The passion for secrecy, which has prompted President Nixon and his White House aides to deny information and documents to Congressional committees and to the courts, is unfortunately not limited to Watergate. We now find that President Nixon and Dr. Henry Kissinger have been withholding National Security Council documents from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, even though Federal law specifies that he must be a member of the National Security Council.
According to the New York Times, Admiral Moorer was explicitly denied the documents on orders from President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger.
When Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Thomas Moorer discovered that the White House was illegally withholding National Security Council documents from him, he had not only the moral right but the duty to secure that information anyway he could. All this talk about the Joint Chiefs spying to get National Security Council papers is a gross misuse of words because the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was entitled to the information he sought.
When the Pentagon Papers story broke in 1971, White House aides described Henry Kissinger as approaching “near hysteria” over the leak, and said that he got President Nixon so “psyched up” over security leaks that he authorized the now-famous plumbers unit, which later burglarized the offices of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist and engaged in other extra-legal activities.
To deny national security information to the very officials who have the prime duty to protect and defend our national security could have disastrous consequences for the lives and freedom of all Americans. At the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis in in 1962, General Thomas Power, Commander-in-Chief of our Strategic Air Command, discovered that President Kennedy, on the advice of his palace guard, had been withholding intelligence information about Soviet moves in Cuba.
General Power demanded the information from the White House and got it. He then mounted the famous B-52 airborne and sling-shot alert. At that time, we had the capability of delivering more than 40,000 megatons of nuclear power, primarily bomber-carried. This powerful airborne alert turned out to be decisive in forcing Khrushchev to withdraw his missiles off their launching pads in Cuba.
In the weeks before the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, the White House denied our Hawaiian commanders. Admiral Kimmel and General Short, and General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines,the intelligence information about Japanese moves which had been gained by breaking the Japanese codes. Some 2,000 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor, and an American Army was captured at Bataan, because our military commanders had not been given the advance information about the coming Japanese surprise attacks which the White House had.
It is a very dangerous mistake to deny vital intelligence information to our top military commanders.