Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Channeling Richard Nixon

Remember the good old days -- secret tapes, break-ins, and the "Enemies' List"?

Nixon's Enemy List was the creation of former & reformed Nixon henchman, John Dean. In August, 1971, he sent a memo to fellow Nixon henchman Larry Higby entitled Dealing with our political enemies.

In the memo he proposed using the agencies of the federal government to gather information on American citizens who opposed (or offended) the Nixon Administration:
This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration, Stated a bit more bluntly--how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.
The list started out modestly, with 20 names; soon they added a few dozen Senators, Representatives, and organizations. Eventually, they put 30,000 Americans on their list. It was that kind of imperious attitude which permeated everything the Nixon clan did and lead ultimately to Nixon's impeachment and resignation. While Dean denied knowledge that Nixon was aware of the enemies list, eventually the Nixon Crime Family were secretly tapping reporter's phones, invading opposition headquarters, raiding psychiatrist's offices, and listening to super-henchman Gordon Liddy talking about assassinating Jack Anderson.

I was fortunate to have the kind of job that allowed me to watch most of the Watergate Hearings live in that 1974 summer which, memory says, was unusually hot.

It seems like U.S. Reprehensible Tim Murphy (PA-18) is also reliving 1974.

Melissa Meinzer, of the Pittsburgh City Paper reports that Murphy used his campaign staff to begin gathering information on everyday citizens who didn't understand how unAmerican it was to write a letter to the editor opposing Murphy's policies. Meinzer reported on an internal campaign memo to Murphy from his campaign manager. Here's what she wrote:
"The following is the information I was able to retrieve on the individuals who wrote negative letters to the editor about you," reads the beginning of a three-page memo dated June 23, 2006. The memo, addressed to "TFM," was apparently written by Murphy campaign manager Justin Lokay.

The memo includes copies of two letters to the Post-Gazette from earlier that month. The first, by Brian Rampolla, criticizes Murphy's claims that a visit to Iraq had shown him the war was going well and getting better by the day. The second, by Christine Gallo, echoes Rampolla's statements.

In addition to Rampolla's and Gallo's addresses and phone numbers, the documents detail Rampolla's voting record and religion, his stances on gun control and abortion, and his place of business -- as well as his supposed support for Rick Santorum's Democratic opponent in the 2000 U.S. Senate race. Gallo's voting record and place of business are also noted in the document.
Meizner also mentioned in her report that the memo had been uploaded and linked to the Wiki article on Murphy. Coincidentally, a few hours after the Meizner article appeared, and anonymous editor deleted the links from the Wiki article. Gee, wonder who and why? Fortunately, on the internets, almost nothing is ever gone for good. I've replaced the link on Wiki, but, just in case Murphy or his henchmen again delete the Wiki links, here's the section with the links restored:
The documents that have been leaked by Murphy's staff so far include:

* a document that shows “background research” performed by staff members on constituents who wrote letters to the editor
* documents that indicate campaign work being handled through the DO,
* a document showing a planned teleconference with John Braebender, a media consultant for Rick Santorum. Oh, and if Reprehensible Murphy's own personal G. Gordon does manage to make the linked documents disappear, lemme know, because I have also downloaded them.

A Bite 'o the Cheesesteak to Capitol Ideas with John Micek for Meizner's article.

(photo credits: Reprehensible Murphy, Haraz N. Ghanbari, Associated Press, via Post-Gazette; Nixon, unknown)

Since Reprehensible Murphy (i) keeps his e-mail a secret and (ii) accepts e-mail through the HR server only from constituents, I sent an e-mail to his Communications Director inviting comment and also asking a few questions, like whether Murphy had ever had anyone else checked out this way and whether his staff had anything to do with the disappeared Wiki links. So far, they have ignored the e-mail.

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