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Richard Nixon, Richard Helms and the Assassination of JFK


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I am a great admirer of Secret Agenda. I have read virtually all the books available on Watergate and believe Jim Hougan gets the closest to explaining what really went on. There is still a lot more to be told. Especially concerning Operation Sandwedge.

As Ron points out, McCord clearly sabotaged the Watergate break-in. Who was he really working for? In my opinion, he was still working for the CIA. Deep Throat was a collection of different sources but was largely CIA (Richard Ober/ Robert F. Bennett).

Pat, I agree with most of what you post, but the two areas you have got wrong concerns the way that the CIA use the media (Watergate/Operation Mockingbird). You have also fallen for the Bob Woodward "Mark Felt" story.

The CIA got rid of Richard Nixon, not the Washington Post. If George Bush is eventually impeached, it will be the CIA and not the New York Times that will be behind his removal.

John: Or Mr Baldwin

What can you tell us about Operation Sandwedge. Ever since the George Wallace shooting I have believed that Nixon's dirty tricks people were behind it. This operation is a very underreported/ under studied event.

There is evidence that Operation Sandwedge was the name given to Nixon’s really dirty tricks campaign. The two people at the head of this operation were Jack Caulfield and Tony Ulasewicz. Both men had been recruited from the NYPD's Bureau of Special Service and Investigation (BOSSI).

According to Caulfield: "My multi-faceted, twelve-year BOSSI experience convinced me in late 1967 that Richard Nixon was going to run and likely win the Presidential election in 1968. I subsequently approached the Nixon people from the 1960 Presidential campaign (with whom I had worked as a BOSSI detective) and made it known I was available for candidate/staff security purposes during the 1968 campaign." After being interviewed by H. R. Haldeman and Rose Mary Woods he was appointed as Chief of Security for the Nixon Campaign Staff.

Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 presidential election and in April, 1969, Caulfield was appointed as Staff Assistant to the President. Soon afterwards Nixon decided that the White House should establish an in-house investigative capability that could be used to obtain sensitive political information. After consulting Ehrlichman and Haldeman the job was given to Caulfield.

Caulfield now appointed an old friend, Tony Ulasewicz, to carry out this investigative work. Over the next three years Ulasewicz traveled to 23 states gathering information about Nixon's political opponents.

Ulasewicz's first task was to investigate the links between Bobby Baker and leading Democratic Party politicians. He was also ordered by Caulfield to set up a round-the-clock surveillance of Edward Kennedy.

According to Ulasewicz, on 19th July, 1969, he received a phone call from 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.

It is my view that this story is not accurate. I believe Ulasewicz was in Chappaquiddick before Kopechne died. Whatever the truth of this is, we know that Ulasewicz was able to interview several key witnesses before the police got to them. 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 Chappaquiddick 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.

I believe it is possible that Nixon was behind Edward Kennedy’s problems in Chappaquiddick. It was his most successful dirty trick as it made sure that Kennedy was not the Democratic candidate in 1972.

According to the Nixon camp, on 17th September, 1971, John Dean and Jeb Magruder asked Caulfield to establish a new private security firm. Caulfield was told that Tony Ulasewicz and his associates would be required to carry out "surveillance of Democratic primaries, convention, meetings, etc.," and collecting "derogatory information, investigative capability, worldwide." Caulfield 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.

I don’t believe this story. I believe that Sandwedge dates back to April 1969 and that it involved the removal of the two people who posed the main threat to Nixon’s reelection in 1972, Edward Kennedy and George Wallace.

On 15th May, 1972, Arthur Bremer tried to assassinate George Wallace at a presidential campaign rally in Laurel, Maryland. Wallace was hit four times and as a result had to pull out of the race to become president. The person who most benefited from this assassination attempt was Richard Nixon. If Wallace had gone on to become the third party candidate, the right-wing vote would have been split and Nixon would have lost in 1972.

The removal of Wallace from the campaign was part of Operation Sandwedge. If you remember, Tim Gratz was a normal member of this Forum until I posted this passage from Richard E. Sprague’s, The Taking of America (1985):

In 1972 the Power Control Group was faced with another set of problems. Again the objective was to insure Nixon's election at all costs and to continue the cover-ups. Nixon might have made it on his own. We'll never know because the Group guaranteed his election by eliminating two strong candidates and completely swamping another with tainted leftist images and a psychiatric case for the vice presidential nominee. The impression that Nixon had in early 1972 was that he stood a good chance of losing. He imagined enemies everywhere and a press he was sure was out to get him.

