Whistleblower Summit Highlighted 50 Years of the Pentagon Papers and Investigative Journalism

 

The annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival last week continues to empower whistleblowers and advocates and encourages others to stand for truth. Film presentations began July 23 and the panel program begins Sunday with the program extending to Aug. 1. Because of the continuing pandemic this year's expanded, video-only program replaces the traditional live presentations on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

The event presented more than 50 film screenings and panel presentations over ten days.

The films focus on whistleblowing, free speech/press freedom, civil and human rights, or social justice themes. Check out Film Festival Flix to see the titles, which are also listed below.

daniel ellsberg umassThis year's keynote speaker on July 30 was former U.S. Department of Defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg, thereby marking the 50th year anniversary of his courageous release of what are now known as "The Pentagon Papers" disclosing scandalous aspects of the Pentagon's secret operations during the then-raging Vietnam War.

Ellsberg, shown at left in a photo by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which now houses his collected papers, made disclosures first via the New York Times and later via other news organizations that risked federal mike gravel offical photoprosecution. The late U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), right, who died last month, helped publicize the revelations by reading them on the Senate floor.

Ellsberg delivered highly newsworthy remarks praising the need for whistleblowers currently and described his goal in the Pentagon Papers of showing that four previous presidents to Richard Nixon, who took office in January 1969, had been lying to the American people about the horrific and then-ongoing Vietnam War. Therefore, he said he hoped, the public, Congress and other institutions would scrutinize Nixon with the strong suspicion that he might be lying also about the war.

Ellsberg suggested that the charge of second-degree murder, sometimes described as homicide with "depraved indifference," might be valid against former President Trump and others who deliberately downplayed the coronavirus to advance their political agendas. He said at least half of the more than 600,000 American deaths from Covid-19 are probably attributable to Trump's policies of minimizing warnings and preventive measures.

He noted also deadly threats to Americans and those around the world to disasters caused by climate change, which he described as similarly downplayed by officials for political reasons.

He praised whistleblowers who risk everything to help the public. Also, he noted with alarm what he called a dangerous tendency by American policymakers almost across the political spectrum to describe China and Russia as "the enemy." He said such name calling increases the chances of nuclear war. 

Among those in the audience for Ellsberg, who received a lifetime achievement award for his whistleblowing, were other Summit and Film Festival honorees. This year's expanded Pillar Award ceremony recognizes notable civil and human rights champions among  politicians, community activists and journalists — including documentary filmmakers.

Madison Mosier accepted an award on behalf of her late father, Sen. Gravel. Another honoree was former Defense Department contractor Reality Winner, who was recently released from prison after being convicted on espionage charges for releasing in 2017 to The Intercept news site documents showing that Russians had interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump win. She is currently under home detention and was limited in her comments as a condition of release. But she thanked the Summit leaders for lifting her spirits after what her attorney described as an especially difficult prison term, in which she suffered from Covid-19. 

This year's Summit and Festival included more than 30 documentary films and shorts, plus special segments. The segments include sessions led by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), a co-host of the event, and the Government Accountability Project and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), both long-time partners at the Summit. A day-long segment on July 30 by the National Whistleblower Center, another major partner, features prominent U.S. elected and appointed officials regarded as welcoming to whistleblowers and their causes.

The main organizers of the event are former ACORN whistleblowers Michael McCray and Marcel Reid, who were both honored earlier this year by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners at the world's largest anti-fraud conference. The two were among the "ACORN 8" activists who helped expose gross corruption and self-dealing in the inner circle of leadership at the community activist organization ACORN.

The Summit is organized in collaboration with such longtime partners as the Pacifica Foundation.

Click here for the schedule, also visible at https://filmfestivalflix.com/Whistleblower/Purchase-Tickets/%20. The panels were free, with film views purchased either individually or with a full-conference pass.

Our Justice Integrity Project, a member of the Summit host committee for a half dozen years, opened the panel segment on July 25 with a major panel on Watergate that featured former Washington Post editor Barry Sussman and two critics of the Post's coverage, authors Jim Hougan and John O'Connor.

The session title was Pentagon Papers and Watergate Revelations After Five Decades: What’s the Rest of the Story? 

barry sussmanSussman, right, was Washington Post city editor when DC police arrested burglars for breaking into a suite of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office and residential complex in Washington, DC. Sussman was soon named special Watergate editor, helping direct the coverage that won a Pulitzer grand prize for the newspaper. In 1974, he authored The Great Cover-up: Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate, a best-seller and widely praised account whose fifth edition will be published at the end of this year with an update focused on the enduring lessons for today of the abuses of presidential power that the scandal uncovered.

