18 September 2006

Worse than Watergate: What John Dean told me about the Bush administration

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet John Dean, former White House Counsel in the Nixon administration, and a major figure in the Watergate scandal. Dean was in Philadelphia to commemorate Constitution Day at a rally held across the street from Independence Mall, where that precious (and now endangered) document was signed on September 17, 1787. The rally was organized by the American Civil Liberties Union, and co-sponsored by my own organization, Amnesty International, and about a dozen other groups.

Dean was charming and very well spoken. He shared several talking points from one of his most recent books, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, and noted that nobody died from Nixon's crimes.

Dean observed that the secrecy under which the Bush administration operates, along with its blatant corporate favoritism, is a huge warning sign that we're heading towards out-of-control fascism. He places most of the blame on Dick Cheney, with help from Donald Rumsfeld. (Dean doesn't seem to think that Bush is smart enough to have much say of his own in all this, although he's certainly culpable for going along with it.)

Dean had thought that Nixon had written the book on how low an administration could go. But, he said, Bush and Cheney have taken that book and added several more chapters.

According to Dean, Nixon would never have condoned torture. But, as I write this, Bush is lobbying for it.

Dean is correct. This truly is worse than Watergate.

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