The Power Control Group realized this too. They began laying out a strategy that would encourage the real nuts in the Nixon administration like E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy and Donald Segretti to eliminate any serious opposition. The dirty tricks campaign worked perfectly against the strongest early Democratic candidate, Edmund Muskie. He withdrew in tears, later to discover he had been sabotaged by Nixon, Liddy and company.

George Wallace was another matter. At the time he was shot, he was drawing 18% of the vote according to the polls, and most of that was in Nixon territory. The conservative states such as Indiana were going for Wallace. He was eating into Nixon's southern strength. In April the polls showed McGovern pulling a 41%, Nixon 41% and Wallace 18%. It was going to be too close for comfort, and it might be thrown into the House - in which case Nixon would surely lose. There was the option available of eliminating George McGovern, but then the Democrats might come up with Hubert Humphrey or someone else even more dangerous than McGovern. Nixon's best chance was a head-on contest with McGovern. Wallace had to go.

Once the group made that decision, the Liddy team seemed to be the obvious group to carry it out. But how could it be done this time and still fool the people? Another patsy this time? O.K., but how about having him actually kill the Governor? The answer to that was an even deeper programming job than that done on Sirhan. This time they selected a man with a lower I.Q. level who could be hypnotized to really shoot someone, realize it later, and not know that he had been programmed. He would have to be a little wacky, unlike Oswald, Ruby or Ray.

Arthur Bremer was selected. The first contacts were made by people who knew both Bremer and Segretti in Milwaukee. They were members of a leftist organization planted there as provocateurs by the intelligence forces within the Power Control Group. One of them was a man named Dennis Cossini.

Bremer was programmed over a period of months. He was first set to track Nixon and then Wallace. When his hand held the gun in Laurel, Maryland, it might just as well have been in the hand of Donald Segretti, E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, Richard Helms, or Richard Nixon.

With Wallace's elimination from the race and McGovern's increasing popularity in the primaries, the only question remaining for the Power Control Group was whether McGovern had any real chance of winning. The polls all showed Wallace's vote going to Nixon and a resultant landslide victory. That, of course, is exactly what happened. It was never close enough to worry the Group very much. McGovern, on the other hand, was worried. By the time of the California primary he and his staff had learned enough about the conspiracies in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King that they asked for increased Secret Service protection in Los Angeles.

If the Power Control Group had decided to kill Mr. McGovern the Secret Service would not have been able to stop it. However, they did not, because the election was a sure thing. They did try one more dirty trick. They revealed Thomas Eagleton's psychiatric problems, which reduced McGovern's odds considerably.

What evidence is there that Bremer's attempt on Wallace was a directed attempt by a conspiratorial group?

Bremer himself has told his brother that others were involved and that he was paid by them. Researcher William Turner has turned up evidence in Milwaukee and surrounding towns in Wisconsin that Bremer received money from a group associated with Dennis Cassini, Donald Segretti and J. Timothy Gratz. Several other young "leftists" were seen with Bremer on several occasions in Milwaukee and on the ferry crossing at Lake Michigan.

J. Timothy Gratz was our own “Tim Gratz”. He immediately went into attack mode and threatened me with legal action. He also phoned William Turner and made such unpleasant threats to him that caused him to withdraw from the Forum (I was later able to reassure him that Gratz did not have the power to carry out his threats).

As I pointed out at the time, if Sprague had published lies about him in “The Taking of America”, why did he not take him to court when he made the accusations in 1985?

The record shows that Gratz was connected to Tony Ulasewicz via Donald Segretti. According to the Nixon camp’s story, Ulasewicz visited Gratz on 18th December, 1972, to talk about his relationship with Segretti. In his book, The President's Private Eye (1990), Ulasewicz claims he visited Gratz in order to stop the Segretti dirty tricks campaign. I have never found this account very convincing, especially as Ulasewicz was part of another, far more serious, dirty tricks campaigns, Operation Sandwedge.

Sam Ervin and the Senate Watergate Committee began on 17th May, 1973. One of the first witnesses to appear was Jack Caulfield who admitted the role that he and Tony Ulasewicz had played in Operation Sandwedge. Ulasewicz appeared before the committee on 23rd May, 1973. To his surprise (according to his autobiography), 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.

If you read the transcripts of Ervin’s committee it becomes clear that Operation Sandwedge was not to be discussed. As a result, Nixon’s dirty tricks campaign against Edward Kennedy and George Wallace was never revealed. Instead the investigation concentrated on the minor case of Operation Gemstone.

