As 1972 approached, President Richard Nixon started to get more and more concerned about his coming reelection campaign. He became convinced that his political adversaries weren’t just opponents-they were “enemies” and had to be stopped. He and his advisers compiled this list of 20 public figures who they felt could hurt them in some way. Were they ever really threats to Nixon? Probably not, but Nixon thought so, which makes this piece of history all the more fascinating.
“On Screwing Our Political Enemies”
In 1972 five men were caught breaking into Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. The culprits turned out to have ties to high-level members of both the Republican Party and the Nixon administration. The Congressional investigation that followed unraveled the Nixon presidency, exposing the systematic way Nixon abused power and attempted to destroy his enemies (real and imagined), eventually leading to his resignation in order to avoid impeachment.
One year before Nixon’s resignation, on June 27, 1973, White House counsel John Dean testified before Congress about possible connections between the Nixon administration and the Watergate burglars’ plan to steal information damaging to Democratic candidates. Dean mentioned that in 1971 he’d received a memo titled “On Screwing Our Political Enemies.” Written by Charles Colson, another Nixon attorney, the memo was a list of people singled out as those most threatening to Nixon’s career. The memo detailed how the White House planned to go about discrediting Nixon’s opponents, which included anyone trying to run against him and any reporter who’d given him unfavorable coverage. The goal: to ruin every person on the list with a campaign of rumors, character assassination, and even IRS audits.
Who Are These People
The fact that there was a list was pretty much all Dean said about it. He didn’t mention any names, although he did turn the memo over to the Senate as evidence. Daniel Schorr, the CBS reporter covering the hearings, wasn’t satisfied- he wanted to see the list. He requested a copy of the memo from the Congressional press office the same day Dean talked about it. That night, as Schorr was delivering a live report on the CBS Evening News, an assistant handed him the memo, with its list of 20 targets. Schorr then read it live on the air. Among the names on the list, to Schorr’s surprise, was Schorr himself. Here’s a look at all the entrants on Nixon’s “Enemy List,” in the order that they were listed on the memo, from Enemy #1 down.
#1) ARNOLD M. PICKER. Picker was a former executive with United Artists, a Hollywood film production studio. In 1971 he signed on as the finance director for Democratic Sen. Edwin Muskie’s Presidential campaign. The memo expresses the hope that a scandal involving Picker would “debilitate and embarrass the Muskie machine.”
#2) ALEXANDER E. BARKAN. Barkan was a union organizer who became the national director of the powerful AFL-CEO labor union Committee on Political Education (COPE) in 1963. COPE was the union’s political wing, which lobbied on behalf of unionized labor and education its members about which candidates were the most pro-union. Nixon and the Republican party were opponents of unionized labor, which is what landed Barkan on the Enemies List. The memo identified Barkan’s COPE as “the most powerful political force” against Nixon in 1968, as it raised $10 million for Democratic candidates and influenced the votes of more than 4.6 million people. Nixon wanted COPE shut down, fearing that its anti-Nixon efforts would be ramped up in the 1972 election. Ironically, it turned out that Nixon had nothing to worry about: Barkan denounced the ’72 Democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern, for succumbing to the tide of 1960s counterculture influence and turning the party into one of “acid, amnesty, and abortion.”
#3) EDWIN O. GUTHMAN. Politicians and political activists who opposed Nixon were on his Enemies List, and so were investigative reporters. Guthman won a Pulizer Prize in 1950 when, as a reporter with the Seattle Times, he proved that the Washington State Un-American Activities Committee doctored evidence to accuse a college professor of Communist ties (Around the same time, Nixon had worked on the House Un-American Activities Committee, which rooted out Communists at the national level.) In 1961 Guthman became Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s press secretary, and in 1965 national editor of the Los Angeles Times, where Nixon’s aides were convinced (with little proof) that Guthman was “the prime mover behind the current Key Biscayne effort” – a scandal that linked Nixon’s purchase of cheap real estate in Florida with known Mafiosi.
#4) MAXWELL DANE. An advertising executive at Doyle Dane Bernbach, the advertising agency that handled most of the Democratic party’s national presidential advertising in 1964. In that campaign, Dane’s agency produced a frightening political ad for President Johnson called “Daisy,” in which a little girl holds a flower in a field, counting down, until a nuclear bomb wipes out everything. That year, Democrat Lyndon Johnson beat Republican Barry Goldwater in a landslide…and Nixon wasn’t about to let that happen to him. According to the memo, Dane was a test target for the Nixon enemies project-if he was successfully discredited, his partners, Doyle and Bernbach, would be next.
#5) CHARLES DYSON. A major financier through his Dyson-Kissner Corporation, a major philanthropist through his Dyson Foundation, and a major contributor to Democratic candidates and causes. He funded the Businessmen’s Educational Fund, which in turn sponsored a series of five-minute anti-Nixon radio ads in the run-up to the 1972 election. Dyson was also a close associate of Democrat strategist and Democratic National Committee chairman Larry O’Brien (whose office was the main target in the Watergate burglary).
#6) HOWARD STEIN. One of the nation’s leading investment bankers, Stein was chairman of the Dreyfus Corporation. There, he invented the mutual fund and made billions for his company and for himself. He was also the largest individual donor to Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Nixon feared he’d donate as much or more to the opposition again in 1972, especially if the opposition were wither John Lindsay or George McGovern, the memo notes.
#7) ALLARD LOWENSTEIN. A civil rights activist, an anti-Vietnam War activist, a high-level Democratic party strategist, a one-term congressman from New York…and founder of a liberal voter information group called “Dump Nixon.”
