Get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.
-President Nixon to aide H.R. Haldeman
For President Richard Nixon, the publication of the Pentagon Papers, in June 1971, ought not to have mattered. The malfeasance and mendacity revealed in the Times, and soon in papers across the country, had all happened under previous administrations, from Truman to LBJ. In fact, Nixon’s national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, tells the president, "I've read this stuff, and we come out pretty well in it." But Nixon cannot be mollified. It is not the contents of the Pentagon Papers that he's worried about. It is the leaking of classified information that has stoked his fury, and his fear. For Richard Nixon has secrets of his own, secrets that if brought to light, could sink his presidency. What are these secrets? Here the story flashes back, to the late summer and early fall of 1968, when Richard Nixon secures his party's nomination for the presidency and soon finds himself having to navigate the treacherous politics of the Vietnam War. His principal adversary? Not Hubert Humphrey, the other name on the ballot, but Lyndon Johnson, who has opted not to seek a second term, but remains a formidable player, waging a desperate battle to close out the war and salvage his tattered legacy.
Learn more at NixonAtWar.org.