Monday, November 22, 2010

Watergate: Part One

The Watergate Affair began on June 17, 1972 when 5 burgulars were caught inside the Watergate complex, where they had illegally entered the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. In time the matter revealed that the people around President Richard Nixon had been attempting to cover-up their involvement. Numerous abuses of power by the Nixon administration came to light, and the affair ended with the resignation of President Nixon on August 9, 1974.

The break-in was initiated by White House Counsel John Wesley Dean and was approved by Jeb Magruder of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). At the time, Dean was assuming a major role in gathering political intelligence for the Nixon White House. Though he claimed to barely know Anthony T. Ulasewicz, whose services he had inherited from former-Counsel Ehrlichman, the fact is that Dean used Ulasewicz in a number of operations. Dean misled Congress by testifying that he was a restraining influence in the Nixon White House. The Senate Committee had evidence that proved otherwise, but must have decided to bolster Dean’s credibility by burying that material. Magruder did not seem to have a clear idea of why the break-in was necessary. He testified that Mitchell identified the DNC as a break-in target, and John Dean consistently lined up Mitchell to take the blame. John Mitchell, then campaign chairman, said he was bypassed. It seems that he was, indeed, briefed, but it is likely that he repeatedly tried to derail the project.

The resignation became necessary when the’smoking gun” audio tape was found, in which Nixon discussed the details of the cover-up effort. Interestingly, the same tape would have revealed the involvement of another president, George H.W. Bush, in the cover-uip, but the press did not pursue this. When the’smoking gun” tape was found, George H. W. Bush was among the people called to the White House. Bush realized it would expose his involvement in the $700,000 hush money he helped move. He feared the Mexican money pipeline would be exposed and White House official Dean Burch said that Bush “broke out into assholes and shit himself to death.” It is almost a certainty that Bush was still working for the C.I.A. at the time. This pipeline used the same mechanisms the agency employed to wash and move money into the United States.

Why Burgularize the DNC?

Most of the explanations for why the Republicans sent men to bugularize the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex have something to do with DNC chairman Larry O’ Brien. According to a sworn deposition given by G. Gordon Liddy, James McCord and other Republican operatives entered the Democratic National Committee headquarters on May 26 and supposedly placed listening devices on the telephone of Larry O’ Brien, chairman of the DNC, and that of R. Spencer Oliver, who ran the Association of State Democratic Chairmen.

There is sworn evidence from Liddy and McCord that the bugs were planted. It also appears that they planted some sort or room motion monitoring device, and it may have been that this device or bug later malfunctioned. The problem is that all the testimony about the first break-in is so contradictory. McCord once called it just an orientation run. In the second break-in, they were to replace the room monitoring device and the bug on O’Brien’s phone. There is no independent evidence that the bugs were planted in the first place, but it is true that when the burglars were caught they had a replacement bug or motion devce that was about the size of a football. Bugs were also found at McCord’s House and at the White House. Ervin committee testimony shows that Baldwin gave McCord some summary information about the calls he was supposed to have monitored. McCord then passed the summaries to Liddy, who resummarized them into a tape recorder, from which his secretary typed records, which were never produced.

It is theorized that they were interested in O’Brien because he had represented Howard Hughes in Washington. Nixon thought that Hughes aid Robert Maheu must have told O’Brien about the illegal contributions Hughes gave Nixon. Nixon suspected and much later had proof that O’Brien was on retainer to look after Hughes interests in Washington. Both O’Brien and Hughes had been fired by the odd multi-millionaire. Moreover, John Mier, a former C.I.A. man, had told O’ Brien and Hubert Humphrey about the Hughes $1,000,000 gift and apparently had turned over some paperwork. Meier was getting ready to run as a Democrat for the Senate in New Mexico. Instantly, he faced tax problems, which Don Nixon told him would go away if he recovered whatever he gave O’Brien. Eventually, Meier briefed the Senate Watergate Committee for 7 hours.

