My first memories of politics involve Richard Nixon, whose deceit helped me to develop a visceral distrust of politicians, especially those who occupy the White House. In this regard, Nixon is the gift that keeps on giving. In the new book, Poisoning the Press, Mark Feldstein details a plot by Nixon's henchmen to assassinate columnist Jack Anderson. Wow:
Q: The assassination plot by Nixon's operatives was really serious?
It was much more serious than anyone has realized to date. In my research, I found evidence showing that Washington prosecutors investigated this seriously.
This plot went beyond the talking stage. They acted on it by meeting with a CIA poison expert about how to poison him in a way that wouldn't be detected in an autopsy. This definitely got further along than anyone knew, and it got called off at the last minute because there was a more important target – to break into the Watergate complex.
By the way, when I was an undergraduate, I did a semester as an intern in Washington DC (at the DC Circuit). One of our speakers in the lecture series was Jack Anderson -- Anderson was a Mormon, and he regularly spoke to BYU groups -- and I remember thinking he was kind of nutty. "Paranoid" was the word we used to describe him. I guess that old bumper sticker was true: "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the world isn't out to get you."
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