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The President’s Private Eye by Tony Ulasewicz

John Simkin

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This book was first published in 1990. However, it includes information that gives important insights into events today. For example, today the Guardian newspaper reported that Karl Rove is currently under pressure to resign as George Bush’s chief political adviser as a result of a dirty tricks campaign against Joseph Wilson, the former US ambassador who dared to question the morality of invading Iraq.


Rove’s name appears in Ulasewicz’s book as one of those involved in Richard Nixon’s dirty tricks campaign in 1972. At that time the Republicans were involved in a smear campaign against people like Edward Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and Ed Muskie.

The first half of this book is about Ulasewicz’s membership of NYPD's Bureau of Special Service and Investigation (BOSSI). His assignments included escorting and guarding the security of world leaders and their families. People who Ulasewicz protected included Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev, the Shah of Iran, Andrei Vishinsky, John F. Kennedy, Rafael Trujillo and Fulgencio Batista. Ulasewicz first met Nixon when he was vice president under Eisenhower. It was to be a long friendship that continued even after Watergate.

During this period Ulasewicz became very friendly with several right-wing politicians. In his book he proudly reprints a letter from Rafael Trujillo, one of the world’s most unpleasant dictators. Despite this friendship, BOSSI gave Ulasewicz the job of investigating the kidnapping and murder of Jesus de Galindez, the academic who had written a book critical of the Trujillo's military dictatorship. As one can imagine, Ulasewicz was reluctant to do anything to hurt his friendship with Trujillo. This was reinforced when Ulasewicz discovered the CIA had stolen documents belonging to Galindez soon after he went missing. Ulasewicz clearly decided to back-off when he discovered that the CIA was probably involved in his abduction. However, J. Edgar Hoover insisted on a full investigation. Galindez had been a FBI undercover agent (codename “Rojas”) who had been providing important information to Hoover.

Recruited in June, 1944, Galindez had originally been asked to discover information about Spaniards who had migrated to the Dominican Republic after the Spanish Civil War. Galindez role was to discover if any of these men were “communists” and who might get involved in the campaign to bring democracy to the Dominican Republic.

Galindez also provided Hoover with information on the rebels in Cuba. This included information that Castro was a communist agent. This was important news at the time because Hoover was aware that the CIA were at the time helping Castro in his struggle with Batista.

Ulasewicz eventually traced the two men who flew the drugged Galindez to Dominica. Both these pilots, Gerald Murphy and Octavia de la Maza were murdered soon after this had taken place. So also was Ana Gloria Viera (Maza’s girlfriend) who was also on board the plane that night. Gerald Murphy, a young American pilot, had the contact details of man called John Frank in his possession when his body was found. Frank had been working with Robert Maheu. At the time it was believed that Frank and Maheu were involved in some CIA operation. It included a deal that involved the future of Batista’s gambling empire in Cuba and the training of CIA operatives in the Dominican Republic.

Soon after being elected to office, Richard Nixon decided that the White House should establish an in-house investigative capability that could be used to obtain sensitive political information. Jack Caulfield, a former member of the New York City Police Department, was hired by H. R. Haldeman In May 1968.

In March, 1969, John Ehrlichman had a meeting with Caulfield and asked him to set up a private security entity in Washington to provide investigative support for the White House. Soon afterwards Caulfield employed Ulasewicz to carry out this work. Ulasewicz met Ehrlichman at the VIP lounge at the American Airlines Terminal of New York's La Guardia Airport. Ehrlichman agreed to pay Ulasewicz $22,000 a year plus expenses in return for "discreet investigations done on certain political figures.

Ulasewicz then had a meeting with Herbert W. Kalmbach who paid him out of surplus funds from the 1968 presidential election campaign. All told, Kalmbach paid more than $130,000 for the Caulfield-Ulasewicz operation. In an attempt to hide his activities Ulasewicz was told to apply for an American Express card in the name of Edward T. Stanley.

Over the next three years Ulasewicz travelled to 23 states gathering information about Nixon's political opponents. This included people such as Edward Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Ed Muskie, Larry O'Brien, Howard Hughes and Jack Anderson.

Ulasewicz's first task was to investigate the relationship between Bobby Baker and Hubert Humphrey. Nixon had received information from Rose Mary Woods that the two men were involved in the Minnesota-based Mortgage Guarantee & Insurance Company.

On 19th July, 1969, Ulasewicz received a phone call from Jack Caulfield: "Get out to Martha's Vineyard as fast as you can, Tony. Kennedy's car ran off a bridge last night. There was a girl in it. She's dead." This phone call took place less than two hours after the body of Mary Jo Kopechne, the former secretary of Robert Kennedy, had been found in a car that Caulfield suspected Edward Kennedy had been driving.

