May 13, 1976 EAST SIDE EXPRESS
by John C. Klotz
We waited in the rain an hour and a half to see "All the
President's Men" the other night. The line began under the mar-
quee of Loew's Tower East on Third Avenue and then snaked around
the corner and traveled half-way up the block on 71st Street. It
was worth the wait and the drenching. It is a great movie that
felt real, intense. Evil men, the President's men, had plotted to
snatch away our freedom, but in the end they were brought low.
It is exhilarating; one wants to believe.
But as the mind recalls the history of the last two decades, as
the memories of a grab bag of television hearings intensify and
fade, as little pieces of recollection and a random harvest of
jots of information and speculation creep in and out of focus, a
disturbing suspicion dampens the enthusiasm for the Redford-
Hoffman triumph and deflates the exhilaration. They left out a
Watergate; they told half a story, the story of a cover-up that
failed. They didn't tell the story of the cover-up that succeed-
They couldn't really, because the disturbing conclusion of an
increasingly large number of informed observers is that Woodstein
(Woodward and Bernstein), the Washington Post and especially "All
the President's Men" were an essential part of a second Watergate
- the effort of the CIA to cover-up its own involvement in the
1972 Presidential Campaign and perhaps a great deal more. Unlike
the first Watergate, it was a cover-up that worked.
From the beginning it was known that E. Howard Hunt, the Water-
gate ringleader and all five of the burglars apprehended in the
offices of the Democratic National Committee, were "former"
agents of the CIA. The burglary itself did appear to be a CIA
operation; eventually the finger of suspicion pointed to the
Committee to Re-elect the President and then - in large part due
to Woodstein reporting in the Post - to the White House itself.
The first instinct of Nixon and his men, was to use the CIA to
shield the relationship of CREEP and the White House to the bur-
glars. Nixon ordered Deputy Director Vernon Walters through John
Dean, to tell the F.B.I. that its investigation of Watergate
might harm secret CIA operations in Mexico. After a few weeks of
half-hearted cooperation with the White House, the CIA abruptly
changed its tune and Deputy Director Walters informed FBI Direc-
tor Gray that he was free to conduct a thorough investigation.
The clandestine operations of the CIA would not be endangered.
Under the practice of bureaucratic protocol, Gray was left with
no option but to investigate. About the same time, the Woodstein
stories began to break, the first Watergate cover-up began to
The amazing thing about the CIA's performance was it's decision
not to cooperate. It is in the nature of intelligence organiza-
tions to cover-up; the CIA is virtually the personal army of the
President; recent revelations about its activities make doubtful
that the decision not to cooperate with Nixon was due to any
moral scruple. It is in the nature of clandestine organizations
to have no moral scruple.
The involvement of the CIA in the Nixon Watergate went far
beyond the fact that the burglars were "Company" alumni. Hunt was
ostensibly employed by Robert R. Mullen and Company, a firm that
had long provided cover for active CIA agents throughout the
world and had actively been involved in Bay of Pigs operations.
The owner of the firm, Robert Bennett, in addition to his CIA
ties, was the Washington representative of Howard Hughes having
taken over that job from Larry O'Brien, the Democratic National
Chairman, the target of the Watergate break-in.
One of Hunt's early jobs involved Dita Beard, the loquacious
ITT employee who had committed to writing her pride that a recom-
mended bribe had earned favorable consideration for ITT with the
Justice Department. Hunt, equipped with a CIA supplied garish red
wig and voice alteration device, flew out to Dita Beard's hospi-
tal in Denver and obtained crucial statements from her denying
the whole thing.
The CIA supplied technical support to Hunt and his plumbers
team when they broke into the offices of Daniel Ellsberg's psy-
None of these CIA connections with Hunt received much attention
from Woodstein. Robert Bennett and the Mullen Company are men-
tioned in the book, but not one word appears about the company's
CIA connections. The Dita Beard and Ellsberg episodes are re-
counted but not the CIA's technical support. Most of these con-
nections were well known in early 1973, almost one year before
the book's publication, yet the CIA receives hardly any mention
at all - unless you want to count "Deep Throat" that is.
