There is no way he could win a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize and he wasn’t going to be honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, but in the final — and often creepy — days of the Bush Administration, President George W. Bush took time out from his schedule to present Charles Colson, Watergate felon and conservative evangelical Christian extraordinaire, with a Presidential Citizens Medal.
"For more than three decades, Chuck Colson has dedicated his life to sharing the message of God’s boundless love and mercy with prisoners, former prisoners and their families," the White House said in the citation. "Through his strong faith and leadership, he has helped courageous men and women from around the world make successful transitions back into society."
According to the White House, "The Presidential Citizens Medal was established in November 13, 1969, to recognize U.S. citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for the nation. It is one of the highest honors the President can confer upon a civilian, second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom." Past recipients include boxer Muhammad Ali, baseball great Henry "Hank" Aaaron, civil rights icon Dorothy Height, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Think Progress reminded us that "Colson was President Nixon’s counsel from 1969-1973 and pleaded guilty in 1974 to obstruction of justice. Colson received a one to three year sentence, but served just seven months."
David Plotz at Slate described Colson’s role in the Nixon Administration:
Quote:As special counsel to the president, he was Richard Nixon’s hard man, the "evil genius" of an evil administration. According to Watergate historian Stanley Kutler, Colson sought to hire Teamsters thugs to beat up anti-war demonstrators, and he plotted to raid or firebomb the Brookings Institution. He eventually pleaded guilty to scheming to defame Daniel Ellsberg and interfering with his trial.
In 1974, Time magazine wrote:
Quote:Colson took on the tough jobs for the President. He leaked damaging or misleading information to the press about people who criticized the President, had young men hired to pose as homosexuals supporting McGovern at the Democratic National Convention, and engineered mail campaigns in favor of Nixon’s policies. He allegedly ordered his close friend E. Howard Hunt to fabricate a State Department telegram implicating President Kennedy in the assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. At one point, according to Senate Watergate testimony, he urged that Washington’s Brookings Institution be fire-bombed as a diversionary tactic in a raid to seize some politically damaging documents. ‘Chuck could never play anything straight,’ says one of his former underlings. ‘Everything had to be contrived, a setup. Chuck always had to stuff the ballot box.’
A post by Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings pointed out that Colson "wrote the [now infamous] Enemies’ List, [famously] said that he would walk over his own grandmother if it would help get Nixon re-elected, and hired the ‘plumbers’ who carried out the Watergate break-in."