#8) MORTON HALPERIN. Halperin was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson, and was one of the few officials in the Johnson administration who had opposed the Vietnam War from the very beginning. Nevertheless, Halperin was appointed to the National Security Council by Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. When the New York Times reported in May 1969 that Kissinger had directed the secret bombing of Cambodia, Kissinger and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover believed Halperin was responsible for leaking the news and began tapping his phones. He left the NSC later that year and went on to be a leader of Common Cause, a nonprofit group dedicated to openness and accountability in government. The tapping of his phone continued until early 1971.
#9) LEONARD WOODCOCK. Woodcock appeared on the List with the caption “no comments necessary.” He headed the United Auto Workers union, one of the largest and most powerful trade unions in the United States, with a large, Democrat-supporting voting bloc. Woodcock also used his position to publicly support two causes Nixon avoided: civil rights and women’s rights.
#10) STERLING MUNRO JR. Munro was a top aide for liberal Washington senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a possible 1972 presidential candidate. “Positive results” for digging up dirt on Munro, the memo notes, “would stick a pin in Jackson’s white hat.”
#11) BENARD T. FELD. Feld was an MIT physicist who had helped develop the atomic bomb. Feelings of remorse later led him to denounce nuclear weaponry and serve with both the Albert Einstein Peace Committee and the Council for a Livable World, both nuclear disarmament action groups dedicated to banning nuclear weapons worldwide. Feld was a major voice for and donor to left-wing and pacifist causes, and as such, he was targeted by Nixon’s cronies. The memo suggests that Feld will “program an all-court press against us [Nixon] in ’72.”
#12) SIDNEY DAVIDOFF. In 1971 popular, young New York City mayor John Lindsay switched from the Republican party to the Democratic party, citing “the failure of 20 years in progressive Republican politics.” He then announced his candidacy for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination. He was an early frontrunner, doing well in caucuses and fundraising. Davidoff was Lindsay’s top aide, in charge of Lindsay’s drive to capture the youth and counterculture vote. The Enemies memo called Davidoff “a first-class SOB wheeler-dealer.”
#13) JOHN CONYERS. Conyers was (and still is) a Michigan congressman representing Detroit. First elected in 1964, Conyers founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 to address the specific needs of African-Americans, hired Rosa Parks as he secretary in 1965, and in 1968 advocated to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. Nixon did not strongly support the Civil Rights Movement, largely because it was a liberal cause. As Conyers was a leading institutional force for civil rights, he was targeted by Nixon. (The memo crudely suggests that Conyers “has a known weakness for white females.”)
#14) SAMUEL M. LAMBERT. The president of the National Education Association, Lambert spoke out against Nixon’s re-election promise to give federal aid to private and parochial schools, which threatened to be a contentious issue in 1972. If Lambert and the NEA were discredited, then Nixon would be able to push his legislation through more easily. (Ultimately, that legislation did not pass.)
#15) STEWART RAWLINGS MOTT. Mott inherited millions from his father, Charles Stewart Mott, a member of the General Motors board of directors and mayor of Flint, Michigan. The younger Mott became a philanthropist, creating Mott Associates and pouring his money into causes considered liberal or even radical at the time, including the legalization of abortion, gay rights, birth control, and feminism. He was targeted for his donations of “big money for radic-lib candidates.”
#16) RONALD DELLUMS. A 36-year old African-American U.S. congressman from Oakland, California, Dellums was a protégé of liberal senators John Tunney and Edward Kennedy, as well as an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War.
#17) DANIEL SCHORR. The memo labels the CBS News reporter “a real media enemy.” Schorr started at the network in 1953, recruited by Edward R Murrow, the newsman who challenged Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s drive to root out Communists in government in the early 1950s (a drive in which California congressman Richard Nixon had assisted). Schorr made several reports over the years that Nixon loathed, including a sympathetic interview with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1957 and an examination of life in East Germany in 1962. The FBI opened a file on Schorr in 1971.
#18) HARRISON DOGOLE. One of the leading contributors to Hubert Humphrey’s 1968 presidential campaign was Globe Security Systems-one of the largest private detective and security agencies in the United States. Globe president S. Harrison Dogole authorized the contributions to Humphrey, who lost to Nixon in the ’68 election. Nixon’s team was convinced that Dogole would be out for revenge in 1972, stating in the memo that Dogole had to be deflected because he could contribute millions to the 1972 Democratic candidate, or possibly even use Globe agents to spy on Nixon.
#19) PAUL NEWMAN. Yes, the Paul Newman. One of the biggest stars in Hollywood, he was also aligned with “radical and liberal causes,” including the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Democrat Eugene McCarthy in 1968. Newman had personally endorsed the candidate in campaign commercials, and Nixon’s folks feared he might be used again in such a way in 1972.
#20) MARY McGRORY. A columnist for the Washington Post, McGrory was a liberal editorial writer who penned “daily hate Nixon articles,” as the memo put it, and anti-Vietnam War pieces. (McGrory went on to win the Pulizer Prize in 1975 for her reporting on the Watergate scandal.)
In conjunction with the ongoing Watergate investigation, the Congressional Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation looked into whether or not the people on Nixon’s Enemies List had, in fact, been subjected to any unfair treatment, specifically unfair taxation or unnecessary tax audits. The committee announced in December 1973 that it had found no evidence that any of the people listed had been treated unfairly. But who knows what would have happened if those five men who broke into the Watergate hadn’t been captured.
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