Monday, October 13, 2008

Gordon Liddy: D.C. Vigilante

Before he moved his family to D.C., Gordon Liddy got a head start on subduing the Negro Menace which plagued the nation's capital! From Will:

I wanted to start work [at the Treasury] immediately, so I imposed upon the hospitality of... my uncle and aunt in Chevy Chase, Maryland, while looking for an apartment [near] the Treasury. I found one on Rhode Island Avenue, Northwest, at Fifteenth Street. I should have looked a little longer.

Only when I moved in did I notice all the hooker traffic and furtive meetings in the hallways. When I went outside to say good-bye to my [a]unt... who had hauled my gear down in her car, I really found out where I was living. Walking toward the car, I heard a scuffle to my rear and, turning, saw two black men mug and rob a white man. Well, I had come to Washington to fight crime, hadn't I? I charged the two muggers, thinking that if I took care of one, the victim could handle the other.

To my surprise, both muggers, no doubt astonished, fled. I took off after them, thinking to flag down a police car along the way. No police were to be found. They crossed Fourteenth Street and stopped running a few yards from the corner. I didn't know then that Fourteenth Street, Northwest, is Washington's red-light district, riot corridor, and heroin heaven all rolled into one. I found out.

In a moment I was surrounded by guys off the doorsteps of ravaged row houses. About seven looked as if they wanted to play; the rest were spectators. I knew this would be one fight I wasn't going to win, so I decided to get in the first blow. As mugger number one said, "You followin' me or sumpin', mister?" I answered, "Yeah!" and hit him with a sucker right-hand lead to the jaw. He went down and the fight was on. It was off again pretty quickly when someone hit me hard from behind.

I wasn't out, because I remember what happened, but everything suddenly seemed in slow motion and voices sounded far away. My arms wouldn't do what my brain told them and my legs gave way. On the way down I took a kick on the left shoulder. I tried to get up but couldn't. A hand dipped into my pocket and my wallet was gone. Simultaneously the crowd vanished into the row houses and the police arrived. They helped me to my feet and, after explaining, I led them into the building. By that time the quarry had fled through the back door so I went back to my apartment to clean up.

The next day I submitted a memorandum advising Treasury that I had lost a fight and their building pass...

I decided that for so long as I was living in that neighborhood I'd better carry a gun. I learned that the Washington police wouldn't give a gun permit to someone at Treasury because that was up to the Secretary; if he wanted his agents to carry firearms, he had by regulation the power to arm them. The Secret Service, Customs, IRS, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms all came under Treasury and each had certain agents authorized to carry a gun. All I needed was to become a "Treasury agent" within the meaning of that law, get myself some credentials that would satisfy any police officer who might notice I was armed, and I'd be all set.

It was very clear to me that I, as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury for Organized Crime, was a Treasury agent within the meaning of the regulation authorizing the carrying of a gun, so I put something to that effect in the file. But what about credentials? My building pass wouldn't do; every clerk and secretary had one. That proved to be no problem either.

When I was originally briefed I was shown a stock of gold badges and imposing credential covers bearing the seal of the Treasury in gold on simulated morocco leather. For insertion inside there were blank credentials. These bore beautifully engraved and scrolled UNITED STATES TREASURY DEPARTMENT. Under this example of the best work of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which produces our currency, was a splendid, light blue rendering of the main Treasury building. Across the face of the building could be printed any name and title desired. The lower portion bore the seal of the Treasury, a signature line for the "holder" and a countersignature line for the Assistant Secretary for Administration. There was space for a photograph and the legend:

whose signature and photograph appear hereon is an accredited representative of the Department of the Treasury of the United States and as such is authorized to conduct official inquiries on behalf of the United States Government.

The credential said nothing about firearms, but it was so impressive-looking nobody would challenge it. These credentials and badges were phony. They were for the use of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Of course. But isn't Liddy, in telling this story (and with such pride), giving away the company's secrets? I only mention his spilling CIA secrets and protocols because Liddy infamously plotted to kill reporters whom he alleged gave away CIA secrets. Anyway, Liddy continues:

Everyone knew that the Treasury had many different law enforcement agents of one kind or another, but few knew -- or cared -- what they actually were. This made "Treasury agent" an ideal cover for CIA officers operating within the United States. The Treasury, on request of the CIA, would make up a credential and issue a gold badge in any name desired and any photograph supplied. I promptly had my photograph, name, and title made up into one of the credential sets and was equipped to carry a gun anywhere in the United States. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

Thus a man charged with, among other things, enforcement of gun laws illegally forged credentials so that his illegal carrying of concealed weapons could go on unmolested by other, presumably more law-abiding, authorities. That's rich; how very Nixonian, how very rightwing: the law's for other people to follow. And black people had especially better follow the law, or Officer Liddy will be forced to.. well, let him tell the story:

When I first came to Washington, I was traveling light and brought only three guns with me: my .357 magnum Smith & Wesson, a snub-nosed Colt .38 Special, and a big Colt 1911 government model .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol. Within days of moving into the Windsor House I had occasion to use one, when there was a knock on my door at two in the morning.

Not expecting visitors at that hour but aware the place was crawling with pimps, hookers, hopheads, and what have you, I picked up the .45 auto.

An unloaded gun is worthless and every gun should always be treated as loaded, so mine always were. I eased the slide back to make sure there was a round in the chamber, thumbed back the hammer, and slipped on the safety. I held the gun muzzle down, as I approached the door, first turning on the hall light so I would be illuminated brightly, then reaching forward to open the door from a distance. A huge black man loomed in the doorway. He saw the big Colt and froze.

"Good morning," I said, "what can I do for you today?"

The man's eyes bugged out. He just couldn't get them off the massive .45. "Er, ah, 'scuse me," he blurted finally, "could I, er, ah, borry a stamp?"

"Sorry, pal; this window's closed." I snapped the safety off the Colt with a click that echoed down the empty hallway.

"You wanna be careful, wanderin' around a place like this at night," I said, swinging the muzzle of the .45 up to cover his belly. "Don't you know," I called after him as he bolted for the stairwell, "this is a bad neighborhood?"

But he was long gone, and I was laughing....