The late Air Force Gen. John D. Lavelle has finally had his name cleared by the Obama Administration and Congress. In 1972, Lavelle was made the scapegoat for bombing missions in North Vietnam by President Nixon who lied to the public and trashed the career of Lavelle who was following orders.
Recently reviewed records show that Nixon and Henry Kissinger openly discussed destroying the career of this innocent man. Nixon had qualms over blaming Lavelle but went ahead and did so. Kissinger, who is still alive, never came forward to admit that they lied.
In one exchange, Nixon says “I just don’t want him to be made a goat, goddamnit, You, you destroy a man’s career. . . . Can we do anything now to stop this damn thing?” In another exchange, he brings it up again with Kissinger, stating “Frankly, Henry, I don’t feel right about our pushing him into this thing and then, and then giving him a bad rap,” the president said. “I don’t want to hurt an innocent man.” That didn’t seem to be a particularly great burden for either man. In a public press conference, Nixon lies and says that no orders were given and “it was proper for him to be relieved and retired.” Lavalle was demoted and forced into retirement. Lavelle took the betrayal like a soldier and walked into retirement in disgrace.
The total lack of integrity and decency shown by Nixon, Kissinger, and others in this matter is a national disgrace. If Kissinger had a ounce of integrity, he would have resigned. It is hardly news that “Tricky Dick” lacked honesty. However, to destroy the career of such a man reaches a new low in my view.
The entire Lavelle family deserve this change and an apology from an ashamed nation.