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Watergate: A Political Mystery

John Simkin

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Watergate is usually presented in history textbooks as an example of how in a free and democratic society journalists will discover the truth about corrupt politicians. However, does the traditional textbook really provide an accurate account of Watergate?

Textbooks usually provide the following narrative:

In March, 1971, the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) agree to spend $250,000 in an "intelligence gathering" operation against the Democratic Party. The group carrying out these operations become known as the “Plumbers Unit”.

Two months later, Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt arranged for the "Plumbers Unit" to install bugging equipment in the office at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

On 17th June, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested at 2.30 am during a break-in at the Watergate Hotel. Two days later Bob Woodward, a reporter with the Washington Post, has his first meeting with a source within the White House who adopts the name of Deep Throat.

As a result of a series of meetings with Deep Throat, Bob Woodward and another journalist, Carl Bernstein, gradually reveal that the “Plumbers” were being employed by senior White House officials and these men were following the instructions of President Richard Nixon.

Attempts are made by Nixon and his aides to cover-up this political scandal. This involves paying sums of money to the Plumbers in order that they do not reveal that it was a White House operation. Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker, E. Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy go along with this. However, James W. McCord, rejects this deal and on 19th March, 1973, he writes a letter to Judge John J. Sirica claiming that the defendants had pleaded guilty under pressure (from John Dean and John N. Mitchell) and that perjury had been committed during the trial.

On 6th April, 1973, John Dean, the White House Counsel, agrees to co-operate with the Watergate prosecutors. His testimony exposes Nixon’s role in the cover-up. Nixon denies this but on 13th July, Alexander P. Butterfield, a former presidential appointments secretary, informs the Senate Committee investigating Watergate of the White House taping system. These tapes are eventually handed over (although some had been tampered with) and Nixon is forced to resign.

It is a fascinating story and was turned into a great movie (All the President’s Men). It has all the classic ingredients of a Hollywood movie with its villain and two good looking heroes. However, although all the above is true, it is clearly not the full story. Here are some questions that need answering?

(1) Why would Nixon take the chance of personally being involved in organizing the bugging of Democratic National Committee headquarters? I am not saying he did not want it done (although I am not sure what important information he could have got by bugging Larry O’Brien’s telephone). My concern is that Nixon’s previous career suggests that he would never have got himself linked in this way with illegal activities.

(2) Why did John N. Mitchell of CREEP employ Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt to organize the Watergate break-in? Liddy was already closely linked to Richard Nixon (he had been a member of his White House staff since 1971). The same is true of Howard Hunt, who had an office in the White House. Hunt had been involved in CIA covert activities since the late 1940s. He also played a major role in CIA black ops against Castro. This was reinforced by the employment of four others involved in these activities against Castro (Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker). What is more, Hunt and these four men had been named as possible people involved in the assassination of JFK.

(3) Hunt and Liddy also employed James W. McCord to help with the Watergate break-in. McCord was a former employee of the CIA (1951-1970). In fact, in the late 1960s he was responsible for security at CIA headquarters in Langley. Although he was highly experienced in covert operations McCord made two very silly mistakes. First of all, the bugging equipment in O’Brien telephone did not work and so they had to go in a second time. If he had got it right initially they would never have been arrested. Secondly, McCord was responsible for using tape on the entry door to make certain that each lock was held in a permanently open position. However, he did this in such an incompetent way that the trick was easily identified by Watergate security guards. It was this that led to the burglars being arrested.

(4) When McCord appeared in court for the first time he openly admitted he had worked for the CIA. It was this information that got journalists like Woodward and Bernstein so interested in the case.

(5) Who was Deep Throat? Why has his name remained a secret? He is seen as a hero of open government. The man who revealed corruption in high places. Why did he not come forward to receive the praise that was due to him? What is more, he could have made a fortune from writing his story of the scandal? His identity is of prime importance. Without Deep Throat the exposure and resignation of Nixon would never have taken place. His identity would also help to explain his motive.

(6) The Plumbers were involved in several different operations before Watergate. This included smear campaigns against Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Kennedy and Edmund Muskie. It also involved in breaking into the apartment of Arthur Bremer, the man who tried to assassinate George Wallace of 15th May, 1972. Haldeman claimed that Hunt was asked to find any documents that suggested that Bremer was working for one of the Democratic candidates. I find that unbelievable. A more likely reason was to remove documents that linked Bremer to Nixon.

(7) Soon after the break-in the FBI opened Howard Hunt’s White House office safe. It apparently included important documents that related to both John and Edward Kennedy. Deep Throat told Bob Woodward that these documents were “political dynamite”. H. R. Haldeman in his book, The Ends of Power, agrees that this information was very damaging to Nixon. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI, later claimed that he destroyed these documents.

(8) We know that within days of the break-in Nixon’s aides began negotiating the silence of the ‘Plumbers’. The chief negotiator for the Plumbers was Dorothy Hunt, the wife of Howard and herself a former CIA agent. It is estimated that she was given $250,000 to pass on to those about to go on trial. Days before the trial Dorothy Hunt was killed in a plane crash. With her was Michelle Clark, a journalist working for CBS. The two women were working together on a story on the Watergate case.

An interesting document later emerged. It was a letter from John Reed, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board to FBI Director William Ruckelshaus (5th June, 1973). Reed wanted to know why such a large number of FBI agents were at the scene of the crash within minutes of it taking place. Reed explained to the head of the FBI: “Our investigative team assigned to this accident discovered on the day following the accident that several FBI agents had taken a number of non-typical actions relating to this accident within the first few hours following the accident. Included were: for the first time in the memory of our staff, an FBI agent went to the control tower and listened to the tower tapes before our investigators had done so; and for the-first time to our knowledge, in connection with an aircraft accident, an FBI agent interviewed witnesses to the crash, including flight attendants on the aircraft prior to the NTSB interviews. As I am sure you can understand, these actions, particularly with respect to this flight on which Mrs. E. Howard Hunt was killed, have raised innumerable questions in the minds of those with legitimate interests in ascertaining the cause of this accident.”

It has never been revealed why the FBI agents were doing at the scene of the crash. What we do know is that Howard Hunt got the message and pleaded guilty and has never revealed the background to the Watergate case or the contents of his White House safe.

There are two possible explanations for these events. One is that Nixon, Mitchell, Dean, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson, Liddy, McCord, Hunt, etc. were all incompetent. This is the “cock-up” theory of history. However, the rest of their careers suggest that on the whole these were all very shrewd men.

The second explanation is that Nixon was set-up. If that is the case, who did it? More importantly, why?

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Great post, John!

I am convinced that the "official" story of Watergate is as incomplete and misleading as the Warren Commission Report does not tell an accurate story of the assassination.

I, of course, highly recommend the books "Secret Agenda" and "Silent Coup" that disclose things one would never know from reading the accepted history of Watergate.

One problem with the "Nixon was set-up" theory is that Nixon might have been able to survive had to handled things differently. A second problem is that Watergate as the term broadly encompasses all of the "sins"of the Nixon White House includes misdeeds for which Nixon clearly was NOT set up.

So while I think it not only possible but probable that there were hidden agendas being played out that contributed to the downfall of Nixon, those agendas cannot explain ALL of Watergate. There may be NO "unified theory" that explains all of the Watergate matter.

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  • 1 year later...

Inside Job: How Nixon Was Taken Down

by Gary North

June 8, 2005



People can be misled by deliberately distracting them. This fact is basic to all forms of "magic," meaning prestidigitation. The performer seeks to persuade members of the audience to focus their attention on something peripheral, when the real action lies elsewhere. A skilled performer can do this "as if by magic."

The mainstream media use a very similar strategy in crucial events. The public is reminded of the official version of what is a turning-point event. Nothing is said of other aspects of the event. It is assumed that the public will forget. Prior to the Internet, this was a safe assumption. It no longer is.

Let me give you an example. We have all heard the analogy of the elephant in the living room. Out of politeness to the host, no guest says anything. If no one says anything for a long enough period, people tend not to notice the beast any more. It becomes background noise (and odor). When they move on to another dinner party, they tend to forget that the elephant was ever there.

