Saturday, May 25, 2013

May 22, 1973

(Sorry, behind again, that kind of week...)


RECENT news accounts growing out of testimony in the Watergate investigations have given grossly misleading impressions of many of the facts, as they relate both to my own role and to certain unrelated activities involving national security.

Already, on the basis of second- and third-hand hearsay testimony by persons either convicted or themselves under investigation in the case, I have found myself accused of involvement in activities I never heard of until I read about them in news accounts.

These impressions could also lead to a serious misunderstanding of those national security activities which, though totally unrelated to Watergate, have become entangled in the case. They could lead to further compromise of sensitive national security information.

I will not abandon my responsibilities. I will continue to do the job I was elected to do.

In the accompanying statement, I have set forth the facts as I know them as they relate to my own role.

With regard to the specific allegations that have been made, I can and do state categorically:

1. I had no prior knowledge of the Watergate operation.

2. I took no part in, nor was I aware of, any subsequent efforts that may have been made to cover up Watergate.

3. At no time did I authorize any offer of executive clemency for the Watergate defendants, nor did I know of any such offer.

4. I did not know, until the time of my own investigation, of any effort to provide the Watergate defendants with funds.

5. At no time did I attempt, or did I authorize others to attempt, to implicate the CIA in the Watergate matter.

6. It was not until the time of my own investigation that I learned of the break-in at the office of Mr. Ellsberg's psychiatrist, and I specifically authorized the furnishing of this information to Judge Byrne.

7. I neither authorized nor encouraged subordinates to engage in illegal or improper campaign tactics.


There is no evidence that the first point is inaccurate.

Each of the other claims was clearly false in whole or in part.

The statement continues, at length, mainly attempting to make the case that the Plumbers activities, and other White House operations, were set up as legitimate national security activities. This is probably an accurate rendering of what Nixon and the others believed -- but in fact, as Nixon well knew, the "White House horrors" often had much less to do with national security than with domestic political opposition. 

Meanwhile, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Watergate Committee hearings resumed: McCord continued his testimony, followed by Jack Caulfield:


In early January of 1973, I was attending a drug conference in San Clemente, California when I received a telephone call in my hotel room from John Dean. He asked that I go outside the hotel and call him back from a public telephone, which I did. He told me that he had a very important message which he wanted me to deliver to James McCord, that Mr. McCord was expecting to hear from me and McCord would understand 
what the message referred to. He said the message consisted of three things: 

1. "A year is a long time;" 
2. "Your wife and family will be taken care of;" 
3. "You will be rehabilitated with employment when this is all over." 

I immediately realized that I was being asked to do a very dangerous thing and I said to Mr. Dean that I did 
not think it was wise to send me on such a mission since Mr. McCord knew, as many others did, that I had 
worked closely with Mr. Dean and Mr. Ehrlichman at the White House and therefore it might be quickly 
guessed that any messages I was conveying were probably from one of the two. The reason I raised this question with him was because, frankly, I did not wish to convey the message. Mr. Dean asked if I could think of any other way to do it and I suggested that perhaps I could get Mr. Ulasewicz to convey the message over the telephone anonymously, stating that the message came from me. Mr. Dean felt this would be alright so I hung up the telephone and called Mr. Ulasewicz in New York. He did not wish to convey the message at first but I convinced him to do it merely as a matter of friendship to me. Mr. Ulasewicz called Mr. 
McCord's home, and presumably, delivered the same message that Mr. Dean had given to me. He then called me back, in California, and reported that he had delivered the message and that Mr. McCord's attitude had been one of satisfaction ... 


Again: most of the main points being spun out in the hearing room were not new, but the details were, and the faces and voices of the witnesses were generally new. Again: it was excellent theater; McCord, for example, showed how to bug a telephone.

At the same time, much of what McCord and Caulfield were saying either implicated mid- or low-level people, or were hearsay, or both. But the hearings certainly were getting everyone's attention.

1 comment:

  1. I don't remember Nixon's specific statement at the time (I was 12 then) but I do remember how all the adults were reacting to it. Supporters like my father used it to keep supporting the President and Republicans. Detractors believed that Nixon was, of course, lying completely about everything. Cynicism was running very high and I think it stayed that way.

    When it turned out that Nixon was lying, it hurt my father deeply. He wanted Nixon prosecuted and was mad at Ford for pardoning him. However, over the years he not only remained devoutly Republican, he watches Fox News religiously. Some teams are hard to give up


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