after his disgrace, Nixon and his strategists chose a safe, low-key occasion: a visit to a former staffer in a nursing home in Simsbury, Connecticut. Hartford Courant reporter Kathleen Cahill, at right in the photo, got the scoop.
Washington Post, Woodward and Bernstein: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, June 8, 2012. As Sen. Sam Ervin completed his 20-year Senate career in 1974 and issued his final report as chairman of the Senate Watergate committee, he posed the question: “What was Watergate?” Countless answers have been offered in the 40 years since June 17, 1972, when a team of burglars wearing business suits and rubber gloves was arrested at 2:30 a.m. at the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office building in Washington. Another answer has since persisted, often unchallenged: the notion that the coverup was worse than the crime. This idea minimizes the scale and reach of Nixon’s criminal actions.
Salon, Media, drones and rank propaganda; Several items today relate to the issue of gross U.S. media propaganda and Obama’s national security policies, Glenn Greenwald, June 8, 2012. (1) I have an Op-Ed in The Guardian today on how the American media has been repeatedly and willingly coopted in the Obama administration’s propagandistic abuse of its secrecy powers, with a focus on the recent high-profile, Obama-flattering national security scoops from The New York Times. (2) In yesterday’s Guardian, the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer and Nathan Wessler have a superb Op-Ed on how the Obama administration — by simultaneously shielding its conduct from scrutiny through broad secrecy claims and then selectively leaking — is deliberately distorting the public understanding of its drone attacks (“First the ‘targeted killing’ campaign, then the targeted propaganda campaign”). (3) This morning, I witnessed one of the most flagrant and repellent examples of rank government propaganda masquerading as objective journalism that I have ever seen, when I saw on Andrew Sullivan’s blog this four-minute, sleek video produced by Newsweek and The Daily Beast, starring Newsweek reporter (and its former Managing Editor) Daniel Klaidman. It’s literally painful to watch, but please do your best to endure the full four minutes.
American University / Investigative Reporting Workshop, Reporting: Fundamental necessity to democracy, Charles Lewis, April 25, 2012. The Pulitzer season is a time for inspiration and reflection. Inspiration because those and other awards each year remind us of how important public service reporting is, and that American news outlets—even those struggling financially—continue to do it....The prize season is also a time for reflection upon less inspiring trends. From 1985 to 2012, the number of entries for the Pulitzer in the Gold Medal public service category (The New York Times won in this category in 1972 for the Pentagon Papers, and The Washington Post won in 1973 for Watergate) dropped 42 percent, from 122 to 71; explanatory journalism entries decreased by 40 percent, from 181 to 109; and the investigative reporting category had a decrease of 30 percent, from 103 entries to 72. This is surely a result of journalism’s declining newsrooms.
Nieman Watchdog, A tribute to reporting national 'moments of truth,' Charles Lewis, April 23, 2012. In 2005, I began conducting research on my sixth book, The Future of Truth: Power, the News Media and the Public’s Right to Know. Piqued by how easily the national news media had been misled in the post-9/11 period by the Bush administration in the lead-up to the Iraq War, my researchers and I at the Fund for Independence in Journalism, a nonprofit legal defense and endowment support organization I co-founded and led, prepared a 380,000-word, Boolean-searchable chronology called Iraq: The War Card. It included every Iraq-related national security-related utterance by eight top officials for two calendar years after 9/11, juxtaposed against the more than 50 books, commission and other government reports published between 2003 and 2008 illuminating what was actually known inside the U.S. government, versus what was said publicly. We found that in the two years following September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials had made at least 935 false statements about the national security threat posed by Iraq.
Harper's No Comment, Traitor: Six Questions for Jesselyn Radack, Scott Horton, June 1, 2012. Jesselyn Radack came into the Justice Department through the Attorney General’s Honors Program and worked as an ethics adviser until she found herself embroiled in a scandal that arose because she dispensed advice senior political appointees didn’t want to hear. The scandal became aggravated when Justice officials made false statements about her advice in representations to a federal judge. Radack, a recipient of the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award, is now the director of national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project, where she counsels and represents whistleblowers. I put six questions to her about her book, Traitor, and her career battling for ethics compliance at a powerful institution that sometimes takes the low road to success.
Huffington Post, White House Leaks: Eric Holder Appoints 2 Prosecutors To Lead Investigation, Pete Yost, June 9, 2012. Two U.S. attorneys are taking over separate FBI investigations into leaks of national security information that critics have accused the White House of orchestrating to improve President Barack Obama's re-election chances, a claim Obama calls "offensive" and "wrong." Recent news articles contained details of U.S. involvement in a partially successful computer virus attack on Iran's nuclear program and on the selection of targets for counter-terrorism assassination plots. The leaked information generally painted Obama as a decisive and hands-on commander in chief. "The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It's wrong," Obama told reporters at a news conference Friday. "And people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office."