I am now going to present three videos. They are videos of the largest documented elephant in the largest living room in human history. Nothing else matches it. Some of you may have seen video #3: it was on national TV. Yet after its broadcast, this elephant was dropped down the memory hole. Memory holes are designed to accept elephants. People have heard about this one, but they have long forgotten it. Only by deliberately ignoring it can those in charge of reminding people to think about certain details be confident that the official version of the event will be believed.

The event took place eight hours after a more famous event. That event was 9/11. But this event was also part of 9/11. It is the event, more than any other event, that does not fit the official explanation. It fits a few of the unofficial explanations.

Watch the video. On my computer, QuickTime is automatically activated.

"Name that event!" What event was it? Do you remember? Can you identify it by name? Probably not.

Don’t tell me Orwell was wrong in Nineteen Eighty-Four. The memory hole strategy works.

Now watch a different video of the same event. Think about what you are watching. How can this be true? How can the sequence have taken place? What’s wrong with this picture?

Then, for the capper, watch the third version. Listen to the verbal comments. The commentator is Dan Rather. Millions of people saw this video and heard what he said. He never said it again. Neither did any other national media commentator. Watch and listen. There is a movable right-left button at the bottom of the image’s screen if you have QuickTime installed. You can rerun the video by using your cursor to move the button to the left. Then click the play button again.

All right, for those of you who are still confused at what this is, I’ll refresh your memory. This is the collapse of Building 7 of the World Towers complex. It took place at 5:20 p.m., over eight hours after the previous collapses. This is the third largest building in history to collapse, yet it is essentially forgotten by the public. Building 7 was a block away from the first two.

As you have seen, the building collapsed from the bottom. It fell straight down – just as North and South towers did. This caught Rather’s attention. In a moment of extreme indiscretion, he said this:

It’s reminiscent of those pictures we’ve all seen too much on television before, when a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down.

He only said it once. But, because of the Web, we can hear him say it over and over.

Why did it collapse? Because it was deliberately demolished. Despite all the chaos of that day, there was time to "pull it." Evidence? Click this for a recording.

In the midst of that day’s chaos, a team of highly skilled professionals was assembled in less than eight hours to demolish the building. How? This time frame in itself is remarkable: hours, not days. How? There were fires on the upper floors.

The team clearly had the protection of the authorities. They blew out the foundations of an insured building. By common law, a fire department can legally destroy property to keep a fire from spreading. I ask: "To where?" For more details and an amazing video, click here.

[You will probably not be able to turn off the first video if you watch the first five minutes. If you’re at work, you are now forewarned. The report is from Alex Jones, or as he is known by cognoscenti on the Left, "Rush Limbaugh’s Rush Limbaugh."]

This is not the sort of thing that the American public wants to hear. So, they do not hear it in the mainstream media.

Enough of this information was made public by mainstream media sources so that it’s not easy to call this a systematic cover-up. But because people have very short memories, it is not necessary to engineer a complete blackout to cover up something very big – in this case, 47 stories. It is only necessary to ignore certain evidence and refrain from asking certain questions. Like the dog that Sherlock Holmes observed in retrospect – the dog that did not bark – so is the question that never gets asked by investigators. Why doesn’t it get asked?

I am making a simple point. An event seen by millions of people so recently can still be dropped down the memory hole. Embarrassing questions are not aired before the general public. No one asks: "What is that elephant doing here?"

It is time to consider a far less visible elephant.

Part 1


The identity of Deep Throat is modern journalism’s greatest unsolved mystery. It has been said that he may be the most famous anonymous person in U.S. history.

This is the assessment of John O’Connor, author of the July, 2005 Vanity Fair article, "I’m the Guy they Called Deep Throat." If this really was modern journalism’s greatest unsolved mystery, then modern journalists have got way too much time on their hands.

Deep Throat. For days after Vanity Fair’s story appeared (May 31), the media were filled with Deep Throat stories. "Washington’s oldest mystery is solved!"

This shows that Washington is still as dumb as a post, and has a newspaper to prove it: The Washington Post.

Deep Throat was a sideshow in 1973, and still is.

Deep Throat never had what it took to unseat Richard Nixon. Neither did Woodward and Bernstein. One man did. He remains anonymous.

In the initial contacts with Woodward, Deep Throat merely confirmed what W&B had dug up on their own. He was not a supplier of new information until much later.

The real supplier of new information never talked with Woodward or Bernstein. They never knew he was the reason why all the President’s men sank with the Good Ship R. M. Nixon. He was buried so deeply in the bowels of the government that I call him Deep Sphincter.


W. Mark Felt was on target when he told Woodward to follow the money. He did historians a great favor by getting this phrase into the English language – not that most salaried historians are willing to do this. But anyone who is trying to uncover the source of crucial decisions ought to begin with the trail of digits in our era that we call money.

Nevertheless, this is only one avenue from the here and now back to square one. The other major trail is the loyalty trail. This procedure is what I have called "follow the oath." When we discover to whom or to what a man has sworn allegiance, we learn a great deal about him. We must also look carefully at the sanctions, both positive and negative, that is imposed to maintain his allegiance.

When men keep their mouths shut about a really big secret, there has to be fear in the picture. Men love to brag about the big deals they have been a part of. Eventually, they feel compelled to take credit. W. Mark Felt held back for over three decades, but finally he went public. "Yes, I did it. I’m the one!" It is the cry of the four-year-old on the day care playground: "Look at me!" Call it a Felt need.

The man who takes his biggest secret to the grave was a serious player, or at least a serious observer.

He who exposes a damaging secret is hailed by the enemies of his victim and is vilified by the victim’s supporters. Mr. Felt is now experiencing both traditional responses, which come with the territory. His critics cry:

"Disloyalty!" Nixon’s enemies cry: "Higher duty!"

Different strokes from different folks.

But the person who actually made the difference – the one who brought Nixon down – says nothing. The press says nothing. The greatest Watergate secret of all remains a secret.


Woodward and Bernstein kept writing stories about the Committee to Re-Elect the President. Nixon’s team was not very forward-looking when they chose this name for their organization. Its acronym later became CREEP. (The other possible acronym, CRP, also created PR problems.) I challenge readers to come up with a real-world organization with a negative acronym to match CREEP. CREEP crept on behalf of a man universally regarded by his enemies as a creep. CREEP was perfect for the newspapers.

Nevertheless, tracing money into CREEP and back out to one of the burglars was not the same as tracing anything illegal to Nixon. Nixon could always say that he had nothing to do with the minions at CREEP. This is what every senior decision-maker says whenever some unsavory machination hits the headlines. It works most of the time.

The minions are either loyal or afraid. When threatened with serious negative sanctions, they may reply:

"I was just following orders!" But these unwritten orders always seem to have originated no higher than the rank of staff sergeant or its organizational equivalent. Somehow, with the exception of My Lai, such orders do not originate at the commissioned officer level, and never at the field-grade officer level. There is always a break in the chain of command, usually quite low on the chain. The only exception is when a nation loses a war. The Nuremburg trials followed the orders all the way up. But these post-World War II trials were unique in the history of peacetime.

Nixon lost the Watergate war. Yet in the midst of that war, he was in a safe position with respect to CREEP’s flow of funds. Here, he knew what he was doing. He was out of the loop. The Democrats had almost succeeded in scuttling him on the payola issue in the 1952 Presidential campaign, and only his deservedly famous "Checkers" speech saved him. Overnight, Checkers became the most famous dog in American political history, the dog that saved Nixon’s career. Eisenhower had been prepared to drop Nixon from the ticket, but that speech went to the hearts of Republicans in the heartland. Nixon survived. Never again would he let himself be implicated in wrongdoing by this sign on his desk: "The bucks stop here."

Yet in August, 1974, Nixon resigned. How did this happen?


Two events led to Nixon’s removal: one public, one private.

The first event was the televised admission by Alexander Butterfield, under questioning by a Republican Senate staff lawyer, Fred Dalton Thompson (later to become an actor who often played a Senator, then a U.S. Senator, and now an actor who plays the New York City District Attorney on Law and Order), that Nixon had bugged the White House. The Secret Service had tape-recorded all of Nixon’s conversations, beginning in early 1971. By this public admission, he became the most important of all the public players.

Butterfield had been Deputy Assistant to the President. He had been recommended by Haldeman. He worked with the Secret Service on security matters. He had been in charge of secretly taping the Cabinet meetings.

