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Strength and weakness of “Family of Secrets”

Douglas Caddy

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Gore Vidal praises Family of Secrets as “one of the most important books of the past ten years.” There can be no doubt but that Russ Baker deserves the gratitude of all thoughtful Americans for having the courage to expose much that is unknown about one of the most powerful (and some would say, evil) families in the world. I cannot commend it highly enough to anyone who wants to learn more about “the Bush dynasty, America’s invisible government, and the hidden history of the last fifty years,” as the thoroughly documented volume is subtitled.

For purposes of this brief review, however, my focus will be on the book’s chapters 10 and 11. These deal with Watergate, the first being titled, “Downing Nixon, Part 1: The Setup,” and the second, “Downing Nixon, Part II, The Execution.”

I agree wholeheartedly with Baker’s declaration “That Nixon could actually have been the victim of Watergate, and not the perpetrator, will not sit well with many, especially those with a professional stake in Nixon’s guilt. Yet three of the most thoroughly reported books on Watergate from the past three decades have come to the same conclusion: that Nixon and/or his top aides were indeed set up. Each of these books takes a completely different approach, focuses on different aspects, and relies on essentially different sets of facts and sources. These are 1984’s Secret Agenda, by former Harper’s magazine Washington editor Jim Hougan; 1991’s Silent coup, by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, and 2008’s The Strong Man, by James Rosen.”

I also concur with Baker’s statement that “Nixon, of course, was no innocent. He played rough with his critics, and he liked intrigue. But the evidence indicates that, despite his documented penchant for dirty deeds, he wasn’t behind Watergate and the Watergate-related dirty deeds that ultimately brought him down.”

Appropriately, Baker quotes Bob Woodward as saying, “The record is so voluminous on Watergate; there is nothing like it…It’s the most investigated event of all time; perhaps even more so than the Kennedy assassination.” Baker accurately observes that nevertheless “But like other epic events, Watergate turns out to be an entirely different story than the one we thought we knew.”

It is this latter statement by Baker that highlights the weakness of the Watergate section. For nowhere in his well researched volume does Baker even mention the two principal persons who brought about the Watergate public scandal: Carl Shoffler, the Washington, D.C. police detective who arrested the burglars on June 17, 1972, and Robert “Butch” Merritt, the Confidential Informant who reported directly to Shoffler beginning in 1970 and who alerted him on June 1, 1972 of the planned break-in at the Democratic National Committee, two weeks prior to the arrests.

Of the two, Merritt is the key person in the event. Had he not learned of the planned break-in from a highly unusual source and had he not relayed this information to Shoffler, there would have been no arrests on June 17, 1972 and no Watergate. Yet Merritt’s name is not mentioned in the books by Colodny/Gettlin, Rosen or Baker. Hougan’s Silent Agenda comes the closest to telling the real story behind the scandal when he describes somewhat the unique Shoffler-Merritt relationship in the appendixes of his work.

In short, only when the new book, Watergate Expose: A Confidential Informant Tells How the Watergate Burglars were Set-Up and Reveals Other Government Dirty Tricks, by Robert Merritt as told to Douglas Caddy, Original Attorney for the Watergate Seven, is published will the epic scandal truly be revealed as “an entirely different story than the one we thought we knew.”

For an abbreviated preview of Watergate Exposed your attention is directed to my posting on the Forum on July 30, 2009 of Merritt’s sworn affidavit regarding the “1972 Conspiracy to Assassinate Douglas Caddy, Original Attorney for the Watergate Seven,” a link to which is below:


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