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During the 1968 contest between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon, President Lyndon Johnson was attempting to negotiate a peace deal to end the Vietnam War. Nixon was worried that if this happened just before the election it would help Humphrey, who was Johnson’s vice president. Recently discovered notes by one of Nixon’s top campaign aides show that Nixon asked him to “monkey wrench” the peace talks.
Via Anna Chennault, a top Republican fundraiser, the Nixon campaign sent messages to the government of South Vietnam not to go along with Johnson’s plans. Johnson knew that this was happening at the time, and believed that it constituted “treason.” He ordered the FBI to wiretap the embassy of South Vietnam in Washington, which picked up Ambassador Bui Diem communicating with Chennault. (Presidents could and did directly order wiretaps prior to the establishment of the FISA court in 1978 to prevent executive branch abuses of its surveillance power.) The FBI also began conducting general surveillance of Chennault.
President: Now, I don’t want to have information that ought to be public and not make it so. At the—on the other hand, we have a lot of—I don’t know how much we can do there and I know we'll be charged with trying to interfere with the election. And I think this is something that's going to require the best judgments that we have. I'm rather concerned by this Saville Davis conversation with the Embassy this morning.
President: Now, what he gets from Saigon is well and good and fine. But if he gets it from us, I want to be sure that A, we try to do it in such a way that our motives are not questioned and that if the public interest requires it, and two—and that's the only thing I want to operate under, I'm not interested in the politics of it—the second thing is I want to be sure that what we say can be confirmed.
Rusk: Well, Mr. President, I have a very definite view on this, for what it's worth. I do not believe that any President can make any use of interceptions or telephone taps in any way that would involve politics. The moment we cross over that divide we are in a different kind of society.
Clifford: Well, I would think that there would be a good deal of merit to that. I'd go on to another reason also. And that is, I think that some elements of the story are so shocking in their nature that I'm wondering whether it would be good for the country to disclose the story, and then possibly to have a certain individual elected. It could cast his whole administration under such doubts that I would think it would be inimical to our country's interests.
originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: PistolPete
Somewhere in my collection of Watergate memoirs (but it would take a while to track it down), Nixon is described remarking on the fact that his Democrat predecessors bugged as well.
Do you think Humphrey bugged? muses his interlocutor (Haldeman? Dean?)
"Hell no- why Johnson bugged Humphrey! "
And Nixon is chuckling at the thought that the "wily old Johnson" was bugging his own Vice-President.
originally posted by: DISRAELI
originally posted by: PistolPete
And J. Edgar Hoover probably had them all bugged.
Somewhere in those books there's a quotation about that as well. Wasn't he supposed to be unremovable for that reason?
Tape Shows Nixon Feared Hoover By MICHAEL WINES, Published: June 5, 1991
FA June 4— Richard M. Nixon chose in 1971 not to remove J. Edgar Hoover as head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in part because he feared that Mr. Hoover would "bring down the temple" by releasing damaging information about him, according to newly released transcripts of the former President's White House tape-recorded conversations.
originally posted by: flatbush71
You youngsters know so little of history.
Lyndon B. Johnson
36th U.S. President
Born: August 27, 1908, Stonewall, Texas, United States
Died: January 22, 1973, Stonewall, Texas, United States
(Presidents could and did directly order wiretaps prior to the establishment of the FISA court in 1978 to prevent executive branch abuses of its surveillance power.)