Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Watergate: Part Five

Five men were arrested immediately, all had C.I.A. connections. One ,James McCord, was also a Nixon campaign official . C.I.A. fingerprints were all over this operation, and McCord even told an officer at the police station that these men were all good fellows and had worked for the agency. The next day, the others admitted to being tied to the C.I.A., something agents usually do not do. Yet, the first reports of the story did not put the C.I.A. in a bad light. The telephone number of E. Howard Hunt was found in their address books, and this discovery led the investigation to the White House.

James McCord was a veteran C.I.A. agent and friend of former director Allen Dulles, who introduced McCord to an Air Force colonel as the agency’s best agent. In 1969 he ran the physical security and technical divisions of the Office of Security, which reported directly to the Director of Central Intelligence. McCord had no use for Nixon and told another agent that Nixon was not” one of us.” In A Piece of Tape, he claimed that E. Howard Hunt had information that could bring about the impeacnment of Nixon, but we have no idea what that was. Mc Cord lived with his family in Baltimore, but rented a basement apartment in the District. He testified that he had not met E. Howard Hunt until 1972, but his landlady said Hunt often visited the apartment well before that. She finally ousted McCord because he was visited by women she thought were prostitutes. He claimed he had no bugging equipment until April, 1972, but the landlady said he had all sorts of electrical gear. One wonders why he did not use a hotel room rather than an apartment. It is more likely that the apartment was a safehouse for an intelligence operation run through prostitutes. Some think the bug on Oliver’s phone was placed there after the burgulars were caught because it only turned up long after the arrest and many searches. It was clumsily installed and not the kind that would operate on the frequency McCord was supposed to be using. Former F.B.I. agent said he monitored calls to a Columbia Apartments prostitution ring that serviced politicians and diplomats.

Severeal theorize that McCord found it necessary to expose the burgulary to put to an end a White House investigation that could have led to the C.I.A. prostitution intelligence ring. Some who take this view are not sure that Mark Felt was the only “Deep Throat.” The name could have been a compolsite for intelligence people giving former Naval intelligence man Bob Woodward information to steer the probe away from their intelligence operations.

McCord turned out to be a right-wing propagandist. After his arrest, he started cranking out newsletters saying that the liberal Rockefellers were ruling through Nixon. Oddly, Charles Radford, who was involved in the naval spy ring, had similar notions. He thought the Rockefellers and Nixon had plans to control the international money supply to their benefit.

Nixon seemed astonished by the break-in and came to believe that it was part of a plot to make him look bad. He, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman also believed it was part of some sort of C.I.A. operation and they tried unsuccessfully to get the C.I.A. to clean up its own mess. Seeing the involvement of Hunt and the Cubans, the president thought it could be linked to “the Bay of Pigs thing,” and Haldeman and Ehrlichman thought that those words were Nixon’s way of referencing the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

We also know from a report released in 1975 that the C.I.A. had planted a number of observers in the Nixon White House. Alexander Butterfield, whom Rose Woods thought was C.I.A., eventually revealed Nixon’s elaborate taping system. John Arthur Paisley, a ranking C.I.A. officer, was there helping to find leaks and serve as C.I.A. laison with the “plumbers unit.” He was most likely Hunt’s control officer. At the time, he was involved in a sex partner’s swapping ring that was attended by reporter Carl Bernstein. Some think Paisley gave Nixon information about the agency’s involvement in the death of Kennedy. Paisley was considered an expert on that subject. His 1978 death was ruled a suicide even though the right-handed Paisley was shot behind the left ear and his body weighted down in the Chesapeake Bay.

Nixon had been poking around for information on this subject since 1969, when he sent John Ehrlichman to ask Richard Helms for all the C.I.A.’s information on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Helms refused to provide any information and got away with it. Senator Howard Baker once remarked, “Nixon and Helms have so much on each other, neither of them can breathe.” Ehrlichman later told Haldeman that Nixon’s references to the Bay of Pigs was code fcor the Kennedy assassination. Nixon knew immediately after the break-in that the Cubans who were with McCord at the Watergate were tied to the Bay of Pigs, and he told Haldeman this was a fact. Paisley was considered an expert on that subject. His 1978 death was ruled a suicide even though the right-handed Paisley was shot behind the left ear and his body weighted down in the Chesapeake Bay.

Richard Ober, a James Jesus Arrington protégé, had an office in the White House. He developed a very close relationship to Nixon and had unrestricted access to Nixon. Some have theorized that it was then that Ober learned that Nixon was determined to damage the C.I.A.. We have no idea what his role was but must assume that his first loyalty was to the agency. Ober graduated with Ben Bradlee in the Harvard Class of 1943. Obere went into the OSS and Bradlee went to Naval Intelligence. However, at the time of Watergate, Bradlee stated that he had never met Ober. He was also in charge of Operation Chaos, the effort to spy on anti-war people and Nixon’s opponents. The C.I.A. wanted to scale this dangerous operation back. Alexander Butterfield, a former C.I.A. agent working in the White House, told the Senate Investigating Committee that Nixon was having all of his conversations recorded, and General Vernon Walters of the C.I.A. pointed out the smoking gun tape to the committee. Ambassador George H.W. Bush, then head of the RNC and a former C.I.A. man, established the reputation as a strong Nixon loyalist, but he had a way of giving bad advice to Nixon on how to handle the scandal. He also set Lowell Weicher, a Republican on the Watergate committee, on the warpath against the White House when he tried to blackmail the Connecticut Senator with information that Weicher had received some Townhouse money.

We know that McCord was the teams electronics guy and that he earlier planted a bug in Chairman Lawrence O Brien’s telephone that did not work. There is some evidence that he also left a door lock to the parking garage taped so a security man could find it. Oddly, the tape was horizontal rather than vertical, making it easier for security people to spor it. Eugenio Martinez , one of the burgulars, later said they were joined there by someone who had infiltrated the DNC and that they were lookling for proof that Castro donated to the George McGovern campaign. Martinez remained on the C.I.A. payroll until June 17, 1972 and some speculate that he could have told his handler about the break-in before it occurred.


David Mignery said...

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Although my novel “proves” nothing, I am hoping it will provoke some renewed interest in and scrutiny of the criminal behavior of the Nixon administration. It is available from Amazon at

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