In late 1972, he had been appointed the head of the Federal Aviation Administration. He remained the head of the FAA after Nixon resigned.

The recording system went on and off automatically throughout the Executive Office Building (1) whenever it detected a voice, if (2) the system previously detected Nixon’s electronic locator, which the Secret Service made him wear. When he was in a room and someone started speaking, a tape recorder came on. Again, this is according to the official site. It is also what Butterfield told a conference in 2003. A transcript is posted on-line, and it is a fascinating document.

This automated system was not the recording system used in the Cabinet Room. There, the system had to be activated manually. Butterfield had been in charge of the manual taping system until he went to the FAA.

On July 13, 1973, he told Senate staff committee members about the tapes. He testified in public on July 16, 1973. He was of course asked about the tapes. He admitted everything.

Chief of Staff Alexander Haig ordered the Secret Service to remove the system on July 18. Let me check my calendar: testimony on July 16; removal on July 18 . . . lighting-fast thinking by a retired 4-star general!

Think about this chronology:

The first bug was planted in the Democrats’ office on May 28, 1972.

The bungled break-in took place on June 17.

On August 1, the Washington Post reported a $25,000 check, earmarked for the Nixon campaign, that had been deposited in the bank account of one of the burglars.

On October 10, the Post reported that the FBI had determined that the break-in was part of a campaign of spying conducted by the President’s re-election effort.

The tape-recording system was removed on July 18, 1973, at Haig’s request, not Nixon’s, according to the government’s official site for the tapes.

Somehow, it had not occurred to Nixon that the tapes might be incriminating. "Let the good tapes roll!"

Men later went to jail because of what was on those tapes. Some of them knew that the tape machine was running when they spoke the words that sent them to jail. Haldeman knew. Others may have known. Yet we are supposed to believe that they never told Nixon, "Turn off the tape recorder."

I have my choice of conclusions: (1) Nixon and his assistants simply forgot about the recorders; (2) they thought that no one would gain access to the tapes before the statute of limitations ran out for them, and they cared nothing about future historians’ assessments of their personal integrity; (3) Nixon did not have control over the recordings.

Most commentators say #2 was the reason: Nixon’s desire for accurate records for writing his memoirs. It turns out that recorders had been installed by Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. We have learned that Roosevelt had a primitive recording system installed. Johnson had advised Nixon to start recording his conversations. He told him that he was using tapes to write his memoirs, which were published in 1971. Nixon at first resisted the suggestion, but in early 1971, he asked Butterfield install the system.

From the day he had the system installed, he lost control over his Presidency. He was leaving a record of everything he said.

Butterfield and others have pointed out that Nixon was incapable of operating any mechanical device. This was why Butterfield had to turn on the recorder in the Cabinet room. This was also why Rose Mary Woods got blamed for the missing 18« minutes. No one close to the President believed that Nixon could have erased it by himself.

This means that Nixon from the beginning knew that he would have to have the tapes transcribed by a third party. Whatever was on them, a third party would know.

Also, he would have to listen to a staggering number of tapes before getting any section transcribed. In less than three years, there were 3,700 hours of tapes. There would have been over three more years of taping on the day Haig removed the system.

In his post-Presidency writing, how could he identify the tape of a specific meeting? By coordinating his appointments calendar with the dates on the tapes. If he could do this, so could the person in charge of the tapes, if he had access to the appointments calendar. The Secret Service controlled the tapes, which were stored in a room under the Oval office. Nixon did not personally control the tapes.

There was one simple way that he could get away with "I am not a crook": remove all the tape recorders and destroy all the tapes – assuming there was only one copy. Haig finally pulled the plug. Too late. At that point, destroying the tapes would have been obstruction of justice. On June 18, 1972, it would not have been.

Someone was determined to keep those tapes rolling. Nixon did not remove the system; Haig did, on his own authority, the official version says. But, by then, it was legally too late to destroy the tapes.


Beginning no later than Nixon’s resignation, a competent reporter would have followed more than the money.

He would have pursued these questions:

Who had something to gain from the tapes?

What did he have to gain?

Who had the power to leave the tapes running?

How did he gain this power?

To whom was he loyal? Why?

What sanctions were over him?

Why did Nixon’s senior staff talk on tape?

Why didn’t they say: "The tapes go or I do"?

What sanctions did they face for quitting?

To whom were they loyal?

The tapes provided enormous leverage against Nixon.

The question is: For whom? And this: Starting when?

After Butterfield’s testimony, Nixon’s opponents had far more leverage than before, but it was still insufficient leverage. They had to get access to all of the tapes, but the courts refused to grant this. Congress was not allowed to go on a fishing expedition. In effect, the prosecutors had to have a warrant issued by the court, meaning Judge Sirica. They had to be able to identify specific discussions related to suspected crimes, not discussions in general.

Nixon soon invoked "executive privilege." The courts were unwilling to give carte blanche to the two Watergate committees to turn their staffs loose on those tapes – not unless the Supreme Court authorized this. The Supreme Court did not do this until after the lower courts and Congress had access to the crucial segments of the tapes.


We come now to the second event, which was a connected series of events: the heart of the Watergate investigation.

This is not the heart of Watergate as such. We still do not know for sure why the Plumbers installed bugs in the office of the Democratic National Committee. We do not know why they came back weeks later.

But the most important thing we do not know is the name of the inside man at the White House.

There was an inside man. On him, the outcome of the investigation pivoted. Yet I know of only three people who have ever raised this issue in print. I am one of them: third in a row.

I first wrote about this in 1987. That was 14 years after the event, or, more accurately, a related series of events. A copy of my brief discussion is on-line. It is a section from the bibliography of my book, Conspiracy: A Biblical View.

I have never been contacted by any historian or any journalist regarding what you are about to read. I sent it to the professor whose journalism students did the famous investigation of Deep Throat a few years ago. They jointly concluded that he was Fred Fielding. The professor never replied.

Here is the story that Woodward and Bernstein somehow missed, though it was the central fact – not Deep Throat’s revelations – in Nixon’s defeat and their subsequent fame. Here is what I wrote in the 1996 revised edition of my 1987 book.


The Watergate investigation became a media extravaganza that seemed to elevate the reporter’s calling to national status. Yet some of the details of the Watergate investigation raise questions that only hard-core conspiracy buffs ever ask. For instance, we all know that Nixon was brought down because of the White House audiotapes. But he refused to give up these tapes in one fell swoop. In fact, not until 1996 were scholars given access to these tapes. Only under specific demands by government prosecutors did Nixon turn over limited sections of those tapes. Gary Allen in 1976 summarized the findings of Susan Huck’s February, 1975, article in American Opinion, the publication of the John Birch Society. Allen wrote in The Kissinger File (p. 179):

Consider the fantastic detail involved in the requests. On August 14th, [1973] for example, Judge Sirica demanded the "entire segment of tape on the reel identified as ‘White House telephone start 5/25/72 (2:00 P.M.) (skipping 8 lines) 6/2:3/72 (2:50 P.M.) (832) complete.’" I don’t know what all the identifying numbers mean – but you have to agree that only somebody very familiar with the tapes would know. These boys knew precisely what to look for! Here is another sample request:

January 8, 1973 from 4:05 to 5:34 P.M. (E.O.B.)

at approximately 10 minutes and 15 seconds into the conversation, a segment lasting 6 minutes and 31 seconds:

at approximately 67 minutes into the conversation, a segment lasting 11 minutes;

at approximately 82 minutes and 15 seconds into the conversation, a segment lasting 5 minutes and 31 seconds.

Only Susan Huck asked the obvious question: How did the prosecutors know precisely when these incriminating discussions took place? There are only two possible answers: (1) someone with access to the tapes inside the White House was leaking the information; (2) there was a secret back-up set of the tapes in the hands of someone who was leaking the information. Leaked information would have been illegal for prosecutors to use in court, yet this was how they brought Nixon down.

To my knowledge, no reporter or professional historian has ever bothered to follow up on this remarkable oddity, or even mention it. Nobody ever asked: "What person was in charge of storing those tapes?" It took one of the least known and most diligent conspiracy historians (Ph.D. in geography) even to mention the problem. Strange? Not at all. Normal, in fact. Such is the nature of history and the writing of history whenever the events in question point to the operation of powerful people whose private interests are advanced by what appear to be honorable public activities that cost a lot of money.


