Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gordon Liddy's Grand Presentation

Now employed by CREEP and having concocted a huge plan to destroy the Democrats in '72, Gordon Liddy finds himself in a limo with Jeb Magruder (whom he doesn't like) on his way to present his grand scheme so fiendish in its intricacies to an audience of John Dean and John Mitchell. From Will:

As we were riding, Magruder asked about my hand again and, to shut him up, I abandoned the matchbook story and told him the truth, that I had burned it intentionally in a recruiting effort. As I had been doing things like that for years and was used to it, I failed to realize the effect such a thing would have on someone like Magruder. He was shaken, and that made me even more contemptuous of him.

We met John Mitchell in his small, inner office behind the great ceremonial one so familiar to the public from the days of Bobby Kennedy. At my request there was an easel set up. I greeted the Attorney General and, as Magruder seated himself in front of the desk with Dean, I set up my charts in the order I wanted to display them.

The plan was given the overall name of GEMSTONE, and although most components bore the names of a precious or semiprecious stone, some were named for minerals. I explained that the proposed service was what had been requested by John Dean and that it had full offensive as well as defensive capability. Then I got down to specifics. I started with operation DIAMOND.

DIAMOND was our counterdemonstration plan. At the time, we still expected the convention to be held in San Diego. I repeated my objections to the site, then pointed out that the best technique for dealing with a mob had been worked out years before by the famed Texas Rangers. They were so few that law enforcement types still tell the story of the town that telegraphed Ranger headquarters for help in suppressing a riot and were startled to see a solitary Ranger ride into town. "There's only one of you?!" they cried, and the Ranger replied quietly, "There's only one riot, ain't there?"

The Texas Ranger technique was to linger on the fringes of the disturbance, watching until they could identify the leaders, then work their way through the crowd to leaders and beat the hell out of them until, leaderless, the rioters became easy to disperse.

I pointed out that we would be dealing with skilled and determined urban guerillas who had been distributing manuals for violent guerilla tactics against the convention, including homemade bombs; that the Sports Arena area would be impossible to hold against a well-led mob attack; and that I proposed to emulate the Texas Rangers by identifying the leaders through intelligence before the attack got under way, kidnap them, drug them, and hold them in Mexico until after the convention was over, then release them unharmed and still wondering what happened. Leaderless, the attack would be further disrupted by fake assembly orders and messages, and if it ever did get off the ground it would be much easier to repel. The sudden disappearances, which I labeled on the chart in the original German, Nacht und Nebel ("Night and Fog"), would strike fear into the hearts of the leftist guerillas. The chart labeled the team slated to carry out the night and fog plan as a "Special Action Group" and, when John Mitchell asked "What's that?" and expressed doubt that it could perform as I explained, I grew impatient. I was getting no support from Dean and Magruder. Both were sitting there, watching Mitchell intently, trying to gauge his reactions. I expected that from Magruder, but not from Dean. This was, after all, what he had asked me for, and I looked for an indication from him to Mitchell that this was what they were getting.

With Magruder and Dean out to lunch, I felt obliged to impress Mitchell with my seriousness of purpose, that my people were the kind and I was the kind who could and would do whatever was necessary to deal with organized mass violence. Both Magruder and Dean were too young to know what I was talking about, but I knew that Mitchell, a naval officer in World War II, would get the message if I translated the English "Special Action Group" into German. Given the history involved, it was a gross exaggeration, but it made my point. "An Einsatzgruppe, General," I said, inadvertently using a hard g for the word General and turning it, too, into German. "These men include professional killers who have accounted between them for twenty-two dead so far, including two hanged from a beam in a garage."

Mitchell gazed at me steadily, took another puff on his pipe, removed it from his mouth and said, "And where did you find men like that?"

"I understand they're members of organized crime."

"And how much will their services cost?"

I pointed to the figure on the chart. It was substantial. "Like top professionals everywhere, sir," I said, "they won't come cheap."

"Well," said Mitchell dryly as he brought his pipe back up to his mouth, "let's not contribute any more than we have to to the coffers of organized crime."

I didn't know Mitchell well enough to be able to tell whether he was being sarcastic or just objecting to the amount I had budgeted. I looked to Dean and Magruder for a clue. I found none. They just sat there, staring at Mitchell, like two rabbits in front of a cobra. Mitchell said no more, so I went on to the other operations.

