Skip to comments.Woodwardgate: Deep Throat or Shallow Reporting?
Posted on 12/06/2005 8:20:40 AM PST by Fedora
Woodwardgate: Deep Throat or Shallow Reporting?
One, Woodward wrote about how Deep Throat, he had a long friendship with Deep Throat. There's no evidence that he ever had any kind of friendship with Mark Felt. Secondly, why would the number two man at the FBI choose to confide in a young metro reporter for 'The Washington Post' who had only been there for nine months? Three, Deep Throat is given credit by Woodward with the story of the destruction of the tape. How would Mark Felt have known about that? On the other side of the coin, Mark Felt would have known about the FBI's investigation into the call girl ring that was being run out of the Columbia Plaza apartment. And that, of course, was the connection and that is what was being spied upon. Why wouldn't he have told Woodward and why wouldn't Woodward have reported it?
--G. Gordon Liddy
. . .I had also began to give the truth about the Watergate operation to Robert L. Jackson of the Los Angeles Times. . .No other journalist had these facts before that time. The Washington Post reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, did not. . .their sources, Hugh Sloan of CRP, and their sources within the FBI and the prosecutors office, did not have the facts on Mitchell, Dean and Magruder. . .
There were many sources, one of whom I knew to be the Presidents lawyer, J. Fred Buzhardt. . .He informed me years later that he had been the main source and thats what provided the accurate aspects of the Woodward and Bernstein books. . . Some could call it a coup detat.
What follows is a summary excerpted from an investigation I have been doing into the role of John Kerrys Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Watergate (which is a separate piece not included here). This investigation is incomplete, but in light of Bob Woodwards recent allegations about FBI agent W. Mark Felt being Deep Throat, and in light of Woodwards role in Plamegate, Ive decided to release some of this information now, so that Woodwards current activity can be better scrutinized in its historical context. Much of what will be said here is not really news per se, in that most of this information has been publicly available for decades, albeit scattered through various sources rather than presented in one place as it is here. But despite this, this information has not reached the awareness of the general public, so hopefully a review of some old facts may be excused on the grounds that those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.
According to Woodward and coauthor Carl Bernsteins account in All the Presidents Men, their involvement with the Watergate story began when a Washington Post editor assigned them to cover the arrest of some men who had been caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building. What appeared at first glance to be a mundane story suddenly became more interesting when one of the accused, James McCord, was asked by the court to identify their employer, and answered, CIA, prompting courtroom observer Woodward to mutter an expletive (deleted).
Given Woodwards account of his reaction to McCords comment, youd expect his coverage to have focused more on the CIA angle. But in fact, as researchers who have reviewed the Posts coverage have documented, while Woodward and Bernstein were ahead of other reporters in their coverage of many aspects of Watergate, they came to lag behind other investigators in covering CIA-related aspects of the story. Although their earliest stories on Watergate in late June 1972 did mention the CIA, after that their coverage of the CIA angle dropped off markedly. There are a grand total of 8 page entries under CIA in the index of All the Presidents Men, and many CIA-related leads pursued by other researchers were never followed up by Woodward and Bernstein. Why did they fail to pursue their original lead?
A partial answer is provided in a CIA memo obtained by Senate investigators and included in the Nedzi Report into alleged CIA involvement in Watergate. The memo was written on March 1, 1973 by Martin Lukoskie, the CIA case officer of Robert Foster Bennett, the current Utah Senator. Bennett was then the president of the CIA front Robert R. Mullen Company, which had hired Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt after Hunt retired from the CIA for the third time in 1970 (while continuing to maintain regular contact with CIA personnel). Lukoskies memo discussed Bennetts efforts to keep the Watergate investigation from disclosing Mullens link to the burglars. Lukoskie recorded that Bennett had elicited the cooperation of Democratic National Committee counsel Edward Bennett Williams and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. The memo reported, Mr. Bennett said also that he has been feeding stories to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post with the understanding that there be no attribution to Bennett. Woodward is suitably grateful for the fine stories and by-lines which he gets and protects Bennett (and the Mullen Company).
In interviews, Woodward has tried to brush this memo off, admitting that he talked to Bennett but denying that Bennett significantly influenced his coverage, and pointing to the passages in All the Presidents Men which mention the CIA. But All the Presidents Men was not published until February 1974, and even the little information about the CIA it includes goes beyond what was covered in Woodward and Bernsteins original Post reporting from 1972-1974. For instance All the Presidents Men includes a dramatic passage where Deep Throat informs Woodward that everyones life is in danger from the CIA; but this eminently-newsworthy story never appeared in the original Post coverage of Watergate. More to the point, neither the Posts original coverage nor All the Presidents Men included anything which could be called an in-depth investigation of the Mullen angle.
What is especially interesting about this is that researchers have found evidence Woodward had an intelligence background prior to his involvement in Watergate. After graduating from Yale, a major recruitment ground for the intelligence community, Woodward had entered the Navy and been assigned to position involving top-secret crypto security clearance. Later he was assigned to the staff of Admiral Thomas Moorer, where his duties including providing briefings on raw intelligence flowing between the Chief of Naval Operations and various parts of the intelligence community. In this position Woodward allegedly carried documents between Moorer and NSC Advisor Henry Kissingers aide Alexander Haig, according to three sources including Moorer himself, whose account contradicts Woodwards claim that he did not meet Haig until 1973. Woodward now also claims he came to know FBI agent W. Mark Felt during this time frame, though this has yet to be corroborated by other sources.
Regardless of when Woodward met Felt and Haig, his Naval duties indicate that he was no stranger to the intelligence community before he began helping Robert Bennett suppress the CIA/Mullen connection to Watergate.
So what was the CIA trying to conceal by soliciting Woodward to steer the press away from its Mullen operation? To illuminate the significance of Watergates Mullen connection, it will help to review some background. Although much commentary on Watergate has tended to equate the arrested CIA agents with the Nixon White House, the CIA actually had a more complex relationship with Nixon and the Executive Branch, stemming from a dynamic that can be traced back to the Agencys origins.
From its creation in 1947 the CIA became a political football. Internally, the Agency tended to form new factions after each Presidential transition, as holdovers from previous administrations strained against appointees of incoming ones. Externally the Agency was in perpetual rivalry with military intelligence and the FBI, both suspicious that the liberal bent and Soviet infiltration of the OSS during World War II had influenced its CIA offshoot; while the CIA in turn viewed the military and Bureau as limited in effectiveness by authoritarian structure and old-fashioned thinking.
This interagency tension grew further strained during Nixons first term as President. Nixon had come to eye the CIA with suspicion since the 1960 election, in which he believed his opponent John Kennedy had benefited from leaks by elements in the Agency. However Nixon was also dissatisfied with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. For one thing Nixon wanted Hoover to conduct warrantless surveillance on behalf of the White House without documentation of the White Houses participation, but Hoover had grown extra wary of exposing the Bureau to legal risks since a 1965 wiretapping controversy, and he refused to conduct any such surveillance without explicit authorization from the President or Attorney General, to Nixons frustration. CIA Director Richard Helms was impatient with Hoover for the same reason and tried to bypass his resistance by cultivating moles in the Bureau, to which Hoover responded by cutting off the FBIs traditional liaison with the CIA.
Chief among the CIAs Bureau moles was a high-ranking FBI agent named William C. Sullivan. Sullivan was a liberal Democrat who felt Hoovers conservatism and by-the-book methods were outdated, and he had grown increasingly close to the CIA since 1961. He grew doubly disgruntled after Hoover disciplined him and a number of other FBI agents for lax surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald prior to John Kennedys assassination. (A few hours after the assassination, Sullivan removed files from the Dallas FBI office documenting FBI and CIA surveillance of someone representing himself as Oswald alleging to have been in contact with the Soviet embassy in Cuba and the head of the KGBs assassination section in Mexico.) Sullivan helped the CIA circumvent Hoovers access to Nixon, a move Hoover in turn attempted to counter by creating a new position above Sullivans and promoting an agent named W. Mark Felt to staff the new position. Sullivan also undermined Hoover for the CIA by working with White House aides Tom Charles Huston and John Dean in pushing a plan to reorganize the intelligence community in a way that would transfer some of the FBIs domestic surveillance jurisdiction to an interagency group more favorable to CIA policy. This plan, known in its initial version as the Huston Plan, would have allowed the CIA to engage in warrantless domestic surveillance operations. Hoover knocked the first proposal for this plan down, but the CIA and its allies in the Bureau and White House staff kept finding ways to put it back on the table.