This panel was rare because critics such as Hougan and O'Connor of the Post's coverage almost never appear alongside the most noted Watergate-era journalists or officials.

Hougan, former Washington editor of Harper's Magazine, and O'Connor, a prominent San Francisco attorney who represented the late former FBI Associate Director Mark Felt, are at jim hougan photo2the forefront of such criticism, which tends to focus on the role of the CIA and on other elements of the scandal that critics regard as under-reported by major news organizations.

In 1984, Hougan, shown at left, authored Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA. By then, he had authored two previous books, with one focused on private spies affecting American civic and government operations. In Secret Agenda, he reported that "accounts of the break-in have been deliberately falsified by a CIA cover story" and that "The President was spied upon by his own intelligence agents." He reported also, CIA Logo"False evidence was planted for the FBI to find...Sexual espionage and not election politics was at the heart of it all."

Hougan's book is one of a score or so volumes since then illuminating such themes. Another pioneering effort was Silent Coup by the late Len Colodny and his co-author Robert Gettlin in 1991 (republished in 2015). These books included accounts by CIA-affiliated burglary participants such as G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord, and accounts by whistleblowers and historians. One multi-year research project by USA Today DC Enterprise Editor Ray Locker, who as a Tampa-based reporter had met Colodny, resulted in Nixon's Gamble (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Haig's Coup: How Richard Nixon's Closest Aide Forced Him From Office (University of Nebraska Press, 2019). Both Gettlin, now retired from a career in journalism and as an executive in a federal inspector general's office, and Locker have spoken at previous Whistleblower Summit conferences.

In O'Connor's Postgate published in 2019, he argued that famed Washington Post reporter and editor Bob Woodward and his powerful allies within the news and publishing industries "betrayed" Woodward's' source Mark Felt, who became O'Connor's client beginning in 2005 after O'Connor confirmed that the aging and memory-impaired former FBI executive had been "Deep Throat."

O'Connor, left, argues that John OConnor headshot high resWoodward and his allies have sought to diminish Felt through malicious tactics to preserve what O'Connor describes as "historically significant misrepresentations woven throughout the Post's Watergate journalism."

The 64-minute panel was organized and moderated by this editor (Andrew Kreig), a former newspaper reporter during the 1970s and more recently director of the Justice Integrity Project, and, among other civic volunteer efforts, a member of the Colodny Collection Board of Advisors at Texas A & M University. The advisory board includes the university's liberal arts college dean, Dr. Jerry Jones, among the 24 author, historian and other research members. The collection houses some 500 tape-recorded interviews by Colodny len colodny croppedand his co-author Gettlin of key figures in the scandal and its follow-ups.

Colodny died last month in Florida after working exhaustively for many years to help new researchers, including this editor and the university. Colodny and the university have been digitizing the research to make the materials more widely available, including via the site Watergate.com.

Shown below at the bottom of an appendix is additional information on this panel's participants, their credentials and their views.

More generally, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) published on Friday a lengthy account of the program, including a special focus on its own SPJ panel presentation July 27. That panel describes new government restrictions on reporters' access to newsmaking officials and public records. The SPJ account, a listing of the films being shown and other event details are provided on a runover-page below.

The film program began on July 23 and continues through the weekend before the opening plenary session July 26. The schedule is here. Each film will be available at the scheduled release time and date, and available for viewing also 72 hours after its release window.

Related News Coverage

 

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Whistleblower Summit Highlights 50 Years of the Pentagon Papers and Investigative Journalism. Members of the watchdog organization ACORN 8 and the Society of Professional Journalists co-host the annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival, held from July 23 through August 1. The gathering, which will be accessible virtually on Film Festival Flix, is themed “A Salute to the 50th Anniversary of Pentagon Papers and the rise of investigative journalism.” 

The Film Festival will host more than 50 film screenings and panel presentations over 10 days. The films focus on whistleblowing, free speech/press freedom, civil and human rights, or social justice themes.  Some of the film titles and their respective directors include “Sallie Mae Not” by Mike Camon and a panel discussion on the student debt crises, “The New Abolitionists” by Christina Zorich, and the “Last Call for Tomorrow” by Gary Null, with Valerie Van Cleve as co-director. 

The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival is an annual gathering of whistleblowers and their advocates, as well as civil rights community members on Capitol Hill. The event, formerly known as the Washington Whistleblower’s Week, is yearly organized in honor of whistleblowers and the first amendment activism. It is usually held during the week of July 30, the National Whistleblowers Day.

