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The Break-In That History Forgot

Douglas Caddy

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June 30, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

The Break-In That History Forgot


The New York Times



THE Watergate break-in, described by Ron Ziegler, then the White House press secretary, as a “third-rate burglary,” passes its 35th anniversary this month. The common public perception is that Watergate was the principal cause of President Nixon’s downfall. In fact, the seminal cause was a first-rate criminal conspiracy and break-in almost 10 months earlier that led inexorably to Watergate and its subsequent cover-up.

In early August 1971, I attended a secret meeting in Room 16, a hideaway office in the basement of the Old Executive Office Building, across the street from the White House. Huddled around the table were G. Gordon Liddy, a former F.B.I. agent; E. Howard Hunt, a former C.I.A. agent; and David R. Young Jr., a member of the National Security Council staff. I was deputy assistant to the president.

Two months earlier, The New York Times had published the classified Pentagon Papers, which had been provided by Daniel Ellsberg. President Nixon had told me he viewed the leak as a matter of critical importance to national security. He ordered me and the others, a group that would come to be called the “plumbers,” to find out how the leak had happened and keep it from happening again.

Mr. Hunt urged us to carry out a “covert operation” to get a “mother lode” of information about Mr. Ells-berg’s mental state, to discredit him, by breaking into the office of his psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis Fielding. Mr. Liddy told us the F.B.I. had frequently carried out such covert operations — a euphemism for burglaries — in national security investigations, that he had even done some himself.

I listened intently. At no time did I or anyone else there question whether the operation was necessary, legal or moral. Convinced that we were responding legitimately to a national security crisis, we focused instead on the operational details: who would do what, when and where.

Mr. Young and I sent a memo to John Ehrlichman, assistant to the president, recommending that “a covert operation be undertaken to examine all of the medical files still held by Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.” Mr. Ehrlichman approved the plan, noting in longhand on the memo, “if done under your assurance that it is not traceable.”

On Sept. 3, 1971, burglars broke into Dr. Fielding’s Beverly Hills office to photograph the files, but found nothing related to Mr. Ellsberg.

The premise of our action was the strongly held view within certain precincts of the White House that the president and those functioning on his behalf could carry out illegal acts with impunity if they were convinced that the nation’s security demanded it. As President Nixon himself said to David Frost during an interview six years later, “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” To this day the implications of this statement are staggering.

With the Fielding break-in, some of us in the Nixon White House crossed the Rubicon into the realm of lawbreakers. In November 1973, I pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy in depriving Dr. Fielding of his civil rights, specifically his constitutional right to be free from an unwarranted search. I no longer believed that national security could justify my conduct. At my sentencing, I explained that national security is “subject to a wide range of definitions, a factor that makes all the more essential a painstaking approach to the definition of national security in any given instance.”

Judge Gerhard Gesell gave me the first prison sentence of any member of the president’s staff: two to six years, of which I served four and a half months.

I finally realized that what had gone wrong in the Nixon White House was a meltdown in personal integrity. Without it, we failed to understand the constitutional limits on presidential power and comply with statutory law.

In early 2001, after President Bush was inaugurated, I sent the new White House staff a memo explaining the importance of never losing their personal integrity. In a section addressed specifically to the White House lawyers, I said that integrity required them to constantly ask, is it legal?

And I recommended that they rely on well-established legal precedent and not some hazy, loose notion of what phrases like “national security” and “commander in chief” could be tortured into meaning. I wonder if they received my message.

Egil Krogh, a lawyer, is the author of the forthcoming “Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices and Life Lessons From the White House.”

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Press Release

June 28, 2007

Nixon Library to Become Part of the National Archives Presidential Library System

and to

Release Formerly Withheld Nixon Special Political Documents and Tapes


The legal transfer on July 11, 2007, of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace from the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation to the National Archives. The new Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum joins the existing 11 presidential libraries within the federal system, from President Hoover through President Clinton. The Nixon Library will open at 8 AM (PDT) for remarks by Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein and others, followed by the opening of the research room and media tours. Newly-released tapes and documents will be available in Yorba Linda, CA. Newly-released tapes will also be available in College Park, MD.

