Rethinking Watergate/Iran-Contra

Special Report: New evidence continues to accumulate showing how Official Washington got key elements of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals wrong, especially how these two crimes of state originated in treacherous actions to secure the powers of the presidency, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

A favorite saying of Official Washington is that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” But that presupposes you accurately understand what the crime was. And, in the case of the two major U.S. government scandals of the last third of the Twentieth Century Watergate and Iran-Contra that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Indeed, newly disclosed documents have put old evidence into a sharply different focus and suggest that history has substantially miswritten the two scandals by failing to understand that they actually were sequels to earlier scandals that were far worse. Watergate and Iran-Contra were, in part at least, extensions of the original crimes, which involved dirty dealings to secure the immense power of the presidency.

Presidents Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan photographed together in the Oval Office in 1991. (Cropped from a White House photo that also included Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.)

In the case of Watergate the foiled Republican break-in at the Democratic National Committee in June 1972 and Richard Nixon’s botched cover-up leading to his resignation in August 1974 the evidence is now clear that Nixon created the Watergate burglars out of his panic that the Democrats might possess a file on his sabotage of Vietnam peace talks in 1968.

Shortly after Nixon took office in 1969, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover informed him of the existence of the file containing national security wiretaps documenting how Nixon’s emissaries had gone behind President Lyndon Johnson’s back to convince the South Vietnamese government to boycott the Paris Peace Talks, which were close to ending the Vietnam War in fall 1968.

The disruption of Johnson’s peace talks then enabled Nixon to hang on for a narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey. However, as the new President was taking steps in 1969 to extend the war another four-plus years, he sensed the threat from the wiretap file and ordered two of his top aides, chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, to locate it. But they couldn’t find the file.

We now know that was because President Johnson, who privately had called Nixon’s Vietnam actions “treason,” had ordered the file removed from the White House by his national security aide Walt Rostow.

Rostow labeled the file “The ‘X’ Envelope” and kept it in his possession, although having left government, he had no legal right to hold onto the highly classified documents, many of which were stamped “Top Secret.” Johnson had instructed Rostow to retain the papers as long as he, Johnson, was alive and then afterwards to decide what to do with them.

Nixon, however, had no idea that Johnson and Rostow had taken the missing file or, indeed, who might possess it. Normally, national security documents are passed from the outgoing President to the incoming President to maintain continuity in government.

But Haldeman and Kissinger had come up empty in their search. They were only able to recreate the file’s contents, which included incriminating conversations between Nixon’s emissaries and South Vietnamese officials regarding Nixon’s promise to get them a better deal if they helped him torpedo Johnson’s peace talks.

So, the missing file remained a troubling mystery inside Nixon’s White House, but Nixon still lived up to his pre-election agreement with South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu to extend U.S. military participation in the war with the goal of getting the South Vietnamese a better outcome than they would have received from Johnson in 1968.

Nixon not only continued the Vietnam War, which had already claimed more than 30,000 American lives and an estimated one million Vietnamese, but he expanded it, with intensified bombing campaigns and a U.S. incursion into Cambodia. At home, the war was bitterly dividing the nation with a massive anti-war movement and an angry backlash from war supporters.

Pentagon Papers

It was in that intense climate in 1971 that Daniel Ellsberg, a former senior Defense Department official, gave the New York Times a copy of the Pentagon Papers, the secret U.S. history of the Vietnam War from 1945 to 1967. The voluminous report documented many of the lies most told by Democrats to draw the American people into the war.

The Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers on June 13, 1971, and the disclosures touched off a public firestorm. Trying to tamp down the blaze, Nixon took extraordinary legal steps to stop dissemination of the secrets, ultimately failing in the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Nixon had an even more acute fear. He knew something that few others did, that there was a sequel to the Pentagon Papers that was arguably more explosive the missing file containing evidence that Nixon had covertly prevented the war from being brought to a conclusion so he could maintain a political edge in Election 1968.

If anyone thought the Pentagon Papers represented a shocking scandal and clearly millions of Americans did how would people react to a file that revealed Nixon had kept the slaughter going with thousands of additional American soldiers dead and the violence spilling back into the United States just so he could win an election?

A savvy political analyst, Nixon recognized this threat to his reelection in 1972, assuming he would have gotten that far. Given the intensity of the anti-war movement, there would surely have been furious demonstrations around the White House and likely an impeachment effort on Capitol Hill.

So, on June 17, 1971, Nixon summoned Haldeman and Kissinger into the Oval Office and as Nixon’s own recording devices whirred softly pleaded with them again to locate the missing file. “Do we have it?” Nixon asked Haldeman. “I’ve asked for it. You said you didn’t have it.”

Haldeman: “We can’t find it.”

Kissinger: “We have nothing here, Mr. President.”

Nixon: “Well, damnit, I asked for that because I need it.”

Kissinger: “But Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together.”

Haldeman: “We have a basic history in constructing our own, but there is a file on it.”

Nixon: “Where?”

Haldeman: “[Presidential aide Tom Charles] Huston swears to God that there’s a file on it and it’s at Brookings.”

Nixon: “Bob? Bob? Now do you remember Huston’s plan [for White House-sponsored break-ins as part of domestic counter-intelligence operations]? Implement it.”