In line with the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers, the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival will have Daniel Ellsberg deliver the keynote daniel ellsberg timepresentation. Daniel Ellsberg (shown on a Time Magazine cover) is an American economist, political activist, and former United States military analyst and researcher.

In addition, the annual summit will feature panel discussions from the Watergate era journalists, academics, and whistleblower advocates. There will be plenary sessions on various topics such as blowing the whistle on immigration justice. The gathering will also discuss discrimination in the federal workplace, systemic discrimination at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and law enforcement whistleblowers.

Apart from the discussions and sessions, the summit also features some of the best films about whistleblowers, the First Amendment, and those that touch on human rights issues are related to the group’s advocacy. Some of the films include “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" and "Line in the Street – a film about Gerrymandering.”

The event aims to highlight its advocacy and build a sense of community and solidarity. “There is no free press without news sources. There can be no congressional oversight without government informants.

michael mccrayWhistleblowers are the Fifth Estate protecting freedom and liberty,” said Michael McCray, left,co-founder of the International Association of Whistleblowers.

Other than panel discussions and plenary sessions, the week-long summit usually includes workshops, book signings, film screenings, awards, and presentations, as well as luncheon and dinner. Its invited speakers and guests are distinguished whistleblowers, authors of whistleblower books, and other known personalities who are advocates of whistleblowing.
Its invited speakers and guests are distinguished whistleblowers, authors of whistleblower books, and other known personalities who are advocates of whistleblowing.

To know more, visit http://www.WhistleblowerSummit.com. The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival is an annual gathering of whistleblowers and their advocates, and civil rights members. It is the largest gathering of whistleblowers and the only festival for honoring whistleblowers and their First Amendment activism. In 2019, the summit received a “Best Festival” (Arts, Culture & Film category) award from Fest Forum (Santa Barbara).

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Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival, virtual events, begins with screenings starting Friday, July 23, and panel discussions starting Sunday, July 25; DC Pro president joins opening plenary July 26, SPJ Volunteer Staff Report, July 23, 2021. SPJ DC Pro Chapter is a co-sponsor of the Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival this year, with a panel presentation on July 27. Achapter board member and a chapter Distinguished Service Award honoree will be participating on another panel July 30.

Here is a schedule for panels and screenings (subject to updates). All sessions will be held via Zoom; the film screenings will be streamed online.

Keynote speaker is whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg at noon on July 30 in recognition of his role in releasing documents that led to the publication of excerpts in the New York Times of what came to be called the Pentagon Papers, 50 years ago this summer.

SPJ DC Pro Chapter President Randy Showstack will represent the chapter during the opening plenary on Monday, July 26, at 10 a.m., joining other sponsors or collaborators. They include:

Panelists:

  • marcel reid quotationMarcel Reid, right, Pacifica Foundation
  • Michael McCray, ACORN 8
  • Andrew Kreig (also a DC Pro Chapter member), Justice Integrity Project
  • Randy Showstack, Society of Professional Journalists Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter
  • Liz Hemperwitz, Project on Government Oversight
  • Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project
  • Siri Nelson, National Whistleblower Center

SPJ's indefatigable chapter Recording Secretary and Freedom of Information advocate Kathryn Foxhall, below right, will moderate the 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 27 panel, "The Perils of PIO," kathryn foxhallwhich is described thus:

"Over 20-30 years, it’s become a cultural norm for various entities, public and private, to prohibit staff from communicating with reporters without oversight by authorities, often through public information officers (PIOs). The basic part of this is quite fearsome: prohibition against any contact without notifying authorities. However, the rules also create a chokepoint severely limiting the number of contacts. They are also used to deliberately block unwanted contacts and constrain what can be said.

"This hampers whistleblowing by massively reducing reporters’ ability to get to know and be educated by staff; have staff come to trust them; and have confidential conversations. The Society of Professional Journalists has said it believes secrecy caused by these controls led to significantly higher COVID-19 death toll. An analysis by First Amendment attorney Frank LoMonte says the restrictions are unconstitutional and many courts have said so."

Panelists:

  • Kathyrn Foxhall (Moderator) The SPJDC.org website has articles about "Censorship by PIO" and resources.
  • Frank LoMonte, head of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida
  • Haisten Willis, freelance journalist and chair of national SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee

Ahead of the keynote speech by Ellsberg -- at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 30 -- SPJ DC Pro Chapter board member and attorney Kenneth Jost will join chapter Distinguished Service Award recipient Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute and the institute's First Amendment Center, on a panel looking at the "Ramifications of the Pentagon Papers Today." The panel description says that the July 3, 1971, publication in the New York Times of what is now known as the Pentagon Papers prompted a series of events that ultimately resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon and changed the landscape for American journalism due to a landmark decision on freedom of the press (New York Times Co. v. United States). This informative panel will examine the long-term impact of the publishing of the Pentagon Papers on free speech, whistleblowing, investigative journalism and American society overall.

