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Alexander Haig dies at 85

Alexander M. Haig Jr., the take-charge general who served as chief of staff to President Richard M. Nixon and secretary of state to President Ronald Reagan, died Saturday at age 85.

Haig was a controversial figure in Washington for a number of reasons, but he is probably remembered most for a statement he made after the assassination attempt on Reagan on March 30, 1981.

When Vice President George H.W. Bush -- with whom Haig had something of a White House power struggle -- was on a plane flying back to Washington, Haig quickly seized the moment, addressing reporters:

"As of now, I am in control here in the White House," he said.

We've posted a gallery of photos of Haig, and you can also hear a Watergate-era discussion between Haig and Nixon here about the New York Times's revelation of the Pentagon Papers.

More than 30 years later, in 2006, Haig was still railing against what he saw as the uncontrolled power of the press in this frank, wide-ranging and sometimes humorous discussion on foreign policy and other matters:


By Matt Schudel  |  February 20, 2010; 12:01 PM ET
 
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Comments

Good riddance.

Posted by: geezjan | February 20, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Haig or rather hog, was a prefect conservative republican opportunist. For starters $5000 in 1924 was quite a bit of money for any family. But that is all past history.

The Korean and Vietnam war hero, marrying a general's daugher was an assest to grease his upward mobility just as was for the case with John Sydeny McCain the third, as being Son and Grand Son of Admirals. And the all the booze money that Cindy Lou's father was able to generate with his Las Vegas Mafia connections.

It was these BS cold war so called warriors who expanded the Industrial Military Complex and all the profits of the same. The end result was the vast amount of waste and abuse of US tax payers money for the cash cow of the US DOD.

Had it not been for the press, Haig would have run rough shod when Reagan was shot. Just the usual GOP Status Quo.

Posted by: winemaster2 | February 20, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I am in control here, in Hell.

Posted by: trblmkr1 | February 20, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Alexander Haig was one of the smart great Americans. Only those with a mental disorder could listen to what Haig said and not realize “how great was his understanding”. We would be a great world power with an industrial base and the respect of the world if he had been president for 8 years. No one would have dared attack us on 9/11; and we would not be on the self destructive moronic course of hope and change. If we keep electing Marxist dumbbells instead of intellectual master minds the end of the US as we new it is here. Do not vote for any incumbent or anyone with any connection to oil, weapons manufacturers or banks or drug companies. Only elect heroes like the pilot who landed in the Hudson or the person who saved someone from a burning building.

Posted by: jaygetty1 | February 20, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

geezjan, winemaster2, trbimkrr1

its because of the al haigs of this country, whether liberal or conservative, men who have served with honor their whole lives, and that put themselves in harms way in multiple wars, that allow you to spit out this drivel on public forums. . .

on the day this man who died, who lived his life under the credo "duty, honor country", whether you agreed with his political point of view or not, why don't you show a little respect to his family, and keep your cheap venom to yourselves!!

Posted by: madmax521 | February 20, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I always have and always will love and respect Secretary of State Haig and my condolences go out to his wife and family.

I just read the 4 page article in the WaPo about the General and the "I'm in control here" comment and it was interesting to see, or shall I say not see, how this was covered and it will be interesting to see how it's covered in the next few days.

I read Haigs book and I find his explnation plausable. He said...

"As of now, I am in control here in the White House, pending return of the vice president and in close touch with him."

...because he did not want the world (meaning Russia) to think that no one was in control here in the USA. Even if you don't believe him I find it funny (but not surprising) that you NEVER hear or see the last part of the sentence and his explanation about it when some one talks or writes about this espisode.

Could it be because it would make the story less tabloidish? Nah.

I know some people (actually a lot of people-lol) will disagree with me but during the cold war years we needed to have a slightly crazy General around just to keep the Russians and Soviet Bloc in check.

REST IN PEACE MR. HAIG.

Posted by: daleinfl | February 20, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

that was one of the most taken out of context statements ever. . .al haig knew the constitution as well as anyone. . .and as a good west pointer and military man, he had no intention of usurping his authority. . .his only goal in a time of crises was to maintain instant calm in a time of crises. ...

what most people really never understand is at the time of nixon's resignation, he, probably more than any single individual, prevented a situation that could have been perceived at the time, or afterwards as having been a coup. . .due to the way he helped steer nixon to make his own decision to resign the presidency, there was never any acusation by nixon, or anyone else, then or afterwards, that he was forced out of the presidency. . .only in this country could you have a peaceful turn over of power and leadership. . .not a shot was fired, no military involvement. . .it was a truly amazing peace of work on haig's part in particular, and demonstrated just how well the american system of government works. . .

Posted by: madmax521 | February 20, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

From the Post obit:

"He returned to West Point as deputy commandment from 1967 to 1969."

