Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Great Why? Of Watergate

Christopher Hitchens, in a piece called 'Watergate Revisited: The Greek Connection,' printed the May 31, 1986 issue of The Nation, and reprinted in Hitchens's compendium, Prepared For the Worst:

Why not, just for once, take Gordon Liddy's word for it. He said that the purpose of the break-in was "to find out what O'Brien had of a derogatory nature about us, not for us to get something on him or the Democrats."

I know there are other hypotheses about the motive for the break-in. The most plausible, advanced by Michael Drosnin in Citizen Hughes, is that Nixon wanted to know what the Democrats knew about Howard Hughes and his payoffs. But Hughes was also paying off the Democrats, and there is no evidence that they ever planned to make a campaign issue out of him.

To summarize the reasons why Nixon, Mitchell, and Kissinger went into orbit at the very mention of [Tom] Pappas's name:

Pappas, exploiting CIA connections, was the bagman for an illegal and shameful transfusion of campaign money in 1968.

The congressional investigation of this deed was edging closer to the truth in early 1972.

That investigation was opposed at every step, by means legal and illegal, by Nixon and Mitchell. The American Ambassador to Greece, a friend of Pappas and a man who knew the guilty 1968 secret, took a hand in this wrecking operation.

All of the burglars had CIA connections, which may explain how they knew what to look for and why they kept silent.

Pappas provided the only money we know about to John Mitchell for the burglars' hush money.

All three subsequent House and Senate probes into the Pappas connection were sidetracked by men with either CIA loyalties or connections to Tom Pappas, or both.

[Note: The context of Hitchens's Liddy quote was before Liddy began to push the preposterous theory that John Dean was solely responsible for Watergate.]