On Wednesday, June 27, 1973, John W. Dean III, by then a former White House aide, presented to the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (generally known as the Ervin Committee) documents from a file called "Opponents List and Political Enemies Project." According to Dean, the list was first compiled in the office of Mr. Charles Colson while the latter was Special Counsel to President Nixon. The list was sent to Dean in the summer of 1971. Other White House staff members added many names to the list, which eventually included over two hundred people. It has become known as the Enemies List and is made up of the names of persons and organizations judged by Mr. Colson and others to be unfriendly, if not dangerous, to the Nixon administration and, therefore, to be given special attention. A Dean memorandum suggested how to deal with the enemies.
Response has been mixed. Some of the persons on the list thought it a great joke. Others saw it as an alarming threat to individual liberty. The response of political columnists and commentators ranged from those who dismissed it as irresponsible to those who described it, as Hans J. Morgenthau did, as a part of "The Aborted Nixon Revolution". William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote:
Dean's memorandum was an act of proto-fascism. It is altogether ruthless in its dismissal of human rights. It is fascist in its reliance on the state as the instrument of harassment. It is fascist in its automatic assumption that the state in all matters comes before the right of the individual. And it is fascist in tone: The stealth, the brutality, the self-righteousness. It is far and away the most hideous document to have come out of the Watergate investigation.