Hunter Thompson once wrote, “Richard Nixon was an evil man — evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical reality of the Devil can understand it.” Today, we have new proof. After years of investigation, President Obama has moved to exonerate Air Force Gen. John D. Lavelle, falsely demoted because Richard Nixon was a coward and a crook:
President Nixon Nixon was unwilling to stand up publicly for the general. With many lawmakers and voters already uneasy about the war, he wasn’t about to admit that he had secretly given permission to escalate bombing in North Vietnam. At a June 29 news conference, he was asked about Lavelle’s case and the airstrikes.
“It wasn’t authorized,” Nixon told the reporters. “It was proper for him to be relieved and retired.”
In testimony and interviews before his death in 1979, Lavelle took responsibility for the military consequences of the bombings, which he said were justified to protect U.S. air patrols and surveillance missions over North Vietnam. But he insisted that he never exceeded his authority. He said he was following rules of engagement communicated to him by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington as well as by Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird and Gen. Creighton Abrams. (There is no evidence that Lavelle ever knew that the directive originated with Nixon.)
“It is not pleasant to contemplate ending a long and distinguished military career with a catastrophic blemish on my record,” Lavelle told Congress, “a blemish for conscientiously doing the job I was expected to do.”
Sen. Jim Webb deserves credit as well — he was among those urging the Air Force to hear the Lavelle’s petition. While Lavelle died in 1979, it’s good to know his wife & children have seen his honor restored.
Last word goes to my dad, who served in Vietnam & when he returned, joined anti-war protests. “Wow. Even us dissidents were not cynical enough to see how utterly amoral and ruthless Nixon’s crew was, setting their own guys up and then shoving them into the pit.”