Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Watergate Revisited



The Watergate - Political Stage               (USG Photo)


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[Washington Post]


The Washington Post, losing readership faster than Mr Obama is losing his Democrat supporters, is revisiting Watergate, perhaps to distract voters from the gaffes, corruption, scandals, and Intelligence leaks of their beloved incumbent President.

Haldeman, Mardian, Parkinson, Ehrlichman, Mitchell
In this feature story, Woodward and Bernstein declare that Nixon was evil incarnate and, they were not only right in their coverage, they underestimated what a bad guy he was!

They obviously want to relive the glory of their singular investigative reporting.  But, was it a real event, or a Byzantine black op?

Apparently, neither reporter ever realized that Watergate was a Kabuki Drama, and that they were merely performers being guided by a highly skilled group of Intelligence officers, with the plot orchestrated by the greatest spook of all:  Vernon Walters, the invisible Director of Central Intelligence.


Five Spooks spill their guts to cub reporters


So, if Watergate was a political orchestration, what was the real purpose, and why go through such a convoluted process?

In short:
The goal was to dislodge Henry Kissinger, perhaps the greatest threat to US national security in the 20th Century.


To understand this goal, a background scenario is necessary:
[we'll keep it as short as possible]

Nixon felt his place in history was to normalize relations with China.  He brought Kissinger, the Little Professor, on board based on Henry's academic credentials, his membership in the Council on Foreign Relations, staff consulting with the NSC, and, he was a protege of Nelson Rockefeller [who had his own ambitions for the White House]; Henry played the part of pontificating intellectual to Nixon's naivete and ambition. 

Kissinger was Nixon's well-connected political Einstein.  Nixon gave Kissinger free rein, and chose not to challenge unilateral decisions in pursuing Nixon's China Policy -- even though Kissinger's personal decisions and actions were systematically undercutting the US Military and destroying US intelligence operations around the world.

Nixon dreamed of open relations with the People's Republic of China to
1) Neutralize the PRC as a US potential adversary
2) Enhance the PRC as a USSR potential adversary
3) Create a viable trading partner for US goods and services benefiting both countries

The vulnerability of the process was that Nixon turned over the negotiations for these goals to Kissinger, whose reputation and ego far exceeded his actual capacity.

Vice President Ford accurately pegged him as a pretentious little twit with a phony accent [Kissinger's brother, a cab driver, spoke harsh Brooklynese]; Pentagon and State Department officials regarded him as a loose and dangerous cannon.  But, Nixon backed him, which gave him all the power he needed to get things done, no matter what the cost.

Kissinger launched his personal diplomatic campaign in 1970, at the height of the Viet Nam War, to open discussions with China, bypassing -- but not unmonitored by -- the CIA and the State Department.  Kissinger chose not to use existing CIA or State Department contacts, assets or special resources to initiate discussions, but fumbled around trying to connect via "friends of friends" at foreign embassies -- thus becoming the laughing stock of international diplomatic circles.  His amateurish maneuvers squandered a century of State Department inroads and expertise, and CIA's direct linkage to Mao's inner circle which dated back to a World War II OSS operation
[Operation Dixie Cup -- in which US officers advised both Mao and Chiang figuring the US would be pals with whomever ended up in power].

Henry, you are indeed a simpleton!
China had mastered diplomacy over a millennium and was light years ahead of Kissinger.  Eventually, Zhou en Lai, tiring of Kissinger's clumsy and amateurish efforts at diplomacy, contacted him and opened discussions -- in which Taiwan was deemed an expendable ally, and Viet Nam/Southeast Asia was declared by Kissinger to be of no further interest to the United States. 

Kissinger, not a skilled diplomatic negotiator, but apparently feeling he was the reincarnation of Machiavelli, gave away the farm and got nothing more in return than what Zhou was already willing to offer for free.  Zhou wanted revenue from international commerce, and normalizing relations with the US would serve that purpose.