Nixons ill-advised solution to the CIA-FBI conflict was to work around traditional intelligence channels through his NSC Advisor Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was closely linked to Nixons considerably more liberal Republican rival Nelson Rockefeller, who had been trying to build his own intelligence apparatus serving his familys political agenda since World War II, and was viewed as a creeping socialist by conservatives in the military, the FBI, and the CIA alike. For that matter Nixon did not particularly trust Rockefeller or Kissinger either, but following the questionable adage of keeping his enemies close, he tried to keep Rockefeller and Kissinger where he could keep an eye on them. While running errands for Nixon, Kissinger tended to use the NSC and borrowed Naval intelligence equipment to run his own intelligence back channels around established channels, to the consternation of the military, the FBI, and the CIA alike. Naval officers suspicious of the secret messages Kissinger was carrying began to spy on him and leak classified information about his activities to the press.
The CIA likewise began keeping an eye on Nixon, as personnel with CIA backgrounds began taking jobs at the White House--which is how the Robert R. Mullen Company enters the picture.
In fall 1969 E. Howard Hunt, while still working for the CIA, began trying to get a job with the White House from Nixons counsel Charles Colson, a fellow graduate of Brown University. Colson says Hunt continued to pester him for over a year. Finally after retiring from the CIA in April 1970, joining Robert R. Mullen Company at that time, and eventually persuading Colson and White House aide John Ehrlichman that he was no longer in contact with the CIA (which he was), he was hired on July 7, 1971 to a new White House team being formed to investigate the recent leak of the Pentagon Papers. This team was nicknamed the Plumbers, since its assignment was to stop leaks.
The Plumbers were headed by David Young and Egil Bud Krogh. Young was a protege of Nelson Rockefeller and had been Henry Kissingers appointments secretary on the NSC. Krogh, who had family connections to Ehrlichman and came to the White House from Ehrlichmans law firm, was a former Navy communications officer. He had worked at the Stanford Research Institute, which did contract work for the CIA. He had also served as the White Houses liaison with the FBI and Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Through Kroghs work on anti-narcotics law enforcement he met Treasury Agent G. Gordon Liddy, a Korean War veteran and former FBI agent, who upon his recommendation was hired to the Plumbers. Liddy thus became one of the few Plumbers without a CIA background.
The Plumbers assigned liaison with the CIA was John Paisley, Director of the Agencys Office of Security (OS), a unit where McCord had served under Hunts longtime friend Howard Osborn. The OS unit was responsible for among other things hunting for Soviet moles. Theories that Paisley may have been a mole would be aired after he disappeared in 1978 under suspicious circumstances, with classified documents found on his boat and his death declared on the basis of a corpse that did not match his physical description and had been killed in a manner which could not definitively be ruled a result of suicide or homicide. It is not necessary for present purposes to explore theories about Paisleys controversial fate, which has been obscured by anonymous and otherwise unreliable sources, but sticking to the known facts let it suffice to say, he is an interesting individual and his involvement with the Plumbers is noteworthy. According to Paisleys widow, he, Osborn, and the Plumbers met frequently in the latter half of 1971. When the Watergate arrests came to the CIAs attention the case would initially be assigned to Osborn.
Concurrent with OS involvement in the Plumbers operation, OS began lending agents to Secret Service agent Alfred Wong, who handled technical services at the White House. In this capacity Wong was in charge of the White House taping system that would later play such a prominent role in the Watergate investigation. Under Wong overall supervision of the Presidential taping system was assigned to former Air Force officer Alexander Butterfield, who earlier in his career had been an aide to Joseph Califano, now Edward Bennett Williams law partner and like Williams a Democratic National Committee attorney. Butterfield and Califano like Williams would both play significant roles in the Watergate investigation.
One OS agent Wong borrowed in October 1971 was McCord, who had retired from the CIA four months after Hunt joined Mullen. At CIA McCord had worked in an OS branch called the Security Research Staff (SRS), involved in some of the CIAs most exotic operations, including contracting Mafia assets to assassinate Fidel Castro, conducting LSD mind-control experiments, and using prostitutes for sexual blackmail as well as psychological profiling of targets sexual behavior patterns. Upon Wongs recommendation, McCord was assigned to handle technical security matters for the Nixon re-election committee (the Committee to Re-elect the President aka CRP, CREEP). In this capacity McCord came to work with the Plumbers and Hunt.
Hunt meanwhile had recruited to the Plumbers a number of Cuban veterans of the CIAs Bay of Pigs operation from Miami. Hunt, who had participated in that operation himself, had approached one of his old CIA contacts, Bernard Barker, at a 10th anniversary commemoration of the Bay of Pigs in April 1971, which is curiously before the Pentagon Papers had been published and before the Plumbers were formed to investigate the Pentagon Papers leak. At that time Hunt asked Barker to get together the old network for a new operation. He told Barkers Miami associates that he was now retired from the CIA and working for Robert R. Mullen Company. Barkers associates, based on their own experience, took Hunts retirement with Mullen to mean that he was still working for the CIA undercover. They were correct: Mullen was indeed a CIA front. However, Mullen did also have another major client besides the CIA, who also figures into Watergate: billionaire Howard Hughes.
Hughes, seeking favors for his business enterprises from government contractors and regulatory bodies, had been cultivating political ties since World War II. One of his tactics was to bribe relatives or other close associates of people in positions of influence, a tactic he used both on President Roosevelts son Elliott and President Nixons brother Donald. His methods of bribery included providing both financial and sexual favors. The latter method involved making prostitutes available, which also opened up blackmail opportunities. Another of Hughes methods was to lend his vast corporate assets to the government for covert operations, which in turn enabled him to borrow government assets for his own private purposes under the guise of national security.
In the decade-plus before Watergate, one asset Hughes had lent the CIA was his top security man, former Chicago FBI agent Robert Maheu. Maheu operated his security agency out of the offices of Edward Bennett Williams, the aforementioned Democratic National Committee counsel who helped Robert Bennett cover up the Mullen-CIA connection during Watergate. Prior to that Williams had built a career representing accused Communists and mobsters, as well as the Kennedy family. Maheu, through Hughes casino interests and through his own law-enforcement background, was acquainted with Mafia boss Johnny Rosselli, a Los Angeles representative of the Chicago Mafia organization headed by Sam Giancana. On the CIAs behalf, Maheu approached Roselli in 1960 for help recruiting Mafia assets to organize an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro. Maheu and Hughes continued to lend assets to the CIA for operations in Latin America throughout the 1960s.
In 1970 a rift between Hughes and Maheu arose involving one of Hughes Latin American operations, Resorts International. Resorts was a Mafia-linked Caribbean casino which Hughes owned the operating rights to, and which was in turn owned by a CIA front company used for anti-Castro operations, Mary Carter Paints. Security for Resorts was handled by a firm called International Intelligence aka Intertel, run by former assistants of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who after leaving office in 1964 had unofficially continued investigating links between Resorts and mobsters linked to his nemesis Jimmy Hoffa. In July 1970, Intertel cofounder Robert Peloquin conspired with one of Maheus rivals in Hughes organization, Bill Gay, to persuade Hughes to let Intertel take over security of Hughes Las Vegas casino operations from Maheu. By November 1970 Maheu had been squeezed out of Hughes organization.
To help replace Maheu, Hughes hired CIA front man Robert Bennett. Bennett had previously been with Nixons Department of Transportation, where Bill Gay had approached him to try to arrange government favors for Hughes. In 1971, on behalf of Nixon aide Chuck Colson, Bennett bought up the Robert R. Mullen Company to serve as a Republican-oriented clone of Intertel, for the purpose of countering anticipated Democrat intelligence operations against Nixon in the 1972 campaign. Although this was Mullens intended purpose, in fact after Hughes hired Bennett he became Mullens principal client. In this way Hughes maintained Maheus CIA contacts through Bennett and Mullen while at the same time cultivating closer ties with the Nixon administration.
Unfortunately for Hughes, Maheus departure had created a problem for him, which thus became a problem for Mullen and the Plumbers. Since both Maheus organization and Intertel had contacts with the Kennedys, when Maheu left, Hughes feared that the Democrats now knew his dirty laundry. His fears were well-founded.
Hughes had actually compromised himself with the Democrats by trying to be too clever. Attempting to cultivate influence with both parties in the 1968 election, after Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968 he decided to buy out the remnant of Kennedys organization. This included Kennedys campaign manager Larry OBrien, a former CIA employee tied to Intertel. OBrien had risen to Democratic National Committee Chairman by the time Hughes replaced Maheu in November 1970. When Maheu left Hughes, OBrien went with him.