This is the elephant in the West Wing. This is what no one discussed at the time, let alone now.

More to come in my next article.

June 8, 2005

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.freebooks.com.He is also the author of a free multi-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

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The Hidden History of the Nixon Take Down

by Gary North

June 11, 2005


Part I: Inside Job

Part II: Identifying the Mole

There was a mole in the White House. This is the central fact of the Watergate investigation. Without him, Nixon would not have been threatened with impeachment, let alone conviction. This is the issue that no one mentions and no one pursues. It is the elephant in the living room. It has been there for over 30 years. The media’s response by now is universal: "What elephant? We don’t see any elephant."

The Plumbers had broken into the Watergate complex to bug one office. They were called Plumbers because their original job was to plug leaks. Perhaps the greatest irony in American political history is this: the most damaging of all leakers in American history was inside the Nixon White House, and the most significant bugs in history were installed on Nixon’s orders.


Notice that Judge Sirica’s request came in on August 14, less than a month after the recording system was shut down by Haig. Whoever was leaking the information identified the incriminating passages very fast.

There were 3,700 hours of poorly recorded tapes. They were recorded at 15/16 inches per second: the lowest of low fidelity.

Think of the mole’s task. Reviewing all of the tapes by himself from scratch in time to tip off one of the two committees or Sirica was impossible. He would have had to spend months listening to tapes unless he knew exactly where the passages were. If he did, then this was a long-term spying operation. It did not begin on July 16, 1973.

If he had a photocopy of the President’s appointments calendar, he could have narrowed down the meetings with key advisors. This would have helped speed up the operation, but not enough to make possible the detailed identifications in less than a month.

He would not have turned duplicates over to a Congressional staffer. What could the staffer have done with them, other than to parcel them out to low-level staffers for review? For them to have reviewed all of the tapes, it would have taken a team effort. This would have been risky: too many people in on the deal. Secrets are hard to keep personally, let alone in a group. Copies of the tapes were stolen goods and therefore inadmissible in a court, at least a court that was operating in full public view. The secret had to be maintained.

How did he do it? I see only four possibilities:

He had been monitoring the conversations and taking notes of what was being said, correlating this information with the tapes. He later reviewed his notes and retrieved the key tapes, identifying the key passages by using a stopwatch.

He had been making duplicate copies of all the tapes for months, and then delivered them all at once to someone who had access to a team of oath-bound intelligence community reviewers.

He made copies on a high-speed duplicator and delivered them to a team of oath-bound intelligence community reviewers.

He knew approximately when the incriminating discussions had taken place, and he went back to the specific tapes to time exactly how far into each tape each discussion began and ended. He then turned these numbers over to a Congressional staffer or other intermediary.

Option #1 makes this conclusion inescapable: the mole was a Secret Service agent whose full-time job was to record the tapes while listening to them.

Options #1 and #2 assume the existence of a long-term strategy: use the tapes against Nixon when the opportunity arose. But what kind of opportunity? How could the mole have predicted Butterfield’s testimony to the Senate committee? Was there more to monitoring the tapes than a plan to cooperate with as-yet unassembled authorities?

Options #2 and #3 assume the existence of a team of reviewers.

As for option #4, who would have known which meetings had been crucial? Butterfield left the White House for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in late December, 1972. He had been in charge of taping Cabinet meetings, but Cabinet meetings were not where the Watergate cover-up was discussed. How could he have been the mole? Yet there is no doubt that he knew the mole. He may not have known that the mole had become a mole, but if he didn’t suspect what was happening after Sirica’s request, 1973, he was either remarkably unobservant or else completely out of the loop.

No reporter today asks Butterfield about any of this. The elephant really is invisible to this generation of reporters.

For anyone to have made duplicate copies of all the tapes prior to Butterfield’s testimony (option #2) would have been an immense undertaking for one man working part-time, i.e., not monitoring the discussions as they took place (option #1). It would have taken months. After Butterfield’s testimony, it would have been impossible for a mole to do this by himself.


It is possible that a second set of tapes had been made from the very beginning, or at least after the break-in. Whoever had such a set of tapes would have had leverage over the President. But the Secret Service controlled the machines. How did anyone gain access to the tapes without Nixon’s authorization? Why would Nixon have given it?

Without a team to review the tapes, how could one man have done this on short notice, i.e., after July 16? He would have had to be one of the Secret Service agents who sat in the room to monitor the tapes, assuming that someone did this, even though the tape machines came on automatically. He took notes. But this would mean that he was self-consciously looking for ammunition to be used against Nixon. Why?

The main problem with this theory is that other Secret Service agents did not know what was going on in the room where the machines were kept. If there was a full-time agent in that room all day long, there would have been suspicions.

In 2003, Butterfield attended a conference on the tapes. He described where the tape machines were located.

There was a little thing – they blasted a hole in the brick wall down underneath the White House and put all this machinery inside a brick wall and then put a cabinet door over it. And I said to [secret Service security agent Alfred] Wong, I – this was in the locker room of the protective security [unclear – microphone problem] Secret Service agents, so when they’d come to work, they had little lockers in there, and they’d change clothes and go home. They didn’t stay long in this little room, and I said, "Aren’t they going to think this great big panel – what you call it used to be a brick wall, they’re going to question that?" And he said, "No, they probably won’t, and if they do, I’ll just say, ‘We’ve got something in there,’ and they won’t ask any questions." And that’s true. The Secret Service wouldn’t pry or probe at something like that. But there was a hell of a big door in there, and we – [laughter] and it was a tiny little room anyway, pretty little.

Here the equipment resided, and here boxes of tapes were stored. Nobody noticed. "Don’t ask. Don’t tell."

So, there were only a few Secret Service technicians who knew what was inside that little room. These men served as the gatekeepers. Anyone wanting access to the tapes had to get through at least one of these gatekeepers . . . unless one of them was the mole.

If the tape operator was the mole, he could not have been in that room full-time without creating scuttlebutt and suspicion. This does not rule out the possibility, but it does impose a special burden of proof on the person who chooses this option. This evidence would be difficult to obtain: pay receipts that say "for taping and personally monitoring Nixon’s conversations." Alternatively, Butterfield could affirm in writing that one agent was always present in the taping room when Nixon was in the White House.

That person was almost certainly the mole.

Is there any other possibility of a one-man operation? It is conceivable that someone very high in Nixon’s inner circle had access to the tapes after Butterfield’s testimony. Haig is one candidate. This is the man Gary Allen thought was the source of the leak. The hard evidence is not there, as far as I can see. But it is not beyond possibility.

A mole operating alone had to know approximately when the incriminating discussions had taken place. Only a highly placed person on Nixon’s staff could have known this, presumably a participant. He somehow gained private access to these tapes, got out his stop watch, and listened to each tape until he found various smoking guns. Then he told a Congressional staffer what sections to ask for.

If this was done by someone on Nixon’s staff, it would have been someone who did not incriminate himself on a tape. Some of the highest-placed staff members went to jail or were exposed to the threat of jail. Haldeman knew, yet he kept talking. He was the one senior staff member identified by Butterfield as having known about the tapes. He went to jail. It is unlikely that he was the mole.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that no duplicate set of tapes existed prior to July 16. Someone who had detailed knowledge of the tapes was able to review the originals and then pass on this information within weeks. How did he get by the Secret Service?

This is the central organizational issue of the Watergate story. I doubt that anyone will pursue this at this late date. But it needs to be pursued if we are ever to get the story even remotely straight.


This is one of the oldest questions in political history.

I see no alternative to this conclusion: someone who had the cooperation of the Secret Service had access to the tapes. The tapes were stored in a secret room under the Oval Office. Here is Butterfield’s account in 2003.

Carlin: Outside of you, who knew the system was being used?

Butterfield: Well, yeah, it was a deep dark secret, and I want to say no one knew, but the people who actually knew are the president, myself, Bob Haldeman and Larry Higby, Bob’s staff assistant – one of three staff assistants to Bob, Al Wong, who was the Technical Security Division Chief, Al Wong, W-O-N-G, and three technicians who, who put these tapes in: a fellow named Ray Zumwalt, Roy Schwalm, S-C-H-W-A-L-M, and Charles Bretts. They were the technicians, and one of those three changed the tapes when they had to be changed and that sort of thing.