Panelists:

  • Gene Policinski, JD (Moderator)
  • Mark Zaid, JD
  • Kenneth Jost, JD

What happened as a result of the leak of the Pentagon Papers, including the role played by investigative journalists, is the theme for the summit, of which ACORN 8 and the Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (spjdc.org) are co-sponsors. Discussing the long-term impact of the Pentagon Papers will be a powerhouse panel of experts on whistleblowers, media law and Washington politics. Organized with the help of the SPJ DC Pro chapter, the Thursday, July 29, noon panel will be moderated by Gene Policinski, Senior Fellow at the Freedom Forum and an SPJ DC Pro Distinguished Service Award honoree.

Panelists:

  • Mark S. Zaid, Attorney representing whistleblowers and the media
  • Lynn Oberlander, Media attorney at Ballard Spahr
  • Eleanor Clift, Political columnist for the Daily Beast
  • Ken Jost (Invited), Journalist and author covering legal affairs, DC SPJ Pro board member

 

Other Summit & Festival Partners

 

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national whistleblower center logoAmong the other major Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival this year, as previously, are the National Whistleblower Center, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and the Government Accountability Project. Each has organized major panels throughout the week of the conference.

To repeat instructions for viewing the panels, all of which are at no cost to viewers:

  • Click here for schedule and ticket information for the sessions. Please note that this is a corrected link, https://filmfestivalflix.com/Whistleblower/Purchase-Tickets/%20, from one previously published here. The panels may all be accessed for free, with film views purchased either individually or with a full-conference pass for $150. To access the panels, register and then locate the panels section at the top of the next page. Click on your preferred panel. Registration is for functionality and security purposes. So, you have to be registered and logged into your Film Festival Flix (FFF) account to activate the Zoom links. Here is a short video that informs you how to create a Film Festival Flix account if you have a problem: https://vimeo.com/578502564

The National Whistleblower Center has organized an overlapping multi-day event with the Summit, headlined: "SEC Chairman and Labor Secretary Set to Speak at Historical Celebration of Whistleblowers." The announcement stated:

national whistleblower center logoThis week, members of Congress, agency leaders, and whistleblower advocates will gather in a virtual format to commemorate National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. In its seventh year, the annual celebration recognizes the many contributions of whistleblowers in combatting fraud in both the public and private sectors.

This year’s celebration, which will be held as a three-day event beginning on Wednesday, is set to be the largest gathering to mark the occasion in history. Over a dozen panels composed of over 60 speakers from around the world will share their insights into the state of whistleblower protections. In addition, over 140 whistleblowers will be recognized during the event.

Whistleblower attorneys from Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto (KKC) will be speaking at this year’s celebration of National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, as well as KKC clients Jane Turner (FBI) and Bradley Birkenfeld (UBS Bank).

gary genslerHosted by the National Whistleblower Center and co-sponsored by Whistleblower Network News and KKC, National Whistleblower Day 2021 will feature keynote addresses from SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, left, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, right, and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).

marty walshOther speeches from members of Congress will include Sens. Ron Wyden (D-WI), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, as well as Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA), of the House Whistleblower Protection Caucus alongside Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA).

“This historical three-day event will demonstrate that whistleblowers are undoubtedly the number one source for deterring fraudsters and deserve the strongest protections possible. On July 30th, we celebrate those who chose truth over self and made the sacrifice in order to do what’s right,” said whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn, partner at the whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto.

Kohn also serves as the Chairman of the Board of the National Whistleblower Center.

Members of the media are encouraged to RSVP here for National Whistleblower Day 2021 to receive a link to join the event. 

 

Festival Films

This year's presentations at the Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival include the following, with films either individually priced or available as part of the $149.95 full conference pass. Among notable films making their premiere was "Sallie Mae Not," which received this advance news coverage:

mike camoin filmAlbany Times-Union, Albany filmmaker takes on student loan debt crisis: 'They bought a car with no brakes,' Rachel Silberstein, July 22, 2021. "Sallie Mae Not" premieres Monday at Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival. 

Is the nation's student debt crisis the result of a bad borrower problem or a bad lending system?

That was the question driving the latest project of Albany filmmaker Mike Camoin.