The Hughes organization became worried about what OBrien knew and who he was telling it to, and began using the Robert R. Mullen Companys Plumbers contacts to plug potential leaks. Towards the beginning of February 1972, Hughes contacted Robert Bennett and approved a plan to have the Plumbers break into publisher Hank Greenspuns office safe to retrieve damaging information about Hughes efforts to bribe the Nixon administration, as well as to retrieve damaging information about Nixons Democratic rival Ed Muskie, rumored to be receiving funds from Castro. Also in February 1972 Hughes security man Bill Gay called Bennett to arrange for Mullen to suppress a story by journalist Jack Anderson. Anderson was a protege of muckraker Drew Pearson, who along with Anderson had helped put together a hit piece during the 1960 campaign on a Hughes bribe to Nixons brother Donald. More recently Pearson and Anderson had been investigating the CIA-Mafia assassination operation against Castro, a topic involving Hughes disgruntled former employee Maheu. Following an alleged new assassination plot against Castro in Chile in October 1971, Anderson reported in February 1972 that the CIA/Hughes-linked company International Telephone and Telegraph had paid $400,000 towards the 1972 Republican National Convention in return for favors from John Mitchells Justice Department in an antitrust suit. To discourage further reporting on this subject, Gays request was relayed by Bennett to CRP deputy director Jeb Magruder, who sent Hunt on March 15 to intimidate the source of Andersons story into repudiating Andersons report. Hunt and Liddy also considered murdering Anderson. Hunt later told Bernard Barker that he had been in touch with Hughes throughout the preparations for Watergate and that Hughes would provide him with a flight out of the country and employment after the job was done, Barker said in a 1992 taped interview with author Charles Higham. McCord also claimed that he was promised a job by Hughes.
But word of Hughes plans got back to OBrien and Anderson through the Democrats contacts with Maheus associates. A former employee of Maheus security organization, British intelligence agent A.J. Woolston-Smith, had gone on to form his own security company, which did work for Democratic publisher William Haddad. Woolston-Smiths secretary was the daughter of a partner in a detective agency which worked with private investigator Lou Russell, who in turn worked for both McCord and Anderson. In December 1971 Woolston-Smith began informing Haddad about information he was overhearing from meetings of the November Group, a New York group of Nixon supporters linked to Liddy and McCord. On March 23, 1972, Haddad wrote to OBrien that sophisticated surveillance techniques were being used against the Democrats. On March 30 OBrien sent a memo DNC communications director John Stewart telling him to follow up on Haddads information, and on April 26 Stewart met in New York with Haddad, Woolston-Smith, and others. At the meeting, Woolston-Smith recalled, Haddad took the floor and told Stewart of a plan involving Liddy, McCord, and some Miami Cubans to burglarize and bug DNC headquarters and collect information to prove Castro was contributing to the Democrats. Towards the end of the meeting Woolston-Smith produced what appeared to be a bugging device and demonstrated how the bugging operation would work. After the meeting Haddad gave his entire file on the subject to Anderson, Haddad later testified to a Senate subcommittee. Anderson testified that he had not been able to generate any further information from Haddads tip and did not do anything with it, a story Senate investigators familiar with Andersons muckraking proclivity found suspicious. Anderson did write after Watergate that he subsequently discovered McCord had confided his bugging plans to old FBI friends and from there the information had spread throughout the investigative community. OBrien claimed that the information was taken seriously but the DNC did not act upon it because it could not afford countersecurity measures, a story contradicted by among other things the fact that the DNC was found to have turned down offers of free services from security agencies. Stewart initially claimed that he did not meet with Woolston-Smith until June 20, after the last of the Watergate break-ins, but upon further questioning he conceded that the meeting had taken place on April 26, a month before the first Watergate break-in attempt on May 26.
Not only did the Democrats know about the break-ins ahead of time, but McCord knew that they knew. In a note included in the Nedzi Report, McCord revealed to his original lawyer Gary Alch that at the time of the June 17 Watergate break-in he was aware that the Democrats had bugged the November Group. Despite knowing this, McCord went ahead with the break-in anyway.
Was there a link between Woolston-Smiths tip and McCords knowledge that the Democrats were aware of his operation? Republican investigators of Watergate would pursue the theory that McCords employee Lou Russell served as a double-agent for the Democrats by reporting back to Kennedy-associated private investigator Carmine Bellino, later the chief investigator for Watergate prosecutors. As mentioned, Russell worked with the father of the secretary of Woolston-Smith. Russell also provided tips to Jack Anderson, who was close friends with Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis and was in contact with Sturgis both shortly before and shortly after his arrest. The night before the Watergate arrests, Russell had dinner with McCord. The night of the arrests he had dinner at a Howard Johnsons motel restaurant across from the Watergate building, where McCord was also present that evening at approximately the same time. Later that evening, after visiting his daughter and telling her he had to do some work for McCord, he returned to the Howard Johnsons a second time, arriving about an hour before the tip to the police that led to the burglars arrest. Russells subsequent explanation of his whereabouts that evening and his claim that he did not see McCord at the restaurant were considered suspicious by FBI investigators. McCord likewise testified falsely about Russells whereabouts on the evening of the arrests and the previous evening.
McCord later threatened to sue authors investigating his relationship to Russell. When Russells associate John Leon tried to prove that Russell and Bellino had conspired in setting up the Watergate burglars, both Russell and Leon dropped dead of heart attacks within a week of each other. Leon died the evening before he was scheduled to give a press conference with Republican National Committee Chairman George Bush presenting allegations backed by sworn statements from witnesses that Bellino had performed illegal wiretapping operations on John Kennedys behalf during the 1960 campaign. This press conference had been intended to put pressure on Bellino to make him tell what he knew about Watergate.
Investigation into Russells activity during Watergate remains ongoing by interested parties such as G. Gordon Liddy, whose investigators have been told by Russells stockbroker that Russell suddenly acquired $25,000 after Watergate.
In contrast to the interest of Leon, Liddy, and other investigators in Russell, after Woodward interviewed Russell, the investigative reporter could find nothing to report other than opining that Russell was just an old drunk.
If the Democrats and others such as Hughes and Anderson had foreknowledge of the break-ins, and if there was opportunity to spy on the burglary team through sources such as Anderson and Russell, is there any specific evidence that the Watergate burglars walked into a pre-laid trap, set by the Democrats and/or by someone else who had access to the information? Senate investigators exploring this theory found themselves frustrated by time and partisan constraints which forced them to round off their investigation before they could produce a smoking gun connecting Woolston-Smiths tip to the burglars arrest. Three decades later it is possible to push the original investigation a bit further in light of new information, though some pieces are still missing. What follows is not a definitive conclusion but a reasonable reconstruction which attempts to be consistent with the known facts, suggesting how a trap might have been laid at Watergate. The reconstruction can be summed up in terms of a hypothetical plan which may be called Operation CounterCReeP: Compromise, Record, Prosecute, and Publicize.
Investigators testing a trap theory of Watergate have raised a problem with such a scenario. There were actually two break-ins to the Democratic National Committee headquarters: one on the evening of May 27-28, 1972, following two allegedly unsuccessful attempts on the 26th and 27th, and one before dawn on June 17, after Jeb Magruder ordered the burglars to return. It was not until the second break-in that the burglars were actually arrested. Since the Democrats already knew the break-ins were being planned in late April, if they or someone else was setting a trap for the burglars, why didnt they just have them arrested during the May break-in attempts?
It would make sense to have the burglars arrested in May if the purpose of the trap was simply to arrest the burglars. However if the purpose of the trap was to implicate Nixon, the trap would need to tie the burglars to Nixon somehow, and as the prosecutors later found, this was no easy task to do in a court of law against the attorneys of the President of the United States. As it turned out the prosecutors were only able to tie the burglars to Nixon by cultivating cooperative witnesses from among the burglars and the White House personnel who gave them their orders. This consideration suggests a hypothetical scenario where the first the first break-in was allowed, not to get the burglars arrested immediately, but to compromise and thus secure the cooperation of the key witnesses who would be needed to implicate Nixon in the second break-in.
To test this scenario against the facts of the crime and subsequent events, it is necessary to consider the motive for the May break-in attempts and whether there are any indications that these attempts served the function of compromising key witnesses. When analyzed from this perspective, the May break-ins can be seen to have compromised several parties. Of course the burglars themselves were compromised. For purposes of public perception the CIA was at least indirectly compromised by the burglars CIA background, regardless of whether the CIA was directly involved. Hughes was compromised by virtue of his ties via Mullen to the burglars. And perhaps most importantly in terms of implicating Nixon, Jeb Magruder and John Dean were compromised.
Magruder was compromised by virtue of being the one who actually transmitted the break-in order to Liddy. Magruders orders to Liddy also compromised Dean. Although at the time of the Watergate investigations Magruder claimed he was relaying orders from Mitchell, when the testimony of the various witnesses is taken collectively, it points towards Magruder acting on orders from Dean. In at least some of his more recent statements Magruder has admitted as much, though his story has not been consistent. Liddy, the most consistent witness, now also believes Dean was behind Magruders orders. Not having a CIA background like other members of the burglary team, Liddy did not know at the time that during the burglaries McCord, Hunt, and some of Hunts Miami CIA recruits pursued objectives different than what Magruder communicated to him and without his knowledge. Liddy now suspects McCord and Hunts secret agenda reflected Deans orders.