Ulasewicz was one of the first to arrive in Chappaquiddick after the tragedy. In several cases he was able to interview several key witnesses. This included Sylvia Malm who was staying in Dike House at the time. Dike House was only 150 yards from the scene of the accident. Malm told Ulasewicz that she was reading in bed on the night of the accident. She remained awake until midnight but no one knocked on her door.

Ulasewicz also discovered that the request for an autopsy by Edmund Dinis, the District Attorney of Suffolk County, had been denied. Dinis was told that the body had already been sent to Kopechne's family. This was untrue, the body was still in Edgartown. Ulasewicz also interviewed John Farrar, the scuba diver who pulled Mary JO Kopechne out of Kennedy's car. Farrar told Ulasewicz that the evidence he saw suggested that she had been trapped alive for several hours inside Kennedy's car.

He also discovered that the "records of Edward Kennedy's telephone calls in the hours after the accident at Chappaquiddict were withheld by the telephone company from an inquest into the death of Mary JO Kopechne without the knowledge of the Assistant District Attorney who asked for them". He leaked this information to various newspapers but it was only taken up by the Union Leader of Manchester, New Hampshire. It was not until 12th March, 1980, that the New York Times published the story.

Ulasewicz received orders from John Ehrlichman, H. R. Haldeman and Charles Colson. He also worked closely with Rose Mary Woods and her brother, Joseph Woods. In December 1971 appointed former New York City police detective, Anthony LaRocco, to help Ulasewicz in his work.

On 17th September, 1971, John Dean and Jeb Magruder arranged with Jack Caulfield to establish a new private security firm. Caulfield was told that Ulasewicz and his associates would be required to carry out "surveillance of Democratic primaries, convention, meetings, etc.," and collecting "derogatory information, investigative capability, worldwide." Ulasewicz was told that this was an "extreme clandestine" operation. Given the name Operation Sandwedge, its main purpose was to carry out illegal electronic surveillance on the political opponents of Richard Nixon.

Ulasewicz was given $50,000 by Herbert W. Kalmbach to carry out this work during the 1972 presidential election campaign. Charles Colson suggested to Jack Caulfield that his men fire-bomb the Brookings Institute (a left-wing public policy group involved in studying government policy in Vietnam). Caulfield sent Ulasewicz to investigate the location of offices, security provisions, etc. According to Caulfield the fire-bomb plan was eventually "squelched" by John Dean.

When the Watergate break-in took place John Ehrlichman immediately assumed that Ulasewicz had been involved. Ulasewicz found the whole case very confusing. As he wrote later: "as the burglars didn't even know enough to tape the door jam up and down instead of from front to back which exposed it, I assumed the break-in at the DNC had been orchestrated with an army in order to cover the real purpose of the effort ".

Herbert W. Kalmbach and John Dean decided that Ulasewicz was the best man to deliver the "hush money". He admitted later that he gave Dorothy Hunt a total of $154,000. This was to be passed on to Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord. In his book Ulasewicz does not mention that during these negotiations Dorothy Hunt was killed in a plane crash. An accident that several investigative journalists have claimed was an act of sabotage.

When Jack Caulfield gave evidence to Sam Ervin and the Senate Watergate Committee, he admitted the role that he and Ulasewicz had played in Operation Sandwedge. Ulasewicz appeared before the committee on 23rd May, 1973. To his surprise, the senators did not ask any specific questions of his work for Richard Nixon. Instead they concentrated on how he delivered the money to the Watergate burglars.

In June 1974, Alexander Haig began a classified investigation to determine whether Nixon had received cash contributions from leaders of Southeast Asia and the Far East. Ulasewicz was interviewed about the possibility that he had collected some of this money from people in Vietnam.

Although he admitted to the "crime of obstructing a criminal investigation" he was never charged with this offence. He insisted that he had done no deal with the prosecutors. However, in May, 1975, he was indicted for failing to include on his tax returns the money he had received from Herbert W. Kalmbach. He was found guilty in February, 1977, and sentenced to one year's unsupervised probation.

In 1977 Ulasewicz had a meeting with Richard Nixon at his home at San Clemente. They had a "heart to heart" talk. Nixon asked him: "What was it, Tony? What did it? What do you think caused Watergate? Ulasewicz replied: "You had a lot of guys around you who were trying to protect their own future at your expense." Ulasewicz admitted in his autobiography that he did not tell him the full truth. As he explained, Nixon had enough problems at the time without adding to the stress he was having to deal with.

Ulasewicz never tells the full story about Watergate. What is clear is that Ulasewicz’s began Nixon’s dirty tricks campaign long before Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt got involved. The Sam Ervin Senate Committee were clearly not keen in discovering the details of this campaign against people like Edward Kennedy and George Wallace. It is indeed possible that this campaign involved the murder of one woman and the attempted murder of George Wallace.

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