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MISSION BETRAYED: Richard Nixon and the Scranton Commission Inquiry into Kent State

MISSION BETRAYED: Richard Nixon and the Scranton Commission Inquiry into Kent State.

An e-book by Charles A. Thomas (partial work)

 

CHAPTER ONE: Nixon Cunctator.

 

            According to the Memoirs of President Richard Nixon, the early afternoon of May 4, 1970 was quiet.  He was planning a vacation for the coming weekend in Florida.  He took a nap after lunch and then called in his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, to discuss plans for the trip.  He noticed that “Bob” looked uneasy.  “Something just came over the wires about a demonstration at Kent State,” Haldeman explained, “The National Guard opened fire and some students got shot.”

            “Are they dead?” Nixon asked.

            “I’m afraid so.  Nobody knows why it happened.”[1]

            According to Nixon’s account, written eight years after the fact, this was all that was said.  Haldeman, as usual, took notes during the conversation and wrote them up in journal form that evening.  According to his version, the President had quite a bit more to say – and was less concerned with the human implications of the bloodshed than with the political ramifications for his administration.  The journal entry also betrays more than a hint that he hoped this show of force might help achieve a primary goal of his presidency: to crush the student antiwar movement that had driven his predecessor Lyndon Johnson from office:

 

                        He…kept after me all day for more facts.  Hoping rioters had provoked the shooting…

            There’s an opportunity in this crisis as in all others – but it’s very hard to identify & know how to handle it.  Main need right now is to maintain calm & hope this serves to dampen other demonstrations rather than firing them up.[2]

 

            At 5:30 p.m. – after Wall Street, already on the decline since the President’s invasion of Cambodia four days before, closed on its single worst day’s finish since the Kennedy assassination – White House press secretary Ronald Zeigler read the official administration statement on the killings in Ohio:

 

This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence, it invites tragedy.  It is my hope that this tragic and unfortunate incident will strengthen the determination of all the Nation’s campuses – administrators, faculty, and students alike -- to stand firmly for the right that exists in this country to dissent and just as firmly against the resort to violence as a means of such expression.[3]

 

            The statement’s callous tone struck some as a verbose paraphrase of the reflexive response of Nixon’s Middle American supporters: “They had it coming.”  Some of the younger White House staff members “refused to believe that the president had seen the statement before it was issued, much less written it.”[4]   Actually, Nixon had personally dictated it, in even more brutal terms than the official issuance used:

 

                        every Am feels deepest sympathy for families of those who died in these incidents

This should give added impetus to the efforts of resp. ldrs in coll and U fac & stud. to stand firmly for princip & right of peaceful dissent & just as firmly against the resort to violence.Violence can only result in tragedy.[5]

 

 

These notes included comments that Haldeman was too discreet to include even in his personal journal: “The need to mobilize   Congress now to stand up   don’t waffle under student riots   resist gov. by demonstrations.”

            Later that evening, Nixon’s chief rhetorical surrogate, Vice President Spiro Agnew, amplified on the administration’s lack of remorse.  Kent State, he told the American Retail Association, had been “predictable and avoidable”.  He had “called attention to the grave dangers which accompany the new politics of violence and confrontation which have found so much favor on our campuses.”  The college antiwar movement was no more than a front for a “calculated, consistent, and well-publicized barrage of criticism against the principles of this nation.”[6]

            But the President, when newly elected and anxious to pull the mantle of statesman over his accustomed garb of political street fighter, had appointed more sensitive men to his cabinet, whose presence he was by now coming to regret.  Two of them, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and Secretary of State William Rogers, had been so obviously opposed to his illegal invasion of Cambodia that he had cut them completely out of the preparations for it.  Others knew as soon as they heard what had happened at Kent State that the White House “get tough” on campus dissent policy had gone way too far.   Secretary of Labor George Shultz watched the television news coverage of the killings in his office with presidential speechwriter William Safire.  The network ran the footage of the Guard firing twice.  The first time, Shultz asked, “Did that sound like a salvo to you?”  After the rerun, the former Marine officer answered his own question: “That was a salvo.”  “Shultz actually seemed groggy after the second running of the news film.”[7]  Shultz was one of several cabinet officers who received frantic calls about the killings from their college-aged children .[8]   But the most fated of those filial pleas went to John Ehrlichman, the President’s chief domestic advisor, for he would become determined to prevent Kent State from ever happening again, and risk his future in the administration in the process.

            Some time before, Ehrlichman had befriended Joseph Rhodes Jr., the student body president at the California Institute of Technology.  When a confrontation between demonstrators and Governor Ronald Reagan over the People’s Park at Berkeley seemed about to erupt in bloodshed, it was a call from Rhodes to Ehrlichman had gotten the White House to block Reagan’s designs.   Thereafter the two men resolved that, despite their widely differing views and associations, they would work together in any cause that would prevent the loss of life.   But as the administration’s attitudes had hardened through the spring of 1970, Rhodes had let his ties with Ehrlichman and his assistant Egil Krogh languish.   Now, watching the news from Ohio on television at the headquarters of the National Student Association, Rhodes was overpowered by the guilty sense that, if he had maintained those ties, he somehow could have prevented Kent State.  This agonizing conviction was further entrenched as the father of slain coed Allison Krause appeared on the screen, tear-streaked face contorted with grief as he asked why his daughter had to die because she disagreed with the Nixon Administration.[9]  

            As the sun set, and throughout that darkest of nights, the students of America replied to Nixon and Agnew.   By the next dawn, the national student strike – an almost tentative gesture begun at a few colleges and universities in response to the invasion of Cambodia – was spreading so fast the wire services could not keep up with it.  Nixon “did not even faintly envision the emotional torrent that the Kent State incident would set off across the country.”[10]  The horror in Ohio was spread across the front page of virtually every newspaper in the country and the world.  Photographs – most usually of a young girl screaming, arms akimbo, over the bloody corpse of one of the victims, or of the Guardsmen deliberately leveling their weapons to fire – shouted even louder than the headlines.

            The Guard had immediately circulated the story that the men had fired because a sniper had fired on them.  This was a non-defense: Army and Guard doctrine both called for a formation under sniper attack to retire until teams of marksmen could suppress the sniper fire.  That aside, a reporter standing with the students during the shooting “did not see any indication of sniper fire nor was the sound of gunfire audible before the Guard volley.”[11]  Reaction very tough to the four killed at Kent State yesterday,” Haldeman noted glumly, “All our people trying to figure out how best to handle.”  He hoped that the shock and outrage could be defused by news of spectacular victories by the American invasion force in Cambodia.  “If not, we’re in for a bundle of trouble.”[12]

            By Wednesday the 6th the White House had patched together some public relations gambits to demonstrate “concern”.  John Ehrlichman, as the “show liberal” in the administration, arranged for six Kent State students to get an interview with the President.  It was the first of his many gambits to ameliorate the crisis that would fail:

 

They were mostly tongue-tied before the president.  During one full hour, the communication hardly went beyond halting, embarrassing exchanges.  The students, despite their obvious agitation, remained frozen in the presence of the chief executive.  Nixon himself found the session trying and unproductive, a test of patience rather than a valuable encounter.[13]

 

            Part of the reason became obvious at a staff meeting a little later in the day.  Here Nixon made it obvious that he didn’t care about communicating with students.  The campus demonstrators were the enemy and the question was not whether to crush them, but when.  “Very aware of the point that the goal of Left is to panic us – so we must not fall into their trap.

 

P. realizes he’s up against a real tough one.  K[issinger] wants to just let the students go for a couple of weeks, then move in and clobber them.  E[hrlichman] wants to communicate – esp.symbolically.  All agreed to the plan – but K. very concerned that we not appear to give in in any way.  Thinks P. can really clobber them if we just wait for Cambodian success.[14]

 

            Ehrlichman had an idea of how to elicit the kind of communication that might cause both sides to draw back, perhaps gotten from press accounts of an interview with Kent State’s hapless president Robert White (who had been out of town during the key events leading up to the shootings and who had, twenty-five minutes before the fatal gunfire, gone off-campus to lunch) interrupted what he admitted were protracted ramblings to suggest the incident should be investigated by some kind of independent commission.  Nixon was immediately wary.  “Wants to hold off on apptg special commission re Kent State    Feels it may be a mistake – so wait a little.”

            The President expanded on his dislike for the idea to Haldeman later that afternoon:

 

                        EOB [Executive Office Building]

 

                        1445 [2:45 p.m.]  re student crisis

                                         q. of what to do

 

                                            consider the Comm

                                            but not as Kent State

                                            whole matter of unrest re: ROTC,

                                            war, curriculum, environment, Black Panther,

                                                                                                & Cambodia

                                            find more eff. way to communicate –

                                            in view of tragedy     K State, Yale, Ohio State….

 

                                            -- get bkgrd of reasons for riots at various campuses.[15]

 

            Aside from which, he scheduled a whole series of public relations initiatives: he would meet with university presidents (of his choosing), hold a press conference Friday evening, and meet with the nation’s governors on Monday.  He appointed Alexander Heard, universally-respected chancellor of Vanderbilt University, as his special advisor on colleges and youth.  But a series of events now conspired to play on the President’s paranoid tendencies and harden his attitudes toward his young critics.  The front page of the New York Times for Thursday May 7th headlined the story that his own Interior Secretary, Walter Hickel, had charged his administration with failing the country’s youth.  Hickel was ostracized and fired after the matter had lapsed from the public’s truncated attention.   But Nixon now felt confirmed in his belief that he could not even trust his own cabinet members.  On Thursday the head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department advised that, on the basis of information that the FBI had already developed at Kent State, it might be necessary to indict the Guardsmen and others for conspiring to violate the civil rights of the slain students.[16]  That evening on the David Frost television program, his impetuous Vice President Spiro Agnew blurted out that, if no sniper had fired on the Guardsmen, and they had killed the students in “the heat of anger”, he as an attorney would have to assess it as second-degree murder.[17]  

            By that time, people were already entering Washington to participate in a rally on Saturday to protest the invasion of Cambodia and the killings at Kent State, for which they also blamed him.  As their numbers swelled, the denizens of the White House succumbed to something akin to hysteria.  Its grounds were completely surrounded by two concentric rings of D.C. transit buses parked bumper-to-bumper.  According to the newly-appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this was done because “this same group that was at Kent” was plotting to get a student killed on the White House grounds.[18]  As the president’s press secretary recalled it, “If some made it over the bus wall in numbers, they could be met by National Guardsmen who had been brought into the White House and bivouacked in our halls and offices.”[19]  In case the militiamen were overwhelmed by the mob, regular troops from the U.S. Third Army were stationed in the nearby Executive Office Building.

            The President fled before the invaders to Camp David, there to immerse himself in briefing books preparatory for the Friday evening press conference, which he now dreaded.  (“Had said absolutely no phone calls after [because he was really concerned and unsure after this one].)”[20]  From that distance, he rejected Ehrlichman’s latest conciliatory gestures – particularly using the press conference to present his new youth advisor.  “not go thru w/ Heard thing – shldn’t rush too fast    hold til Mon   P. wants to be there when he comes.”[21]

            Then two dramatic episodes occurred that suggested to the President that he need not even bother negotiating with the Enemy.  The press conference he had dreaded turned out to be a walk-over; the timidity of the reporters rendered it a “pallid… synthetic ritual… a pale shadow of the passion and trauma of the nation… a fusillade of spitballs at 50 paces.”[22]  And the great demonstration that assembled on the Ellipse across from the White House the next day disintegrated into chaos while the preliminaries were still in progress, neutralized by the discord among its organizers (assiduously sown by government agents in their midst) and the numbing dread in the minds of all present evoked by the bloody example of Kent State (“These people here understand that we are surrounded by fully armed troops, and that if we started anything we’d be destroyed.”)[23]

            Between the two fell the shadow that led Haldeman to label May 9th “the weirdest day so far”.[24]  Manic with relief at his easy victory over the press, the President countermanded his own order that no phone calls be taken.  He stayed on the phone from the time the conference ended until the next dawn, fifty calls in all.  Then he disappeared from the White House, throwing the Secret Service into a panic.  Accompanied only by his valet, he sallied out into the darkest hour before dawn, into the midst of a hundred thousand demonstrators gathering for the rally.  He would communicate with the young himself, without any advisors or commissions, and show them the error of their ways (“lift them a bit out of the miserable intellectual wasteland in which they now wander aimlessly around.”)[25]

            By the time the Secret Service caught up with him, he was wandering alone and unmolested through the sea of protestors around the Lincoln Memorial, chatting with some of them aimlessly and even dissociatively, without drawing so much as a sharp retort.  His demeanor – rambling softly, frequently inaudible, eyes locked on his own feet – elicited not a single hostile impulse, but something like concern from his young listeners (“I felt pity because he was so pathetic, and then just plain fear to think that he’s running the country.”)[26]  For his part, Nixon could be excused for forming the impression that the students were nothing he need fear, and he interpreted this as a sign of weakness.

            The following day, the Gallup Poll – a source the President consulted before any major decision – reported that a slender majority of Americans continued to support Nixon even after the invasion of Cambodia.  The field work was done on May 2nd and 3rd, and did not reflect the impact of the Kent State incident.[27]  But he now decided that the people – the “real Americans” – were with him.  That and the weakness he had seen first-hand in the ranks of the student protestors may explain why, when Alexander Heard arrived at the White House for the first meeting with the President and his aides, he was more tolerated than consulted:

 

                        Had our first meeting w/ Chancellor Heard of Vanderbilt who the P. let himself get snookered into appointing as a

special advisor re campus situation for sixty days.  A bad choice – cause he’s clearly not on our side in any way… Pure window dressing of a questionable nature – but it did get pretty good publicity.[28]

 

            Haldeman, who realized that his chief was locked into a downward spiral of insomnia, overwork, and obsession with his Enemies, was hanging on until he could get him away for a vacation in Florida.  “This whole period of two weeks of tension and crisis preceded by two weeks of very tough decision making has taken its toll.   P. won’t admit it – but he’s really tired, and is, as some have observed, letting himself slip back into the old ways.”[29]  The President did let himself be talked into spending the following weekend in Florida but, as Haldeman fretted, once there, he never did relax.  The evening he returned to Washington, Monday May 18th, during a dinner with his aides aboard the presidential yacht, he showed enough of the dark side now emerging to dominate his personality to appall the toughest of his aides:

 

                        The President’s finger circled the top of his wineglass slowly.  “One day we’ll get them – we’ll get them – we’ll get

            them on the ground where we want them.  And we’ll stick our heels in, step on them hard and twist – get them on the floor

            and step on them, crush them, show no mercy.[30]

 

            Such was the President’s mood when Ehrlichman tried to revive the idea of a commission inquiry into Kent State.  He wrote to Bernard Segal, President of the American Bar Association, asking the A.B.A. “to determine and report to the President how campus violence can be avoided in the near future.”[31]  The following day Nixon met with Segal and the Board to pursue the idea.  But he didn’t want an inquiry, but a condemnation.  Rather than an investigation of “campus violence”, he wanted one into “student violence”.  Furthermore, he already knew what it should find out:  Campus disorders were caused by the plotting of a handful of radicals who exploited the neuroses of spoiled students until they erupted in violence, which “weak” college administrators were too spineless to contain.  The radicals were members of a national conspiracy – “the roots of the Kent State incident lie in Berkeley, Ohio State, and Michigan” – funded by sinister foreign powers (it went without saying, communists).  Although the “educators” blamed the unrest on the war in Southeast Asia, there was really no connection.  The protests would continue after all the troops were withdrawn, because the real aim of the radicals was to destroy America and the Free World.  The majority of the students really supported him, but were “silenced, terrorized” by the “totalitarianism of the left”.[32]

            Joe Rhodes, the Harvard graduate fellow who had blamed himself for Kent State because he hadn’t stayed in touch with White House figures like Ehrlichman, had since been making the rounds of cabinet officers, trying to persuade them to resign en masse to protest the murders.  He was in George Romney’s office at Housing and Urban Development when he heard of Nixon’s plan for a commission on “student violence”.  He immediately wrote a memo based on his visceral reaction to the idea: “This is a cruel trick to play on the American people, to take their pain and aim it at their children.”  In it, he counter-proposed a commission on “Equal Justice Under the Law”.  He sent it to the White House, got on immediate response, and assumed it had been ignored.[33]

            On “Face the Nation”, one of the Sunday morning gamut of news/public affairs television programs, presidential spokesman Herbert Klein announced that a commission was being formed “to get to the bottom of the Kent State tragedy”.[34]  There was no immediate followup.  Meanwhile and in secret, the regime was assessing its preferred responses to the outbreak of student protest.  On the West Coast, seventeen hundred military, government, and corporate executives met to weigh the results of Operation Cable Splicer III, the latest in a series of war games simulating the armed suppression of mass demonstrations at high schools and colleges like the student strike of that month.[35] 

            The President’s greater faith in such alternatives may explain why his advisor on academic affairs was being allowed to languish unconsulted.  A week after Klein’s hint about a presidential commission, and with still no sign of action on any phase of the crisis, Alexander Heard went public with his concerns on ABC’s “Issues and Answers” program.  His plea for the country’s youth – “They not only have to have a voice, but they have to feel they have a voice”[36] – could as easily have been for himself.  If Nixon took any note of this, he gave no clue except for a terse order to Haldeman: “put Heard ‘til next week.”[37]  There were no further references to a commission during the rest of the month.  Nixon felt that national sentiment was swinging against the demonstrators and that all he needed to do was play for time.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO: Mission Impossible.

 

            As of the first day of June, major newspapers like the Wall Street Journal were still voicing shock and horror at the bloody events of the previous month.  This was a journalistic trend that had already peaked and, as the papers responded to pressure from corporate owners and major advertisers, would sharply reverse itself.  But as of June 1st, the Journal’s editorial page was still bold enough to compare Kent State to the British massacre of Indian demonstrators at Amritsar, which had marked the beginning of the end of the Empire’s rule over the subcontinent.  It warned that “the Nixon administration has not seemed especially concerned about the dangers inherent in the situation to traditions of individual liberty.”[38]

            The White House was very much less than “especially concerned”.  The President was convinced that “real Americans” were with him.  Events in the middle of the country did not contradict him.  The next day the Ohio House of Representatives passed Bill 1219, providing for fines and arrests for students, and automatic dismissal for faculty members, “proven” to have taken part in demonstrations.  The Bill provided for removing the standard of what constituted “proof” from the university administrations and vested it in the same Ohio state attorney general’s office that had maintained undercover agents on the Kent State campus.[39]  Ohio thus became the first state to enshrine the conservative moral axiom of Kent State – that it was all the students’ fault that they had been killed – in legislation.   Part of its ongoing tradition of reaction, this act may have been one of the reasons that Nixon considered making his first campus appearance after the killings at Ohio State, before rejecting the move as too risky.[40]

            Meanwhile the President was proceeding with his own solution to the problem of demonstrations against his policies.  On June 5th, he assembled the heads of the mega-intelligence services – the CIA, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency – and marshaled them for a coordinated campaign of spying on American citizens.  “Certainly hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans – mostly under 30 – are determined to destroy society,” he told them.[41]  Nixon was so riveted on this grand design he never even intuited the supreme irony of the situation: the plan only consisted of what the intelligence chiefs had been doing all along, and would continue doing after it had been abandoned.

            As he emerged from the meeting with the superspies, he imparted some on-going advice to Haldeman about the off-year elections due in four months, which he hoped would give him a solidly Republican Congress.  He was so sure the nation was turning against student demonstrators that he urged every attempt should be made to identify them with the Democrats:

 

                        1330 [1:30 p.m.]  hang all Dem cands w/ youth deal

                                                       make them be for the young radicals

                                                       esp T Kennedy

                                                                        affirm or deny[42]

 

Two days later, he thought he had confirmation in another Gallup Poll.  This one showed he had risen 2 points, from 57 to 59%, from his pre-Cambodian approval rating.  Part of the increase was based on “overwhelming (5-to-1) opposition of the adult population to recent student strikes that focused on Mr. Nixon’s Cambodian action.”[43]

            But he received unwelcome news from within his own House almost as soon.  The month before he had dispatched eight young staff members to “sample opinion” on the American campus.  They were all his partisans and good Republicans, so perhaps he was expecting them to ratify his beliefs.  But – “They reportedly told the President that the extreme opposition to the Cambodian operation and the Vietnam War was not a fringe phenomenon but a widespread condition in the universities.”  That and the savage reception that had greeted the opponents at Kent State had driven “many moderate students into the arms of the radicals.”[44]   This was not what the President wanted to hear; most of the eight found their prospects within the administration suddenly dead-ended.  Ironically, one of the survivors of such candor, Hugh Sloan – who made one of the most alarming reports – went on to serve as treasurer for the Committee to Re-elect the President.  His refusal to play an active role in covering up the Watergate debacle was a major factor in ending the Nixon Presidency.

 

            Joseph Rhodes was in his office at the Ford Foundation in New York City on the 10th when he took a call from Egil Krogh at the White House.  Krogh said “someone” there wanted Rhodes on the “campus violence commission” because of the memo he had written on May 20th.   That “someone” feared that if a student with Rhodes’ credibility was not on the commission, the nation’s youth would regard the whole initiative as a sham, despair of any hope that the administration would deal with the crisis honestly, and as a result, “major civil disorders” would cost more lives in the fall.  Rhodes and Krogh set up a meeting in Washington two days later.

            The next day Harvard – regarded by many contemporary historians as the principal exponent of the American imperium in Academe[45] -- held its commencement exercises.  The proceedings were fraught with frustrations for President Nathan G. Pusey.  Some graduating seniors refused to wear traditional gowns.  Many who did adorned them with red strike or white-dove peace armbands.  Law graduate James Foster urged attending parents to “join with us to wake a sleeping nation” from its deadly peril.   Around thirty residents of surrounding neighborhoods threatened by Harvard’s expansion interrupted the proceedings to protest.[46]  By the time Pusey got his turn at the rostrum, it was as much to vent his spleen as to wish the graduates luck.  After a very brief preamble, in which he saluted himself for his minor stand against Senator Joseph McCarthy twenty years before, he launched into a lengthy attack on those he nominated as McCarthy’s successors: “But this time the attack comes not from the outside but from within, from extremist splinter groups of the New Left made up of students and – I am sorry to acknowledge – also of some faculty who for reasons not quite clear to me would like to see our colleges and universities denigrated, maligned, and even shut down.[47]    He went on to rail against the “Big Lie” and how the SDS had allegedly used it at Harvard over the past four years.

            Pusey’s views, never recklessly progressive, had hardened the previous spring when the SDS had seized the administration building.  The faculty condemned the action, just as unanimously as they did Pusey for sending club-swinging police in to clear the building without considering any alternatives.  Some thought it the panic move of a man who knew the radicals would find exactly what they did – and what they published in the underground Old Mole newspaper – files laying bare the extensive ties of the Harvard faculty with the Central Intelligence Agency.[48]   But in Pusey’s case it seems much more likely the action of a distant, mean-spirited old man who had no empathy with the generation he was supposed to teach.  He had summarized his own academic philosophy by saying “it has always been and remains a primary responsibility of universities to work to protect individuals and societies against mistaken ideas.”[49]   “To most of the liberal faculty, he was a patrician pighead”; as Martin Peretz put it, “The smug sense of order in Nat Pusey’s placid face may have encouraged the kids to think that chaos was more fun.”[50]

            Whatever his motives, the decision to send in the police at the moment of crisis finished him as President of Harvard.   His scheduled retirement was moved up to the spring of 1970.  As a lame duck, all he could do was wander the landscape looking for fora from which to denounce the radicals.   Richard Nixon was eager to provide them.  Long before the volley at Kent State and the upheaval it triggered, Pusey – along with former campaign aide turned amateur demographer Kevin Phillips, who had “turned” Nixon “on” to ethnic division and the “incorrigible meanness of the American voter”[51] – had become the cynosure of Nixon’s academic strategy:

 

1230    E[hrlichman]

 

“L”* Pusey report to Ray Price – copy

 

1615 [4:15 p.m.]  …also Kevin Phillips talk at Yale

                                                     have everyone read it – political people…

 

                        “L”  get me all three – and Pusey

 

                         also get Pusey thing out to these same people[52]

 

                        [DOCUMENT REMOVED FROM FILE BY NATIONAL ARCHIVES/NPM]

 

P. absorbed in basic & philosophical problems – as outlined in Phillips thesis re lack of a conservative elite – and the Pusey report re the problems at Harvard.  Trying to figure where to put together our base.  Broods frequently over how we communicate with young and blacks.[53]

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the administration would invite Pusey to testify before the new “campus violence” commission.  Unstinting praise for Pusey’s commencement diatribe by columnist James Reston – and for a similar address on the same occasion by student anti-communist Steven Kelman (see below)  – was the first major sign of the rightward swing by the prestige press after Kent State.  Reston saw these addresses as an indication that “the moderates are beginning to challenge the extremists” for control of the universities.[54]   (Reston’s calling these two “moderates” is easier to understand if recalling that five years before, he had denounced the first tentative teach-ins on Vietnam as subversive exercises producing “propaganda of the most vicious nature”.)[55]

            While lining up academicians like Pusey and Kelman (who would also be called as a witness), the White House was also giving some thought to the commission’s staff.  Gordon Liddy suggested

 

                        useful guy in Admin – not in W.H.

                        Bob King – great hand-holder – conspirator

                        not a manager

                        good for a commission

                                    our man – completely loyal…

                                    valuable relationship w/ FBI…

                                    need some one in the intelligence apparatus

                                    more real loyalists around[56]

 

King, an ex-FBI agent and former aide in Nixon’s 1956 campaign, was also an assistant to Richard Bissel, the CIA architect of the Bay of Pigs fiasco,[57] and implicated with Bissel and Nixon in the plots of assassinate Fidel Castro.[58]

           

            The same day Joe Rhodes arrived in town, feeling not unlike a secret agent himself.  He went to see Egil Krogh at the Executive Office Building; the coast was clear because Nixon and his entourage were in the act of leaving for Key Biscayne.  Rhodes told Krogh that he would agree to serve on the commission if it was understood that he would speak his mind no matter how it reflected on the Nixon Administration.  Krogh replied, fine, that’s why Ehrlichman wants you included.  (Off the probably-tapped White House phone line, Krogh had no qualms about identifying the “someone” they had talked about on the 10th.)   Rhodes must cry foul if it even looked like the commission were going to perpetrate a whitewash of Kent State.  If he didn’t speak out, “Haldeman will win.  That’s off the record.  On the record, if you do say what you feel, we’ll crush you.”  Rhodes understood.  Ehrlichman had already placed himself in deep jeopardy by pushing the commission in the first place.  He and Krogh were behind Rhodes, but could not let on – and neither could Rhodes.

            The next day, from the presidential retreat in Key Biscayne, the White House announced the formation of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest.  Ehrlichman would later assert that he had solicited the names of the members from Bernard Segal, with inputs from Robert Finch, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Leonard Garment, John Mitchell, “and others.”[59]   The final selections, in addition to Rhodes, were

            -- James F.Ahern, chief of the New Haven police.

            -- Benjamin Davis, a retired Air Force general currently serving as Public Safety Director, Cleveland, Ohio

            -- Bayless Manning, dean of the Stanford Law School

            -- James Cheek, president of Howard University

            -- Martha Derthick, a political science professor from Boston College who had done her dissertation on the National Guard.

            -- Revius Ortique, president of the all-black National Bar Association.

            -- Edwin Canham, editor of the Christian Science Monitor.

            Four of the eight were black, a possible concession to the murders of black students at Jackson State and black civilians in Augusta in the weeks since Kent State (the press counted Joe Rhodes, who was actually half Filipino-Chinese.)  But Davis had been widely excoriated by black militants as an “Uncle Tom”.  Cheek’s Howard University was fatally dependent on federal funds.  Only Ortique, a veteran of the southern anti-poverty advocacy wars – and currently front-line witness to Nixon’s illegal agenda for destroying the anti-poverty agency through his agents Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney – might be in a mood to resist the administration (or might be too burned out to try).  After doing her dissertation on the National Guard, Derthick seemed to have lost interest in the subject, and any other phase of the current crisis, and may have been selected as the “show woman”.   Manning and Canham were unknown quantities.  The only sure ally Joe Rhodes might have was Jim Ahern, the seminarian turned up-from-the-ranks police chief who more than anyone else had thwarted the White House scenario for crushing the student movement at Yale on May Day.  His was another selection that must have been run past the Haldeman-Mitchell axis while it was otherwise occupied.

            Suddenly Joe Rhodes was a celebrity: the only student on a presidential commission on campus unrest, now acknowledged as the nation’s number one problem.[60]  Reporters descended en masse on his untidy bachelor suite at the Harvard graduate school.  Krogh (and by implication Ehrlichman) had encouraged him to speak his mind, and this was the obvious occasion:

 

                                    My responsibility is not to the President, but to the people.  I have a solemn responsibility to find out what is going on…

            One of the things I want to try to figure out is who gave what orders to send police on campus, and were they thinking about ‘campus bums’ when they pulled the trigger.  If the President’s and Vice President’s statements are killing people, I want to know that.

 

The reference could not have been more loaded.  President Nixon had stoked student resentment three days before Kent State by referring to protestors as “these bums, y’know, blowing up the campuses”.  The epithet, coming in the wake of the Cambodian incursion, had the effect of gasoline poured on a lit flare.  Outside the morgue where he had identified his daughter’s corpse, Arthur Krause had defiantly told reporters, “My daughter was not a bum.”  Five days later, Jane Fonda had welcomed the throng to the May 9th rally by shouting, “Greetings, fellow bums!”  That said, Rhodes pressed on; citing the experience at the People’s Park in 1969 that had cemented his relationship with John Ehrlichman, he pointed to Governor Ronald Reagan as a typical of an official “bent on killing people for his own political gain.”[61]  He made these statements in the full knowledge of their implications, and still, never dreamed of the furor they would touch off.

            Bob Reinhold, the reporter who had interviewed Rhodes, dallied at Harvard another day to record what was billed as the last public utterance of Dr. Nathan Pusey.  “He stepped down two years earlier than expected in the wake of sometimes tumultuous student demonstrations in 1969 and 1970.”  It proved anti-climactic.  Pusey inveighed against demonstrators for so long that he was finally reduced to attacking those who “tack posters on trees, spray paint walls and public monuments, break down bushes, trample grass, and discard trash by the roadside.”[62]  And that would have been his last public word on the subject if not for the appearance the President would arrange for him before the Commission.

            Reinhold’s editors made their statement on the Commission in the same edition.  They charged that it was redundant, duplicating the work of previous commissions that had studied the injustices inhering in American society.  “The need now is to act on what is already known.”   This commission was even more superfluous because the cause of the crisis in Academe was already obvious:

 

                        It ought to be clear to Mr. Nixon by now that the disastrous combination of the Cambodian adventure and the tragedies at Kent and Jackson --        

            and not the hallucinations of a fringe of extremist students – has aroused hitherto moderate students to a new level of anger and frustration.

Can the President be b lind to the harm done by the divisive rhetoric with which members of his official family have tried to turn the so-called ‘silent  majority’ not just against violent dissenters but against concerned young people who want their Government to end the war and to fight injustice at home?[63]

 

            But the big news about the Commission was, appropriately, on the front page the following morning.  Vice President Agnew, in Detroit for a Republican fund-raiser, charged that Rhodes did not “possess the maturity, the objectivity, and the judgement” to serve on it, based on his statements of the day before.   He accused Rhodes of a “transparent bias that will make him counterproductive to the work of the commission”, and charged that he had misused “a relationship of mutual trust” with John Ehrlichman.  He was “no longer entitled to the cloak of dignity that a Presidential appointment would throw around him”.  The Commission “can bear no fruit where the investigators, acting with a limited Presidential mandate, enter the field of their inquiry with preconceptions and the kind of verbal posturing that Mr. Rhodes reveals to clearly in his statements.”[64]

            Ehrlichman had taken the domestic policy staff with him to Camp David, hoping for a day of undisturbed discussion and planning.   Instead, he spent much of the day on the phone.  Agnew flew in from Detroit and immediately called Ehrlichman to announce “Ronald Reagan is furious at Rhodes”.  He called back a short while later demanding to know if Rhodes was going to be removed from the Commission.  Ehrlichman said no, and called Rhodes.  Rhodes had been roused out of bed that morning by Bill Zimmerman of the United Press International, one of a swarm of reporters re-descending on his quarters now that the celebrity was even bigger news.  Plagued by them for a reply, Rhodes kept putting them off, with the help of the other graduate fellows, and trying to reach the White House.  Everyone was out of town.  By one o’clock, he gave up and turned to face the press.  By then he had adapted the “Fulbright approach” – well, we all know that the Vice President is prone to these outbursts and we know how seriously to take it.   No one who counted had asked that he resign.  “I serve at the pleasure of the President.”

            As the reporters departed, a call came in from Ehrlichman.  “Are you that famous Joe Rhodes?” he asked.   “I guess I am,” Rhodes replied.  Ehrlichman asked him what he had just told the press.  Rhodes paraphrased it.  “Fine.  We’ll play it that way,” Ehrlichman said, “Don’t mention we talked.  You are on the Commission.”   Meanwhile Nixon had called Ehrlichman, trying to find out what the flap was about.  Ehrlichman provided a synopsis from his viewpoint, emphasizing that Agnew had cleared neither his press conference nor his statement on Rhodes with anyone, and had left the President in the position of having to rebuff his vice president, or remove the only student from the commission on student unrest.  He asked Nixon what he was going to do.  Nixon said he would sleep on it.[65]  The next day Ron Zeigler made the terse announcement that the President had no plans to change the makeup of the Commission, and added that Agnew had not cleared anything he had said with the White House.[66] 

            Rhodes spent the afternoon of the his second press conference talking at length with one of the reporters who had stayed behind after her colleagues had left.  China Altman, at that point doing lightweight pieces for Life magazine, was fascinated by the depth of the young man’s commitment to his mission and the seeming hopelessness of his mission.  The following morning, Life had her resignation and she went to work full time for the Rhodes Seminar.  This was the deliberately innocuous name for a cadre of students who would serve as Rhodes’ volunteer field investigators for the rest of the summer, as his certainty grew that he could not depend on the investigators on the Nixon-appointed staff.  The Seminarians lived a particularly vivid version of the sense many students now had, of being “underground” in their own country.  Operating on no appropriation, they hitched rides to and from campus hot spots, “crashed” with sympathetic students and faculty, and dodged rube cops and campus security in order to send back unvarnished reports on academic America under siege.  Altman collected them and forwarded them to Rhodes in Washington, where all save the report on Isla Vista disappeared – shredded, both came to firmly believe, by someone on the Commission’s staff.

 

            Haldeman’s commentaries raise some recurrent questions about the Agnew-Rhodes controversy.   Throughout Agnew behaved as if the affront to Reagan were of far greater concern than the one to Nixon.  Then for whom did Agnew really speak?   Why was the dignity of a state governor to be guarded more jealously than that of a President?  The incident had obviously caught everyone in the White House off-guard:

 

                        Creates awkward situation as Z has to repudiate VP in effect.  P. concerned that VP would cut loose like this w/o checking first.   Actually hurts   

him more than anyone.  And builds up the guy he attacked – a militant black – from Harvard.  E. in the middle as it’s his boy – and he staunchly defends the appointment.[67]

 

Nixon called Haldeman at 11:00 p.m. to emphasize that he did not disagree with Agnew’s assessment of Rhodes, only in the way he had gone after him.

           

                        must not end up being soft o kids

                        the whole commission is purely therapy action

                        even Kent State showed people against students

                        people are fed to teeth w/ rioting kids…

 

                        the public is not with students

                                    so we should not get on the wrong side

                        don’t get anyone emoting about kids any more

                        have to handle prob w/o positioning P. on side

                                                            of radicals.

