Jonathan Franklin writes at Common Dreams:
Without going over the edge to Rush Limbaugh territory, the internal spying on reporters and politicization of the IRS do raise the question. Could Obama be trumping “Tricky Dick” on the latter’s home turf? Few politicians can match Richard Milhous Nixon for obsession with leaks, propagation of secret wars and creation of a list of enemies.
Let’s consider the evidence thus far and remember first that an indignant bi-partisan Congressional investigation, a ferocious press well beyond Woodward and Bernstein and a public that was riveted to the hour-by-hour testimony exposed Nixon’s dirty tricks.
Obama’s penchant for secrecy has allowed only snippets of the most deadly policies to be revealed. Without even the most basic details on essential policies including execution of Americans, targeting criteria for lethal drone strikes and offensive cyber warfare ops, it will be hard to given Nixon an even playing field in the comparison, but “Nixon vs. Obama, who was worse?” is a question that many people are starting to ask.
On the zeal for tracking down leaked information, Richard Nixon’s obsession is legendary. He reacted to the leak of the Pentagon Papers by first asking the FBI to organize secret break ins, and when the FBI refused created his own “a special investigations unit,” a secret group of top aides to combat the leaking. They were latter known as “The Plumbers.” Led by the obsession to find dirt on Daniel Ellsberg, a former aide to the Secretary of Defense who passed the Pentagon Papers information to the New York Times, Nixon’s aides organized a series of break-ins culminating in the arrests of burglars at the Watergate offices in Washington, D.C. We all know how that story ends.
Obama’s record is still a work in progress, but he shows great potential to top Nixon. Not only has the Obama administration punished leakers, but has also targeted legitimate whistleblowers to a far greater extent than any President in recent memory. Last year, the Obama administration charged John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent, under the Espionage Act for telling reporters details about waterboarding torture techniques used on suspected terrorists. Kiriakou’s decision to share details (few if any of them top secret) is hardly more revealing than Ellsberg’s handing over of a vast store of Pentagon Vietnam War strategy and assessments.
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