Recently released National Archive documents recorded Kissinger's unilateral concessions to Zhou on 22 June 1972:

In Kissinger's words:
"... the US respects its Hanoi enemy as a 'permanent factor' and probably 'the strongest entity in the region'.  And, we have no interest in destroying it or even defeating it." [underline added for emphasis]

Note:  This was well over a year before Congress, via the Case-Church Amendment, declared the end to US Military involvement in Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia in August 1973 --  and nearly three years before Saigon was turned over to North Viet Nam in 1975.

In the interim, more than 1,000 US troops were killed -- fighting and dying for no purpose.
[Particularly annoying to yours truly was the fact of my brief status as a POW in Laos during August 1973 -- well after Henry had sold out the US Military to the Chinese.]

Zhou would have been perfectly content to simply open trade relations with the US.  Had Kissinger consulted the CIA or the State Department, he would have learned the PRC commercial link with the West had been thriving for years via Hong Kong.  Zhou, of course, could not pass up the opportunity to exploit Kissinger's obeisance, extracting as many concessions from Kissinger as he could, and enjoying every minute of the charade.

All of these negotiations were monitored by US Intelligence -- to the great frustration of Richard Helms [DCI] and William Rogers [Secretary of State].

Kissinger offered all of SEA to the PRC
Among the needless concessions, Kissinger agreed to not only turn over Southeast Asia [including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore] to Communism, he also agreed to shut down all US Covert intelligence operations -- to include agent nets throughout the region which had been accurately reporting on military and political issues since World War II.

At the time, we had fully functional and reporting agent nets throughout Indo-China, to include penetration operations throughout the North Vietnamese Army, agents inside the Chinese training camps in Burma, and penetrations into the mainland Chinese training camps which fed the insurgency in Thailand and Malaysia. 





In February 1974, Kissinger directed that all such operations would cease immediately; he ordered all Intelligence operational personnel from the region. 

He used the Church Committee directives as his justification, but those required only that the Intelligence Committees be briefed on the existence of such operations -- not that they be terminated; termination was Kissinger's unilateral decision.

CIA's Guerrillas [a Group Mobile]
Not only did Kissinger close down all these highly productive clandestine and covert operations, he did so with the startling proviso that there would be no attempts to maintain any sort of contact or means of reconstructing the nets in the future -- by Order of the President.

Such actions were unheard of in the history of diplomacy and espionage, and they put the US at a major political and military disadvantage both in the region as well as on a global basis -- from which the US has never recovered.


No country unilaterally gives up its intelligence advantage and expects to survive. 

Among the consequences were the loss of all intelligence feeds on insurgent operations emanating from China targeting Thailand and Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, as well as the loss of reporting on American POWs held in Laos, Cambodia, and Viet Nam.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Kissinger became Nixon's personal ambassador to the Shah of Iran, with the objective of manipulating the world oil market -- and its pricing, and increasing Israel's stature in the region, thus upsetting the Arab world and undermining Middle East regional stability.

The Shah, pre-Carter

Kissinger again by-passed both the State Department and CIA in his manipulations, and, pandering to the Shah,  shut down all US unilateral intelligence operations in Iran, exposing US operations, methods and sources, and forcing the CIA to work solely in bilateral operations with Savak -- Iran's Intelligence organization known for its brutality.

By shutting down the CIA in Iran, and curtailing all negative reporting on Iran from other US intelligence organizations, the US became isolated and singular in its ignorance of the growing revolutionary forces within, and without.

Aside from alienating the Intelligence Community, Kissinger cut a deal with the Shah by posing no objection to the Shah's abruptly doubling the price of a barrel [BBL] of oil.  In Kissinger's words to Iranian diplomat Ardeshir Zahedi
"Tell the Shah 'you can push [us] as much as you want [on oil prices]".
[Kissinger later claimed this concept was all Nixon's idea, when it was, in fact, his own version of foreign policy to influence Middle East oil flow, and to protect Israel.]

The US had no clue -- thanks to Kissinger
Thus, the growing popularity of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran went virtually unnoticed and unreported, and Khomeini's international support was downplayed - by Savak, which filtered all US reporting on Iran. 