What was Deans possible motive for giving such orders? Clues to this lie in the burglars surveillance target, which had been changed from that originally proposed by Liddy.
Back in January 1972 Liddy had proposed an operation he codenamed Gemstone, which included a plan to spy on the Washington headquarters of leading Democratic candidates Ed Muskie and George McGovern, along with the site of the Democratic National Convention, the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. The Fontainebleau had heavy connections to Meyer Lanskys Mafia partners, and prostitutes were expected at the convention. Liddy proposed recruiting prostitutes to help videotape convention attendees in compromising positions.
When Magruder reviewed Liddys proposal he suggested that the Miami prostitutes should be brought up to Washington to start work early. (Liddy says Magruder also asked him to arrange an encounter with one of the prostitutes.) Dean, too, had been expressing interest in setting up a sexual espionage operation against the Democrats since at least October 1971, when he asked White House security advisor John Caulfield to investigate Xaviera Hollanders Happy Hooker ring in New York to see if any Democratic politicians had been Hollanders clients.
At about the same time in fall 1971 a call girl operation was set up in the Democratic National Committees Watergate offices and nearby Columbia Plaza by Phillip Bailley, a Washington attorney who represented prostitutes. Bailley set up the DNC operation at the request of Erika Heidi Rikan aka Cathy Dieter, a girlfriend of Mafia boss Joe Nesline, who was linked to a sexual blackmail operation run out of the George Town Club involving Korean/Taiwanese intelligence agent Tongsun Park and ONI/CIA agent Ed Wilson, both mentioned in Rikans address book. Lou Russell served as a source of referrals and bouncer for Rikans girls and meanwhile recorded calls from their Columbia Plaza operation for McCords security agency (likely on behalf of the CIA, recalling that McCords SRS division of CIA used prostitutes for sexual espionage; it is also possible that other parties interested in sexual blackmail such as Hughes, Nesline, and Park were privy to the operation). An address book listing Bailley and Rikans girls and customers included the name Clout, an alias of Rikans friend Maureen Biner. Biner was a former girlfriend of an associate of sexual blackmailer Bobby Baker, who had once compromised President Kennedy by setting him up with a lover who was in contact with the Soviet embassy. Biner was now dating John Dean, the source of her nickname, referring to her political clout. Her roommate Rikans call-girl operation in the DNC borrowed the office phone of frequently-absent Democratic employee R. Spencer Oliver, the son of a Robert R. Mullen Company employee who was a rival of Hunts. Oliver and his attorney alleged he was unaware how his phone was being used while he was gone, but an Assistant US Attorney who investigated Bailleys ring, John Rudy, has recently testified in court that he had evidence tying Oliver to Bailleys call-girl ring but was told by his superiors to suppress it because it was politically explosive.
The FBI began a raid of Bailleys home and offices on April 6, 1972, a few weeks before Liddy says Magruder gave him orders to switch the surveillance target to the DNC (contradicting Magruders chronology, which places this earlier and attributes the proposal to Liddy; Magruders chronology is contradicted by factual errors in his testimony and by the testimony of John Mitchell, Fred LaRue, and H.R. Haldeman as well as Liddy). The crime-scene evidence indicates the motive for the May break-in attempts was to install a similar tap on Olivers phone to monitor the DNC end of the operation, to supplement Russells tap on the Columbia Plaza end of the operation. Hunt and two members of his Miami CIA team have in recent years admitted that Olivers phone was the target in the May break-ins, which Liddy now also believes.
At the time, however, Liddy was led to believe that the target of the May break-in attempts was Democratic National Committee Chairman OBriens office, located on the same floor as Olivers office. Liddy was also led to believe that the first two May break-in attempts were unsuccessful and a bug was only successfully installed in OBriens office on the third May attempt. These misconceptions were passed on to the general public during the Watergate investigation, which focused on the later June break-in and did not thoroughly investigate the May break-in attempts. But later independent reviews of the May crime-scene evidence and eyewitness testimony decisively refuted this version of events. A more detailed analysis may be found in Jim Hougans Secret Agenda and Len Colodny and Robert Gettlins Silent Coup, but without going in-depth, a few examples will be cited here to illustrate the point.
Weeks before the May break-in attempts, McCord assigned his security agencys employee Alfred Baldwin to set up a surveillance post on the fourth floor of a Howard Johnsons motel across the street from the Watergate building, where the Democratic National Committee had its offices on the sixth floor. Being two floors below the DNC headquarters and facing only the street side of the floor the DNC was on, McCords surveillance post only allowed visual surveillance of a small portion of the DNC, with 39 of 53 rooms not visible. The visible rooms included Olivers office, which sat on the street side of the floor facing the Howard Johnsons, but did not include Larry OBriens office, which sat on the opposite side of the building. This also precluded audio surveillance of OBriens office, because the type of bug McCord and Baldwin were using was transmitting on an FM frequency, requiring a line of sight with the surveillance target. Liddy, under the impression that OBriens office was the target, grew annoyed when he saw McCord had set Baldwin up below the target floor, and prompted McCord to have Baldwin set up another surveillance post on the seventh floor of the Howard Johnsons.
Baldwin later testified that while conducting surveillance on the evening of May 26 he monitored a bugged phone call and saw McCord in the window of Olivers office. This contradicts McCord and Hunts claims that they were unable to successfully enter the DNC during the May 26 attempt and did not perform a successful entry until the third break-in attempt on May 28.
McCord and Hunts team members aborted all three break-in attempts prematurely using pretexts that later proved false. For instance, on the evening of May 26, McCord called off the operation prematurely by reporting via walkie-talkie to Hunts entry squad that there was an alarm in the corridor chosen for entry, which Hunt also claimed in his subsequent recollections. However researchers guided by the Watergate buildings maintenance supervisor later discovered that the corridor in question was not visible from McCords location, and there was no alarm there, nor anything that could be mistaken for an alarm. Similarly, the second break-in attempt was aborted early when Hunts lockpick specialist claimed he could not open the lock, while McCord was away doing something elsewhere in the building. The third, successful break-in attempt was only initiated at Liddys insistence over McCords objections, and before the team had finished going through some file cabinets they were supposed to break into, McCord relayed Barker an order to abort early.
In the process of pretending to bungle the three May break-in attempts, McCord laid a trail of incriminating evidence. His security agency rented the Howard Johnsons surveillance post using its own name rather than an alias. He attempted to obtain FCC clearance for the walkie-talkies to be used in the operation before being talked out of it by Liddy, who later compared this to registering a gun youre going to use in a holdup. On the way to the second break-in attempt McCord had the team register under aliases at the Watergates front desk. There they indicated their destination was the Federal Reserve Board on the eighth floor, which had been the target of a recent burglary and was under tightened security, with a guard due to make rounds at the time of the burglars entry, as McCord knew from casing the building. While the team was trying to pick the lock, one of them, Eugenio Martinez, went up to the eighth floor to tell McCord they were having trouble picking it, and he found McCord talking to the guards, whom it turned out he knew.
The suspiciously-clumsy May break-in produced no apparent benefits for the Nixon campaign. Film that McCord and Hunts team developed and gave Liddy to pass back to Magruder proved worthless and later was discovered by FBI investigators to have been shot in a location other than the DNC. Bug surveillance logs Baldwin and McCord gave Liddy for Magruder also proved useless because McCord pretended it was technologically impossible to provide actual recordings and only passed back partial transcriptions. When Liddy insisted on reviewing the raw surveillance himself, he discovered that the bug was not a microphone picking up a whole room but a tap picking up a single telephone, and the phone being tapped was not being used by Larry OBrien but by a number of other people.
If the May break-ins produced no benefits for the Nixon campaign, what were their actual results? One significant result was the compromising of Magruder, who had relayed the orders to Liddy, and of Dean, whose interests were at stake in the orders. The fact that Dean was compromised would be brought to his attention through a story about Bailley--by now under indictment--reported in the Washington Star on June 9, 1972. The article specified that according to sources close to the investigation, Bailleys prostitution ring included a White House secretary and its clients included a White House lawyer. Within an hour of the Star article hitting the newsstands, White House lawyer Dean called the head prosecutor, claiming he was calling on behalf of the President, and demanded that the prosecution turn over all evidence to the White House so that he could determine if anyone at the White House was involved. When the prosecution team arrived Dean asked them who they thought had leaked the information to the press, and when they replied that they did not know, he opined that he thought it was the Democrats. He then asked the team to help him identify the White House personnel mentioned. Based on the information provided he identified a suspect not matching the description, whom he forced to resign. Then he began looking closely through Bailleys address book, which contained the name Clout. He asked to keep the address book over the weekend, which the prosecutors refused to allow. He convinced them to allow him to photocopy it, claiming that he wanted to check if other White House employees were involved. Things would have looked very awkward for Dean at this point if someone had decided to tell prosecutors that a few weeks earlier a burglary team acting under his orders to Magruder had installed an illegal wiretap on the phone Bailley was using to run his operation.