 

                        don’t want Agnew hard on radicals & P. soft on them[68]

 

 

Even as Nixon and his aides sought to calm the controversy, “Governor Ronald Reagan supplied Agnew with quotes from Rhodes’ public statements”[69] to use against him and kept calling back to demand his removal from the Commission.  Ehrlichman told his aides he didn’t have time to return the calls.[70]   Nixon at any rate had made up his mind.

 

                        talk to Agnew

                                    was not a rebuff

                                    his judgement was correct

                                    but can’t remove now

                        our strat. is to stonewall

                                    say no more about the boy – build[s?] him up.[71]

 

 

VP seemed to accept this – but still feels very strongly that Rhodes should be dropped.  Makes good point re the disaster the comm. report will be this fall – and Rhodes will surely make it worst possible.

P. refuses to meet w/ the comm.. – will meet with Scranton but not the others.  E. pretty upset at all this – since he put the whole thing together & it has backfired.  VP esp. distressed w/ E because he feels he told John several times of his concern re the appts. to the comm..[72]

 

            Although he couldn’t have known that the President’s men had now classified Rhodes as a “black militant”, Robert Reinhold did a followup interview with the embattled young Commissioner that might have been tailored to refute the charge.  One of his main sources was Professor Lyman Bonner, Cal Tech’s director of student relations.  Bonner explained the “Rhodes Revolution” at the school: as a two-term student body president, Rhodes had gotten the administration to agree to involve the students in every phase of the decision-making process on campus.   Although this coup had left him “despised by radicals and black militants”, Cal Tech had been the scene of no major disruptions during the traumatic years of 1969-1970.[73]   Meanwhile Bernard Segal blasted Agnew, asking pointedly if Rhodes had forfeited his rights under the First Amendment when he had agreed to serve on the Commission.[74]

            The White House had lost a key round, and that left the President the more determined to control the Commission through his appointments to its staff.  don’t be fair on Comms – “ he told his inner circle, “use only our people… ride tight herd on the staff    don’t be objective[75]   That was in private.   In public he was all objectivity and disinterest.  He met with Scranton, and suggested that the Governor meet with Agnew.  “He does have some ideas about this, and he doesn’t have horns.  At all costs you don’t want him in an adversary position.  And you know, Rhodes was wrong about Reagan.  No one in California has been killed on a campus by an officer.”

            Swallowing the obvious point (that it wasn’t for lack of Reagan trying), Scranton replied, “I’ve told Rhodes to say nothing more to the press, but I’m sorry the Vice President said what he did about Rhodes.”

            “I am too,” Nixon said, “Reagan called me and he was very mad.  John Mitchell called me twice.  I don’t rebuff my Vice President – I don’t do that –

but before he had a press conference, he should have called Ehrlichman or someone.  He didn’t, did he?”

            “No, sir, he didn’t,” Ehrlichman replied.

            Nixon’s final injunction to Scranton was, “Just don’t let higher education off with a pat on the ass.”[76]

            Then they emerged to face the press with Bob Finch, the newly designated White House liaison with the Commission.  Finch promptly announced that the Agnew-Rhodes controversy had given the Commission greater “legitimacy and visibility”.  Scranton refused to discuss it: “I am not interested in personal comments one way or another.”  Of the President, he claimed that “The very first thing he said to me, practically as I entered the door, was that he wanted me to know that he wanted this to be an independent group, and that he was glad it was widely diverse and with different backgrounds.”  He added that he had just spoken with Rhodes on the phone and, “I think he, too, feels very strongly that we should go into this with open minds.  I think one of the reasons he made some of the statements he did was that he was very fearful that might not be the case.”  Finally he stated that his Commission would “not make any investigation into violations of law.”[77]  He did not explain how this could be done in cases involving murder.

            Nixon said nothing whatever.  Then he parted from Scranton and Finch, went back into the White House, and resumed trying to get his own people named as Commissioners, despite Zeigler’s assurance that the membership would stand as it was:

 

                        put Dewey on Prod Comm as pub. member

                                    or member of Scranton

                        put him on Scranton first…

 

                        called Scranton

                                    re Dewey on Comm – told S to talk to him

                                    also Herb Brownell (already talked to him)[78]

 

Nor had the statesman-like guise Nixon had assumed with Scranton and Finch fool two veteran brother political commentators.  Roscoe and Geoffrey Drummond warned that  “[w]hat some fear a desperate President Nixon might do is to turn sharply to the right and exploit the explosive distrust and fear of campus unrest and student violence.”  They claimed that Murray Chotiner, Nixon’s “dirty tricks” master since 1946, was designing his fall off-year election strategy ‘to campaign against student militancy”, and quoted Chotiner as saying, ”Campus unrest is a very good issue to run against.  It will get results.”[79]

 

            Deprived of follow-ups to his first meeting with the President, Alexander Heard had begun putting his concerns in memo form, apparently meant to be shared with Governor Scranton as well as the President.  “The condition cannot be conceived as a temporary, aberrational crisis by the young, or simply as a ‘campus crisis’ or a ‘student crisis’,” he warned in mid-June, “ …the condition we face must be viewed as a national emergency.”[80]  A copy of this memo was not released to the Commission for two weeks and only then with an unsigned note from the White House asking that it be “kept private”.  The appendix quoted here was not released at all.

            In the Sunday edition, the Times published the results of a survey of five thousand students at thirty-nine “randomly selected” schools by Swathemore psychologists Kenneth and Mary Gergen.  Two findings in particular contradicted major tenets of Nixon’s faith on the subject: that the protestors were just trying to evade the draft, and that they were radicals trying to destroy the country.

 

The psychologists found little relationship between the students’ draft lottery numbers – a measure of pure self interest – and their positions on the war and politics.

                        An overwhelming majority of the students were found to place a high value on traditional American ideals.  They expressed particularly strong

            positive feelings about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.[81]

 

Another survey, by the Urban Research Corporation, found that “without the Kent State deaths, there would have been no national student strike”.  Begun as a protest against the Cambodian invasion, the walkout had recruited schools at the rate of perhaps twenty a day between April 30 and May 3.  After May 4th, the rate was a hundred a day – and for the first time, college administrators as well as faculty joined the strike.[82]   Nixon aide Roger Freeman – in transit to California to work on Governor Reagan’s campaign – replied for the White House, in a speech to the Washington State Research Council: “What makes the dissidents think that they can run the country?  What the leaders of this movement really want is, of course, not to run the country but to ruin it.”[83]

            As such studies continued to dispute the Nixon Version, and his surrogates responded with language ever harsher if more simplistic, Ehrlichman’s efforts to keep the lines of communication open only continued to rankle the chief executive and his more conservative aides further

 

Mtg w/ college Ps as usual did no produce much of any value – although as a group they were much more constructive & favorable than past ones have been.  Problem is they all seem to feel the P. or the govt. should solve the problems they have created by their own lack of ldshp.

The Agnew q. again.  The college men raised it as they always do.  An easy scapegoat.  P. wondering if we are all wrong – is he really polarizing the youth?  Really hard to figure whether he does more harm or good.[84]

 

            The next day, Senator Stephen Young (D., Ohio) charged that there were fifty FBI agents planted on the Kent State campus, “some of them, perhaps all of them” enrolled as summer session students.  The number was to be increased to two hundred for the fall session, and other contingents of Bureau moles would be burrowing on other Ohio campuses.  Their mission was to catalogue the opinions expressed, books assigned, and guest speakers invited to class.  Young said he based his charges on statements he had received from the Kent State students: “whenever a commission is appointed to investigate the tragedy at Kent State, I shall turn the originals over to them.”[85]

            Meanwhile the administration added another academic spokesman.  Continuing the rightward drift of the prestige press, which would become a flood by fall, the editors of the Wall Street Journal published extensive quotes from Yale law professor Alexander Bickel’s attack on student activists in The New Republic.  The Journal hailed “[t]his and some of the other strong liberal statements coming from the campuses as evidence that “there is increasing recognition among the liberals that they are partly at fault” for the crisis of the spring.[86]  Bickel’s piece alternated between Puseyesque clucking about graffiti (“These stenciled and spoken slogans and threats are called dissent.  But they are in truth vandalism.”) to bald absurdities (“What repression there is is imposed, as often as not, by the young in the universities.”)[87] turned out to be nowhere near as wide of the mark as the Journal’s characterization of the author as “liberal”.  According to his faculty colleague Professor Fred Rodell, Bickel was the same kind of liberal as “John Mitchell, Spiro Agnew, and Strom Thurmond”; others suggested he had published his polemic in the Republic in lieu of sending his resume to the Nixon White House for the next Supreme Court vacancy.[88]

            Nor could the Journal plead ignorance of Bickel’s orientation because he was unknown.  The professor had already published an article in the National Review warning that federal pressure for desegregation was ruining public education in the South.[89]  Bickel would go on to defend the New York Times in the “Pentagon Papers” case before the Supreme Court, a choice that suggested the editors of the Times hadn’t read any of his articles before they made it.  His conduct – “conceding ground to the government that the Post’s attorney… hastened to recover” – was the legal equivalent of “taking a dive” in the boxing ring.  He would go on to defend Nixon’s firing of Archibald Cox over the Watergate tapes and blame Watergate on the “undisciplined liberalism” of the Warren Supreme Court.[90]  Representing him as a “liberal” meant the Journal had him confused with someone else, or had shifted so far to the right that its perspective had become unreliable.

 

            The evening before the opening meeting of the Commission, Joe Rhodes arrived at the Department of Justice to review the FBI’s report on Kent State.  He quickly realized how wildly he had underestimated the task; in two hours, he could do no better than skim some of the volumes of single-spaced interview reports and memos to the record.  “I find the report strong on some points – variety, type, etc., of rocks allegedly thrown at the Guard – but weak on points like what was the sequence and persons involved in the original call for the Guard.”  He looked at the autopsy photos of the slain students, for which he would be rewarded with years of nightmares.  When he was finished, a female aide of Jerris Leonard’s drove him to his usual D.C. “crash pad”, the home of NSA president and friend Charles Palmer.  On the way the lady attorney plied him with belligerent questions such as  “What do you mean, you will determine whether a federal grand jury should be convened?”  My, she’s taking it personally, he thought.

            The next morning Palmer dropped Rhodes of at the now-leaderless HEW Building (where Bob Finch had been caught between the Nixon response to the spring crisis and his own sense of decency) so he could discuss the Commission’s prospects with Stan Thomas, a savvy survivor (thus far) of Nixon’s purge of the Great Society holdovers in federal service.  Thomas warned Rhodes to focus his attention on Nixon’s choice for the Commission’s executive director.  The man who controlled the staff and services could make or subvert the whole investigation.  He also warned Rhodes not to rely on Howard President James Cheek, given his school’s total dependence on the appropriations process.

            Rhodes arrived at the Indian Treaty Room of the Executive Office Building at five past noon.  When the press had asked their questions and then departed, Governor Scranton called the first meeting to order.  He began by emphasizing the time constraints on their investigation.  Bob Finch added that “something was needed to help with the problem that would arise in the fall” – i.e., what would the students do when reassembled for the new academic year?  Noshing on a ham sandwich, a horrified Rhodes studied Finch covertly.  “He looked awful – his jaw shook when he spoke and his right hand has a spastic motion – I wondered what ‘they’ had done to him.”  Then William O’Connor and Robert Murphy of the Civil Rights Division, Justice Department, summarized the Kent State incident.[91]   Rhodes had no way of knowing anything about either man, much less that in three years, Murphy would be entrusted with the federal prosecution of the Guardsmen and would throw the case no less obviously than Bickel would try to throw the “Pentagon Papers” case.

            Toward the end of the four-hour meeting, Rhodes felt a galvanizing chill.  Scranton abruptly announced that Matthew Byrne, Jr., would be the staff’s executive director.  The same question simultaneously occurred to Rhodes and fellow Commissioner Jim Ahern: “Why Matt Byrne?”  Goaded by Stan Thomas’ warning, Rhodes offered a resolution that none of the staff should be appointed until the Commissioners had been given a chance to interview them.  It was defeated.  On adjourning, Scranton drew Rhodes aside.  He told him that he had acted correctly during the Agnew controversy and that he could make a great contribution to the Commission’s work.  He further assured Rhodes that Nixon did not want a whitewash – “the President knows me better than that.”  What Scranton the millionaire, who had never had to play politics at the corrupt “Tricky Dick” level, could not appreciate was that as yet he did not know the President at all.

 

            Two days later, Matt Byrne met with Robert Haynes, the Commission’s designated liaison with the FBI.  (“Coincidentally”, Haynes was White House liaison with the FBI, the one who hand-carried the transcripts of illegal wire taps to the President’s instant general Alexander Haig.)  They scheduled a followup meeting with representatives of the Bureau’s Domestic Intelligence, Internal Security, and Race Intelligence units.  Haynes promised Byrne full access to FBI files on “Communist or other subversive influence on campus unrest, and promised names recommended by the FBI for the commission’s staff investigators.”[92]

 

            At the end of June, the generals of two self-defeated armies rationalized their debacles and, in the first instance, made grandiose plans that would never bear fruit.  At a “Strategy Action Conference” at the University of Wisconsin, Rennie Davis and David Dellinger were organizing “long marches” starting at places like Kent State and converging on Washington D.C., either on the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or Labor Day.[93]  These marches would never depart because by now, the antiwar leaders could only muster the energy and the will to attack each other.

            Across the world, the U.S. invasion force prepared to withdraw from Cambodia.  It had never glimpsed, much less captured, its objective – as announced by name on national television by the commander-in-chief: COSVN, the supreme headquarters for communist military operations in Southeast Asia.  It had captured bags of  rice and stands of small arms, laid waste to the countryside, and driven the peasants out of the rice-producing areas and into the capital of Phnom Penh, where they like their Vietnamese cousins would survive as mendicants and black marketers, pimps and drug dealers.  The sole achievement of the invasion was that it had “brought Communist elements in Indochina not only closer together than ever before, but also closer to China.”[94]

            Now, courting fresh defeats, President Nixon and his foes prepared to meet in the arena of the Scranton Commission’s public hearings in the nation’s capital.  Meanwhile Nixon continued to win the war in the hinterland.  By the end of June, thirty-two states had passed legislation directly attacking the First Amendment rights of students and faculty on the campus.  Patterned after Ohio H.R. 1219, these measures commonly combined provisions for cutting off financial aid to student demonstrators, automatic dismissal for faculty members taking part, and “more severe” penalties for disruption and the destruction of property.”[95]   Whoever won the debate in the hearing room, Nixon and the forces he represented would have the last word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE: The Washington Hearings.

 

            On July 1st, the Internal Revenue Service “quietly” and “without fanfare” entered the war on student activism, with a “new, restrictive tax policy for holders of scholarships and fellowships.”[96]  The FBI released its annual report, which included an unabashed announcement of the Bureau’s plans to gather intelligence on students working on the fall political campaigns.  “ …the phrasing of Hoover’s statements raises a question of whether the FBI has become a national police force,” the ACLU’s Benson Wolman commented, “and that also was the implication of some of the questioning by agents at Kent.”[97]  To Senator Eugene McCarthy, it was just additional evidence that Hoover should be removed from office and the FBI, completely reorganized.[98]

            The July issue of American Legion magazine carried the definitive Middle American version of Kent State.  It had all been a radical conspiracy: “it is still a sort of well-kept secret  that the Kent tragedy was the culmination of a two-year concerted effort, led by the SDS, to create a ‘major confrontation’ on the Kent campus.”  All but three paragraphs of the six-page story dealt with the events of 1968-69.  Nothing in the three paragraphs on 1970 connected the SDS with the crisis in any way.[99]

 

            Joe Rhodes returned to Washington on the second for the Commission’s next meeting.  He came prepared for a fight.  Byrne’s staff, still unknown to the Commissioners, had already circulated a draft paper on the crisis which argued that there was no reason for campus unrest – certainly it was not related to national policies issues like the war.  Then what had led to the national student strike, and why did polls list the collegiate ferment as the nation’s number one problem?  The draft implied that it was a mass acting out of personal problems by student protestors.  Rhodes lost no time in giving Byrne his politely worded assessment of this assessment: “I object to implications that students are solely responsible for unrest.  I wonder whether we will gloss over the deep social significance of national policy.”  (He noted, “Manning doesn’t seem to understand my point.”)

            If the paper had not been sufficient to arouse Rhodes’ suspicion that the Commissioners’ main battle would be with their own staff, the rest of the meeting settled it.  Rhodes felt on-site investigations were essential.  Scranton told Byrne to have his staff investigate travel arrangements.  “Matt looks worried,” Rhodes noted, and he hastened to add aloud, “I wanted to clarify as to how we decide which campuses to visit.  This is not a staff decision.  To his surprise,  Manning led the other Commissioners in backing him.  Byrne yielded almost too easily on the subject of site investigations.  Rhodes found out why immediately.  Byrne wanted the hearings closed to the public.  But here “Canham came through like a giant.”  “Only a fool,” the editor of the Monitor growled, “would tell us in private what he wouldn’t tell us in public.”  Ahern jumped in to second him, and the others agreed.

            Rhodes wanted to scout out Kent ahead of the others.  The suggestion horrified Scranton.  All his youngest commissioner had to do was appear on that bloody ground and the White House would re-ignite.  Rhodes assured the chairman no one would know he was in town.  “I will not meet with the press during this visit and will plan to only acquire a more first-hand impression of the situation.”  Scranton finally agreed, but Byrne tried to make Rhodes take one of his staff along “to insure smooth communication”.  Rhodes managed to leave town without one.  Before he did, he drafted a letter to Spiro Agnew, beginning, “Frankly, I have been deeply disturbed over your recent comments concerning my qualifications as a commissioner.”  He recommended that the two of them meet as soon as possible to discuss their differences.  “Perhaps we would both profit from such a personal rather than a public conversation.”  Agnew never replied.

 

            Byrne’s warning to Nixon that the hearings would be open to the public broke in on the President’s plans to exorcise the phantom of the May 9th rally forever.  Since May 12th he and several millionaire backers (like J. Willard Marriott and Walt Disney) had been organizing a counter-rally that would eclipse anything the antiwar protestors had done: “B. Graham – bring ½ mill to D.C. for America   Graham  [Jackie] Gleason   J[ohnny] Cash    use Legions, etc.”[100]   But when the event arrived, the crowds fell way short of expectations, even with large sums spent on chartered transportation to bring them in.  The jarring impression was left of flags of every description displayed in every conceivable way, killing heat, Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” and mounted Capitol Police riding pot-smoking hippies into the Reflecting Pool.

            Vice-President Agnew responded to Rhodes’ offer of private conciliation with another public attack – more precisely, attacking Bernard Segal for attacking Agnew (see above) for attacking Rhodes:

 

But for Rhodes, the federally commissioned investigator, to make such a gratuitous observation to the press about the most visible symbol of establishment resistance against student violence is outrageous, and more important, disqualifying because it shows a transparent bias and a closed mind on the subject under examination…

                        Mr. Rhodes’ sour-stomached statement was not a disagreement based on fact, but a hairy-brained, unprovable bluster.[101]

 

Once again, what is arresting about this outburst (aside from the Vice President’s variation on the phrase “hare-brained”) is that the symbol he regarded as so sancrosant was not the President, but Governor Ronald Reagan.  Rhodes replied the next day: “It bothers me that the President hasn’t been able to quiet the Vice President down.”  Without identifying anyone, he claimed that the White House had assured him that “if I was quiet, they’d keep him quiet.  So I’ve been quiet.”[102]

            Haldeman may not have been the only one in the administration (see above) wondering by now if Agnew’s services as an attack dog did not come with too high a price tag.  But just in time for the Fourth of July, the unknowing taxpayer came up with a media tribute to the Vice President.  The U.S. Information Agency premiered a film depicting Agnew as a shining hero.  Narrated by John Wayne – who donated his services because “he felt strongly about the Vice President” – the film used “split screen, flashbacks, color, actuality [footage], program music, and a compilation of Mr. Agnew’s attacks on the liberal press and the Eastern establishment.”  It ran fifteen minutes and had cost $ 80,000.  The USIA’s film on American literary giant John Steinbeck had cost $ 5,000.[103]

            Whatever cheer the White House took in the premiere and the “stand up for America” Fourth of July celebration must have been dampened by the announcement, “regarded with some surprise here”, that the Scranton Commission’s hearings would be open to the public.  Scranton added that “If we can come up with even the smallest thing to ease problems, if we can have some impact on the President and his Administration, it will all be worth it.”  This was as close as the arch-diplomat Scranton would ever come to saying that the President and his men were part of the problem.[104]

            The news of the public hearings left the President “Very upset.”[105]  If the hearings had been closed, and with Byrne controlling the investigation and the writing of the report, and with the report made to the President alone, Nixon could have ignored it, which is what he had already decided to do.  With the hearings open, anything could come out – including the truth about Kent State.   The inner circle huddled in a state of some agitation:

 

                        Scranton public hearings –

                        E. said was putting someone on staff to control.

                        how can we turn off?

                        can we avoid overloading w/ left-wing

                        P. should have been told before this done

                                    it’s our comm.. – shld have tight control

                        what is the plan for hearings

                                    get them over as soon as possible[106]

 

            Nixon met with Alexander Heard and James Cheek the same day.  No record survives of what they discussed.  But a rumor emerged that they had predicted numerous campuses might not open that fall, and had assessed Berkeley and Columbia as “dead” as academic institutions because of the tumult.   The NBC and ABC networks picked it up and broadcast it.  When the Post followed up with a phone call, Heard denied that anyone at the meeting had said anything of the sort.[107]  The source of the disinformation has never been discovered.

 

            On July 9th, Senator Sam Ervin (D., N.C.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on constitutional rights, rose to denounce the Treasury Department for joining in the federal government’s new mind-control initiatives.  Specifically, he charged that agents had been visiting “public libraries over the past two months in an effort to secure names of people who check out books on explosives and other purportedly ‘subversive’ topics.”  Ron Zeigler protested that the White House had not been aware of this, that it had been a purely local initiative, and that anyway, “it had been stopped several weeks ago”.

 

According to librarians in and around Atlanta, however, Treasury agents stopped in to see them just last week, inquiring on one visit about the readers of ‘militant and subversive’ books and reportedly securing at another stop the names of two teen-agers working on term papers.[108]

 

            Even as that story broke, Joe Rhodes arrived in Kent.  As he had promised, the press never knew he was there and he basically limited himself to walking around, talking to students, and forming impressions of the institution and the scene of the crime.  He learned of the existence of a film titled “Confrontation”, compiled by an Arts professor and his students of stills, actuality footage, and filmed interviews.  A quick screening of it determined him to get his own copy.  When it ran it again for himself in Boston a few days later, he re-identified the three key points in it:

 

1.      The guard ‘might have been given a visual rather than a verbal command to fire.

2.      Guardsmen allegedly fired in [sic] students after initial volley.

3.      The sargent’s [sic] pistol is open not closed.

 

These were the points he decided to make when he showed the film to the Commission in Kent.  But, strangely, the film had become unavailable by that time.

 

            Another Monday morning brought another poll, and this was not one of the ones that reassured the President.  This one was doubly vexing in that it had been requested by his own advisor, Chancellor Heard, from the American Council on Education, and it bore out his warning of a rising generation at risk:

 

                        78 to 20%: agree: “the real trouble with US society is that it lacks a sense of values -- it is conformist and materialistic.”

                        60 to 30%: disagree: “communism is still our biggest threat.”

                        70 to 25%: agree: “America will be in trouble as long as it continues its arrogant, imperialistic policies.”

                        65 to 32%: agree: “our troubles stem from making economic competition our way of life.”

                        81 to 17%: agree: until the older generation understands the changed viewpoints of  younger, “serious conflict is going to continue.”

 

The majority of respondents, students in four-year colleges, did not think that their parents would agree with their answers.   Asked to rate the performance of leading political figures, they ranked Mayor John Lindsay, and a team of Senate Democrats – Muskie,. Fulbright, McGovern, and Kennedy – at the top, Nixon in the low middle range, and John Mitchell, Spiro Agnew, and Senator John Stennis at the bottom.[109]  This could be interpreted as an ill omen for the fall election.  But the President and his aides told themselves that this poll must be wrong, and looked for others that would confirm what they believed.

 

K. Phillips in for latest in series of consultations re campaign.  Re: ‘Derge Poll’.  Also very interested in Rope poll re: Student unrest – exactly opp. findings from those of Harris poll Heard is peddling.

More emphasis on basing all sched. & other decisions on political grounds.  Esp. emphasize Italians, Poles, Elks & Rotarians – eliminate Jews, blacks, youth.[110]

 

 

            On Wednesday the 15th, at ten a.m., the two versions of the state of America went head to head in Room 1202 of the New Senate Office Building, with the gavel opening the first of the Scranton Commission’s public hearings.  The opening statement went to the Republicans, in the person of Senator Hugh Scott (R., Penna.).  Although the administration might have considered him a safe witness – his patronage empire included the U.S. General Services Administration, through which the administration was able to control the National Archives (influence which in the long term would be of the utmost importance to Nixon and the intelligence agencies) – Scott was no Neanderthal.  He belonged to that wing of the party the President seemed to detest more than he did the Democrats, the moderates.  And thus his testimony tiptoed right down the middle of the national divide.

            He paid lip service to the idealism of the young, but added that “At the same time, one feels that students are more aroused than informed, and more often frustrated than constructively involved.” (Transcript,[111] pp. 8, 9).  When Rhodes asked him about the relation of the unrest to the Vietnam War, Scott replied, “I think it is more fashionable than reasonable to argue that the cause of this summer of our discontent is directed solely to the war.” (13)  But when Ortique asked him if the protestors relied on outside sources of support, Scott sidestepped the chance to back this cornerstone of the Nixon credo.  “The Communist Party would be missing a bet if it were not frantically running around the edge trying to penetrate.  But I see no evidence of this.” (29)

            Senator Edward Kennedy was the first voice for the opposition.  As noted (June 5th, above), Nixon was eager to let Kennedy speak out for the young protestors and then face the political consequences.  This eagerness seemed overdone in that Nixon himself had declared Kennedy politically dead (“it marks the end of Teddy”)[112] on hearing of his involvement in a fatal auto accident the preceding summer.  Kennedy might have agreed about his prospects, and thus felt less constrained to talk like a politician and more like a man:

 

The first and most important point is that we cannot treat the problem of campus unrest in isolation, divorced form its central relation to the war in Southeast Asia…  It is no coincidence that the killings at Kent State came hard on the heels of our invasion of Cambodia. (33)

                        …There can be no solution to the problem of campus unrest until there is a solution to the war in Vietnam. (35)

 

He freely acknowledged that students had committed acts of violence – if they were students.  (The Post the previous morning had carried an extensive story on Thomas “Tommy the Traveler” Tongyai, an itinerant “radical” who had repeatedly incited violence during demonstrations and who had proven to be a government undercover agent).[113]  But, even allowing for the provocateurs, Kennedy stipulated that

 

the most destructive campus violence has not been student violence.  It has been official violence… Who of us, seeing American students slain on the playing fields of their university, does not also see My Lai, with its defenseless Vietnamese civilians cut down by the official violence of American troops? (38)

 

            In fixing the blame for Kent State, Kennedy rhetorically turned to look up Pennsylvania Avenue:

 

Who gave the order for military rifles to be fired at unarmed civilians?…  What effect on young Americans and their feelings of frustration and alienation did the statements about them from high government officials have?  What was the impact of such statements on the Guardsmen in their attitudes toward the demonstrating students? (39; EMPHASIS ADDED).

 

            The next witness was Rhodes’ friend and when-in-Washington host Charles Palmer, the president of the National Student Association.  The NSA had been heavily infiltrated by the Central Intelligence Agency in the mid-1960s, but to the extent that the problem remained, Palmer did not testify like one of the plants.  In fact he alone pointed the finger, notwithstanding the universal clichés about the “liberal press”, at the journalistic establishment as one of the President’s foremost allies against the student movement, especially the way it slanted its coverage of the campus revolt during “the Silent Year”, 1969.

 

The scarcity of reports of campus unrest was due primarily to the reluctance of the press to report anything after the administration attacks on them for drawing attention to the discontent on the campus…   Many students suspect that the ‘Quiet Year’ theory may have been replaced by the ‘Commission Plan’…  Your report will join the Kerner and Eisenhower Commissions’ statements on some dusty shelves. (69)

 

Whether the press continued to ignore it, or it was entombed in an unread Commission report, Palmer pledged the students would continue the resistance.  “Until these things are changed, we will continue to make life uncomfortable and, at times, unlivable, for the men in positions of power and influence in this country.” (86)  Scranton actually asked him if, by this, he meant that he contemplated “assassinations”.  He then relinquished the chair, in the middle of Palmer’s testimony, to Ahern.  He did not mention that he was leaving to have lunch with Spiro Agnew at the White House.  Shortly afterwards, everyone else decided it was time for lunch.

            After the break, the panel heard from representatives of the class the President blamed for the student crisis: college presidents.  Dr. Robbin Fleming, of the University of Michigan, amplified on Kennedy’s warning: “An end to the use of American troops in Vietnam will not still campus unrest, but it will do more than anything else to contain it.”  The cause of the explosion that spring, he went on, was the sudden expansion of the war after a year and a half of claims that it was winding down.  Of the students who believed in Nixon, he said, “Cambodia hit them like a thunderbolt.”  Nor was this due to any special naivete of the young.  “The whole population is split on this issue and student sentiment is echoed very widely in the Nation.” (129)

            In “radical” contrast was the testimony of semanticist turned college president S.I. Hayakawa, who trivialized the revolt of the young beyond anything even the President might have imagined.  Students were protesting, he told the nonplussed audience, because they were bored.  They were only in college to great draft deferments and, with no commitment to their studies, demonstrated because they had nothing better to do.  He suggested that when people turned eighteen, they should all be drafted into a “national service corps” where they would do useful things like plant trees.  It is perhaps a measure of the national confusion on how to cope with the generational crisis that some time was spent discussing this, and that it received more play in the press than far more substantive points that were made that day.

            Hayakawa had only one solution to disturbances on campus: call the police.  When? “whenever we have enough intelligence to know disruption is going to be attempted, and we do have intelligence sources from the students and police, city police as well as campus police.” (167, 168; EMPHASIS ADDED).  He was the only witness that day to respond to Ortique’s “outside influences” question in the affirmative: “I have received reports from, if I remember correctly, F.B.I. offices and people like that, that there is evidence of outside inspiration from abroad on campus disturbance.” (169, 170).

            If the administration was keeping score, Hayakawa’s testimony had to be counted as a plus.  That of Otis Cochran, president of the Black American Law Students’ Association, was, in the British vernacular, “quite the other sort of thing”:

 

[T]here should be no doubt in anyone’s mind… that the ultimate source for the growing tension in the United States rests squarely with President Nixon…  No matter what      personal culpability is eventually to individual guardsmen or police or their commanding officers in the tragedies that occurred this spring, nothing can be allowed to divert blame from the truly guilty party – members of the Nixon-Agnew administration whose crude attacks on dissenters created the climate of intolerance and repression that some people interpreted as a license to kill. (172, 173)

 

            Press coverage of the day’s hearing led with Kennedy’s testimony, summarized in the phrase: “this war must end.”   The Times revealed that Governor Scranton had taken his lunch break with Spiro Agnew, of which Scranton said, “I got the impression Mr. Agnew does not intend to take issue with the Commission’s proceedings.”[114]  The Post carried a related story: Louis Stokes (D., Ohio) denounced the House Internal Security Committee on which he sat for sending letters to 179 colleges and universities, “asking them to list all their guest speakers for the past two years, how much the speakers were paid, and by whom.”  The Committee had particularly wanted to know about speakers from the Black Panthers, the Students for a Democratic Society, and the New Mobilization Committee to end the War in Vietnam.[115]

 

            The next day the Commission’s offices got a call from the White House in the person of recent Harvard graduate J.C. Helms.  Helms had been hired five days before as a special assistant and speechwriter for Vice President Agnew, on the basis of the “ringing indictment” of the school’s administration he had given to the Senate Permanent Investigating Committee.   Now Helms was following up on Agnew’s demand, made over lunch to Scranton the day before, that the Commission display more “balance” in the type of student witnesses being called.  He nominated Lazlo Pastor of the Harvard Young Americans for Freedom, Phil MacDonald of the Harvard Young Republicans, and Larry May, an assistant to cartoonist Al Capp[116] (who at the time was touring the lecture circuit with attacks on students.)

            The hearings resumed at 1:00 p.m., with the appearance of Eva Jefferson, student body president of Northwestern University.  Some might have wondered why she bothered to come, since she began by announcing it was “ludicrous” that someone would have to appoint a commission to find out why there were “disorders on the college campuses”. (197, 198)  She then launched into a diffuse discussion of academic malaise which was rendered more unfocused by an interruption from the audience in the person of Norman Joe Swift, a student at Los Angeles City College.  When Scranton tried to restore order, Ms. Jefferson insisted that “Mr. Swift” be heard.  He finally relinquished the microphone after offering some generalities about truth and love.

            Chief Jerry Wilson, of the District of Columbia Police, disqualified himself from discussing excessive force at Kent or Jackson State, since they were outside of his jurisdiction.  He did not volunteer any information about his special operations units having been trained by the CIA the preceding year, nor would it come out until the Church Committee investigation six years later.  So Canham and Rhodes asked him how he felt about the use of undercover agents and informers.  Wilson endorsed the practice without enthusiasm:

 

                        [I]nfiltration, obviously, is not the most ethical undertaking in the world… it is a necessary evil. (246, 247)….

            There is always the hazard in any type of undercover work that the undercover officer will be accused of engaging in an unlawful act…  particularly given the fact that most undercover officers are by necessity young, untrained police officers. (256, 257)

 

Nor did he volunteer the fact that his own Special Operations Unit had just hired a young undercover officer named Terry Norman.  Norman had been posing as a student photographer at Kent State on May 4th when witnesses had seen him draw and fire a revolver at students.  Extant film – which the Commissioners would not see when they held their hearings in Kent – shows him being protected after the fact by the campus police, National Guard, and Highway Patrol.

            The next witness was Steven Kelman, who could be typified as Nixon’s kind of student.  Kelman had shared the podium with Nathan Pusey during the June 11th Harvard commencement and had delivered a parallel diatribe against student demonstrators: “rock-throwers, burners, totalitarians… a student elite pledged to one-party dictatorship.” [117] His Commission testimony was a continuation of that line of invective, primarily a long attack on the SDS and campus “moderates” who “will continue to shield, coddle, and apologize for the extremists.”

            Because Kelman was billed by the Times as a “moderate”, and identified as the president of the Young People’s Socialist League, some confusion arose about his true identity.  The Times’ misuse of the modifier was either a severe sign of its rightward drift, or due to ignorance about the true nature of the YPSL.   It was the “student” arm of the Socialist Workers’ Party, an organization so heavily infiltrated by the FBI during this period that the Bureau was eventually placed under court order to keep its moles away from the national convention.  The FBI appealed this ruling all the way to the Supreme Court; “The FBI explained that its informants were such senior officials that if they did not attend the convention their identities would immediately become obvious.”[118]

            If Kelman was a plant, he had scarcely been subtle about it.  While still a high school senior, he published his own condescending analysis of the American left in Harper’s magazine.  While saluting him as “the youngest contributor to ‘Harper’s’ in many years” (omitting to disclose why they had published the piece), the editors mentioned that Kelman had published other articles in the same vein in The New Leader.  This was “an obscure New York weekly” that provided “a meeting of minds for professional anti-communists in the unions, universities, and government service”, which had struggled for existence until 1949.  Then proto-DCI Allen Dulles contributed an article to it “advocating a ‘commission of internal security’ to examine subversive influences in the U.S.”  Even as this article appeared, the magazine’s $ 40,000 debts were mysteriously paid off and it was able to appear in an expensive new format.[119]

            The Harper’s article gave Kelman an entrée into the prestige magazine market.  No sooner had he settled in as a freshman at Harvard than he published an analysis of campus politics.  It asserted that freshmen were disinterested in the SDS, “although surprisingly, a good many nondogmatic and studious types have been attracted to the less bombastic radicalism of the Young People’s Socialist League, founded at Harvard this year.”[120]

            By his senior year, he was ready to break into the hardcover book market, with Push Comes to Shove: The Escalation of Student Protest (Boston; Houghton-Mifflin, 1970).  This book was a recounting of the disturbances on campus during the 1969-70 which never stopped sounding its one-note theme: student activists, particularly the SDS, were latter-day Nazis (the same comparison made by Spiro Agnew the week before, and Governor Rhodes the day before, the Kent State murders).  “In Steve Kelman’s mind, SDS represented the Hitler-Stalin pact among ‘totalitarians’,”  a classmate recalled, “ …I had offered to nominate him for President of SDS if only it would get him to stop indiscriminately labeling students ‘Communists’ and other Red-baiting.”[121]   Just before being called as a witness before the Commission, Kelman vaulted into print in the Council for Foreign Relations’ most prestigious journal, with the ultimately simple dichotomy between the two halves of the left:  “Campus liberalism is full of decent humanitarian instincts, but weak on analysis and programs…  the New Left’s program is to support bloody totalitarian terror.”[122]

            (Having graduated from Harvard, published his book, and damned the demonstrators before the Commission, Kelman departed on an extended tour of Europe, where he wrote several articles for Atlantic magazine on the failures of socialism in Sweden and the horrors of communism in Easgt Germany.  He did not disclose, nor did the editors inquire, about who funded his travels.  On his return, he settled into a sinecure at Harvard’s ironically named Kennedy School of Government, emerging for a stint in government during the 1990s as federal procurement chief.  Most of his attention while serving at this post was devoted to providing management services for the Central Intelligence Agency.)

