Monday, August 4, 2014

How LBJ Tried to Steal the 1968 Election and How Nixon Stopped Him

By Roger Stone
By October, Humphrey grew increasingly anti-Vietnam and called for an all-out halt to bombing. Johnson’s infamous “October Surprise” occurred the weekend before the election: Johnson announced a unilateral bombing halt, and even a possible peace deal. The “Halloween Peace” gave Humphrey a boost. Coupled with the late endorsement of the antiwar Senator McCarthy, Nixon and Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey were in a dead heat.
Apparently, Nixon and his team expected the "October Surprise." Nixon saw it as a political maneuver that Johnson would try to use to box him in on his “peace talks” proposal. To counter, Nixon and campaign manager John Mitchell had
opened back channels of communication with the president of South Vietnam, Nguyen Van Thieu. They worked through Anna Chennault, the notorious dragon lady whose husband, Claire Chennault, had founded "The Flying Tigers," a volunteer fighter squadron. Chennault was in touch with the South Vietnamese ambassador and passed a discreet message to President Thieu that the South should refuse the three-party talks and hold out for a better deal after Nixon won the election.
Interestingly, the tipoff for Johnson’s move came from Dr. Henry Kissinger, a paid foreign policy advisor to Governor Nelson Rockefeller and a consultant to the Johnson State Department involved in the delicate conversations regarding Vietnam. Kissinger was also formally advising Humphrey, peppering him with memos on how to deflate Nixon on foreign policy. Kissinger must have sensed that Nixon would prevail. A vocal Nixon hater, the duplicitous foreign policy maven knew that Nixon distrusted him, so Kissinger reached out to him through William F. Buckley Jr., according to staff researcher Jeffrey Bell. Kissinger’s gambit would pay off with a role in Nixon’s diplomacy that would make him national security advisor and ultimately Secretary of State. Nixon and his team were ready for Johnson’s phony bombing halt maneuver.
Pat Buchanan says in his book, The Greatest Comeback, that Nixon wouldn’t have risked the exposure of backdoor negotiations with the South Vietnamese. On the contrary, neither the Nixon nor Mitchell campaign national security advisor Richard V. Allen could resist doing something to ensure that Nixon’s meticulously-orchestrated comeback was not thwarted at the last minute by a cheap political trick by the man from the banks of the Perdernales.
Wiretaps clearly catch Mitchell saying to Chennault, “Now you tell our friends, [the South Vietnamese] they just need to hang on.” 
Wiretaps also clearly picked up the South Vietnamese ambassador asking Madame Chennault if “the top man [Nixon] knew?” of their conversation. 
“No, but I spoke to the number two man today in New Mexico.” 
Vice Presidential candidate Spiro Agnew was indeed campaigning in Albuquerque, New Mexico that day. The FBI wiretaps also picked up Senator John Tower telling Chennault, “Your friends will be treated better by Nixon, and LBJ is preparing to bail out on them and leave them to the mercies of the Vietcong.” 
Nixon’s national security campaign advisor Richard “Dick” Allen would likewise be heard encouraging the dragon lady to transmit the message to Thieu. The FBI trailed Chennault to the South Vietnamese Embassy on at least three occasions immediately after Johnson announced the unilateral bombing halt and it became clear publicly that the South Vietnamese would not play ball.
Thieu, sensing a double-cross from LBJ, was happy to comply. The South Vietnamese let it be known that they would not go to the negotiating table with the North and the “peace gambit” quickly fizzled.
Unfortunately, J. Edgar Hoover learned of Chennault’s back channel, wiretapped him through the FBI, and advised Johnson, who was furious. He said on White House tapes that Nixon had “blood on his hands” and labeled the action “treason.” An angry Johnson called Nixon to confront him, but Nixon denied any knowledge of the maneuver. Nixon aide Haldeman later remembered that he, Nixon, and traveling aide Dwight Chapin erupted in hilarious laughter after Nixon hung up. 

The above is an excerpt from Roger Stone's new book, Nixon's Secrets: The Rise, Fall and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate, and the Pardon.

Buy the book here:

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