In addition to compromising Magruder and Dean, the May break-in had produced at least one other important result. McCord and Hunt had led Liddy and their White House supervisors to believe there was a bug in OBriens office, which created a pretext for the second break-in that would compromise Nixon.
McCord sowed the seeds of the second break-in by telling Liddy the bug he had supposedly installed in OBriens office was malfunctioning. Liddy passed this on to Magruder, in the process of delivering McCord and Baldwins surveillance logs to him. Magruder expressed dissatisfaction with the logs, and on Friday, June 9--the same day Dean was alerted to the Star article on the White House link to the Bailley prostitution ring--he instructed Liddy to have the team return to fix the defective bug and to photograph more documents. Magruder would claim during the Watergate investigation that he gave these instructions on Mitchells orders, but on at least one occasion when confronted by researchers with contradictions in his story he reluctantly conceded that the orders came from Dean. Magruder and Liddy agreed to discuss the matter further on the next working day, Monday, June 12, at which time Magruder emphasized to Liddy--by slapping a drawer where he kept derogatory information on the Democrats--that they should retrieve any similar information OBrien had, which Liddy interpreted to mean derogatory information OBrien had on the White House. Liddy now believes compromising photographs were at stake.
Liddy relayed Magruders orders to McCord and Hunt that same Monday. That afternoon McCord sent Baldwin on a casing trip which Baldwin later claimed was to locate Larry OBriens office. But McCord claimed he had already bugged OBriens office during the May break-in, so this explanation doesnt add up. A clue to the actual purpose of Baldwins assignment is that when he went to the DNC, receptionist Clota Yesbek introduced him to Olivers secretary Ida Maxie Wells, who gave him a guided tour of the DNC. Yesbeks account of Baldwins visit differed from his and Wells, with Yesbek recalling Baldwin visiting several times, giving her the impression he and Wells were dating, which Baldwin and Wells have denied. Philip Bailley also claimed he was dating Wells, which Wells does not deny but claims not to remember. Upon the burglars arrest police found Martinez had the key to Wells desk. Martinez claimed he got the key from Hunt, which Hunt denied. When the FBI informed Wells about the burglars possession of the key, Wells exclaimed, Oh my God. . .they didnt get in there! Wells confided in a letter to a friend that there were personal documents in her desk she hoped the FBI would not learn about. Arresting officer Carl Shoffler, who found the key on Martinez, stated in an interview for a 1992 video, We wouldn't be sitting around again with all the puzzling and all the mysteries had we taken the time to find out what that key was about. But in fact the FBI did learn that the key fit Wells desk and the Watergate prosecutors did investigate the tap on Olivers phone and conclude it was for the purpose of blackmail, which makes Shofflers statement curious, particularly in light of his other activity, to be discussed further below.
After Baldwins casing trip, the next step was the second break-in itself, which McCord and Hunt proceeded to bungle.
As Hunt and Liddy kept a lookout and communicated with the team using walkie-talkies from another room in the Watergate, McCord prepared for the burglars entry by leaving a trail of conspicuously taped-open locks, one of which was noticed by security guard Frank Wills (later jailed for shoplifting). Wills removed the tape, unsure at this point if he were dealing with routine maintenance or a burglary, and he called his supervisor for instructions but was unable to get ahold of him immediately. Meanwhile the burglars noticed the missing tape. McCord told them it was probably just a mailman and had them proceed with the operation. McCord was supposed to remove the tape once they were inside, but he didnt even though Martinez asked him if he had and he answered yes.
Wills supervisor advised him that if he found more tape on other floors there might be a burglary in progress. Wills ate a cheeseburger before checking for more tape, and when he found more he checked into it with other personnel in the building and eventually decided to call the police. Five minutes after his call, a police dispatch went out, which was heard in an unmarked squad car parked a block and a half away occupied by three plainclothes policemen: Sergeant Paul Leeper, Officer John Barrett, and Officer Carl Shoffler. Shoffler was known to his police department colleagues as Little Blick because of his interest in the files of Captain Roy Blick, who collected information on sex-related crimes and the sexual habits of politicians, which he supplied to the FBI and to CIA agent Paul Gaynor, McCords immediate superior in the OS SRS section. Shoffler had already worked a shift with the narcotics squad that evening, but he was in the car with Leeper and Barrett because he had volunteered. Although Leeper was the senior officer and by tradition responsible for responding to the dispatch, Shoffler grabbed the mike and replied, We got it. After Shoffler arrived at the crime scene, he removed the tape McCord had placed and altered Wills statement to police to fit with McCord and Baldwins account. Shoffler later went to Senate investigators to accuse his former military associate Captain Edmund Chung of trying to bribe him to cooperate in making it look like a double-agent had set the burglars up, but when the investigators questioned Chung about this he told them a different story. Chung stated that during a dinner after the arrests, Shoffler had told him he had been in contact with Baldwin before the break-in and the arrests had been the result of a tip-off, and if he ever made the whole story public his life wouldnt be worth a nickel. Shoffler in turn denied saying this.
The burglars, who were on the sixth floor when they were arrested, heard the police coming down from the eighth floor. Martinez expressed concern, but McCord assured him it was only a guard making regular rounds, and he instructed Barker to turn off their walkie-talkies to prevent the static from making noise, effectively cutting off their communications. The team remained on the sixth floor as the police struggled with an eighth-floor lock the guard was unable to open, then inspected the seventh floor for tape before descending to the sixth floor.
When police arrested them, Martinez was wrestled to the ground by Shoffler while trying to dispose of a key, which turned out to fit the desk of Maxie Wells. Barker was carrying the key to the room Hunt and Liddy were in. The burglars were also carrying crisp $100 bills, with sequential serial numbers which traced to a bank account where Barker had deposited funds from CRP, forming a paper trail that ultimately led back to Liddy.
From his surveillance post across the street Baldwin alerted Liddy and Hunt, who managed to escape the crime scene. But in their haste to get away they left behind more $100 bills with serial numbers matching those in the burglars pockets, as well as Bernard Barkers address book, which listed Hunts initials next to a White House phone number.
Baldwin left behind his surveillance post, which was discovered by the FBI the first day of their investigation and was traced from phone records of outgoing calls back to Baldwin. Baldwin claims Hunt told him to load their electronic surveillance equipment into McCords van and take it to McCords house, which Hunt denies telling him.
After the arrests when FBI agents swept the DNC for bugs, although they had found bugs on the burglars, they found no bugs installed in Larry OBriens office. However what was found in the initial phases of the investigation after Baldwin turned himself in led the governments lead prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Earl Silbert, to believe that the purpose of the break-ins involved an attempt by Hunt to sexually blackmail Oliver. But Olivers attorney Charles Morgan, Jr.--an ACLU lawyer who also led the push for Nixons impeachment--suddenly surprised Silbert by interjecting himself into the case out of nowhere and objecting to Baldwins testimony being allowed in the burglars trial. Although Morgans objection was overruled by US District Court Chief Judge John Sirica, it was upheld in the US Court of Appeals by Chief Judge David Bazelon. As a result from that point on Baldwins testimony and the blackmail angle would not figure into the official Watergate investigation.
Thus, without the evidence of the blackmail motive, the Compromise phase of the CounterCReeP operation would ultimately compromise only President Nixon--not the burglars other employer Howard Hughes, not the CIA agents who suppressed evidence of the burglars background and ongoing contacts with the Agency, and not the Democratic National Committee leaders who knew about the break-in before Nixon did.
The Record phase of the operation can be analyzed in terms of two functions: to create records implicating Nixon, and to destroy records implicating others who had wittingly or unwittingly helped set the trap for Nixon.
The CIA, implicated at a minimum in appearance by the burglars various CIA connections, moved to destroy potentially embarrassing evidence.
The CIA link to the burglars was discovered almost immediately when McCord arrived at the police station and was recognized by a police officer who had been a liaison between CRP and the Washington Police Departments Intelligence Division, Garey Bittenbender. Bittenbender and McCord had been friends, but their friendship would deteriorate after a Senate report quoted Bittenbender saying that McCord told him the day of his arrest that the break-in was a CIA operation. McCord denied saying this.
The CIA quickly learned of the burglars arrest that weekend, and McCords former OS superior Howard Osborn was initially assigned to handle the case. Then the next working day, CIA Director Helms convened a meeting to discuss damage control, which was attended by his eventual replacement William Colby as well as Cord Meyer, an agent involved in Operation Mockingbird, a CIA propaganda operation to influence the American media. A few days after this meeting records in McCords home office pertaining to his CIA activity were destroyed by CIA agent Lee Pennington, who was like McCord a subordinate of Paul Gaynor in the OS SRS section.