            The last statement on the 16th was given by Robert Rankin, Vice President of the Danforth Foundation (a private charitable organization for the promotion of education).  He hit out immediately at the “scapegoat” mentality of “officialdom in Washington” and “persons in high office” which deluded them into thinking that student “dissidence” was caused by “a tiny minority of persons who can be cornered and controlled.” (302)   It was there, and not in the SDS, that he found the analogy to the Third Reich:

 

The American people have not experienced repression before.  The German people have.  Suddenly we find ourselves in a situation where a new factor has entered into the cultural and historical mix, a new fear which we don’t comprehend and which may be deeply damaging to the soul of this nation. (321)

 

            Rankin’s use of the word “repression” – no less than his strange reluctance, along with virtually all the other concerned commentators on the crisis, to take the final step and use the word “fascism” – found an echo in the increasingly desperate attempts by Alexander Heard to get the attention of the man who had hired him to provide advice on the crisis.   Even while Rankin was testifying, Heard sent another unheeded warning to the President:

 

                        Three facts, however, are clear:

            First, there is some repression, by which is usually meant a stifling of Bill-of-Rights guarantees, or the right to dissent, or the right to be different.

            Second, blacks and students and some others truly and intensely believe there is a great deal of repression.

            Third, that belief has grave consequences for respect for law, the viability of the legal  system, and the acceptance of governmental process and policies.[123]

 

                       

            A few days later, he suggested to the Commission that this become the central theme of its investigation --  a suggestion which, if taken, might have made a fundamental difference in modern American history.  But it was made to the wrong people.

 

Heard suggested that the Report be built around the theme of ‘repression’…  The sense of repression is a national problem, which requires a response at the national level… Heard further suggested that Jackson and Kent be used as organizational devices, by viewing each of the incidents as the culmination of a line of (repressive) developments.[124]

 

            As the hearings adjourned for the day, Joe Rhodes and Jim Ahern went out to have a drink together and discuss their fears for the Commission’s future.  They had no remaining doubts that Byrne and Kirby would whitewash the whole thing if they could get away with it.  Ahern “says to me he won’t have a hand in a superficial report.”  They parted and Rhodes moved on to a prior engagement, a collegiate beer party, where he tried to alleviate his depression by drinking more than he had intended to.  This made him more depressed.  “I am very worried,” he told his diary, back in his hotel room, “The staff may steamroller this thing over us while constantly bemoaning the great weight of their work.”

 

            But his Adversary was worried, too.  Even so, the President tried to put the best face on his latest reverse:

 

Decided he wants Scranton Comm to go ahead w/ open hearings because it keeps the student unrest issue alive thru the summer & works to our advantage.  Wants to be sure we get some really horrible types to testify.  Then need to get our right wing types to blast the whole thing.  Gets a little involved but should work.[125]

 

                        don’t get E. into this (students)

                                    he shld spend his time getting work done.

                        Nof[ziger]? have Reagan hit the Scranton Comm

                                                                        & some Congl people

                        E  P did not agree to open hearings…

 

                        Nof.  get [Rep. Philip] Crane to take Eva Jackson [sic] on

                                                                        & the Scranton hearings…

 

                        get someone to shoot down Heard report[126]

 

            It is one of the more pointed ironies of timing that at that moment one of the “straight” people on the Commission’s staff was advising one of the few others that,

 

Every other major Commission report has been substantially ignored.  I think you to recommend to the appropriate people that the President issue a statement saying that he  intended [sic] to follow up directly on the Commission’s report and that he is paying close attention to the progress of its work.[127]

 

            Nixon’s hopes that some “really horrible types” would testify were fulfilled, but only as his opponents might define them, as the hearings resumed at 10:00 a.m. on the 17th.  General Winston P. Wilson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, led of for the forces of law and order, flanked by a display on a nearby table of “radical weapons” – a spiked club, several knives, and a four-pound rock allegedly fired from a slingshot, among others – supposedly used on Guardsmen by student radicals.  (He subsequently admitted that “not all” of the items had been seized during college riots.)

            But, already tripped up by his own testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee three days after the murders – during which he had unwittingly implicated one of his own majors in firing an unauthorized civilian pistol during the confrontation at Kent State, and “burned” FBI undercover agent Terry Norman – he was not now prepared to say anything specific about anything.   Instead he mechanically read a 4500-word statement into the record which extolled the average Guardsman (“your Guardsman”) – “they are patient men, professional in action, brave in the face of real danger, and concerned with the protection of the rights of all citizens” (346) – and refused to say anything more, even under questioning.  He was particularly adamant that he would not answer questions about Kent State, on the grounds that he had not yet seen the Guard’s After-Action Report.  (According to its own heading, the Report had been forwarded to the Bureau in Washington on June 8th.)

            And then President’s Nixon’s apotheosis of a college president, Dr. Nathan G. Pusey, appeared, along with a kindred spirit as college presidents went, Dr. Harold Sponberg of Eastern Michigan.  Pusey’s anti-activist rant scarcely could have surprised anyone by then.  His only new note was what the Times’ headline writers described as a “hopeful” one: that student unrest was ebbing in the face of a “restorative force… the realization that there are just as many rascals in their generation as in any other.”  There wouldn’t have been any crisis had not some older people assumed that students “have some insight of which all previous generations have been deprived.”[128]  Sponberg recited the doctrine that Nixon had laid down to the A.B.A. two months before: the collegiate turmoil had nothing to do with the war in Southeast Asia or any of the nation’s other social problems, but would continue after the war was over on some other pretext.  Furthermore, negotiating with the dissidents was pointless:

 

We have seen too frequently that concession or agreement on one demand merely  leads to another (401)…  some of the campus tension, unrest, and violence will continue regardless of our progress.  There are those committed to the principle of destroying our society. (403)

 

            It seemed to some present that several of the Commissioners were just simmering through these presentations until the adjourning gavel fell, when they would be free to vent their indignation to the press.  When he got the chance, the cop from New Haven all but called General Winston a liar:

 

MR. AHERN:  I think there has been a reluctance, a defensiveness, on the part of the people that represent bureaucracies or institutions to level with the Commission.  I think they have been almost shifty to the point that questions were not responded to at all.

QUESTION:  Chief, are you specifically including or referring to the testimony this morning by the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, do you mean that, specifically?

                        MR. AHERN:  I would include that.  (Transcript, 7/17,70, Appendix, p. 9)

 

            If Ahern was visibly “incensed”, Revius Ortique was nearly beside himself, particularly with regard to the “radical weapons” display, which he described as “an insult to the intelligence of the Commission.   They had no significance at all as far as Kent State is concerned and he didn’t try to explain their significance.”[129]   “I suppose they were there to justify the use of loaded weapons, but not one of them can justify soldiers executing civilians.”[130]

 

[T]he fact that a rock weighed four pounds or a rock was hurled to me is not sufficient for someone to be executed.  I am greatly concerned that people in this country begin to think that soldiers have the right to try and to convict and to reach a judgement and to execute civilians in this country…  If Kent is repeated, then there will be encouragement on the part of persons who happen to be members of the National Guard or of the police…to act in that fashion. (Appendix, pp. 6-7)

 

            The reporters found that Governor Scranton could on occasion be “almost shifty” himself.  What had he talked about over lunch with Spiro Agnew?  The Vice President had only emphasized the President’s desire that the Commission be “independent” and “divergent” in its viewpoints.   “I got the impression that he didn’t want to get involved, at least until the Commission reports.”  Would the Commission address the role of the war in the generational crisis?  “If ending the war would stop the campus conflict, we should say so and we would.”  Would he recommend that Agnew “lower his voice”?  “I shouldn’t be going around telling people how to behave.”[131]

            Still maintaining his low profile, Joe Rhodes contented himself with adding that he was “disappointed” with his college president Dr. Pusey.  “He didn’t seem to be completely in tune with some of the things happening on our campus.”[132]   As the reporters departed, he and Ahern drew their chairman aside, to express their alarm over the prospect that the Commission might not be able to control its own staff.   Pointing out that neither group knew anything about the other as people, Rhodes suggested they all go on a weekend retreat and get acquainted.  Scranton rejected the idea.  It is possible to suspect he already knew that if the Commissioners learned what kind of people were on the staff, the whole exercise might terminate at that point.

 

            On Monday the 20th, the President told Haldeman that he had turned Heard’s report over to his newest expert on the academic scene, his son-in-law.

 

In AM gave me David E[isenhower]’s analysis of Heard report & our young staff’s report re students.  Wants it circulated anonymously – thinks it’s the most perceptive analysis   he’s seen – takes on the idea of treating youth as special sub-culture to be dealt with directly.[133]

 

            Such complacency was doomed.  That week two of the remaining remanents of independent American journalism dealt the administration as many staggering shocks.  A brash new magazine, Scanlan’s, announced that it would publish, in its August issue, a March 11th memorandum from the desk of Spiro Agnew, on vice-presidential stationery.  In it, the Rand Corporation proposed the “judicious leak” of its study on the feasibility of canceling the 1972 elections – citing the interference of “radicals” in the political process – “but did not feel that any information should be made public on a plan to repeal the Bill of Rights.”  Both actions were to be enforced by the military.  But civil support would be called up as well, in the form of construction worker demonstrations in cities like New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, and Seattle, funded by the Central Intelligence Agency.  “The document came directly from Mr. Agnew’s office,” editor Sydney Zion announced, “and he knows it.  We do not hesitate to submit our credibility against us.”[134]

            Nixon pursued his usual policy of waiting until the furor had died down before moving against an Enemy.  But he was given an additional goad in September, when he hosted an “extraordinary dinner” at the White House for eight-five union leaders to celebrate Labor Day.  Of the New York City union bosses who had presented the President with an honorary “hard hat” at the White House in May, where he had thanked them for their memberships’ attacks on peace demonstrators, only Peter Brennan was able to appear.  “Part of the reason for trimming the New York guest list may have been the revelation in Scanlan’s magazine that a handful of the President’s springtime guests had criminal records and/or close criminal associations.”[135]

            Immediately afterward, some of the President’s union allies, possibly operating through the good offices of the CIA as the “hardhats” had in May, specifically the Amalgamated Lithographers of America, refused to set type for the November issue of the magazine because it was “un-American” and “extremely radical”.[136]  Union lithographers in several other states joined the boycott.[137]  When the editors tried to have it printed in Canada, U.S. Customs agents seized copies as soon as they crossed the border.[138]  Scanlan’s filed for bankruptcy early in 1971.

 

            Scranton’s admission, however tentative, that the war in Indochina might have to be considered as a potential cause of the academic upheaval was enough to call down repudiation from the President, in a press conference: “I want peace on the campus, but my major obligation is to adopt policies that I consider will be bring peace to the world.  And for that reason I have to reject the easy and sometimes tempting road of a quick and easy solution ending the war in Vietnam.”[139]  Privately he raged at his aides for his own choice of Scranton: “E & Fl – have to quit* appt. of libs.    no more Scrantons   appt. some strong reactionary.”[140]

            His arch-reactionary witness was due to appear on the stand in the Commission’s next session.  But he was preceded by Dennis Hays, the national chairman of the first Earth Day three months before.  Not one to be diverted by side issues, Hays drove to the heart of the reason for the Cambodian invasion, the Kent State murders, and, incidentally, the pending destruction of the planet.  “ …the American dream has been defiled by people who for their own reasons, reasons of corporate profit or reasons of political opportunism, have decided to sell short the aspirations of the people.” (446)

            But one of the reasons the fate of the Earth looked grim was that everyone’s attention was on the impending civil war.  If the hearings had ever been an objective quest for truth, they had by now deteriorated into just another battleground.  The witnesses were champions for one side or the other, and one of the most effective would have been New York philosophy professor Dr. Sidney Hook, had he not been so obvious.  A known FBI informer since 1942, Hook moved over to the CIA side seven years later, hosting an Agency-funded “solidarity with the Soviets” conference for then-unsuspecting leftists.  He was the founder and remained the guiding light of the American Committee on Cultural Freedom, the CIA’s international media front.[141]

            Hook told the Commission that there was only one problem – and it certainly wasn’t the war in Southeast Asia or the nation’s manifold domestic inequities – but the “politicization” of the campus by “radicals”.  And there could be only one solution: “Violations of rules should be promptly punished by appropriate sanctions.” (488, 489)   And yet the radicals were not his arch-villains:

 

…in the long run the most serious threat to the integrity of teaching and learning comes not from the criminal violence of the extremists but from the measures of appeasement and capitulation in the vain hope of curbing their frenzy. (490)

 

In other words, things would not be safe in Academe until the liberals had been gotten rid of as well.  This was enough to cause Joe Rhodes to lose his “low profile”.

 

MR. RHODES:  You must realize in terms of campus violence that has occurred in the  last few months, it is students who lie dead…  I would just like to ask you what else has happened while you have been a professor that has brought you to the point that you seemingly hate students. (498, 499)

DR. HOOK:  I think that the attitude of teachers toward students should certainly not be one of hate; neither should it be one of love.  After all, different sexes are involved. (500)

 

            Hook was followed (as if by two shadows) on the stand by the spokesmen for the FBI,  Assistant Directors William C. Sullivan and Charles Brennan, who read J. Edgar Hoover’s statement into the record.  The only act of violence it so much as mentioned in connection with Kent State was the burning of the ROTC building.  It juxtaposed this with the false statement that a Kent State professor had held classes for his students in how to make firebombs.  Sullivan – as notorious in the upper echelons as Hook was in Academe for being a plant (in Sullivan’s case, the CIA’s man in the FBI)[142]  -- asserted that “the FBI has absolutely no interest in legitimate student and professorial activities.  It is none of our concern.”[143]  Brennan echoed this: “we have never had any agents in classrooms cataloguing ideas.” (547)

            After some anti-climactic testimony by Governor Robert Ray of Iowa (“the Guard should be used in campus demonstrations only as a very last resort.” [570]), the Commission went into executive session.  The police in Lawrence, the college town of the University of Kansas, had just shot a student to death for the second time in less than a week (before the second shooting, the street lights had mysteriously gone off).[144]  The governor had issued a “proclamation of emergency” and sent in the highway patrol.   The city manager summed it up: “They are fighting guerrilla warfare out there.”[145]

            Joe Rhodes didn’t have to read about it in the newspapers; one of his Seminarians was sending him reports that indicated that the headlines weren’t sensationalizing anything.  He announced that the Commission had to go to Lawrence.  “Matt says the Chancellor doesn’t want us.  Ortique says the regents don’t want us.  Scranton says he can’t see what we would learn from Lawrence.”  Rhodes had to leave the room to take a phone call.

            When he returned to the room, the others had moved on to a discussion of Isla Vista, a campus in the University of California system where Governor Ronald Reagan was pushing for the sort of bloody confrontation Rhodes and Ehrlichman had headed of the year before at the People’s Park.  Reagan had specifically told the Commission to stay out of “his” state, before it had even begun considering a visit.  Rhodes, Ahern, and Cheek were determined to defy him.  Manning, Derthick, and Byrne were against the trip.  Canham wasn’t sure.  “We decide to go.  I can see Matt doesn’t think it’s such a good idea.  He can foul it up if he wants to.”  (And Byrne would, making travel arrangements that would land the Commissioners in Los Angeles instead of Isla Vista.)

            Richard Nixon could rejoice in the services of men like Hook and Byrne that day.   He could have no way of knowing that, not long before, an unknown had set the stage for the next media shock he would sustain that summer, by leaking a copy of the “prosecutive summary” the Civil Rights Division had prepared from FBI reports on Kent State to the Akron Beacon-Journal.  Based on one of the most massive and intensive investigations in the Bureau’s history, the summary distilled it all into a few inescapable conclusions.  Any one of them would have hit Middle America like a “nuclear device”: there had been no sniper, the Guardsmen had been in no danger from the students when they had fired, and they fabricated the self-defense alibi in concert and after the fact to cover up the murders.  The newspaper ran the story in the final edition on the 23rd and virtually every paper of any consequence carried it on the morning of the 24th.

            Whether intentionally or not, the Times juxtaposed it with quotes from the FBI testimony before the Commission.  Sullivan’s pronouncement that “the nation would become a totalitarian society if students were permitted to form an elite force above the law” was shown doubly hypocritical beside evidence that it was government that had been truly lawless.  And Brennan’s loyal second, that “the challenge from the students was directed against all political, economic, educational, and social institutions in the nation”,[146] sounded even more ridiculous alongside proof of where the real threat lay.

            Nixon was on the phone to Hoover at 8:47 a.m., barely coherent: “The President said he told his people he was going to have it ‘shot down’ as he was not going to have this student business erupting as, basically, what do you expect the Guard to do?”[147]

 

Was very concerned re press report that FBI said Guard was at fault at Kent State.  Called J. Edgar who immediately blamed it on Jerris Leonard.  P. told Hoover to knock it  down.  Is really afraid we’ll end up putting Admin on the side of the students & doesn’t really want…[148]

 

The Post ran the Beacon-Journal story with a bonus: the report, along with supporting memos, of the President’s long-ignored advisor on academic affairs and the young, Dr. Alexander Heard.  As the summary had been unequivocal to the effect that there was no way to justify the killings, so Heard left no doubt as to what had generated the turmoil that had led directly to them:

 

Cambodia provoked and exposed antiwar and social discontents among large numbers  of students of normally moderate and conservative political viewpoints.

Before Cambodia, many of us on the campuses believed that deep dissatisfaction afflicted only a small minority of students.  Now we conclude that May triggered a vast pre-existing charge of pent-up frustration and dissatisfaction.[149]

 

            These reverses left Nixon in a truculent mood as he departed on a Western pre-campaign swing.  On the plane to his San Clemente retreat after touch-downs in Fargo, N.D., and Salt Lake City, he demanded his aides resort to tactics debased even by the standards of his old Red-baiting and witch-hunting of the late 1940s, and which prefigured the excesses of the 1972 campaign that would bring him down:

 

                        [DOCUMENT WITHDRAWN BY NATIONAL ARCHIVES]

 

                        our cands. need better guidance

                        re taking on student protestors directly

                        make the opponents on side of the protestors

 

                        get a goon squad to start roughing up demos.

                        VFW or Legion – no insults to P.

                        use hard hats

 

                        get some stuff out that Commies are doing the demonstrations[150]

 

            On the final day of the Washington hearings, the witnesses led off with a total repudiation of the Nixon doctrine on campus unrest.  The witness was Dr. Bruce Dearing, president of the State University of New York at Binghamton.  He asserted that the ferment in higher education was caused by the growth of the “best and ablest students” beyond the obsessive materialism of their parents.   All that was needed was to treat them not like children, but as “emergent adults”.  There were only a handful of true radicals and these could not survive without the “imperceptiveness, inflexibility, and unresponsiveness of campus authorities”.  “Honesty and candor is not only the best policy, but it is the only effective policy in dealing with students… there is a place on campus for love and trust, and for taking the gamble of assigning the benefit of the doubt to all one’s associates.” (610 et. seq.)                  As a change of pace, William Beall, Jr., Coordinator of Police Services at Berkeley, provided a history of disorders at that touchpoint school, which he charged had resulted from conscious targeting of it by radicals in their general war on the regime.  Relating to Kent State, he made some unsurprising, professionally-sound points: the National Guard should only be brought onto campus as a last resort, and individual Guardsmen should not be issued live ammunition or loaded weapons.  The least appropriate response to sniper fire was to shoot down the nearest unarmed civilians:

 

…we begin to determine where the sniper fire, if in fact there is sniper fire, is coming  from and through some kind of search party instead of returning fire which I don’t believe is productive and I think has tremendous consequences.  You search out the sniper. (654-655; EMPHASIS ADDED.)

                                                                                                                                    

            Congressman William Steiger (D., Ohio) was one of a group of twenty-two U.S. Representatives who had visited fifty campuses across the country.  But he wasn’t ready to testify, since he had only been invited to at 6:15 the preceding evening.  Between the short notice and the President and his aides being out of town, he had no chance to clear his testimony with the White House.  And thus he more or less blurted out that a cabal of “radicals” was probably not the cause of the unrest; “while there is a small group of dedicated anarchists… I am persuaded that these men and women (both students and non-students) are not the primary cause of the problem.” (661)  What had alarmed him was the way right-wing politicians were preparing to take advantage of the Middle American backlash against the demonstrations to promote a whole program of repression.  While courageous, Steiger’s warning was somewhat belated; led by his own state, the majority of legislatures had already passed the necessary laws.

            If anyone had the inside story on the daily-increasing militarization of the American police, it was Charles Rogovin, former director of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.  And there was probably no one who was less likely to tell it to the Commission, or about the way federal funds could be used to enhance the capacity of the local police to generate the kind of “intelligence” necessary to heat up confrontations, as they had at Kent.  Rogovin stuck to safe generalities about the differing class backgrounds of police and students, and the availability of funds for police training.  The only specific information he gave in response to a question from Rhodes was, yes, the L.E.A.A. had played a primary, operational role in policing campus disorders.

            At 12:30, the Commission broke for lunch.

            That afternoon, a confrontational witness reappeared, in the person of Dr. Edward Teller, the Hungarian émigré physicist known as the “father of the hydrogen bomb” – and also a primary advocate of surveillance of the scientific community.  He immediately warned the Commission that the demonstrations must cease or bright young people would be driven from armaments research, leaving the country defenseless.  Once again, Joe Rhodes was goaded into breaking his discreet silence:

 

MR. RHODES:  Professor Teller, perhaps young people do not want to be a part of  your deathly process, because they are tired of it, tired of being part of the mechanisms of death… (730)

DR. TELLER:  …if we stop research on defense, while in the totalitarian countries research is going on at an accelerated rate, your freedom of speech will not last much longer than mine. (731)

 

            After Teller’s testimony, Scranton announced the appointment of separate teams within the Commission to investigate the incidents at Kent State and Jackson State.  “…we do not intend in any way to prejudice the rights of any individuals that are involved in either incident,” he stated, “or to interfere with the Grand Jury investigations underway.” (735-736)    There was no grand jury investigation “underway” in Ohio.  Within a week, a Hinds County, Mississippi, grand jury would announce that city and state police had been justified into volleying into a dormitory building at Jackson State[151], and Ohio Attorney General Paul Brown would announce that none of the National Guardsmen who had been at Kent State would be indicted, as they had been “protecting state property during a riot” and “protecting their own lives during a riot.”[152]  Having made this announcement, Scranton relinquished the chair to Martha Derthick and disappeared again.  This time he left no hint of where he was going or why.

            Henry Maier, the mayor of Milwaukee, related his experiences during the turmoil of spring.  One of them so perfectly recapitulated Chancellor Heard’s experience with the administration that it should have warned the Commission what lay in store for it.  Like so many others during the strike, students at the University of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee campus had held a referendum on the national crisis.  On June 1st, Maier telegraphed Nixon that the students had asked him to present the results to the President personally.  But when Maier and the referendum’s student coordinator arrived there on June 8th, they were curtly informed that the President had no intention of seeing them and shunted off to a minor aide.  There was never any acknowledgement of the referendum or their visit.

            David Keene, president of the Young Americans for Freedom, was one of the sort of witnesses Agnew had been demanding.  He dismissed the testimony of his peers before him (with the exception of Kelman) – “much which is important has been left unsaid, and much more distorted in the telling” – and launched into a predictable attack on “leftist” students and “weak” administrators.  All that Academe needed, he argued, was more “law and order”.

 

MR. RHODES:  You are saying, then, to the Commission that black students who live   in terror in southern black colleges do so because their administrators do not exercise enough   authority over them?

                        MR. KEENE:  I am not saying that at all.

                        MR. RHODES:  I am confused. (785)

 

Keene then exited the hearing and collegiate life to take a job as “special assistant” and speechwriter to Sprio Agnew.[153]   He would re-emerged in years to come as a consultant to the Reagan, Dole, and Bush campaigns, chairman of the American Conservative Union, and a pillar of the National Rifle Association.

            Rhodes had not pursued his reply to Keene, because he had arranged to have a more eloquent last word in closing the Washington hearings.  His witness was Dr. Kenneth Kenniston, a Yale psychologist and self-styled “professional student watcher”.  Of his own and corroborating studies of the student activist, he reported that

 

The results of these studies are unanimous in contradicting the stereotype widely held in American of the activist as a ‘rotten apple’ or ‘bum’, acting out his neurotic problems, his hang-ups over authority, or his Oedipus complex in a destructive attempt to overthrown the ‘System’…  Student activists are in many ways the most able, independent, morally concerned, and politically aware of the students on American campuses. (794-795)…                 Activists are generally implementing and renewing the core values of their parents rather than rebelling against them. (796)

 

Their parents tended to be widely read, and socially and politically astute, and the children, studious and curious.  The best way to predict whether a given campus would join the national student strike or a demonstration like it was to count the number of National Merit Scholars in the freshman class.

 

For the great majority of students, activism is first and foremost a morally based reaction against unjust practices, policies, and institutions in American society. (798)  … Student activism is not a sign of the failure of American society, but of its extraordinary strength. (799)

 

The danger to the country was not student protest, whatever the FBI believed.  The mortal danger to America was the internal and intrinsic corruption of its society that had elicited the protests.

 

…swift and energetic steps must be taken to regenerate our society.  Unless we begin now, ours will be not only a divided and sick society, but a society that has lost the best of its youth – a society on its deathbed. (806)

 

Before the leaves flew, Kenniston too would wilt before the crescendo of attacks on students and begin to adulterate his message (see below).  But on the afternoon of July 24th,  it rang out with galvanizing clarity.   Perhaps it bolstered Rhodes’ sense of mission, for now he redoubled his resolve to go to Lawrence and announced it at the meeting following adjournment.  (Rhodes describes this as a  “luncheon” meeting, but given the time of day, it must have been a late lunch.)  Scranton told him that if he went, he would be going on his own, and not as a representative of the Commission.  Bayless Manning added something to the effect that the Lawrence trip wasn’t necessary because the Commission was only doing “post-mortems”.

            “Bayless, you must respect the fact that I joined this Commission only because I thought it could save lives,” Rhodes replied, “I could not face my peers, being turned down in this respect.  I must go.  You do not have the same responsibility I must bear.”  There was a loud silence, followed by “eating noises”.  No further question was raised about the trip.

 

            As Rhodes chased the setting sun toward the dark and bloody ground of Kansas, Nixon was winging half a continent ahead of him, escaping yet again to his retreat at San Clemente.  According to Washington’s premiere investigative reporter, the President’s penchant for withdrawing from the scene was not just a matter of geography.  Whether in California or D.C., he was progressively isolating himself from anyone who might disagree with or question him.   The gallows humor of the inner circle divided those seeking access to the chief executive into BMs and Ams.  The BMs had been on his team Before Miami (the 1968 Republican National Convention), and only they had any real chance of gaining an audience.  The President occasionally hosted leaders of the Republican Party in Congress, but to brief, not to consult with them.  “Liberal” Republicans were not welcome at the White House.  But increasingly even conservatives like Barry Goldwater (who was legendary for his straight talk) couldn’t get an audience.  Even within his inner circle, Nixon preferred receiving briefing books to talking to people.[154]

            On Saturday the 25th, he slept in at San Clemente, and then spent the afternoon planning trips to Europe and devising schemes to destroy Enemies.   “impt. to destroy [television reporter Chet] Huntley as a hypocritical SOB…  why can’t SACB get into subversive control of students?”[155]  

            Meanwhile, the archetypical “subversive student” Joe Rhodes sweated to mediate between  the warring factions in Lawrence, Kansas.  He finally managed to get representatives of the warring factions together in a single large room for a searing six-hour meeting.  At the end of it, the head of the “redneck” delegation took him aside and told him he had prevented blood from flowing in the streets of the town  -- but he had better return as soon as possible and bring the rest of the Commission with him.

            Rhodes flew back to D.C. the following morning, a Sunday (while the President took in a baseball game in California) and on Monday morning began calling the other Commissioners to tell them they had to go to Lawrence.  Ahern agreed immediately.  Canham said only that he would keep an open mind about it.  Cheek and Ortique said yes; Derthick said maybe.  But in the midst of Rhodes’ canvass, a reporter identifying himself as Tom Dresindorf called him to verify an Associated Press story that the Commission was not going to Lawrence.  Rhodes told Dresindorf this could not possibly be true and to call back in half an hour.  Then he phoned the Commission’s offices.  Matt Byrne told him that he had released the story; Rhodes should have kept in closer touch.   Rhodes frantically tried to call Scranton, but the chairman could not or did not want to be reached.

            When the Commission convened again on Wednesday the 29th, Rhodes arrived carrying the report of his Seminarian in Kansas, Edward Saunders-Bey,  and two hole cards.  Ahern was now determined that they should go.  Derthick still couldn’t decide.  Manning was against “any such change in schedule”.  General Davis asked Byrne if his staff could handle the extra work.  “Matt and Jack [Kirby] say no.

            As they deadlocked, Scranton changed the subject to the trip to Isla Vista.  He opened the discussion with the opinion that such a trip would be impossible because it would damage the Commission’s “credibililty”.  Ahern replied that they had to go regardless of any such “political” considerations.  Manning asserted that if they went if would actually help Ronald Reagan.  Byrne was of course against the trip.

            But Rhodes insisted on bringing the subject back to Lawrence.  And Byrne again insisted that the trip would be impossible because of the extra work it would demand of his staff.  Rhodes replied that he should hire more people or get more work out of the people he had.  Byrne took umbrage (or affected to) at the reflection on his employees.  “Things are tense.”  It was time to play his hole cards.  The first was a University of Kansas student he had flown in to give the Commissioners a first-hand account of the “guerrilla war”.  Rhodes sweated through this presentation, afraid his witness would discredit himself by becoming emotional.  But the youth gave a calm, restrained recital which only served to underscore the horror he was discussing.  After he had finished, Canhma told Rhodes “that he understood why I was so wound up”.

            It was time to show the other hole card: if the Commission didn’t go to Lawrence, Rhodes said he would have to resign because he would have no credibility left with his generation.   He did not add that neither would the Commission.  Suddenly Davis spoke, itself a rare event (as a reporter who covered the hearings told me, he mostly “just sat there looking like a general”).    He said that of course the Commission would have to go to Kansas.  He said it not as an observation, but as if issuing an order.  Cheek and Ahern chimed in, and it was so decided, after which the General regally departed for a “head call”.

            The discussion returned to the California trip.  After (they suddenly realized) three hours of “absolute tension”, the Commissioners cackled their way through this discussion.  Rhodes was jubilant.  “I love these guys and gals,” he jotted in his ever-present notebook, “We did it!”   Then Davis returned from the john, looked them over as if they weren’t terribly bright, and asked, “Are we still talking about California?  We’ll go.”   Again, he said it as if simultaneously closing the subject, and so it was decided a second time.

            With Davis’ abandonment of his neutral position, the balance of power within the Commission shifted markedly.  Nixon and Byrne may have hoped he was a “safe” Negro because of his military background and current position as chief of police in a major and troubled city.  What they perhaps had not anticipated was that, two days before, the General had been forced to resign as Public Safety Director in Cleveland.  He had won the respect of the police in the ranks, and that had made his position untenable among black politicians, including Mayor Carl Stokes.  (Davis actually accused the latter of giving “support and comfort” to the enemies of the police in order to win political advantage.)[156]  But the experience did not push him sharply to the right, as it might have another man.  Rather he returned to his work on the Commission with a redoubled sense of purpose.  No one had to tell him how close his country was to civil war.

 

            Nothing in the record reflects whether Byrne and/or Kirby reported this latest reverse to the White House.  If they had failed to, the President could remain reassured by other signs that the country was behind him.  On Monday the 27th, the Wall Street Journal continued in its role as his new champion, widening the blame for the country’s state from “liberals” to all “intellectuals”: “we are quite convinced that disruption by students has deep roots in the attitudes of professors.”  It predicted that the 1960s would become the decade “in which the prevailing liberal orthodoxy reduced itself to an absurdity.”[157]   J. Edgar Hoover pushed the envelope still further in the August issue of Law Enforcement Bulletin:  

 

[M]uch of the talk of repression comes from those involved in or in sympathy with revolutionary violence on our campuses and in our streets…  when the constitutional  functions of enforcing the law and restoring order are brought into play, the participants scream ‘repression’, a typical anarchic response.[158]

 

Now, presumably, Chancellor Heard had entered the ranks of the anarchists.

            The Journal followed a few days later with another editorial, this one by summer intern Douglas Hallett, a graduating Yale senior, titled “Don’t Blame Mr. Nixon.”  He dismissed both Heard and the Scranton Commission summarily – “their basic thrust is much too one-sided and much too limited by contemporary events to be of any real value” – and summed up the whole problem as “Students don’t know what they want.”[159]  Haldeman showed this piece to Nixon while they were still in California and the President “was ecstatic – wants it widely distributed – etc.   Does a great job of refuting Heard thesis of blaming it all on govt.”[160]  He may have been thinking of pieces like this when he discussed “programs on Scranton Comm – to discredit    send things like editorials to members    influence them by snappy attacks.”[161]   He made the “piece… by Mr. Douglas Halleck [sic]” the springboard for his final public repudiation of Heard during a press conference at Los Angeles’ Century Plaza Hotel on the evening of the 30th, which was carried on national television:

 

[F]or university presidents and professors and other leaders to put the blame for the problems of the universities on the

Government primarily,I think, is very short-sighted…    

…this is a problem not for Government – we cannot solve it – it is a problem which

            college administrators and college faculties must face up to.[162]

 

His surrogates and proxies rephrased this (endlessly) by saying for instance that Heard should have blamed the crisis on “the overwhelming sense of self-righteousness in the academic community.”[163]  Heard’s reply – “I was asked to advised him, not the academic community”[164] – went largely unnoticed.

            Heard’s fate should have served as a stark warning to Governor Scranton and his Commission, and his frequent hesitations and equivocations showed that he understood it.  What he as a rational man could not realize was that there was no way even the most fair-minded chairman could strike a balance between what Nixon wanted from it and what Rhodes and his generation did.  It was an impossible task.   Nor need he have worried, since the Commission’s insistence at maintaining its integrity thus far had long since led the President to write it of as an Enemy.  And the Kent State phase of the investigation had not even begun yet.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR: The Kent State Hearings.

