Friday, June 03, 2005

Did the Nixon White House have prior knowledge that Bremer would assassinate Wallace? 

A lone gunman, acting alone, leaving a diary—or not?

But which one? Back in the day, there very so very many lone gunmen, acting alone, leaving diaries... It's almost as if all these operations events had something in common...

Anyhow, did anyone in the Nixon White House have prior knowledge that Arthur Bremer was going to assassinate George Wallace? Tinfoil hat time? Not really. The Wallace family seemed to think so. And Nixon's behavior at the time was even weirder than usual.

Will Bunch brings our attention to some WaPo content: an actually, honest-to-gosh scoop that seems to have been overlooked in the orgy of Deep Throat coverage:

For the first time, Woodward

There's a pony in here!
-- relying on information that he got from the No. 2 CIA man back in 1972 --added some key new details to President Richard Nixon's strangely suspicious behavior after the shooting that crippled Alabama Gov. George Wallace, the most serious political threat to the president's re-election that year. The growing mound of information about White House meddling in the probe of deranged would-be assassin Arthur Bremer is enough to suggest a re-opening of the investigation of the probe:
[WaPo]That evening, Nixon called Felt -- not Gray, who was out of town -- at home for an update. It was the first time Felt had spoken directly with Nixon. Felt reported that Arthur H. Bremer, the would-be assassin, was in custody but in the hospital because he had been roughed up and given a few bruises by those who subdued and captured him after he shot Wallace. "Well, it's too bad they didn't really rough up the son of a bitch!" Nixon told Felt. Felt was offended that the president would make such a remark. Nixon was so agitated and worried, attaching such urgency to the shooting, that he said he wanted full updates every 30 minutes from Felt on any new information that was being discovered in the investigation of Bremer.

It's important for the White House to stay atop a political assassination case, and that Nixon would take some special interest in the matter in an election year is hardly surprising. But why would the president seem so agitated, and make so many phone calls, on what in essence seemed an open-and-shut case of a lone gunman?

This passage is from a 1997 Washington Post story involving some of the tapes. It begins with a White House meeting that night of May 15, 1972, between Nixon and Chuck Colson, his aide who today is a prominent born-again Christian [SIC] activist:

"Is he [Bremer] a left-winger or a right-winger?" Nixon asked. "Well, he’s going to be a left-winger by the time we get through, I think," Colson replied. "Good," Nixon said, chuckling. "Keep at that. Keep at that." Colson’s lieutenant, soon-to-be Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt, told the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973 that he was told to get into Bremer’s Milwaukee apartment simply to find out "what kind of a kook this guy is," but the idea really was to salt the place with McGovern for president literature. With the FBI on the verge of obtaining a search warrant, Colson was worried only that it might be a bit too late.

In the end, Colson canceled the operation. The FBI had the apartment sealed. But the next morning, at a meeting with Colson and top aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman, Nixon was still urging a White House-inspired media campaign about Bremer, with tidbits to be obtained from FBI Director L. Patrick Gray. "You got Pat Gray, he will be an accomplice," Nixon says in confident tones. "Use him. And use Colson’s outfit—you know, to sneak out things. I mean, you do anything. I mean, anything!"

Maybe this is all very sleazy, hardball politics. Or maybe this is something worse. Could the "agitated and worried" Nixon have been concerned that Hunt and his team of "White House plumbers" -- arrested at the Watergate Hotel just 33 days later -- would somehow be linked to Bremer through one of their rogue operations.

The key question in any crime is cui bono?, or who benefits? With Wallace surging in the Democratic primaries, he might have launched another third-party bid, one which could have out-performed his 1968 showing of 13 percent -- and cost Nixon a close election.

Before Wallace died in 1998, his family asked the case be re-opened -- specifically to examine the actions of Nixon's aides. From a Dec. 14, 1992, Associated Press story (Nexis -- no link): The FBI should reinvestigate the 1972 shooting of former Gov. George C. Wallace, his son said, to learn if there is any truth to a report that the attack was discussed in the Nixon White House.

George Wallace Jr. said Saturday he asked President-elect Clinton to reopen the investigation and that he also wants a congressional inquiry. Wallace said he doesn't believe then-President Nixon had any knowledge of the assasination attempt before the shooting. "My question is, did anyone else involved in Nixon's campaign have prior knowledge?" he said. That was 13 years ago -- but it's not too late. In fact, the key players -- Hunt, Colson, Liddy -- are all alive and in good health. They may know more about why their boss was so agitated about Arthur Bremer. In 2005, with "Deep Throat's" final leak, we're still wondering what did all the president's men know, and when did they know it? (via PNI Online)

Interesting. But since Colson is now a Christian [cough] activist, maybe we could just ask him; after all, it's a sin to lie...

And please refer all mail containing the words "tinfoil hat" to The Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

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