Uhm, should that be "deputy commandant"? "Deputy commander"?

Posted by: ironmountain | February 20, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

madmax521:

I will not show him any respect. He was a public figure, and that was his choice. He was also an animal and a warmonger. His family is not my concern. If there's a hell, that's where he belongs.

I'd ask you to keep your cheap patriotism and jingoism to yourself, but I know you can't help yourself, and it's your right to spew it.

Posted by: geezjan | February 20, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

geezjan

"he was an animal and a warmonger"

and yes, my patriotism does come cheap thanks to people like him. ..

you are quite a judge of people!

what are you??

Posted by: madmax521 | February 20, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget his nonchalance attitude towards the rapes and murders of
Sr. Ita Ford
Sr. Dorothy Kazel
Sr. Maura Clarke
and Jean Donovan
by the US armed and trained Salvadoran National Guard.
He said that "reports" (by whom he never identified) said the religious workers were running a roadblock and that's why the National Guard needed to rape and murder them.

I can't remember if he apologized to the families of the ladies.
(I know Jeane Kirkpatrick never apologize for her vile comments condoning the rapes and murders.)

Posted by: edlharris | February 20, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Here's a small picture of the ladies:
http://www.pbs.org/itvs/enemiesofwar/photos/ph_perspectives_nuns.jpg

I heard a priest once speak about his near death experience where he lived the life of the person he (as a soldier) had just killed.

Posted by: edlharris | February 20, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

ed,

you'd have to play me the actual tape where he said "they NEEDED to rape and murder them"...i seriously doubt he ever said that (but if you can prove it to me, i will gladly stand corrected). ..and his nonchalance is your opinion of his attitude. . .please don't judge a person's attitude based on what you see on the tv screen. . . you have no idea what he was actually thinking at the time. . .

so i guess you are saying that every american politician and diplomat is to personally blame for every one that gets killed in a foreign land while on their watch? even when they are in places they shouldn't be?

Posted by: madmax521 | February 20, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

General Haig was a great American. Of all his talents, the one I have always enjoyed was the way he makes the Left scream. This was a man who understood human nature. A man who knew who the bad guys in the world were and said so. He helped keep us safe. For his many services to our Nation I say thank you. My regards to his family.

Posted by: bobbo2 | February 20, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

General Haig was a great American. Of all his talents, the one I have always enjoyed was the way he makes the Left scream. This was a man who understood human nature. A man who knew who the bad guys in the world were and said so. He helped keep us safe. For his many services to our Nation I say thank you. My regards to his family.

Posted by: bobbo2 | February 20, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

On March 24, Secretary of State Alexander Haig explained the churchwomen’s deaths to Congress as an accident caused by nervous soldiers who “misread the mere traveling down the road (of the nuns’ van) as an effort to run a roadblock.”

http://www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/archives2/1994c/092394/092394v.htm

Posted by: edlharris | February 20, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

thats a little different than your earlier statement that he said they "needed to be raped and murdered". . .i have no doubt that there was a general conspiracy on the part of the entire US gov't to support and prop up and despot gov't in central america at that time, and this episode fell into that...but that is true of every administration in every era. . .just look around you right now at some of the govt's we are supporting as we turn our eyes on human rights violations around the world... .i'm not going to defend everything single decision he made during his career in public service... .but you have take the entire body of his work as well as the times, the era, and the administrations he worked in. . .he served, he made many contributions. .. .it is more than most can say. ...

Posted by: madmax521 | February 20, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

When Secreatary of State Haig made his comment about running a roadblock, he knew the women had been raped then murdered.
Shades of Ward Churchill there.

Posted by: edlharris | February 21, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

You guys give Haig a bad rap. Yeah, he was a take charge guy and a hawk. I was not a fan of his. But, the "I'm in charge" remark at the white house comment was really in response to press insistence on knowing, in fact, who was in charge at the White House since VP Bush was in the air. Reagan was just shot and there was huge commmotion. Haig stepped forward to fill a void and help calm a situation. If no one stepped forward, the press would have screamed "no one is in charge; how can this happen." Haig filled the void for a short time and for that he has been labled a meglomaniac ever since. Not fair to him.

Posted by: esfesq | February 21, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

President Obama said: "Today we mourn the loss of Alexander Haig, a great American ....

... like having ex-Klansman Grand Dragon Senator Bryd speak at your Martin Luther King event

... having illegals first Mayor Newsom speak at your law enforcement rally

... Paris Hilton speaking at your Democrat - "How to Balance Your Checkbook" seminar

So a great American Capitalist has a confirmed Socialist and Neo-Communist, Obama deliver a eulogy ... the family is thrilled - America stood still ...

Obama ... "well back to designing massive and destined to fail government programs ... clunkers, CAP, Stimulus ..."

Posted by: highkey11 | February 21, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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