On June 24, 1971 a memo was sent to White House counsel John Dean from George T. Bell, the assistant to Charles Colson, the special counsel to the White House. The memo's subject line was "OPPONENTS LIST." Colson had compiled a list of 20 people, listing why they offended the Administration and in some cases their areas of exposure.
Dean was onboard. In a memo sent out by him on August 16, 1971 with the subject line, "Dealing with our Political Enemies," he wrote "we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies."
Over the next couple of years, the list would grow to 576 names. It had grown wide enough to include supporters and staffers of George McGovern, all black members of Congress, NFL quarterback Joe Namath and American actress, singer, dancer and comedian Carol Channing.
On June 27, 1973 the public became aware of the existence of the list when during a Congressional hearing John Dean referred to it. Later that day CBS reporter Daniel Schorr got a copy of the original "Enemies List" during a live broadcast. While reading off the names on the list, it was then and there on live TV that he learned that he was on the list, number 17.
Highlights from this collection include:
White House Nixon Audio Tape Excerpt August 3, 1972 - President Nixon, Ehrlichman, and Haldeman discuss using the IRS against political enemies. Nixon tells Haldeman, "We have all this power and we aren't using it, now what the Christ is that." Nixon later says, "There must be something we can do... Anybody who can do this kind of work? I think the problem is we have too many nice guys around, who just want to do the right thing."
Richard Nixon Grand Jury Testimony Excerpt - Testimony given by Nixon on June 26, 1975. After a series of questions by Watergate Special Prosecutor Henry Ruth about whether the White House attempted to influence the IRS to audit or otherwise harass Lawrence O'Brien, a leading Democratic Party electoral strategist. Nixon makes a break in the questioning and makes a statement to defend his political tactics, to assert that as a candidate he was the victim of abuses of power in which the IRS and the FBI were used against him, and that the current investigation was one sided ignoring the tactics of his opponents. Nixon said, "But I think that it is time, and perhaps the Special Prosecutor, when he files his final report, will have one paragraph in for history, it is time for us to recognize that in politics in America, and this is not excusable, but it does explain it to an extent, particularly where the highest office in the land is involved, and even in some instances where campaigns for governor in major states or senators are involved, that in politics some pretty rough tactics are used."
Senate Hearing Transcript Excerpt - On June 26, 1973 John Dean reveals the existence of an enemies list. In his testimony Dean says, "I might also add that in my possession is a rather, very much down the line to what you are talking about, is a memorandum that was requested by me to prepare a means to attack the enemies of the White House. There was also maintained what was called an enemies list, which was rather extensive and continually being updated."
Select Committee On Presidential Campaign Activities Of The United States Senate Exhibits - Exhibits from a Senate Committee Report of documents submitted by John Dean regarding an Enemies List including:
Memorandum for John Dean from Charles Colson re: Tax discrepancies in income tax return of Harold J. Gibbons, vice president of the Teamsters Union.
Memorandum for John Dean from Charles Colson re: Information received from an informer concerning Jack Anderson
Memorandum prepared by John Dean for members of the White House staff. Subject: Dealing with our Political Enemies
Memorandum for John Dean from Charles Colson re: Names given top priority on enemies list
Memorandum for Larry Higby from John Dean concerning names for enemies list
Memorandum from a member of Charles Colson's staff re: People who attended a rally for a "dump Nixon" program
List of McGovern campaign staff with asterisks beside key names that were to be included in the Opponents Project.
List of Democratic contributors of $25,000 or more in 1968 campaigns.