McCord, meanwhile, began secretly passing messages to Gaynor. He informed Gaynor that his lawyer Gary Alch was advising him to defend himself by playing up the CIA angle. Alch was soon replaced by another lawyer who had joined McCords legal team, Bernard Fensterwald. Fensterwald, an attorney connected with associates of Jimmy Hoffa, belonged to a group McCords security agency was funding, the Committee to Investigate Assassinations, and he was also the attorney of McCords employee Lou Russell. Alch reported that when they were debating McCords defense strategy, Fensterwald informed him, Were going after the President of the United States. . .youll see, thats who were going after--the President.
Later, Senate investigators would learn that after Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield requested the CIA and other government agencies to preserve all records related to Watergate, the CIA destroyed tapes from its central taping system, including tapes of conversations with the White House.
While the CIA took steps to conceal its connection to the burglars, on the White House end Dean took steps which led the FBI to regard him as the master manipulator of the cover up. Among other cover-up activity, Dean secured and eventually destroyed Hunts notebooks, which detailed the Watergate operation and related operations and recorded where the teams orders had come from, including mention of Deans role in Liddys Gemstone plan, Hunt later claimed. When Hunt attempted to use these notebooks to mount his legal defense, he learned they were missing from his possessions authorities had seized. Dean eventually admitted taking them, after he had been granted immunity from further charges.
Dean also triggered the creation of various records that would implicate President Nixon, including the tape that would become the smoking gun against Nixon. On June 23, 1972, Dean called White House aide H.R. Haldeman and informed him the FBI was convinced the CIA was behind the break-ins (when in fact the FBI had only told Dean this was one theory among several being considered by investigators). He suggested that Nixon could pressure the CIA into stonewalling the FBI if he hinted to the Agency that the Bureaus investigation into CRP funds funneled through Mexico might prove embarrassing to the CIA Mexican station (which had been involved in the Mafia assassination attempts against Castro, as Nixon knew from reading a CIA internal report he had pried from a reluctant Helms after Pearson and Andersons investigation into the CIA-Mafia operation was publicized). Dean led Haldeman (and later Watergate investigators and the public) to believe he was passing on this advice from Mitchell, when in fact phone logs show Dean did not talk to Mitchell at the time he claimed. Haldeman foolishly took Deans advice and Nixon foolishly accepted it. Their conversations were recorded by the White House taping system. In this way even though there was no evidence that Nixon had advance knowledge of the break-ins, there was now evidence that after the fact he had covered up his aides role in them, not realizing that in the process he was protecting an aide who was betraying him out of self-interest. As Nixon later wrote, I made the inexcusable error of following the recommendation from some members of my staff--some of whom, I later learned, had a personal stake in covering up the facts--and requesting that the CIA intervene.
The Prosecute phase of the operation was triggered by the FBIs investigation of the financial trail the burglars had left, which traced back to Barkers bank account and CRP funds. When news of the FBIs investigation leaked to the press and Congress, members of Congress initiated financial investigations by the Office of Federal Elections, the House Banking and Currency Committee, and the Judiciary Committees subcommittee on Administrative Practices and Procedure, on which Senator Ted Kennedy sat. Kennedys investigation led to investigations by the Senate and Justice Department. With significant input from Kennedy behind the scenes, these investigations steered the investigation towards Nixon and reinforced calls for Nixons impeachment that the antiwar movement had been making well before the Watergate break-ins, on the grounds of the Vietnam War rather than anything to do with Watergate. ACLU lawyer Charles Morgan, Jr.--who had blocked Baldwins blackmail-related testimony from being heard--lobbied for Nixons impeachment for seven months in early 1973 before John Kerrys antiwar associate Robert Drinan filed the first resolution for Nixons impeachment on July 31, 1973 (echoing Kerrys own pre-Watergate calls for Nixons impeachment, dating to at least February 1972). Drinans motion came before there was a solid Congressional base persuaded by the evidence against Nixon, to the dismay of more realistic Nixon opponents like Tip ONeill who feared Drinan had ruined their case by jumping the (smoking) gun.
The eventual case against Nixon would be built on the testimony of a series of key witnesses, starting with Baldwin, whose role was significant for the investigation despite Morgans move to formally exclude his testimony from the burglars actual trial. After the burglars arrests Baldwin was quickly tracked down by the FBI, which found the motel surveillance post across from the Watergate and traced records of outgoing phone calls. By mid-July Baldwin had outlined the bugging operation to the FBI and presented his testimony to a grand jury. His testimony was corroborated by Thomas Gregory, a friend of Robert Bennetts nephew who had been recruited to CRP.
Baldwins testimony was leaked, allegedly without his knowledge, by his lawyer John Cassidento to Joseph Califano. Califano, a law partner of Edward Bennett Williams--the attorney Robert Bennett solicited to cover up the burglars CIA-Mullen connection--was the Democratic National Committees general counsel and as well as the Washington Posts attorney, and played a key role in shaping the legal strategy of Watergate prosecutors throughout their investigation. Cassidento later stated that he was aware Califano was close to Larry OBrien and would be in a position to help him run for Connecticut Attorney General, and he and Califano both recalled them discussing Califano putting in a good word for him with Connecticut State Democratic chairman John Bailey, though Califano denied there was any quid pro quo in exchange for access to Baldwin. Cassidento was later promoted to judge.
References Baldwin made to the CIA during an interview were altered in the burglars trial transcript at the suggestion of prosecutor Earl Silbert and Silberts assistant Seymour Glanzer, who falsely told US District Court Chief Judge John Sirica that Baldwin had actually said CRP instead of CIA, an allegation later contradicted by Baldwin and disproved by the actual recording of Baldwins interview. A witness questioned about this reported that Glanzer had made the alteration because he was afraid the defendants would construct a defense around the CIA.
Baldwin and Gregorys testimony decisively implicated the burglary team. However to implicate the burglars superiors in the Nixon administration would require more witnesses and evidence. The next key witness was McCord. On December 21, 1972, McCord gave Jack Caulfield a message to pass on implying that if Helms were fired and the CIA were blamed for the burglaries, he was going to implicate others. When Nixon fired Helms anyway in February 1973, McCord soon began implicating Magruder, Dean, and Mitchell.
McCords allegation was based on what Liddy had told him, and remained hearsay until Magruder and Dean cut deals with the prosecutor. Magruder pled guilty to reduced charges and implicated Dean and Mitchell in the process of telling a version of the story at odds with that of other witnesses, making the only allegation that Nixon had advance knowledge of the burglaries. Years later Magruder would revise elements of his story, at times maintaining that Mitchell was involved in ordering the break-ins while at other times changing his story to implicate Dean rather than Mitchell, and embellishing his allegations about Nixons involvement.
When Dean started cooperating with prosecutors he became the star witness against Nixon. His most significant contribution was revealing the existence of the White House taping system, potentially providing conclusive evidence against Nixon.
Confirmation of the existence of the White House taping system was volunteered by Alexander Butterfield, to whom Secret Service agent Alfred Wong had assigned supervision of the taping system. Butterfield was privately being given legal advice by his former supervisor, Joseph Califano. Califano as mentioned was the attorney for the Washington Post, and he also initiated the Posts coverage of Watergate, which brings us to the Publicize phase of Operation CounterCReeP.
Despite the legend of Woodward and Bernstein, the Post was not the only media source that contributed significantly to publicizing Watergate. The Post missed a scoop on Baldwins testimony because managing editor Ben Bradlee didnt want to let Woodward pay Baldwins lawyer John Cassidento for the story, so Cassidento instead gave it to the Los Angeles Times. The Times also scooped a leak from McCord that was the true break in the story, providing the first allegation by the burglars themselves implicating higher-level Nixon administration figures. Likewise, the New York Times got ahead of other papers on certain aspects of the Watergate investigation through a leak from Dade County State Attorney Richard Gerstein to reporter Walter Rugaber, and through an interview with burglar Frank Sturgis that Random House editor Bob Loomis arranged for Seymour Hersh. Sources in the Department of Justice and FBI leaked information pointing towards Nixon to DNC Chairman OBrien, who worked with Sandy Smith and Hugh Sidey at TIME and Peter Lisagor at the Chicago Daily News. Senate investigators and prosecutors leaked information through various sources, for purposes such as pressuring Dean and Magruder by creating the false impression that Liddy was cutting a deal with prosecutors. Dean leaked information through sources such as NBCs Carl Stern and came to work closely with Hersh at the New York Times and Hays Gorey at TIME. These media sources and others played a role alongside and in conjunction with the role of the Post in publicizing the Watergate scandal.