 

            It could be said that J. Edgar Hoover had the most eloquent last word in the debate that raged through the summer of 1970, or at least the most enduring one.   The personal monument that would bear is name continued under construction, swallowing up a whole city block between the porno shops, burlesque houses, and parking garages on 8th and 9th Streets on Pennsylvania.  The location might have been chosen for its symbolism, dead in the heart of the capital between the White House and Capitol Hill.  The site provided some symbolic commentary of its own: a tidal marsh not quite drained by the turgid, once malarial Tiber Creek.  Although work had begun on this so far most expensive of all federal buildings in 1967, it had not yet risen to ground level.  The contract for the uppermost of its basements had still not been let by August.  But it would continue to rise on this most treacherous of foundations and Hoover’s final triumph was provided for in the floor plan: a half million square feet at the center of the building set aside for files; “more space has been set aside for ‘domestic intelligence’ than for criminal investigations.”[165]

            But now the Commission could turn its back briefly on Washington and the obscene crater in its midst, preparing to go on the road: to Jackson, Los Angeles, and, eventually, to its birthplace in Kent.   In the last instance, it would be marching into the teeth of the reaction.  One of its field investigators reported back that “Ohio State’s campus in Columbus seems to be a police training academy.  There is an abundance of pistol-packing officers everywhere you look.”[166]   The legislature was preparing to go beyond House Bill 1219, with a measure that would dissolve a given university and reconstitute it a week later – using the interim to dispose of “faculty members thought to be disruptive influences.”[167]  On the Kent State campus, the Victory Bell – which had summoned the students to the slaughter on May 4th and quietly removed after the killings – was just as quietly restored to its housing.  It was a sign that the campus was regarded as “safe” by the authorities.  The students were bitter, but also apprehensive, even paranoid, and totally passive.[168]  They had gotten the message.

 

            President Nixon continued to stay out of Washington as much as he could.  He was even neglecting his Key Biscayne estate (where his inseparable intimate Bebe Rebozo felt more comfortable) in favor of the western White House at San Clemente.  Here on his native southern California soil, the edge had been taken off the wretched state of the national economy by the award of the contract for the B-1 bomber to North American Rockwell (which would donate the building and grounds for his historical home and museum, when his administration’s records proved too tainted to be retired to a traditional presidential library).  And at this distance, he could nurture the belief that the country was turning from the students to support him (not entirely without foundation) and that the Democrats’ traditional identification with them would lead to their defeat in the November elections.[169]

            When the borders of his own country proved too confining for him, he could flee abroad on state visits, to a round of scenic tours, sumptuous dinners, and obedient crowds free of hecklers.  He was overseas on August 2nd, when his attorney general John Mitchell – left behind to guard the homeland in the insufferable heat and humidity of the capital – appeared on ABC’s “Issues and Answers” to reassure students across the nation that there was no repression.  He announced he was sending teams of Justice Department attorneys to various campuses to explain that any fear of repression “is just a matter of this rhetoric that has been developed.”[170]

            Appearing opposite Mitchell on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program that Sunday morning, Dr. James Cheek wasn’t so sure.  He protested against “Many people in government [who] refer to repression as a myth” and charged a void of “leadership in terms of the moral influence of the President’s office.”[171]   Cheek, who Stan Thomas had warned Rhodes might be unable to speak freely because of Howard’s dependence on federal appropriations, was finding his voice.   He might have been goaded by the President’s contemptuous dismissal of all the work he and Heard had done.   The editors of the Post hit out at Nixon for the same thing, particularly his cavalier attitude toward the Heard reports, which were “of the most portentous significance”

 

The alienation of a very large percentage of the best educated and most promising youth of the country is a threat to the national security and to the stability of the society fully as grave as that posed by any foreign force…

Dr. Heard’s reports are a marvel of candor and lucidity.  There is no tinge of partisanship or of personal reproach about them.[172]

                       

            David Broder reminded his readers that Heard’s warnings to Nixon had been anticipated a year earlier by a delegation of twenty-two young Republican congressmen – a “genuine cross-section of the party” – after a tour of the nation’s colleges, and Nixon had ignored them too.  Now one of them, Thomas Railsback (R., Ill) observed that “I think the explosion in May proved we may have known what we were talking about.”[173]   Later on in the month, the Post would publish long excerpts entitled “Commentaries from the Heard Report”.  The President probably did not read them.

 

            Although Byrne succeeded in diverting the Commission from Isla Vista to Los Angeles, its members managed to make some long-overdue points at the hearings there, particularly one Ahern, Ortique, and Rhodes had been chafing to bring out.  Sociology professor Richard Flacks, of the state system’s Santa Barbara campus, stated a truism that, yet undreamt of in Ohio, nonetheless went to the heart of what had happened at Kent State, particularly the burning of the ROTC building: “The usual students’ assumption lately is that anyone who advocates violence on a campus is a police agent.”  All innocence, Ahern asked why a law officer would foster illegal violence.  “Some elements of police forces are politicized,” Flacks understated, “They would like to discredit legitimate protests.”[174]

            Flacks was preceded on the stand by the outgoing Chancellor of the San Diego campus (because he was the president-elect of Columbia), Dr. William McGill.  He made a point that would have been worthy of nationwide hearings in itself.  He acknowledge the primacy of the Indochina war as the immediate cause of the disturbances, but then suggested an even deeper and more enduring cause: youthful revulsion at the whole direction their technocratic society was taking.

 

The combination of open democratic society and an advanced technological state is creating an extraordinary social force unprecedented in our history.  This force can be described as an alienated youth culture, hostile to science and technology, and growing at a very rapid pace in this country as well as [in] western Europe and Japan.[175]

 

Dr. McGill was hinting at the beginning of a process which had already engaged the attention of two of the most brilliant thinkers in the S.D.S.  It involved the transformation of industrial society into an “information society” and the replacement of the industrial work force by a better-educated if much more powerless cyber-proletariat.[176]   The effects of the process he immediately decried were the increasingly universal pressure to get a technical education and the correlative need to stay in college for longer and longer periods of time.  But the students were not just protesting their own dehumanization in the technocratic anthill, but that of the whole society into which they would emerge.  It was a point that needed much more elaboration.  But the dog days of August had arrived and McGill’s urgent warning went unnoticed in a few paragraphs on Page 17.   Nor was the President liable to notice; as if dodging Ehrlichman’s loathed creation, he had returned to Washington just as the Commission arrived in California.

            The way “his” Commission was doggedly pressing on for the truth had left Ehrlichman at the nadir of  his influence in the White House.  Haldeman recorded that

 

E & I had a long talk – re deseg, etc., which brought out E’s feeling that P has lost confidence in him.  Says he hasn’t seen P. alone for a month.  Feels he can’t go on making domestic decisions, etc., unless he knows he’s doing what P. wants.  I said we shld confront P. w/ whole thing & get it cleared up – so we did.

In about 3 hr chat w/ P at Aspen* -- E laid his problem out quite clearly & P. shot it down very well.  P did lay out his concerns re lib. appts to commissions, overreaction in South, etc.[177]

 

            If Ehrlichman was chastened, the Commission was not.  It opened three days of hearings in Jackson, Mississippi, into the killing of two college students and the wounding of nine others by state and city police.  It was not difficult to get to the truth here, for the Mississippians were not especially shy and not at all remorseful about what had happened.  Jackson State reduced to, in the words of highway patrol Chief Inspector Lloyd Jones (who gloried in his nickname, “the Goon”), a matter of “We killed some niggers.”[178]

            There had apparently been no order to fire.  City police lieutenant Warren Magee, who testified that he had heard no gunfire before the police volley, said, “if I had thought it was necessary, I would have given an order.”  (The city police had sworn for two weeks that they hadn’t fired at all, until some of their No. 1 buckshot was detected along with the double-aught buck sprayed by the state police).   The state police swore they had been fired on by a “sniper”.  According to student Andrea Reece, the sound of the “sniper’s” shot had been made by a soft drink bottle hitting the pavement near the police armored cruiser.[179]

            Jones testified that he had seen two muzzle flashes at a third-floor stairwell window.  Rhodes pointed out that the stairwell windows were fixed plate glass, and asked how a sniper could fire through one.   “They was broke out, a lot of ‘em,” Jones replied, “before we got there.”  But AP reporter Hank Downy testified that he had seen no broken glass in the street – nor had he seen any of the rocks, bottles, and other debris Jones had claimed was thrown at the police.  The Commissioners learned that the state police inquiry had consisted of asking each of the officers who had been present if he had fired.  “They were not asked how many times they had fired.  No outside witnesses were questioned.  No physical evidence was presented.  No written record was kept of the inquiry.”[180]  Of Jones’ insistence that the students had been advancing on the police when fired upon, the Times noted, “All other witnesses, including city policemen, have testified that the students were retreating when the police opened fire.”[181]

            After the hearings, several of the Commissioners expressed outrage at the brazen lying by local officials, none more directly than Rhodes:

 

In direct testimony they lied.  People who were sworn under oath before this commission lied.  My impressions are that Mississippi is a police state ruled by terror and the black people are in everyday danger of being murdered in the streets by elements of the law enforcement agencies of this state.

 

The Governor thereupon cabled Nixon demanding that the Commission be dissolved because of its “obvious bias on the side of lawbreakers and rioters and insurrectionists”.  Ahern replied by castigating his “unquestioning defense of those involved in the tragic events of May 14th.”[182]

            Rhodes flew straight out of Jackson to Minnesota, where the National Student Association was holding its 23rd annual convention at Macalester College.  Put up in one of the dorms, he stayed up, as was his wont, talking with students far into the night.  He might have been better off getting some sleep; months of juggling multiple commitments and trying to take the point for his generation on the Commission, not to mention being the target of the administration’s  personally focused attacks, were taking their toll.  Among the student witnesses he listened during an informal inquiry the next day were veterans of the Maryland rebellion.  When one of them shouted, “The cops have to get it back in kind – “,  Rhodes snapped back, “You will cause somebody to be killed with that attitude, sir… I don’t want the conflict to stop.  It is in a just cause.  But I don’t want people to be crushed and killed in it.”[183]

            But everyone at the conference was feeling the strain: NSA was at the crossroads, and it was not the only student or antiwar organization to find itself there.  The decision now was whether to pursue civil disobedience and stage more demonstrations (always with the bloody example of Kent State in mind) or to “work within the system”, as volunteers for “peace candidates” in the fall election campaign.  The former alternative was represented by Rennie Davis, who was promoting another march on Washington, this one in the spring of 1971 -- this time to shut the capital down by clogging its arteries with demonstrators.  The latter, known as the “Princeton Plan” for its origin in that citadel of privilege, had long since won the endorsement of established politicians and journalists.  Davis could only point out that working within the system had resulted in Cambodia, Kent State, and Richard Nixon.  Few who still retained the image of Jeff Miller’s mutilated corpse, whether consciously or subconsciously, were listening to him by now.

            And he did not prevail.  The NSA rejected his plan, 150 votes to 134, in a 2:00 a.m. vote taken just minutes after a deadlocked ballot.  The debate never lost its intensity.  “If you’re going to keep people out of their offices in Washington,” one delegate predicted, “it’s going to be a violent demonstration.  I don’t want any more violence.  I’ve seen enough.”  “There is no meaningful action that can take place against this war that will not provoke violence from the other side,” another retorted, “The choice is between meaningless action and this.”[184]  The choice was for the Princeton Plan.  There has been no research on the degree to any this reflected an undiminished presence within the organization of CIA plants, as first revealed in 1966.[185]

            Even as NSA voted it up, the Princeton Plan was showing its fatal flaws.  The presence of out-of-state student volunteers had actually hurt some campaigns.  Whether most Americans were afraid with students or of them, their presence caused uneasiness.  Beyond that it upbraided on the overall sense of paranoia cloaking the land.  “This is just no the year to send strangers to peoples’ doors,” one campaign manager observed.   And beyond even that there was the problem inherent in the youth factor.  “I am convinced that it is not possible to build a successful peace movement simply on a student base,” Sam Brown, one of the original organizers of the New Mobilization remarked in the August issue of Washington Monthly, “Not enough students have the stature, capacity, or inclination to run a tightly disciplined peace movement.”[186]

 

            As if he sensed the spirit of the peace movement flagging, Nixon moved boldly to cut another established channel of youthful expression in his direction.  “Top staff had a session w/ Steve Hess re WH Youth Conference – really put it to him to shape it up – E. esp. tough re people he’s selected.”[187]

            The White House Conference on Youth was a holdover from the Johnson Administration.  No one was sure why Nixon hadn’t junked it outright.  “Asking this Administration to hold a conference on youth,” a Republican source told the Post, “is like asking the Kremlin to hold a conference on capitalism.”[188]  After Kent State, the conference date had been postponed from June until February – according to critics, so that a minimal number of students could attend.  To make clear what kind of students would be welcome, Eva Jefferson, who had been asked to serve as co-chair, was advised “that because of her criticism of the Nixon administration last month before a presidential commission”, the invitation had been withdrawn – in fact, that “my presence would be the focal point for an attack against the whole conference.”[189]

            In the midst of making an example of Ms. Jefferson, the administration found itself with other concerns.  The Scranton Commission was about to meet its destiny; it was departing for Kent State University, where it had been born.  Matt Byrne had succeeded in diverting it from Isla Vista, but  there was no way he could keep it out of Kent.  Would he and the other plants on the staff be able to whitewash the onsite investigation?   Once again, the attention of the Oval Office was riveted on the jerkwater town in Ohio.

 

            The documentary record is not rife with information on how and why the members of the special Kent State investigating team were chosen.  One memo records that on July 18th, Jack Kirby suggested to Byrne that Kenneth “Red” McIntyre be selected to head the team, the “Kent State Task Force” (or Team, hence the file designation “KST” in the footnotes).  He identified McIntyre as the Justice Department attorney who had prosecuted the Algiers Motel incident during the Detroit race riots.[190]   The incident, the subject of a harrowing book by John Hersey, involved police and National Guardsmen surrounding a motel, from the roof of which they claimed to have taken “sniper fire”, and finding among others ten black males and two white females within.  By the time they departed, three of the men were dead and the others had been savagely beaten.  What is anomalous is how this recommended McIntyre, since none of the lawmen were prosecuted – or was this the recommendation?

            Chief counsel for the Team was to be James Strazzella, identified by his file biography as a Philadelphia law professor, actually Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C.[191]  Urban “Buddy” Bass was a black “research analyst” from the D.C. narcotics treatment program.  Terry Baker was a Los Angeles attorney, and former member of the Rams professional football team.  Steve Friedman and Lloyd Ziff were law students at the University of Pennsylvania.  And that is all the identifying that was done.

            The impact that these men had, while significant, would be small compared to that of the two who would control the Commissioners’ access to the evidence, Charles E. “Chuck” Stine and George Warren.  Stine was assigned to handle the crucial audiovisuals in the case, evidence whose utter damnation of the Guard’s conduct would prove crucial in the 1975 civil trial.  Stine would see to it that crucial still photographs, motion picture footage, and sound tape recordings, would never be seen or heard by the Commissioners (unless he presented it honestly and it was censored by McIntyre, Kirby, and Byrne).  At the time of his selection, he was working for Autonetics, Inc., a division of North American Rockwell (whose special relationship with the Nixon administration has been touched on above) as a security officer.  Before going to work in the civilian sector, he had served for twenty years with the FBI.

            George Warren was designated to control the physical evidence.  On the record, he was an attorney practicing in East Lansing, Michigan.  Not included in his file biography, but penciled in by some indiscreet secretary, was the fact that he had served for a year and a half as an Army counter-intelligence officer at Fort Lawton, in Seattle, Washington – the Army’s chief CIC installation on the West Coast and one of the primary nodes of CABLE SPLICER III.  During the hearings, he would lie under oath about the nature of some of the physical evidence to Commissioner Ahern (see below).

 

            If this suspect group of men were looking for an excuse to whitewash the Kent State investigation, they thought they had one as of the morning of July 25th, when the leak of the Justice Department prosecutive summary exploded in the nation’s headlines.  Byrne, Kirby, and McIntyre held an “emergency” meeting the next day, which they spent telling each other that the attorneys for the defendants in any future Kent State trial, civil or criminal, could move for a mistrial because the case had been “tried in the press”.  McIntyre was especially vigorous in pressing this argument.  “I believe that we should publicly announce that our investigation will be limited to areas unrelated to possible criminal prosecutions,” he told Byrne, “and go to work.”[192]  This of course would rule out any inquiry into the riot on North Water Street and the brutal official reaction, the burning of the ROTC building, the wholesale gassings, clubbings, and bayonetings by the Guard, and the fatal shootings – in a word, everything.

            The next day the same three met again to discuss what they claimed was their dilemma following the leak.[193]  They decided the staff should go through the FBI Report to determine how extensive an investigation they could do without jeopardizing “possible prosecutions”.  McIntyre decided to have each of the seven men on his team (several more than are listed in the Team’s files, as above) and go over them.  He added that particular attention should be paid to whether any of the slain students had taken part in any of the demonstrations.[194]  This approach meant that no one person would have an overview of what had happened.

            On the last day of July, the Team’s unidentified diarist noted that he had submitted a memorandum on a decision to limit the scope of the Kent State investigation to the full Commission.  This provoked

 

long and heated argument with Kirby.  It turns out that memo was for Kirby and and Byrne, not for the Commission.  Grave concern that if we do a limited investigation the      Commission will be outrage [sic] at our failure to check with them until too late.  Strazzella wants written assurance from Byrne that we asked Byrne and Kirby to ask Commission.          Byrne and Kirby refuse[195] 

 

These tensions had the team on edge as they prepared to leave for Ohio.  As a crowning irritant, they learned that they would not be receiving a per diem allowance for the time they had worked in Washington.  Then, on August 1st, they made a “mad dash for the airport” and the flight to Cleveland-Hopkins.  Arriving on the campus, the team toured the scene of the confrontation and learned from a person or persons unknown “of a movie of charge up the hill just before the shooting”.  This may have been a reference to student hand-held 8-mm. film of the shootings taken by Chris Abell.  This fell into Stine’s area of responsibility (see below).

 

            On August 2nd, McIntyre called on Portage County prosecutor Ronald Kane and found him in a testy mood.  When he had still been pushing for prosecutions in a case so potentially rich for his career, on July 16th, he had suggested to state authorities that he and his staff be appointed special prosecutors in the Kent State murders and given the appropriate funding.  State Attorney General Paul Brown had written back five days later to tell Kane that he could forget about this.  Kane then waited until August 1st to announce in suitably dramatic terms that he would be holding a press conference at 3:00 p.m. on Monday the 3rd to declare he would convene a special county grand jury to investigate Kent State.  Everyone in the capital expected that if Kane proceeded in his usual flamboyant fashion, he would pull out every stop, including a subpoena for Governor Rhodes.

            Kane received a letter from Rhodes on the appointed morning informing him that he would not convene a county grand jury, but that the case would be taken over by Brown.  “Kane and Sicuro both believe that the Governor does not want to be subpoenaed before a grand jury,” McIntyre noted, “and as a result took it away from Kane.”[196] 

 

Mr. Kane expressed resentment and bitterness toward the FBI and Justice Department as well as the Ohio National Guard for making public disclosures about the merits of a possible criminal prosecution…  Mr. Kane in effect denied leaking the Justice memo to the press, contrary to the widespread belief at Justice to the contrary.[197]

 

            Although Kirby was executive director to the full Commission, as opposed to the Kent State Team, he had come to Kent with the Team.  And while McIntyre was talking with Kane, Kirby was phoning E.P. Hopple, the attorney for Rhodes, del Corso, and Canterbury, the defendants in Arthur Krause’s civil suit.  Kirby assured Hopple that “we do not intend or wish to reach the question of who shot whom.”  Hopple then indicated McIntyre could interview the Guard generals if he, Hopple, were present.[198]  McIntyre set off for Columbus.

            McIntyre interviewed del Corso, the Guard adjutant for Ohio, first.  He immediately asked for a copy of the After-Action Report.  The General declined to furnish it on the grounds that it contained the names of individual Guardsmen who could be “harassed” if what they had done on May 4th and before became public.

 

I asked the General what his opinion was in respect to what was causing disorder onthe campuses.  He stated to me at this time he believed it was a world-wide organization… he thought that this world-wide organization was the communist party or at least a communist conspiracy… that somewhere down the line the communists were behind the organization that was causing the unrest.[199]

 

McIntyre also got a perspective on the General’s potential objectivity as a witness:

 

He is firmly convinced that his men did no wrong and I don’t believe that any amount of testimony or evidence to the contrary could convince him otherwise…  it is my impression that the man will stick by his men and persist that his men were under fire and that they fired spontaneously as a re-action [sic] to imminent peril to their life.[sic]

 

It is perhaps some indication of McIntyre’s own orientation toward the truth vs. the cult of authority that he admired del Corso for this – “He is the type of person I would like to have as my commanding officer in that he will stick by his men no matter what.”

 

            While Kirby and McIntyre were getting the official version, the staff of the Kent State Team was setting up to do interviews at the Kent Holiday Inn.  They had an established base to work from: a long memorandum from Joe Rhodes dated July 23rd, based on the field work of the Seminar in Kent.  It broke the probe down into 146 priority questions, which were acute enough to indicate that the Seminarian(s) had learned a lot about Kent State, including answers the FBI had pointedly avoided getting:

            What was the real role that Vice President for Student Affairs Robert Matson and student body Frank Frisina – co-authors of the Matson-Frisina Letter that had circulated on May 3rd – played in the University community?   Did Bill Armstrong, editor of the student newspaper, “consult” with campus security and the administration about student political activities?  “How are the staff of the paper chosen?”  Were there police other than campus security present on May 2nd (before and during the ROTC fire)?  How long after the students gathered at the ROTC building did the police move in to disperse them?  “What kind of informers were on campus or in Kent?”  Did the police issue cameras or guns to student undercover agents?  Who searched the dorms, and under what authority?  And so on –[200]

            Periodically during August and September Rhodes would ask Matt Byrne about the progress his staff was making in getting answers to these questions, specifically and by number – i.e., “How are you coming on my Number 38?”, or “Anything yet on my Number 102?”  During the course of their interviewing, the junior members of the staff, particularly law students Ziff and Friedman – who could win the trust of those they questioned where older staff members did not – did come up with most of the answers.  But they never got past whoever higher up on the staff – McIntyre, Strazzella, Kirby, or Byrne himself – was back-stopping them, not one of the 146.

            On the 4th, McIntyre got to interview John McElroy, Governor Rhodes “special  assistant” (in the eyes of Columbus insiders, the real governor of Ohio).  The first things McIntyre asked about were the After-Action Report and that movie of the “charge up the hill”.

 

Mr. McElroy stated that he didn’t know why he should trust us with the Guard report.   He also suggested that the movie would be more properly view by a Grand Jury… he thought that pending prosecutions were the ‘best reason in the world’ not to make such information available to us.[201]

 

At the same time, McIntyre specifically denied that the local grand jury investigation had been deliberately time by officials in Columbus to interfere with the Commission’s investigation.  McIntyre then raised the obvious objection to the premise that local authorities could conduct a fair prosecution:

 

I suggested the possibility of students and others thinking that it was improper for Attorney General Brown to take over the grand jury investigation after announcing to the public that there was a riot at Kent State and that the Guardsmen were blameless for what had occurred.

 

McElroy managed to convey the impression that he could care less what “students and others” thought.    He terminated the interview by telling McIntyre to talk to Brown if he wanted access to the film.  So the next day McIntyre phoned Brown.

 

I called Brown to see if he could release the movie, the N/G report, the H[ighway] P[atrol] report, and the [Ohio] B[ureau of] C[riminal] I[nvestigation] report.  He indicated that because he as Attorney General represented Governor Rhodes, General del Corso, and  General Canterbury, he didn’t know whether he ought to release things like that…  He said he would look at the reports to see if there was anything in them that I shouldn’t see.  He will also view the film and let me know by next Wednesday.[202]

 

Then he called Robert Murphy at the Justice Department.  “I told Murphy that I don’t trust Brown and that Canterbury had told me that Brown’s office had called on August 4, 1970, to say that they were appointing attorneys for the National Guardsmen.”[203]  Then he wrapped up his day by calling on town police chief (soon to resign) Roy Thompson, who told him that his city police had known early on May 2nd that the ROTC building would burn that evening.  Although he must have had knowledge of Rhodes’ 146 questions, McIntyre did not ask Thompson whether his men knew this because they had informers on campus.[204]

 

            Toward the end of the week, Senator Stephen Young held a press conference to announce his belief that the Justice Department was about to impanel a federal grand jury that would indict the Guardsmen for second-degree murder.  He based this belief on a phone conversation he had held with a federal official he would not identify, whom he claimed to had read him sections of the FBI report which proved that the Guardsmen had fired deliberately, without justification, and apparently as a result of a prior decision.[205]  (He did not remark that this last consideration might have qualified it as first-degree murder.) 

            Meanwhile the assault on Academe’s access to First Amendment privilege continued apace across the nation.  The Regents of the University of Maryland announced on the 7th that they were revising the student code of conduct specifically to prevent any recurrence of the demonstrations that had occurred that spring in sympathy with Kent State.  They excused the harsh provisions of the new code by protesting that they were only trying to forestall more repressive measures pending in the state legislature.[206]  Code revisions at the University of Illinois provided summary expulsion for students participating in “disruptive” demonstrations, as defined by the school’s administration.[207]   And the University of Kentucky adopted a multi-faceted, draconian code giving the administration unlimited power to declare states of emergency, call in police, ban gatherings, and suspend students at will; the student body president summed it up by telling the trustees, “You fail to recognize the student as a human being.”[208]

            The core of the reaction remained Ohio, where hearings continued before its General Assembly’s select committee on campus unrest.  When the Chancellor of the State Board of Regents suggested that the Highway Patrol should be reinforced to deal with student demonstrations, Representative Richard Reickel countered that campus police should be augmented instead – and the students assessed to bear the additional cost.  A lone voice of protest, law professor Robert O’Neill, told the committee that since the Assembly had already passed House Bill 1219, “more restrictive of students and faculty on campuses than any other law in any other state,” he failed to see why additional measures were necessary.[209]

            By now the legislators were narrowing the category of villains to a new sub-class: “Many in the Legislature and the public are convinced some youthful graduate assistants contribute to student unrest with political advocacy in the classroom.”[210]  Representative Robert Netzly recommended ending tenure for activist professors, cutting off subsidies like grants for graduate assistant “troublemakers”, and, when demonstrations shut a school down, stopping faculty salaries.[211]

 

            While McIntyre pursued interviews with the local establishment, “Chuck Stine” pursued the all-important audiovisual evidence (for Kent State was undoubtedly the most photographed, filmed, and tape-recorded murder in history).  Whether his lack of success derived from personal inadequacy or a nice sense of his superiors’ real wishes remains unknown.

            The first thing he got stuck on was the still pictures.  Once moved in at Kent, he made a side trip to Akron to consult the photo library of the Beacon-Journal.  Then he started receiving the photoprints that the FBI in Washington had been instructed to furnish to the Commission.  He could not but notice that many of the crucial photos he had seen at the newspaper were not included in the ones the FBI was sending,[212] although the Bureau was supposed to have collected everything.  If he registered any objection, there is no record of it.

            Next, he wanted to listen to tapes of the Ohio General Assembly’s select committee hearings on campus unrest.  William Milligan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, told Stine on the 13th that the hearings were in fact on tape, and that Stine would have to come to Columbus to listen to them.[213]  He never made the trip.

            He called Professor Harold Meyers on the 10th to see if he could get a copy of his film “Confrontation”.  Meyers called back at eight in the evening, and not in a cooperative mood.  He claimed that he had lent Commissioner Joe Rhodes an original print of the film, which Rhodes had kept for a month, finally returning it with a “modest contribution” of $ 100, whereas the film had cost $ 300 to make.  Meyers complained that by holding it so long, Rhodes had deprived him and his student collaborators of the chance to recoup part of the cost of production through “timely showings”.  Now the professor was no longer interested in lending films to the Commission.  He told Stine that if he wanted to see “Confrontation”, he could attend a public screening on the 14th.[214]

            But on the 14th, Stine was in Woodbury, New York, trying to get a copy of the Abell Film, student hand-held 8-mm. footage of the actual murders.  Chris Abell was in Europe, but his mother let Stine obtain three copies.  These were delivered to him back in Kent on the 16th.[215]  His anxiety to get the film is understandable, but it was only the second-best motion picture as evidence.  Abell had shot the movie from a considerable distance and the grainy quality of the 8-mm. film, even in blowup, left the untrained viewer with only an inconclusive impression of a directionless rush of motion by the crowd.   (On photogrammetric analysis for the 1975 trial, the film showed the crowd running away from the Guard.)

            Bill Ling had set up a movie camera on a tripod mount to get general footage of the scene, once the Guardsmen started retreating up the hill, and had started putting his still picture equipment away in his car – because, like most of those present, he assumed that nothing more was going to happen.  Thus the beginning of the film became an inadvertent record of the lethal act.  There was a rush of motion, but no ambiguity about its direction – “The viewer becomes conscious of persons scurrying about, as if trying to get out of the way of the gunfire.”[216]

            Now a D.C. area professional filmmaker named Al Hillman was flown in to analyze the Ling Film.  His draft “shotlist” (a frame-by-frame description of the action in cinematographic jargon) reflects the fact that when Ling realized what was happening, he went to the tripod mount and began to operate the movie camera, recording the havoc wrought by the Guard’s aimed fire, frequently moving in for close-ups.  His film faithfully records the death agonies of non-demonstrators Bill Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer, the futile efforts of students to save Scheuer, Jeff Miller’s mutilated corpse, and the frantic efforts of bystanders to help the wounded survivors.

            It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this item of evidence.  And yet the only part of it that went into the compilation film shown at the Scranton Commission hearings in Kent was, according to Stine himself, the most innocuous, “the last few feet showing bullet holes in sculpture outside Taylor Hall.”[217]  And yet he stipulated that, “Should importance ever be attached to the Abell film, it is recommended that the Ling film should also be examined on a frame-by-frame basis.”[218]  If this was his recommendation, who decided it would not be followed, and why?

            Next Stine found out why he had seen photos at the Akron Beacon-Journal that he thought crucial, for which the FBI had furnished him with no prints:

 

Bob Murphy has not asked Bureau to send all photos.  He states the 8 volumes were those photos chosen by Bob Hocutt after intensive 2 day review.  FBI has more photos (all were made available to Dept.  If we insist he’ll pass on the request, but his point is that all have been reviewed by the Department.[219]

 

            Student Steven Titchenal had been taping the noise of the confrontation on a portable cassette recorder, as “wild sound” to use in background in a friend’s film.  He no more than anyone else was expecting anything more to happen after the Guard retreated from the practice field and started back up the hill on the way to the Commons.  So, while continuing to tag along behind the soldiers, he shut his cassette recorder off.  When the fatal volley erupted, he dove for cover, but remembered to cut the recorder back on, taping about ten seconds of the thirteen seconds’ shooting.  He then continued to record the shock and chaos of the aftermath.  When Team investigator Terry Baker interviewed Titchenal on the 16th, he thought the tape was important enough that “approximately an hour” of it should be played during the hearings.[220]  How much the Commission did hear will be discussed below.

            Titchenal’s tape had missed the lull just before and the crucial first three seconds of the volley.  When Team member George Warren interviewed one of the Guard officers, he learned of the existence of a complete recording: gunfire lasting the full thirteen seconds.[221]  A letter from the Ohio unrest panel to the Commission indicated that this recording had been made by student Terry Ryan Strubbe.[222]

            Since most of the proper names are blacked out in the FBI Report, it is not known whether Strubbe was the person who appeared at the Bureau’s Cleveland field office on May 13th and told agents that he had made a tape recording of the shooting from his dormitory window in Johnson Hall.  He may not have been, for he has been tentatively identified in a photograph as having been in the Johnson Hall parking lot at the time.  Could there have been a third tape of the murders?  The agents made a recording of this tape and gave the copy to the owner, keeping the original.  Their report includes the puzzling note: “It was noted during the reproduction of this tape that the original tape was distorted in areas, which was not noted on the original reproduction of this tape on May 10, 1970.”[223]   Why was the incomplete tape the one played at the hearings?  What happened to the other one (or other two)?

 

            At the end of the second week in August, General William Westmoreland, former commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, gave a speech to St. Louis carpenters in which he warned that attacks on ROTC were endangering the national security.  After his talk, the carpenters presented him with an honorary “hard hat” (construction helmet).[224]  The hard hat had taken on visceral symbolism since May 8th, when construction workers in Manhattan had launched a mass, programmed attack on peace demonstrators compared by some Wall Street witnesses to the rampages of the storm troopers during the rise of the Nazis.  A few weeks after this, Nixon had invited the heads of the unions to the White House, where they had given him an honorary, personalized hard hat; shortly afterward, he named one of them Secretary of Labor.  The hard hat was no longer safety apparel, but also the symbol of official tolerance of vigilante violence against those who opposed the administration.

            Back in Ohio, state attorney general Paul Brown emerged from a meeting with Justice Department personnel to admit to reporters that the state had infiltrated the Kent State campus with undercover narcotics agents, working out of a “special section” of his office, well before May 1, 1970.[225]  None of the Justice people volunteered whether federal “narcs” had also been present, or whether they had solicited acts of violence from the students.  On campus, and without fanfare, KSU Provost Louis Harris announced he was resigning effective October 1st.[226]

            On August 13th, at 5:30 p.m., Governor Rhodes cabled President Nixon in a last-ditch attempt to head off the Commission investigation at Kent, charging that it would “taint” the local grand jury probe.  Scranton was able to inform Rhodes three days later that the President had denied the request to call off the hearings.[227]   Rhodes, who had lost the U.S. senatorial primary and would soon be forced to vacate the governor’s mansion, said farewell to his troops of the Ohio National Guard at a final review, calling them a “bulwark against disaster”.[228]

            Governor Scranton cabled a formal invitation to Rhodes on the 18th to testify before the Commission.[229]  He added that if Rhodes could not appear, he should send McElroy.  Byrne, who had by now joined Kirby in Kent, followed up with a phone call to McElroy at half past noon.  McElroy said he would meet with the state attorney general’s staff and then discuss it with the Commissioners at the Kent Holiday Inn at 7:45 the following evening.[230]  There is no record of this meeting, or of whether it actually took place.  Neither Rhodes nor McElroy appeared at the hearings.

            “I am worried that the commission is close to O.D.ing,” Joe Rhodes told reporters, as the Commission prepared to leave for Kent, “Mississippi almost did them in and Kent State will put them over.”[231]

 

            “We are not a grand jury, nor do we pretend to be,” Governor Scranton intoned to the public audience, as the hearings opened on August 19th, “We must and we shall conduct these hearings in such a way that the rights of individuals will not be prejudiced and that potential criminal prosecutions are not in danger. (Transcript, p. 3)

            According to a draft witness list surviving in the Archives, George Warren, the former Army counterintelligence officer, was to be the first witness on the first day.  For some unstated reason the schedule was changed and he appeared on the last day.

            James Strazzella, the chief counsel, opened the proceedings with a chronology of the confrontation, illustrated by vuegraphs (positive, semi-transparent photoprints mounted for projection onto a large screen).  Considering the range of photographs available, disturbing questions arise as to why these were chosen and others were omitted.  For anyone familiar with the sequence of events during the four-day crisis, the accompanying narrative must appear distorted and weighted to cause the minimum possible embarrassment to the authorities.

            For instance, he showed a vuegraph of the ROTC fire and gave an account of what had happened that night that managed to exclude the key elements of the event: that the students had been left alone and unmolested in the area to try to burn the building for a period variously estimated at between an hour and an hour and a half, even though the campus and town police were present in strength a matter of yards away; that the students had bungled the arson attempt until the police finally moved in to drive them off; that the building was not burning when this happened, but was set afire shortly afterwards while it was in the hands of the authorities.  In a word, he left the impression that the students had burned the building when in fact this had been impossible.  He was wholly silent on the subject of Governor Rhodes’ fiery bombast at the press conference on Sunday May 3rd, and the fact that it had been broadcast into the Guard’s bivouac area.  Of the sitdown demonstration on the evening of May 3rd, he said only “The crowd was dispersed with tear gas”(10), never mentioning the Guard attack on the demonstrators with rifle butts and bayonets.

