Watergate Revisited: The CIA's War Against Nixon
Alternative Motives of the Break-In The official history is that the break-in on the night of June 17, 1972, into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex, was simply the latest in a long line of “dirty tricks” authorized by President Nixon. It just happened to be the time that his henchmen got caught. Ultimately, Watergate came to refer to the many illicit activities and the cover-up that led to Nixon's resignation in August 1974. That's the basic storyline of Woodward and Bernstein in All the President's Men, and most other accounts. Nixon was the bad guy who got carried away with his thirst for power, and that's that. But maybe it's as Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy once said: “The official version of Watergate is as wrong as a Flat Earth Society pamphlet.”
What if it all tracked back to the assassination of John F. Kennedy almost a decade earlier? What if the Watergate backstory is what Nixon knew, or wanted to know, about who killed JFK?
Howard Hunt had supposedly retired from the CIA in April 1970, but he'd immediately landed a job with a CIA front outfit called the Mullen Company. They'd been instrumental in setting up the CIA's “Cuban Freedom Committee” that helped disseminate the Castro-did-it rumors after the Kennedy assassination. Their cover specialty was PR, and now they were representing the Hughes Tool Company. “I am sure I need not explain the political implications of having Hughes' affairs handled here in Washington by a close friend,” Nixon's hatchet man, Charles Colson, wrote in a memo.
On the tenth anniversary of the Bay of Pigs in 1971, Hunt flew to Miami and got back in touch with two Cuban exiles he'd worked with during the anti-Castro battles of the early 60s. The exiles knew Hunt as “Eduardo.” Their names were Bernard Barker and Eugenio Martinez. Hunt took them along when he did a little “private investigation” visiting a woman who “claimed to have been in the Castro household with one of Fidel's sisters at the time that John Kennedy was assassinated.” The woman said the “reaction was one of moroseness because he [JFK] was dead.” That may not have been what Hunt wanted to hear, but he said he sent reports to both the CIA and the White House, although each denied ever getting such. Hunt said that, after he went to work as a White House “consultant” in June 1971 (he also kept his job with the Mullen Company), he kept a copy of his report in his safe there, only to see it destroyed by the FBI after the Watergate break-in. So, I guess we'll never know what was really in it. Meantime, Hunt became chief operative of the Plumbers. As John Ehrlichman later described it, “The Unit as originally conceived was to stimulate the various departments and agencies to do a better job of controlling leaks and the theft or other exposure of national security secrets from within their departments.” National security secrets like who killed JFK, maybe?