The IRS then told the committee that Meier had stolen money from Hughes, so the committee decided it could not use his information. Meier was subsequently hounded by the IRS and financially ruined. He spent some time working for British intelligence and then obtained Canadian citizenship and working for police intelligence agencies there. In July, 1979, he was extradicted to the United States. He ended up in solitary confinement in Boise, Idaho. From there he went to four other federal prisons and was eventually transferred to a Canadian prison and was relesed in 1981. In 1983, he was rearrested on Los Angeles murder charges and settled for a plea of harboring a fugitive. Because of this rough treatment, one might wonder if , in his bitterness, he embellished his story.

Oliver’s father was involved in a scheme to prevent the nomination of George McGovern and probably replacfe him with Terry Sanford. The elder Oliver, like O’Brien was tied to Howard Hughes and Oliver was also linked to Robert Bennett of the Mullen Company, a C.I.A. front. Bennett was in charge of the Domestic Operations Division. Both Olivers feared that McGovern would be easy to defeat. Nixon would not have wanted to see McGovern replaced by Sanford. Oliver subsequently sued the Republican party and had his pay cut off for doing so by the next chairman of the national committee, Robert Strauss. Oliver thought Strauss and John Connally used information gained by the tap to help George McGovern succeed in the Texas Democratic convention. The tap on O’ Brien’s telephone never worked. Oliver’s conversations were transcribed by Alfred Baldwin, III, a former F.B.I. agent who had been involved in bureau black bag operations. Baldwin was acquainted with Watergate arresting officer Don Shoffler, who told his former commanding officer that the earrest was the result of a tip. Shoffler later told the Senate that the story about the tip was not true. Baldwin was lookout during the second burgulary, but he could not warn the burgulars about the police because Bernard Barker had turned off his walkee-talkee.

After the Texas state convention, the Oliver tap was no longer useful. According to John Erlichman and some historians, the Oliver telephone was being used to make appointments with call girls for politicians. Hunt and two of the burglars much later said they were after sexual information about prominent Democrats. Eugenio Martinez, one of the Watergate burgulars, was found to have the key to the desk of Ida “Maxie” Wells’ desk. Martinez tried to swallow the key rather than turn it over to police. She was Oliver’s secretary. When interviewed by Senator Howard Baker , he admitted that he had participated in three or four hundred break-ins for the C.I.A.. Sam Dash was only onc e permitted to look at the F.B.I. investigative files, which ran to more than 30,000 pages. For that reason, it is fair to assume that the Ervin Committee never had any idea that Maxie could have been very important in this case.

Martinez had also participated in the break in of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office in Beverley Hills. The “plumbers” did not find Ellsberg’s records. They broke windows, used a crow bar on the front door, and scattered papers and pills about. Why would professional burgulars be so sloppy unless they wanted to generate a police report of the incident?

Decades later lawyer Phillip Bailley said that Wells kept pictures of the prostitutes in her desk to show to politicians who needed entertainment. Gordon Liddy thought the second break-in was to see what information the Democrats had about Republicans using call girls. Initially, he was told he was to replace a bad bug and learn what the DNC had no Nixon.

He now adds that the break-in was to steal pictures of prostitutes Wells had in her desk. Wells, now a community college teacher in Louisiana, recently sued him for slander in Baltimore and lost. A comment by Jeb Magruder makes it clear the break-in was to see what Democrats had on the Republicans, but Magruder might not have had sexual information in mind. Some of the Cuban burglars thought they were there to get information about Castro’s contributions to the Democrats.

