Famed reporter Carl Bernstein: Bush administration has done 'far greater damage' than Nixon
Thursday January 25, 2007
Legendary Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein "took several hard shots" at the Bush administration in an online chat on Wednesday.
Editor & Publisher reports that Bernstein, who along with Post partner Bob Woodward led the journalistic scrutiny which ultimately resulted in President Richard Nixon's downfall, remarked in a washingtonpost.com chat session that "in the case [of] George W. Bush, the American system has obviously failed."
Bernstein elaborated, "[I]magine the difference in our worldview today, had the institutions -- particularly of government -- done their job to insure that a mendacious and dangerous president ... be restrained in a war that has killed thousands of American soldiers, brought turmoil to the lives of millions, and constrained the goodwill towards the United States in much of the world."
E&P says that during reflections on the recent passing of Watergate "plumber" E. Howard Hunt, Bernstein remarked, "In the current administration we have seen from the President [on] down -- especially Vice President Cheney, Attorney General Gonzales, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld--a willingness to ignore the great constitutional history of the United States -- to suspend, really ... many of the constitutional guarantees that have made us a nation apart..."
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist added that the "worst" of it "has been the lying and mendacity of the president and his men and women--in the reasons they cited for going to war, their conduct of the war, their attempts to smear their political opponents.
"Nixon and his men lied and abused the constitution to horrible effect, but they were stopped," said Bernstein. "The Bush Administration ... was not stopped, and has done far greater damage."
Bernstein has long been a critic of the Bush White House. In May 2004, he wrote an editorial for USA Today urging Republican leaders to hold Bush responsible for "the disaster in Iraq" and that the President was "ill-suited" for the Oval Office. In April 2006, he called for a Senate investigation of "the conduct of the presidency of George W. Bush."
Additional excerpts from the E&P article, available in full here, follow...
Later, asked if the Nixon administration was unique in hiring disreputable characters, he replied: "Until the Bush-43 administration, I had believed that the Nixon presidency was sui generis in modern American history in terms of your question...
"In terms of small-bore (but dangerous) characters like Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy with their schemes, I doubt that any presidency approaches the criminality of the Nixon White House. But the Watergate conspiracy--to undermine the constitution and use illegal methods to hurt Nixon's political opponents and even undermine the electoral system--was supervised by those at the very top.
"Then there are th Geneva conventions: Who would have dreamed that, in our lifetime, our leaders would permit their flagrant abuse, would authorize torture, 'renditions' to foreign-torture chambers, suspension of habeus corpus, illegal surveillance of our own citizens....
Bernstein was also asked about thE CIA leak case and the leaking of Valerie Plame's name, which he called "a truly Nixonian event, a happenstance not atypical of the take-no-prisoners politics of the Bush presidency. But it pales in comparison to the larger questions of the Constitution, of life and death, of the Geneva conventions, of the expectation that our leaders -- from Condoleeza Rice to Dick Cheney, to the attorney(s) general to Paul Wolfowitz and on down and up the line speak truthfully to the American people and the Congress. They have consistently failed to do so."