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Ashton Gray

Liddy, Baldwin, and the Phantom Phone Logs

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You probably believe there were "logs" of purported electronic bugs that supposedly had been placed inside Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building on the night of Sunday, 28 May 1972 by the so-called "Watergate burglars."

You might be a little hazy and vague on the exact nature of these purported records of people's intercepted conversations, and think that they might have been summaries of the conversations, or even actual transcripts of what was said.

I have a question for you: have you ever seen any such records, be they logs, summaries, or transcripts? I'll apologize immediately for asking you a rhetorical question, because I already know you've never seen any such records of purported wire-tap interceptions. (While attorneys aren't my role models, they do have one golden rule that I think has some value at times: never ask a question that you don't already know the answer to.)

The reason I know you've never seen them is because they are a no-see-um. They are a fantasy. They are a fiction. They never existed.

The immediate objection (I've been through this now more than a few times, including with myself) is that "people testified to having seen the logs!"

But who said they saw them, and what did they say they saw?

Allow me to direct your attention to the few sketchy "facts" in testimony that exist concerning these phantom logs. Below is a relevant excerpt from a detailed analysis of "testimony" concerning the purported "Watergate First Break-In":

  • Wiretap phone logs
    Several people have testified to the existence of logs of conversations from bugs purportedly planted in the DNC on the first break-in.
    G. Gordon Liddy said that he was the recipient of all written records of the bugs, and said in sworn testimony: "I wasn't getting any tapes, nor was I getting transcriptions of anything. I was getting logs. ...And the stuff was just of no use at all."
    James McCord was responsible for passing the written records from Alfred Baldwin—who was making the records using an electric typewriter—to Liddy. James McCord said in congressional testimony that the records he received were not just logs, as Liddy reported. McCord said the records had "a summary of what was said."
    Alfred Baldwin was questioned under oath in congressional hearings about what he had typed up while monitoring the bugs:

    • Senator Ervin: The information you got while you were at the Howard Johnson [across] from the Democratic headquarters, what form was it in when you gave it to Mr. McCord?
      Alfred Baldwin: The initial day, the first day that I recorded the conversations was on a yellow sheet. On Memorial Day...when he [McCord] returned to the room he brought an electric typewriter. He instructed me in the upper left-hand corner to print—or by typewriter...the date, the page, and then proceed down into the body and in chronological order put the time and then the contents of the conversation... .
      Senator Ervin: And you typed a summary of the conversations you overheard?
      Alfred Baldwin: Well, they weren't exactly a summary. I would say almost verbatim, Senator.

  • Sally Harmony was G. Gordon Liddy's secretary. She testified in Congress that she had typed up logs of telephone conversations G. Gordon Liddy had supplied to her, and that she typed them on special stationery Liddy also had supplied with the word "GEMSTONE" printed across the top in color.
    G. Gordon Liddy later admitted in sworn testimony that what he had supplied to Ms. Harmony was actually his own dictation, which Liddy claims he did from what Baldwin had produced, saying, "On Monday, 5 June [1972], I dictated from the typed logs to Sally Harmony...editing as I went along."

So Sally Harmony typed some kind of records, purportedly of phone conversations, with a showy "GEMSTONE" logo on the stationery that Liddy had gotten printed up, and a tiny handful of select people supposedly saw (or got some kind of glimpse at), these purported wiretap records, and according to Liddy (who would never tell a lie), a set of some of them was placed--in a sealed envelope--on the corner of John Mitchell's desk. Nobody can say if anybody opened the envelope, or exactly what happened to the envelope, of course, except that it likely was destroyed.

Right.

And what was on these "GEMSTONE" pages typed by Sally Harmony?

Dictation from G. Gordon Liddy. That's it. That's all she ever typed: what G. Gordon Liddy had dictated onto a tape that he gave her.

And if Mr. Baldwin isn't too busy with handlers right now trying to come up with new, fresh explanations for some of the other questions I've asked him in other threads, I sure would like an answer to this:

When, where, and how did you learn to type so incredibly well that you were able to type "almost verbatim" running transcripts in real time of approximately 200 phone conversations on an electric typewriter, including having to roll in-and-out and line up pages and pages and pages of not one piece of paper at a time, but also an onionskin and carbon paper? (The onionskin copy isn't in the excerpt above, but is in your testimony posted elsewhere in this forum.)

I have to tell you, Mr. Baldwin, I have a friend who has a background as an executive secretary and who helps me out sometimes, and I can't see her fingers when she types. They're just a blur. And after I read your testimony, I asked her if she would perform a little experiment with me and a willing associate. Here was the deal: he and I would have a casual phone conversation for a few minutes, and I was going to set her up on an extension with headphones. I asked her if she would do what she could to type a running, real-time transcript of what we said into a word processor on a laptop--not even dealing with carbon copies and an electric typewriter.

Now, she's a very sweet lady, somewhat conservative, and always polite. When she finally stopped laughing, I was astounded at the words that came out of that pleasant mouth: "Have you lost your (adjective) mind?"

She went on to describe to me her experience with transcribing recorded interviews and meetings. She described her foot-pedal arrangement for hands-free starting, stopping, and rewinding of tapes, which she constantly has to do to transcribe conversations. She gave me some insights into court reporting (which she doesn't do), and asked me if I'd ever noticed that they don't use electric typewriters.

I tried to save face by saying I was only kidding.

She just chuckled as she left the room, and said, "Who are you trying to kid?"

I realized after the fact that might be a good question for you, Mr. Baldwin: who are you trying to kid?

But more importantly: why?

Ashton Gray

Edited by Ashton Gray

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