Hot Air

Huston, You Were A Problem

I understand a fellow named Tom Huston spoke at Indiana University last week. Huston, the Herald Times (paywall) informs us, was an IU student back in the early 1960s. He became a 1960s campus activist and later went on to become a White House advisor.

Some reformed hippie, you’re probably thinking. Someone like Tom Hayden, say, or even on a grander level, John Kerry.

You’d be wrong.

Any student of the Nixon Administration’s secret, anti-democratic machinations knows the name Tom Charles Huston. He was recruited by the Nixon mobsters after he’d set up the Young Americans for Freedom chapter here at IU and had had established a career for himself as a provocateur, dirty-tricks player, and pathological anti-communist.

After Huston settled in at the White House, he became known among many administration staffers as “Secret Agent X-5,” a mocking reference to his purported obsession with cloak and dagger stuff. In fact, he penned the notorious “Huston Plan,” a scheme that would allow Nixon et al to spook the citizens of this holy land so that he and his cronies could carry out their doomed Vietnam War in peace, among other vital foreign policy objectives and pastimes.

Spy vs. Spy


The United States in 1970, Nixon and Huston believed, was under assault by wealth redistributionists, radical black nationalists, and anti-war terrorists. Mind you, many among those groups indeed were wild-eyed loons but the Nixon crowd’s panic caused them to shiver over the specter of, in Mike Royko‘s colorful characterization, little old ladies in tennis shoes who met in church basements to pray for peace. Something had to be done to stem the breakdown of our beloved society. Before you’d know it, strapping young black bucks would be co-habitating with Iowans’ daughters, the women of Wyoming would be forced to work in hard core porn films, the sons of New Jersey-ites would be pouring LSD over their breakfast flakes, and the Soviets would be chuckling aboard their submarines as they waited off the coast of the the Carolinas for their orders to invade our soft, hedonistic land.

Nixon that spring called for a meeting of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the National Security Agency head, the CIA director, a high-level representative of the Army, and Huston to discuss what could be done. The various attendees were directed by the president to coordinate their efforts against civil rights activists and anti-war protesters. Huston was charged with crafting a set of marching orders for the group.

Here are a few strategic and tactical recommendations Tom Huston called for:

  • Increased use of phone taps
  • Increased use of planted listening devices
  • Break-ins to offices of targeted organizations and individuals
  • Mail intercepts
  • Using underaged college students as paid informants
  • Intercepting international communications of American citizens
  • The creation of mass detention camps in isolated areas of the country for protesters

In other words, Tom Charles Huston would have made Stasi and the KGB proud.

Huston’s recommendations were part and parcel of Nixon’s paranoiac reign which included plans to firebomb the Brookings Institute, the break-ins at the Watergate office complex, an elaborate spying operation on the Democratic Party, G. Gordon Liddy’s “Gemstone” plan to kidnap anti-war protesters and use prostitutes in an effort to catch Democratic officials in compromising positions, hush money paid out to Watergate break-in defendants, destroying evidence, ordering the FBI and CIA to stand down in their investigations into administration wrongdoing, and other delights.

Much of Huston’s plan scared the bejesus even out of J. Edgar Hoover, who was not known as the nation’s foremost champion of civil liberties. Some parts of Huston’s plan were scrapped but much was implemented.

Huston never went to jail for his sins, although I can’t think of a better place for him. Since the Nixon downfall, he has become a noted international corporate real estate attorney, now semi-retired from the the Barnes & Thornburg law offices in Indianapolis.

Yesterday, he told IU students how swell Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were and how today’s political climate was born of the modern conservative movement’s awakening in the mid-’60s.

Ick. I think I need to go outside, breathe some fresh air and gaze at the sunny, blue sky in order to purge myself of such toxins.

Higher Ed

The Loved One and I attended a nice little dinner party last night, Several of the guests were academics from IUPUI. The dons were old vets of the pedagogy rackets and, as such, have seen big changes in the student body lo these many years.

For instance, one of the profs, a hard scientist we’ll call Jack, told us the tale of an Indianapolis car dealer he knew who said that some of the Chinese students coming to town for a college education have more pocket money than can be found in a small town’s bank vault. One newly arrived student, the dealer related, walked into the dealership one day and fished out a mighty wad of cash from her purse. She proceeded to lay out a hundred thousand USD on the dealer’s desk. “Can I buy a car with this?” she asked. No word on whether the dealer has regained consciousness.

The dealer had more. Another student bought a luxury car from him and, surprisingly, a couple of months later came in to buy another car. As if that weren’t enough, the same young man returned another couple of months later to buy a third car. The dealer learned that the young man was being given a $30,000 a month allowance by his parents. The kid confessed he wasn’t creative enough to blow thirty G’s a month so he simply decided to buy a new car every couple of months.

The other academic, a soft scientist we’ll call Adam who has also taught at Indiana University here in Bloomington, went on to describe how the campus parking lots in both places are rife with BMWs, Porsches, Lotuses, Maseratis and other chariots of the gods. The high end rides, he added, most assuredly were not owned by teachers and professors.


Student Transportation

Jack wondered what possible work that awaited such privileged young folk after graduation could possibly excite and challenge them. Adam remembered how he dreamed of one day owning a car that didn’t threaten to collapse in a heap of rusty parts in the middle of the road after he would graduate from college. And, he said, he remembered being overjoyed in those all too rare months when he’d have enough money left over to buy an album or two.

Both academics agreed that one of the prime motivators that got them through four years of slogging and cramming was the dream that their real world work would elevate them from student poverty. “What,” Jack asked, “keeps these kids going now?”

The two old birds also agreed that IUPUI and IU both are specifically marketing themselves toward the scions of the uber-rich worldwide. And they’re not alone; pretty much every U. around this holy land is lusting after kids for whom $30,000 is a monthly allowance.

There’s no dearth of such privileged princes and princesses. The fast rise of China’s economy in the last couple of decades has produced a mini-club of families richer than your average oil sheik. South Korea, too, is crawling with obscenely nouveau riche families. Those Middle East oil sheiks also are shipping their spawn off to America to book-learn how to run daddy’s biz when the time comes.

It all makes me wonder what their care packages look like.

2 thoughts on “Hot Air

  1. ken farrell says:

    Good job. In 1970 I was in HAIR in Boston, where we were spied on by the DA’s office. Cast members busted with planted pot (not to be confused with potted plants) and shut down for 6 weeks. In May we were faced with Kent State and the spring moratorium in the commons almost went south. How a clown like Huston got so close to infecting the already rotten powers is unfathomable. cheers kf

  2. re: moving money. This seems really quite fascinating right? Basically, money is being injected into the country in the form of Chinese discretionary spending. That is, this is not “student transportation” or anything at all to do with your juxtaposition of what you imagine is a motivation for completing an education in the America of your youth. This is something else. But also, it would be good to get some facts into this hearsay.

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