He did not indicate that someone was in the taping room full-time. If someone was, and if he was there every day, then he becomes the most likely candidate for the title of lone mole. Otherwise, this had to be a team effort: the mole, plus a team of reviewers.

The shorter the time period between Butterfield’s testimony and Sirica’s first request, the larger the team had to be, or else the more sophisticated the tape-reviewing technology had to be. The team had to find where the key discussions were on the tapes. There were a lot of discussions.


Follow the money. Also, follow the oath. Look for a motive. If it’s not money, sex, or power, then start looking for revenge.

Had I been a reporter, after Nixon’s resignation I would have gone looking for a motive – a motive acknowledged as legitimate by one or more of the tapes’ gatekeepers. I would have gone looking for someone with (1) personal connections to the White House Secret Service unit that oversaw the taping and (2) a motive for revenge against Nixon and all the President’s men.

No reporter did this. Now it is up to historians, who tend to be even more risk-aversive and peer-sensitive than reporters. Don’t hold your breath.

Somebody got through the gates. He was working with a team. There was insufficient time for one man to review all of the tapes.

The question has to be raised: Why would any of the technicians have cooperated with such a team? Why would he have handed over duplicate tapes, plus handed over a photocopy of the President’s schedule, to enable the third parties go snooping?

There had to be a jointly shared motive. The motive presumably had to do with the oath: loyalty. There was a higher shared loyalty involved, a loyalty to something above Nixon. This could have been the Constitution. In intelligence circles, I don’t think this one is high on the list. Loyalties are more personal than Constitutional law. So are sanctions for violating the oath. The secret would remain a secret.

There is loyalty owed to oath-bound brothers. There is also loyalty to "cousins" operating under a different but similar oath-bound structure. There is loyalty of professionals against amateurs, of lifetime bureaucrats against temporary politicians. "Loyalty to" always implies "potential disloyalty to."

Where there is loyalty, there is always the opportunity for disloyalty. This is why secrecy is so powerful: it offers an opportunity to destroy. Where there is oath-bound loyalty, the temptation for disloyalty increases, especially against those bound by a rival oath. There must be serious sanctions against betrayal. (You do not have to read the century-old works of Georg Simmel to understand these issues, but it helps.)

So, the question arises: What team supplied the reviewers? Answer: a group that perceived its corporate connection with the victims. The victims are easy to identify: the Plumbers. Their connection is easy to identify: the CIA.


Who were they? G. Gordon Liddy (ex-FBI) ran the show. Then there were the five burglars: Bernard Baker, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, James McCord, and Frank Sturgis. The name of E. Howard Hunt (ex-CIA) appeared in address books carried by two Plumbers. By the time Butterfield testified, all seven were in jail.

McCord had been a CIA agent until 1970. Hunt had been a CIA agent until 1970. In March, 1973, McCord wrote to judge Sirica from his jail cell to say that he and the others had been pressured to plead guilty. He singled out John Dean and the former Attorney General, John Mitchell. This set the framework: Nixon vs. the brothers.

Nixon left them all to cool their heels in jail. Here is how Hunt described it in a 2004 interview in Slate.

Slate: I still don’t understand how you get involved in Watergate later. Through the CIA?

Hunt: I had been a consultant to the White House. I greatly respected Nixon. When Chuck Colson [special counsel to Nixon] asked me to work for the administration, I said yes. Colson phoned one day and said, "I have a job you might be interested in." This was before Colson got religion.

Slate: How long were you in prison for the Watergate break-in?

Hunt: All told, 33 months.

Slate: That’s a lot of time.

Hunt: It’s a lot of time. And I’ve often said, what did I do?

Slate: Did you get a pardon?

Hunt: No. Never did. I’d applied for one, and there was no action taken, and I thought I’d just humiliate myself if I asked for a pardon.

Laura Hunt: He was sort of numb because all of this happened to his wife and his family, his children went into drugs while he was still in prison.

Slate: Wasn’t your first wife killed in a plane crash?

Laura Hunt: She was killed when her plane crash-landed at Chicago’s Midway Airport. And there was all this speculation from conspiracy buffs that the FBI blew the plane up or something – so that she would never talk, all this ridiculous stuff.

Ridiculous stuff? Strange stuff, yes, but in no way was it ridiculous.

Dorothy Hunt had been an ex-CIA operative. She had met her husband in the CIA. Her plane went down on December 8, 1972: a United Airlines flight from Washington to Chicago. It crashed at Chicago’s Midway Airport. Most of the passengers and all of the crew members died.

Within a few hours, a team of 50 FBI agents was at the scene, investigating everything. This is no rumor. It was confirmed in a June 11, 1973 letter from acting FBI Director William Ruckelshaus to the Director of the National Transportation Safety Board, who had sent a letter of complaint (six months after the event) to Ruckelshaus regarding the interference of the FBI.

Getting a team of 50 FBI agents to a supposed crime scene within hours is so unheard of as to mark any such event as historically unique. Legendary. This was not done by the book.

Mrs. Hunt had been carrying a little over $10,000 in cash – the equivalent of $50,000 today.

In his book, A Piece of Tape, McCord writes that he heard Dorothy Hunt say that her husband had information that would impeach the President.

(Note: I refer to this Web page to provide transcripts of the letters sent by the two Directors, plus the basic chronology of the crash. I do not trust several of the sources cited.)

The Hunts had been "present at the creation," when the CIA was known as the OSS. The condition of Hunt would not have not escaped the notice of former colleagues. Nixon had let a team of former national security operatives go to jail for a burglary related to his re-election. It was clear by late 1972 that they were not going to be pardoned.

The crash was followed by these peculiar events, which were long forgotten until the Web revived them.

The day after the crash, Nixon nominated Egil Krogh, the head of CREEP, as Undersecretary of Transportation. The Department of Transportation is the agency that supervises the National Transportation Safety Board.

(He was confirmed in February, resigned in May, and pleaded guilty to supervising Hunt and Liddy in the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office. He went to jail.)

Two weeks after Krogh’s nomination, Nixon nominated Butterfield as head of the FAA.

In January, 1973, Dwight Chapin, Nixon’s appointments secretary, resigned. He immediately took a senior-level position with United Airlines in Chicago.

(Chapin was convicted in 1974 for lying to the grand jury in 1973 and for offering me a job at the White House in 1971 – no, scratch that: he only said he MIGHT offer me a job. He never did. He did hire Bob Segretti, who later ran the dirty tricks operation. As a result, they both went to jail.)

To imagine that the intelligence community was unaware of the rapid sequence of these aeronautical-related events is to have a vivid imagination.

Members of an oath-bound fraternity who believe that several of its members have been taken down by outsiders is a force to be reckoned with. There is loyalty at stake. There is also the matter of self-preservation. There is a well-known strategy for dealing with such threats: tit for tat.

Within the intelligence community, there is a degree of cooperation by professionals: those inside vs. those outsiders known as politicians.


The tapes were the Achilles heel of Nixon’s attempt to avoid public exposure. John Dean could talk, others could talk, but it was their word against Nixon’s . . . unless the prosecutors could use Nixon’s words against Nixon.

The prosecutors received information regarding the precise location of these words. They received this information because someone inside the White House leaked to investigators working with or for Judge Sirica the IDs of tapes that would condemn Nixon. But the mole could not have obtained this information by himself, unless he had been working on this project almost from the beginning: taking notes and identifying tapes.

This raises a key question. If the project began before July 16, how would he have known that Butterfield would tell the Committee about the tapes? Monitoring the information on the tapes made strategic sense if the courts or the committees knew about the existence of the tapes. Otherwise, there was nothing to subpoena.

If he did assemble this information over many months while sitting in the taping room, pen in hand, taking notes, then he had another agenda. He was monitoring what was being said for purposes other than cooperating with Sirica, who was not yet in the picture. This raises two questions: (1) Who guards the guardians? (2) To whom do they report?

Here is what we know for certain: the information was made available to Sirica within weeks of Butterfield’s testimony.

To get access to the tapes, someone had to get by the Secret Service and into that room beneath the Oval office. Someone did.

The Secret Service is pledged to save the President’s life. It is not pledged to save his career. Its agents live in every President’s household until he dies, and then they remain with his widow until she dies. We do not call this arrangement what it obviously is: a lifetime monitoring operation.

