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What Role Did CIA Have In Watergate?

May 13, 2012

During the famed interviews with David Frost in 1977, former President Richard Nixon muses in the first broadcast that he wondered what role the CIA had in the entire Watergate affair.

The role of the CIA is one that has long been speculated about, and is again making some headlines.

If Watergate still matters, it is because the story tells us something about the intersection of power and journalism in Washington. The ur-personalities of these veteran newsmen are important but so are new facts, and recent revelations illuminate one aspect of the story that is often overlooked: the role of the CIA.

Woodward acknowledged as much in what is perhaps the single most interesting Watergate revelation of recent years. In June 2007, the CIA released most of the so-called “Family Jewels,” a long-suppressed internal report on the agency’s abuses of power. The newly declassified documents, Woodward wrote in the Post, showed in “telling detail” how the CIA, under the leadership of director Richard Helms, served as “the perfect Watergate enabler.”

The Helms/Nixon relationship lies at the heart of the Watergate story. Nixon, of course, was a paranoid genius, a master of resentment politics at home and geopolitical maneuvering abroad. Helms, his long-serving director of Central Intelligence, was the epitome of a CIA man in the Cold War: correct, discreet and ruthless.

The CIA’s involvement in Watergate, Woodward noted, “is one of the murkiest parts of the story.” He and Bernstein didn’t write about it much in “All the President’s Men,” not because they didn’t have suspicions but because they could not pin the story down. Howard Baker, vice chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee, likened the Agency’s role to “animals crashing around in the forest — you can hear them but you can’t see them.” And Helms’ role was especially elusive. Said Baker: “Nixon and Helms had so much on each other that neither one of them could breathe.”

  1. Solly permalink
    May 14, 2012 12:22 AM

    I’ve read the post 3 times, but I still can’t figure out what a Korean Car Company has to do with Watergate. They did start building cars in 1973.

  2. May 13, 2012 10:27 AM

    Your ‘facts’ are laughable. As is your comment.

    First when new information comes forward that reveals more closely the happenings of history only a complete fool would say “Who cares”.

    Furthermore if you think that reading Liddy’s book makes for an
    illuminating definition for the Watergate break-in then my readers would be correct in labeling you a dolt.

    There is nothing to show–in any way–that Nixon ordered the break-in. That is not true.

    History shows how John Mitchell, Stuart Magruder, and others were the central players to the creation of the plan, and then how the Cubans and others got involved.

    That there have been questions for decades in regards to the CIA in this matter is one that most curious-minded people will find of interest.

    Perhaps in time you will too.

  3. skip1930 permalink
    May 13, 2012 7:06 AM

    Who cares? That was so long ago that most of the Yippies on this site were not even born yet.
    You want to know about it? Read the book ‘Will’ by G. Gordon Liddy, who actually did the deed by presidential oeder.


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