Kissinger: “Now Brookings has no right to have classified documents.”

Nixon: “I want it implemented. Goddamnit, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.”

Haldeman: “They may very well have cleaned them by now, but this thing, you need to “

Kissinger: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Brookings had the files.”

Haldeman: “My point is Johnson knows that those files are around. He doesn’t know for sure that we don’t have them around.”

But Johnson did know that the file was no longer at the White House because he had ordered Rostow to remove it in the final days of his own presidency.

Forming the Burglars

On June 30, 1971, Nixon again berated Haldeman about the need to break into Brookings and “take it [the file] out.” Nixon even suggested using former CIA officer E. Howard Hunt to conduct the Brookings break-in.

“You talk to Hunt,” Nixon told Haldeman. “I want the break-in. Hell, they do that. You’re to break into the place, rifle the files, and bring them in. Just go in and take it. Go in around 8:00 or 9:00 o’clock.”

Haldeman: “Make an inspection of the safe.”

Nixon: “That’s right. You go in to inspect the safe. I mean, clean it up.”

For reasons that remain unclear, it appears that the Brookings break-in never took place, but Nixon’s desperation to locate Johnson’s peace-talk file was an important link in the chain of events that led to the creation of Nixon’s burglary unit under Hunt’s supervision. Hunt later oversaw the two Watergate break-ins in May and June of 1972.

While it’s possible that Nixon was still searching for the file about his Vietnam-peace sabotage when the Watergate break-ins occurred nearly a year later, it’s generally believed that the burglary was more broadly focused, seeking any information that might have an impact on Nixon’s re-election, either defensively or offensively.

As it turned out, Nixon’s burglars were nabbed inside the Watergate complex on their second break-in on June 17, 1972, exactly one year after Nixon’s tirade to Haldeman and Kissinger about the need to blow the safe at the Brookings Institution in pursuit of the missing Vietnam peace-talk file.

Ironically, too, Johnson and Rostow had no intention of exposing Nixon’s dirty secret regarding LBJ’s Vietnam peace talks, presumably for the same reasons that they kept their mouths shut back in 1968, out of a benighted belief that revealing Nixon’s actions might somehow not be “good for the country.”

In November 1972, despite the growing scandal over the Watergate break-in, Nixon handily won reelection, crushing Sen. George McGovern, Nixon’s preferred opponent. Nixon then reached out to Johnson seeking his help in squelching Democratic-led investigations of the Watergate affair and slyly noting that Johnson had ordered wiretaps of Nixon’s campaign in 1968.

Johnson reacted angrily to the overture, refusing to cooperate. On Jan. 20, 1973, Nixon was sworn in for his second term. On Jan. 22, 1973, Johnson died of a heart attack.

Toward Resignation

In the weeks that followed Nixon’s Inauguration and Johnson’s death, the scandal over the Watergate cover-up grew more serious, creeping ever closer to the Oval Office. Meanwhile, Rostow struggled to decide what he should do with “The ‘X’ Envelope.”

On May 14, 1973, in a three-page “memorandum for the record,” Rostow summarized what was in “The ‘X’ Envelope” and provided a chronology for the events in fall 1968. Rostow reflected, too, on what effect LBJ’s public silence then may have had on the unfolding Watergate scandal.

“I am inclined to believe the Republican operation in 1968 relates in two ways to the Watergate affair of 1972,” Rostow wrote. He noted, first, that Nixon’s operatives may have judged that their “enterprise with the South Vietnamese” in frustrating Johnson’s last-ditch peace initiative had secured Nixon his narrow margin of victory over Hubert Humphrey in 1968.

“Second, they got away with it,” Rostow wrote. “Despite considerable press commentary after the election, the matter was never investigated fully. Thus, as the same men faced the election in 1972, there was nothing in their previous experience with an operation of doubtful propriety (or, even, legality) to warn them off, and there were memories of how close an election could get and the possible utility of pressing to the limit and beyond.” [To read Rostow’s memo, click here, here and here.]

What Rostow didn’t know was that there was a third and more direct connection between the missing file and Watergate. Nixon’s fear about the file surfacing as a follow-up to the Pentagon Papers was Nixon’s motive for creating Hunt’s burglary team in the first place.

Rostow apparently struggled with what to do with the file for the next month as the Watergate scandal expanded. On June 25, 1973, fired White House counsel John Dean delivered his blockbuster Senate testimony, claiming that Nixon got involved in the cover-up within days of the June 1972 burglary at the Democratic National Committee. Dean also asserted that Watergate was just part of a years-long program of political espionage directed by Nixon’s White House.

The very next day, as headlines of Dean’s testimony filled the nation’s newspapers, Rostow reached his conclusion about what to do with “The ‘X’ Envelope.” In longhand, he wrote a “Top Secret” note which read, “To be opened by the Director, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, not earlier than fifty (50) years from this date June 26, 1973.”

In other words, Rostow intended this missing link of American history to stay missing for another half century. In a typed cover letter to LBJ Library director Harry Middleton, Rostow wrote: “Sealed in the attached envelope is a file President Johnson asked me to hold personally because of its sensitive nature. In case of his death, the material was to be consigned to the LBJ Library under conditions I judged to be appropriate.

