"Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal." — Former President Richard Milhous Nixon
It's a long-dead horse I'm beating today, and I'm doing it with a well-worn stick, but the stick has suddenly gained some fresh luster. Besides, when the horse was as wretched a testament to all the worst instincts and possibilities in the human character as Richard Nixon was, there's a certain savage pleasure to it ... like finding out that the jackhole who used to make your daily high school life a living hell flunked out of college and is stuck in a nightmarish job while you have moved on to bigger and better things. That Richard Nixon was a criminal of the highest caliber is a matter of fact; had Gerald Ford not pardoned him, it's undoubtable that Nixon would've been the first President of the United States to be cast down from the mountain to wallow with the scum of the Earth. At best a common thug, the harshest accusations thrown at Nixon was that he had committed treason by sabotaging the the 1968 Vietnam peace talks. Thanks to the BBC we can finally pin it to him.
Nixon was infamous for the audio recording equipment he had installed in the White House, but he wasn't the first to want to record his words for posterity. His successor Lyndon Johnson did so as well (though not on the same scale), and it's from several Johnson tapes we get solid proof that Nixon actively sabotaged the peace talks leading up to the 1968 election. The Democrats, lead by Hubert Humphrey, had built their entire platform on peace talks in light of the Tet Offensive. Success would mean a Democratic victory, which was unacceptable to a man who wanted to be president no matter what.
When he learned in October 1968 that the North Vietnamese had made major concessions which would allow the talks to get under way (concessions that would have ended the carpet bombing of North Vietnam) Nixon knew that it was time to fight. Months earlier, the Nixon campaign had established a back-channel to the South Vietnamese ambassador through senior campaign advisor Anna Chennault, and the message she passed onto the ambassador was simple enough. "Withdraw from the peace talks and South Vietnam will get a better deal if Nixon wins." Predictably, the South withdrew from the peace talks.
What comes next will truly boggle the mind. Johnson received word of the withdrawal the night before he planned to announce an end to the bombing, and thanks to the FBI having bugged the ambassador's phone lines, knew exactly why it had happened. And what did Johnson do? He sat on the information. Once he was sure Nixon was personally involved, he got a message to Nixon that he knew what was happening. Unfortunately aside from that and placing the Nixon campaign under FBI surveillance, nothing proactive was done. Johnson felt that going public would reveal the NSA spying on communications between the South Vietnamese ambassador and Saigon. He told Humphrey, but he was convinced he would win the election, feeling that it would be too disruptive to America to accuse the Republicans of treason. The result of the silence: Nixon's victory, four more years of war, and 22,000 dead Americans.
Aside from being a further glimpse into the cesspool of depravity that was the soul of Richard Nixon, not much practical good comes of this knowledge; all the major players and anyone who could be hurt by it are either dead or equally untouchable. Knowledge of Nixon's treason is doubtful to go down in history books as a major event since the knowledge became public decades after it had ceased to be important.
Perhaps there isn’t any practical use for it except for a little more vindication for those who saw Nixon for the immoral monster that he was, and that same savage pleasure of knowing that the truth is finally out, even if it is only as a footnote.