LBJ Tapes: Nixon “treason”


Declassified tapes from the Johnson administration provide evidence that “strongly implicated (audio)” Richard Nixon in back-channel communications with South Vietnam that sabotaged the Paris peace talks at the height of the 1968 presidential election campaign:

By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks – or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had “blood on his hands”.

Nixaon feared a breakthrough in Paris would doom his election chances. In late October, the South Vietnamese withdrew from the talks.

Publicly Nixon was suggesting he had no idea why the South Vietnamese withdrew from the talks. He even offered to travel to Saigon to get them back to the negotiating table.

Johnson felt it was the ultimate expression of political hypocrisy but in calls recorded with Clifford they express the fear that going public would require revealing the FBI were bugging the ambassador’s phone and the National Security Agency (NSA) was intercepting his communications with Saigon.

So they decided to say nothing.

The president did let Humphrey know and gave him enough information to sink his opponent. But by then, a few days from the election, Humphrey had been told he had closed the gap with Nixon and would win the presidency. So Humphrey decided it would be too disruptive to the country to accuse the Republicans of treason, if the Democrats were going to win anyway.

Instead, Nixon won, escalated the war and bombed Laos and Cambodia. An additional 22,000 Americans lost their lives and hundreds of thousands more in Southeast Asia before the peace agreement signed in 1973.


  1. Mister Bill says:

    And this changes what exactly?

  2. Davyne Dial says:

    Johnson did more than his fair share of lies and deceptions about Vietnam during his tenure.

    It’s probably a tossup as to which President created more flowing blood.

  3. Davyne Dial says:

    Gulf of Tonkin incident:
    Reaction from Congress
    While President Johnson’s final resolution was being drafted, Senator Wayne Morse attempted to hold a fundraiser to raise awareness about possible faulty records of the incident involving the USS Maddox. Morse supposedly received a call from an informant who has remained anonymous urging Morse to investigate official logbooks of the Maddox.[26] These logs were not available before President Johnson’s resolution was presented to Congress.[26]
    After urging Congress that they should be wary of President Johnson’s coming attempt to convince Congress of his resolution, Morse failed to gain enough cooperation and support from his colleagues to mount any sort of movement to stop it.[26] Immediately after the resolution was read and presented to Congress, Morse began to fight it. He contended in speeches to Congress that the actions taken by the United States were actions outside of the constitution and were “acts of war rather than acts of defense.”[26]
    Morse’s efforts were not immediately met with support, largely because he revealed no sources and was working with very limited information.[26] It was not until after the United States became more involved in the war that his claim began to gain support throughout the United States government. The controversial Morse was defeated when he ran for re-election in 1968.[27]
    [edit]Distortion of the event

    Evidence was still being sought on the night of August 4 when Johnson gave his address to the American public on the incident. Messages recorded that day indicate that neither President Johnson nor McNamara was certain of an attack.[28]
    Various news sources, including Time, Life and Newsweek, ran articles throughout August on the Tonkin Gulf incident.[29] Time reported: “Through the darkness, from the West and south…intruders boldly sped…at least six of them… they opened fire on the destroyers with automatic weapons, this time from as close as 2,000 yards.”[30] Time stated that there was “no doubt in Sharp’s mind that the U.S. would now have to answer this attack”, and that there was no debate or confusion within the administration regarding the incident.[30]
    The use of the set of incidents as a pretext for escalation of U.S. involvement follows the issuance of public threats against North Vietnam, as well as calls from American politicians in favor of escalating the war.[31] On May 4, 1964, William Bundy called for the U.S. to “drive the Communists out of South Vietnam”, even if that meant attacking both North Vietnam and Communist China.[31] Even so, the Johnson administration in the second half of 1964 focused on convincing the American public that there was no chance of war between North Vietnam and the U.S.[31]

  4. Ascend of Asheville says:

  5. And this changes what exactly?

    Yeah, Tom. Can’t you find something nasty to say about Obama? Treason by Republicans is just so boring.

  6. 5 more years of war, 22,000 more American soldiers dead, who knows how many hundreds of thousands Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, etc. more dead, just so Nixon could win the election.

    How is it that this didn’t come out while he was President?