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William F. Haddad

Guest Mark Valenti

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Guest Mark Valenti

I came across an interesting side story in Victor Lasky's "It Didn't Start With Watergate" - his defense of Nixon's actions surrounding Watergate.

Lasky details how Lawrence O'Brien, head of the DNC, knew about the Watergate break-ins *before* they happened, but let them happen anyway because he wanted to develop dirt on the Republicans. Here's the story, based on sworn testimony during the Watergate hearings - this particular set of revelations being delivered to none other than Republican Fred Thompson, minority member of the panel and current fave among some on the right as an heir to Ronald Reagan.

A.J. Woolston-Smith, a NY private eye, William F. Haddad, former official of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and Jack Anderson, muckraking journalist, all gave testimony about their knowledge of this pre-break-in awareness.

Woolston-Smith was a self-described "security consultant" to something called "Science Security Associates, Inc." He was formerly a British intelligence agent and he had testified that, following the Bay of Pigs debacle, his offices in NY were used by the CIA as a clearinghouse for those returning from Cuba. He said he had excellent sources in the "intelligence community" which was where he first heard of the possible bugging of the DNC.

Haddad wrote a letter to Lawrence O'Brien, saying he'd been hearing "some very disturbing stories about GOP sophisticated surveillance techniques now being used for campaign purposes and of an interesting group here in New York where some of this 'intelligence' activity is centered."

Haddad said the stories had come to him "from a counter-wiretapper who helped me once in a very difficult situation in Michigan." Haddad said his information was so important that it might be wise for O'Brien to "have someone call me so you can get this info first hand and take whatever action you deem necessary."

O'Brien told John Stewart, the DNC's director of communications, to follow up. Stewart flew to NY and on April 26, 1972, met in Haddad's office with Haddad, Woolston-Smith and Ben Winter, VP of a NY bank.

At the meeting, Haddad suggested that "little Cuba in Miami" was involved in the planned bugging of the DNC, and that Republicans were after evidence that the Democrats were being subsidized by Castro's Cuba.

They talked about ways in which the funding of an espionage operation might be traced.

They also discussed a Republican team called The November Group that had connections with Gordon Liddy.

At the meeting, Woolston-Smith showed the others a "sophisticated bug" and gave it to Stewart and Haddad. He claimed to have visited the building in which the November Group was located, but said he remained in the hallway and never entered the suite of offices.

Two days after the NY meeting, Haddad wrote to Stewart and said that Woolston-Smith wanted to be paid to cover his expenses.

Haddad also sent his information to columnist Jack Anderson.

As Lasky points out - the Democrats did nothing in response to this explosive information. O'Brien said, "In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to it..."

Fred Thompson said later that he wanted to investigate this angle further, but that he ran out of time and budget.

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