On page 520 of Nixon: A Life, Jonathan Aitken talks about an incident that occurred in the final days of Richard Nixon's Presidency:
might have been more hurt had he known how another senior figure in his
administration, the Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, was behaving
in the final days. In what would surely win first prize in a
competition for the wildest over-reaction of Watergate, Schlesinger
somehow got the thought into his head that Nixon was planning a military
coup to avert his own resignation. This weird notion caused
Schlesinger to issue an order to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that no alert
or major movement of US forces would take place without his
countersignature as Defense Secretary. Somewhat to the embarrassment of
the Joint Chiefs, the Schlesinger Protectorate, created by this order,
lasted for three days. 'Incredible' was Nixon's reaction when he later
learned about it."
The reason that this stood out to me is that
Anthony Summers discusses the same event on pages 478-481 of his
anti-Nixon biography, The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon.
Only Summers depicts the event differently from Aitken. Aitken wonders
how in the world Schlesinger could have gotten the idea that Nixon
would plan a military coup, but Summers goes into that. According to
Summers, there was concern among a number of people in the government
about what might happen if Nixon were not willing to let go of power,
based on what some considered to be paranoid ramblings on Nixon's part.
Schlesinger acted in response to this, according to Summers, and
Summers quotes the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Brown, as
saying, "I think the secretary had a responsibility to raise these sorts
Summers closes his telling of this story with, "Mercifully, nothing untoward happened."
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