Had I been a Washington reporter in 1974, and had I known of Sirica’s specific tape requests, which were a matter of public record, I would have gone looking for a connection between one of the Plumbers and one of the tapes’ gatekeepers.

One analyst did: Mae Brussell. She was a legendary left-wing conspiracy theorist who saw mysterious connections everywhere. If ever there was a believer in a vast right-wing conspiracy, it was Mae Brussell. She immediately spotted a connection. She wrote in The Realist (July, 1973) that the Ervin committee had called the wrong witnesses. Her first example was Al Wong.

Wrong witnesses called. Last July, 1972, it was obvious that Al Wong, the Secret Service man who hired James McCord, should be a major witness. When it was disclosed by Alexander Butterfield that the White House was bugged, Al Wong appeared to be holding the tapes. Wong and McCord were close associates.

What was she referring to? What had Wong hired McCord to do? The previous August, also in The Realist, she had reported on the assignment.

James McCord, Jr. held two important jobs at the time of his arrest. He was Chief of Security for the Committee to Re-elect Richard Nixon. With that appointment, McCord was issued his own radio frequency. And that employment was the smaller assignment of the two.

The biggest contract a security agent could receive went to McCord Associates, selected by Secret Service agent Al Wong, to provide all security for the republican Convention in Miami.

She offered no footnote to support this claim, but she surely was on top of this issue from the beginning. Indeed, she was the first journalist to suspect this connection: Wong, McCord, and the tapes.

If I were going to write a book on Watergate, I would begin looking for evidence to support her second paragraph. Given McCord’s CIA background and his CREEP position, the connection sounds plausible.

This does not mean that CIA agents necessarily constituted the reviewing team. It could have been a select group of Secret Service agents, acting on behalf of similarly oath-bound "cousins" or some other group.

There is a unique piece of information, reported by Gary Allen in his book on Kissinger and also his book on Nelson Rockefeller. He quotes from Newsweek (September 23, 1974).

While former white House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman awaits trial for his part in Watergate, the Secret Service chief he ousted from the White House last year has landed a plum job. Robert H. Taylor, 49, who tangled with Haldeman over Nixon security procedures, is now head of the private security forces for all the far-flung Rockefeller family enterprises.

If the mole acted alone in note taking, then he began early. He was alone in that room, but he was not alone with respect to a hierarchy. Government bureaucrats on salaries do not do "extra credit." They get paid to follow orders.

Who gave the order? When? Why?

These are the kinds of questions that the mainstream media steadfastly refuse to ask. They find it easier to believe in the tape fairy.


Deep Throat confirmed to Woodward that CREEP was where the money flowed into and out of. This was a smoking gun, if modern gunpowder smoked. It was a .22 pistol: CREEP. The story would have come out anyway because of the $25,000 check. Following that money was easy. It was not worth a Pulitzer Prize and a movie.

To take Nixon down, there had to be evidence that would stand up in court. This evidence had to have the appearance of being admissible, i.e., not illegally obtained. Yet it was unquestionably illegally obtained. The specificity of the location of the smoking guns on the tapes should have made it clear that the evidence was inadmissible. Yet Judge Sirica – "Maximum John" – pretended that it was admissible. He pretended that the tape fairy had delivered the IDs. Every reporter, then and now, has gone along with him.

Once the statute of limitations ran out (1980), nobody could prosecute the accused, had there been an accused. There never was. I do not think there ever will be.

It was not until July 27, 1974 that the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over all of the tapes. He refused and resigned on August 9. Until the Supreme Court ordered him to deliver all of the tapes, he may have thought he could successfully stonewall his prosecutors. He was wrong. From the day he refused to hand over the specific tapes demanded by Sirica, he was on the defensive. From the day that Sirica started using stolen evidence to hound Nixon, it was only a matter of time. Maximum John was willing to break the law to get him. Congress was willing to break the law to get him. Nixon was doomed. The federal system’s checks and balances by 1973 were managed by tax-funded "crooks": law-breakers all.

Nixon’s resignation under fire created an immediate problem for Republican Congressman John Hammerschmidt of Arkansas, who had recommended that Nixon not resign, and said that Nixon’s offense might not be impeachable. He had stood almost alone. His opponent had gone for the jugular:

[There is] no question that an admission of making false statements to government officials and interfering with the FBI and the CIA is an impeachable offense.

His opponent was Bill Clinton.

Clinton lost in November. Not many Democrats did, however.

Nixon never did turn over all of the tapes. He died in 1994. Only then did the government get all the tapes. The government is still waiting to release to the public the final batch: November, 1972 through July, 1973.

But don’t worry. They are on their way. They are being administered by the same experts who took over the administration of the Ark of the Covenant in the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.


It is now over three decades after these events. We still do not know why the burglars broke in a second time in June, 1972. We do not know how or why 50 FBI agents showed up at the plane crash site where the ex-CIA wife of the ex-CIA suspected Plumber died in December. We do not know why Nixon left the tape recorders running. We do not know for sure what Nixon did, or was planning to do, to persuade the mole or his oath-bound associates to supply the prosecutors with proof of the smoking guns. We do not know the transmission belt by which the prosecutors were able to identify the precise points on the tapes that sent Nixon’s senior staffers to prison and were about to get him impeached.

Richard Nixon, in his complete self-confidence, had ordered the tape recorders installed. To use Haldeman’s phrase, he not only repeatedly let the toothpaste out of the tube, he left a record of every squeeze. Why?

He installed the tape recorders when he did not need them. He, like his presidential predecessors, believed he was going to retain the upper hand, the final say, when it came time for him to write his memoirs. He let famous men speak in his presence, unaware of the tapes. They would speak their minds, he thought, but he would remain clever. As the English say, he was too clever by half. The following exchange took place in 2003:

Carlin: Mr. Butterfield, why do you think President Nixon sort of let the machine run? I mean, do you think he sometimes even forgot about the fact that he was taping?

Butterfield: Absolutely. Yes. Yeah. We, we marveled at his ability to, uh, seemingly be oblivious to the tapes. I mean, even I was sitting there uncomfortably sometimes saying, "He’s not really going say this, is he?" [laughter] But . . . but he did. . . .

Nixon was paranoid as no President ever was, either before or after. He was convinced that "they" were out to get him: the liberals, the Jews, the media, the Eastern elite. And he was right. There was a widespread visceral hatred of Nixon that has been matched only by hatred for Hillary Clinton. But in circling the wagons against enemies outside, he forgot Jesus’ warning:

And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household (Matthew 10:36).

Nixon received a pardon for crimes never presented in a court of law. He received it from the only President ever chosen by his predecessor rather than by a vote, who in turn appointed as his Vice President a man who had publicly insisted, "I never wanted to be vice president of anything" – Nelson Rockefeller. This was the man who had hired Nixon after his California gubernatorial defeat in 1962, bringing him to New York City to live for free in a condominium owned by Rockefeller, and putting him under the authority of bond lawyer John Mitchell, who later went to jail over Watergate. This was the man who had became Henry Kissinger’s patron, who in turn hired Col. Al Haig in 1969, who was a 4-star general just four years later – skipping the third star altogether. He became Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in 1974, soon after Nixon quit. There were winners and losers in Rockefeller’s orbit.

The pardon ended the legal issue for Nixon. But, until the day he died, he refused to turn over all of the tapes. His estate finally surrendered the last 201 hours worth of tapes in November, 1996.


From the day that the first highly detailed request came from Sirica, Nixon must have known the truth: he was going to become the victim of the biggest leak in American history. From that point on, Nixon knew he had been betrayed from the inside. He knew he was trapped. He was a lawyer. He had made his political career in 1948 based on rolls of film that had been buried in a hollowed-out pumpkin: evidence that Whittaker Chambers had actually forgotten he had regarding Alger Hiss’s spying.

What Nixon must have known, no salaried reporter has figured out. Susan Huck did. Gary Allen did. I did. But none of us was ever a full-time reporter.

The man who supplied the prosecutors with the technically inadmissible evidence of Nixon’s smoking guns may still be alive. He has not broken silence. He has maintained his loyalty. He has kept the oath. If he was watching the evening news in the first week of June, 2005, he must have had a good chuckle.