The result: the US was the only country surprised by the overthrow of the Shah and the Revolution which brought in the Ayatollah, changing the balance of power forever in the Middle East, and opening the door to political power for radical Muslim Mullahs -- a political dilemma which may lead to a global war.

The unforeseen consequence of this diplomatic blunder was the displacement of the Shah, who would then be replaced by Saudi Arabia as the dominant force in the Middle East.

The Director of Central Intelligence [and CIA], Richard Helms, was by-passed by Kissinger, who succeeded in excluding him from the National Security Council and access to the White House.  A series of leaks -- believed to be via Kissinger -- regarding CIA activities and operations, made their way to the Media - resulting in Media-hyped scandals leading to a series of Congressional investigations. 

Ultimately, the Church Committee established Congressional oversight over CIA's operations, severely restricting the capabilities of the US Intelligence Community -- albeit with a few positive reforms.  With Helms disgraced by the flood of leaks about the CIA, Kissinger had Nixon demote Helms and reassign him in 1973 as Ambassador to Iran -- where Kissinger could control him.


Kissinger assumed the position of Secretary of State after forcing the resignation of the highly skilled diplomat, William Rogers.  The Intelligence Community recognized that Kissinger's elevated status gave him unprecedented power to destroy intelligence and subvert National Security.  He had succeeded in displacing the Director of Central Intelligence as well as the Secretary of State, thus becoming Nixon's only link to the international community.

This was the basis for the Watergate Conspiracy, which was already well underway.

Kissinger was completely insulated since he could limit access to the President, so any attempt by anyone outside the White House to persuade Nixon of Henry's destructive actions would be short-stopped, and the messenger would be terminated.

Walters [Meet the REAL Deep Throat]

To help maneuver Helms out of the way, Kissinger brought in as Deputy DCI, Vernon Walters, the affable Military Attache in Paris who had smuggled Kissinger into Paris for his secret meetings with North Vietnamese officials.  As DDCI, Walters could manage the CIA while Helms was distracted by Kissinger's political intrigue.

Walters was one of the most respected officers in the Military and in the Intelligence Community have been a key operative in the OSS during WW2, and notable for creating operations which remain classified even today.

Kissinger presumed Walters to be an ally since he commiserated with Kissinger on CIA problems.  Once installed as DDCI, Walters was accepted at the Oval Office, and the White House advisors liked and admired him because of his jocularity and intellect. 



Coincidentally, J Edgar Hoover died, conveniently (he had been in excellent health but succumbed to a Breitbart-style heart stoppage), a month before the break-in, thus he was unavailable to lead an FBI investigation into the Watergate event.

At the suggestion of Helms' Deputy Director, Nixon appointed L Patrick Gray, an inexperienced DOJ lawyer, by-passing Mark Felt [later to be dubbed (mistakenly) as Deep Throat].  

As acting Director of all US Intelligence agencies, Walters ensured that the FBI was kept out of any meaningful investigative role in Watergate; instead, he personally provided a programmed feed to the FBI's new Director Gray.


What no one realized was that Walters was orchestrating the entire Watergate debacle, including the leaks to Bob Woodward, and even to Mark Felt.

The anomalies of the scandal, though crystal clear to Intelligence officers, never got in the way of the Washington Post reporting.

The Event [aka: The Sting]:

On 17 June 1972, five men were arrested for breaking and entering the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate complex. 



    a.  They were discovered after a building security guard found the door to the office repeatedly propped open with tape -- which he removed, each time re-locking the door, and each time, the tape was replaced and propped open again -- guaranteeing their discovery.

    b.  Cash found on the burglars was connected by the FBI to a GOP Reelection Committee Slush Fund. [Interesting forensics there, even for today's experts and technology.]

    c.  The burglars' expertise included senior career intelligence officers notable for their experience in Black Ops, to include weapons, demolitions, surreptitious entry, PsyOps, special security, money laundering, espionage, and assassinations.  Why were highly skilled, senior level intelligence operatives involved in a simple break-in?  These guys were all highly experienced spooks, e.g.,
     