The Post was brought into the Watergate investigation the morning of the arrests at 4 AM by a call from arresting officer Carl Shoffler. Shoffler claimed that he called the Post because the suspects werent talking and he hoped the newspapers would put some pressure on them. Shoffler, as mentioned before, had an interest in sexual espionage files DC Police Captain Roy Blick supplied to McCords CIA superior Paul Gaynor. One of Shofflers informants, a gay man named Robert Butch Merritt who had been used to infiltrate the left-wing Institute for Policy Studies, reported that after the Watergate burglars were arrested Shoffler tried to get him to use sex to spy on the burglars original attorney, Douglas Caddy. Caddy, who worked out of the offices of the Robert R. Mullen Company and was a former roommate of sexual blackmailer Tongsun Park, had been contacted by Hunt from Hunts home after the other burglars were arrested but Hunt was still free, perplexing investigators who wondered how Caddy had shown up in the courtroom without anyone apparently calling him. Merritt claimed Shoffler told him that Caddy was gay and a Communist sympathizer and asked him to establish a homosexual relationship with him and find out everything he could about his private life. Shoffler denied Merritts allegation, and some researchers have accepted Shofflers denial, partly because at one time it was believed that Shoffler had spoken falsely in telling Merritt that Caddy was gay. Caddy, however, is in fact openly gay, and has recently given an interview and written an article for the gay rights magazine Advocate wherein he states his belief in Merritts allegation. Caddy also states that he felt the judge handling the case, John Sirica, attempted to use his sexual orientation as leverage to intimidate him into violating attorney-client confidentiality by revealing information such as who had provided the burglars their legal counsel, a question Caddy refused to answer because it would have implicated his client Hunt. This is not precisely confirmation of Merritts allegation, but it does at least lend his story credibility and reinforce questions about Shofflers role in Watergate and his motive for calling the Post.
Shofflers tip was brought to the attention of Post editors by Post lawyer Califano. Califano was close to Post managing editor Ben Bradlee, a Kennedy family friend who had assisted CIA propaganda operations in the 1950s and was socially linked with several high-ranking CIA personnel--most notably his in-law Cord Meyer, who had been one of the attendees at the damage control meeting CIA Director Richard Helms convened after the burglars were arrested. Califano was also close to Bradlees editorial page editor Phil Geyelin, a former CIA agent and a Vietnam War opponent, whom Daniel Ellsberg had shown the Pentagon Papers before taking them to the New York Times.
Califano informed Post managing editor Howard Simons of the break-in. Simons passed the story on to his subordinate Harry Rosenfeld, who in turn informed his own subordinate, district editor Barry Sussman. Sussman then put Woodward on the story, with the approval of Rosenfeld, who had helped bring Woodward to the Post. Sussman also assigned Bernstein to the story and provided guidance to Woodward and Bernsteins investigation.
Woodward and Bernsteins Watergate coverage was assisted by other Post reporters and law-enforcement and Congressional sources who provided key pieces of information. The day after the arrest Carroll Kilpatrick, who had been a Post White House correspondent since the Roosevelt administration, recognized McCords name in the paper and advised Woodward of McCords link to CRP. The same day Post night city editor Larry Fox arranged with the DC police to let Post night police reporter Eugene Bachinski look at the suspects possessions, which included address books linking the suspects to Hunts phone number at the White House. At the end of July 1972 Woodward and Bernstein uncovered their most significant story, linking the burglars to CRP funds, by following up on a story leaked from Dade County State Attorney Richard Gerstein to New York Times reporter Walter Rugaber. Trying to catch up with the Times led Bernstein to Miami, where he was allowed access to Bernard Barkers bank records by Gersteins investigator Martin Dardis, enabling the Post to retrace the same steps the FBI had traced a month earlier. Woodward cultivated another source of information when he was invited to join the Senate Watergate committee by its chief counsel Sam Dash and instead used the opportunity to get his friend Scott Armstrong appointed to the committee; Armstrong was designated the committees contact with Woodward, and he ended up getting suspended for leaking information to Rolling Stone. Following up on a tip he says came from Deep Throat, Woodward used his access to the committee to push investigators to interview Alexander Butterfield, who with legal advice from Post attorney Califano provided confirmation of the White House taping system that proved to be the smoking gun against Nixon.
Viewed against this background, what was the role of Woodwards source Deep Throat, and what light is shed on the question of Deep Throats identity and motive?
First of all, Deep Throats significance in Nixons resignation has been exaggerated, and needs to be shrunk to perspective. As indicated, it was the testimony of key witnesses and the evidence of the White House tapes that made the case against Nixon. Deep Throat had almost nothing to do with this, apart from Woodwards allegation that he provided the tip on the White House taping system which Woodward passed on to the Senate. However, Woodwards allegation is contested, as will be discussed more below. Minus this allegation, it is not clear that Deep Throat played any significant role in Nixons resignation, and it is unclear that Nixons resignation was Deep Throats goal.
Likewise, as Barry Sussman has emphasized, Deep Throat was actually not the source of many of Woodward and Bernsteins most significant leads. The account of All the Presidents Men refers to 15 conversations between Woodward and Deep Throat during the Watergate period, mostly between September 1972 and May 1973, with only one conversation after that in November 1973. Deep Throat did confirm some information the Post had learned elsewhere, such as the story of Donald Segrettis dirty tricks operations for Haldeman, and his cooperation did encourage Woodward to dig deeper into Watergate for evidence implicating higher-level figures in the White House and Department of Justice. However Deep Throat provided no information on certain key stories the Post covered, such as the money trail connecting Barkers bank account to CRP. Much of the information he provided did not relate directly to Watergate but involved other scandals associated with the Nixon administration, which was the case wtih the Segretti story. Some of the information he provided turned out to be inaccurate or unsubstantiated, as with his tip about the Nixon campaign running 4 intelligence operations using 50 or more operatives, information contradicted by an FBI report from the same day the Post reported this tip on October 10, 1972. On one occasion Deep Throat was angry with Woodward for revealing information that threatened to compromise the investigation, and Woodward in turn considered revealing his sources identity but was talked out of it by Bernstein and Post Ombudsman Dick Harwood. Woodward/Bernstein and Deep Throat were not always on the same page, and they seem to have had different agendas.
Was Deep Throat FBI agent W. Mark Felt? There was certainly evidence of the Post getting inside information from leaked FBI 302 files. Its plausible that Felt was one of the Posts sources, and in many cases Felt does fit Woodwards description of Deep Throat. However other sources such as John Dean also had access to FBI 302 files. And there are other problems with a simple equation of Deep Throat with Felt.
One problem is the contradictions in Felts own account, coupled with the circumstances of his current claims. Felt denied being Deep Throat until very recently. His recent admissions have been accompanied by the onset of senility and expressions of interest in financial gain, raising questions about the reliability of his revised story.
Another objection that has been voiced is the issue of Deep Throat providing Woodward with information that Felt did not seem to have. A chief instance of this is a tip about deliberate erasures in the White House taping system, originally attributed by the Post to a White House source in a November 8, 1973 article and later attributed to Deep Throat in All the Presidents Men. Felt was not one of the few people known to have the information in question, and by Woodwards account Deep Throat only passed this information onto him in November 1973, nearly half a year after Felt had retired from the FBI on June 22, 1973. A reply to this objection has been to postulate that Felt may have himself learned this information from another source, but who such a source may have been remains an unresolved issue for a Felt=Deep Throat scenario.
There are other loose ends which make it difficult to close the case on Deep Throat. Before fingering Felt, Woodward claimed that Deep Throat continued in government service for years after Watergate, which is not true of Felt. The physical possibility of the logistics of Woodwards alleged system for signalling Deep Throat has been questioned. Woodward described Deep Throat as a chain smoker, whereas Felt claimed he stopped smoking in 1943. Etc.
There is also the question of Deep Throats motive. To whatever extent Deep Throat is identified with W. Mark Felt, it may be questioned why the conservative Felt decided to work through the liberal Woodward. Felts former mentor J. Edgar Hoover disliked the liberal Post so much that he once said that he was happy whenever the Post criticized the Bureau, but if they ever praise us I would call a meeting of top executives to find out what was the reason. Hoover and Felt also bore no love for the CIAs mole in the Bureau William Sullivan, whereas in contrast Woodward was willing to cover up the Mullen-CIA angle of Watergate.
So why might Felt give Woodward information? Edward Jay Epstein suggested--in a 1974 article mentioning Felt as a Deep Throat suspect--that the goal of Woodwards FBI sources may have been to embarrass FBI Director L. Patrick Gray by demonstrating to Nixon that Gray could not control the FBI, and to thus force Grays replacement. Gray had succeeded J. Edgar Hoover upon Hoovers death in May 1972 and was viewed by most FBI veterans as too liberal. He was also perceived as allowing the White House and the CIA to stonewall the FBIs Watergate investigation, which provoked a rebellion by FBI veterans.
