The Lyndon Johnson tapes and Richard Nixon’s treason

Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson’s telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations – he planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to re-join the presidential race. And he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks… but said nothing.

After the Watergate scandal taught Richard Nixon the consequences of recording White House conversations none of his successors have dared to do it. But Nixon wasn’t the first.

He got the idea from his predecessor Lyndon Johnson, who felt there was an obligation to allow historians to eventually eavesdrop on his presidency.

The final batch of tapes released by the LBJ library covers 1968, and allows us to hear Johnson’s private conversations as his Democratic Party tore itself apart over the question of Vietnam…

Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters clashed with Mayor Richard Daley’s police, determined to force the party to reject Johnson’s Vietnam war strategy…As they taunted the police with cries of “The whole world is watching!” one man in particular was watching very closely.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was at his ranch in Texas, having announced five months earlier that he wouldn’t seek a second term.

The president was appalled at the violence and although many of his staff sided with the students, and told the president the police were responsible for “disgusting abuse of police power,” Johnson picked up the phone, ordered the dictabelt machine to start recording and congratulated Mayor Daley for his handling of the protest.

The president feared the convention delegates were about to reject his war policy and his chosen successor, Hubert Humphrey.

So he placed a series of calls to his staff at the convention to outline an astonishing plan. He planned to leave Texas and fly into Chicago…He would then enter the convention and announce he was putting his name forward as a candidate for a second term…

They…discussed whether the president’s helicopter, Marine One, could land on top of the Hilton Hotel to avoid the anti-war protesters.

Daley assured him enough delegates would support his nomination but the plan was shelved after the Secret Service warned the president they could not guarantee his safety…

They also shed light on a scandal that, if it had been known at the time, would have sunk the candidacy of Republican presidential nominee, Richard Nixon.

By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks – or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had “blood on his hands“…

It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign…He therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault, a senior campaign adviser.

At a July meeting in Nixon’s New York apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would come via Chennault.

In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris – concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.

Chennault was despatched to the South Vietnamese embassy with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal.

So on the eve of his planned announcement of a halt to the bombing, Johnson learned the South Vietnamese were pulling out.

He was also told why. The FBI had bugged the ambassador’s phone and a transcripts of Anna Chennault’s calls were sent to the White House. In one conversation she tells the ambassador to “just hang on through election”.

Johnson was told by Defence Secretary Clifford that the interference was illegal and threatened the chance for peace.

Nixon went on to become president and eventually signed a Vietnam peace deal in 1973.

What scumbags!

RTFA for the details. Elected officials willing to sacrifice peace and the lives of ordinary citizens to maintain their quest for power.

The question that needs to be asked. Are the two political parties being run today by politicians any different from the era of Johnson and Nixon?

8 thoughts on “The Lyndon Johnson tapes and Richard Nixon’s treason

  1. Evan Stevens says:

    Reagan was no less culpable in his interference with Iran in the hostage crisis leading up to his victory over Carter. Seems to be the Republican way: treasonous obstruction when authority has not been attained to so obstruct. Win at any cost to the people.

  2. Suzanne Longo says:

    Ronald Reagan should have been impeached for what he did. I know he’s Saint Reagan to the GOP, but he had no credential excuse for what he did. Look at the history, we are paying a heavy price today for what he did thirty years ago.

    • eideard says:

      Most Americans still are ignorant of Reagan’s decision to increase the NSA budget 2000% and turn them into the president’s personal secret police.

      Among intelligence pros, the CIA are considered liberals, the FBI are conservatives and the NSA are Nazis.

  3. Đặng Thùy Trâm says:

    🀆 “Nixon’s Vietnam Treachery” (NYT op-ed 12/31/16) “Nixon Tried to Spoil Johnson’s Vietnam Peace Talks in ’68, Notes Show” (NYT 1/2/17)
    🀆 “H.R. Haldeman’s Notes from Oct. 22, 1968” (documents) “During a phone call on the night of Oct. 22, 1968, Richard M. Nixon told his closest aide (and future chief of staff) H.R. Haldeman to “monkey wrench” President Lyndon B. Johnson’s efforts to begin peace negotiations over the Vietnam War. Nixon long denied giving such an order, but Haldeman’s notes, which were quietly made public in 2007 and were recently discovered by the historian Jack Farrell, prove he was lying.”
    🀆 “In the four years between the sabotage and what Kissinger termed “peace at hand” just prior to the 1972 election, more than 20,000 US troops died in Vietnam. More than 100,000 were wounded. More than a million Vietnamese were killed. In 1973, Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.”

  4. Veterans Day says:

    Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc met with US President Donald Trump in Hà Nội on November 12, during which the latter expressed his pleasure in meeting the Vietnamese Government leader again. The two sides said they were satisfied with the development of bilateral relations after the US visit by PM Phúc in May this year, particularly in the fields of politics and diplomacy, economics and trade, security and defense, and settlement of post-war consequences.

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