RUBY concerned the infiltration of spies into the camp of Democratic contenders, then the successful candidate himself. COAL was the program to furnish money clandestinely to Shirley Chisholm of New York to finance her as a contender and force Democratic candidates to fight off a black woman, bound to generate ill-feeling among the black community and, we hoped, cause them difficulty with women. Once again Mitchell interrupted me. "You can forget about that. Nelson Rockefeller's already taking care of that nicely."

For each operation I explained what would be done in detail. EMERALD outlined the use of a chase plane to eavesdrop on the Democratic candidate's aircraft and buses when his entourage used radio telephones...

QUARTZ detailed emulation of the technique used by the Soviet Union for microwave interception of telephone traffic, and I explained in detail the way it was done by the Soviet Embassy.

For use in gathering information at the Democratic National Convention at Miami Beach, [Howard] Hunt and I had an option to lease a large houseboat moored within line of sight of the Fontainebleau. This would enable it to be used as a communications center for CRYSTAL -- electronic surveillance. It was an opulent barge, with a lush bedroom mirror over the big king-sized bed. We'd get our money's worth from the houseboat. It would double as headquarters for SAPPHIRE because it was from there that our prostitutes were to operate. They were not to operate as hookers but as spoiled, rich, beautiful women who were only too susceptible to men who could brag convincingly of the importance of what they were doing at the convention. The bedroom would be wired for sound, but I disagreed with Hunt's suggestion that movie cameras be used. That wouldn't be necessary to get the information, might cost us the women recruited who might object to being filmed in flagrante, and, as I pointed out to Howard, there wasn't room to install them overhead anyway. Mitchell listened to that impassively, as did Dean. Magruder, however, wore a look of eager interest.

I presented a plan for four black-bag jobs, OPALs I through IV. They were clandestine entries at which microphone surveillances could be placed, as well as TOPAZ: photographs taken of any documents available, including those under lock. As targets I proposed the headquarters of Senator Edmund Muskie's campaign on K Street, N.W.; that of Senator George McGovern on Capital Hill; one for the Democratic National Convention at any hotel, because we had access to just about anything we wanted through all the Cuban help employed in the Miami Beach hotels. One entry would be held in reserve for any target of opportunity Mitchell wished to designate as we went along. I looked at him questioningly, but he just kept sucking on his pipe, suggesting none.

Next I presented plans for GARNET: counterdemonstrations by groups that would attract media attention and be perceived by most Americans to be repulsive as they advocated the candidacy of Democratic candidates of our selection. The groups would also carry out disruptive tactics at fund-raising dinners and other affairs.

The largest disruption operation, however, was reserved for the Democratic National Convention itself. We had paid well to acquire the entire blueprints for the convention hall and all its support machinery. The plan I outlined, TURQUOISE, called for a commando team of Cubans -- veterans of raids into Castro Cuba -- to slip at night from apartments rented across the street to the rear of the hall, where the air-conditioning units were, and sabotage them by destroying the compressors and introducing a destructive grit into the bearings of the blowers. Even John Mitchell smiled as I asked them to imagine those Democrats, already hot under the collar from so much internecine fighting over the nomination, when, in the 100-degree Miami summer weather, all the air-conditioning went out, damaged beyond quick repair, and the temperature inside the hall reached 110 or more degrees.

I closed the presentation with a summary of the many different offensive and defensive intelligence-collection and disruption operations the plan made available, and with a final two charts. One, BRICK, summed up GEMSTONE cost breakdowns by units (RUBY, COAL, DIAMOND, etc.) and the total of nearly one million dollars. The last was the flowchart, which looked roughly like a ski jump with a rise at the other end, running from day of approval, with the high outflow for equipment purchase, the valley of preconvention operations, and the rise as they increased in intensity at the time of the Democratic convention.

When I had finished, Dean and Magruder remained silent. John Mitchell made much of filling and relighting his pipe and then said, "Gordon, a million dollars is a hell of a lot of money, much more than we had in mind. I'd like you to go back and come up with something more realistic."

...I was disappointed... As I restacked the charts, John Mitchell continued, "And Gordon?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Burn those charts; do it personally."

"Yes, sir."