The stonewalling issue provides an alternative possible motive for Felt to supply information to the Post. Early in the Watergate investigation Felt confronted William Colby, the CIAs point man on Watergate damage control, over the CIAs attempts to obstruct the FBIs investigation. The CIAs obstructive efforts included hindering the FBIs attempts to interview McCords CIA associate Pennington, who destroyed evidence of McCords Agency activity; and Martinezs CIA case officer Robert Ritchie, who had been assigned to Martinez after a suspicious Martinez asked his previous case officer whether Hunts activities were known to CIA headquarters.
It is intriguing to relate the confrontation between Felt and the CIA to a rumor spread widely by the media after Woodward named Felt as Deep Throat. According to this rumor, Felt was so ambitious to be FBI Director that when Nixon failed to appoint him he became disgruntled and started leaking to Woodward. Media reports repeating this rumor mentioned a White House tape where Nixon was heard expressing similar sentiments. What media commentators did not mention is that according to Felt, Nixon had gotten this notion from Felts CIA-linked nemesis William Sullivan, who as mentioned had worked closely with John Dean against Felt. Felts book records that Sullivan was telling Nixon he was ambitious in order to discourage Nixon from appointing him FBI Director. Senate Watergate investigator Fred Thompson adds the information that prior to Dean being interrogated by the Senate Watergate committee, Sullivan provided Dean with confidential files pertaining to the FBI.
The collusion between Sullivan and Dean, coupled with Sullivans alliance with the CIA and enmity towards Felt, raises the question of why Woodward, after helping the CIA cover up Mullens role in Watergate, has now decided to effectively make Felt the patsy for Deep Throat--the lone leaker, as it were.
Is Woodwards identification of Felt as Deep Throat a continuation of his role covering up for the CIA in Watergate? Does his decision to identify Deep Throat now have any relation to his recent role in Plamegate? Is the way he asked Walter Pincus to cover up his role in Plamegate yet another instance of a behavior pattern embodied in the way he covered up Mullens role in Watergate? This article does not pretend to answer these questions, but it does at least hope to encourage someone to ask them. Before Woodwards media colleagues get too far in their attempt to orchestrate another Watergate, it would be nice to know on whose behalf they covered up the first one, and whether history is indeed repeating itself.
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I keep thinking about Henry Grunwald. He was the Chief OpEd reporter at Time, Inc. during Watergate and the first to say that Nixon should step down. Henry died Feb 26, 2005. Henry is/was the father of Mandy Grunwald. Mandy is the wife of Matt Cooper!! Such a small world!!
Vanity Fair got the exclusive on Felt's coming out on May 31, 2005. And then there is the exclusive Valerie and Joe spread.
There's a lot of hidden players in this and I think the big player is Hillary.....to whom the gift of "outing Rove" would flow.
Interesting thoughts. I have gotten the impression Hillary thinks of Watergate as her "glory days" and tends to use it as a playbook. Kennedy and Kerry also give me that impression.
Very interesting. Also, Colby's death was quite suspicious. It might be interesting to see where that investigation leads!
Bookmark for when my brain can focus.
Deadwood and Bumstain are just that.
The June 1972 burglary at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington's Watergate complex gave impetus to a series of policy changes instituted or supported by the anti-intelligence lobby. These changes resulted in the elimination of certain committees and initiatives established to contribute to the effective functioning of intelligence and counterintelligence missions.
This drastic reduction in the caseload led to the abolition of the internal security branch of the FBI's intelligence division in 1976.
A comparable de-emphasis on Communist matters took place in the CIA. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter appointed Admiral Stansfield Turner as the new Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). He soon dismissed several hundred of the Agency's experts on Communism. Turner, in his memoirs, justified the reduction in staff by pointing to a previous study, conducted in mid-1976 under DCI, later President, George H. W. Bush, which recommended the abolition of 1,350 positions in the Agency's espionage branch. Turner claimed that, of the final total of 820 positions vacated largely by attrition, only 17 people were actually dismissed, while 147 took an early forced retirement.10 But the CIA has never fully recovered from the Turner-era reductions in this critical area.
Obviously, this runs counter to the old saw that you're not paranoid if everyone really is out to get you.
It seems to me that in this case the old saw and the other aren't mutually incompatible: Nixon's enemies saw a weak point in his psyche and hammered on it.
I did a long dissertation on all the husbands and wives involved on the Dem side of the track. Just amazing!!
The VF/TIME nexus becomes even more interesting when you add Newsweek to the mix: Evan Thomas is Norman Thomas' grandson. I posted a bit on that and some other stuff about Newsweek on this thread:
The names mentioned in this part of the present thread are also interesting to look into:
Sources in the Department of Justice and FBI leaked information pointing towards Nixon to DNC Chairman OBrien, who worked with Sandy Smith and Hugh Sidey at TIME and Peter Lisagor at the Chicago Daily News.
The tip about Felt had come to the White House via a roundabout route. According to comments by Haldeman and other Nixon aides captured on White House tapes, the original source was Sandy Smith of Time magazine, widely considered to be the best-informed reporter covering the FBI. A Time lawyer had passed the information to Assistant Attorney General Henry Peterson, who in turn passed it on to the White House, according to the tapes.
Smith, who has Alzheimer's disease, has consistently declined to talk about his Watergate sources.
Athan Theoharis, The Boss, 450:
Johnson likewise requested Hoover's help in monitoring the press. Periodically after 1965 the White House requested FBI name checks on its more prominent media critics, including NBC commentator David Brinkley, AP reporter and Vietnam correspondent Peter Arnett, New York Times reporter Harrison Salisbury, syndicated columnist Joseph Kraft, Life magazine Washington bureau chief Richard Stolley, Chicago Daily News Washington Bureau chief Peter Lisagor, and Washington Post executive Ben Gilbert.
In the case of Lisagor, the president also insisted on learning the journalist's sources of "classified Air Force material." Complaining that Lisagor was "tearing" him apart and "getting information from someplace," Johnson asked Hoover to "find out what he is doing and where he is getting his information." The FBI "could not do that," Hoover objected, for "if it were found out it would bring considerable discredit not only on the FBI, but the President himself." Since the FBI had given the White House "everything we have" on Lisagor, Hoover recommended to his aides that they "stand pat for a few days and not make any positive emphasis on investigating Lisagor" but just advise White House officials "we have various lines out to get a line on Lisagor."
Hoover did not sit idly by, however. Quite the contrary, through the Bureau's contacts in the Washington press corps, the Director attempted to identify Lisagor's sources. But the only information uncovered, through a U.S. News and World Report reporter, was that Lisagor was "probably among one of the most able 'diggers' for news among Washington press corps," attended all background briefing conferences at the State Department and Capitol Hill, had "a knack for picking out significant remarks made at such briefings," and had "excellent contacts high up in the State Department."
I believe when I looked into this a while back, I learned the Bureau actually had a more specific suspect for Lisagor's source than Theoharis indicates, as in my copy of his book I've handwritten down the name "Marguerite Higgins". I believe I got that from a different book discussing some files released through FOIA after Theoharis' book was written. IIRC correctly Higgins was Hoover's top suspect but he could not definitively name her as the leak source because there were about 100 sources with access to the information and he was only able to narrow the list down to about 7 possibilities.
Higgins was sent to Vietnam in 1953 where she reported the defeat of the French Army at Dien Bein Phu. During the fighting she narrowly escaped injury when while walking alongside the photographer, Robert Capra, he was killed when he stepped on a land mine.
In 1955 she travelled extensively in the Soviet Union and afterwards published her book Red Plush and Black Bread (1955). This was followed by another book on journalism, News is a Singular Thing (1955). Higgins also covered the civil war in the Congo.
Higgins made many visits to Vietnam and her book Our Vietnam Nightmare (1965), documented her concerns about United States military involvement in the region.
Bookmark to read after I've had some sleep.
One of the things I caught along the Plamegate path was that Henry Grunwald was the first to write that Nixon should resign. Henry was Chief OpEd for Time, Inc. during Watergate.
After listening to Woodward and the "death clause" regarding "revelation" of Deep Throat, I discovered that Henry died February 26, 2005....3 months before Felt came out.
Add the fact that Henry is/was the father of Mandy Grunwald to the equation and the fact that Mandy is Hillary's best friend, MEDIA advisor and Bubba's former campaign manager.......and lo and behold....Mandy is married to Matt Cooper!!
At a glance I thought the title said "swallow"!?
Tired - will read later.
LOL. Reading when tired can do that :-)
Fed, you really need to write a book about this - you could blow the whole establishment sky high, especially just by betraying the whole incestuous cabal!