  • Paper Opening: On July 11, the new Nixon Library will open approximately 78,000 pages of previously withheld materials. Approximately 58,000 pages come from the Special Files, which were created by the Nixon White House to segregate the most sensitive information from the White House Central Files. Included in the Special Files are the President’s personal files, his office files, and the files of his closest aides such as John Dean, H.R. Haldeman, Charles Colson and John Ehrlichman. The remaining approximate 20,000 pages are from the White House Central Files.
    The materials being released on July 11 were returned to President Nixon and his heirs by the National Archives because they did not relate to the statutory duties of the President nor to abuses of governmental power, as defined by the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974, and its implementing public access regulations. As part of the Agreement between the National Archives and the Nixon Foundation governing the transfer of the Nixon Library to the National Archives, the Foundation has agreed to donate these important materials to the National Archives for their release to the public. Thanks to an agreement with the Nixon Foundation, NARA archivists were permitted to process these materials in advance so that they could be opened on the day of transfer.
    These materials provide new insight into the political strategies of the Nixon White House and Nixon’s 1968 and 1972 presidential campaigns. They also shed new light on Richard Nixon’s role as a political strategist, analyst and tactician. The materials include correspondence with many important politicians and public figures, including George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, Dwight Eisenhower, Billy Graham, and Roger Ailes.
  • Tape Opening: The July 11 opening of 165 tape recorded conversations, totaling approximately 11 ½ hours, also includes political information that can be released now because of the transfer agreement. These conversations, which were recorded between November 3, 1972, and November 19, 1972, took place in the Oval Office, in the President’s Old Executive Office Building (EOB) office, and on certain telephones in the Oval Office, the President’s EOB office, and in the Lincoln Sitting Room in the residence of the White House. The tapes focus on the 1972 Presidential and Congressional elections and plans for the reorganization of the President’s second term administration. This is the first partial release of the fifth chronological segment (November 1972 to July 1973) of Nixon White House tapes. The Nixon Foundation, as part of the transfer agreement, is donating to the National Archives approximately 800 hours from the Nixon White House Tapes previously removed from the tapes according to the PRMPA and its implementing public access regulations. All future releases will include the donated political conversations. The National Archives intends to release the remaining tapes from November 1972 in mid-2008.
  • Web Site Unveiling: On July 11, the new National Archives Nixon Library web site, www.nixonlibrary.gov, will be unveiled.


Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein, Assistant Archivist for Presidential Libraries Sharon Fawcett, and Director of the new Nixon Presidential Library Timothy Naftali. Experts on both the tapes and documents will be available to the media for assistance. For questions regarding tapes, contact the College Park staff of the Nixon Library at nixon@nara.gov or 301-837-2070. For questions regarding documents, contact the Nixon Library staff in Yorba Linda at 714-983-9121.


Selected documents and conversations from all of the newly-released tapes will be available on the web at: www.nixonlibrary.gov. All of the newly-released tapes and newly-released documents will be available for research in the research room at the Nixon Library at 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA. The tapes will also be available at the National Archives at College Park at 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD.


Conversations from the tapes and the selected documents will be available online at 8 AM (PDT)/11 AM (EDT). All of the newly-released documents will be available for research at 9 AM (PDT) at the Nixon Library, Yorba Linda, CA. The tapes will be available at 9 AM (EDT) at the National Archives at College Park.

# # #

For press information please contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.


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Guest John Gillespie

"...and the secret hand that is behind them all. "



It's refreshing to see that on these pages, though I may not be giving enough credit...if we don't join our own hands and fight back soon it will be too late.

Happy Fourth,


Veteran, class of '68

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Guest John Gillespie

[Egil Krogh, a lawyer, is the author of the forthcoming “Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices and Life Lessons From the White House.”



There are some nasty & persistent rumors of another novel by the "Bud"ster, one that he got as far as the galley proof stage, that had a working title of "Obfuscation: Plane Crashes, Dead Bodies and Hasty Appointments"


P.S. Stay tuned as Mr. Gray weighs in, again, on this business...

Edited by John Gillespie
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  • 2 months later...
June 30, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

The Break-In That History Forgot


The New York Times


Disinformation Check:

1) There is not now, nor has there ever been, any shred of evidence that there ever was an actual, as opposed to staged, "break-in" at Fielding's office.

2) There is not now, nor has there ever been, any scrap of actual evidence that G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt were in Los Angeles at the time of the alleged "Fielding office break-in." Curiously, there is a record that they spent the night at the Hotel Pierre in New York City that same night--just blocks from the lab of CIA's Cleve Backster. (BONUS TRIVIA QUESTION: Which two famous political figures used the Hotel Pierre as "office quarters" during the Nixon transition in 1968, and who met with them there on Christmas Day 1968? Answer at the end of this post, but don't peek!)

3) The "confessed" participants--all CIA assets--claimed repeatedly in their "confessions" that there were no Ellsberg files found during their purported "break-in." Yet...

4) Fielding later testified that there had been a "thick file" on Ellsberg in his office, and that it had been "fingered," with papers taken out of envelopes that he was certain they had been in.

5) Fielding was a staff psychiatrist for the Veteran's Administration during the early '50s when the VA was supplying CIA with Korean War vets as guinea pigs for CIA's brainwashing and mind control programs.

6) Egil Krogh is a lying government mouthpiece. But I repeat myself.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Disinformation Magpie Cut-and-Paste Service.

Ashton Gray

BONUS TRIVIA QUESTION ANSWER: Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger used the Hotel Pierre as their "office quarters" during the Nixon transition, and on 25 and 26 December 1968, Daniel Ellsberg (purported "patient" of Dr. Fielding), Harry Rowan, and Fred Ilké met with Kissinger and "Rand consultant" Thomas Schelling in Kissinger's room to go over a 27-page paper that Daniel Ellsberg had prepared--purportedly concerning "Vietnam options." Sure. Whatever.

Edited by Ashton Gray
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  • 9 years later...

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