summary Watergate and the Secret Government (Kathryn Olmsted, Real Enemies)

Topics: President of the United States, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon Pages: 3 (1074 words) Published: March 10, 2014


President Nixon, according to Olmsted, always worried about conspiracies of un-American forces. Reason for this was mainly the public disclosure of the Pentagon Papers which exposed the lies about the Vietnam war “and its cynical disregard for American soldier’s lives.” (149) Nixon was determined to fight the leak who exposed the papers to the public, namely Ellsberg, a disillusioned former Pentagon and state department analyst. To fight him, Nixon was determined to use any means necessary. The president’s men founded a unit within the White house which called themselves the “plumbers”. The name was chosen because they were looking for “leaks”. In the end, Olmsted claims, they were rather bad producing more leaks than they plugged. Some of them were so determined to find evidence for leaks, that they started fabricating it when they failed to find it. “..paranoia, conspiracy, and conspiracy theory became fundamental operating principles of the executive branch” (150) Conspiracy theories were now also used to distract the public from other (real) crimes. Americans knew more and more about their government through the plumbers who exposed what they could. Ironically, even though people knew more about their government than ever before, they were also never as suspicious of it hiding more and bigger secrets. Amongst other things, Nixon secretly started bombing Cambodia. He mislead the public with the aid of false reports because he apparently wanted to avoid “a public outcry”. The New York Times found out about and published the secret of the bombing. Nixon became paranoid and reacted in a way that would cost him his job. He ordered illegal surveillance of journalists and administration members whom he suspected of leaking the secret, Olmsted points out. An interesting point Olmsted makes is that Nixon later excused his crimes “by arguing that presidents before him had engaged in conspiracies all the time”. (152) He, however, Olmsted states, went far...
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