Gerald Ford managed to surprise a lot of people in November when he announced a large shakeup in his staff. James Schlesinger was replaced as Secretary of Defense by Donald Rumsfeld. George Bush was named Director of the CIA, succeeding William Colby. And Secretary of Commerce Rogers Morton resigned, and he was replaced by Elliot Richardson. When Ford was asked why the changes, he said â€¦
President Gerald Ford: "I wanted a team that I selected as President. I think it's important that a President have that kind of a team on an affirmative basis and I have it in Secretary Kissinger and in Don Rumsfeld and Brent Scowcroft. I put it on the affirmative side that they are my choices and that we can work together effectively to carry out an effective foreign policy."
Ed Karrens: Later the President did admit that at last in the case of Schlesinger there was some difference of opinion on policy that prompted him to replace the then Secretary of Defense.
Vice-President Rockefeller had a surprise of his own. On November 3rd after serving less than a year as Vice-President, he announced he would not run for the Vice-Presidency in 1976 on the Ford ticket â€¦
Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller: "I came down to Washington at the nomination of the President to serve the country I love and to help in solving the problems which we face and which I am optimistic can be solved. But I didn't come down to get caught up in Party squabbles, which only make it more difficult for the President in a very difficult time when the Pres- -- when the problems of the country require his fullest possible attention, and therefore with his complete understanding and concurrence, I wrote him the letter."
Ed Karrens: Seven Democrats used 1975 as the year to announce their candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, bringing the total to ten.
And Ronald Reagan said he would challenge President Ford's quest for the Republican Presidential Nomination.
A New York Times story reported the CIA was involved in domestic operations which were in full violation of its charter. These operations including illegal break-ins, wiretaps, inspection of mail.
President Ford ordered an immediate investigation, and most of what was said about the CIA was true; however, it was a Senate and Congressional Committee that came up with the most startling information: the CIA had plotted to assassinate foreign leaders using exotic weapons such as exploding cigars, chemicals and underwater wetsuits impregnated with germs. The report revealed there were eight different plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. All of them for some reason or other failed.
Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota was asked if any Presidents knew of the plots...
Senator Walter Mondale: "If you ask is it logical to assume that something of this magnitude could occur without the knowledge of a President, I think you'd have to say that common sense dictates that maybe they knew. But the truth of it is, when you look at this record you cannot find out, and I believe the system was intended to work that way; namely, that things would be ordered to be done, but should it be made public, no one could be held accountable."
Ed Karrens: In a related investigation of the FBI, the Senate Intelligence Committee unveiled a plan of the FBI to wage a smear campaign against the late Reverend Martin Luther King.
On January 1st, 1975, former Attorney General John Mitchell, Presidential Aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman and Robert C. Mardian, a Nixon lawyer, were found guilty of all charges in connection with the cover-up of the break-in of the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. Mitchell, Haldeman and Ehrlichman were sentenced from 2?½ to 8 years in prison; Mardian 10 months to 3 years.
And so 1975 ends 200 years of American independence, 200 rich and lean years, years that came one at a time and took their proper place in history. 1975 joins that august group and makes way for the bicentennial year in 1976.
Ed Karrens: You've been listening to 1975 in Review. This program is a production of the UPI Audio Network and is written by Stan Savich, technical production by Frank Shortino, and this is Ed Karrens.