|Vice-President Richard M. Nixon sweating through his 1960 presidential debate with then Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy: NY Times/Associated Press|
The long slow release of audio tapes from the Nixon administration continued Thursday, with hundreds of new hours and thousands of pages of new documents.
“The North Vietnamese put us in an impossible situation,” Nixon said, in a taped Oval Office conversation, referring to the publicly unpopular Christmas bombings – the sweeping air strikes that took place over North Vietnam in mid-December of 1972.
“I think it was important to just whack ‘em, and say nothing, and that silence spoke louder than words,” he added.
The conversation took place on February 13, 1973, just months before the Senate Watergate committee would even learn of the existence of the White House recordings. The December air strikes had already become a cause célèbre for North Vietnam and American peace activists, sending Nixon hunting for support elsewhere.
“We need heroes Bob, the country needs heroes,” the president told entertainer Bob Hope in a phone call on March 15, 1973. Hope had flown to Vietnam to entertain troops on several occasions.
“The flag is flying high, let’s say that, ok?” Nixon continued. “For everybody, not just the POWs, the guys who died, the guys who served, and the United States served a good cause, and our, everybody in the world, our enemies respect us, our allies now trust us.”
The Nixon Library, run by the National Archives, posted 265 hours of White House tape recordings online Thursday and opened 2,500 pages of documents in its latest release of material from his administration.
Relative to Wikleaks’ instant unveiling of secret U.S state department cables, the release of Nixon’s tapes and documents are moving at a snail’s pace. It is now more than 40 years after the fact, and less than half of the reported 3,700 hours of White House conversations have been made public.
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