“After fifty years the Director of the LBJ Library (or whomever may inherit his responsibilities, should the administrative structure of the National Archives change) may, alone, open this file. If he believes the material it contains should not be opened for research [at that time], I would wish him empowered to re-close the file for another fifty years when the procedure outlined above should be repeated.”

Ultimately, however, the LBJ Library didn’t wait that long. After a little more than two decades, on July 22, 1994, the envelope was opened and the archivists began the long process of declassifying the contents.

Yet, because Johnson and Rostow chose to withhold the file on Nixon’s “treason,” a distorted history of Watergate took shape and then hardened into what all the Important People of Washington “knew” to be true. The conventional wisdom was that Nixon was unaware of the Watergate break-in beforehand that it was some harebrained scheme of a few overzealous subordinates and that the President only got involved later in covering it up.

Sure, the Washington groupthink went, Nixon had his “enemies list” and played hardball with his rivals, but he couldn’t be blamed for the Watergate break-in, which many insiders regarded as “the third-rate burglary” that Nixon’s White House called it.

Even journalists and historians who took a broader view of Watergate didn’t pursue the remarkable clue from Nixon’s rant about the missing file on June 17, 1971. Though a few other historians did write, sketchily, about the 1968 events, they also didn’t put the events together.

So, the beloved saying took shape: “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” And Official Washington hates to rethink some history that is considered already settled. In this case, it would make too many important people who have expounded on the “worse” part of Watergate, i.e. the cover-up, look stupid. [For details, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

The Iran-Contra Cover-up

Similarly, Official Washington and many mainstream historians have tended to dismiss Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal as another case of some overzealous subordinates intuiting what the President wanted and getting everybody into trouble.

The “Big Question” that insiders were asking after the scandal broke in November 1986 was whether President Reagan knew about the decision by White House aide Oliver North and his boss, National Security Advisor John Poindexter, to divert some profits from secret arms sales to Iran to secretly buy weapons for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

Once Poindexter testified that he had no recollection of letting Reagan in on that secret and with Reagan a beloved figure to many in Official Washington the inquiry was relegated to insignificance. The remaining investigation focused on smaller questions, like misleading Congress and a scholarly dispute over whether the President’s foreign policy powers overrode Congress’ power to appropriate funds).

At the start of the Iran-Contra investigation, Attorney General Edwin Meese had set the time parameters from 1984 to 1986, thus keeping outside of the frame the possibility of a much more serious scandal originating during Campaign 1980, i.e., whether Reagan’s campaign undermined President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to free 52 American hostages in Iran and then paid off the Iranians by allowing Israel to ship weapons to Iran for the Iran-Iraq War.

So, while congressional and federal investigators looked only at how the specific 1985-86 arms sales to Iran got started, there was no timely attention paid to evidence that the Reagan administration had quietly approved Israeli arms sales to Iran in 1981 and that those contacts went back to the days before Election 1980 when the hostage crisis destroyed Carter’s reelection hopes and ensured Reagan’s victory.

The 52 hostages were not released until Reagan was sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981.

Over the years, about two dozen sources including Iranian officials, Israeli insiders, European intelligence operatives, Republican activists and even Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat have provided information about alleged contacts with Iran by the Reagan campaign.

And, there were indications early in the Reagan presidency that something peculiar was afoot. On July 18, 1981, an Israeli-chartered plane crashed or was shot down after straying over the Soviet Union on a return flight from delivering U.S.-manufactured weapons to Iran.

In a PBS interview nearly a decade later, Nicholas Veliotes, Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, said he looked into the incident by talking to top administration officials. “It was clear to me after my conversations with people on high that indeed we had agreed that the Israelis could transship to Iran some American-origin military equipment,” Veliotes said.

In checking out the Israeli flight, Veliotes came to believe that the Reagan camp’s dealings with Iran dated back to before the 1980 election. “It seems to have started in earnest in the period probably prior to the election of 1980, as the Israelis had identified who would become the new players in the national security area in the Reagan administration,” Veliotes said. “And I understand some contacts were made at that time.”

When I re-interviewed Veliotes on Aug. 8, 2012, he said he couldn’t recall who the “people on high” were who had described the informal clearance of the Israeli shipments but he indicated that “the new players” were the young neoconservatives who were working on the Reagan campaign, many of whom later joined the administration as senior political appointees.

Neocon Schemes

Newly discovered documents at the Reagan presidential library reveal that Reagan’s neocons at the State Department particularly Robert McFarlane and Paul Wolfowitz initiated a policy review in 1981 to allow Israel to undertake secret military shipments to Iran. McFarlane and Wolfowitz also maneuvered to put McFarlane in charge of U.S. relations toward Iran and to establish a clandestine U.S. back-channel to the Israeli government outside the knowledge of even senior U.S. government officials.

Not only did the documents tend to support the statements by Veliotes but they also fit with comments that former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir made in a 1993 interview in Tel Aviv. Shamir said he had read the 1991 book, October Surprise, by Carter’s former National Security Council aide Gary Sick, which made the case for believing that the Republicans had intervened in the 1980 hostage negotiations to disrupt Carter’s reelection.