For over three decades, the press played hide-and-seek with the shadow known as Deep Throat. Reporters and authors expended time, energy, and money on tracking him down. At long last, they have found him, senile and unable to tell his story. "Mystery solved! Case closed!"

Meanwhile, I hear unerasable voices in my mind.

"Good night, David." "Good night, Chet."

"And that’s the way it was."

June 11, 2005

Gary North is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.freebooks.com.He is also the author of a free multi-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

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I'm trying to remember John Stennis' role in all this. Was he given access to the tapes in order to tell Justice which tapes to subpoena? Or was he merely brought in to verify Nixon's transcripts?

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Thank you for posting this collection of stimulating articles. I will be writing about this topic in the next section of Assassination, Terrorism and the Arms Trade: The Contracting Out of U.S. Foreign Policy: 1940-2006.


I have been appalled by the way the media accepted that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. It is true that Felt was one of Woodward’s informants, but if you read All the President’s Men and make a list of all the information that Deep Throat gave Woodward, there is no way that Felt could have been Deep Throat. What Gary North does not say in his article is that it was Deep Throat who first told Woodward about the tapes. How could Felt know about these tapes?

On 19th June, Woodward telephoned a man who he called "an old friend" for information about the burglars. This man, who Woodward claims was a high-ranking federal employee, was willing to help Woodward as long as he was never named as a source. Later, Howard Simons, the managing editor of the newspaper, gave him the nickname "Deep Throat".

During their first telephone conversation with Bob Woodward Deep Throat insisted on certain conditions. According to All the President's Men: "His identity was unknown to anyone else. He could be contacted only on very important occasions. Woodward had promised he would never identify him or his position to anyone. Further, he, had agreed never to quote the man, even as an anonymous source. Their discussions would be only to confirm information that had been obtained elsewhere and to add some perspective."

The first information that Deep Throat gave Woodward on 19th June was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation considered that E. Howard Hunt, a former member of the Central Intelligence Agency, was a major suspect in the case.

At first Woodward and Deep Throat communicated via telephone. However, by October, 1973, Deep Throat had become very worried that he would be identified as Woodward's main source and insisted that they had their meetings at about 2:00 am. in a pre-designated underground parking garage. Deep Throat even refused to use the phone to set up the meetings. It was agreed that if Woodward wanted a meeting he would place a flower pot with the red flag on the balcony of his apartment. On one occasion (25th February, 1973) the men met in a Washington bar.

As Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein explained in All the President's Men: "If Deep Throat wanted a meeting-which was rare-there was a different procedure. Each morning, Woodward would check page 20 of his New York Times, delivered to his apartment house before 7:00 am. If a meeting was requested, the page number would be circled and the hands of a clock indicating the time of the rendezvous would appear in a lower corner of the page."

According to Woodward's book, All the President's Men, he had at least fifteen conversations with Deep Throat while investigating the Watergate scandal. This included communications on 19th June (2 phone calls); 16th September, 1972 (phone call); 8th October, 1972 (phone call); 9th October, 1972 (garage meeting); 21st October, 1972 (garage meeting), 27th October, 1972 (garage meeting), late December, 1972 (undisclosed), 25th January, 1973 (garage meeting); 25th February, 1973 (meeting in bar); 16th April, 1973 (phone call); 16th May, 1973 (garage meeting) and a meeting during the first week of November, 1973.

In his book, Lost Honor, John Dean made a list of 30 possible candidates: White House Staff (Stephen Bull, Alexander P. Butterfield, Kenneth Clawson, Charles Colson, Leonard Garment, David Gergen, Alexander Haig, Richard Moore and Jonathan Rose); FBI (Thomas E. Bishop, Charles Bowles, Mark Felt, L. Patrick Gray and David Kinley), Justice Department (Carl Belcher, Richard Burke, John Keeney, Laurrence McWhorter, Henry Peterson and Harold Shapiro); Secret Service (Lilburn Boggs, Charles Bretz, Roger Schwalm, Alfred Wong and Raymond Zumwalt).

In his memoirs, The Ends of Power, H. R. Haldeman, came to the conclusion that Deep Throat was John Dean's assistant, Fred F. Fielding. This view is supported by William Gaines, head of the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois. As he points out "my students over 12 semesters poured over FBI reports, congressional testimony, White House documents in the National Archives and autobiographies of Watergate figures". Eventually, like Haldeman, they became convinced that Fielding was Deep Throat.

In an article published in 1976, J. Anthony Lukas, of the New York Times, claimed that Bennett was Deep Throat. In his book, In Search of Deep Throat, Leonard Garment argues that Bennett was probably trying to "distance the CIA, his sponsor and source of income, from the events of Watergate".

The authors of Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, claimed that the culprit was Alexander Haig, the man who replaced Haldeman as chief of staff in the Nixon administration. Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) and John Dean (Lost Honor) also argued that Haig was probably Deep Throat. However, Haig was not in Washington during Woodward's meeting with Deep Throat on 9th October, 1972. The other problem with Haig concerns motivation. Was it really in his interests to bring down Richard Nixon? According to Leon Jaworski Haig did everything he could, including lying about what was on the tapes, in order to protect Nixon from impeachment.

Mark Riebling, the author of Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11 points out that Bob Woodward described Deep Throat as "having an aggregate of information flowing in and out of many stations" and "perhaps the only person in the government in a position to possibly understand the whole scheme, and not be a potential conspirator himself". Riebling goes on to argue that this indicates that Deep Throat was a senior official in the Central Intelligence Agency. He points out that Woodward virtually confirmed that his source was from the CIA: "As you know, I'm not going to discuss the identify of Deep Throat or any other of my confidential sources who are still alive. But let me just say that the suggestion that we were being used by the intelligence community was of concern to us at the time and afterward."

Riebling suggests three possible CIA suspects: William Colby, Cord Meyer and Richard Helms. He finally opts for Meyer arguing that like Deep Throat he was a chain-smoker and heavy drinker. Riebling also suggests that Meyer met Woodward while working as a Washington briefer in naval intelligence. The problem with this theory is that Meyer was transferred to London during the summer of 1973 and could not have made the meeting with Woodward in November of that year.

Deborah Davis, the author of Katharine the Great, also believes that Deep Throat was a senior official of the CIA. Her candidate is Richard Ober, the head of Operation Chaos. Ober was given an office in the White House and worked closely with Richard Nixon, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman during this period.

Leonard Garment, Nixon's special counsel, later wrote the book, In Search of Deep Throat (2002). Garment came to the conclusion that Deep Throat was fellow presidential lawyer John Sears.

James Mann, a former colleague of Woodward's at the Washington Post, argued in an article in the Atlantic Monthly that was published in 1992 that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. This view was supported by Ronald Kessler (The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI). Nora Ephron, the former wife of Carl Bernstein, has been claiming for several years that Felt was Deep Throat.

Bob Woodward promised Deep Throat that he would never reveal the man's position with the government, nor would he ever quote him, even anonymously, in his articles. Woodward also promised not to tell anyone else the identity of his source. Woodward did not keep these promises. He gave the name of Deep Throat to both Ben Bradlee and Carl Bernstein. He also quoted him in his book, All the President's Men.

The best way to identify Deep Throat is to take a close look at what he told Bob Woodward. The initial information suggested that his source was someone involved in the FBI investigation of the Watergate break-in. However, Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) argues that Deep Throat was unlikely to have been a member of the agency. He points out that Deep Throat did not tell Woodward about the role played by Alfred Baldwin in the Watergate break-in. This was first revealed by a press conference held by the Democratic Party in September.

Hougan suggests that the only reason Deep Throat did not pass this important information to Woodward was that he did not know about it. If that is the case Deep Throat was not from the FBI (L. Patrick Gray or Mark Felt). Nor could he have been one of Nixon's aides who all knew about Baldwin's key role in the break-in (John Dean, H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Charles Colson, John N. Mitchell, Jeb Magruder, Egil Krogh and Frederick LaRue).

Another clue to the identity of Deep Throat comes from Barry Sussman, Woodward's editor at Washington Post. In his book, The Great Cover-Up, Sussman claims that Woodward first made use of Deep Throat when writing about how Arthur Bremer attempted to kill George Wallace on 15th May, 1972. This suggests that his informant was working in a senior position in the FBI.