Los Angeles Times, Eric Holder grilled over Fast and Furious in Congress, Richard A. Serrano, June 7, 2012. Los Angeles Times, Eric Holder grilled over Fast and Furious in Congress, Richard A. Serrano, June 7, 2012. One at a time, Rep. Darrell Issa held up a thick wiretap application form and slammed it on his dais in the elaborate House Judiciary Committee hearing room. The packages were proof, Issa contended, that the Department of Justice in Washington and perhaps the Obama White House were aware of the flawed tactics in the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation in Arizona that allowed more than 2,000 firearms to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.Issa said he obtained the materials from “a furious group of whistle-blowers” who are angry with the Justice Department and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., left, for not providing more material to Issa’s investigation into Fast and Furious. The whistle-blowers, he told Holder at the hearing, “are tired of your stonewalling.” Holder, under fire for more than a year now in the Fast and Furious case, said he had read the documents but told Issa the documents do not disclose the improper tactics. Exactly what the wiretap applications say, however, remains unclear. They have not been made public.
Huffington Post, Supreme Court Finds Dick Cheney's Secret Service Agents Immune From Free Speech Lawsuit, Mike Sacks, June 4, 2012. Secret Service agents who arrested a man after he disparaged and then touched Dick Cheney cannot be sued for violating the man's free speech rights, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday morning. When then-Vice President Cheney visited a Colorado mall in 2006, Secret Service agent Dan Doyle overheard Steven Howards say that he was "going to ask [the vice president] how many kids he's killed today." Howards then got in line to meet Cheney and, when he reached the vice president, told him that his "policies in Iraq are disgusting." As Cheney moved along, Howards touched him on the shoulder, prompting the supervising Secret Service agent, Gus Reichle, to accost and arrest Howards for assault. After the charges were dismissed, Howards sued the agents, claiming they arrested him in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right to criticize Cheney. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled in Howards' favor.
FireDogLake, Before NYT Article, Administration Would Not Acknowledge Existence of Drone Program, David Dayen, May 29, 2012. Despite the participation of dozens of Administration officials – many of them on the record – in detailing the inner workings of the targeted assassination program, we’re still operating in a world where the US government officially denies that any such program exists. In this article, you have President Obama’s current national security advisor, Thomas Donilon, speaking on the record. Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair – who gives the distinct impression that he resigned over these drone strikes – is on the record. Former chief of staff Bill Daley is on the record. Plenty of other senior intelligence officials are quoted on background. The word “drone” appears 17 times in the article.Jonathan Turley.org, Justice Department Clears Its Own Lawyers Of Intentional Misconduct In Stevens Prosecution, Jonathan Turley, May 28, 2012. The U.S. Justice Department again showed how its protects its own in scandals involving government lawyers. The DOJ has long been notorious in refusing to seriously punish its own lawyers for wrongdoing while pushing the legal envelope on criminal charges against others. The slightest discrepancy in testimony or omission in reporting can bring a criminal charge from the DOJ. The DOJ is particularly keen in finding intentional violations or substitute for intent in federal rules — bending laws to the breaking point to secure indictments. However, when its attorneys are accused of facilitating torture or lying to the court or withholding evidence, the general response is a long investigation and then a slap on the wrist. This week is no exception. Waiting until late Thursday to inform Congress to guarantee a low media coverage, the DOJ announced that it had found no intentional violations by its attorneys in the failed prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens — despite the contrary finding made by an independent investigation. Instead, the investigation again offered rhetorical punishment as a substitute for true punishment — declaring that the attorneys were only guilty of “reckless professional misconduct.” As a result, Joseph Bottini will be suspended for only 40 days and James Goeke will be suspended for 15 days. Even that level of punishment is viewed as noteworthy for the DOJ given its prior history of whitewashing misconduct by its attorneys.
Judicial Watch, JW Obtains Obama Administration Records Detailing Meetings with bin Laden Movie Filmmakers, Tom Fitton, May 25, 2012. On Tuesday, Judicial Watch caused a firestorm when we released records from the Obama Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regarding meetings and communications between government agencies and Kathryn Bigelow, the Academy Award-winning director of The Hurt Locker, and her screenwriter Mark Boal. How much of a media firestorm? Google counts more than 700 media hits including Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, CBS News, MSNBC, and even entertainment trades like Entertainment Weekly. Why so much attention? According to the records, the Obama Defense Department granted the Hollywood filmmakers unprecedented access to a "planner, Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six," who was responsible for the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, to assist Bigelow prepare her upcoming feature film. The records, obtained pursuant to court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on January 21, 2012, include 153 pages of records from the DOD and 113 pages of records from the CIA. To limit the damage, the Obama administration released them to Judicial Watch late on Friday, May 18. (Obviously this strategy did not work.)
