JohnDean073014bJohn Dean, White House Counsel for Richard Nixon (1970-73), was hawking his latest book: The Nixon Defense on the Upper West Side this evening.

It seems an odd title for the book given Dean’s role in the Watergate break-in, and the subsequent bringing down of the Nixon White House.

Mr. Dean recounted confronting Nixon with the news that a “cancer” had formed on his Presidency, and yet it doesn’t appear that Mr. Dean did anything, as White House Counsel, to prevent the cancer in the first place.

He was asked about “Nixon’s illegal (secret) bombing of Cambodia” and why he didn’t say anything to oppose it? Dean replied: “Why did I (as Counsel) not step in and say something about his bombing of Cambodia and the additional deaths that that would cause? The primary reason is because I was totally unaware of all those activities.”

That’s unlikely given that the press reported the story in May 1969.

Referring to the ‘secret’ bombing of Cambodia (1969-70), Walter Isaacson said in his book Kissinger: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 1992): “American policy was edging toward what had heretofore been an unfamiliar realm: the use of military power not anchored by concerns about morality and international law.”

Analysis: Even a casual reading of American history, reveals that the U.S. government’s disconnect from morality and international law began long before the bombing of Cambodia. While Nixon may have been forced from office, his pardon by President Ford (a former member of the Warren Commission) represents the continuation of a pattern of no accountability in Washington, that continues to this day.

Photograph: Stephen Wise