Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4, 1972

Gemstone, or at least a smaller version of Liddy's originally grandiose idea, was now approved at the Committee to Re-Elect, and the White House has been notified. Did Bob Haldeman, the White House Chief of Staff, know about it? Gordon Strachan wrote a memo to prep Haldeman for a meeting with John Mitchell, now Chair of the campaign. As Fred Emery reports, the second item is:

Intelligence -- Gordon Liddy's intelligence operation proposal ($300 [,000]) has been approved. Now you may want to cover with Mitchell who is to be privy to the information. The current system is Magruder  and Reisner. (Magruder's administrative assistant.) Now that Liddy will begin receiving this political intelligence information, you may want to cover with Mitchell, who should be charged with the responsibility of translating the intelligence into an appropriate political response. If it is to be Colson, you may want to lay the groundwork with Mitchell now. Mitchell my suggest Buchana[n], who enjoys that role.

It's basically not plausible that Haldeman didn't know that there was, as another memo put it, a "sophisticated" operation involving electronic surveillance of the Democrats. As we've seen, Chuck Colson at the very least knew that something like that was up even before the decision was made. We know that the president was always demanding more information about his opponents. Is it really plausible that they would have not told him? Perhaps; after all, it's possible they wanted to protect him from the knowledge -- but then again, that doesn't really fit the way they behaved in other cases (although Ehrlichman did, at one point, tell the president he didn't want to know some of what Hunt and Liddy had been up to). Haldeman, for his part, claimed that he didn't talk about this agenda item with Mitchell on April 4, and didn't remember reading Strachan's memo. Maybe he was telling the truth. It seems, however, unlikely.

Might as well include a bit from Haldeman's diary. The diary items, at least those published in the paperback edition, is highly Nixon-centric (there was also a multimedia edition, which I think may have included everything, but I don't have it). Haldeman certainly didn't spend 95% of his time talking with the president, but most of The Haldeman Diary is devoted to those conversations. So nothing about his meeting with Mitchell that day, much less what he read in a memo, but just to get a sense of what else is going on:

Got into several political discussions, the P[resident]'s concerned that we've got to get moving on the attack, that we should have someone attacking Muskie as a defeatist, because he's saying that we shouldn't react to the Vietnam [Easter] attack by the enemy. We shouldn't let him build that line about just getting out of Vietnam. That shows no concern for the POW's or protection for the 70,000 GI's that are there...

Muskie was a busy man, too, that April 4, a Tuesday: it was time for the Wisconsin primary.

UPDATE: Title fixed. Got the year wrong. Ugh. Sorry about that.


  1. Your headline is in error. This is 1972.

    1. Thanks, very much. It's been that kind of week. And I'm pretty sure that the kitchen isn't going to get itself ready for the holiday, so it's not getting any better. Still, getting the year wrong? Awful.

    2. I'm doing a blog in which I watch every #1 movie from 1970 to the present day, and every single post I fear that I'll get the year wrong. So I can relate.

      Here it is, you'll see what I mean:


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