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Book sheds light on claims linking the junta to Nixon and Johnson

A recent biography of John F. Kennedy by an eminent American historian sheds some light on allegations, which surfaced in 1968 but received little attention, that Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon and his running mate, Spiro Agnew, had received money from the Greek military dictatorship. Nixon went on to win the presidency that year. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had succeeded Kennedy after his assassination in 1963, chose not to act on the allegations because he did not want to help the Democratic candidate, Hubert Humphrey, wrote Robert Dallek, professor of history at Boston University, in «An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963» (published in May 2003). «Elias P. Demetracopoulos, a Greek journalist who had fled Athens in 1967 after a colonels’ coup, provided the president with a chance to damage, if not sink, Nixon’s campaign,» Dallek wrote. «Demetracopoulos had information that Greece’s military dictators had funneled more than half a million dollars into the Nixon-Agnew campaign. He gave this information to Larry O’Brien, who had been head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and had become Humphrey’s campaign manager. Demetracopoulos urged O’Brien to put this before Johnson and to tell him that CIA Director Richard Helms could confirm its accuracy. O’Brien took the story to the president, but Johnson, according to what O’Brien told Demetracopoulos, refused to act upon it. He would neither ask Helms to investigate the report nor consider leaking it to the press, should it prove to be true.» Demetracopoulos’s allegations that the Greek junta had sent money to Nixon’s campaign are nothing new. They were given prominence also in Seymour Hersh’s 1983 book «The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House.» At the time, Hersh wrote that in 1968 there were repeated press allegations that Thomas A. Pappas, «a prominent Greek-American businessman with CIA connections who had raised millions of dollars for Republican candidates» had «played a role in delivering campaign contributions from the Greek government to the Nixon forces.» O’Brien, Hersh wrote, «publicly called on Nixon to explain his relationship with Pappas. O’Brien acted after a series of private meetings that had begun weeks earlier at his Watergate offices with Demetracopoulos, who had turned to the Democrats after hearing from friends in Greece that, as he puts it, ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Greek KYP, directly subsidized by the CIA, was being laundered through Pappas for the Nixon campaign.’ O’Brien’s carefully hedged statement received little press attention, but left Demetracopoulos a marked man for the Nixon administration.» Dallek writes that «Johnson had not developed a sudden fastidiousness about leaking stories that could not be traced to the White House. Rather, Johnson was reluctant to do anything that might help Humphrey win.» According to Dallek, Johnson was angered by Humphrey’s declaration that he would seek an end to the Vietnam war if elected, at a time when peace talks were being held in Paris.