These initiatives and others made Pentagon hawks so nervous that they spied on the President and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger. Papers illegally stolen from the White House over a 13-month period by a Navy yeoman were passed up the line to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Thomas Moorer (pictured here), who eventually admitted he'd read them without inquiring too aggressively where they'd come from. The thefts were uncovered by the famed White House Plumbers, figures of fun for most historians, little-sung heroes in this case.
New details about the Radford affair, which struck at the heart of the concept of civilian authority over the military, are revealed in an article by Fox News's James Rosen, author of a remarkable new biography of John Mitchell whose new insights about Watergate and John Dean, though startling, didn't merit a review in the New York Times.
Perhaps for some of the same reasons, Radford never got as much as attention as Watergate. Those who like to say that Mr. Nixon was undermining the Constitution have never seemed exercised about the tunnel the brass were busy digging under the White House. As "Frost/Nixon" shows, Nixon as sinner is potentially big box office. When he was sinned against? Rarely green lighted.
One reason may be that for the sake of the military's credibility, the President chose not to make more of the affair. According to Rosen, here's how he put it on one of the tapes:
"Admiral Moorer," Nixon told an aide in May 1973, "I could have screwed him on that and been a big hero, you know. I could have screwed the whole Pentagon about that damn thing ... Why didn't I do it? Because I thought more of the services."