In April, 1982, John Dean met Bob Woodward at a conference being held at the University of Massachusetts. Although Woodward refused to identify Deep Throat it was possible for Dean to work out that he was someone working in the White House.

According to Woodward it was Deep Throat who first suggested that Alexander P. Butterfield could be an important figure in the investigation. In May, 1973, Woodward told a member of the Senate Watergate Committee (undoubtedly his friend, Scott Armstrong) that Butterfield should be interviewed.

On 25th June, 1973, John Dean testified that at a meeting with Richard Nixon on 15th April, the president had remarked that he had probably been foolish to have discussed his attempts to get clemency for E. Howard Hunt with Charles Colson. Dean concluded from this that Nixon's office might be bugged. On Friday, 13th July, Butterfield appeared before the committee and was asked about if he knew whether Nixon was recording meetings he was having in the White House. Butterfield reluctantly admitted details of the tape system which monitored Nixon's conversations.

In Lost Honor John Dean concludes that it was Deep Throat who had told Woodward about Nixon's taping system that had been installed by Alexander P. Butterfield. This was the best-kept secret in the White House with only a few people knowing about its existence.

In the first week of November, 1973, Deep Throat told Woodward that their were "gaps" in Nixon's tapes. He hinted that these gaps were the result of deliberate erasures. On 8th November, Woodward and Bernstein published an article in the Washington Post that said that according to their source the "conservation on some of the tapes appears to have been erased". It was later claimed by Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) and John Dean (Lost Honor) that only a very small group of people could have known about these these gaps at this time. According to Fred Emery (Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon) only Richard Nixon, Rose Mary Woods, Alexander Haig and Stephen Bull knew about this erased tape before it was made public on 20th November.

In his book Deep Truth: The Lives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1993) Adrian Havill argues that Deep Throat was a dramatic devise used by Woodward. Havill visited the place where Woodward lived during the Watergate investigation. He discovered that the balcony where he placed the flower pot with a red flag faced an interior courtyard. Havill argues in his book that the only way Deep Throat could see the flag was "to walk into the center of the complex, with eighty units viewing you, crane your neck and look up to the sixth floor". Havill argues that Deep Throat would have been highly unlikely to have exposed himself if this way.

Nor was Havill impressed with the way Deep Throat communicated to Woodward when he wanted a meeting with the journalist. According to All the President's Men Deep Throat drew a clock on page 20 of his New York Times. Havill discovered that the papers were not delivered to each door, but left stacked and unmarked in a common reception area. Havill argues that there is no way Deep Throat could have known which paper Woodward would end up with each morning.

In May, 2005, John O'Connor, a lawyer working for Mark Felt, told Vanity Fair magazine that his client was Deep Throat. Shortly afterwards Bob Woodward confirmed that Felt had provided him with important information during the Watergate investigation. However, Carl Bernstein was quick to add that Felt was only one of several important sources.

However, there are serious problems with the idea that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. In his autobiography, The FBI Pyramid: Inside the FBI, Felt denied being Deep Throat and said he met with Woodward only once. Felt's last word on the subject came in 1999, on the 25th anniversary of Nixon's resignation, when he told a reporter that it would be "terrible" if someone in his position had been Deep Throat. "This would completely undermine the reputation that you might have as a loyal employee of the FBI," he said. "It just wouldn't fit at all."

Felt had not made the confession himself. In 2001 Felt suffered a stroke that robbed him of his memory. Before this happened Felt had told his daughter Joan that he was Deep Throat. She admits that the family have gone public in an attempt to obtain money. Joan Felt told journalists: "My son Nick is in law school and he'll owe $100,000 by the time he graduates. I am still a single mom, still supporting them (her children) to one degree or another."

Vanity Fair only paid the Felt family $10,000 (£5,500) but the whole project is linked to a $1m book deal. It is rumoured the book will be written by Bob Woodward. However, on 4th June, 2005, the publisher Judith Regan (HarperCollins) revealed that negotiations over a possible book deal had collapsed because of serious concerns that Felt was no longer of sound mind.

There are several major problems with Mark Felt being Deep Throat. Felt resigned from the FBI. in June, 1973 and no longer had to worry about his career. Why did he not come forward with his information at this stage of the Watergate investigation? He would have been seen as a national hero and would no doubt have made a fortune from his memoirs.

In November, 1980, Felt was convicted of conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of Americans by authorising illegal break-ins and wire taps of people connected to suspected domestic bombers. Why did Felt not attempt to rebuild his public image by disclosing that he was Deep Throat?

If Felt had been Deep Throat why did he not tell Woodward about the role played by Alfred Baldwin in the Watergate break-in. The FBI knew about this within days of the break-in. Yet Woodward did not mention it in his articles until the story was revealed by a press conference held by the Democratic Party in September, 1972.

According to Woodward it was Deep Throat who first suggested that Alexander P. Butterfield could be an important figure in the investigation. In May, 1973, Woodward told a member of the Senate Watergate Committee that Butterfield should be interviewed. On Friday, 13th July, Butterfield appeared before the committee and was asked about if he knew whether Richard Nixon was recording meetings he was having in the White House. This was the best-kept secret in the White House with only a few people knowing about its existence. How could Felt have known about this system?

Felt left the FBI in June 1973. Yet according to All The President's Men Woodward he continued to meet Deep Throat after this date. The most important of these meetings took place in the first week of November, 1973. At this meeting Deep Throat told Woodward that their were "gaps" in Nixon's tapes. He hinted that these gaps were the result of deliberate erasures. On 8th November, Woodward and Bernstein published an article in the Washington Post that said that according to their source the "conversation on some of the tapes appears to have been erased". It has been claimed by several writers that only a very small group of people could have known about these gaps at this time. How could Felt had known about this?

Maybe he did have meetings with Woodward in underground garages. However, if Felt was Deep Throat, he was getting information from someone working in the White House. He also had to get information from someone senior in the CIA. The most sensible explanation is that Deep Throat was more than one man. That is he represented several of Woodward's sources. If that is the case, I think Deep Throat was Mark Felt, William Sullivan, Richard Ober and Stephen Bull.

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I agree with you, the collection of articles shared by Mr. Caddy have been outstanding.

You're probably already aware of the following. In his blog, Edward Jay Epstein posts this:

(Audiotape, February 27, 2000)

MR. WOODWARD: You remembered the Nixon period a little bit.

MR. MARK FELT: Vaguely but I still don't have any specific recollections

from it.

MR. WOODWARD: Remember back in those years when we met and chatted? And


MR. FELT: Well, I think I remembered the area and a time, but I don't

remember specifically anything.

(End audiotape)

Here was the perfect candidate for Deep Throat

Ed Epstein has a very well designed website. There is a lot there about Garrison, Nosenko, De Mohrendschildt, the CIA, the Warren Commission, etc. In addition, interesting essays on 9/11, Hollywood, Deep Throat, Watergate, and more.

One interesting feature of Epstein's website is that he is willing to answer questions (Ask Ed Anything), according to some reasonable ground rules.


Edited by Michael Hogan
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Ed Epstein has a very well designed website. There is a lot there about Garrison, Nosenko, De Mohrendschildt, the CIA, the Warren Commission, etc. In addition, interesting essays on 9/11, Hollywood, Deep Throat, Watergate, and more.

One interesting feature of Epstein's website is that he is willing to answer questions (Ask Ed Anything), according to some reasonable ground rules.


He has been unwilling to answer my questions concerning the CIA internal report on his relationship with James Angleton. He has also refused to answer questions about his books on this Forum. Gus Russo, Dale Myers and Gerald Posner are the others who have refused this offer. I wonder why.

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Ed Epstein has a very well designed website. There is a lot there about Garrison, Nosenko, De Mohrendschildt, the CIA, the Warren Commission, etc. In addition, interesting essays on 9/11, Hollywood, Deep Throat, Watergate, and more.

One interesting feature of Epstein's website is that he is willing to answer questions (Ask Ed Anything), according to some reasonable ground rules.


He has been unwilling to answer my questions concerning the CIA internal report on his relationship with James Angleton. He has also refused to answer questions about his books on this Forum. Gus Russo, Dale Myers and Gerald Posner are the others who have refused this offer. I wonder why.

A rhetorical question??:lol:

Great article Doug. Thanx for posting it. Really good detective work here.

I totally agree with John re Deep Throat.


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