Boston Globe, Their run may be over, but Celtics go down as a team, Gary Dzen, June 10, 2012. With 5:44 remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 7 Saturday night, LeBron James stepped back and drilled a 3-pointer from the Eastern Conference Finals logo between the 3-point line and halfcourt. James had a foot on the logo and Brandon Bass in his face, but that didn't stop him from hitting what the scorers ruled as a 30-footer with the shot clock winding down. The shot gave the Heat a 91-84 lead, their largest of the game to that point. Miami would use the momentum -- and the points -- from that shot to run away from the Celtics late. James' shot was a singular, athletic achievement that the Celtics couldn't match. They don't have a player like James, or even one like Dwyane Wade, who combined with James for 20 points in the fourth quarter. All they had was Bass, playing out of position and with a serious deficit in foot speed compared to James, doing all he could to defend the Miami superstar.
OpED News, A Radioactive Nightmare, Michael Collins, June 10, 2011. As fallout from Fukushima heads our way, the government turns a blind eye. Millions of Southern Californians and tourists seek the region's famous beaches to cool off in the sea breeze and frolic in the surf. Those iconic breezes, however, may be delivering something hotter than the white sands along the Pacific. Buckyballs. According to a recent U.C. Davis study, uranium-filled nanospheres are created from the millions of tons of fresh and salt water used to try to cool down the three molten cores of the stricken reactors. The tiny and tough buckyballs are shaped like British Association Football soccer balls. Water hitting the incredibly hot and radioactive, primarily uranium-oxide fuel turns it into peroxide. In this goo buckyballs are formed, loaded with uranium and able to move quickly through water without disintegrating. High radiation readings in Santa Monica and Los Angeles air during a 42-day period from late December to late January strongly suggest that radiation is increasing in the region including along the coast in Ventura County. The radiation, detected by this reporter and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, separate from each other and using different procedures, does not appear to be natural in origin. The EPA's radiation station is high atop an undisclosed building in Los Angeles while this reporter's detection location is near the West L.A. boundary.
Wall Street Journal / Japan Edition, Japan’s Nuclear Industry: The CIA Link, Eleanor Warnock, June 1, 2012. In the 15 months since the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan’s relationship with nuclear power has changed dramatically. Once the world’s third-largest producer of nuclear energy, the country faces the prospect of electricity shortages this summer as all 50 of its plants remain offline. Restarting reactors — a step the government says is necessary to support the economy — is proving to be politically tricky as a skeptical public questions the safety of atomic energy. Rewind almost 60 years and the government had a similar problem: how to persuade the public to support its ambition to become a nuclear nation only nine years after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
According to one Japanese university professor, that ambition was achieved with help from an unlikely source: the CIA. Tetsuo Arima, a researcher at Waseda University in Tokyo, told JRT he discovered in the U.S. National Archives a trove of declassified CIA files that showed how one man, Matsutaro Shoriki, was instrumental in jumpstarting Japan’s nascent nuclear industry. Mr. Shoriki was many things: a Class A war criminal, the head of the Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan’s biggest-selling and most influential newspaper) and the founder of both the country’s first commercial broadcaster and the Tokyo Giants baseball team. Less well known, according to Mr. Arima, was that the media mogul worked with the CIA to promote nuclear power. In 1954, Japan saw widespread anti-U.S. and anti-nuclear demonstrations after Japanese fishermen were exposed to radiation due to the U.S.’s testing of a hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll.Mr. Shoriki, backed by the CIA, used his influence to publish articles in the Yomiuri that extolled the virtues of nuclear power, according to the documents found by Mr. Arima. Keen on remilitarizing Japan, Mr. Shoriki endorsed nuclear power in hopes its development would one day arm the country with the ability to make its own nuclear weapons, according to Mr. Arima. Mr. Shoriki’s behind-the-scenes push created a chain reaction in other media that eventually changed public opinion.
Boston Phoenix, Freedom Watch: DOMA bites the dust, Harvey Silverglate, June 4 2012. The unanimous opinion of a panel of the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, striking down Congress' shameful "Defense of Marriage Act," may at first appear breathtaking. However, as some have noted, the scope of the decision is actually quite narrow ("painstakingly narrow," Matthew R. Segal, the new Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts put it). The three judges did not directly address Congress' 1993 apparently homophobic motives for decreeing that federal programs and benefits accorded married couples would apply only to "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." Instead, the court examined Congress' stated justification for enacting DOMA, most prominently "defending and nurturing the institution of traditional, heterosexual marriage." It concluded that DOMA did not, in fact, have any impact on traditional marriages -- your gay marriage, in other words, does not dilute or diminish my straight marriage.