William Beecher, who as a New York Times reporter revealed President Richard M. Nixon’s secret bombing campaign on Cambodia during the Vietnam War, and who later won a Pulitzer Prize at the Boston Globe, died February 9 at his home. Wilmington House. , North Carolina he was 90 years old.

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

President Nixon ordered the bombings, called Operation Menu, in March 1969 in response to intensified 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 on the bombings, which appeared on the front page of the Times on May 9, 1969, noted that some 5,000 tons of munitions had been dropped on Cambodia in the previous two weeks alone.

He also noted that while there were no plans for a major ground raid, “small teams” of American reconnaissance forces were infiltrating Cambodia “to ensure that accurate information can be obtained that will provide ‘lucrative’ targets for bombers.”

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

The decision to tap his phone, along with those of 16 other journalists and government officials, was an early demonstration of the Nixon administration’s willingness to use legally dubious means to acquire information or silence critics.

Beecher was already an irritant to the administration, and remained so, with scoops on arms control plans and spy flights over China, all of which relied on well-placed sources within the government.

To the surprise of many people, he left The Times in 1973 to work for the Department of Defense as acting assistant secretary for public affairs. He returned to journalism in 1975 as a correspondent for the Boston Globe, where he covered international affairs.

He was part of a team that won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting with a 56-page story on the state of the nuclear arms race, a late-career achievement that he wore lightly.

“Winning a Pulitzer didn’t hurt me, but I didn’t go around telling news sources that I had won,” he told The Harvard Crimson in 2005. “I wouldn’t say it made a big difference. “

William Beecher was born May 27, 1933 in Framingham, Mass, son of Gertrude and Samuel Beecher. His father was a shopkeeper.

He studied government at Harvard, where he worked as a features editor for The Crimson and as a college correspondent for The Boston Globe. He graduated in 1955; Among his classmates were David Halberstam, J. Anthony Lukas and Sydney H. Schanberg, who would also go on to distinguished careers as Times reporters.

He received a master’s degree from the Columbia Journalism School and then spent two years in the Army before joining the reporting staff of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

He married Eileen Brick in 1958. She died in 2020. Along with his daughter Lori, he is survived by three other daughters, Diane Beecher, Nancy Kotz and Debbie Spartin; and 10 grandchildren.

Beecher moved to Washington in the early 1960s to cover the Supreme Court for The Wall Street Journal and then joined the Times in 1966.

He made five trips to Vietnam during the war. On one trip, along with Mr. Haig, his helicopter was shot down over the Mekong Delta, although they all survived with minor injuries. In another, he learned that his wife was going to have twins, news relayed to him by his traveling companion, Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

After working at The Boston Globe, Beecher served as Washington bureau chief for The Minneapolis Star Tribune and as public affairs director for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

She also wrote eight novels, a memoir, and a cookbook, and in retirement taught journalism courses at the University of Maryland.

Many successful journalists recognize their life’s calling early. But Beecher said he didn’t find his until late in his college career.

“I thought I would go into journalism or law,” he told The Crimson. “I thought I would be bored in law, but I knew I wouldn’t be bored in journalism.”