William Beecher, Who Revealed Secret Cambodia Bombing, Dies at 90

William Beecher, who as a reporter for The New York Times revealed President Richard M. Nixon’s secret bombing campaign over Cambodia during the Vietnam War, and who later won a Pulitzer Prize at The Boston Globe, died on Feb. 9 at his home in Wilmington, N.C. He was 90.

His daughter, Lori Beecher, and son-in-law, Marc Burstein, confirmed the death.

President Nixon ordered the bombings, code-named Operation Menu, in March 1969 in response to stepped-up attacks by the North Vietnamese Army and South Vietnamese guerrillas based in Cambodia, a neutral country. The campaign was so secret that even William P. Rogers, the secretary of state, was unaware of it.

Mr. Beecher’s article about the bombings, which appeared on the front page of The Times on May 9, 1969, noted that in the previous two weeks alone, some 5,000 tons of ordnance had been dropped on Cambodia.

He also noted that while there were no plans for a major land incursion, “small teams” of U.S. reconnaissance forces were infiltrating Cambodia “to assure that accurate information can be obtained to provide ‘lucrative’ targets for the bombers.”

Mr. Beecher in 1962 in the newsroom of The Wall Street Journal, for which he covered the Supreme Court.Credit…via Beecher family

The article generated an immediate reaction in the White House. Within two weeks Gen. Alexander Haig, a deputy to Henry Kissinger, the national security adviser, asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to tap Mr. Beecher’s phone in an attempt to identify who leaked the information to him.

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