            Then McIntyre took over the narration.  He gave some emphasis to pictures showing decedent students Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller at the Victory Bell just before the order to disperse, Miller shouting with both middle fingers brandished at the Guard.  Conspicuously absent were the photos that depicted Krause merely walking across the front of the crowd, looking for her boyfriend in it, and standing and talking to him on its far margin, her back actually turned on the demonstration; and Miller standing amid a silent, curious crowd, quietly watching the Guard across the Commons.   (He had only shouted when the order to disperse was given.)

            When McIntyre moved on to the vuegraphs of the Guard’s futile sally out onto the football practice field, Scranton asked, “At that time, there was no firing done; is that correct?”  McIntyre replied, “I am so informed, yes, Mr. Chairman.”  But both the FBI and the Commission’s junior investigators had talked to witnesses who had seen First Sergeant Myron Pryor fire his .45 automatic pistol into the air on the practice field.  And when he reached Howard Ruffner’s picture of the Guard just before the opening shots, he added, “There is Major Jones, with his hands on his hips.”  A blowup of the photo shows that Jones has neither hand on either hip, but is in the act of drawing his unauthorized civilian .22 automatic pistol with his right hand.

            After the chronological presentation, KSU president Robert White was called as the first witness, being questioned by Strazzella.  White contributed a history of the university leading up to the crisis, drawing a laugh from his audience when he got to his having “got something of a faculty and student input, including the police, who had absolutely no intelligence at this time…” (27)  Most important, he claimed he had nothing to do with the decision on May 3rd that no rallies were to be permitted; “the National Guard was in charge.”

 

                        MR. AHERN:  …Doctor, do you feel that the disorder was planned in any way?

                        THE WITNESS: …yes, there were those who were interested in either doing some burning or shutting us down.  That is my opinion.

                        MR. AHERN:  Would you care to identify them?

                        THE WITNESS:  I would prefer not to.

                        CHAIRMAN SCRANTON:  I don’t think the Chief means, by name, sir, he means –

                        MR. AHERN:  No, by organization.

            THE WITNESS:  Oh.  Well, of course, organizations, no.  Because in these days organizations change names too rapidly and it means nothing. (37, 38)

 

            In response to a question from Derthick, White made an assertion of which the press would give great emphasis, that Kent State had been “targeted” on a “national basis” for disruption.  Presumably the reporters and/or rewrite staff did not have enough space to include the fact that, when prompted, he could not name which “nationally” powerful subversive organization had done the targeting.  Closely questioned by Rhodes and Ortique on the legality of  state governor closing a university, White could be no more helpful.

            Rhodes got another laugh from the audience, in which summer session students were substantially represented, when he asked White if he would fear for students’ lives “if our President chooses to invade another country this fall.”(55)  Then Byrne brought the discussion back to the question of who had made the decision that no rallies were to be permitted.  “As I understand it, you were advised at that time that there would be no rallies allowed, be they peaceful or not, is that correct?”  White replied, “Yes.”

            General Sylvester del Corso, the ONG adjutant, followed White on the stand, opening with a general discussion of the Guard and its role in civil disorders.  In the course of in, he jolted some drowsing in the close air of the biology lecture hall with the statement that the decision as to whether soldiers’ lives were in such danger as to justify them responding to a situation with lethal force was left to each individual Guardsman – “this must be a self-determination.”(69)  When asked how the Guardsmen had reacted to Governor Rhodes’ inflammatory speech on the 3rd, he replied, “I doubt if they even heard the Governor’s press conference.”(79)  He was unaware, then, that it had been broadcast into the Guard’s bivouac area.

            When McIntyre cited press accounts to the effect that there had been no sniper and solicited the General’s response, del Corso’s attorney Charles Brown objected to the question, citing pending litigation.(81)  But after some wrangling, del Corso admitted that the Guard’s own investigation had found that there had been no sniper.(83)  He asserted repeatedly that throughout the period the Guard was on campus, his men were under the authority of the University’s security department.  But close questioning by Ahern finally forced him to admit that the Guard had been in de facto control of the university.(87)  At this point, Rhodes abruptly changed the subject:

 

MR. RHODES:  General, is it not true that in May of 1968, in Camp Perry, while practicing and training for riot duty, when elements of your Ohio National Guard assumed the role of students, an actual riot broke out and Guardsmen were injured?

THE WITNESS:  Mr. Rhodes, I never heard of this.  I do know that in some of our training, because of becoming over-realistic, some individuals may get injured, but –

                        MR. RHODES:  To your knowledge, no such incident occurred in Camp Perry in May of 1968?

                        THE WITNESS:  I don’t know of any; no, sir. (91)

 

Rhodes continued to press del Corso on subjects such as the letters he had solicited from Guard personnel supporting Nixon’s policy in Southeast Asia, the percentage of blacks in the Guard, and whether it was going to be re-armed with M-16 assault weapons.  Then Byrne returned to the subject of when the Guardsmen were allowed to fire their weapons.  Del Corso’s reply about whether warning shots were permitted – “No, we do not fire warning shots because this would be dangerous” – evoked a ripple of ironic mirth from the audience.  In fact the noises of amusement, skepticism, and occasional outrage the audience was making in response to official testimony were already visibly unsettling Scranton, Byrne, Kirby, and the more conservative Commissioners.   Scranton would soon move to attempt to extinguish this kind of response.

            The stubborn contradictions between versions of who had made the decision that no rallies, peaceful or otherwise, would be permitted were not getting resolved.  Del Corso claimed he didn’t know since he wasn’t at the last conference of the authorities at 10:00 a.m. Monday morning.(103)   But the accounts of other Guard officers indicate the decision was made on Sunday (see After-Action Report, statement of Major Harry Jones; also Jones’ ACLU deposition).   The question would recur.  His lawyer objected when Ortique asked if the Guard shouldn’t have withdrawn from the confrontation at noon until it could have gotten more tear gas.  Brown claimed that the Commissioners should be limited to “hypothetical” questions about the event (which of course Ortique’s question was). 

            Canham finally got del Corso to admit that the Guard officers had been correct in ordering their men to cease firing after the volley.  Then he asked, “Does that suggest in your judgement the firing should not have taken place?”  Del Corso replied, “[C]ertainly I can’t make a judgement on that.”(111)

            The currently-maligned class of graduate assistants was represented by Steve Sharoff, whose charismatic presence at many campus protests was as undoubted as his allegiances were ambiguous.  He described the incident at the Music and Speech Building in 1969 – which was so crucial to the right-wing assurance that the SDS was behind the May 1970 incident – as an administration “setup”.(217)   And he continued to shed little light on his own role in events (Q:  “Were you a member of SDS?”  A: “No, sir.  This thing came through – I was a member of SDS…”)(218)

            At one point, Sharoff made the widely quoted assertion that “students on this campus will not allow themselves to be shot again without shooting back.”(130)  Then he went into a long, diffuse critique of American society which he punctuated by saying, “I feel that we in the United States, if things are not changed soon, face civil war.”  When this drew sounds of approbation from the audience, he hastened to add, “I am dreadfully afraid of this, not only because of [the] destruction, but because I well realize who the winners are going to be.”(137)  Joe Rhodes wanted to be sure all present would understand who would bear the major responsibility for such a conflict:

 

MR. RHODES:  At a moment of national crisis, citizens have a right to expect that their national leadership would act with every amount of speed to diminish the graveness of this crisis.  What do you think our national leaders, our President and Vice President and Attorney General, have done to ameliorate this condition?

                        THE WITNESS:  They have made it worse.(144)

 

            At 1:10 the hearings took a lunch recess.  When they reconvened at 2:15, Steve Titchenal played short sections of his tape and provided commentary.  Although the original ran 90 minutes and Terry Baker had recommended that the Commission listen to at least an hour of it, the tape played now barely ran twenty minutes.  Moreover, it had been edited so that the sounds of the students shouting and chanting antiwar slogans – spiced with those four-letter words that so negatively titillated Nixon’s constituents – were juxtaposed to the sound of the gunfire.  This was in marked contrast to the situation as Titchenal had described it to Baker, of a strange lull just before the firing – the lull that had led him to turn his recorder off, on the assumption that nothing more was going to happen.  The impression the truncated tape conveyed was of a loud, hostile crowd facing the soldiers just before they fired.  Strubbe’s tape was not even mentioned.

            Campus Security Director Chester Williams stated that if it had been up to him, the Guard never would have been called in; the Highway Patrol could have handled the situation.  The obvious question about the ROTC fire came up again:

 

Q.    But my question, sir, why were your men held [back]?

A.     Our men, in terms of until the destruction started, which was approximately 8:00 o’clock, there was no reason to incite further in terms of riot-equipped officers at that time and once the destruction did start, it was approximately 15 minutes or a half an hour until these men did move into position between the ROTC building and the rioters.

 

The junior members of the Team had already taken mutually corroborating statements from witnesses to the effect that the campus police were held back for between an hour and ninety minutes while some of the people at the scene tried everything they could think of to set the ROTC building on fire.  It was only after they had been driven off by police and the building was safe in the hands of the authorities that it was burned.  Not one of the Commissioners raised the most important question of the whole May 1st through 4th chain of events: was the ROTC fire not just desired, but actually contrived, by the forces of law and order to excuse a bloody crackdown on student demonstrators?

            “Now, to be fair about this,” Williams plowed on, “unless you were at the scene and at one time I was standing not more than 100 feet from this group, I personally have not seen, at least in the front lines (?), any more vicious-looking group at any time.”(164, 165)  Another sigh of contemptuous laughter, mingled with skeptical groans, ran through the audience.  Williams only fueled the hostile disdain by asserting that it was up to the students to resolve the problem of campus unrest by “identifying” the disrupters to the police.(178)  The campus police couldn’t handle the protestors alone; they had too much else to do.

 

THE WITNESS:  They have their hands full in enforcement of the other problems on campus, in terms of felonious acts, in terms of security on campus, in terms of traffic enforcement –

                        [Laughter and applause from the audience].

                        CHAIRMAN SCRANTON:  Parking?

                        [Laughter and ironic cheers from the audience.]

 

            Rhodes wanted to know more about the students Williams relied on to “identify” troublemakers.

 

                        MR. RHODES: …You maintain an undercover surveillance program at Kent State of students?

                        [Laughter and applause]

                        THE WITNESS:  In terms of paid informants, no; in terms of collecting information  and this type of thing, yes.  It would be silly to say no.

                        MR. RHODES:  What usefulness does this serve?

                        THE WITNESS:  I am sorry?

                        MR. RHODES:  What use do you get out of it?  What earthly good do you get out of  it?

                        THE WITNESS:  …Good intelligence, which is what you thrive on in any case. (182, 183).

 

            Robert Pickett, graduated vice president of the student body and enrolled as a law student at the University of Wisconsin, reviewed the history of the Black United Students at KSU, then recalled his own experiences with the professionalism of the Guard on campus.  On the evening of May 3rd, he had found himself at one point with the muzzle of a .45 pistol press to one of his temples and the muzzle of an M-1 rifle pressed to the other while a Guard officer counseled, “You better move, boy, or we will kick your ass.”  He explained that the only reason he had been out that evening was to tell other black students to get inside and stay there.  And that was the reason there were no killed or wounded black bodies in the parking lot on May 4th; “…we felt that it would be best for all black students to stay away, because we knew how the National Guard were trained, how they react in situations like that.”(195)

            Then he launched into a free-form explication on the national crisis which provided the media with some of their best quotes of the session, e.g.: “This country is on its death bed, man, and there ain’t no doctor around, and the doctors that are trying to revitalize this country with a sense of light, they are shooting down.”(211)  He continued on the subject even while Scranton tried to excuse him, and finally wandered onto the exact analogy that needed to be made: Richard Nixon’s America as a new Reich which needed a scapegoat:

 

…I know I am rambling on, but …students are ‘niggers’  …You are a nigger, you stay in your place, and you stay in the ghettos …our nation is moving toward two societies -- one student and intellectual, and the other ‘hard hat’ – obviously separate but unequal.   (218-220)

 

Even as Scranton tried to cut him off, Rhodes kept him going:

 

                        THE WITNESS:  …I wondered…  suppose I had been killed, would the country have been so concerned?

                        MR. RHODES:  No, Pickett, they wouldn’t.  You would have been another nigger chalked up – you shouldn’t have been demonstrating.

                        THE WITNESS:  I don’t have to tell you, Joe.  America.  Del Corso.  They’re killing the doctors of life.

 

A loud silence followed these words, and several of the Commissioners leaned forward to ask questions.  “Then the nearly all white, youthful audience burst into loud applause that lasted 40 seconds.  Several held up the two-fingered peace sign, and Mr. Pickett stood and returned it.”[232]

            During the Jackson State hearings, the Commissioners had received more eloquent testimony on white racism from highway patrol Chief Inspector Lloyd (“the Goon”) Jones than it could have gotten from a panel of black sociologists.  Now Mrs. Doris Amick, a Kent housewife who had circulated petitions supporting the Guard after the killings, gave a similarly vivid exposition on the mindset of Middle America.  Her account of the moral depravity with which the college students had infected her community once again stirred the audience to condescending cackling.  “seven to eight years ago,” she recounted, “it was perfectly safe for me to take my girls to town at night to attend movies.  At that time, there were decent movies to see, which there aren’t any more.”  Perhaps because at that moment, Kent movie theaters were showing two Disney films and a Tarzan feature, more groans and guffaws escaped the gallery.

 

CHAIRMAN SCRANTON [to the audience]:  Three members of the Commission have asked me to speak to you.  Would you kindly be quiet so you can hear what Mrs. Amick says?  You have opportunity to hear people of all kinds and various viewpoints and we should give them all an opportunity to be heard.(223, 224)

 

(The sound tapes of the hearings in the Archives indicate that although the audience reaction was audible, it did not interfere with testimony being heard.)  Despite the warning, those present found it impossible to silence their sardonic amusement when Canham started questioning Mrs. Amick:

 

                        MR. CANHAM:  When you talk about the hippie type, how do you distinguish a hippie type from others?

                        THE WITNESS:  Hair down the back, you know, dirty jeans –

            MR. CANHAM:  I suppose you look at classic pictures of the great master painters through the years and see long hair too.  Do you think people have an obligation to understand the difference in changing fashions?
            THE WITNESS:  I am not against long hair.  It depends on how long it is.

                        [Laughter and sarcastic applause from audience.]

                        MR. CANHAM:  Well, now, this is perfectly fascinating.  May I ask where you draw the line?

                        THE WITNESS:  Yes, you may.

                        MR. CANHAM:  Would you?

                        THE WITNESS:  I don’t mind seeing a man with hair as long as his collar shows, this far down [indicating].  That is long enough for me.

                        MR. CANHAM:  Well, you were, I think suggesting a personal view.  Do you suggest  there is something wrong or dangerous or terrifying about it growing an inch or two longer?

                        THE WITNESS:  Well, they frighten me.

                        MR. CANHAM:  Why?  Why?

                        THE WITNESS:  They just don’t look right to me.

                        MR. CANHAM:  As one of my generation, don’t I have an obligation to understand the changing styles –

                        THE WITNESS: -- yes –

                        MR. CANHAM:  -- and not draw conclusions –

                        THE WITNESS:  Like I said, I am not against long hair as long as it is this long [indicating] but when it gets down to here [indicating], I very definitely call them hippie.

                        MR. CANHAM:  Thank you very much. (232,233)

 

The witness stepped down to thunderous applause – not for her, but for Canham.

            This ovation segued into another for Dr. Glenn Frank, the popular geology professor and chief faculty marshal from May 2nd through 4th.  He brought the issue of the ROTC fire and its key role in the chain of events to center stage for the first time.  Like all those who had been present (except those who had had too good a reason to know) he had been puzzled by the length of time the students had been left unmolested at the building to attempt setting it on fire, without any attempt by the campus police – at Kent State, one of the largest and best-equipped in the country – to interfere.  (Other witnesses had repeated the same question from that night over and over to the staff’s junior investigators: “Where were the police?”  Graduate assistant and faculty marshal Jacqueline Stewart had quickly deduced the truth: “Oh, Jesus, is this ever a trap!”)

            But as valuable as Frank’s testimony was, it included a statement that was reported, whether by ineptitude or design, in a very unfortunate way.  He stated, “I Have never in seventeen years of teaching seen a group of students as threatening or as arrogant or as bent on destruction as I saw and talked to that night.”

            When the Akron Beacon-Journal reported the day’s testimony, it took this quote among others out of context and reprinted it in a “sidebar”, a box of text running alongside the main story.  Whoever edited the sidebar cut off the last eight words of Frank’s statement, so that it wound up being printed as, “I have never seen in seventeen years of teaching a group of students as threatening or arrogant or bent on destruction.”  Anyone seeking to justify the fatal shooting on May 4th and who didn’t bother to read through the text of the main story could apply these words to the students on the Commons at noon.  And even the main story failed to add the qualification Frank was so careful to make on the stand: “I probably shouldn’t use the term ‘students’ here, because I have a feeling they were not all students.”(242)

            If not students, then who?  James Michener, acting as literary agent for the Nixon administration, detected the hand of “outsiders”, older men, professional radicals when he wrote his chapter on the ROTC fire.  Were these the non-students Frank saw?  After ten years of misquotation and speculation about what he meant, the geology professor set the record straight:

 

As an ex-Marine, as a former Boy Scout, as a flag-waver defending my country, I hesitate to even contemplate the possibility that my own government might have been involved in this.  But before that sounds like too radical an approach, then you have to look at the Dirty Tricks group and the Plumbers and all the other groups that were initiated by our government.[233]

 

That was said from the post-Watergate perspective, to an America grown jaded and wanting to disbelieve all it had heard during the revelations of massive criminality on the part of the intelligence agencies in the mid-1970s.  On that day in 1970, perhaps Frank himself could not believe what he suspected.

            After a protracted discussion with Ortique on the moral responsibilities of college teaching, Frank yielded the stand to Major Donald Manly of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.  He was quick to disown any animus toward college students, but in a way that Ortique found unconvincing:

 

                        THE WITNESS:  I have a son who is on the college campus.  Why would I have this    --?

            MR. ORTIQUE:  You know, as a black person, I have been told on dozens of  occasions that ‘Some of my best friends – ‘

                        [Laughter from audience]

                        So the fact that you have a son on the campus –

                        [Laughter continues; ironic applause]

 

The first day of hearings adjourned at six in the evening.

 

            The same day the U.S. Senate  rejected a proposal by Eugene McCarthy that state governors would be required to get presidential approval before allowing Guardsmen to carry live ammunition.  Former Ohio National Guard officer and Senator William Saxbe said it would turn Guardsmen into “ineffective Sunday afternoon picnickers.”[234]  The state of Illinois began its own probe of campus unrest, announcing that it would be assisted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

 

…the probes will attempt to identify faculty members and student leaders responsible for disorders…  will find ways to remove tenure from faculty members, where necessary to keep them from agitating…[and] will include finding out where the agitators come from and how they are financed.[235]

 

            The Scanton Commission informed the press that Captain Raymond Srp and Lieutenant Alexander Stevenson had filed suits to quash the subpoenas requiring them to testify before it.[236]  The American Civil Liberties Union was backing them:

 

THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION RESPECTFULLY URGES THE COMMISSION NOT TO COMPEL TESTIMONY OF OHIO NATIONAL GUARDSMEN.  GUARDSMEN LIKE ALL CITIZENS ARE ENTITLED TO THE PROTECTION OF THE  5TH AMENDMENT AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION.  ANY STATEMENT THEY MIGHT MAKE BEFORE THE COMMISSION COULD BE USED AGAINST THEM IN POSSIBLE CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS IN STATE OR FEDERAL COURT.[237]

 

            Leroy Satrom, the major of Kent, was the first witness to represent the local establishment that day.  He too fell back on the “outside agitator” theory: “My intelligence indicated that there were outside individuals in town, groups, militant groups.”(299)   Ahern brushed that aside and returned to the question of who made the decision that the Guard be brought in, and then onto the campus.

 

MR. AHERN:  We have heard testimony from University officials that they never requested National Guard assistance on campus and we have also heard General del Corso state that he would not enter the campus unless he were requested, and in fact, if the President asked him not to, he wouldn’t.  Do you have any idea or knowledge who asked the Guard to go on campus?

                        THE WITNESS:  I believe testimony yesterday was given that the decision was made by the police department… (308, 309)

 

            Like the other representatives of the local regime, Satrom quickly aroused the good-humored  contempt of the largely student audience.  They applauded when Canham asked, “Can a citizen of Kent differentiate between the students who might perhaps be bent on destruction and those who might simply look that way, in their view?”(315)  And they broke out in subdued cackling when Ortique, citing the closing of the schools on May 4th and the police escorts assigned to school buses, asked, “Do you have reason to believe that the Kent State students might do bodily harm to these youngsters?”

     But it was when Rhodes asked, “Mayor Satrom, why does it cost so much to live in this city?” that the audience really “cracked up”, to the point where Rhodes himself had to ask them to quiet down.  But then he pressed the point: “Mr. Mayor, many students have indicated to me that they feel that [the] people of Kent exploit them and then kick them in the teeth for it.”(324)   His most serious question involved the Governor’s press conference twenty-four hours before the killings:

 

MR. RHODES:  [T]he Governor seems to have described your condition here in the City of Kent and Kent State University as everything as much as war…  It seems bellicose in the extreme… the tone is not one of concern.  It is one of belligerence, toward, you know, preparing for a war on the Kent State campus…  I was wondering whether you thought that statement was an accurate analysis of what was going on at Kent State, given that one building was burned the night before.

 

Satrom replied only that, “The Governor was in a very serious mood.”(328-330).   (The Commission had a complete tape recording of the press conference, which featured Rhodes hammering repeatedly on the podium with his fist and comparing the demonstrators to Klansmen and Nazis – the exact comparison Spiro Agnew had made a few days before.  It was not played at the hearings.)

            Now McIntyre showed the compilation film made up of selected hand-held 8-mm. and 16-mm. network sound footage (from WKYC-TV, Cleveland, an NBC affiliate).  None of the omissions or alterations done to other items of audiovisual evidence compared to the mutilation of this motion picture.  One of the first sequences was a long – in the terms of the film’s brief run time, interminable – shot showing a Guardsman being carried from the scene on a stretcher and loaded onto an ambulance.  McIntyre did not explain that this man, Dennis Breckenridge, had collapsed from “hypertension” (the shock and horror) on seeing the students murdered and wounded.  An uninformed viewer could easily assume he had been hit by a rock or other “radical missile”.  By way of contrast, the film contained none of the available footage showing dead or wounded students, least of all the shot which epitomized Kent State, Jeff Miller lying dead in the road while his blood streamed all the way across it.  Other sequences were also missing completely, such as footage that showed the sitdown demonstration on the evening of the 3rd was overwhelmingly peaceful.  Nor was omission all.  During the noon rally, according to witnesses like Professor Jerry Lewis (see below), a “carnival” atmosphere prevailed.   After the killings, the students were enraged and menacing.  Footage of them taken after the shootings was spliced in so that it ran before.

            McIntyre’s narration was if anything more misleading, more so than the slanted narration he and Strazzella had given of the vuegraphs.  He said that, after the Guard had cleared the Commons and then come up over the saddle of the hill by Taylor Hall, “[t]he crowd moved on either side of Taylor Hall, back toward the practice field.”  When the crowd cleared the Commons, half of it had moved to the right into the Johnson Hall parking lot and the other half had drifted around Taylor Hall to collected on and around the verandah.  Only around twelve to fifteen active hecklers retreated onto the practice field, drawing the Guard after them.

            His commentary on the Abell Film, which was included in the compilation, flatly contradicted what was on the screen: “you will see a movement of students up the hill, and in a very quick movement, back down the hill.”(341)  The only movement of students before the gunfire was away from the Guard, as detailed in unchallenged testimony in the 1975 trial after photogrammetric analysis.  But McIntyre actually repeated his version when the frame-by-frame Abell footage was displayed: “You see the movement up the hill there and then back down the hill”.  And he dismissed the network footage that shows FBI undercover agent Terry Norman being accosted with his revolver.  McIntyre stated, “There he is handing a small hand weapon, which our investigation indicates had not been fired.”(342)  Actually, campus police officer Thomas Kelly had taken the revolver from Norman, broken out the cylinder, and exclaimed, “It’s been fired five times!   What do we do now?”   The sequel, which shows that Norman is known to and being protected by campus security and the police, was cut out of the compilaton.

            Governor Scranton followed the showing with the question, “Are there any questions about the film?”  There was a deafening silence.

            The star witness of the day was General Robert Canterbury, the senior officer present with the Guard when they fired.  His first assertion about the noon rally on the 4th – “Members of the crowd had carried to this meeting, some bags containing rocks; people were there with gas masks” – evoked loud groans and snickering from the audience.  The skepticism was due in part to the fact of the just-completed film showing, which included a pan(oramic) shot of the crowd with not a single bag of rocks or gas mask in view.  “Just a minute, please,” Charles Brown, Canterbury’s attorney, snapped at the Commissioners, “I refuse to permit this witness to testify with the audience reacting as they are.  If they cannot be ladies and gentlemen, then we will not testify.”  Although Scranton had just seen the same film, he directed another long admonition to the audience not to react.

            Canterbury plowed on: “The first information I had on the rally was about 11:15 or 11:20 [on the 4th].”  Then he had been out of touch with his own command post, which had known about the rally at eight that morning (according to unit radio logs in the Archives), or with campus security, which had known for three days that there would be a rally on the Commons at noon on Monday, May 4th.   He had also been unaware that Major Harry Jones was wearing an unauthorized civilian sidearm, although Jones had been right under his nose when he had come over to advise the General to leave the practice field.  For when he was asked, “Did any of the persons, as far as you know, have any personal weapons on them at that time?” he responded, “Not to my knowledge.”(361)

            As the Guard left the practice field and marched back across the road and up the hill toward the Commons, photographs depict General Canterbury looking straight ahead.  The only photo that shows him starting to turn around to look in the direction of any of the students on the reverse slope is the one taken at the moment of the first shot.  And yet he testified that he had seen a “mob” of students closing in on his soldiers before they fired (a mob which is nowhere to be seen in the photographs or the Abell Film.)  “These people were charging; some of them were very, very close to our troops.  They were yelling, ‘Kill the pigs; stick the pigs’ and heaving rocks as they charged.”(367)  Neither phrase can be heard on the Titchenal Tape or the sound track of the WKYC television film, nor does any witness recall hearing them.  The students who were closest to the Guard when they were shot, and standing more or less by themselves, were 71 and 110 feet away.  The others were between 200 and 730 feet from the firing line.  The ones who were killed were slightly under or considerably over 300 feet – the length of the football field from their executioners.  No one raised a question about Canterbury’s characterization of the fatal instant.

            Byrne continued the questioning:

 

Q.  …I assume, though, General, that it is your feeling that the mere fact that rocks are being thrown is not justification for the firing of a weapon at the person who is throwing the rocks, unless it is a very serious and damaging barrage of rocks, is that correct?

A.  That is essentially correct.  And let me say this, Mr. Byrne; the conditions and the degree of danger that those people in the right flank were under at that point were such, I believe, many members of this Commission would have fired if they had been there.(388, 389).

 

But the staff had seen the FBI Report, and interviewed the witnesses, who had seen only two or three students throw anything at the Guard, and had stated that the stones struck the soldiers on the rebound when at all (the Guard chaplain attested to this), and that the stones were so small as to be no danger to men wearing steel helmets.  No one raised the point.

            Some time after the hearing, an unidentified member of the staff ran the tapes of the General’s testimony, and made notes.  When he reached the point where the General discussed who was responsible for the decision to fire, the notetaker waxes incredulous.  [The initial number refers to the amount of footage run, a common means of demarking sound recordings.]

 

                        -- 370 --  Told officers to tell men they were not to fire unless told to and unless ordered to fire at a given object.

                        …Not countermanding decision of N/G to fire if he thought in danger – simply sayingthat officers then* in a position to see what was going on (as they were on hill.)

                                                            Can’t be both

                                                                  B.S.!*

                                    Either in control of men on hill or wasn’t.[238]

 

            The primary contradiction continued to be about who made the decision at the 10:00 a.m. meeting on the 4th that no demonstrations, peaceful or otherwise, would be permitted.

 

Q.  As I understand your testimony, you said that the President of the University stated that he did not want to permit any assembly on the campus and that the mission to stop such assembly was assigned to you; is that correct?

A.  The President of the University reported that a rally was planned for 12:00 o’clock noon and that it would violate the instructions pointed out earlier on May the 3rd.         In response to my question, ‘Should this be permitted?’, the answer was ‘no, it would be highly dangerous.’ (391)

 

The Times reporter covering the hearings reminded his readers that President White had just finished testifying that it was the military who had made the decision.[239]

            Byrne returned to the “bags of rocks” and the “barrage of rocks”:

 

Q.    How many students did you see carrying bags of rocks?

A.     I didn’t count them, Mr. Byrne.

Q.    Did you see more than one?

A.     Yes, I did.

*              *           *

Q.    …about how many rocks would you estimate were thrown at the Guard?

A.      In my judgement, there were hundreds of rocks thrown in behind the left flank.

MR. BROWN:  Once again, let me announced we are not going to be subjected to

            hissing.(401)

 

And with the students “hissing” anyway, the hearings adjourned for lunch.

 

            The afternoon session opened with some interesting if hardly astounding testimony from a former mayor of Kent concerning the history of tensions between town and campus.  Then student body president Frank Frisina took the stand.  Frisina was Kent State’s answer to Steven Kelman: he had campaigned on attacking the moribund SDS and spreading scare messages about “outside agitators”.  Three years earlier, when the student newspaper had printed a few letters questioning the American presence in Vietnam, Frisina had spread the word that the paper was conspiring with campus antiwar activists and the Communists to undermine the Free World.[240]  He hardly startled those present when he immediately ratified the “outside agitator” theory:

 

Q: …do you believe that there were outside people or organized groups of people who at any point during the course of the three or four day incident had a role, whether it is major or minor, in fomenting trouble?

A:  Yes, I think it was outside influence.  I think it was a major part…  we heard the same report, that a different S.D.S. meetings, that Kent had been a target institution.(431,                432).

 

However far to the right Frisina was, he refused to go as far as defending Governor Rhodes.  Of the press conference on May 3rd, he said

 

                        A.   …Governor Rhodes was trying to explain to us how the Guard had saved our campus and –

                        [Laughter from audience]

            -- he told us first of all in that meeting that we were fortunate the Guard had come up, that 12 buildings had been earmarked to be burned.  He later told the press 15.  I was in Columbus        about 10 days or two weeks later and I asked him if he had this sort of information, why  wasn’t that relayed to the University people or to local law enforcement officials, so that we could take some sort of action.  He explained that this was a corps of students going from one university to another in Ohio.

The first time I asked the question, he avoided it by saying he had to send in the Guard for 50 or 60 businesses had been destroyed.  The second time I asked him the question he had to send the Guard in when a $ 5 million building had been burned.  Which, of course,wasn’t accurate either.

                                    *                                  *                      *

                        MR. DAVIS:  Did you or did other students, to your knowledge, observe the presence of these outsiders on the Kent campus?

            THE WITNESS:  only to the extent that many of the people later identified them in photographs, were people we did not even recognize.  Not as far as recognizing their faces…

                        MR. ORTIQUE:  Have you ever actually seen one of these outsiders?(436)

 

Yet again, the audience burst into scornful laughter.  Yet again, Scranton admonished them not to react.

            Sociology professor Jerry Lewis attempted to analyze the confrontation in terms of group behavior.  As such, he thought the most irrational behavior over that weekend had been exhibited by the Guardsmen.  Mirth and applause seconded his puzzlement over why, on the 4th,. the soldiers were standing guard over the ashes of the ROTC building.  He discounted Canterbury’s impression of the menacing student crowd, speaking instead of a “carnival” atmosphere on the Commons right until the time the Guard moved out to sweep it behind a barrage of tear gas.  Relative to a much more serious pass in events, he all but called the General a liar:

 

A.  At no time did I see a phalanx of 300 people charging the Guard, as we heard this morning…  I had a feeling that General Canterbury and I weren’t in the same place at all when he was testifying this morning.  I did not see this wave of students charging up the hill that he saw. (465 & 469)

 

He applied common sense to the question of the “outside agitators”:

 

                        MR. AHERN:  Professor, did you see any outside people or non-students present on either night?

            THE WITNESS:  There are 20,000 students on this campus; I am lucky if I know1,000 of them.  So, 19,000 I don’t know.  So they are outside my frame of reference.  But I can’t say that I saw any outsiders.(472)

 

Despite some awkward phrasing, he identified the cultural role of student’s in Nixon’s America:

 

A.  People have to grapple with that, the way they grapple with it is invent – and I don’t want to repeat the stories – but I have heard incredible stories about the personalities of the four people who were killed and the nine wounded.  You have to grapple with random killing.  You can’t turn them into blacks, you can’t turn them into Viet Cong, so you kind of invent ‘all students are bad’.(473, 474)

 

Lewis also raised the crucial topic that the Commission, in its most glaring omission, never addressed: the FBI “inquisition” on campus after the shootings.

 

                        CHAIRMAN SCRANTON:  Sir, do tell us what you had in mind with regard to faculty marshalling.     

                        THE WITNESS:  Mr. Chairman, the reason I hesitate to bring it up, because it involves the FBI investigation of the faculty…   I know at least five faculty marshals werein the direct line of fire and later investigated by the FBI for political activities and so forth.       (487)

 

            But the day’s “headliner” was “the blonde coed in the neat striped dress”, Barbara Knapp, whose “soft voice… broke occasionally” as she related her “outrage, disgust, and fear” as she saw the Guard move out to clear the Commons.[241]  She told of standing a few feet away when Allison Krause was mortally wounded, her overpowering impulse to help her, and the more overpowering fear that led her to run away instead.  She ran all the way downtown, where she told two Guardsmen of the fatal shootings.  One of them replied, “Good, it’s about time, maybe this is going to stop it.”(498)

            Howard Ruffner testified not only as the student photographer who had taken some of the most important pictures of the killings, but also as an eyewitness: “General Canterbury mentioned this morning, he said there was a rush of students and barrage of rocks.  I was 120 feet away from them [the Guard].  There were only two students in front of me.”(504)

            Robert Terko summarized the work of the Commission to Implement a Commitment to Non-Violence and the administration’s lack of responsiveness to it, as well as throughout the crisis.  But it was incoming student body president and ROTC cadet Craig Morgan who brought the hearings back to life.  He put it succinctly: the parties with the blood of the students on their hands were the authors of the Cambodian invasion.  “President Nixon and Agnew can squirm all they want with that analysis, but that is what it was.”(526, 527)  With regard to the “outside agitators”,

 

                        THE WITNESS:  My reaction to this is very, very strong.  The first one is that it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

                        [Applause from audience]

            Quite frankly for a number of reasons.  First of all, I find it very philosophically difficult to believe [that] in the United States of America, anyone is an ‘outside agitator’.  [Redoubled applause]

                        CHAIRMAN SCRANTON:  We are not going to turn this thing into a show.

                        THE WITNESS:  I am not attempting to turn it into a show.

                        CHAIRMAN SCRANTON:  I know you didn’t; go ahead.(528)

 

Morgan moved on to amplify on Pickett’s and Lewis’ theme of the student as national scapegoat.

 

…right now there is more public relish and more political exploitation of that relish of anti-student and anti-hippie and anti-dissidents than there is any other emotion in this country.

I’m sure you heard reams of testimony concerning Governor Rhodes’ same pitch two days before the primary.  I don’t think anyone of reasonable intelligence can say a logical person would sit down and call dissident students worse brown shirts if he weren’t attempting to appeal to political allies in the State of Ohio, and again the tragedy isn’t that it is limited to just Portage County and Ohio, but then we come to the President and the Vice President…     he is attempting to exploit nationwide hatred of students, not [just] students, but nationwide hatred of anyone with any amount of dissent, and that is all put together in terms of students.(546-548)  EMPHASIS ADDED.