"Sallie Mae Not," premieres virtually at 1 p.m. Monday, July 26, at the Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival. It is the first chapter in Camoin's six-part "Scared to Debt" series, which explores how the U.S. student loan debt ballooned from $10 billion in 1986 to $1.6 trillion.

 

Among the films are:

Last Call For Tomorrow
Giving Voice: A Black Lives Matter Musical
The New Abolitionists
Father, daughter, and old woman
Chicago: America’s Hidden War
A crime in Book fair
ALL IS ONE. EXCEPT 0.
Medicating Normal
We Want the Airwaves
This Is My Brave

Homeopathy Unrefuted?
Oversight
Jungle Cry
Frenemies – Cuba and the U.S. Embargo
I ELECT: Power Every Four Years
The Zoom Call
Sallie Mae Not
Line in the Street – A Film About Gerrymandering
“I’m Just a Layman in Pursuit of Justice” Black Farmers Fight Against USDA
Protest / Justice for George Floyd

Defense Contract
Under Threat
Turkey: Breaking the Silence
A Place in the world
A Breast Expose’: The Breast Kept Secret
Trapped: Cash Bail in America
The Son
SPARK: A Systemic Racism Story
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Dirty Banking
Four Motherless Children

 

Sessions: Opening Plenary (10 a.m., EDT, Monday, July 26)

Watergate Revelations After Five Decades: What’s the Rest of the Story? (Noon, EDT, Sunday, July 25)
An Introduction to the House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds
Student Debt Crisis
Virtual Happy Hour
bureau of prisons logo horizontalThe Perils of PIO: Free Speech and Public Information Officers (PIOs)
Law Enforcement Whistleblowers
Pentagon Papers Panel: Discussing 'the Most Dangerous Man In America'

National Whistleblower Appreciation Day Keynote Speaker: Dr. Daniel Ellsberg


Blowing the Whistle on Propaganda Networks: analysis and studies of suppression tactics against academics & scientists
Working More Effectively with Congress
Guardianship Abuses
Working Effectively with The Office of Special Counsel
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Addressing Discrimination in the Federal Workplace
Whistleblower Books / Film Distribution
Music Industry Whistleblowers: Pioneers of Atlanta

The Dark Side of Dialysis
Whistleblowers & Immigration Justice: Challenges, Victories, and the Work Still to be Done
Global Whistleblowing: Emerging International Whistleblower Rights
The Ramifications of the Pentagon Papers—Today

Closing Plenary

 

Honors This Year For Summit Leaders: ACORN 8 Whistleblowersmichael mccray marcel reid anti fraud award

Michael McCray and Marcel Reid ACFE Ant-Fraud Keynote Speakers (Image by Association of Certified Fraud Examiners).

OpEdNews, ACORN 8 Whistleblowers Honored with Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award at the Largest Anti-Fraud Conference, June 28, 2021. Marcel Reid and Michael McCray, two of the ACORN 8 whistleblowers, addressed more than 5,000 anti-fraud professionals at the virtual 32ndAnnual ACFE Global Fraud Conference on June 21-23.

Attendees also heard from cybersecurity expert Robert Herjavec and former U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of preet bharara SmallNew York Preet Bharara, shown at left in an official photo. In addition to hearing from these keynote speakers, attendees chose from more than 90 sessions taught by leaders in the anti-fraud field. The conference was emceed by Kate Snow, anchor of NBC Nightly News Sunday and an award-winning senior national correspondent for NBC News.

Reid and McCray received the Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award on behalf of the ACORN 8. The Sentinel was first awarded to Oscar-Winning actor Cliff Robertson in 2003, the ACFE's Sentinel Award carries the inscription "For Choosing Truth Over Self." This award is bestowed annually on a person who, without regard to personal or professional consequences, has publicly disclosed wrongdoing in business or government.

ACORN 8 discovered a multi-million-dollar embezzlement at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and ignited a media firestorm that engulfed the venerable association in 2008. A boogie man of the right, numerous detractors engaged the non-profit. Some were disgruntled, others fought for political or partisan advantage, only the ACORN 8 stood the test of time as credible whistleblowers.

"Without the A8 whistleblowers creed: Truth, Transparency & Accountability democracy cannot survive and justice is unattainable. I am deeply honored to receive the Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award because it perfectly describes what the A8 did--we told the truth" states Marcel Reid, ACORN 8. "I am proud to be associated with his memory."

