In the wake of the fortieth anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation, Nixon antagonist and former White House Counsel John Dean and Nixon loyalist and long-time political Aide Roger Stone have gone head –to- head with dueling books about Nixon, Watergate and the White House tapes
Dean’s told the New York Times his new book “The Nixon Defense- What the President Knew and When he knew it ‘ is based on approximately 1,000 hours of Watergate-related tapes: While 447 of these conversations had already been transcribed by other people, some less accurately than others, Mr. Dean claims to have added 634 more to the record, many of them never before listened to by anyone other than archivists charged with releasing them for public consumption.”
Stone charges in his book Nixon’s Secrets that Dean refuses to submit these transcripts for independent or peer review and that Dean truncates or completely omits the Nixon-Dean conversations of March 13, 16, 17 and 20th. All of these conversations relate directly to the Watergate cover-up. “These manipulation have the net result of painting a more benign picture of Dean’s role and actually denying Nixon a defense” Stone told us.
Ironically this is not the first time there has been controversy over these very tapes. In 2009 the New York Times reported that Historian Stanley Kutler, who describes himself as a friend of Deans, took two taped conversations on March 16th between Nixon and Dean that were eight hours apart, reversed their order and combined them into one transcript in his book Abuse of Power, the definitive work on the White House tapes at that time.
Kutler also left out critical Nixon/Dean conversation material from March 13, 17, and 20. All of these conversations, coincidentally or not, were devastating to Dean. They show that not only was Dean one of the original planners of the “intelligence operation” that led to the break-in, but that he hired G. Gordon Liddy in part because of Liddy’s successful break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.
Stone told FOX News the one-week gap in the tapes has the effect of hiding Dean’s true role and omitting a number of statements Nixon made which he could have used in his defense. Omitted, for example is the president concluding a discussion with Mr. Dean about granting clemency to the burglars by saying: “No, it’s wrong, that’s for sure.” Dean excises this quote.
Strangely in his New York Times review Dallek praises Dean’s earlier book Blind Ambition as “an important addition to the Watergate literature even though Dean himself, when confronted with discrepancies between the book and his sworn testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee and the Watergate Special prosecutor disowned that book in 1989.
In fact based on the tapes and discovery in litigation by Mr. Dean we now know Dean lied to Nixon about White House involvement in the break -in for nine months, that it was Dean who ordered G. Gordon Liddy to produce the Gemstone plan to which the Watergate break in was added after Dean had the Watergate cased six weeks before the first break-in. Dean was also was the self described “case officer for the cover up”, pressured the CIA to pay for bail for the Watergate burglars, and arranged for and ordered the payment of Hush money for the Watergate burglars. Dean, in his own words, admitted to the president that he was involved in “an obstruction of justice.”
John Dean can only clear the air by releasing the transcripts of all of his conversations with Nixon on March 13,16,17 and 20 and 21st. These will prove Dean sought immunity and a plea bargain only when he saw the cover-up he was running would not hold.