 

            Despite the warnings, the audience continued to voice its loud approval as Morgan vented his contempt on “a silent America that picks its nose instead of its brain” and rationalized its otherwise incoherent fears by persecuting “hippies, commies, faggots, and other things they call students.”[242]

            The hearings were adjourned for the day at 5:40.   Right after the session, and the assertion – this time by Canterbury – that it was the university that had decided no rallies would be permitted, President White’s office issued a press release reiterating that he would have allowed a peaceful rally to take place:

 

…the University representatives were faced on Monday morning with an edict that there must be conformity between regulation applied on campus and in the city…  we encountered an ex cathedra pronouncement that such variations were no longer permissible.[243]

 

 

            When the final day of hearings convened at nine the next morning, George Warren – originally slated to be the first witness on the first day – presented what purported to be a summary of the physical evidence developed by the FBI.  First, he dealt with its most explosive conclusion: that there had been no “sniper”.  But the way he phrased it also exonerated FBI mole Terry Norman:  “The evidence indicates after this intensive search that there was no person other than a Guardsman that discharged a weapon on May 4, 1970.”   To make sure it was understood that this applied to Norman, he added of his revolver, “it was found not to have been fired.”

            Without the “sniper”, the only alibi the Guard had offered was being under attack by a “mob” of students throwing a “barrage” of rocks.  Warren claimed that there had been a total of 150 lbs. of rocks picked up at the scene:

 

                        MR. AHERN:  Mr. Chairman.

                        [To Warren]  You gave us the amount of rocks by weight.  Can you give us the amount by numbers, how many rocks?…  Weight doesn’t really give you any indication --

            MR. MANNING:  It could have been 4,000 pebbles.

                        [Laughter from audience]

                        CHAIRMAN SCRANTON:  Please, we have got to have it quiet here.

                        MR. WARREN:  We don’t have a count, Chief.

                        MR. AHERN:  It is hard for me to believe the FBI did not count the number of rocks here, given their usual thorough investigation.  And given the skimpy information that is available this morning, I wonder if it is the same outfit that we are talking about (574, 575).

 

                        Warren knew exactly how many rocks, because he had counted them himself, using the photographs the FBI had taken of them by sector.  On August 18th, Warren had charged these photos out of the FBI Report and used them back of the outcard (which is still with his working papers in the Archives) to get his own total:

 

                        12 (Q14)                      + 1 foot wire

                        22 (Q15)                      1 bottle

                        23 (Q16)                      1 brick and 2 pieces brick

                         1 (Q30)                       5 pieces tiles

                         9 (Q123)                     1 Vas Jar c rock plus 19” stick

                         9 (Q2123B)

                        11 (Q123C)

                         6 (Q123D)

                        20 (Q124)

                        113

 

Nothing says that these objects were thrown at the Guard; they were just picked up in the area of the confrontation.  Warren toted them up on the outcard, found an error in addition, and corrected the sum to 116.  And he lied under oath to Ahern about it.

            Ahern had no way of knowing this at the time, and thus did not pursue it.  Rhodes questioned Warren about the operating principles of the M-1 rifle, and Derthick wanted to know how many Guardsmen claimed to have been hit by rocks before the volley.  “Warren said… he didn’t know how many and he didn’t know at what time during the day they had been hit.”[244]   An increasingly restless Scranton intervened, asserting that finding out too many of these details would jeopardize possible prosecutions, and excused Warren.

            Ex-Marine Dennis Durand, president of the campus veterans’ association, discussed the use of his organization as a pool of informers forthrightly.   On May 1st, he had

 

called some members of the Association and called the Chief of Police in Kent City, informing him that I would make myself and my men available in any capacity he deemed necessary.  He asked me to go to the campus… and endeavor to find information as to what           the crowd wanted and what they were going to do.

                        Q.  In other words, you were gathering information for the benefit of the Kent City Police Department.  

                        A.  That is correct. (580)

 

            He was followed on the stand by Dean John Huffman, who could contribute little but a valid reflection of the confusion and impotence of the KSU administration throughout the crisis.  But then the turgid August air was stirred by the appearance of one of the few genuine activists on campus, Meyer “Mike” Alewitz, head of the Young Socialist Alliance.  He joined his conservative opposite number Craig Morgan in his contempt for the “outside agitator” theory, although he did not exclude the possibility of some outsiders agitating on campus:

 

THE WITNESS:  Well, it was, of course, a logical extension of the policies in Southeast Asia that found its way onto Kent by sending in the National Guard.  These were the outside agitators that everyone is talking about.

                        [Applause from audience.]

                        THE WITNESS:  They traveled around from campus to campus in Ohio.

                        [Laughter from audience]

 

            Alewitz didn’t need any encouragement to get his point across, but Rhodes encouraged him anyway:

 

                        MR. RHODES:  Would you describe what happened on your campus as an attempt to terrorize the students?

                        THE WITNESS:  Well, it was an attack on the antiwar movement.  Terrorism, yes.

            (627)

                                    *                      *                      *

MR. RHODES:  …We are supposed to recommend to our President what he can do to bring an end to this death of our students on our campuses.  I am hesitant to even ask you what --         

                        [Laughter from audience]

            THE WITNESS:  …I don’t think Richard Nixon is or has any desire to be a benevolent type of person and grant any type of concessions unless he is forced to… Richard Nixon by this point has made it very clear he wishes to continue with the war and his other policies as well.(628)

 

            For all he must have know, Robert Matson, vice-president for the quasi-inquisitorial Office of Student Affairs, told the Commission little.  He did testify that the Guard was not contacted until 9:31 p.m. on the 2nd, after the ROTC building was burning, although all other witnesses had agreed that the Guard was formally called in at 5:30 during the last of five meetings the authorities had held that day – four hours before Matson’s version, and two hours before anyone had even started to gather on the Commons.  He offered only further muddle to the question of who had decided no rallies would be permitted:

 

Q.  To your recollection, sir, did any University officials, and particularly you, Mr. Dunn, or President White, initiate a request that the Monday rally not be allowed to take place?

                        A. Not in my recollection did anyone from the University say that.(640, 641)

 

            Student Jim Woodring insisted there had been a hundred students within twenty yards of the Guard just before the volley, even though Kirby pointed out to him that the Abell Film appeared to refute this.  But that was not what he said that suddenly woke everyone up.  He claimed that one of the officers had given a signal to fire: “There was a lieutenant, or whatever he was, with a pistol, that in my opinion gave some type of hand signal to fire.”(650)  According to the Times reporter, he was more specific than the transcript records him being:

 

There was a lieutenant or some kind of officer with a pistol.  He raised it above his head, then brought it down, and fired point blank into the ground.  In my opinion, he gave some sort of hand signal to fire.[245]

 

 

He also “said that he could not hear whether the officer said anything because of the noise in the area.”

            Kent Police Chief Roy Thompson was the next witness, and fellow police chief Jim Ahern was lying in wait for him:

 

                        MR. AHERN: Chief, did you have information that the ROTC building would be burned?

                        THE WITNESS:  Along with the Post Office Building, the banks downtown, recruiting office.

                        MR. AHERN:  Did you give that information to the campus police?

                        THE WITNESS:  Yes, we exchanged all of that information on these things.

            MR. AHERN:  Do you have any explanation as to why it wasn’t protect, and the fact that it burned 30 minutes before the police entered there?…  Were you surprised when it wasn’t prevented?

                        [Laughter from audience]

 

            The final witness at the Kent hearings was student and survivor Robert Stamps, who admitted informally that he had been “shot in the ass”.  He protected the sensibilities of the Commissioners by referring to his wound as being in the “lower back”, which drew a knowing titter from those in the audience who had been there. 

 

                        Q.  Mr. Stamps, were you in a position to see or observe any movement of the crowd in the parking lot area?

                        A.  Yes, I was.

                        Q.  Did you see massive, forward-surging crowds or [even] a small forward-surging of  the crowd?

                        A.  Absolutely not.(674)

 

Once again, Rhodes proved willing to help a promising witness along:

 

MR. RHODES:  Are you suggesting Governor Rhodes intensified this drama that was unfolding on the Kent State campus, merely to gain a few votes, that ended in your colleagues being shot to death?

                        THE WITNESS:  Yes, sir, that is exactly what I am suggesting…(678)

 

“He said that he felt that… Rhodes had ‘played politics with the students of Kent State to try to win a primary that he had coming up.”

            And with that, the Kent hearings abruptly came to an end.  Scranton “said the group would now devote its efforts to preparing the report, which is due in September.”[246]   Ominously – and as it would turn out, correctly – he warned the American people to mute their expectations about it.

 

CHAIRMAN SCRANTON:  One thing I want to make extremely clear, which isn’t to a number of people, apparently, in this nation.  We have no power, this Commission has no power, to implement any recommendation that we might make, except the power of persuasion. (681, 682)

           

            On final adjournment, John Kifner, the Times reporter who had covered the story from the scene since the ROTC fire, assessed the hearings with a jaundiced eye.  Governor Rhodes had avoided appearing, although it was his incendiary rhetoric that may have convinced the Guardsmen they had a “license to kill”.  None of the Guardsmen had appeared, so they were not questioned about “what kind of briefings” they might have received instilling in them an “exaggerated fear of students among the troops”.  (George Warren had complained, “We were just not able to get subpoenas served on the Guardsmen.”  Why not?)  And the main discrepancies which had helped them authorities duck responsibility for the murders had never been resolved: who had decided to bring the Guard into the town and onto the campus, and who had made the decision that no rallies would be permitted.[247]

 

            The next day the Governor of Oregon called up 6,000 National Guard troops to counteract expected picketing at the American Legion’s annual convention (Nixon and Agnew had both been invited to speak).  But this much had changed: an assistant to the governor emphasized that if live ammunition were issued, it would only be to selected marksmen.[248]  Kent State was now falling like an eternal shadow between men of power and their violent instincts.  Although Byrne and his staff had heroically exerted themselves to whitewash the Kent hearings, too much had come out that placed the bloodstain on the pavement in the White House driveway and that of every statehouse in the Nation.  What was needed was a change of subject.

            The opportunity for a change came at 3:40 on August 24th.  An anonymous caller warned campus security at the University of Wisconsin that a bomb had been planted in the Army Math Research Center, punctuating his message with, “This is no bullshit, man.”  It wasn’t.  Five minutes later, the bomb went of, killing a research assistant and wounding several others.  The President and his people seized on the bombing with something like elation.  In the weeks and months to come, it would become the magnetic north of his campaign oratory.  Here was the justification for the police state measures he had been holding in reserve since the failure of the Huston Plan. 

            Not until 1979 would it be proven that the FBI had been a virtual accomplice in the bombing.  Then a team of young investigative reporters for that definitively subversive magazine Mother Jones revealed through Bureau documents that the agents had known about the activities of the bombers for months, knew in advance that the Army Math Research Center would be the target, followed the bombers to the scene and let them set off the explosion, and made no move to arrest them despite having multiple causes in connection with previous or attempted bombings.[249]   The only conceivable explanation is that the bombing suited the purposes of the forces of law and order all too well.

            The next day, the President issued orders that all aspects of the “domestic security prob.” were to be taken over by Haldeman, “because I’m the only one JEH trusts & will take orders from.”[250] 

            Even though it was the end of August, and as a matter of tradition nothing would get done until after Labor Day, the bombing seems to have spurred a fresh boost of  counter-revolutionary hysteria.  Running for California Secretary of State, Edmund Brown told the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara that “radicals” were planning major disruptions that fall.  He proposed the creation of a “campus strike force” of specially trained police to be “mobilized on command of the governor”[251] – that same governor who had proven so hypersensitive to Rhodes’ charges that he was willing to spill blood for political advantage.  At the convention of the U.S. Student Press Association in Manchester, New Hampshire, “censorship and administrative pressures on student papers were the prime topic of conversation.”[252]  At the University of Maryland, the “streamlining” of the internal judicial system to allow the president and chancellor to suspend dissidents at will was being given its final touches.[253]  Fall comes soon after Labor Day in most of America, and in Academe, the days were growing shorter all the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE: To Kill a Messenger.

 

 

            Labor Day found the President confident and eager for the fall campaign.  He had convinced himself that the people who counted were with him and against the “hippies”, and that he could transmute the sympathy the Democrats had shown the students to a stone in the heart of their party.  The only thing that might thwart his plans was the Commission, the monster he had created, which was now stalking him across the yet-to-be-formed ice.  Byrne and Kirby, McIntyre and Strazzella, Stine and Warren, had exerted themselves to whitewash its work from within.  But they had not managed to keep “subversive” testimony from being heard during the hearings.  Might they also be unable to castrate the Commission’s report?  The trouble was those damned Commissioners and their doubly-damned integrity.  Nixon decided it was time for two of his specialties, intimidation and scare-mongering.

            The first gambit was a leak to right-wing columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak.  They were already predicting a flood of fire and blood sweeping away the universities during the new school year.  And they claimed part of the reason would be “the commission’s de-emphasis of this well-planed student revolution in its public hearings…  Actually preliminary drafts of the commission’s report take a hard line against nihilistic violence”, but the “liberals” on the panel might water these down.  Where had Evans and Novak gotten these “preliminary drafts”? from the “Commission staffers” who also provided an inside history of its three-month investigation?  According to this version, “favorable feedback” from Academe during the Washington hearings “was the commission’s undoing.  Since then the commission has seemed to play for cheers from the campus.”[254]

            This was accompanied by a direct threat against college administrators from the Secretary of Defense.  Melvin Laird announced that his department was going to have to reconsider “whether it’s a good idea to construct Federal research buildings on university campuses or not…  there are other locations where these Federal facilities can be built.”  Since he cited the Madison bombing and “the rise of campus violence” as the reasons, it did not require an advanced degree to deduce that the institutions ripe for “reconsideration” were the ones where there had been substantial antiwar activity.  He “made clear” that he was not just speaking for his own department; this meant all big-ticket government investments “and not merely those connected with Pentagon research projects.”[255]   (The article did not mention how he could speak for other agencies.)  The effect on college administrators, as it registered what this would mean in terms of lost revenue, is not difficult to imagine.

            Evans and Novak were back on the 4th with a column on how the national reaction was influencing the Democratic Party.  They lavished praise on the new chairman of the party’s national committee, Robert Strauss, whom they described as a “moderate” just before admitting he was “close to the Texas conservatives personally” (i.e., big oil money).  Strauss represented the wing of the party that thought it should compete with the Republicans by aping their policies.  And his first priority in this agenda was purging economist John Kenneth Galbraith from the policy council.  The columnists claimed, not without justification, that this was just another indication of the degree to which the Democrats were being transmogrified into a clone of the Republicans.

            They further ascribed this to the pre-publication influence of a new book, Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg’s The Real Majority, itself the latest clone of Phillips’ “bible” for the Republicans during the 1968 campaign (see above).  As the Strauss faction interpreted its message, if the Democrats were going to win elections, they had to abandoned their traditional constituents among the poor, the black, and the young, and pander to the fears and resentments of “the wife of the machinist in Dayton.”[256]  (Years later, Wattenberg explained that these fears and resentments concerned “crime, violence, drugs, disruption, riot, out-of-wedlock birth, promiscuity, that whole panoply of issues”[257] – in other words, white middle class stereotypes about the behavior of blacks and students.)  This thesis, proven at the ballot box no more than Phillips’ had been, was being given the weight of verity by the media and is a prime example of the power of social myth in history.

            The Republicans waited until the 5th to mount their first all-out attack of the month on the Commission and its still-unpublished report.  One of the prime Nixon surrogates in the Senate, Gordon Allott (R., Colo.) (who had been among the first to justify the Kent State murders in May), told the Associated Milk Producers that

 

[T]his report may do even more damage than has already been done by what I think were flamboyant, inflammatory, prejudiced, and irresponsible actions by the Commission during its months of public hearings.  There is reason to believe that the forthcoming report may be a flaccid whitewash of the violent New Left political movement that is openly seeking to capture or destroy our great universities.[258]

 

Citing “raging confrontations” on the campuses (without mentioning where these were taking place), Allott charged that the report “may be about to pour gasoline on the flames.”  He emphasized that the President was not at fault because treacherous liberals who had wound up on the commission.  The blame “rests heavily on the shoulders of a few of the President’s senior domestic advisors.”[259]  If he was speaking for the President, then it seems John Ehrlichman’s forgiveness earlier in the summer had been rescinded. 

            It is impossible to find any report of “raging confrontations” in the same edition that carried Allott’s rant.  There were more than hints in it however of the spreading pall of oppression.  The Peace Corps was planning to terminate twenty-two of its volunteers in Panama because they had voiced opposition to Nixon’s policies in Indochina to local reporters.[260]   Two sections back there was a piece on a Lutheran minister who had been ostracized by his own flock and finally forced to resign his pulpit because he had answered a pro-war editorial in the Galveston News with a letter suggesting that the Christian thing to do was “love our enemies” even if they were Viet Cong.  (The letter raised a thought that, had it been shared among American generals in 1964, might have saved a generation of tragedy: “You can’t kill an idea by killing people.”)  “[Rev. Carl] Danielson said he could not find another church to hire him in Houston or Galveston.”[261]

 

            The President was maintaining a public silence on the Commission thus far in September, but staying busy behind the scenes:

 

Very impressed w/ Hook article campus problems – and wants it broadly circulated w/ ltr from him – to college pres, trustees – TV editors, etc. – asking them for comments.                 (p. 57)

 

Wants a tough Pdtl cover leter for mailing Hook column – so he’ll be on record re campus problem before Scranton Comm. reports out. (p. 63)

 

Very anxious to get moving on action re campus unrest.  Is fully convinced this is “the” issue this year & we should be on record w/ positive action – esp. to counterbalance Scranton. (p. 65)[262]

 

            On the 11th he sent his major legislative program to Congress.  He sued the Madison bombing as a preamble and pretext for demanding sweeping new powers “to control the epidemic of terrorist bombings and nihilistic destruction which has suddenly become a feature of American life.”[263]

            Simultaneously Senator Strom Thurmond told the annual meeting of the Young Americans for Freedom that the nation was entering a period of guerrilla warfare.  He claimed that this “crisis which may even come to a head before the fall semester ends” evolved out of the campus demonstrations, which had conditioned the nation “to accept the idea of violence on a grand scale”.  Apparently Commission witness David Keene had no chance to hear Thurmond, or was distracted when asked for comment, because he blurted out a contradictory and more truthful assessment that “the new left is in its death throes and falling to pieces.”[264]

            The next day the President laid out his pre-election tactical plan:

 

                        Has several plots he wants hatched…

                        … a front that sounds like SDS to support the Dem cands & praise their liberal records etc., publicize their “bad” quotes in guise of praise.  Give the Sens. A “radiclib” rating…

Wants to crack hard on student issue this week – 1) a piece of legislation to show some action; 2) game plan Scranton rpt. & turn it around; 3) get a confrontation w/ demonstrators; 4) his letter re Hook column to estab. Position…[265]

 

            But the morning edition of the Washington Post may have given him pause.  A front page headline proclaimed: “GOP Fears Report on Campus Unrest”.  In the story, reporter Ken Clawson provided a concise but comprehensive history of the Scranton Commission, from its formation and the Rhodes-Agnew controversy through Allott’s attack on its unseen report the week before.  He had tapped a number of sources in Congress, the administration, and on the Commission’s staff.  The headline derived from the lament of one “Senate source”: “How can you campaign for firmness in dealing with disorders when the President’s own commission will say the unrest is caused by Mr. Nixon, the police, and the National Guard?”[266]

            The fact that so many views on a report that still hadn’t been published were available owed  obviously to “background pepers [sic] and tentative drafts of sections” having been leaked all over town by someone on the Commission.  This could have been the staff member initially quoted to the effect that the panel had first met in June “in an atmosphere of mutual suspicion that has evolved into mutual respect despite continuing strong disagreements”.  Or it could have been several persons (“staff sources”).  If the latter, at least one of them refuted the Republicans’ efforts to blame Ehrlichman for everything: “Ehrlichman actually received widespread advice within the administration before selecting the commission members”, including from Attorney General John Mitchell.  “Neither did Ehrlichman personally tap Rhodes; he was recommended by another White House aide.”

            “Nevertheless Ehrlichman is receiving the bulk of the blame.”  One “Republican Senate source” said that Ehrlichman had been out of his depth; he “does not understand the campus situation or the New Left and that’s why he could make the blunder of appointing these people.”  Which people?  “Ehrlichman never looked below these surface things to find out what Rhodes really stands for.”  “[A] high administration source” lumped the black members together: “When you put Rhodes, Cheek, and Ortique on the Commission, you can expect what is now taking place.  All three of them hate the President and they will vent their passion in a report like this” – ignoring the fact that the white police chief from New Haven had scored as many points against the administration as the other three put together.

            The “administration sources” made it clear how the report would be received if it deviated from the White House line: “The President has made it clear that foreign policy isn’t going to be made in the streets, so I hope this group doesn’t waste its time and the money we’ve given it.”  And yet the President was in a precarious position to repudiate his own commission.  The latest “numbers” from the Gallup organization showed his approval rating at 56%, only three points above the year’s low of 53% and down from 63% in January[267] -- and the Gallup was his poll of choice.  Then one of his “liberal aides” came out against his latest pet project:

 

Still pushing to do the Hook ltr. – but [Daniel Patrick] Moy[nihan] argues against it cause Hook discredited in intellectual community.  Will probably do it anyway.  Will also hit the campus issue in Kansas speech. [ARCHIVES PHOTOCOPY OF JOURNAL PAGE  BECOMES ILLEGIBLE.][268]

 

            But contemporary events continued to support him.  As the Young Americans for Freedom closed their conference on Saturday, cartoonist-turned-columnist Al Capp joined Senators Allott and Thurmond in predicting the great fall campus bloodbath:  “This fall we’ll see much more savagery than ever before.  Kent State will be page two news, because it will happen all over.  We’re in for something ghastly this fall.”[269]   And although autumn was coming, the campus police state was in bloom everywhere:

 

President James H. Hester of New York University said last week that the institution’s   security staff is being enlarged and ‘given improved training for dealing with unusual circumstances’.  At Wisconsin and elsewhere, campus police are now armed.  Several university presidents employ bodyguards…

More than half the states have passed stiff new laws to punish students…  Although nearly all officials interviewed at dozens of campuses said they had basic plans to deal with upheavals many of them refused to divulge their strategy…

At the University of California at Los Angeles… the campus police… department has expanded from nine to 52 officers in the last three years…

                        At the University of Wisconsin… officials are planning to bring a massive show of force onto campus should there be any sign of violence…

                        Ohio State University has… doubled the campus security force from 30 to 60 officers.. Boston University has, for the first time, equipped its university police with sidearms...

                        At Southern Illinois University… the police force has been increased from 25 to 75 men…

                        At the University of Maryland… state police intelligence units are making strong efforts to infiltrate radical elements on campus…

                        Representatives from a number of… universities attended an Army course in riot control at Camp [sic] Gordon, Ga.[270]

 

            Richard Nixon’s dream was being realized – more correctly, his nightmare was being exorcised.  Never again would an American president be driven from office by demonstrations, at least not on the campuses (or, with all the “law and order” measures being spun off the campaign against the student movement to Americans in  general, anywhere else).  Redoubled administrative surveilliance would prevent centers of resistance from forming and an overwhelming police presence would smother protests before they got started.  At the same time, “working within the system” was proving to be the farce the radicals had always said it was:

 

All the excitement last spring about mounting a massive campaign by students to help elect peace candidates in the November elections has dwindled to a whisper… even some of  the peace candidates… are wondering if massive student support would not help their opponents.[271]

 

            The irony of the moment was that the Democrats and liberals within his own party was caving in to the “law and order” hysteria so fast that Nixon was now afraid they would steal the issue from him:

 

Got started again this morning on basic political approach.  Wants to review the list of critical votes on which we’ll base the radiclib rating; wants action re the main issue.  Upset to read that Schweiker has a bill making any attack on a law officer a federal offense – Taft has one re students rioters -- & Kennedy hit as hard at the students as Agnew has…

                        Back to the big issue – “softness on students”.  Wants a tough stmt. -- & outlandish bill if necessary to get attention.[272]

 

            He saw his chance to reclaim the “big issue” in his nationally-televised address from the University of Kansas field house on the 16th.  He took as his point of departure a recent airliner hijacking, linked that to the Madison bombing, and, in a full-court stretch, blamed them on student dissent:

 

We have seen it in other bombings and burning on our campuses… in the destruction of offices, the seizure and harassment of college officials, the use of force and coercion to bar students and teachers from classrooms, and even to close down whole schools…

                        There have always been among us those who would choose violence or intimidation to get what they wanted…

                        …in some of our great universities small bands of destructionists have been allowed to impose their own rule of arbitrary force.

 

He returned to the same point, as he had started to metronomically, that had emerged from the Commission’s hearings and that he would never accept: that he had to take at least some of the blame for the upheavals and murders in the spring.  “To attempt to blame Government for all the woes of the universities is rather the fashion these days.  But it’s really to seek an excuse, not a reason, for their troubles.”[273]

            As always, the President’s handlers had researched his potential audience in advance and had found it in this case ideal: “sons and daughters of farmers and the small towns of the plains”  They greeted him with an ovation and interrupted his speech with five more.  The presence of a pathetic few antiwar hecklers, “perhaps fewer than 40”, only gave him a foil for his rhetoric and a scapegoat for the crowd, particularly since they had isolated themselves by sitting together in a top row.[274]

            Beyond the walls of the Kansas State field house, the response was less uncritical.  Seasoned commentators like Tom Wicker – who would view the culmination of the process of repression first-hand at Attica in a year – had no trouble discerning the hypocrisy lurking in the President’s moral outrage:

 

The President who spoke at Kansas City is also the President who – quite beyond the violence he obviously thinks it is necessary to perpetuate in Vietnam – welcomed the so-called ‘hard hat’ leaders to the White House, just after their men had beaten up peace demonstrators; he is the President who managed to put the blame for the Kent State deaths on      the dissenters rather than on those who pulled the triggers.[275]

 

            Even as the President soared on his own eloquence at Kansas State, his Attorney General was also getting carried away – albeit more in the mode of his notorious wife.  He dropped in on a Women’s National Press Club cocktail buffet that evening, after having already attended three Republican fund-raising parties.  According to her, he struck up a conversation with Kandy Stroud, a reporter from Women’s Wear Daily and spoke quite freely even after she had identified herself as a journalist.  (According to a Justice Department spokesman the next day, she overheard his conversation with another and reproduced a “distorted and highly inaccurate” version of it).  The Attorney General opened by extolling Richard Nixon as “the most informed President there’s ever been”.

 

I’ll tell you who’s not informed, though.  It’s these stupid kids.  Why, they don’t know the issues.  They pick up the rhetoric that they want to hear right off the top of an issue and never finish reading to the bottom…

            And the professors are as bad if not worse.  They don’t know anything.  Nor do these stupid bastards who are ruining our educational institutions.

           

That much was merely indiscreet.  But then Mitchell blurted out some blood-chilling truths:  “Listen, there is no such thing as the New Left.  This country is going so far to the right you are not even going to recognize it.”[276]  

            That might have been 90 proof bluster.  But on the 18th, one of his chief aides, Assistant Attorney General William Renquist reported a Justice Department finding to the Federal Bar Association which suggested his boss had been quite accurate: government workers did not have the same free speech rights as other Americans.  Federal employees “surrender at least part of their right to free speech when they take a government job.”  The reporter suggested that the opinion was “designed to head off future policy rebellions of the sort that have occasionally embarrassed the administration.”[277]  The foremost of these had been in the Justice Department itself, “where about 50 lawyers conducted a ‘revolt’” against the Nixon policy of retreat on federal desegregation initiatives the preceding year.[278]  Other observers may have been reminded of Pastor Niemoeller’s words about what happens when one group of people lose their rights and the others do nothing.

            With regard to the sum of its actions in these weeks, the administration had started to frighten some people more than any threat of “student radicals”.  That same Friday, the Harris organization reported that his approval rating had dropped below 50%.[279]  Perhaps it was fortunate for him that at this point his attention was diverted from his campaigning.  At 2:00 a.m. on the 17th, Kissinger woke Haldeman with a phone call to tell him “that war had started in Jordan.”[280]

The five days during which White House attention was riveted on the Middle East might have slowed down the exaggerated assault on the report.  But the latest gambit in that series, the mass-mailing of the Hook column with the Nixon letter, was already in the works.  It went out on Friday and the press started covering it on Monday.  That coverage was not always fully informed; the Times, for instance, identified long-time government mole Hook as “an ardent defender of academic freedom”.  Although it admitted that his column was just a rehash of his testimony before the Commission in June, it reprinted extensive quotes from it and the cover letter.  The reporter waited until the last paragraph to reveal that the mailing could just be one in the latest series of presidential ploys “to make his disagreement known in advance of the commission’s final report.”[281]

            At the same time the Harris organization released its update on Nixon’s standing with its respondents.  Only 35% of them believed Nixon “inspires confidence personally in the White House”.  Only 25% and 27% gave him positive ratings in dealing with student and antiwar protestors generally.[282] 

            But the President had long since decided – back when Heard was quoting them – that he didn’t like the Harris results and therefore they didn’t mean anything.  With the Mideast crisis resolved, and only five days until the Scranton report was due to be released, he returned to “the big issue” with an vengeance:

 

Now wants to mail out Hoover’s campus ltr. w/ his cover.  Fascinated by our poll that gives him 64% approval – but shows 47% think he’s not strong enough re students.  Same poll shows 75% think college administrators are too lenient.[283]

 

Haldeman does not indicate what poll he is referring to.  “Hoover’s campus ltr.” was “an open letter to students distributed by United Press International”, which addressed the collegiate population in terms formerly reserved for World War II-era Army training films about how the charms of fallen women lead into the vale of venereal disease (“They’ll encourage you to lose respect for your parents and the older generation.”)[284]

            Also frequently condescending, Spiro Agnew appeared on the David Frost television program to debate five college students.  “Frost said it was arranged because Agnew himself had wanted a confrontation with the students.”  Frost did not say why he had made his program available for the exercise, or who had selected the students.  But they did not include any sharp-witted, articulate activists like Charles Palmer or Mike Alewitz.  (Craig Morgan was present, but only as a member of the audience.)  Agnew’s opponents were led by soft-spoken, occasionally unfocused Eva Jefferson (whom the press continued to identify interchangeably as “Eva Jackson”).  She capped the proceedings with the observation, “I don’t think we can look for any CIAs under the rug” – the exact opposite of what should have been said, and after letting Agnew by with the bald-faced assertion that, for instance, the CIA had never toppled any foreign governments.[285]

            Nor was he challenged when he put forth the false dichotomy between the coldly calculating conspiracy that had led to events like the ROTC fire, as opposed to the spontaneous, honest outrage of working men that had led them to beat peace demonstrators bloody on May 8th.[286]  None of his interlocutors cited widely available eyewitness reports of the “hard hats” attacking with methodical brutality in response to men in suits with two-way radios – or Scanlan’s publication of the memo from his own office on the CIA organization and funding the the “hard hat riot”.  The program was as pallid and one-sided a confrontation as Nixon’s press conference that same “Bloody Friday” and like it reeked more than faintly of a media setup.

            On Tuesday Barry Goldwater – speaking for an extreme right wing of the Party, which had not always been comfortable with Nixon’s internationalist leanings – weighed in on his side and against the report.  Goldwater’s motives were not unmixed; Scranton had led the last-ditch attempt to deny him the 1964 presidential nomination.[287]  In his syndicated column, Goldwater addressed a superfluous plea to Nixon to repudiate the Commission’s report.  Apparently oblivious to the staff’s  attempts to whitewash the investigation on behalf of the White House, he wrote, “Most of the members of the staff are not only liberal Democrats, but have been active in partisan politics on behalf of opponents of Nixon Republicans.”[288]

            The President was way ahead of him.  Even as the Goldwater column appeared, he emerged from a three-hour meeting with Hoover, Mitchell, and top Congressional Republicans to announce a major policy reversal.  He had previously opposed federal intervention in campus disorders, maintaining that they should be handled by (reliably reactionary) local officials.  This doctrine was a logical corollary of his desire to keep federal agencies out of the fight to desegregate schools in the South.   And, under existing federal law, those agencies could only enter onto a campus when requested to do so.   Now Nixon wanted to send in the feds right away.  “The new proposal would allow Federal agents to intervene even if specifically not to.”[289]  The new authority would apply to any institution receiving federal aid.  “Since nearly all do receive aid in some form… the measure would apply almost nationwide.”[290]  (In making the announcement, Ron Ziegler extended himself to emphasize that the President had not consulted his own Commission on Campus Unrest before arriving at the decision.)

            Once again, the move lacked any quantum of subtlety.

 

[M]any people here have been wondering what the President is up to, and one answer frequently advanced is that he is trying desperately to blunt the impact of the report     of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest, which is expected to be released this weekend.

…it is probably not without some symbolic significance that when the Scranton Commission’s report is made public, Mr. Nixon will be on his way to Europe.[291]

 

            The President made it plain where he would turn for troops to spearhead this federal invasion of Academe: his request to Congress included funds to hire and train 1,000 additional FBI agents.  “[T]he President’s appeal can only have the effect of seeming to threaten Federal police rule over the campuses.”[292]  The timing was not propitious.  A week before, two ACLU attorneys had unmasked another FBI “student”, whom they accused of inciting and committing acts of violence during demonstrations at the University of Alabama.[293]  And a book scheduled to come out on Friday revealed that FBI agents had lied about being present at, and the gunfire from the vicinity of student demonstrators during, and the role of one of the victims in a demonstration at Orangeburg, S.C., in 1968 in which thirty black students had been shot.[294] 

            Perhaps no one even in his party could have predicted Nixon’s next move.  Four of his corporate intimates bought prime time television slots in nine cities for an estimated $40-45,000, to run a “public service” announcement – which consisted of most of his Kansas State speech liberally intercut with shots of the hecklers in the top row.  The deal was brokered by J. Walter Thompson, the ad firm that had employed Haldeman for twenty years.  The bankrollers included Hobart Lewis (editor-in-chief of the Reader’s Digest – “the moving spirit of the plan”), Donald Kendall (PepsiCo, Inc., which had given Nixon’s hapless brother Donald a job), Elmer Bobst (Warner-Lambert pharmaceuticals), and Chicago insurance and publishing mogul W. Clement Stone.  (Press accounts failed to mention that Lewis had also commissioned James Michener’s sprawling, fantastic account of Kent State, which blamed everything on gullible students manipulated by “radical outside agitators”, and had also helped concoct the President’s “Stand Up For America” Fourth of July celebration.)  The ad agency had also tried and failed to buy time in an additional four cities.  Most of the thirteen target cities were in states where close gubernatorial and/or Senate races would be decided on November 4th.  A senior executive of the ad agency denied that the haste with which the program was slapped together and scheduled had anything to do with the release of the report.  “I don’t know anything about the Scranton Commission report.”  (Hobart Lewis declined to be interviewed.)[295]

            With two days left, everyone moved to get in a last word.  At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Governor Scranton finally responded to the ceaseless attacks on the panel that bore his name.  He warned that “playing politics with the problems is to guarantee further alienation and radicalization of young people”.  He blamed Senators Allott and Goldwater by name, but still refused to accuse Nixon and Agnew.  (“Asked if he included Vice President Agnew in his strictures, Scranton said he knew of no criticism of the commission by the Vice President.”[!])[296]  He added that he didn’t want to provoke controversy with either man, because he hoped that they would read the report “in an atmosphere free of name-calling and recrimination.”  He wanted everyone to read the report before criticizing it.  “I would suggest that the critics stop building straw issues and knocking them down.”[297]

            “Commission sources” told the Akron Beacon-Journal  that the investigation had found no evidence of any national conspiracy behind the disorders in the spring.[298]  Spiro Agnew delivered “what sounded more like a sermon than a political speech” to Milwaukee Republicans, on the role of permissiveness in campus protests and the need for “sensible authority” to govern Americans for their own good.  He singled out the teachings of widely-published pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock as having undermined a whole generation.  (“Who is to blame, months or years later, when that student participates in the burning of an ROTC building – or worse?”)[299]  The Young Americans for Freedom echoed the refrain with a report condemning “permissiveness”, which was but a preamble for denouncing the Scranton report as “little more than a rehashing of myths and propaganda claims.”  And two emissaries from the American Council on Education called on the White House to “correct the misimpression that has been bandied about” that indecisive college presidents were to blame for the protests.[300]

            As everyone rushed to get a last word in, the President and his men awaited the report like deer caught in the headlights.  “Still have to figure how to handle Scranton Comm. report due Sat.  Prob. is to get it out of the way w/ the least notice.  P. won’t see the comm.. & Scranton insists he do.”[301]  “Decided to see Scranton Comm. tomorrow & try to get it all over with as fast as possible.”[302] 

 

            The Commission had drawn into itself after the Kent State hearings to prepare the report that was now awaiting like one of the plagues of Egypt.  It was working through its last inner struggle, waged over the drafting of the document, and that was a quiet one, which gave no outward sign of its implacable nature.

