US military was told to ignore 'drugged' Nixon

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The Independent US

The late Richard Nixon was under the influence of psychotic drugs for at least part of his presidency, to the point where his defence secretary warned military commanders not to take his orders without endorsement from another senior minister. The claim, supported by the doctor who prescribed the drugs, is made in a new Nixon biography, which is published in the US today.

The late Richard Nixon was under the influence of psychotic drugs for at least part of his presidency, to the point where his defence secretary warned military commanders not to take his orders without endorsement from another senior minister. The claim, supported by the doctor who prescribed the drugs, is made in a new Nixon biography, which is published in the US today.

The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Anthony Summers, an Irish journalist, also says that Mr Nixon beat his wife Patricia, on more than one occasion, once giving her a black eye.

According to Summers, Nixon consulted Dreyfus in 1970 after becoming depressed over the hostile public reaction to the bombing of Cambodia.

The sources for this charge are second-hand, and the contention is strongly disputed by the Nixon family, which said it is "utterly inconceivable".

According to the book, Nixon was prescribed Dilantin by a New York psychotherapist, Jack Dreyfus, an enthusiastic user of the drug himself. Dr Dreyfus told The New York Times that he gave Nixon a bottle of 1,000 capsules "when his mood wasn't too good" and later gave him another 1,000 capsules. Dr Dreyfus said Dilantin, was effective in combating "fear, worry, guilt, panic, anger and related emotions, irritability, rage, depression, violent behaviour" and a host of other ailments.

A second doctor, Arnold Hutschnecker, who is now 102, confirmed that president Nixon had neurotic symptoms, including anxiety and sleeplessness, but denied that he had "a serious psychiatric diagnosis: he wasn't psychotic".

The New York Times quoted a specialist from Cornell medical school as saying that Dilantin had potentially serious side effects, such as changed mental status, confusion and loss of memory.

Nixon's propensity for sharp changes of mood is well established but the new book documents the fact that the man whose finger was on the US nuclear button was taking mind-altering drugs during one of the most tense times of the Cold War - apparently without reference to his personal doctor.

The then secretary of defense, James Schlesinger, is reported in the book as having been so concerned about Nixon's state of mind that he ordered military units not to react to orders from the White House unless they were cleared with him or the secretary of state.

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