There is no direct evidence that Richard Nixon ordered the “plumbers” to break into the DNC offices at the Watergate. At one time or other Magruder has blamed Mitchell, Nixon, and Dean for ordering the action. There is no evidence to support his claims about Nixon or Mitchell, and we have learned that he had contradictory tales to tell about many details involving Watergate. At that time, he was working very closely with White House Counsel John Dean, and it is not unreasonable to guess that Dean told him to send men into the DNC headquarters. We know that the operation was directed by someone at the White House. Most observers seem to think the GOP wanted to know what O’ Brien knew about Nixon’s dealings with Howard Hughes. We know that Hughes gave Charles “Bebe” Rebozo for the Nixon 1972 campaign. Some think there were concern about Hughes’ business ties with Donald Nixon. Both O’Brien and Oliver had links to Hughes. Of course, Republican operatives were always interested in Democratic strategies. What else could the Nixon White House have wanted to cover by sponsoring the Watergate break-in ? We know that the Greek military hunta donated $549,000 to the 1968 Nixon campaign, but we do not know if the Democrats knew about it. The Hughes Tool Company gave a huge $100,000 gift to Nixon in his first term. The money was skimmed from a Las Vegas casino. The cash came in two installments and was delivered by two top Hughes men to Bebe Rebozo, who gave it to Nixon. When there was danger the Watergate investigators would hearn of the payments, Rebozo returned the money to Hughes.

It is said that it is likely that Larry O’Brien, who became head of the DNC, had worked for Hughes and could have known about the gift. For whatever reason, Hughes hired many Robert Kennedy operatives after the senator’s assassination. It was also known then that Nixon took $400,000 from ITT in return for dropping charges against it. The money was to be used for the Republican National Convention. There could have been a concern that the DNC had solid information on this.

There is an alternate version of why the break-in occurred that involved Howard Hughes. Mr. Hughes passed a million dollar bribe to Bebe Rebozo for Nixon to ease the way for Hughes to purchase Air West. For reasons that elude this author, the C.I.A. also had an interest in the arrangement. The problem was that John Meier, a Hughes scientific advisor and Donald Nixon business partner happened to witness part of the transaction and Rebozo did not think he should be there. In fact, Meier had kept the money in his room overnight, after it was delivered by another Hughes man and two C.I.A. agents. Meier was a known leftist and the Nixon people assumed he passed the information to the DNC. John Ehrlichman instructed the IRS to investigate Meier. With no evidence, some writers think the DNC lured Nixon into the break-ins to get the Meier materials. Meier, a Hubert Humphrey Friend, foolishly told Donald Nixon that Larry O’Brien knew about some Hughes pay-offs to President Nixon. According to the affidavit of a deep cover C.I.A. agent given in Mexico City in 1975, Meier, indeed, did contact a Jack Anderson’s assistant George Clifford and told what he knew and told about bribes that he knew about. Meier was soon in prison on forgery charges. The C.I.A. visited him and administered a lie detector test , asked who his government sources wre, and demanded that he sign some documents. He refused. He was eventually released and tried unsuccessfully to testify before Congress, only to be told to go home. From 1981 to 1986, he fought murder charges. Throughout all this, he remained a friend of J. Edgar Hoover, and the F.B.I. left him alone. He was kept under C.I.A. surveillance but found eventually received some cover from the RCMP. Mr. Meier contacted Attorney John Teeter, lawyer for Sirhan Sirhan, sometime during the week of February 19, 2005 in Beverley Hills and gave him tapes and documents. Teeter wanted a new trial for Sirhan Sirhan. Teeter died in Chochitas. Mexico on July 31, 2005.

Dale Pope, Meier’s attorney, then unsuccessfully sought the help of the California Bar Association in seeking the return of the materials Meier had given Teeter. In the end, it turned out that Teeter’s home was burgularized, and the Meier matgerials were taken. Meier told a Vancouver neighbor that when the Mormons took over handling affairs for Hughes, Meier retrieved as many documents as he could to protect himself and stumbled across some pay orders he thought could be tied to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Of course, Hughes was the most important front man the agency had in those days.
The first break-in at the Watergate could have been part of Dean’s efforts to get information on Democrat sex practices. At same time, Dean sent Jack Caulfield to investigate the “Happy Hooker” ring in New York City, but the information was useless because the indiscretions discovered were bipartisan.

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