Cliff Robertson was a frequent critic of the movie industry. He once said he went to Hollywood only to work and never to live. He went on to blow the whistle on David Begelman, the president of Columbia Pictures, in 1977 after he discovered that Begelman had forged his name to a $10,000 studio check.  Begelman was subsequently accused of embezzling more than $61,000 from the studio. Robertson pressed his complaint against the advice of many in Hollywood who did not want Begelman to become a liability to the movie industry. Begelman pleaded no contest to charges of grand theft and was fined $5,000 and sentenced to three years' probation. He was first suspended by Columbia Pictures and then fired.

In 2010, ACORN filed for bankruptcy to thwart public calls for transparency and accountability. "After the fall of ACORN, Wade Rathke dismissively asked 'how are the A8 going to stay relevant?' said McCray of ACORN 8. "I want to thank the ACFE for this award because it answers Rathke's question -- the truth will always be relevant. A8 is a group of the best community organizers in the association. Consequently, we organized the most unlikely community of all -- whistleblowers."

About the ACFE Conference and ACORN 8 Awardees

ACORN 8 remains a grassroots watchdog organization but their most enduring contribution is the A8 hosts the Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival, which is an award-winning festival and the largest gathering of whistleblowers in the county. This year's theme is a Salute to the 50th Anniversary of the Pentagon Papers and Rise of Investigative Journalism. The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival will be presented virtually on Film Festival Flix from July 23rd - August 1st.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Inc., is the world's largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education. Together with nearly 90,000 members, the ACFE is reducing business fraud worldwide and inspiring public confidence in the integrity and objectivity within the profession. Visit FraudConferenceNews.com for video clips, articles and live updates from the conference.

 

Summit

Sunday Opening Panel

Pentagon Papeers & Watergate Revelations After Five Decades: What’s the Rest of the Story?

Noon, EDT, Sunday, July 25

The 50th anniversary this year of the Pentagon Papers disclosure presents an opportunity for that episode’s leading whistleblower, Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, to assess the disclosure’s historical significance, including its precedent-setting role enabling the revelations of the Watergate era, beginning in early 1972. Although the gist of the Pentagon Papers story is well known, Ellsberg, whose psychiatrist’s office was ransacked by Nixon operatives in a prelude to Watergate, may relish the opportunity to comment on later implications extending to the present.

Related to that keynote on July 30, the first session of the Summit on Sunday, July 25 seeks to reveal to a broader audience; the deeply shrouded entire history of Watergate, including such fundamental questions as:

1: Who ordered the break-in? 2) What were the burglars seeking, specifically? 3) Why aren’t the answers to those questions better known?

Any discussion of such matters draws heavily upon mainstream news coverage and books, perhaps most memorably the Washington Post coverage of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, as well as their All the President's Men and film by that same title, as well as the books and commentary by former White House bob woodward twitterCounsel John Dean. Woodwood, shown at left in a Twitter photo, and Bernstein spoke together at a forum in 2014 hosted by Marvin Kalb at the National Press Club several years ago that described their work as the finest American journalism of modern times.

But a revisionist view persists and arguably grows stronger through the years with more documentation. In addition to those mentioned above like Jim Hougan, John O'Connor, Len Colodny and his co-author Robert Gettlin, and Ray Locker, these authors and other experts argue for a new look at the questions above and the implications of the answers.

For example, a number of these revisionists believe that neither President Nixon nor his very top advisors ordered the break-in,  particularly because Democratic National Chairman Larry O'Brien was based in Miami, not the office suite, and the burglars were captured in a nearly empty office of a DNC affiliate that had nothing of any apparent value, except reputedly an ID list of female escorts whose supervisors had intelligence connections.

russ baker cover CustomDouglas Caddy, the burglars' initial attorney and a whistleblower on a number of legal and political issues recent years, has argued that his former clients were set up to become caught and thereby create a scandal. Among the authors publishing similar themes in whole or part have been James Rosen in The Strong Man (2008), Russ Baker in Family of Secrets (2009), Lamar Waldron in Watergate: The Hidden History (2012), Phil Stanford in White House Call Girl (2013) and Shane O'Sullivan in Dirty Tricks (2018). Most of these point to figures in the administration pursuing agendas hidden from their ostensible leaders and the rest of the world, even now for the most part despite many official investigations of Watergate and widely read news and historical accounts. 

Yet researchers and their employers, which in the case of Watergate often involves oversimplifying the issues and ignoring contrary views. To suggest, for example, that Nixon and his inner circle did not order the Watergate break-in does not mean that they were innocent of similar crimes and cover-ups. For such reasons, the Summit panel of three expert authors on Watergate provides a valuable opportunity.   

