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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/26/20

The Military Coup That Almost Was (And Maybe Is)

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Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
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Richard Nixon's legacy is more alive and well than it should be

Though Henry Kissinger has put his knee pads back in the prayer closet, Alexander Haig has gone back to being "in charge" of pushing up his daisies, my friend Dave has finally put away his National Lampoon Missing White House Tapes album (Lemmings was better), and old Daniel Ellsberg has put down his party kazoo and written a scathing account of his fear that Nixon would kill him (execution) and the rest of us by starting WW3. It's a few months past my 46th anniversary celebration of President Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon's jowly resignation from office on August 8, 1974, which has ended all too abruptly for my taste. He almost got us all killed, for chrissakes -- let's kick him around a little more.

So, forgive me if I linger just a little longer over President Paranoid's demise, and briefly consider what happened in the bracketed historical period After Dick, and discuss where we are today, politically speaking.

Even though America commenced to embrace the healing process necessary to restore confidence in the integrity of the world's premiere Democratic Republican system just as soon as Nixon boarded that helicopter holding up his Double Vs, it didn't start out well, for sure, what with new president Gerald Ford's first order of business being the pardon of the eminently and imminently impeachable president for war criminality abroad and blatant treason at home.

Though the laundry cleansing had actually begun with the Congressional passage of the War Powers Act in 1973, significant reform didn't seem fully on its way until Frank Church's Senate hearings of 1975/76 resulted in intensive scrutiny of the extensive "dirty tricks" played by the CIA, NSA and FBI in implementing executive office criminality and in pursuing their own extra-constitutional agendas over a long period of time. The very fearful excesses they engage in now were activities they were engaged in back then as well.

On a 1975 Meet the Press segment, Church cited the breathtaking technological capabilities that US intelligence agencies possessed - even then - and warned that, such were their capabilities, that there would be "nowhere to hide" should those agencies turn their powers on Americans. He added,

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back...all agencies that possess this technology [must] operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss...from which there is no return.

We done burned that bridge behind us, I do believe.

The hearings resulted in the creation of the FISA court in 1978. But neither the War Powers Act nor FISA could hold back the siren call of unbridled power.

In his 1983 Atlantic piece, "The Pardon," investigative journalist Seymour Hersh recounts the general buzz of potential tyranny in the air around the White House in Nixon's closing days:

The notion that Nixon could at any time resort to extraordinary steps to preserve his presidency was far more widespread in the government than the public perceived in the early days of Watergate or perceives today.

The MSM don't say much to the People about important things.

Hersh implies that the instigating force of such a potential military coup had come from Nixon's chief of staff, General Alexander Haig, who had at one point, in the closing days, suggested the possibility of bringing in the 82nd Airborne to surround the White House, ostensibly to protect a worried Nixon.

Hersh recounts a variety of disturbing encounters. In an interview with an unnamed member of the Joint Chiefs, the four-star general told Hersh that in December 1973, when Nixon could see the writing on the wall,

He kept on referring to the fact that he may be the last hope, the eastern elite was out to get him. He kept saying, 'This is our last and best hope. The last chance to resist the fascists [of the left].' His words brought me straight up out of my chair. I felt the President, without the words having been said, was trying to sound us out to see if we would support him in some extra-constitutional action. He was trying to find out whether in a crunch there was support to keep him in power.

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Oceania.

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