What White House staffer wrote a memo saying this?
No written communications from the White House to the Departments — all information about the program would be transmitted verbally… documents prepared would not indicate White House involvement in any way.
That was by Fred Malek, during the Nixon administration. His official title was “Special Assistant to the President.”
Malek was writing to H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s Chief of Staff, about Nixon’s “responsiveness program.” This was a scheme to politicize as much of the federal government as possible in support of Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign. As the memo shows, Malek was extremely concerned that the program not be traced back to the White House. Unfortunately for Nixon, it was discovered and investigated as part of Watergate. (More details can be found in a recent Colbert King column.)
So, what’s Malek doing these days?
Well, he’s long been an influential member of the Republican establishment. (His rise was only slightly slowed when it turned out he’d carried out an order by Nixon to tally the number of Jewish staffers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in search of a “Jewish cabal.”)
And as Scooter Libby’s new website shows, Malek is part of the Libby Defense Fund’s “Advisory Committee.”
Which raises a natural question:
Why does Scooter Libby want the support of a political hatchetman from the Nixon administration who not only engaged in extremely unsavory activities, but then was caught trying to cover them up?
Is it because Fred Malek has completely changed since 1972, and Libby’s completely innocent, so they can have long discussions about the importance of ethics in governmental service?
Or…is Libby hoping for advice from Malek on how to avoid the mistakes he made?
In any case, the hubris of the Republican machine is flabbergasting. Again, Malek was Special Assistant to the President…while Libby, in addition to being Cheney’s Chief of Staff, held the title of “Assistant to the President.”
You’d thinkâ€”just for the sake of PRâ€”they’d want to keep Libby away from predecessors who’d done horrible things for presidents who later had to resign to escape impeachment. But apparently, no.
BONUS FOOTAGE: It takes a special kind of man to write a memo saying “be sure not to write anything down.”