1969 May 9

NY Times Article Sparks Nixon Administration Wiretapping: Long Chain of Abuses Begin


A New York Times article on this day reported secret American bombings in Cambodian as part of the Vietnam War. The story led President Richard Nixon to order wiretaps on members of the National Security Agency staff. Historians generally believe that Nixon’s response to the wiretaps was the first step in a long chain of abuses of power that led to the Watergate Scandal (see the original Watergate burglary on June 17, 1972), which ended with Nixon’s resignation as president on August 9, 1974.

One of the people wiretapped in this episode was Morton Halperin, a staff member of the National Security Council under Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s National Security Advisor. Halperin left the administration four months later, in September 1969. The wiretapping continued until early 1971, and Halperin was later placed on Nixon’s infamous “enemies” list. After the wiretapping was revealed in 1973, Halperin sued and was eventually awarded symbolic damages of $1.00. Halperin served as director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office from 1984 to 1992, and then served in the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

Watch Morton Halperin discuss “Who Decides About War?”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS6nCqTDHn4

Read: Stanley Kutler, The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon (1990)

Learn about warrantless wiretapping: https://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/warrantless-wiretapping

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