With the topic raised, one interviewer asked, “What do you think? Was there an October Surprise?”

“Of course, it was,” Shamir responded without hesitation. “It was.”

And, there were plenty of other corroborating statements as well. In 1996, for instance, while former President Carter was meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Arafat in Gaza City, Arafat tried to confess his role in the Republican maneuvering to block Carter’s Iran-hostage negotiations.

“There is something I want to tell you,” Arafat said, addressing Carter in the presence of historian Douglas Brinkley. “You should know that in 1980 the Republicans approached me with an arms deal [for the PLO] if I could arrange to keep the hostages in Iran until after the [U.S. presidential] election,” Arafat said, according to Brinkley’s article in the fall 1996 issue of Diplomatic Quarterly.

As recently as this past week, former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr reiterated his account of Republican overtures to Iran during the 1980 hostage crisis and how that secret initiative prevented release of the hostages.

In a Christian Science Monitor commentary about the movie “Argo,” Bani-Sadr wrote that “Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation which prevented the attempts by myself and then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 U.S. presidential election took place. The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the election in favor of Reagan.”

Though Bani-Sadr had discussed the Reagan-Khomeini collaboration before, he added in his commentary that “two of my advisors, Hussein Navab Safavi and Sadr-al-Hefazi, were executed by Khomeini’s regime because they had become aware of this secret relationship between Khomeini, his son Ahmad, … and the Reagan administration.”

In December 1992, when a House Task Force was examining this so-called “October Surprise” controversy and encountering fierce Republican resistance Bani-Sadr submitted a letter detailing his behind-the-scenes struggle with Khomeini and his son Ahmad over their secret dealings with the Reagan campaign.

Bani-Sadr’s letter dated Dec. 17, 1992 was part of a flood of last-minute evidence implicating the Reagan campaign in the hostage scheme. However, by the time the letter and the other evidence arrived, the leadership of the House Task Force had decided to simply declare the Reagan campaign innocent. [See’s “‘October Surprise’ and ‘Argo.’”]

Burying the History

Lawrence Barcella, who served as Task Force chief counsel, later told me that so much incriminating evidence arrived late that he asked Task Force chairman, Rep. Lee Hamilton, a centrist Democrat from Indiana, to extend the inquiry for three months but that Hamilton said no. (Hamilton told me that he had no recollection of Barcella’s request.)

Instead of giving a careful review to the new evidence, the House Task Force ignored, disparaged or buried it. I later unearthed some of the evidence in unpublished Task Force files. However, in the meantime, Official Washington dismissed the “October Surprise” and other Iran-Contra-connected scandals, like Contra drug trafficking, as conspiracy theories. [For the latest information on the October Surprise case, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

As with Watergate and Nixon, Official Washington has refused to rethink its conclusions absolving President Ronald Reagan and his successor President George H.W. Bush of guilt in a range of crimes collected under the large umbrella of Iran-Contra.

When journalist Gary Webb revived the Contra-Cocaine scandal in the mid-to-late 1990s, he faced unrelenting hostility from Establishment reporters at the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. The attacks were so ugly that Webb’s editors at the San Jose Mercury News forced him out, setting in motion his professional destruction.

It didn’t even matter when an internal investigation by the CIA’s inspector general in 1998 confirmed that the Reagan and Bush-41 administrations had tolerated and protected drug trafficking by the Contras. The major newspapers largely ignored the findings and did nothing to help rehabilitate Webb’s career, eventually contributing to his suicide in 2004. [For details on the CIA report, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

The major newspapers have been equally unwilling to rethink the origins and the significance of the October Surprise/Iran-Contra scandal. It doesn’t matter how much new evidence accumulates. It remains much easier to continue the politically safe deification of “Gipper” Reagan and the fond remembrances of “Poppy” Bush.

Not only would rethinking Iran-Contra and Watergate stir up anger and abuse from Republican operatives and the Right, but the process would reflect badly on many journalists and historians who built careers, in part, by getting these important historical stories wrong.

However, there must come a point when the weight of the new evidence makes the old interpretations of these scandals intellectually untenable and when treasured sayings like “the cover-up is worse than the crime” are swept into the historical dustbin.

[For a limited time, you can purchase Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush family for only $34. For details, click here.]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

19 comments for “Rethinking Watergate/Iran-Contra

  1. RalphCrown
    March 19, 2013 at 10:14
  2. David G. Gake
    March 17, 2013 at 11:07

    Dear Sir:

    1. These disclosures have reached the stage where they are voluminous (my characterization).

    2. Why hasn’t this Reagan-Administration/October-Surprise/Iran-Contra controversy FINALLY reached MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell?

    3. They waste time on that political zero Chuck Hagel, why don’t they use their broadcast time usefully tracing down a serious Reagan Era coverup?

    Sincerely yours,
    David G. Gake
    Hastings, Nebraska

  3. Mak
    March 12, 2013 at 15:03

    This would make a great TV miniseries – Wouldnt it be great if Ken Burns took on something more controversial for a change?

  4. dan s
    March 11, 2013 at 18:33

    yes, Webb committed “suicide.” hahahshahaha….

