Fifty years since John F. Kennedy was president, details of his presidency are still unfolding. In July of 1962, President JFK installed hidden recording systems in the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room to record conversations between him and cabinet leaders on national and international issues. These newly released secret tapes from inside the Oval Office and some private conversations offer a revealing look inside his presidency and a personal glimpse of the man as well. Historian Ted Widmer wrote about these 265 hours of recordings in “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of JFK.”
Widmer describes the recordings as highly sophisticated and clandestine. “It was a very closely held secret,” Widmer says. “A tiny number of people knew. Most of his top advisers had no idea.”
Widmer credits JFK with knowing their value, though JFK never said what his goal was for recording them. “I think it was for history,” Widmer says. “I think he was getting ready to write his memoirs, for that long into the future day when he wouldn’t be president anymore. And he just wanted to capture the raw stuff of what was happening.”
Widmer explains that the recordings demonstrate JFK’s true character and personality as president. “Throughout a capacity to learn, he was a decisive president, and you get that feeling. But he was also evolving, in the way we hope our presidents do. On civil rights, there was a lot of movement,” he says.
On Friday, President Obama is expected to make a very important phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The phone call follows a week of heavy criticism against the president for not meeting with Netanyahu in person and yet making time for several TV appearances and campaign stops. Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister met with Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton for more than an hour, which included an "in depth discussion on Iran." That meeting followed Netanyahu’s blistering speech to the United Nations General Assembly where he made it clear Israel would demand a "red line" to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon - literally drawing that line in front of the audience. Mark Regev is the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and joins “Starting Point” today to discuss
Regev says the American position has been consistent with Israel calls to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. “Our position and the United States’ position are almost identical and we have to continue talking to see what we can do to prevent the Iranians from achieving a nuclear bomb.”
On Tuesday, a top Israeli official wrote in The Times of Israel article that while Fmr. President Clinton “made us feel like he had our back…President Obama doesn’t give us the same sense that he’d be there.” Regev disagrees – saying, “I don’t believe that’s an official who’s in the loop with what’s going on between Jerusalem and Washington today.” Regev adds, “I think there’s a common understanding that the Iranian regime simply can not be allowed to achieve a nuclear weapon.”
The spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister says despite the fact Obama chose not to meet with Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister did not feel insulted. “We came here to New York… because of the Jewish holidays we only arrived yesterday. The President was here only at the beginning of the week. We’ve got a good dialogue. We will continue to discuss the issue and the most important things to stop Iranian nuclear enrichment.”
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