Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Watergate" Was War, Not Politics

The above 36-year old RD costs me RM10 last 2 weekends. I don't know why i grabbed it...till this morning, i read "Watergate Was War, Not Politics" by Stewart Alsop (the great grandnephew of Theodore Roosevelt) of Newsweek. Somehow, i heard some bells were ringing...

This article was published in September 1973, 11 months before Alsop succumbed to cancer: -

"The Watergate scandal, it is clear, is diferent - truly different - from all the scandals that have preceded it in our history. It is this difference that makes Watergate so frightening.

All those other scandals - Credit Mobilier, the Whisky Ring, Teapot Dome, Sherman Adams and his vicuna coat, Bobby Baker and his wheeling and dealing - were motivated by greed, an emotion effortlessly understood by almost all of us. But the Watergate men seem to have been motivated by more complex emotions - by a certain self-righteousness, by fear, by a special kind of political-ideological hatred.

As a result, the people who were running the President's election campaign we not really running the kind of campaign this country has known since the party system was founded. They were not practicing politics. They were making war, special kind of war. The kind of war they were making has been made between nations for a long time now, but it has not before been made within a nation, certainly not within this nation.

The spiritual ancestor of the Committee to Re-elect the President, better known as CREEP, is OSS. The Office of Strategic Services, in which this writer served, was this country's first attempt to wage war by covert and unconventional means. OSS was patterened on the British Secret Services, and the Central Intelligence Agency has in turn been patterned on OSS. In fact, all the world's secret services, including Russia's KGB, have four main missions.

In OSS, they were called S.I. (Secret Intelligence), S.O (Secret Operations), M.O (Morale Operations) and X-2 (Black Propaganda).

CREEP's covert operations fit into the sme categories. The ludicrously burgled Watergate break-in itself was a classic combined operations between S.I and S.O. The letter to the Manchester Union Leader accusing Sen. Edward Muskie of sneering at "Canucks" was X-2. So was the faked telegram from President John Kennedy to the Saigon mission, calling, in effect, for the assassination of Diem.

The burglarization of the office of Daniel Ellberg's psychiatrist was essentially an S.I. operation. If successful, it would no doubt have been used as part of morale operation.

The operations in which CREEP arranged to flood the White House with telegrams supporting the President's Vietnamese policy was of a morale operation. So was that in which homosexuals were allegedly hired to give ostentatious suport to Senator McGovern.

The mission of Donald H. Segretti, who was generously rewarded by Mr. Nixon's private lawyer, Herbert W. Kalmbach, was to head an intelligence network. Segretti was clearly also expected to do some morale-operations work.

One even recognizes in the people who have surfaced in CREEP some of the same sort of people as in wartime OSS. There were many brave and good men in OSS, as well as many creeps. Curiously enough, in another time, the stubbornly silent G. Gordon Liddy, with his closed mouth and sardonis salute when he was condemned to a long jail term, would have been regarded as among the bravest and the best.

In wartime, Liddy would have been festooned with decorations, rather than slapped into jail. As so often in wartime, his stubborn silence did no good. Pressure mounted, and other members of the network cracked - James McCord, Jeb Stuart Magruder, John Dean III. Perhaps CREEP should have distributed death pills as a precaution.

Watergate is as deadly and serious business as this reporter has seen in a quarter century covering politics. For Watergate has been an attempt to alter the very nature of the ancient American political system. Politicians have played tricks on each other since politics was invented. But this is not politics, this is war.

The special form of warfare waged by OSS against Adolf Hitler was morally justified by the moral necessity to destroy Nazism. The more limited and circumspect form of warfare waged by the CIA against the KGB, and vice versa, is also justified by hard necessity. But to transfer such secret-service tecniques, on an obviously planned and organised basis, to the internal American political process is a genuinely terrifying innovation.

Any person proven to have used these techniques should not only be punished by the law; he should be banned forever from participation in American politics".

This the scandal that destroyed President Nixon, making him the first American President to resign from office. Yes sir, everything is possible because nature indeed works in mysterious ways.

Upon demise of former CBS news anchor, Walter Cronkite, on 18 July 2009, this website, Watergate.Info, came up with this perfect 'eulogy' for a great man he was: -

Walter Cronkite played a key role in the unravelling of Watergate.

Cronkite, who has died aged 92, broadcast two extensive stories on Watergate in 1972. Ben Bradlee, the former Washington Post editor, said today that a lot of "Washington people, people who followed national stories - a lot of them who had not decided that we were right, changed their minds because of Walter".

This is part of Bradlee's comments in Newsweek: -

"In October 1972, Cronkite devoted two segments, back to back, to the Watergate story. The first was 14 minutes, the second eight. I think that second night was curtailed by CBS chairman William S. Paley because Paley was scared of it. The fact that Cronkite did Watergate at all (let alone at that length) gave the story a kind of blessing, which is exactly what we needed—and exactly what The Washington Post lacked.

It was a political year, and everyone was saying, "Well, it's just politics, and here's the Post trying to screw Nixon". We were the second-biggest newspaper in the country trying to scramble for a good story—whereas Cronkite was the reigning dean of television journalists. When he did the Watergate story, everyone said, "My God, Cronkite's with them".

Apart from "My Safety Car", we need our Walter Cronkite, Deep Throat and all - urgently. At the rate 'they' are going now, it is indeed alarming. We are fighting a war!

Don't you think history is repeating itself? For that, I must make a point to read more on David Ben Gurion - the mastermind of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine - as this name keeps popping in my mind too often now...

Yes children, please read your history books ok so we could make this world a better place to live in...

"History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are" ~ David C. McCullough

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