Nixon's Tapes & the 'Greek Connection.'(further Release and Organization of the Richard M. Nixon Tapes Indicates Extensive Involvement of Greek-American Tycoon Tom Pappas in the Watergate affair)(Minority Report)(Brief Article)(Column)

By Hitchens, Christopher | The Nation, November 24, 1997 | Go to article overview

Nixon's Tapes & the 'Greek Connection.'(further Release and Organization of the Richard M. Nixon Tapes Indicates Extensive Involvement of Greek-American Tycoon Tom Pappas in the Watergate affair)(Minority Report)(Brief Article)(Column)


Hitchens, Christopher, The Nation


The latest tranche of Nixon White House tapes shows how right Bill Clinton was, in his sickly and lachrymose funeral speech for Tricky Dicky, to insist that we learn to look at the whole man and the whole life. Nixon was scum, from top to bottom and from beginning to end, and through and through. Even by our degraded standard for the professional pol, he managed to be both howlingly empty and screamingly foul. His choice of associates tells you everything you need to know, about both them and him. Henry Kissinger, who squatted with a crap-eating smirk on his face through dirty Nixonian diatribes against the Jews (there are several more of these charming intimacies in the newly released tapes), touches new bottoms of toadyism when he says, on April 17, 1973, "You have saved this country, Mr. President. The history books will show that, when no one will know what Watergate means."

His second career, as a deep-thinking establishment pundit, probably began at that very moment.

Professor Stanley Kutler, whose book The Wars of Watergate is still the best general history of the subject, has performed two kinds of service here. First, he continued to sue the Nixonians and the National Archives for the right of public access to the tapes. Second, he has edited and arranged the resulting transcripts (Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes, Free Press) in a manner both concise and scholarly.

As a consequence, the mainstream press has for the first time paid some attention to a figure who has been tracked in these pages since May 31, 1986 [see Hitchens, "Watergate -- The Greek Connection"]. Tom Pappas, a Greek-American tycoon who acted as a front man for the military junta then ruling that unhappy country, is the only one whose name turns up at each stage of the Watergate conspiracy. He plays a part in an original crime of the Nixon gang. His actions draw the attention of the Democratic National Committee. He is aware of the burglary. He is the provider of the crucial cash to buy the silence of the burglars. The new tapes show his footprints throughout.

To recapitulate: In 1968 Pappas delivered $549,000 in cash to the Nixon campaign. The money came from the K.Y.P., acronym of the Greek C.I.A. Since the K.Y.P. was at the time a subsidized dependency of Langley, Virginia, US. law was being broken in two outrageous ways -- the supply of campaign money by a foreign dictatorship and the recycling of U.S. intelligence money into the electoral process. My friend and colleague Elias Demetracopoulos, an anti-fascist Greek journalist, had laid the essential facts before Larry O'Brien, chairman of the D.N.C. O'Brien had publicly demanded an explanation of the Pappas connection to the Nixon-Agnew campaign. Thus we have a motive and an objective for the Watergate burglars, whose boss had been bugging the Demetracopoulos telephone as well.

In the newly released tapes, on June 20, 1972 -- the same day as the legendary eighteen-and-a-half-minute erasure and three days after the break-in itself -- Nixon can be heard saying to Chief of Staff H. …

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