Colson: It's time to forgive Nixon


WASHINGTON -- Former White House aide Charles Colson said Wednesday some of the conversations on President Nixon's still secret tapes are 'dillies' but shouldn't all be taken seriously.

'You're going to see noble moments, you're going to see locker room talk, you're going to see gutter talk, you're going to see dirty jokes, you're going to see wise cracks, you're going to see serious reflections -- the whole range of human experience,' Colson said of the tapes still kept secret in the National Archives.


'There are some dillies in there about me,' Colson said.

During a speech at the Washington Press Club, the former special counsel to Nixon who served a seven month prison term for Watergate crimes was pressed for details, but recounted only two humorous conversations he had with Nixon.

'I walked into the president's office one day and he asked me 'what have you done for your country today?'' Colson recalled. 'I said. 'I've finally had it, Mr. President ... we called in the Army to take over the printing presses at the Washington Post.' He said, 'Good, it's about time we did something.''

'Nixon used to get very angry at (former Secretary of State) Henry Kissinger because Kissinger wouldn't knock on the door, he'd just walk in,' Colson said.


'And so ... one day both of us look out of the corner of our eye and saw Kissinger striding through the door and Nixon immediately changed the subject and said 'I think you're right, Chuck, I think it's time for nuclear weapons in Vietnam.' And I'm giving him the rationale then for nuking Hanoi. Kissinger stands there ashen white.'

Last month The New York Times disclosed a tape on which Nixon and his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman discussed having Colson hire some 'thugs' from the Teamsters to beat up anti-war demonstrators.

'I didn't do it, so if they asked me to do it, I must have disobeyed,' Colson responded. 'Thats typical locker-room talk, there will be lots of tapes like that.'

'We ought to be a little considerate of the circumstances,' he said. 'When we'd look out the window of the White House we'd see buses being turned over, tear gas going. Every day there were half a dozen people trying to get over the White House fence.

'Now you're sitting around in that place with a siege mentality which is justified because you're under seige, you act like a bunch of people with a siege mentality and you blow off steam by saying lets get some thugs and beat up these dirty, hippie, long-haired kids.'


'There were many conversations like that that took place in the White House,' he said.

Colson, who runs Prison Fellowship, a $3.5 million a year organization devoted to prison reform, said he thinks it is time for the nation to forgive Nixon for Watergate.

'We're the only place in the world where Mr. Nixon isn't highly regarded, which is out of character for us -- we're a forgiving country,' he said.

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