Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gordo's Letter From Prison

I'm skipping ahead in the story because I'm pressed for time, but by now Liddy -- thanks to Judge Sirica, whom he predictably detests -- is confined to maximum security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. He relates his opinions of his fellow prisoners (the blacks he doesn't much care for, with the exception for Black Muslims whom he rather respects). Then he reprints a letter (brackets are Liddy's):

My situation and mood were expressed in a letter to Peter Maroulis on 8 February 1973:

Dear Pete:

All well here. Am in same size cell, maximum security etc. and not permitted to mix with the general prison population as I have not yet been sentenced. Conditions are, however, an improvement over my prior accommodations.

I know you must be engulfed in the accumulation of regular business now that the trial is over, but if you could manage a visit it would be helpful as, in spite of the assurances that our apprehensions are groundless, there are matters I am reluctant to trust to the questionable integrity of the mails.

The persons one meets in prison can be fascinating. My current chess partner is son of the wartime SS Gestapo Commander of Brussels. We get on famously. He knows more songs than I do, and shower time sounds like the invasion of Poland.

The typewriter is permitted to be used for legal correspondence only, so please explain the absence of letters to Frances and my parents. [Despite reams of samples of my handwriting given the FBI under court order, they had been unable to make a single identification because I employed one of my alternate styles. In case of retrial, I didn't want to give them any more.]You might pass on my mailing address to them when you get the chance, along with my love and reassurances as to my wellbeing.

I trust that by now you have heard from Ireland. [A code reference to the color green, signifying cash. I was concerned that Peter be paid. He was, at about that time, handed a paper bag by an unidentified caller. It contained $20,000 in hundred-dollar bills towards his fee.]


Next Liddy decided to out-butch the rest of the psychopaths in prison:

Although I felt no depression coming on, it made sense to be careful. I decided to tune up my will so as to be ready for anything. The first thing I did was limit my food intake to six hundred calories per day. This induced sharp hunger. Because it stayed with me day and night, the discipline was excellent and worth the severe weight loss. To keep up my strength I increased the number of pushups I did daily from one to two hundred (in sets of one hundred) added jumping jacks, jogging along the exterior of the cells, and sit-ups. My mood remained steady. I was getting along with all the other prisoners. Things were going very well, too well, I decided. I needed more stress to bring my will to maximum power. I turned to my old reliable method of ordeal by fire. This test would have to exceed all others in destruction of tissue and time of severe pain.

I selected a particularly strong-willed black bank robber named "Tex" with whom to engage in a battle of wills. Ready with a box of wooden matches, I got him into a discussion of the subject and pressed him to the point where he expressed disbelief and challenged me. Because I had been warned never again to indulge in that practice near or on finger joints and my palm was already burned out, I had to go back to where I started years before: my forearm. The scars there were light.

"Strike a match," I said to Tex, and locked my eyes into his. He struck it and held it out, not knowing what to do next. I put the unburned outside of my left forearm directly over the flame. As the fire burned through my flesh and melted it back into a blackened depression, a look of horror came over Tex; but he stayed with it. The match burned down and scorched his fingers before he dropped it. I grinned at him as he looked at the burn unbelievingly, then looked ill, got up, and left.

The pain was not as severe now because all the nerves in the roughly oval 1 1/2" X 2" area had been destroyed. There was just a deep ache in the center with the severe burning sensation confined to the less destroyed circumference. The wound needed attention and would have to be reported to get it. I summoned a guard, showed it to him, and told him that a box of matches had been set off under my arm as I played chess with a smoker who was careless. I declined, of course, to identify the non-existent smoker. The burn was recorded and treated in the prison hospital. It was so deep I had endangered the tendons that operate the wrist. Finally satisfied that my will remained invincible, I was ready.