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Documents show Nixon deception on Cambodia

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/13183177.htm Documents show Nixon deception on Cambodia CAL WOODWARD Associated Press WASHINGTON - Even after Richard Nixon s
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 16, 2005
      Documents show Nixon deception on Cambodia


      Associated Press

      WASHINGTON - Even after Richard Nixon's secret war in Cambodia became
      known, the president persisted in deception. "Publicly, we say one
      thing," he told aides. "Actually, we do another."

      Newly declassified documents from the Nixon years shed light on the
      Vietnam War, the struggle with the Soviet Union for global influence
      and a president who tried not to let public and congressional opinion
      get in his way.

      They also show an administration determined to win re-election in
      1972, with Nixon aides seeking ways to use Jimmy Hoffa to tap into the
      labor movement. The former Teamsters president had been pardoned by
      Nixon in 1971.

      The release Wednesday of some 50,000 pages by the National Archives
      means about half the national security files from the Nixon era now
      are public.

      On May 31, 1970, a month after Nixon went on TV to defend the
      previously secret U.S. bombings and troop movements in Cambodia,
      asserting that he would not let his nation become "a pitiful, helpless
      giant," the president met his top military and national security aides
      at the Western White House in San Clemente, Calif.

      Revelation of the operation had sparked protests and congressional
      action against what many lawmakers from both parties considered an
      illegal war. Nixon noted that Americans believed the Cambodian
      operation was "all but over," even as 14,000 troops were engaged
      across the border in a hunt for North Vietnamese operating there.

      In a memo from the meeting marked "Eyes Only, Top Secret Sensitive,"
      Nixon told his military men to continue doing what was necessary in
      Cambodia, but to say for public consumption that the United States was
      merely providing support to South Vietnamese forces when necessary to
      protect U.S. troops.

      "That is what we will say publicly," he asserted. "But now, let's talk
      about what we will actually do."

      He instructed: "I want you to put the air in there and not spare the
      horses. Do not withdraw for domestic reasons but only for military

      "We have taken all the heat on this one." He went on: "Just do it.
      Don't come back and ask permission each time."

      The military chiefs, more than their civilian bosses, expressed worry
      about how the war was going. "If the enemy is allowed to recover this
      time, we are through," said Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the naval
      operations chief who two months later would become chairman of the
      Joint Chiefs.

      Nixon told his aides to plan offensive operations in neutral Laos,
      continue U.S. air operations in Cambodia and work on a summer
      offensive in South Vietnam. "We cannot sit here and let the enemy
      believe that Cambodia is our last gasp."

      The papers also are thick with minute aspects of Vietnam war-making
      and diplomacy. They show growing worries about the ability of the
      South Vietnamese government years before it fell, but also seek
      encouragement wherever it could be found.

      One May 1970 cable marked "For Confidential Eyes Only" provided
      national security adviser Henry Kissinger with an inventory of
      captured weapons, supplies and food. It noted, for example, that the
      1,652.5 tons of rice seized so far would "feed over 6,000 enemy
      soldiers for a full year at the full ration."

      The papers also show concern that superpower rivalry would take a
      dangerous turn if events in the Middle East got out of hand. Israel's
      secretive nuclear program quietly alarmed Washington.

      One U.S. official, reporting to Secretary of State William Rogers in
      1969, said Israel's public and private assurances that it would not
      introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East could not be believed.

      The memo by undersecretary Joseph J. Sisco said U.S. intelligence
      believed "Israel is rapidly developing a capability to produce and
      deploy nuclear weapons," and this could spark a Middle East nuclear
      arms race drawing Arab nations under a Soviet "nuclear umbrella."

      Sisco's memo foresaw a chain of troubles if Israel could not be

      "Israel's possession of nuclear weapons would do nothing to deter Arab
      guerrilla warfare or reduce Arab irrationality; on the contrary it
      would add a dangerous new element to Arab-Israeli hostility with added
      risk of confrontation between the U.S. and U.S.S.R," Sisco said.

      To this day, Israel officially neither confirms nor denies its nuclear
      status and the actual size of its stockpile remains uncertain. But it
      has long been considered the only nation in the Middle East with
      atomic weapons.

      "For a long time, the U.S. kept secret its assessment of the status of
      the Israeli nuclear program," said William Burr, senior analyst at the
      National Security Archives at George Washington University. The paper
      shows "Israel could develop nuclear weapons fairly quickly, something
      that isn't widely known."

      On the political front, the documents show the Nixon administration
      saw Hoffa as a potential help to the re-election campaign.

      A memo on March 19, 1971, from White House counsel John Dean to
      Attorney General John Mitchell spelled out the political calculation
      after Hoffa's wife and son requested a meeting with Nixon to ask for
      leniency. At the time, White House officials were concerned that Sen.
      Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., could mount a fierce challenge for the

      "If he is paroled, we may get some credit and he will start off with a
      constructive relationship with the president. He would be a dedicated
      factor to box in Kennedy, and he might eventually be key for us to
      organized labor," Dean wrote.

      Nixon pardoned Hoffa in December 1971 for convictions on jury
      tampering and mail fraud charges, then got the Teamsters' endorsement
      a year later. Critics have long contended that administration
      officials cut a deal in exchange for political favors, though that
      never has been proved.


      Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.
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