Deep Throat was Woodstein's premier, source. He supplied in-
valuable information for the reporters at the same time the CIA
was pulling the rug from under Nixon's plan of using the CIA to
cover White House involvement in Watergate. Woodstein have at-
tempted to shroud the identity of Deep Throat in mystery. Howev-
er, the report of Senator Sam Ervin's Senate Select Committee
pinpoints Throat's probable identity and sheds light on the
actual role of the CIA in Nixon's downfall. Deep Throat is appar-
ently none other than the ClA's own Robert Bennett of Mullen and
Whether Bennett is, or is not, Deep Throat, the evidence is
quite clear that he fed Bob Woodward important information on
Watergate on many occasions, that he was in constant contact with
the CIA while doing so, and as a result of Bennett's cooperation.
Woodstein, perhaps unwittingly, soft-pedaled CIA and Mullen
Company involvement in Watergate. According to a report annexed
to Senator Baker's statement in the Ervin Committee report:
"A memorandum drafted by the Chief of the Central
Cover Staff, CIA, on March 1, 1973, noted that Bennett
felt he could handle the Ervin Committee if the Agency
(CIA) could handle Hunt...
"Bennett took relish in implicating Colon in Hunt's
activities in the press while protecting the agency at
the same time. It is further noted that Bennett was
feeding stories to Bob Woodward who was 'suitably grateful';
that he was making no attribution to Bennett; and that he
was protecting Bennett and Mullen and company."
Understandably, Charles Colon, a former patron of Bennett and
Nixon's favorite bushwhacker, is a little upset about Bennett's
role in the Woodstein big story. Reportedly, he views the whole
Woodward-Bernstein success as a CIA plot against Nixon. According
to Colon, the CIA "can show how every story that Woodward won
the Pulitzer Prize for was fed to him by the CIA."
Not only Nixon loyalists, but writers like Anthony Lukas and
Howard Kohn writing in Rolling Stone identify Bennett as a key
actor in the Watergate story in general, and the Woodward-
Bernstein scoop in particular.
The implication goes far beyond cover-up of the CIA's peripher-
al role in Hunt's activities as a plumber. Colon believes that
Hunt was a double agent planted by the CIA in the White House to
spy on Nixon. Others have reported that McCord deliberately
botched the Watergate break-in in order to discredit Nixon. Some
activists in McGovern's hapless campaign are of the opinion that
Watergate and Segretti are not the complete explanation of the
1972 debacle. Too many individuals who directed that campaign had
backgrounds that were strongly suggestive of CIA involvement.
Perhaps, the CIA cut Nixon loose to shield its own deep involve-
ment in sabotaging the Democrats.
Regardless of the motive, the fact of the second Watergate can
not be disputed any longer. Reasonable men can conclude that the
CIA through the instrumentality of Woodstein played a deliberate,
studied role in bringing down Nixon.
But if we acknowledge a deliberate CIA role in the driving of
Nixon from office, we are suddenly confronted by yet another
deeper, black strata of suspicion. It is a dark underground
continuum of personalities and events that stretches from the Bay
of Pigs, through the tragedy at Dallas to Watergate and beyond.
Running through these events is an unholy alliance of organized
crime, Cubans dispossessed by Castro and the CIA. The revelations
of the CIA's involvement with organized crime are a matter of
public record. Howard Hunt was a key part of the CIA Cuban opera-
tions. Anti-Castro activists were deeply involved with Lee Harvey
Oswald, ostensibly as antagonists.
Even if we believe that Oswald was a lone demented assassin,
the connections of Kennedy's murder to organized crime, the
intelligence community and the Cubans leap from the pages of the
Warren Report. If we doubt the Warren Commission's conclusions,
if we can not swallow the "magic bullet" that impossibly wounded
both Kennedy and Connally; if we are bothered by the CIA's delib-
erate suppression of evidence before the Warren Commission, then
the course of the strata of suspicion between Dallas and Water-
gate becomes painfully more clear.
In 1963 power was snatched from the hands of a President by a
lone assassin's bullet. We want to believe that. In 1974, a
President was driven from power in a wondrous display of democra-
cy and the free press. We want to believe that too, but somehow,