The First Enemies List

On June 27, 1973, the Senate Watergate Committee released the first White House Enemies List in two parts, a top 20 list for special attention and another list of about 200 "Political Opponents" organized in categories. Together, these two lists have become widely know as "Nixon's Enemies List" or "Nixon's First Enemies List" (The second "Enemies List," prepared in September 1972 would not be made public until December 1973).

Only the first 11 names here can be confidently called an Enemies List without quotes. Chief White House Counsel Charles Colson selected the names himself (with blue checkmarks) from a list of 20 (the "Original List") prepared by George Bell and dated June 24, 1971. (A twelfth checkmark was crossed out.) This corresponds to John Dean's request in his August 16, 1971 "Dealing with our Political Enemies" memo which sought "not more than ten" names as targets for concentration. This is the only list that can be said to have been conceived, compiled, and approved as an Enemies List. The other lists that were later published in newspaper articles are usually called "Enemies Lists" with quotation marks. They were part of the "Political Enemies Project" for consideration, but not necessarily inclusion in any official list. In fact, the Congressional investigation into Nixon's misuse of the IRS found no unusual audit activity for the names collected in the "Opponents List and Political Enemies Project."

Special Assistant George Bell, the original compiler, died in 1973 after a long illness and never testified about why he ever started the list.

The story of this first list broke on June 27, 1973 during Congressional Watergate testimony and was a major news story for several days.

The Top 20
(or "Original" List)

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Name as originally listedOriginal Comment