  5. Publius
    March 11, 2013 at 17:24

    Observationally we need to go all the way back to the creation of the Fed, President Wilson, the Palmer raids, World War I and then walk the cat forward to FDR and his wrecking crew and his convenient death ushering in Truman. The links of criminality form a chain into our times.

  6. Jon Cloke
    March 11, 2013 at 13:04

    What innocent, halcyon days! How innocent and naive the administrations of yore… imagine a time when the worst you could accuse a president of was burglary, and the extent of his treason was in prolonging a war for political purposes.

    Now the whole machinery of the executive branch is dedicated to maintaining the Everywhere War PLC, the ‘Intelligence Community’ have impunity to do what they like, and under the NDAA the president can have anyone he likes killed or detained indefinitely for reasons he doesn’t have to specify.

    Nixon must be turning in his grave; if only he could have become president some 25 years later, when he could commit every criminal act his black heart could conceive and it would be completely legal! I think of Kissinger going to bed at night, with an increasingly satisfied smile on his face for every year he continues to live…

    Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.

  7. Hillary
    March 11, 2013 at 02:20

    The JFK assassination and the Mob’s casinos ?
    The usual red herring ?
    A secret — at the time — was JFK’s “dire” warning to Ben Gurion to stop Israeli Nuclear ambitions.
    Also “JFK’s Executive Order 11100 Abolishing the Federal Reserve”
    So Cui Bono ?

  8. Pelu
    March 10, 2013 at 15:37

    Begin wasn’t part of the Stern Gang? Non-Jews aren’t second class citizens (or less) in Israel?

  9. Melvin Lieberman
    March 10, 2013 at 14:36

    If I kept on exposing our Jew plots, I’d be very careful every time I opened an envelope. . . Envelopes sometimes come with white powders in them. Ask Bruce Ivins. Just sayin’!

  10. deke4
    March 10, 2013 at 07:28

    There is something wrong with our democracy when crucial investigations exposing the thwarting of the very things we say America stands for, are stopped, interrupted and then swept under the rug. And take note when politicians say they want more sunlight on topics, they are the ones who work hardest keeping them in the shadows. I am still waiting for the final chapter on the anthrax letters.

    • Ubikwitus
      March 10, 2013 at 09:28

      Just what does America stand for?

      There’s a whole Walt Disney ‘fable’ about America. And then there is a reality that stands in glaring counterpoint to that.

      Even before the revolution America was populated by a ‘race’ of Europeans who gave short shrift to any of the virtues.

      And thus has it maintained – ‘ordinary’ people aside – modern American ‘government’, and American ‘business’, are the most psychotic groups to ‘grace’ human history since the Nazi Party and the Huns.

  11. Derek
    March 9, 2013 at 23:36

    I would like Robert Parry to comment on the Watergate cover-up motive, which is heard right on the Watergate Tapes. In fact, this was heard on the “smoking gun” Watergate Tape which then forced Congress to go into secret session (and both the Nixon resignation, and the protection of further revelations being exposed shortly followed).

    Here’s what Nixon said:

    “…this Hunt, that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab, there’s a hell of a lot of things. This involves the Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky panky .. just say … very bad to have this fellow Hunt, ….aahh, he knows too damned much. If it gets out that this is all involved, the Cuba thing, it would be a fiasco. It would make the CIA look bad, it would make Hunt look bad, and it is likely to blow the whole ‘Bay of Pigs’ thing”.

    -Richard Nixon on the June 23, 1972 Watergate Tapes.

    Now, no less than Bob Halderman later wrote that: “It seems that all those Nixon references to the Bay of Pigs, he was actually referring to the Kennedy Assassination.”
    H. R. Halderman, “The Ends of Power”

    So, I remain convinced that the true motive in covering-up the Watergate Bulgary, was the involvement of E. Howard Hunt (CIA “Bay of Piga” operative, and Kennedy Assassination participant). Nixon was worried that too close an examination (or prosecution) of Hunt, would cause the CIA’s Kennedy Assassination plot to come out in the open. In order to protect the CIA, Nixon aggressively covered-up Watergate.

    Similarly, Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon not because there was some secret deal made between them. It was because Gerald Ford, who distinguished himself as a Warren Commission cover-up specialist, could be counted on to protect the Kennedy Assassination secrets at all costs, and protect the CIA. The real tragedy of the Ford Presidency, was that in addition to pardoning Nixon, he also prevented any more Watergate Tapes from being made public. Only a small percentage of those Tapes were ever transcribed, and made public. The rest of them (something like 90%) were allowed (by Ford) to remain secret, and were turned over to Richard Nixon (who had them burned). So we all lost out on hearing just what other revelations were on the rest of the Watergate Tapes.

    I also suspect that the famous 18-minute gap on the “smoking gun” Tape, was deliberate sabatoge, and a clumsy attempt to keep the details about the “Bay of Pigs” thing (a.k.a. The Kennedy Assassination itself) under wraps.

    Nixon was impeached because, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Once he couldn’t prevent Congress from getting their hands on the Tapes, he quickly resigned to protect the CIA Assassination secrets, and Gerald Ford then swept it all under the carpet — just as he also did with The Warren Commission.

