"ALMOST forty years after the Watergate arrests on June 17, 1972, three myths about it are still pervasive.
First, that the scandal only concerned 'a third-rate burglary' of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
"Second, that the cover-up was worse than the crime.
"And, finally that two reporters (Woodward and Bernstein of the Washington Post) 'brought down' President Richard M. Nixon.
"Not one of these is true."
I am quoting from the opening of Lamar Waldron's new book, full of recently released government secrets, which we told you about in this column on June 14. We scooped the world writing about this amazing hefty book and most of our outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, carried the story of its publication under the title "Watergate: The Hidden History: Nixon, The Mafia, and the CIA."
But I know a lot of people won't ante up to Counterpoint/Berkeley to own this book. It's a two-book size and crammed to the brim with fresh revelations and photographs. It's heavy. So for those who'll take their conspiracy info "neat," I am going to include here just a few of Waldron's amazing facts -- the ones I underlined in my copy of the book in red ink.
WALDRON: "Nixon was initially successful in quashing the scandal. But Watergate was not a factor -- or even widely reported during the fall 1972 presidential campaign (Nixon vs. McGovern.) ... Nixon's own words prove that there wasn't just one crime.
"From Feb. 1971 to July 1973, Nixon secretly recorded conversations at the Oval Office, and his other offices ... Nixon discussed many dozens of series of felonies ... Nixon's clear culpability ... was known only to a few dozen officials and investigators at the Justice Department and in Congress. ... It's true that the Washington Post played a leading role in reporting the crimes that led Nixon to resign. ... However, for decades Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and The Post have been trying to point out that their reporting was not what 'brought down' Nixon. Instead, it was the huge range of proven felonies ... and the convictions of more than 30 of his officials and associates.
"Yet these three basic myths have kept the public and most journalists from looking at the tremendous amount of important information ... that has emerged in recent years.
"While Nixon's culpability for the Watergate break-ins has long been established, most recently by PBS in 2003, what's truly remarkable is that after almost 40 years, conventional accounts of the scandal still don't address Nixon's motive. Why was President Nixon willing to risk his re-election with so many repeated burglaries at Watergate? ... What motivated Nixon to jeopardize his presidency by ordering the wide range of criminal operations. ... What was Nixon so desperate to get at the Watergate, and how does it explain the deeper context surrounding his crimes? ... Why were all of the Watergate burglars current or former CIA agents? ... Richard Nixon's use of the Mafia and CIA anti-Castro personnel in both the 1960 and 1972 campaign is the most important missing piece of the Watergate story. In 1960, V-P Nixon helped to forge perhaps the darkest connection in American politics, bringing together the CIA and the Mafia in plots to assassinate Fidel Castro. Remarkably, for his 1972 presidential campaign, Nixon brought several of the same players together again."
WALDRON: "All the President's Men" (the Woodward and Bernstein book and the motion picture starring Robert Redford) is notable for its relative lack of information about the CIA's ties to Watergate."
(I, Liz, have to add here "shades of Oliver Stone's movie, 'JFK."' I, and many others, sneered at the writer-director's 1991 take aimed at the CIA. I apologize, Oliver. You were right.
Also, Mr. Waldron's view of the assassination of Kennedy is that the person or persons on "the grassy knoll" did indeed shoot at the president from in front of the limousine in Dallas.
WALDRON: "All the President's Men" doesn't mention the Mafia at all and refers to Jimmy Hoffa only once, in passing. Yet there were indications of Mafia links to Watergate reported by other news media, links that Woodard, Bernstein and The Post avoided. From reading "ATPM" you'd never know that Nixon had pardoned Hoffa just over four month before the first Watergate break-in, or about Nixon's meetings with Hoffa's mob-linked successor, or the reported bribe for Hoffa's release with special conditions demanded by the Mafia.
"Woodward and Bernstein's second book, 'The Final Days,' failed to note former President Nixon's personal meetings with Mafia figures Tony Provenzano, a convicted Mafia killer, and Allen Dorfman, soon to be murdered gangster style, even though The New York Times found the Nixon-mobster meetings worthy of coverage."
MY underlining in this brand-new work by Lamar Waldron only covered the first 21 pages of his opening. The entire first chapter is well worth standing in a bookstore to read, if you can't afford the book. My quotes above constitute only the beginning of the book titled "Watergate." And I'll just quote the author one more time:
"The true extent of Nixon's crimes has been so vastly underreported that today it's difficult to find, in books or on the Internet, even a complete list of the dozens prosecuted in the wake of Watergate. Nixon's criminal acts that involved the Mafia or that can be linked to the CIA are missing from most books, but they are documented in this one ... just a few examples:
Nixon's willingness to solicit money from a variety of illegal sources: huge corporations, reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, U.S.-backed dictators, and the Mafia ... The CIA's role in Watergate has also been hugely underreported since the 1970s, for several reasons. Not only were all five Watergate burglars, plus their supervisor E. Howard Hunt, current or former CIA, but Hunt and James McCord had recently been important high-ranking CIA officials. Even worse for Nixon's CIA director, Richard Helms -- Howard Hunt was his trusted, long-time protege until the moment of Hunt's arrest."
There is more, much more, but you get the picture.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com, or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 2010 Westridge Drive, Irving, TX 75038.)