            An early but crucial byproduct of that struggle was the unmasking of Charles Stine.  All of the omissions and mutilations of the audiovisual evidence might have been ascribed to bad luck or fundamental incompetence.  But Stine’s comments on the drafting of the report placed him squarely within the Hoover school of thought on the campus crisis – that it was all the doing of an SDS conspiracy, and that the SDS was only another Marxist front – to which not even William Sullivan subscribed:

 

                        (From Page 4, 1st Paragraph):

                        There is no mention anywhere in the report about the admitted radical nature of the SDS, nor the SDS identification with riots elsewhere, such as Columbia…  Too many people are awaiting the Commission expression on the SDS and its involvement in so many incidents.  There already exists public knowledge of the SDS as an admitted group of radicals.  The FBI stands ready to fill in the cracks about the SDS if we fail to meet it head on.

                        (Paragraph 2 et. seq.):

                        …In its present form the proposed report does not characterize the SDS or give its history.  FBI reports include identification of SDS with adherence to Marxist-Leninist linesand to ties with the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) which espouses the Chinese Communist       line.

The proposed report treats the SDS as just another campus organization…The proposed report ignores too much.  Local press had linked CCC leaders with the   SDS, had printed side-by-side the SDS handbook for the unification of radicals and the actions taken by CCC as dictated by the SDS.

It is important to resolve whether or not thses [sic] paragrapghs [sic] stay in the report.  If they do, then it is imperative that the total CCC-SDS relationship be presented.[303]

 

            (The FBI’s own COINTELPRO files indicate that SDS was dead on the Kent State campus as of April 1969.  The FBI report on Kent State indicates that the group had no causative relationship with the events of May 1-4, 1970., and this is corroborated by the interviews done by the Kent State Team investigators.)

            The Commissioners might have been astounded to learn that Stine did not consider the draft report far enough to the right.  As fast as they received sections of the draft from Byrne, they assessed them as unsatisfactory and returned them covered with exceptions, annotations, and corrections.  Byrne merely held them for a few days, then had them retyped and sent again “without a comma changed” from the originals, according to Joe Rhodes.  Jim Ahern actually verged on exchanging blows with Byrne over the latter’s refusals to change the drafts.  (Ahern was particularly incensed over Byrne’s single “liberal” recommendation, that no police should ever come onto a campus again – a stricture so sweeping and unworkable that the police chief realized it had been inserted to provide a straw man for the administration to knock down.)

            Rhodes “went through the roof” when he got his copy of the complete, final draft.  There was no significant difference between it and the drafts Byrne had circulated back in June.  Certainly the conclusion was identical: there didn’t seem to be any reason for campus unrest, certainly none related to issues of national policy.  The innuendo buried in the murky prose was that the demonstrators were just acting out their personal problems.  Rhodes sensed that he was caught.  He couldn’t force Byrne to write a decent report.  His only alternative would be to walk off the Commission and write his own separate document.   But given the months of attacks on him by Agnew and other Republican leaders, those who wished to could dismiss such a solitary testament easily.  Besides, any such solo effort would have to be heavily documented to be credible – by the reports of his own Seminar.  And all of these, save for the Isla Vista report, had disappeared into the Commission’s Washington office never to be seen again.  The report on Kent State, on which he had based his 146 questions, was among them.

            Then he had to stay on the Commission and fight for an honest report.  But if he were to do this, it was time to disband the Seminar and let its members get on with their own lives.  The brutal aspect of this was that he felt he could not explain the whole story to them.  The word was out that Ehrlichman was in fresh, this time possibly terminal, trouble at the White House.  Should Rhodes reveal the whole story and a word of it got out, it might be the coup de grace for the man who had put him on the Commission.  So the Seminarians were told, thank you, and that it was time to go back to school.  Many of them never forgave Rhodes.  To their field general China Altman, it seemed “the end of a dream”.

            Rhodes took new resolve from draining these ashes and returned to Washington from Harvard with newly steeled resolve to confront Byrne.  He carried with him a secret weapon: a Green Lantern comic book.  In it, the Green Lantern and the Green Arrow had a dialogue on the causes of urban crime which, Rhodes realized, was more cogent than anything in Byrne’s drafts.  And that was how he put it when the Commissioners reassembled.  Standing up at their table, he brandished his pop art manifesto and asked Byrne, “You see this comic book?  This comic book has more to say for America today than the report you drafted.  I’d rather sign this comic book as our Report than sign your draft.”

            The plop as he dropped the comic book onto the table was the only sound in the room for long seconds.  Then Scranton said quietly, “I think we should recess.”  In the hall, he added to Rhodes, “Joe, I think you’re right.”  One by one the other Commissioners indicated they were with him; this time it was unanimous.  When the meeting reconvened, they decided that the report would have to be completely rewritten – by someone from the outside.  Rhodes had someone in mind, recalled from the last day of the Washington hearings; he called Kenneth Kenniston at Yale.

            It would have been disloyal of Byrne not to have reported this disastrous reverse back to the White House.  If he did, that would explain Nixon’s suddenly frantic attempts to repudiate the report in advance just before its release.

 

            And yet, called into the breach at this most critical moment, Kenniston fell short.  Perhaps too much was asked of him; perhaps the depth of the chasm sundering his country intimidated him.  But his report went to every length to spread the blame for the national crisis around evenly, and herein lay its great flaw.  In addition, there was the way it was issued, which became the subject of sardonic commentary by I.F. Stone: the main report first and special sections on Kent State and Jackson State days afterward:

 

…it chose to issue its findings on these in two separate reports released days after its main report.  These two sections were released separately and without televised briefings.  Governor Scranton and his colleagues could have put on the nation’s television screens their conclusions that the killings on both campuses were unjustified and unnecessary.  They chose instead to televise the safe and even-handed generalities of their main recommendations, and left town before the other reports were issued.  Apparently all the advance criticism orchestrated by the White House and Agnew made them afraid of

            becoming too controversial.[304]

 

            There was nothing to be criticized in the report’s tone of urgency:

 

The crisis on American campuses has no parallel in the history of the nation.  This crisis has roots in divisions of American society as deep as any since the Civil War…

We believe it urgent that Americans of all convictions draw back from the brink… If this trend continues, if this crisis of understanding endures, the very survival of the nation will be threatened.[305]

 

But then the process of emasculation begins, in the form of a perverse attempt to spread the blame for the crisis evenly, whether the facts warranted it or not.  If the report is skewed in any direction, it is in ascribing the greater fault to the students.

 

There can be no more “trashing”, no more rock-throwing, no more arson, no more no more bombing by protestors.  No grievance, philosophy or political idea can justify the destruction and killings we have witnessed.  There can be no sanctuary or immunity from prosecution on the campus.  If our society is to survive, criminal acts by students must be treated as such wherever they occur and whatever their purpose…

But among the members of this new student culture, there is a growing lack of tolerance, a growing insistence that their own views must govern, an impatience with the slow procedures of liberal democracy, a growing denial of the humanity and good will of those who urge patience and restraint, and particularly of those whose duty it is to enforce the law…

A nation whose young have become intolerant of diversity, intolerant of the rest of its citizenry, and intolerant of all the traditional values simply because they are traditional has no generation worthy or capable of assuming leadership in the years to come.

 

            The first paragraph veers in the direction of equating damage to property by students with the official taking of their lives.  The idea that there had ever been any “sanctuary or immunity from prosecution on campus” was sheer fantasy, as the deliberations of the Ohio grand jury going on even then – which would indict twenty-five students, non-student youths, and faculty, and none of the Guardsmen for Kent State – proved all too readily.  That those local officials would prosecute those defendants for offenses like “second-degree riot” and “interfering with a fireman” while letting the militia murderers go free was proof that “criminal acts by students” were not only treated as such but like any such acts alleged of history’s scapegoats were punished with grotesque severity.

            The next two paragraphs, with their blanket condemnation of the next generation, involve Kenniston in repudiating his own testimony before the Commission.  In particular he forgot his findings about the protestors not seeking to overturn, but reasserting the values of their parents and, incidentally, American traditions like freedom of speech.   And the third paragraph flatly refutes his assessment of it as the most worthy and promising generation America had yet produced.  One searches his prose in vain for counter-balancing speculating about whether the National Guard had become a goon squad for local right-wing politicians, or the police more frequently were themselves acting in a lawless manner – or whether, in invading a neutral country without a declaration of war and inciting the murders of those who protested the act, the President had not become the most lawless official of all.

            Rhodes has not indicated in his journals (nor in any of the interviews with me) whether Kenniston also had a hand in writing the special reports on Kent State and Jackson State.  In his defense, it seems unlikely that he could have encompassed these additional tasks in the time he had.  This raises the possibility that they were left exactly the way Byrne and his assistants wanted them.  And the Kent State report’s paragraph on the actual shootings is so distorted and misleading that it could have been transcribed from McIntyre’s and Strazzella’s narration of the vuegraph and film showings at the hearings:

 

Movie film and testimony indicate that as guardsmen reached the top of the hill, some students surged from the east face of Taylor Hall and the southern end of the parking lot up toward the guardsmen on Blanket Hill.  The film is too indistinct to tell how manyof the students involved were throwing rocks.  The leading edge of this crowd appears to have advanced to a point no closer than 20 yards from the guardsmen, with the main body

            60 to 75 yards away, before the gunfire began and they reversed their direction.

 

None of the students had “surged” toward the Guard before it fired.  The “leading edge” of the “crowd” was Joseph Lewis, Jr., who was standing still, by himself.  Almost all of the students who were shot were between 75 and 100 yards from the soldiers.  They were huddling on the ground or running away, except for those like Jeffrey Miller who were facing them, standing still, or like Allison Krause, trying to take cover behind some object.

            The most blatant falsehood is reserved for the conclusion:

 

The conduct of many student and nonstudent protestors at Kent State on the first four days of May, 1970 was plainly intolerable…  Those who wrought havoc on the town of Kent, those who burned the ROTC building, those who attacked and stoned National Guardsmen, and all those who urged them on and applauded their deeds share the responsibility for the deaths and injuries on May 4th

 

Those who “wrought havoc on the town of Kent” on May Day eve were members of an anonymous crowd consisting of Kent State students, primarily blue-collar nonstudent youth (including high school students and dropouts), members of a motorcycle gang, and some short-haired, “straight”-looking men witnesses saw inciting violence in the vicinity of the bonfire.  KSU students like Allison Krause and her boyfriend who were caught up in it quit the scene as soon as they could; the only real campus activists on North Water Street, Steve Sharoff and “Rick” Erickson, left even faster.  “Those who burned the ROTC building” are unidentified to this day, but in terms of motive and certainly in terms of opportunity had to be government agents.  Those who “stoned” the National Guard did so with missiles too small and from distances too great to cause them serious injury.  And except for verbal abuse, those stones were the only “attack” that the students made on the Guard.

            The next paragraph would be quoted forever after as “proof” that the Scranton Commission was “straight”:

 

The actions of some students were violent and criminal and those of some others were dangerous, reckless, and irresponsible.  The indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowdof students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.

 

The differential weighting of these two sets of adjectives summarizes the essential imbalance of the whole report.  The vivid contrast between highly charged words like “violent and criminal…dangerous and reckless” and drawing-room modifiers like “unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable” lodges the weight of blame, again, with the students.   The phrase “indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students” is an upending of the reality of highly accurate aimed fire cutting down individual human targets – most of them belonging to the isolated band of a dozen hecklers who had been harassing the Guard for twenty minutes before the volley – at considerable ranges.  Nor does it square with the naked fact that not a single shot was fired in the direction of the only crowd on the scene, gathered on and around the Taylor Hall verandah.

            Perhaps no one responded better than the editorial cartoonish of the Milwaukee Journal, who depicted two students standing by four graves, one of them holding a copy of the Commission report.  He is saying, “In here it’s called ‘unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.  In my law book it’s called second degree murder.”[306]

            No one assessed Kenniston’s performance with more merciless accuracy than that most qualified of critics, China Altman:

 

…we saw him as a halfway man, trying to keep one foot in the establishment and one in the counterculture, working for the appeasement of both sides.  This was his role and he did it very thoroughly and very skillfully.  But it left a bad taste in the mouth…  We knew that it was a highly political things that Kenniston did and that it failed, from our point of view, in courage – because it did not go farther with the truth and that it hedged so many

            things.[307]

 

That Richard Nixon feared and came to detest the report he wrote said more about Nixon than it did about the report.

 

            On Saturday October 26th, Governor Scranton made the symbolic pilgrimage to the White House for the presentation of the report, in a moment which after all the preliminary furor could have only seem anti-climax.   As Haldeman put it, “P. rec’d the Scranton report – we all did our little projects to discredit it & that is now underway – after all the agonizing re how to handle it.”[308]  The President had not for months had the least intention of following its recommendations, especially those which suggested he bore some responsibility for the crisis.  The most urgent of these, that he use the prestige of his office to call on all parties to restrain their violent rhetoric, ran directly counter to his campaign strategy.  “At a White House press conference seemingly designed to refute the report in advance,” Commission liaison Robert Finch protested that the president was “hardly in a position to dictate to governors and other candidates what they should do or say.”

            Governor Scranton, his capacity for diplomatic equivocation apparently wearing thin, told reporters that Nixon had given him no indication that he intended to follow through on the recommendations.  “Scranton indicated he did not believe that President Nixon or his advisors understood the campus situation, nor had the President exerted proper leadership since last spring’s killings at Kent State.”[309]  In an isolated, back-handed word of appreciation to the Commissioners, the President said he was glad the report was controversial; “We don’t want a bunch of intellectual eunuchs around here.”[310]  Of course nothing could have been further from the truth.  On the plane to Europe the next day, he verified his contempt for the Commission and its report:

 

Mostly discussed Scranton & politics & PR & speechwriting.  The standard subjects.  Really wants to be sure we play the Scranton report right – hang it on Demos – let them call for permissiveness w/ students – as the report does – and get themselves thereby back on the  wrong side of the issue.  Wants Colson to take charge of the attack & not let up.[311]

           

It was not until mid-October that the press revealed that the President was so infuriated with the report that he didn’t want to meet with Scranton as he had promised he would after his return.[312]

            As Nixon winged his way to Rome that Sunday, Joe Rhodes and Jim Ahern appeared on the “Meet the Press” television program to give the nation a “sneak preview” of the still-unreleased reports on Kent State and Jackson State: the shootings on both campuses had been completely unjustified.[313]   Moderator Lawrence Spivak asked Rhodes what would happen if the President failed to act on the recommendations in the report.  Rhodes replied, “He would in effect consign many young Americans to a violent death.”[314]  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER SIX: The Failing Light of Autumn.

 

            Joe Rhodes was wrong.  Nixon flouted the recommendations of the Commission, and yet there were no deaths in protests that fall, or ever again.  The message was as clear as the scenario had intended it.  If you protested, you could be killed, no questions asked (or none that counted).  You didn’t even have to be protesting.  You could be standing there watching, like Bill Schroeder, or walking through the area, like Sandra Scheuer.  They would get away with it.

            The day after Rhodes made his grim prediction, there was a convocation on the Commons.  The Victory Bell was tolled four times.  President Robert White made a speech.  The longer he talked, the harder it rained.  Then the students dispersed to go to their first classes of the new quarter.  Something had been added to the curriculum:

 

Many teachers began their classes today with talks on the deaths of the students,instructions about new security and emergency procedures, and warnings about the effect of a stiff new law passed by the Ohio legislature this summer that, among other things, makes‘campus disruption’ a crime.[315]

 

The university had if anything accelerated the process of planting informers and amassing dossiers. 

 

                        All visitors at night must register.  All students must carry the elaborate new identification card…

            Demonstrations must be registered 24 hours in advance.  They are prohibited on the Commons, scene of the fatal encounter last spring with the National Guard, and must not block other University activities.

                        The provisions, the first such in the school’s 60-year history, also allow immediate suspension of any student or teacher suspected of violations.[316]

 

That evening six thousand students crowded into a memorial service at the gym, listening to speeches and folk protest songs, themselves singing repeated choruses of “All we are saying is, give peace a chance”.   Then Vietnam combat veteran Timothy Butz, one of the organizers of the May Day rally on the Commons, lit a candle given him in Saigon by the head of the Buddhist Student Union.  He lit candles for the other students from it as they came forward, and they lit still more.  Finally they filed out of the gym into the rain-swept darkness to the slope where the twelve had been shot down and, somehow keeping their candles alight in the chilly rain, used them to burn their draft cards.

 

Then, as they left, many placed the still-burning candles in the crevices of a cast-iron abstract sculpture that still bears a .30-caliber bullet hole, or under a wood pagoda just behind the spot where the Guard had fired.[317]

 

Those spots shone in the darkness as monuments to one of the lasting victories of the now-defunct student movement: never again would Americans be conscripted to serve in the imperial wars.  As always throughout history, that mission would be assumed by mercenaries.

            The day Kent State opened, Spiro Agnew began the post-publication phase of the presidential assault on the report with a speech in Sioux Falls, S.D.  He continued to belabor the Republicans’ latest buzzword by labeling it “more Pablum for permissiveness”:

 

The Commission tells us that many students believe ours is a corrupt repressive society engaged in an immoral war – but the Commission could not muster the courage to declare the utter falsehood of that charge.  And the Commission lacked the moral vision to condemn that intellectual elite whose attacks on our institutions and society as racist and repressive have led students into believing this nonsense.

                        With its call for a cease-fire, the Commission assumes a posture of neutrality as between the fireman and the arsonist.[318]

 

Describing the report as “imprecise, contradictory, and equivocal”, he affected outrage that the writers should suggest the President bore any blame for the crisis or responsibility for resolving it; this was “scapegoating of the most irresponsible sort”.  After all, he added, President had only been in office “20 months”.  Throughout he referred to it as the “Scranton Commission”.  “Not once did he call it by its official name, the Presidential [sic] Commission on Campus Unrest, which indicates that its members were appointed by Mr. Nixon.”[319]  Joe Rhodes replied that it was “regrettable that Vice President Agnew would attempt to limit the President’s options by publicly condemning the Report while the President is out of the country”,[320] but in comparative terms, no one noticed.

            Agnew’s diatribe unleashed a fresh wave of attacks on the right.  The same day, 66 members of the House, Republicans and “five Democrats from Southern and border states”, sent an open letter to Nixon (who was still in Europe) commiserating with him because the Commission had not recognized his efforts to allay the campus crisis.  Barry Goldwater, Jr. charged it had placed “the monkey on the wrong back”; William Scherle (R. Iowa) reiterated that the disruptions were all the fault of “spineless college administrators”, adding that “kids crave for [sic] discipline”.  Barry Goldwater Sr. denied the representatives were merely Nixon surrogates; “this was not something cooked up by the White House.”  Even Matt Byrne was stung into a something like a defense: “I would urge that all concerned would withhold their judgement until they actually read the report.”[321]  Marquis Childs suggested that the Goldwaters’ vendetta against the Commission really owed to the fact that Scranton had dared to hire John Van de Kamp, who had dared to oppose the son for the House seat in Orange County, California, “where the militant right, with a large infusion of Birchites, insured Goldwater’s election.”[322]

            Next the College Republican National Committee announced that it was forming its own commission on campus unrest.  “The three reports released thus far by the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest have served to obfuscate rather than define the causes of disruption on campus.”[323]  Scherle embellished the criticisms from a fiscal angle: the commission was a “boondoggle… a distinctly biased and distorted one.  It spend money like a spendthrift and its so-called report is in keeping with that extravagant attitude toward the taxpayer.”[324]

            The Student Financial Aid Division at H.E.W. announced that it was terminating assistance to 440 students who had participated in demonstrations.  Rep. Edith Green charged that this was nowhere near enough, and that the universities must be “disregarding the law” by not reporting all of them.[325]

            By now the Education Commission of the States had completed a survey that indicated that, in addition to the Draconian laws passed that summer, twenty-two states were now drafting “even tougher measures”.  Oklahoma was in the lead; there any person assembling on campus for the purpose of “rioting” with four or more others, or remaining in a place after being told to disperse, faced imprisonment for five years, or a fine of $ 15,000, or both.  The Commission’s executive director predicted a new round of repressive law-making would begin after the first of the year.[326]  The Reverend Theodore Hesburg told the faculty of Notre Dame that

 

almost every state in the Union has considered in its legislature some punitive legislation against faculty and students – about half of which has been enacted into law. Trustees and Governors have practically forced the resignation of a number of presidents,for instance in Texas, Oklahoma, and California.  Feeling is running high against many visible universities and the witch hunters are out and at work.[327]

 

            The students had no ally left, covert or otherwise, in the Executive Branch.  John Ehrlichman was once again in a state of disgrace.  During the middle two weeks of October – ostracized by the inner circle, shunned by the President, unable even to get his memos answered – he daily had to consider whether to resign.  Then he sent the President a memo commenting on a column by Phillips, which took the form of a series of domestic policy recommendations.   It included:

 

                        Paragraph 4.   Scranton Commission.

                        RECOMMENDATION:  That you refer to the Report in a campaign speech, say you’ve read it and had it analyzed.  Quote a couple of passages critical of students and administrators “that everyone will agree with”.  Finesse the question of blame because indictments are now outstanding in Ohio…

 

            Then never comment on the report again and don’t see Scranton again.[328]

 

Nixon liked it.  It fit his thinking and his attitude toward the Commission.  Suddenly Ehrlichman was restored to favor, and free to join his comrades on the road to disgrace and prison.

            Nor was there help in Academe in the halls of elected officials.  “Local developments in large states like California, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois tend to confirm the thesis that liberalism is on the wane within the Republican Party.”[329]  From the far right perspective of columnist Joseph Alsop, it was a “scramble to the center,”[330] with formerly progressive Democrats renouncing their former words and beliefs with the fervor of recanting heretic Ehrlichman – defensive at their boldest, frantically disassociating themselves with the “radicals”.[331]

            Dead in the middle of the last month of the campaign,

 

Big excitement this aft. as Kent State grand jury indicted 25 students & no nat’l guard.   Totally refutes Scranton conclusion.  P. comes up w/ all kinds of ideas for follow-thru – w/ candidates, etc.  New way to attack those who took students’ side, etc…

                        I just hope we’ve taken the right course cause he’s really committed now.[332]

 

Everything that had happened on the Kent State campus, the grand jurors had decided, was the fault of “weak” college administrators who had not been tough enough on “radical” faculty and students.  Their report lamented that there had been too much challenging of traditional values, too much criticism of existing institutions, in Academe.  Worst of all, its tone implied, some of the students had used four-letter words.  There was not a syllable of condemnation regarding the taking of human life, let alone the lives of citizens freely assembled.

            Haldeman’s  misgivings were as justified as Nixon’s elation was not.  The grand jury findings elicited revulsion in many ordinary citizens and a number of commentators.  Again, some of the most succinct of those commentaries came from the editorial cartoonists.  John Fischetti, in the Chicago Daily News, showed the grand jurors wearing dark glasses, standing beside four graves, reading their report: “We find that the students did attack National Guard bullets with their bodies…”  Bill Mauldin’s, in the same city’s Sun-Times,  had them pinning medals on the Guardsmen and reading the citations: “For conspicuous gallantry in the fact of four-letter words…”  (Mauldin, whose World War II “Willie and Joe” cartoons had brought the world of the front-line GI  back to the home front, had never been disposed to defend the excesses of the militia.  Immediately after the May 4th killings, his cartoon was eloquently unadorned: an American flag disfigured by a splotch of blood.)

            Nixon seemed to be unaware that the grand jury findings were not universally well-received.  As far as he was concerned, the people – “real Americans” – had spoken:

 

The campaign begins.  Before we set out P had me in to make sure we were not letting anyone get out of line re the Kent State grand jury report.  He wants to be sure we Keep that issue our way & the report works for us ideally – unless the AG decides to override it some way.  Justice had threatened Fed grand jury if the State jury didn’t indict the nat’l guard.  I called Kldst [Kleindeinst] several times to be sure this was locked up --  he says it is.[333]

 

 

Nixon was so nervous about this he finally committed the instruction to paper a month later – after the election – in an “Eyes Only” memorandum to Mitchell emphasizing his determination that there would be no federal grand jury empaneled in the Kent State case.  Unfortunately for the general understanding of events, it was eight years before a copy of the memorandum could be surfaced by an investigative reporter.[334]

            In the furor over the grand jury report, scarcely anyone noticed, buried amid its pages of government-nurtured distortion and lower middle class prudery, a single perceptive statement:

 

It is obvious that the burning of the ROTC building could have been prevented with the manpower then available.  If the burning had been prevented, it is reasonable to believe that the events which followed on May 3 and 4 would not have occurred.[335]

 

                       

Given its general orientation, it would be unrealistic to expect the grand jury to pursue that point to its logical next questions: if the police were present in such numbers, as they were, why didn’t they prevent the fire?  Were they in control of the area when the building was burned?  Were the students still in the area when it was?  If they didn’t burn the building, who did? and why?  Five and six years before the widespread revelations of the outlawry of the intelligence community, perhaps the American people were simply not ready to believe what was possible.

 

            Taking his false cue from the Ohio grand jury, the President criss-crossed the country, hoping his presence would inspire the voters to give the Republicans decisive superiority in the Congress and the statehouses.  Some of the candidates soon wished he would not “help”.  He campaigned with “all the subtlety and grace and finesse of a man running for sheriff in Mississippi; he had appeared at that time very unpresidential, the darkness and hostility had come exploding out of him, and he had seemed unworthy of his office.”[336]  When the polls closed on November 4th, the results were, to put it mildly, disappointing to the Republicans, and largely because of his participation.

            But no one who knew him expected him to blame himself.  He decided that the election had been a victory, but the media had distorted the results.  “Obvious we’re up against a conspiracy in the press.”[337]  He was even less disposed to reconsider his tactics.  He had by now abandoned his attempts, early in his first administration, to put the “old Nixon” behind him.  If the results of the 1970 election had fallen short of his wishes, what was needed for his re-election campaign in 1972 was more dirty money, more dirty tricks, more fear-mongering and character assassination.  And so Richard Nixon moved inexorably toward the unique place he would come to occupy in American political history.

            Once the Scranton Commission had served its purpose as he saw it, he consigned it to oblivion.  In his voluminous Memoirs, published eight years later, there is not a single reference to the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest, the topic that obsessed him throughout the latter half of 1970.  His largely credulous biographers have treated the Commission the same way.  Its godfather John Ehrlichman never mentioned it or the behind-the-scenes intrigue which almost cost him his position several times, save for the two passages in his memoirs cited here.  If anyone remembers the eight citizens who were called to serve and who put their personal integrity on the line against the whole weight of a rogue government, it is only in terms of the pallid ghost-written condemnation of the terroristic political murders committed on May 4, 1970 put in their mouths: “unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable”.  And to this day, only they know that they were true to themselves and their countrymen, when most of those countrymen took refuge in their willful ignorance, prejudices, and fears.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

                       

 

 

                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                               

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

           

 

 

                        

                                           



[1]  Richard Nixon, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon.  (New York; Grosset & Dunlap, 1978), pp. 456-457.

[2]  National Archives/Nixon Presidential Materials Project (NPM); White House Special Files; Staff Member and Office Files; H.R. Haldeman’s longhand journals; Vol. V, April 17 – July 22, 1980; May 4, 1970, p. 35.  Abbreviated below as Haldeman (J).  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[3]   “Kent State University”, in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Vol. 6, No. 19, May 11, 1970.  (Washington, D.C.; U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970), p. 613.

[4]   Dan Rather and Larry P. Gates, The Palace Guard.  (New York; Warner Paperback Library, 1975), p. 216.

[5]  National Archives/NPM, Box 41; Folder: April – May 1970; Haldeman’s  notes, May 4, 1970, “[End] 1640” (i.e., military time for 4:40 p.m.).   Abbreviated below as Haldeman(N).

[6]  Robert Semple, Jr., “Nixon Says Violence Invites Tragedy,” New York Times,  May 5, 1970, p. 17.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[7]  William Safire, Before the Fall: An Inside View of the pre-Watergate White House.  (Garden City; Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1975), p. 191.

[8]   Don Oberdorfer, “Pleas From Kin Shake Nixon Team,” Washington Post, May 15, 1970.

[9]  Passages in this narrative that deal with Rhodes’ involvement in these events that are not otherwise referenced are based on his personal diaries for the spring and summer of 1970, loaned to me on July 2, 1978, augmented by a series of personal and telephone interviews.

[10]  Rowland Evan Jr. and Robert D. Novak, Nixon in the White House: The Frustrations of Power.  (New York; Random House, 1971), p. 277.

[11]   John Kifner, “4 Kent State Students Killed by Troops,” New York Times, May 5, 1970, front page and p. 17.

[12]   Haldeman (J), May 5, 1970, p. 37.

[13]   John Ehrlichman, interviewed by Herbert Parmet for Richard Nixon and His America.  (Boston; Little, Brown & Co., 1990), p. 6.

[14]   Haldeman (J), May 6, 1970.  Most of the quoted entry does not appear in the published Haldeman Diaries, and this is true of almost all the crucial passages, in this subject area in particular.   Haldeman was not even able to look at copies of his own notes and journals in the National Archives until they had been sanitized by the National Security Council, and he may have also exercised some of his own censorship rather than reveal some of the more inhuman dimensions of the administration.

[15]   Haldeman (N), May 6, 1970.   Haldeman made these notes on a legal pad throughout the day; there are no page numbers.

[16]   National Archives; 220-CU-MF (Records of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest: Main File), Box 1, Office Files of the Chairman; Folder: “Confidential”, memorandum, Jerris Leonard to John Ehrlichman,: “Re Kent State University”, May 7, 1970.   The University Archives also has a copy in its May 4th collection of Justice Department documents.

[17]   Peter Davies, The Truth About Kent State: The Challenge to the American Conscience.  (New York; Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1973), p. 3; also, “Agnew: Guard Overreacted”, New York Times, May 8, 1970, p. 17.

[18]   Admiral Thomas Moorer, interviewed by Thomas Wells for The War Within: America’s Battle Over Vietnam.  (Berkeley; University of California Press, 1994), pp. 431-32.

[19]   Herb Klein, Making It Perfectly Clear.  (Garden City; Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1980), p. 342.

[20]   Haldeman (J), May 8, 1970, p. 43.  EMPHASIS IN ORIGINAL.

[21]   Haldeman (N), May 8, 1970.

[22]   Hedrick Smith, “Viewpoint: When the President Meets the Press,” Atlantic magazine, August 1970, p. 65.

[23]  “The Rebellion of the Campus,” Newsweek, May 18, 1970, p. 29.

[24]   Haldeman (J), May 9, 1970, p. 45.

[25]   Bruce Oudes, From the President: Richard Nixon’s Secret File.  (New York; Harper & Row, 1989), pp. 127 et. seq.

[26]   Joan Pelletier, interviewed by John Morthland for “Nixon in Public; He Was Mumbling At His Feet”, Rolling Stone, June 11, 1970; reprinted in Rolling Stone (eds.), The Age of Paranoia (New York; Pocket Books [PB], 1972), pp. 314-315.

[27]   “Gallup Poll Finds 57% Support President on Cambodian Policy,” New York Times, May 10, 1970, p. 20.

[28]   Haldeman (J), May 12, 1970, p. 51.  EMPHASIS ADDED.  (Who “snookered” Nixon – Ehrlichman?)

[29]   Ibid., May 14, 1970, p. 55.

[30]   Charles A. Colson, Born Again. (Old Tappan, N.J.; Chosen Books/Fleming H. Revell Co., 1976), p. 38.

[31]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 4, Folder “C”, letter, John Ehrlichman to Bernard Segal, May 20, 1970; see also, John Ehrlichman, Witness to Power: The Nixon Years.  (New York; Simon & Schuster, 1982), P. 149.  Readers expecting blinding revelations from this book may be disappointed, particularly in this subject area.  It is a very guarded narrative, frequently as remarkable for what it leaves unsaid.

[32]   Ibid., Box 3, memorandum, John Ehrlichman to William Scranton, Attachment 1: synopsis of Nixon’s meeting with the Board of the American Bar Association, May 21, 1970.  Although the ABA maintains minutes of all its Board meetings, I was told that these minutes were “missing”.

[33]   Joseph Rhodes, Jr., “Students Seen as Scapegoats”, New York Times, October 8, 1970.

 

[34]   Marjorie Hunter, “President to Name a Panel to Study Kent State Deaths”, New York Times, (front page), May 25, 1970.

[35]   Morton Halperin, Jerry Berman, Robert Borosage, and Christine Marwick, The Lawless State: The Crimes of the US Intelligence Agencies.  (New York; Penguin Books, 1976), p. 166.

[36]   “Increasing Campus Unrest Feared by Educator: Improved Communications Urged,”  Washington Post, June 1, 1970, p. A20.

[37]   Haldeman (N), June 2, 1970, “1445 – phone EOB”.

[38]   David C. Anderson, “Is The U.S. Losing Moral Credibility?” Wall Street Journal, p. 10.

[39]   “Ohio House Passes Stiff Riot Bill,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 3, 1970; see also editorial, “Stop This Harsh Campus Bill”.  Many of the articles cited here were clipped for the Scranton Commission by the Press Intelligence Service, and can be found in the 220-CU-MF files.  Sometimes, however, the page number has been cropped off the page.

[40]   Haldeman (J), June 8, 1970, p. 87.

[41]   Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover. (New York; W.W. Norton, 1991), p. 653.  Hardly the arch-civil libertarian, Hoover resisted this initiative – called the “Huston Plan”, for its White House liaison officer – so successfully that it had to be abandoned, because he was afraid participation would tarnish the image of the FBI.

[42]   Haldeman (N), June 5, 1970.

[43]   George Gallup, “The Gallup Poll: Nixon Gains Support Despite Cambodia,” Washington Post, June 7, 1970, p. A13.

[44]   Carroll Kirkpatrick, “Young Aides Tell Nixon of Campus Unrest,” Washington Post, June 9, 1970, front page & A 6.

[45]   John Trumbour, How Harvard Rules: Reason in the Service of Empire.  (Boston; South End Press, 1989)  With regard to the early career of the Nixon administration’s chief exponent of crushing the student movement, a historical note: “In the early 1950s, a young Harvard professor named Henry Kissinger approached the FBI with alleged evidence of communist subversion among the foreign students of his summer seminar.”  (Sigmund Diamond, Compromised Campus: The Collaboration of Universities with the Intelligence Community, 1945-55.)

[46]  “Dissent Marks Graduation Day at Harvard,” Washington Post, June 12, 1970, p. A2.

[47]  “Commentary: Harvard Address,” transcript of Pusey’s speech, Washington Post, June 13, 1970, p. C7.

[48]   Robert Reinhold, “Harvard’s Faculty Assails Protestors and University,” New York Times, April 12, 1969, front page.