    • meremark
      March 10, 2013 at 21:54

      A couple of ideas extended from Derek. It’s better and it’s worse.

      That Noxious burned the tapes is evidentiary proof that what was on the tapes is/was whatever you/we allege and state was on the tapes. Let ‘er rip. Make the tapes say whatever you need to hear the tapes say for whatever point you like to sharpen. None can refute allegations and charges of any sort. And charges stick the moreso where placed in a condusive context.

      Aside: Flip the other phrase of those days, besides the ‘it’s not the crime it’s the cover up‘ cliche; flip ‘plausible deniability‘ around to say ‘none DENY THE PLAUSIBLE fact‘ that Nixon was involved murdering Kennedy! … as an example charge, arguably because Nixon was Veep and in the loop with Ike putting-off Dulles’s scheme (and opposing in-whole Dulles’s obsession of scheming) to invade Cuba, remove Castro, and reclaim property Cuba confiscated … especially Cuban casino properties claimed away from The Mob (mafia) who were the clients on whose behalf Dulles obsessed to deliver for. Fidel lives, and might well attest how much The Mob’s casinos were the crux of all the USA international rights violations, such as murders and attempted murders, against Castro/Cuba the entire time 1959 to today. The Mob’s avengence motives were exploited by Allen Dulles and his ‘crew’ which included Nixon and Bush Sr. peripherally — included enough to be told choose silence or death, for Mob wherewithal murdering Kennedy.

      End aside. By it, trying to illustrate what I mean in saying any charge against Nixon is verified and validated when placed in a “conducive context” carrying and explaining who owned him and who he owned. (Or ‘owed’ if that reads better than ‘owned’.) And furthermore, there is no exculpatory evidence to defend Nixon against (random wild) allegations and charges … to the contrary, what evidence there was fully convicted him, which proves the reason he burned tapes.
      And, as you say, POTUS Ford is guilty guilty guilty as sin, too. Charged now, and in context proved.

      … and the particulars in my example connect with layered context points such as Allen Dulles and Prescott Bush (and Ike) as golfing bosom buddies, in the earliest moments after FDR’s passing and the A-bombs and WWII ended, with Dulles scheming to institute a permanent USGovt paycheck for himself, (‘invent’ a CIA, a department of his own), because, being spoiled, he didn’t want to return to normal peaceable non-privileged civilian life; at the same time Prescott was looking to embed in the federal money flow his unemployed and unaccomplished son who just was unceremoniously kicked out of the Navy, (or ‘relieved of duty’ 1945) after crashing two bombers they let him pilot; and Dulles and Prescott at the club discuss off-the-record mutual interest in designs carving cushy cubbyholes in the career bureaucracy … Prescott’s boy — the guy ‘Poppy’ has a first child (Dubya) born July ’46 so something 9 months ago, Oct.’45, provided him such optimistic prospects some way, (more resort than civil status and wage compliance), seeing a secured future in which he could start timely and sustain adding kids. Prescott elected Senator 1952, after some covert ballot-counting subtrefuge: Was it quid pro quo from Dulles, for lobbying Eisenhower/Nixon in CIA favor? Yes! So state, so affirm, charge and confirm it: Yes, Dulles and Prescott and Nixon guilty guilty guilty of all and any things, as charged. None can deny the plausibility, in thick thieves twisted with their version of ‘honor’. And evidence you may imagine perhaps would defend them, they deliberately destroyed. Like Prescott half-did in full intention, (hiding but not destroying evidence), of his personal moral depravity in grave-robbing at Ft.Sill, OK, Army prisoner cemetery to get Geronimo’s remains carried to New Haven, CT, in ‘The Tomb’ … but I digress.

      The “conducive context” I have in mind is a movie. A film, a video, a ‘YouTube.’ gregorylkruse suggests financing Mr. Parry to fill books with the ‘contextual’ details he has mastered the most, revealing powercrazed politicos of the Nixonian times.

      Usually ‘making a movie’ is thought to be more difficult than ‘writing a book.’ Besides, kids these days — who must incorporate these accurate tellings of history to form understanding, in order not to repeat it — are never never ever going to hook up with books. So why write any for them? Which would be despondent thinking, kids not knowing history, otherwise but good news: digital video editing and production these days is a breeze and a snap. Youngadult talents are making lots of videos and watching lots of videos and if our Nixon nightmare decades were depicted in detail and massively accused, from 1947 (Sept. 11, ‘birthdate’ of CIA) through Watergate, or through Iran Contra years, ‘fleshed out’ in a treatment of animated video (film/movie/visual collage), the kids might likely go ga-ga over it, or at least assimilate it in thinking … for the first time ‘Watergate/Iran Contra,’ as different from ‘re-thinking’ it. Making a movie is not the difficulty or expensive project it used to be. The animation software is available and cheap and can apply any face, pose, or delivery to existing pre-programmed ‘characters’ in it, (think Shrek maybe, ready-made digital=stored ‘mannequins’?), to enthrall and spellbind with historical detail ‘context’ that grabs a viewer’s mind and view. And it works. Especially the ‘youth’ eat it up. Gulp and accord it.