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." He admitted in his autobiography, The President's Private Eye (1990) that he did not tell him the full truth.

What was the full truth? My view is that the CIA got rid of Richard Nixon by setting him up over Watergate. The main reason for this was Nixon was trying to create an intelligence agency that was under his own control. When he discovered what the CIA had done, he tried to blackmail Richard Helms with what he knew about Operation 40 and the assassination of JFK. Here is a passage from Haldeman’s The End of Power:

So we had failed in our one previous attempt to obtain CIA co-operation, and now in Ehrlichman's office on June 23, 1972, the C.I.A. was stonewalling me again: 'Not connected.' 'No way.' Then I played Nixon's trump card. 'The President asked me to tell you this entire affair may be connected to the Bay of Pigs, and if it opens up, the Bay of Pigs may be blown....'

Turmoil in the room. Helms gripping the arms of his chair leaning forward and shouting, 'The Bay of Pigs had nothing to do with this. I have no concern about the Bay of Pigs.'

Silence. I just sat there. I was absolutely shocked by Helms' violent reaction. Again I wondered, what was such dynamite in the Bay of Pigs story? Finally, I said, 'I'm just following my instructions, Dick. This is what the President told me to relay to you.'

Later, Haldeman reveals that “The Bay of Pigs” was code for the assassination of JFK.

Richard Helms continued to resist Nixon’s attempt at blackmail and as a result he was sacked as director of the CIA.

James Schlesinger now became the new director of the CIA. Schlesinger was heard to say: “The clandestine service was Helms’s Praetorian Guard. It had too much influence in the Agency and was too powerful within the government. I am going to cut it down to size.” This he did and over the next three months over 7 per cent of CIA officers lost their jobs.

On 9th May, 1973, James Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees: “I have ordered all senior operating officials of this Agency to report to me immediately on any activities now going on, or might have gone on in the past, which might be considered to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency. I hereby direct every person presently employed by CIA to report to me on any such activities of which he has knowledge. I invite all ex-employees to do the same. Anyone who has such information should call my secretary and say that he wishes to talk to me about “activities outside the CIA’s charter”.

There were several employees who had been trying to complain about the illegal CIA activities for some time. As Cord Meyer pointed out, this directive “was a hunting license for the resentful subordinate to dig back into the records of the past in order to come up with evidence that might destroy the career of a superior whom he long hated.”

The CIA was in serious trouble. They had to get rid of Nixon as soon as possible. They did this through Deep Throat (Richard Ober) and two key assets at the Washington Post, Ben Bradlee and Bob Woodward.

If this was the case, why did Nixon not reveal what he knew about the CIA and the assassination of JFK? The reason is that a deal was done. Nixon agreed not to tell about the CIA role in the assassination of JFK. The CIA agreed not to tell about Nixon’s role in destroying the political careers of Edward Kennedy and George Wallace. Can we really be surprised that Nixon accepted the deal and took the punishment for the Watergate break-in. The alternative was far, far, worse.

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On the Wallace shooting, there is an odd concatenation of events beginning 1 May 1972 culminating in the Wallace shooting on 15 May 1972, not the least of them involving McCord having issued a .38 revolver to Alfred Baldwin on 1 May 1972, which purportedly was turned back in by Baldwin to McCord on 12 May 1972--three days before Wallace was shot in Laurel, Maryland with a .38 revolver. Even more curious is that on 10 May 1972, McCord is on record as having been in Rockville, Maryland, which is only about 6 miles from Laurel, and on that date, Baldwin--still in possession of the McCord-issued .38--purportedly had traveled back to his home in Connecticut to "get more clothes." This extraordinary sequence of coincidences is part of what I'd like to gain more understanding of from Mr. Baldwin, particularly why he took the .38 with him on a trip home to "get more clothes."

At this point of time I would only state that the sequence of events as to the 38 and when it was obtained and turned back to McCord can ony be verified by the FBI interview as recorded on their 302 interview document. With the passage of years I am now relucant to state a fact from my memory when it comes to precise dates. There is nothing unusual with the fact that I travelled to Connecticut with the weapon. As an FBI agent one always carried one's weapon 24/7. Thus having been issued the weapon and with further possible deployment where the weapon could be used for personal defense it woul have been and was normal for the weapon to remain on my person at all times after it had been issued to me. It is a fact I went to Connecticut to obtain more personal items, such as clothing, and to meet with my personal friend and later attorney Robert Mirto. I did fly to Connecicut and back from Connecticut that weekend and remained there the entire weekend, which has been verified by the FBI.

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