[49]   Ironically, he said this during his remarks at the installation of Alexander Heard as Chancellor of Vanderbilt, October 4, 1963.  Harvard Office of News and Public Affairs, http://www.news.harvard.edu/specials/2001/pusey.

[50]   Roger Rosenblatt, Coming Apart: A Memoir of the Harvard Wars of 1969.  (Boston; Little, Brown & Co., 1997), p. 30.

[51]   James Boyd, “Nixon’s Southern Strategy: ‘It’s All In the Charts,” New York Times magazine, May 17, 1970, p. 25.

[52]   Haldeman (N), April 1, 1970.  “L”, otherwise identified, is probably G. Gordon Liddy, a bizarre CIA fringenik who would play a leading role in the Watergate “dirty tricks” campaign.

[53]   Haldeman (J), April 2, 1970, p. 123.  EMPHASIS ADDED.  According to Newsweek, Phillips’ book The Emerging Republican Majority was the “political bible of the Nixon era”.

[54]   James Reston, “Cambridge, Mass.: The Changing Campus Mood,” New York Times (editorial), June 12, 1970, p. 38.

[55]   Quoted in Wells, The War Within, p. 38.

[56]   Haldeman (N), June 12, 1970, “0830” [8:30 a.m.]

[57]   Evan Thomas, “A Singular Opportunity: Gaining Access to the CIA’s Records”, Studies in Intelligence, 39:5, pp. 2-4.

[58]   Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK.  (Berkeley; University of California, 1993), p. 112.

[59]   Ehrlichman, Witness to Power, pp. 149-150.

[60]   “Poll Finds Worry in Campus Unrest,” New York Times, June 18, 1970, p. 38.

[61]   Robert Reinhold, “Negro on Campus Panel Feels ‘Solemn’ Duty to Stop Killings,” New York Times, June 15, 1970, front page.

[62]   Robert Reinhold, “Pusey Calls Revolutionaries ‘Deluded’,” New York Times, June 16, 1970, p. 29.

[63]   “Redundant Commission”, (editorial), New York Times, June 16, 1970, p. 46.

[64]   James Naughton, “Agnew Bids Student Quit Panel, But White House Rejects Move,” New York Times, June 17, 1970, front page and p. 27.

[65]   Ehrlichman, Witness to Power, pp. 150-151.

[66]   Carroll Kirkpatrick, “President Rebuffs Agnew on Student”, Washington Post, June 16, 1970, front page and p. A2.

[67]   Haldeman (J), June 16, 1970, p. 93.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[68]   Haldeman (N), June 16, 1970, “phone 2300”.  EMPHASIS ADDED.  “If Nixon hated anything more than being presented with a plan he had not considered, it was being shown up in a group to be less tough than his advisors.”  Henry Kissinger,  The White House Years.  (Boston; Little, Brown, & Co., 1979), p. 480.

[69]   Evans and Novak, Nixon in the White House, p. 298.

[70]   Dwight Chapin memo to Haldeman, quoted in Wells, p. 448.

[71]   Haldeman (N), June 17, 1970.

[72]   Haldeman (J), June 17, 1970, p. 99.

[73]   Robert Reinhold, “Peacemaker on Campus: Joseph Rhodes, Jr.”, New York Times, June 17, 1970, p. 26.

[74]   Austin C. Wehrwein, “Agnew Reproached by ABA President,” Washington Post, June 19, 1970.

[75]   Haldeman (N), June 18, 1970.   EMPHASIS ADDED except in the case of “our”.

[76]   Ehrlichman, p. 152.

[77]   Carroll Kirkpatrick, “Nixon Assures Independence of Campus Unit,” Washington Post, June 19, 1970, p. A5.

[78]   Haldeman (N), June 19, 1970, “0900”.  “Dewey was Thomas E. Dewey, former Republican governor of New York and twice presidential candidate.  Herbert Brownell had been the attorney general under President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon, credited with enlisting the Justice Department and the FBI in Nixon’s “twenty years of treason” witch hunt during the mid-50s.  I.F.Stone Reports: The Hidden Traps in Nixon’s Peace Plan”,  in New York Review of Books, March 9, 1972.

[79]   Roscoe and Geoffrey Drummond, “Political Insecurity Could Tempt Nixon to Exploit Student Unrest,” Washington Post, June 20, 1970 (column).  By “desperate”, they referred to the state of the economy and the failure of the Cambodian invasion.

[80]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 5; Folder: “Heard, Alexander”, memo from Alexander Heard to Richard Nixon, June 19, 1970.

[81]   “Survey Finds War Angers Students”, New York Times, June 21, 1970, p. 5. 

[82]   Eric Wentworth, “Campus Protests Laid to Kent State”, Washington Post, June 24, 1970, p. A 7.

[83]   220-CU-MF, Background Materials, Box 28, transcript of address by Roger Freeman, “The Crisis in American Education”, June 19, 1970.

[84]   Haldeman (J), June 22, 1970, p. 107.

[85]   “Senator Says FBI Agents Enroll at Kent State,” Washington Post, June 23, 1970, p. A8.

[86]   “Review and Outlook: Restoring the Life of Reason,” Wall Street Journal (editorial), June 23, 1970, p. 16.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[87]   Alexander M. Bickel, “The Tolerance of Violence on Campus”, New Republic, June 13, 1970.

[88]   “Conservative Activist”, Time, August 17, 1970, p. 40.

[89]   Theodore Bickel, “Desegregation: Where Do We Go From Here,” National Review, February 7, 1970.

[90]   David Rudenstein, The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case.  (Berkeley; University of California Press, 1996); “The Pentagon Papers: Lies, Secrets, and Videotapes,” and “Dershowitz on Bickel”, at National Security Archives, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEEB48/supreme.html.

[91]   220-CU-KST, Office Files of the Chairman, Box 1, Folder: “Commission, Meetings – Minutes of,” outline of June 24, 1970 meeting.

[92]   Ibid., Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 5, Matthew Byrne memo for the record, “FBI”, June 26, 1970. EMPHASIS ADDED.  Re Haynes: William Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia.  (New York; Simon & Schuster, 1979), p. 155.

[93]   Sanford Ungar, “War Foes Eye Marches on Capital”, Washington Post, June 28, 1970, p. A12.

[94]   James P. Sterba, “Cambodia Incursion by US Appears to Have United Foe,” New York Times, June 29, 1970, front page.

[95]   32 States Fight Campus Unrest,” New York Times, June 27, 1970.

[96]   Elizabeth Fowler, “Personal Finance: IRS Revises Student Rules,” New York Times, July 20, 1970.

[97]   Jack Nelson and Ronald T. Ostrow, “Hoover Campus Report Sparks Dissent,” Atlanta Journal, July 14, 1970.

[98]   Nelson-Ostrow story as carried by the Washington Post under the head “Hoover Campus Report Denounced as ‘Biased’,” July 14, 1970, p. A3.  (Original story: Los Angeles Times.)

[99]   “The Background of the Tragedy at Kent State,” American Legion magazine, July 1970, p. 22.

[100]   Haldeman (N), May 12, 1970, “0945”

[101]   “Agnew Retorts to President of ABA Who Called for Restraint,” New York Times, July 5, 1970, p. 28.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[102]   “Campus Panelist Upset that Nixon Lets Agnew Speak,” New York Times, July 7, 1970, p. 29.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[103]   Robert W. Smith, “Information Agency Film on Agnew Presents Him as Forthright and a Foe of Racial Discrimination,” New York Times, July 7, 1970, p. 23.

[104]   Jack Rosenthal, “Nixon Panel Calls Hearings in Public on Campus Unrest,” New York Times, July 7, 1970, front page & p. 29.

 

[105]   Haldeman (J), July 7, 1970, p. 123.  EMPHASIS IN ORIGINAL.

[106]   Haldeman (N), July 7, 1970.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[107]   “Nixon to Be Told Of College Plight,” Washington Post, July 8, 1970, p. A2.

[108]   George Lardner, Jr., “Ervin Decries U.S. Probe of ‘Subversive’ Readers,” Washington Post, July 10, 1970, p. A2.

[109]   Louis Harris, “The Harris Survey: Students Lack Faith in U.S. Leaders,” Washington Post, July 13, 1970, p. A4.

[110]   Haldeman (J), July 13, 1970, p. 133.

 

[111]   The official transcripts of the hearings are part of the 220-CU-MF file.  There are significant discrepancies between them and the sound tapes of the hearings, maintained in the Audiovisual Division.

[112]    Haldeman (P), July 20, 1969, p. 72.

[113]    William Morrissey, “Saga of a Campus Undercover Man,”Washington Post, July 14, 1970, p. A3.

[114]   Jack Rosenthal, “War Called Root of Campus Strife,” New York Times, June 16, 1970, front page & p. 19.

[115]   Peter Milius, “House Unit Checks Campus Speakers,” Washington Post, July 15, 1970, p. A3.

[116]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 7, memorandum of a phone call from J.C. Helms.

[117]   James Reston, “Cambridge, Mass.: The Changing Campus Mood,” New York Times, June 12, 1970, p. 38.

[118]   Halperin et. al., The Lawless State, p. 123.

[119]   Richard Fletcher, “How the CIA Took the Teeth Out of Socialism”, in Who Were They Traveling With?, on http://www.wcml.org.uk/wattv.html.

[120]   Steven Kelman, “A Freshman Paper on Harvard Freshman,” New York Times, December 11, 1966.

[121]   Leonard j. Lehrman, “Jewish Radicals at Harvard,: A Review of Roger Rosenblatt’s Coming Apart,”  http://www.artists-in-residence.com/ ljlehrman/articles/aufbrau34.html.  Lehrman felt that this same sense of confusion led Kelman to view FBI informer Prof. Sidney Hook as a “model to be emulated”.  (For Hook’s testimony before the Commission, see below.)

[122]   Steven J. Kelman, “Youth and Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, 48: 3, April 1970, p. 414.

[123]   220-CU-MF, Staff Working Papers, Box 19, unlabelled folder, memorandum, Alexander Heard to Richard Nixon, July 16, 1970.  EMPHASIS IN ORIGINAL.

[124]   Ibid., Box 17, folder: “Misc. Memos”, memorandum, Paul Brest and John Labovitz to John Kirby, “Summary of Heard’s Suggestions for Organization of the Report,” July 20, 1970.

[125]   Haldeman (J), July 17, 1970, p. 141.

 

[126]   Haldeman (N), July 17, 1970, “1030”.   EMPHASIS IN ORIGINAL.

[127]   220-CU-MF, Staff Working Papers, Box 17, folder: “Misc. Memos”, Wick Allison to John Labovitz, “Credibility: Additional Thoughts,” July 17, 1970.

[128]   Jack Rosenthal, “Pusey Is Hopeful Unrest Will Ebb,” New York Times, July 18, 1970; front page; contd. p. 10.

 

[129]   Linda Matthews, “Guard Chief Defends Troops at Kent State,” Los Angeles Times, July 18, 1970.

[130]   Jack Rosenthal, “Pusey Is Hopeful” (etc.), p. 10.

[131]   James Doyle, “Won’t Impede Campus Probe, Agnew Promises Scranton,” Washington Star, July 18, 1970, p. A3.

[132]   Eric Wentworth, “Troops ‘Can Protect Selves’, Guard Chief Tells Probers,” Washington Post, July 18, 1970, p. A2.

[133]   Haldeman (J), June 20, 1970, p. 145.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[134]   James Naughton, “Agnew Attacks Memo as Fraud,” New York Times, July 22, 1970, p. 23.  The wording of the headline is interesting.

[135]   Christopher Lydon, “Administration Is Stressing Political Loyalty to Jobs,” New York Times, September 9, 1970, p. 30.

[136]   Paul Montgomery, “A Scanlan’s Issue Delayed by Union,” New York Times, October 3, 1970, p. 25.

[137]   “ACLU Plans Suit to Help Magazine,” New York Times, October 23, 1970, p. 24.

[138]   “US Seizes and Then Releases 6,000 Copies of a Magazine With Article on How to Make Bombs,” New York Times, December 11, 1970, p. 53.  Again, the emphasis in the headline is interesting.

[139]   Transcript of presidential press conference, New York Times, July 21, 1970, p. 16.

[140]   Haldeman (N), July 22, 1970, “1500”.  *Underscored three times in the original.

 

[141]   Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters.  (New York; The Free Press, 2000), p. 157.

[142]   W. Mark Felt, The FBI Pyramid: From the Inside. (New York; G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1979), pp. 112-113; Mark Riebling, Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and the CIA. (New York; Alfred Knopf, 1994), p. 279; Athan Theoharis, The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition.  (Philadelphia; Temple University, 1988), p. 410.

[143]   This allegation is contradicted by whole sections and volumes of the FBI Report now available for inspection in the University Archives/May 4th Collection.

[144]   “Student Shot Dead as Youths, Police Clash Anew Near Kansas Campus,” Washington Post, July 21, 1970, p. A3.

[145]   “Kansas Acts to Quell Disorders,” Washington Post,  July 22, 1970, p. A3.

 

[146]   Richard Halloran, “FBI Is Reported to Find No Need for Kent Shooting,” New York Times, July 24, 1970, front page; contd. p. 34.

[147]   FBI Report, 3, Section 32, memorandum, Director to Assistant Directors, July 24, 1970.  The 3 refers to the third increment of FBI reports I received under the Freedom of Information Act.

[148]   Haldeman (J), July 24, 1970, p. 7.  (The page has a low number because Haldeman has started a new volume, No. IV.)   EMPHASIS ADDED.

[149]   “Report to Nixon: Campus Unrest is ‘National Crisis’”,  Washington Post, July 24, 1970, p. A6.

[150]   Haldeman (N), July 24, 1970.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[151]   “Jackson State Shooting Ruled Justified by Local Grand Jury,” Washington Post, July 30, 1970, p. A9

[152]   “Kent Charges Unlikely, Official Says,” Washington Post, July 31, 1970, p. A24.

[153]   “David A. Keene”, http://www.conservative.org/keene.bio.htm.

[154]   Jack Anderson, “Washington Merry-Go-Round: Nixon’s Isolation Disgruntles Leaders,” Washington Post, July 27, 1970, p. B11.

[155]   Haldeman (N), July 25, 1970.  SACB was the Subversive Activities Control Board, a McCarthyite anachronism Nixon had revived that spring.

[156]   “Gen. Davis Resigns As Aide to Stokes,” New York Times, July 28, 1970, front page.

[157]   Review and Outlook: What Students Are Taught,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 1970, p. 8.

[158]    Richard Starnes, “Riot not ‘dissent’, FBI director notes,” Washington Star, July 30, 1970.

[159]    Douglas L. Hallett, “Campus Unrest: Don’t Blame Mr. Nixon” (editorial) Wall Street Journal, July 29, 1970, p. 10.

[160]    Haldeman (J), July 29, 1970, p. 13.

[161]    Haldeman (N), July 30, 1970,  “1130”.

[162]    “The President’s Press Conference of July 30, 1970”, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, August 3, 1970, p. 1001.

[163]    “White House Aides Disappointed in Heard’s Inquiry,” New York Times, July 31, 1970, front page.

 

[164]   “Nixon Hits Advice on Campuses,” Washington Post, July 31, 1970, front page.

[165]   Aaron Latham, “FBI: Top Secrets at Top Cost,” Washington Post, July 25, 1970, pp. B1 & B2.

[166]   220-CU-MF, Staff

[167]   “Bill Would Dissolve, Restore Universities,” Canton Depository, July 17, 1970.

[168]    Richard Wilson, “Kent State Today,” Louisville Courier-Record, July 28, 1970.

[169]   Joseph Kraft, “Why Nixon Is Smiling,” Washington Post, August 2, 1970, p. B7.

[170]   “U.S. Acting to Calm Fear of Repression,” Washington Post, August 3, 1970.

[171]   Eric Wentworth, “Howard’s Cheek Pessimistic on Campus Unrest,” Washington Post, August 3, 1970, p. A4.

[172]   “American Youth: A National Crisis,” (editorial), Washington Post, August 3, 1970, p. A4.

[173]   David Broder, “Campus ‘Urgency’ Was Cited Before,” Washington Post, August 6, 1970, A22.  Of the delegation when it reported to the White House, Haldeman noted that “Only George Bush seemed to understand their desire for confrontation, not cooperation.”  Haldeman (P), p. 62.

[174]   “Campus Panel Witness Assails Use of Police Undercover Men,” Washington Post, August 5, 1970, p. A3.

[175]   “Columbia President-Elect Finds Widespread Alienation of Youth,” New York Times, August 5, 1970, p. 17.

[176]   Greg Calvert and Carol Neiman, Disrupted History: The New Left and the New Capitalism.  (New York; Random House, 1971).   For a discussion of the eventual fate of the cyber-proletarian, see Jill Andresky Fraser, White-Collar Sweatshop: The Deterioration of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America.  (New York; W.W. Norton, 2001)

[177]   Haldeman (J), August 9, 1970, p. 25.  *The discussion took place at Camp David.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[178]   Roy Reed, “Blacks Start Wide Protest on Police Killings in South,” New York Times, August 18, 1970, front page & p. 24.

[179]   Bruce Galphin, “No Order to Fire at Jackson State, Probers Are Told,” Washington Post, August 12, 1970, p. A3.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[180]   Bruce Galphin, “Officer Defends Jackson Role,” Washington Post, August 14, 1970, p. A3.

[181]   Martin Waldron, “Novelist Tells Panel on Unrest Government Represses Blacks,” New York Times, August 14, 1970, p. 31.

[182]   “Governor Williams Scores Campus Inquiry,” New York Times, August 16, 1970, p. 38.

[183]   Lawrence Feinberg, “Young Campus Prober Assails Talk of Violence,” New York Times, August 15, 1970, p. D28.  The placement of this story, in the Real Estate section, betrays how the issue was beginning to strain the attention span of the American reader.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[184]   Lawrence Feinberg, “Students Reject War Protest That Would Paralyze D.C.,” Washington Post, August 16, 1970, p. A3.

[185]   Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, Report to the President. (New York; Manor Books, 1975), p. 133; familiarly known as the “Rockefeller Report”, for the Commission’s chairman.

[186]   David S. Broder, “Candidates and Students,” Washington Post (column), August 18, 1970.

[187]   Haldeman (J), August 17, 1970, p. 37.

[188]   Steve Clapp, “Stephen Hess’ impossible mission at the White House,” Washington Post/Potomac Magazine, August 23, 1970, p. 15.

[189]   Robert K. Warner, “White House Conference Post: Nixon Critic Won’t Get Job,” Washington Post, August 19, 1970, p. A3.

[190]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 3, folder: “Chrono File”, memorandum John Kirby to Matthew Byrne, July 23, 1970

 

[191]  http://www2.law.temple.edu/page.asp?page=strazz.

[192]  220-CU-KST, Box 94A, Staff Working Papers, memorandum, McIntyre to Byrne, “Problems in Connection with the Kent State Task Force,” July 26, 1970.

[193]   Ibid. , longhand journal kept on legal pads by an unidentified member of the Team.  This is a rich document, but unfortunately it is not identified further.

[194]   Ibid., memorandum, Kenneth McIntyre to Kent State Team, July 27, 1970.

[195]   Ibid., longhand journal.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[196]   Ibid., statement by Ronald Kane to Kenneth McIntyre, August 2, 1970.

[197]   Ibid., McIntyre’s longhand notes on the Kane interview, same date.

[198]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 3, folder: “Chrono – August 1970”, memorandum of a telephone conversation between Kirby and Hopple.  It is not indicated why this memo is in the main file instead of 220-CU-KST, unless it was intended for Byrne’s consumption.

[199]   220-CU-KST, Witness File, Box 91, folder: “Del Corso, Sylvester”, statement to McIntyre, August 3, 1970.  McIntyre’s abstract of this statement is in Box 94A with his working papers.

[200]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 2, folder: “Rhodes, Joseph,” memorandum to Commission, July 23, 1970.

[201]    220-CU-KST, Staff Working Papers, Box 94A, folder: “McIntyre-Straz.”, longhand memorandum to file of McIntyre’s interview with McElroy, August 4, 1970.

[202]   Ibid., memorandum to file of McIntyre’s telephone conversation with Brown.

 

[203]   Ibid., memorandum to file of McIntyre’s call to Murphy.

[204]   Ibid.,  Witness File, Box 92, folder: “Thompson, Roy,” statement to McIntyre, August 5, 1970

[205]   “Young Adds Guard Murder Charges to Kent Predictions,” Sandusky Register, August 6, 1970.

 

[206]   Richard Cohen, “Code Passed on Conduct at Maryland,” Washington Post, August 8, 1970.

 

 

[207]  “New Illinois Code: Expulsion for Disruption,” Chicago Sun-Times, August 3, 1970.

[208]   “New U.K. Code Takes Aim at Unrest,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 16, 1970.

[209]   Sheryl Bills, “Beefed Up Highway Patrol Asked to Help Campuses,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 12, 1970.

[210]   “Legislators Sift Testimony on Campus Unrest,” Cleveland Press, August 10, 1970.

[211]   Sheryl Bills, “Professors Hit as Culprits in Campus Disorders,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 13, 1970.

[212]   220-CU-KST, Staff Working Papers, Box 94A, folder: “C.E. Stine: Working Papers”, Stine memorandum of phone call to FBI headquarters, August 8, 1970.

[213]   Ibid., letter, William Milligan to Charles Stine, August 13, 1970.

[214]   Ibid., Stine memorandum to file, “Harold Meyer: Confrontation,” August 15, 1970.

[215]   Ibid., Stine memorandum to James D. Arthur, “Re visual aids,” August 26, 1970.  (Arthur’s identity is not known.)

[216]   Ibid., untitled Stine memo to file, August 14, 1970.

[217]   Ibid., untitled and undated Stine memo to file on the Ling Film.

[218]   Ibid., another Stine memo on the film, also untitled and undated.

[219]   Ibid., Stine memo to file on the still photos, undated and untitled.

[220]   Ibid., Witness File, Box 92, folder: “Titchenal, Steven,” statement to Terry Baker, August 16, 1970.

[221]   Ibid., folder: “Stevenson, [Lt.] Alexander,” undated statement to George Warren.

[222]   Ibid., Staff Working Papers, Box 93, folder: “Correspondence, Kent State.”

[223]   FBI Report, 1, Vol. 13, p. 1887; also at Vol. 11, p. 1147.

[224]   Larry Fields, “Westmoreland Says Attacks on ROTC Endanger Nation,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August13, 1970.

[225]   “State Had Drug Agents at Kent During Riots,” Cleveland Press, August 13, 1970.

[226]   “Dr. Harris Leaves KSU Post Oct. 1,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 12, 1970.

[227]   “Rhodes Loses Try to Delay Hearings,” Akron Beacon-Journal, August 19, 1970.

[228]   “Gov. Rhodes Makes Final ONG Review,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 16, 1970.

[229]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 3, folder: “Chrono Files (August)”, telegram, Scranton to Rhodes, August 18, 1970.

[230]   Ibid., memorandum of Byrne’s phone call to McElroy, same date.

[231]   “Rhodes Scholarship,” Time magazine, August 31, 1970.

 

[232]   John Kifner, “Age Shapes Views at Kent Parley,” New York Times, August 20, 1970, p. 18.

[233]   Sharon Sayler, interview with Glenn Frank for “13 Seconds on May 4, 1970 May Never Be Explained”, in “Kent State 10 Years Later”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 3, 1980, p. 4A.

[234]   “Won’t Need White House O.K. to Fire,” Ravenna Record-Courier, August 20, 1970.

[235]    Michael Killian, “State to Begin Campus Probe,” Chicago Tribune, August 21, 1970.

 

[236]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 6, folder: “Press Releases”, release dated August 20, 1970.

[237]   Ibid., Office Files of the Chairman, Box 2, general correspondence folder; copy of a telegram from Benson Wolman to William Scranton, 11:50 a.m., August 20, 1970.

[238]     220-CU-KST, Box 91, folder: “Canterbury, Robert”, notes on his testimony marked “Commission, 8/20/70.  *two underscores in original.

[239]   John Kifner, “Kent Witness Thought: ‘It Can’t Be Happening’,” New York Times, August 21, 1970, p. 17.

[240]   Kenneth Heineman, Campus Wars: The Peace Movement at American State Universities in the Vietnam Era.  (New York University Press, 1993), p. 180.

[241]   Kifner, “Kent Witness…”, p. 17.

[242]   Richard Harwood, “Apathy or Revolution?: Students Differ on Outlook at Kent,” Washington Post, August 21, 1970, p. A3.

[243]   220-CU-MF, Office Files of the Executive Director, Box 5, folder: “Kent State”, copy of University press release, August 20, 1970.

[244]   Richard Harwood, “Commission Finds No Evidence of Sniper Fire at Kent State,” Washington Post, August 22, 1970, p. A3.

[245]   John Kifner, “Kent Student Suggests Officer Gave Signal to Shoot,” New York Times, August 22, 1970, p. 9.  This is not the only point at which the official transcript does not record things that reporters present remember being said (see Pickett’s dialogue with Rhodes, above.)   There are also places where the transcript ascribes words to one Commissioner where another insists s/he had said them.

[246]   Kifner, “Kent Witness Suggests…”, p. 9.

[247]   John Kifner, “Inquiry at Kent State Leaves Key Issues Cloudy,” New York Times, August 23, 1970, p. 61.

[248]   “Portland Braces for War Protest,” New York Times, August 23, 1970.

[249]   David Newman, Sandra Sutherland, and Jon Stewart, “The Madison Bomb Story: The Death the FBI Saw, Heard, and Won’t Talk About,” Mother Jones, February/March 1979, p. 56.

[250]   Haldeman (J), August 25, 1970, p. 47.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[251]   “Campus Riot Plans Made, Brown Says,” San Diego Union, August 27, 1970.

[252]   Trudy Rubin, “Censorship Pushing College Papers Off Campus?” Christian Science Monitor, September 1, 1970.

[253]   Richard Cohen, “New Power of Suspension Given U. of Maryland Head,” Washington Post, September 3, 1970.

[254]   Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, “Campus Panel’s Predicament”,  Washington Post, September 2, 1970, p. A21.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[255]   “Laird May Review Campus Facilities,” New York Times, September 3, 1970, p. 24.

[256]   Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, “Democrats’ New Outlook,” Washington Post, September 14, 1970, p. A3.

[257]   Bernard Shaw, “20th century brings to the American voter,” http://www.cnn.com/1999/ALLPOLITICS/stories/millenium.voter/

[258]   220-CU-MF, Box 10 contains a complete transcript of Allott’s speech.

[259]   “Allott Fears Whitewash of New Left,” Washington Post, September 5, 1970, p. A5.

[260]   “Peace Corps May Fire 22 War Dissenters,” Washington Post, September 5, 1970, p. A6.

[261]   “Minister Loses Job Over Antiwar Stance,” Washington Post, September 5, 1970, p. C12.

[262]   Haldeman (J), September 7, 10, and 11, 1970 respectively.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[263]   “The President’s Legislative Program”, in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Vol. 6, No. 37, September 14, 1970, p. 1185.

[264]   Joseph B. Treaster, “Thurmond Tells Youths Nation Is Entering Guerrilla Warfare,” New York Times, September 12, 1970, p. 23.

[265]   Haldeman (J), September 12, 1970, p.    .   EMPHASIS ADDED.

[266]   Ken. W. Clawson, “Panel Expected to ‘Gig’ Nixon, Police: GOP Fears Report on Campus Unrest,” Washington Post, front page and p. A3.

[267]   George Gallup, “56% of Voters Approve of Nixon Record,” Washington Post, September 13, 1970, p. A28.

[268]   Haldeman (J), September 14, 1970, p. 69.

[269]   James R. RePass, “YAF Celebrates Survival at 10th Anniversary Gala,” Washington Post, September 14, 1970, p. A3.

[270]   David E. Rosenbaum, “Colleges Tighten Security to Check Campus Unrest,” New York Times, September 15, 1970, front page & p. 40.

[271]   James Reston, “Palo Alto, Calif. Changing Mood in the Universities?” New York Times, (editorial), September 18, 1970, p. 42.

[272]   Haldeman (J), September 15, 1970, p. 71.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[273]   “Kansas State University,” in the Weekly Compilation, Vo. 6, No. 38, September 21, 1970.

[274]   Robert B. Semple, Jr., “President Urges End to Violence and Intolerance,” New York Times, September 17, 1970, front page & p. 28.

 

[275]   Tom Wicker, “In the Nation: Violence, Corrosion, and Mr. Nixon” (editorial) New York Times, September 20, 1970, p. 17.

[276]   “Mitchell Assails ‘Stupid’ Students,” New York Times, September 19, 1970.

[277]   “U.S. Aides Warned on Criticisms,” Washington Post, September 19, 1970, p. A2.

[278]   Jack Rosenthal, “Official Dissent Termed Limited,” New York Times, September 19, 1970. 

[279]   The Harris Survey: Nixon Rating Drops Below 50%,” Washington Post, September 18, 1970, p. A10.

[280]    Haldeman (J), September 17, 1970, p. 73.

[281]   Robert B. Semple, Jr., “President Calls Peace on Campus Educators’ Task,” New York Times, September 21, 1970, p. 23.

 

[282]   Louis Harris, “The Harris Survey: Nixon Confidence Rating Declines to 35%; Domestic Issues Pace Drop,” Washington Post, September 21, 1970, p. A2. 

[283]   Haldeman (J), September 22, 1970, p. 81.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[284]   “Hoover Cautions Collegians Against Campus Extremists,” Washington Post, September 21, 1970, p. A4.

[285]   Karl E. Meyer, “Agnew Debates Students on TV,” Washington Post, September 22, 1970, p. A10.

[286]   James M. Naughton, “Agnew and Student Leaders Hit Impasse,” New York Times, September 22, 1970, p. 89.

[287]   Jack Nelson, “Scranton Promises Strong Denunciation of Student Violence,” Los Angeles Times, September 20, 1970.

[288]   Barry Goldwater, “Unrest Report Needs Repudiating,” Indianapolis Star, September 22, 1970.

[289]   Marjorie Hunter, “President Seeks U.S. Intervention in Campus Terror,” New York Times, September 23, 1970, front page.

[290]   Carroll Kilpatrick, “FBI Role in Campus Cases Asked,” Washington Post, September 23, 1970, front page & p. A4.

[291]   Robert B. Semple, Jr., “Nixon’s Stand on Campus Disorder,” New York Times, September 23, 1970, p. 22.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[292]   “FBI on Camus” (editorial), New York Times, September 25, 1970, p. 42.

[293]   Jack Nelson (original story Los Angeles Times), “Student ‘Agent’ For FBI Found in Minn.,” Washington Post, September 15, 1970, p. A3.

[294]   “Authors Say FBI Agents Misled Federal Officials on Carolina Student Slayings,” New York Times, September 21, 1970; “Book Examines Orangeburg Killings; FBI Agents Accused of Deception,” Washington Post, September 21, 1970, p. A6.

[295]   Bernard D. Nossiter, “Nixon’s Friends Buy TV Time for Speech,” Washington Post, September 25, 1970, p. A2.

[296]   Carroll Kilpatrick, “Scranton Fears Politicking on Campus Unrest,” Washington Post, September 24, 1970, p. A12.

[297]   “Scranton Warns Critics of Unrest,” New York Times, September 24, 1970, p. 21.

[298]   “Probers Discount Plot on Campuses,” Washington Post, September 25, 1970, p. A2.

[299]   William Chapman, “Agnew Decries Permissiveness by Parents and College Heads,” Washington Post, September 26, 1970, p. A2.

[300]   “Campus Unrest”, Washington Post, September 26, 1970, front page & p. A4.

[301]   Haldeman (J), September 24, 1970, p. 85.

[302]   Haldeman (J), September 25, 1970, p. 85.

[303]   220-CU-KST, Box 94A, Staff Working Papers, folder: “C.E. Stine: Working Papers”, carbon of Stine’s memo commenting on the report.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[304]   I.F. Stone, “What’s a Little Murder (of Blacks and Students)?” I.F. Stone’s Biweekly, Vol. 18, No. 19, October 19, 1970.

[305]   The Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest.  (Washington, D.C.; U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970), pp. 1-5.

[306]   Milwaukee Journal, editorial page, October 9, 1970

[307]   Letter, China Altman to Charles Thomas, August 20, 1978.  (Personal Papers; Kent State Archives).

 

[308]   Haldeman (J), September 26, 1970, p. 87.

[309]   Ken W. Clawson, “Campus Fate Put To Nixon,” Washington Post, September 27, 1970, front page & p. A6.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[310]   Jack Rosenthal, “President’s Panel Warns Split on Youth Perils U.S.,” New York Times, September 27, 1970, front page & p. 66.

[311]  Haldeman (J), September 27, 1970, p. 57.  (Haldeman recorded major trips overseas separately, thus the anomaly in pagination.

[312]   John Matthews, “Scranton Draws Nixon Ire,” (Washington) Evening Star, October 15, 1970.

[313]   Jack Rosenthal, “Two on Nixon Panel Term College Deaths Unjustified,” New York Times, September 28, 1970.

[314]   220-CU-MF, Central Office Files, Box 4, transcript of “Meet the Press” program, September 28, 1970.  This exchange did not appear in any of the press accounts.

[315]   John Kifner,  “Convocation and Call For Day’s Fast Open Kent State,” New York Times, September 29, 1970.

[316]   Andrew H. Malcolm, “Growing Number of Colleges Taking Tougher Stand in Guidelines on Protests,” New York Times, October 6, 1970.

[317]   John Kifner, “Draft Cards Are Burned in Memorial at Kent State,” New York Times, September 29, 1970, p. 5.

[318]   220-CU-MF, Central Office Files, Box 10, transcript of Agnew’s speech, September 29, 1970.

[319]   James W. Naughton, “Agnew Condemns Report on Unrest,” New York Times, September 30, 1970, front page & p. 14; William Chapman, “Agnew Calls Campus Study ‘Equivocal’”, Washington Post, September 30, 1970, front page & p. A8.

[320]   “Finch, Agnew Disagree on Campus Study,” Washington Post, October 1, 1970.

[321]     Jack Rosenthal, “66 Members of House Say Campus Unrest Panel ‘Blatantly Ignores’ Efforts Already Made by Nixon,” New York Times, September 30, 1970, p. A19.

[322]   Marquis Childs, “Scranton Report To Test Sincerity,” Washington Post, September 30, 1970, p. A19.

[323]   “G.O.P. Unit to Probe Student Moves,” Washington Post, October 13, 1970. 

[324]   Robert S. Allen and John A. Goldsmith, “Why Did Defense Pay for Printing Unrest Report?” York (Pa.) Dispatch, October 5, 1970.

[325]   “440 Students Lose U.S. Funds in Campus Outbreaks,” New York Times, October 14, 1970.

[326]   “32 States Have New Laws Aimed at Campus Violence,” Washington Star, October 15, 1970.

[327]   “Universities at the Crossroads,” New York Times, October 17, 1970.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[328]   Ehrlichman, Witness to Power, p. 219.  (The full text of the memorandum is reproduced on pp. 215-219)

[329]   Kevin P. Phillips, “Nixon Liberals Weaken,” Washington Post, October 2, 1970.

[330]   Joseph Alsop, “Scramble to the Center,” Washington Post, September 23, 1970, p. A23.

[331]   Steven V. Roberts, “Conservatives Press Unrest Issue,”  New York Times, October 19, 1970.

[332]   Haldeman (J), October 16, 1970, p. 99.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[333]   Haldeman (J), October 17, 1970, p. 101.

[334]   Transcript of NBC Nightly News, May 4, 1978; copy of memorandum, John Ehrlichman to John Mitchell, November 18, 1970 (provided to me by reporter James Polk; now in Personal Papers).

[335]   “Excerpts from Grand Jury Report on Incidents at Kent State,” New York Times, October 17, 1970.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[336]   David Halberstam, The Powers That Be.  (New York; Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 605.

[337]   Haldeman (P), November 4, 1970, p. 207.

 
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