      Consider at the stir Oliver Stone is causing with his Nixonian retrospective; (maybe I heard that his film treats of events back to 1946; I hope that Stone includes the 1948 scene of FBI agents ‘visiting’ Reagan (and flipping him to the dark side) with their blackmail information about his on-the-set dalliances while married to Jane Wyman); and Stone did it in Hollywood fashion, arduous and expensive — a ‘movie,’ in ‘theaters,’ and all that complication.

      Do it of, by, and for YouTube. The Rise and Fall of the Bush-Dulles Dark Age, or whatever you want to title it, in less than an hour on YouTube. Overnight or 1 million views, whichever comes first, can convict all of those bastards permanently in the public mind as the people’s True History.
      Just saying, an option for contributing to a video documentary might attract supplemental funding for the immensely vital presentation of history’s facts and infamy documented in national archives releases. Most greatly known in consortium news investigations — and deserved roaring applause for indefatigable Mr. Parry. Now, dear reader, please give donation.

      Plea dealt — thank you; now back to my storyline. Referring, Derek, to the idea that Nixon suppressed the incriminating tapes (or whatever) in order to “protect the CIA Assassination secrets.” Ha! Look at it the other way ’round. Nixon knew, (by witnessing the example with Kennedy), that if the CIA doubted Nixon could maintain his stonewall impervious, then he would be terminated with prejudicial knowing, beforehand, he might adjoin them under oath interrogation, or at least expose, of their blood-dripping hands in it … that ‘Bay of Pigs thing.’ Kennedy overruled. And was killed for. Pushed aside in order to go on trying to get the casinos back.

      So I think Nixon was not thinking to ‘protect’ the CIA, with silent harboring. Nixon was protecting his! own! ass!, from being CIA-assassinated. If he could have taken down the CIA and lived through it, he well coulda and woulda since he lost no love of it.

      Actually, it worked out the other way around: CIA took down Nixon. And thought themselves kindly to only ‘resign’ him, leaving him alive … instead of murdering him. The agent of the Nixon take-down was/is the celebrated Bob Woodward, of course, who was (in the ’60s) serving in military political intelligence niches, (following his father’s footsteps), comfortably set, complying as assigned. Woodward was ‘infiltrated’ at the WashPost, a ‘reporter’ who had never rolled a blank paper into a typewriter, but ‘specially selected’ and leapfrogged over seniorities for a ‘plum’ job, reporting ‘Watergate,’ with provident access to background-dossier info and top-secret tips, (‘follow the money’), from a mysterious whispering throat deep in the dark warrens of black-budget Washington. (Who tenured-Post-reporter Bernstein never saw in-person: ‘Deep Throat.’ And Bernstein, in lately years, is saying even he can conclude that Woodward’s version, and sources, are/were highly suspect, fabricated ‘Legend’ … or at least, (in Dana Carvey voice), ‘very conveeeeenient; and ithn’t that thpecial … of, oh, I don’t know – SAY-tan!‘)

      Not putting words in Bernstein’s mouth, (although he may endorse these), it seems (in evidence) that Woodward was CIA-backed, -interposed, and -fed in a position of press hound hounding and fatiguing Nixon. Woodward was given close-privileged (as in Super Secret) tid bits of casework at key turning points of stalled story-plot development. ‘Given’ to him, somehow, virtually magically. Mysterious. Even to wingman Bernstein the newsroom veteran.
      ‘Legend’ suggests that Deep Throat was FBI guy. Maybe he was, as an Agency ‘asset’ burrowed in the Bureau. Yet where did he, FBIguy, get the info? And why? Was he singularly running the POTUS take down, from strategy to tactics to logistics? Again the absence is the evidence: If CIA was not running Deep Throat then, at the first ‘revelation’ (or ‘snitch’ to Woodward), the Agency would have investigated, discovered and ‘caught’ him. (Especially with Ben Bradlee’s mutual cooperation in mystery-solving.) The Agency did NOT ‘catch’ him. When the perps are their own peeps, they never can find them; (see USmailed anthrax murders, for instance). Which means Deep Throat was one of their own, either acting directly or through a cutout. The ‘FBI’ attribution to Deep Throat was cutout methodology.
      Nixon was screaming, ‘WHERE is the leak to Woodward coming from?‘ and was driven nutsy in the unanswering void.
      Hardly would FBI be instrumental, since Hoover had died in May the month before Hunt’s plumbers got caught in Watergate in June. If he coulda, Nixon woulda called Hoover, (standing since pumpkin-patch days on their long association), to account. But he couldn’t; Hoover had expired. The entire Bureau was shaken besides, internally conflicted if not paralyzed in the power vacuum and disorientation after Hoover was gone.

      So run that non-starter story again — the FBI or one guy ‘high up’ knowing deep porn in it, trusting an untested reporter at the Post for accomplice, decided and deployed a plan to unseat Nixon? Why? Was the Bureau embarrassed they didn’t catch the burglars themselves? Didn’t even know them?

