Time: Sun Oct 12 19:44:08 1997
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Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 19:39:38 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Safire: The White House Tapes (fwd)

>The New York Times
>October 12, 1997
>White House Tapes 
>WASHINGTON -- After the nation had become disgusted at President Nixon
>for secretly taping confidential discussions in the White House, I got a
>call from Cartha (Deke) DeLoach, a longtime top official at the F.B.I. 
>"He wasn't the first President to have a secret taping system," insisted
>the veteran J. Edgar Hoover aide. "The Senate Watergate Committee has a
>report from us on how Johnson and Kennedy taped everything." 
>As a former Nixon speechwriter who had just become a New York Times
>columnist, I had been using that "everybody did it" defense on
>everything from fishy fund-raising to campaign dirty tricks. 
>But the committee refused to release the F.B.I. documents on previous
>Presidential taping, lest precedents of invasion of privacy be used to
>excuse Nixon's predations. And the media were not looking for evidence
>that might diffuse the focus on wrongdoing by the sitting President. 
>Now, a generation later, selections from the tapes of the inventors of
>White House eavesdropping are being published. Historians are ecstatic. 
>"A historical triumph!" blurbs Arthur Schlesinger Jr. about "The Kennedy
>Tapes," by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow, ". .  . powerful proof of the
>cool and careful leadership of John F. Kennedy." Similarly, reviewing
>"Taking Charge," based on Johnson's secret taping during his first year
>in office, Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times hails the historian
>Michael Beschloss for his "masterful [sic] job of putting together a
>book that gives us a remarkably intimate portrait of a working
>President. . . ." 
>Nobody stops to ask: What kind of chief executive secretly records the
>intimate advice of his visitors, with no concern for their privacy or
>reputations? I think the secret taper has a serious character flaw.
>Moreover, the tapes inherently lie. There pose the Kennedy brothers,
>knowing they are being recorded, taking care to speak for history --
>while their unsuspecting colleagues think aloud and contradict
>themselves the way honest people do in a crisis. 
>Tapes do not present pure, raw history. On the contrary, when the
>central character is the only one to know the tape is rolling, he can
>turn the meetings into a charade of entrapment -- half
>history-in-the-making, half image-in-the-manipulating. 
>And you can be sure of some outright deception. Not only the editing of
>tapes by Kennedy acolytes -- with uncool, uncareful comments snipped out
>-- but the turning-off of the machine at key moments. Only Nixon was
>stupid enough to speak freely and never turn the recorder off, on the
>arrogant assumption that he would always have control of "his" tapes. 
>Outrage at such breach of trust is no longer fashionable. "Everybody did
>it," right? (No; Truman did not do it and Eisenhower did not do it,
>though the technology was available to both. Those two evidently had
>consciences.) The man who brought secret taping to high office was John
>F. Kennedy; his sneaky habit was emulated by Lyndon Johnson, and finally
>entwined Richard Nixon in its coils. 
>So far, we've seen transcripts of Kennedy at his best, Nixon at his
>worst and Johnson at his most manipulative. Nixonites long for the day
>when his "good" tapes show the statesman, as Kennedy's Cuban-crisis
>tapes purport to do; I say there are no "good" secret tapes. All are
>tainted by the trick of the central actor's unfair awareness of the open
>One might think, after tapes brought Nixon down, that the practice would
>be ended. Yet now we see "the Clinton videotapes" -- not secretly shot,
>because the participants could see the cameras, but treated secretly
>inside the White House, as valuable fund-raising souvenirs that turned
>into embarrassments to be hidden from subpoena. (Can East Wing
>audiotapes be far behind?) 
>The ironies are in the fire. Today, Fred Thompson is forcing Clinton's
>videotapes out into the open; only a generation ago, Thompson was the
>Watergate committee counsel who refused to release the Kennedy and
>Johnson taping precedents because it might lessen the fury at Nixon. 
>And those leaders of the 60's who betrayed the trust of their colleagues
>to make themselves look good in the eyes of history? In their despicable
>secret taping, they demeaned themselves, despoiled the Oval Office and
>diminished the privacy of us all.   
>Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company

Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris      : Counselor at Law, federal witness 01
B.A.: Political Science, UCLA;   M.S.: Public Administration, U.C.Irvine 02
tel:     (520) 320-1514: machine; fax: (520) 320-1256: 24-hour/day-night 03
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website: http://supremelaw.com       : visit the Supreme Law Library now 05
ship to: c/o 2509 N. Campbell, #1776 : this is free speech,  at its best 06
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_____________________________________: Law is authority in written words 09
As agents of the Most High, we came here to establish justice.  We shall 10
not leave, until our mission is accomplished and justice reigns eternal. 11
======================================================================== 12
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