         (1) G Gordon Liddy, a former FBI agent, directed "The Plumbers" to break in to the DNC Watergate office.
         (2) James McCord had been an FBI security expert and also headed CIA security;  
         (3) Frank Sturgis, with 30 years experience, had served as a Marine in WWII, operating behind
            enemy lines. He ran covert operations in Communist Berlin, and infiltrated Fidel Castro's inner circle.
        (4)  Bernard Barker, was a veteran of Operation 40, the Bay of Pigs, and Cuban Secret Police.

   d.  Nixon commented, upon learning of the event:
       "It sounded preposterous.   The whole thing made so little sense.  Why in such a blundering way?  Anyone who knew anything about politics would know that a national committee headquarters was a useless place place to go for inside information.  The whole thing was so senseless and bungled that it almost looked like some kind of set-up."

Cub Reporters - Breaking News
  e.  Two Washington Post reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, just happened to be assigned to Night Court to witness the five burglars being charged.

       (1) Oddly, the intelligence operatives, who had lived both covert and clandestine existences and were completely used to subterfuge, cover identities, arrests, torture, and lying their way out of similar situations, blurted out that they worked for the CIA. 

      (2) Standard procedure in this type of situation would have been a quick phone call, a release in anonymity -- and then to disappear forever.

      (3) Instead, trained, experienced professional spooks spilled their guts in front of two cub reporters, without any prompting, much less an inquiry by the judge.

     (4)  The only conclusion, from an intelligence perspective, is that these Plumbers had purposely made a series of highly visible blunders and left a paper trail that a Cub Scout/Reporter could have followed, creating a highly visible story for them to report.

Spookdblog briefing Ben Bradlee
Thus, the bait was set, Woodward and Bernstein ran with it, Ben Bradlee blessed it [perhaps in collusion with Walters] and the story grew legs.  Each time the story got stale, our erstwhile reporters were fed some new tidbits and leads; meanwhile, Congressmen and Senators were urged into outrage and action, until finally, Nixon was forced to resign.

Kissinger, the intended target of this scheme, nimbly exited the Oval Office "Conspiracy Group" to the safety of the Seventh Floor of the State Department, where he could claim ignorance of the alleged plot and crime.

Although Kissinger escaped removal from power, his power base, Nixon, was neutralized.

Even so, he continued to influence foreign policy, but he was not afforded special status by President Ford, who made it a point to regard Kissinger as nothing more than a bothersome popinjay.

Such events, once set in motion, are subject to the Law of Unintended Consequences.  The CIA was not spared its dismantling and the gutting of the Clandestine Services Directorate, first by Kissinger, and then by his successor and protege, Zbigniew Brzesinski; and finally, Carter's DCI, Stansfield Turner, delivered the coup de grace.  By the time Reagan took office, the US Human Intelligence capability had been virtually destroyed.

Footnote:  There are those who believe that Nelson Rockefeller played a role in manipulating the situation to dislodge Nixon and open a path that he could take to the Oval Office [i.e., as Vice President].  There may be some truth to that premise, but, Ford did not win reelection, closing that door to Rockefeller, who later died unexpectedly of "heart stoppage"-- perhaps of the Breitbart syndrome.

Predictably, Kissinger continues to pontificate on foreign policy and influences the Media, though most experienced policy-makers regard him as a buffoon.  At the first hint of an international crisis, he has been known to show up at local TV stations, demanding that they interview him.  Many now ignore him. 

Kissinger's legacy
1)  The Domino Theory fulfilled, to include the Communization of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia -- notably the Killing Fields leaving millions of dead and suffering].
2)  Middle East turmoil immersed in Muslim extremism which is spreading throughout the Middle East and Muslim countries around the world.
3)  Destruction of the US strategic capability in clandestine and covert Human Intelligence eliminating predictive intelligence in the Middle East and the Far East.

The KGB could not have been more effective in destroying the US Intelligence capability if they had hired Kissinger themselves -- but, maybe they did!