His role in uncovering the Nixon taping system, which he’s still bragging about on his campaign website, turns out to have been entirely mythical. As minority counsel, he helped the White House coverup by telling the White House lawyers in advance what the committee knew and what questions they would face.
As I suspected, it turns out that Fred Thompson was a White House mole on the Senate Watergate Committee staff. It also turns out that his much-touted role in “revealing” the existence of the White House taping system consisted entirely of asking a canned question in public about a practice the committee had already learned about from interviewing another witness.
Note that Thompson has mastered the art of the non-response response. Asked why he was an accessory to the White House’s stonewalling efforts, his only reply was: “I’m glad all of this has finally caused someone to read my Watergate book, even though it’s taken them over thirty years.”
I’ll bet you anything you like that this story, which says something truly horrible about Thompson’s character, won’t get nearly the attention lavished on John Edwards’s haircut.
Author: Mark Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out.
Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken)
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist
Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993)
Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989)
View all posts by Mark Kleiman