Forty years ago, Nixon went line by line through his tape transcripts and made his own edits.
“He personally went through them and said, ‘Let’s not tell this, let’s not show this,’ ” said Woodward on “Morning Joe."
Nixon, of course, was trying to deflate the increasing public and congressional pressure for him to release the tapes themselves. He wasn’t successful. The tapes revealed the extent of his involvement with the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover up.
As to Benghazi, Woodward concluded that the edits “show the hydraulic pressure that was in the system not to tell the truth.”
Is Woodward right to make this comparison? After all, he is the media’s official arbiter of all things Watergate, and his words here carry special weight.
Well, it’s certainly possible that he’s hit upon the reason the talking points got changed around. But having read the 100 pages of e-mails on the editing process ourselves, we’d say it’s also possible that he’s jumping to conclusions. For at least some of the officials involved in the process, the reason to take out references to terrorists and Al Qaeda was not to hide the truth, but because they did not know what the truth was.
For instance, early in the editing process Stephen Preston, the CIA’s general counsel, e-mailed talking-point participants that “in light of the criminal investigation, we are not to generate statements with statements as to who did this, etc. – even internally, not to mention for public release.”