 

Andrew Kreig, Moderator

andrew kreig press club croppedPanel moderator Andrew Kreig, right, is an investigative reporter, attorney, author, business strategist, and non-profit executive based in Washington, DC. He has served a half dozen years on the host committee for the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival.
 
After an early career in newspaper reporting, law and business Andrew co-founded and leads the Justice Integrity Project, which fosters investigative reporting about under-reported legal and political issues.
 
The project’s initial focus was upon major federal cases and their implications. The mission has since expanded to encompass the elected officials and interest groups who arrange judicial and prosecutorial appointments, as well as the hidden influencers both domestic and international, such as in finance, manufacturing, media, intelligence sectors work.
 
His first career as a newspaper reporter coincided with, and benefited from ,the explosion in political and legal investigative reporting during the Pentagon Papers and Watergate era of revelations.
 
Upon graduation from Cornell University in 1970, Kreig began as a reporter for the Hartford Courant, where he worked the next 14 years interrupted by a fellowship to Yale Law School. He primarily focused on court and other legal coverage but also wrote many book reviews and feature stories. Among these was a favorable book review in 1974 of Barry Sussman’s The Great Cover-up and a 90-minute interview of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong (a former investigator for the Senate Watergate Committee) about their research methods, most relevantly regarding their 1979 best-seller The Brethren, an insider investigative portrayal of the U.S. Supreme Court.

More recently as a Washington-based lawyer, non-profit executive and reporter since 1991, he has worked cooperatively with several former Watergate journalists and critics of the original reporting. One of the founding directors of the Justice Integrity Project (www.justice-integrity.org) was the late John Kelly, who covered Watergate for CBS News. Another was former Washington Post editor Robert Ames Alden, who worked at the newspaper for 49 years. Both died in the last year but had been strongly supportive of the project’s work in general. As part of an active freelance career, Andrew also contributed two investigative columns to the Nieman Watchdog publication that was founded and edited by Barry Sussman before it concluded operations.
 
Separately, Kreig also came to know Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, co-authors of the 1991 best-seller Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, which is based in part on some 500 tape-recorded interviews by Colodny and Gettlin that now housed at the Colodny Collection in the Texas A&M University library system. Kreig is one of 24 members of the advisory committee of the collection.
 
For this Whistleblower Summit pre-recorded Zoom panel, Andrew has displayed behind him about fifty of his books about Richard Nixon, nearly all of them focused on Watergate and its oft-continuing implications.
 
andrew kreig spiked HR cover11Regarding Andrew’s other work, he published in 1987 an investigative book, Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America’s Oldest Newspaper. It was a case history that wove the history of the newspaper and region into critical analysis of certain reporting by the Courant following its acquisition in 1979 by Times Mirror Corp. (later Tribune Media) for a then-record price during a wave of acquisitions of locally owned newspapers and broadcast outlets. The author undertook the work as a freelance magazine writer, assisted by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism. Also, he was a special reporter on assignment from Connecticut’s major CBS-affiliate, WFSB in Hartford

At first controversial, the book documented now-familiar themes underscoring dangers to a community when roving management teams responsible to distant shareholders control the news agendas of their regions, including on sensitive investigative stories whereby key “facts” may be inflated or suppressed for what might seem to be dubious reasons. Upon publication, his first interview about the whistleblowing book was by then-local WFSB noon anchor Gayle King. The book had been endorsed by the station’s vice president, Richard Ahles, a longtime Hartford-based executive who had hired Andrew as a special reporter for the project because the Washington Post-owned, CBS affiliate had been investigating some of the same dubious news stories and their civic implications.
 
Andrew then finished his legal education at the University of Chicago School of Law and became law clerk from 1990-91 to a Boston federal judge. He became an associate attorney for a law firm in the nation’s capital, where he worked heavily on communications issues and also as a volunteer helping more senior attorneys -- including future Clinton Administration Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt -- on the 1992 Clinton-Gore presidential campaign and transition.

Next, Andrew became vice president and general counsel of the Wireless Communications Association in 1993 and then WCA president and CEO in 1996 for a dozen years as he helped lead its entrepreneurial companies and educators in their efforts to foster a new platform of wireless Internet providing advanced services in a sector then dominated by wired, broadcast and satellite providers. Highlights of that work include organizing major conventions in Washington, Silicon Valley and abroad, and his lectures about advanced communications on five continents. In 2008, he co-keynoted with AOL’s chairman the annual “Futures Summit” for broadcast leaders organized by the National Association of Broadcasters in Pebble Beach, CA.