      No, friend. The CIA was the entity threatened by collapse, (one may hope by abolishment), if Nixon stayed in the squeezing pressure of the interrogation-under-oath vise until he popped and ‘the beans’ spilled out of him into the Bay of Pigs. Nixon was not protecting the sordid sick CIA, he was inside a stone wall protecting himself from the Agency sociopathology. The CIA was protecting the CIA; managing Nixon’s removal instead of termination because, after all, people would get suspicious if someone or something in WashDC was murdering Presidents about every ten years. They’re so highly visible, you know. Furthermore, sincere and devoutly good citizens (facing being murdered) would stop aspiring to be President … which explains the dismaying absence of ‘good’ ‘sincere’ candidates everafter Nixon.

      Further furthermore, Robert Parry, it seems Nixon’s 1968 victory plan was not dependent entirely on subverting Paris settlements, protracting the CIA’s instigated and pet ‘war’ (condition). Nixon succeeding in ’68 was mostly pre-set, regardless of Paris particulars, after incumbent LBJ abstained re-election and the presumptive leading figureheads carrying enough influence to contend and defeat Nixon — namely MLK and RFK — had been conveeeeeniently murdered even before the partisan nominating Conventions of summer. Leaving Humphrey, barely a bump, in Nixon’s way.
      Not to discount the importance of finding in fact Nixon (’68, and Reagan/Bush ’80) did too enfraud America with false pretense — on TV, by TV, and for TV — acting supposedly, and injustly preposing, as Head-of-State morally violating the State, and civilians, and reprehensible, despotic, sealing secret State commitments in international intrigue of betraying country, and of historic ill-consequence.

      And that is matters of unallayed treason against America, (highly incriminating Nixon, Reagan/Bush — Guilty as convicted), more than awful (yet just as importantly) matters of personal character seen politicking in purportedly-partisan powerlust.

      Establishing Justice requires having testimony and sentencing Guilty the totality of the subset tyrant-wannabes, throughout and dispossessed out of post-war, hot Cold-War, Gulf non-war, war TV-ruined America.

  12. F. G. Sanford
    March 9, 2013 at 22:35

    What I find particularly intriguing is the unbroken chain of nefarious activity stretching from Reagan’s Iran Contra activities to current tragedies slowly coming to light in Iraq. The “Salvadoran Option” was unleashed in Iraq by Rumsfeld’s appointment of retired Colonel James Steele to oversee establishment of “detention centers”. Steele is notorious as the point man in the gun-running to Nicaragua during Iran-Contra. Then, Cheney appointed him to oversee the reorganization of Panama’s police force after the ouster of Noriega. He pops up again as the apparent point man and corporate knowledge for the establishment of a network of 13-14 secret prisons used for “interrogation” during the Petraeus counterinsurgency operations. The ensuing pedicure program led to the removal of many toenails (Sorry, folks, I ain’t makin’ this up) for reasons other than cosmetic podiatry. At the height of the ensuing civil war, as many as three thousand bodies a month were turning up on the streets of Iraq, most of them innocent civilians. You probably won’t hear about this in the U.S. media, so don’t take my word for it. But, if you go to, the United Kingdom’s Guardian article is, “From El Salvador to Iraq, Washington’s man behind brutal police squads”. Have a look at some of the related links while you’re at it. I find myself asking, “Is this about America?” Seriously, folks it reads more like a horror story called, “Klaus Barbie’s Excellent Adventures”. For additional reading on the subject of South American police tactics, I’d suggest, “The Nazi Legacy: Klaus Barbie and the International Fascist Connection” by Magnus Linklater, Isabel Hilton and Neal Ascherson, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1984. The parallels are striking!

    • incontinent reader
      March 10, 2013 at 10:27

      Good that you’ve mentioned this as part of, and emanating from Iran Contra. John Negroponte might also be included as an important player in the terror campaigns in Central America and Iraq, and for Iraq, also Robert Ford, his number two man in Baghdad, and the same Ford that later became Ambassador to Syria, and who is suspected of coordinating special ops campaigns of terror and massacres in that country.

    • incontinent reader
      March 10, 2013 at 10:33

      Good that you’ve mentioned this as part of, and emanating from Iran Contra. John Negroponte might also be included as an important player in the terror programs in Central America and Iraq, and for Iraq, also Robert Ford, his number two man in Baghdad, and the same Ford that later became Ambassador to Syria, and who is suspected of coordinating special ops campaigns of terror and massacres in that country.

  13. gregorylkruse
    March 9, 2013 at 18:34

    The sad thing is that Parry has been working on this for years and has gotten little attention and financial support for his work. A recent email says that ConsortiumNews has only a few thousand in the bank. What he needs is a big donation from Jimmy Carter and a confession of what he knows about this history to be published exclusively on Consortium by Robert Parry. The terrible belief that it is better for the nation to cover up political crimes than to expose and prosecute the criminals will only take us further down the dunes into death valley. Appeasement criminals has only brought us the Koch brothers and the Tea Party.

  14. Michael Caddell
    March 9, 2013 at 16:29

    This is better than some British murder mystery on PBS. The more Bob Parry digs the further I follow, link and reference this valuable work. Readers must support Consortium News. – An unsolicited endorsement.

    • Spire
      March 12, 2013 at 15:33

      might be time for a worthy sequel
      I, Caludius: 20002

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