Folks — like esnl — who remember Richard Nixon’s interrupted presidency remember well that Tricky Dick was brought down leaks.
Or, rather, his thin-skinned, paranoid response to news slipping out the White House.
To stop the leaks, he and his henchmen created a special squad, including ex-CIA operatives and a former FBI agent and prosecutor, to stop the leaks.
Humorously, someone dubbed them the Plumbers Squad, and the name stuck. They wiretapped reporters and their suspected sources, including Nixon’s own National Security Advisor, then made the fatal mistake of busting into the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex, where they were caught and subsequently tried and convicted, the first of many jail sentences that would reach all the way to top, sparing on Nixon himself, who was parted by the successor he appointed.
We can’t help but wonder if the current occupant of the White House isn’t headed down the same road, because he’s exhibiting an even more overt case of hostility toward the Fourth Estate.
Reuters summarizes recent developments:
President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin used his first senior staff meeting last month to tell his new aides he would not tolerate leaks to the news media, sources familiar with the matter said.
Current and former officials said that in a departure from past practice, access to a classified computer system at the White House has been tightened by political appointees to prevent professional staffers from seeing memos being prepared for the new president.
And at the Department of Homeland Security, some officials told Reuters they fear a witch hunt is under way for the leaker of a draft intelligence report which found little evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries covered by Trump’s now-suspended travel ban pose a threat to the United States.
Washington career civil servants say the clampdown appears designed to try to limit the flow of information inside and outside government and deter officials from talking to the media about topics that could result in negative stories.
We see trouble ahead, and not just for the press.