Watergate Revisited: The CIA's War Against Nixon
Where Are the Conspirators Now?
Soon, Nixon was out of there. He'd been cutting deals in politics his whole life, with a closet full of skeletons. Over the next couple of years, a portion of the CIA's “family jewels” saw the light of day. As they did, Rosselli, Artime, Giancana, Jimmy Hoffa, George de Mohrenschidt and more took whatever they knew about the assassination of JFK to their graves. McCord got out of prison, moved to Colorado and refused all requests for interviews.
As for Hunt, the man who spooked everybody, he died in January 2007 at the age of 88. His son, Howard St. John Hunt, then came forward with the story that his father had rejected an offer by rogue CIA agents to participate in the Kennedy assassination. Specifically, Hunt had named LBJ as the conspiracy's chief organizer. CIA conspirators supposedly included David Phillips, Cord Meyer, Bill Harvey, David Morales and fellow Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis. All dead and gone, of course. The younger Hunt remembered his mother informing him on November 22, 1963 that Howard was on a “business trip” to Dallas that day. Before he died, Hunt allegedly told his son there was a “French gunman” firing from the grassy knoll.
So did Howard Hunt come clean with a deathbed confession? Or was he blowing smoke till the end, continuing to spin a web of disinformation that foisted blame onto others? No mention of Helms. Or his pal Artime. Or his Watergate co-conspirator, McCord. I'm not one to give E. Howard Hunt the last word. This much I do know: Whatever hidden knowledge he was carrying, it scared the crap out of both Nixon and the CIA.
Who took down whom in the end? I'm placing my bet that Nixon was set up to take the falls, because he was meddling too much in the CIA's business. Nixon's well-known penchant for paranoia may, in this instance, have gotten the better of him. He had shady dealings with so many people—from Howard Hughes to mobsters—that it's hard to sort out which particular secrets he was trying to protect. But what I've tried to show, through the chronology of Watergate, is that there was a whole lot more to the story. This chapter exposes the underbelly of payback within the government: I've got something on you, so you should know better than to push too far into places I don't want you to go.