Later that year, he resigned from the association and undertook research fellowships at two universities to research current affairs. Listed continuously since the mid-1990s until now in both Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in America, Andrew has focused heavily on the high tech information economy and such lingering national tragedies as the 1960s Kennedy and King assassinations and Watergate, with a special attention to their implications for the present.
 
FBI logoIn 2013, he published Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.  It documented the largely hidden influence of financial, manufacturing and other leaders, sometimes working with intelligence and law enforcement officials, on American presidents and candidates during the previous half century. The work grew out of the Justice Integrity Project’s reporting on isolated legal cases revealing disturbing patterns that are neglected or hidden from normal scrutiny by watchdog institutions.

 

Barry Sussman

Barry Sussman, left, is an American editor, author, and opinion analyst who deals primarily with public policy issues.

barry sussmanHe was city news editor at The Washington Post at the time of the Watergate break-in and was detached to spend full time directing the coverage that led to the Post's Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1973. His book, The Great Coverup: Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate, now in its fourth edition, was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times and Washington Post when it first came out. It has continued to receive high praise through four editions.

As its publisher has described: It is a dramatic case study of tenacious reporting and suspenseful twists and turns in the political crime of the century.

John Dean, Nixon’s White House counsel, said ten years after the break-in, “When people ask me which book they should read to understand Watergate, I barry sussman cover newrecommend this one… Serious Watergate students report this is the best overview of the subject. I heartily agree. Anyone who wants to understand Watergate, and not make a career of it, should read The Great Coverup. (Reviews and excerpts are here)

Commentators say:

A key Nixon goal was to limit the Watergate investigation to the break-in alone, making it appear to be little more than politics as usual. But by September, 1973, as Sussman, who was the Washington Post’s special Watergate editor, spells out:

Under Nixon (below), the CIA had been dragged into domestic affairs; the investigation and findings of the FBI had been subverted; the Justice Department had engaged in malicious prosecutions of some people and failed to act in instances where it should have; the Internal Revenue Service had been used to punish the President’s alleged enemies while richard nixon wignoring transgressions by his friends and by the President himself; the purity of the court system had been violated; congressmen had been seduced to prevent an inquiry into campaign activities before the election; extortion on a massive scale had been practiced in the soliciting of illegal contributions from the nation’s great corporations; the President had secretly engaged in acts of war against a foreign country… and agents of the President were known to have engaged in continued illegal activities for base political ends.

Wrote David Halberstam when this book was first published: "From the start, the Post was thus unusually lucky. It had the perfect working editor at exactly the right level." In their book, Woodward and Bernstein noted that Sussman was “given prime responsibility for directing the Post's Watergate coverage,“ and added:

"Sussman had the ability to seize facts and lock them in his memory, where they remained poised for instant recall. More than any other editor at the Post, or Bernstein and Woodward, Sussman became a walking compendium of Watergate knowledge, a reference source to be summoned when even the library failed. On deadline he would pump these facts into a story in a constant infusion, working up a body of significant facts to support what otherwise seemed like the weakest of revelations. In Sussman’s mind, everything fitted. Watergate was a puzzle and he was a collector of the pieces."

If there was a “politics as usual” aspect to Watergate, Sussman writes, it was in the help Nixon got from members of both political parties. Therein lies one of the book’s many lessons: Watergate would have been brought to a close much sooner except “for the help powerful men on Capitol Hill extended to their President.”

Among other awards, Sussman was named editor of the year by the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild for his work on Watergate, and he has lectured and written widely on the subject over the years.

He is also the author of What Americans Really Think, published by Pantheon in 1988, based on columns he wrote while pollster and public opinion analyst at the Washington Post, and Maverick, A Life in Politics, written with and about the former U.S. Senator and governor of Connecticut, Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., published in 1995 by Little, Brown.

 

Jim Hougan

Jim Hougan, right, is an American author, investigative reporter and documentary film producer. A best-selling novelist in both the United States and Europe, his jim hougan photo2books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
 
He is best known for Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA, first published in 1984 by Random House and regarded as the first investigative work to question “the orthodox narrative” of the Watergate scandal as propounded by the Washington Post. Hougan’s critique depends throughout on a source that was unavailable to both the Washington Post and the Senate Select Committee investigating the affair. This was the FBI’s Watergate investigation, consisting of more than 30,000 pages of interviews, memos and air-tels that Hougan wrested from the Bureau using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
 
The generally accepted belief about Watergate has been that White House spies bugged the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters — supposedly in search of political intelligence.

jim hougan secret agenda best co vThe New York Times chose Secret Agenda upon publication as "one of the year's most noteworthy books."
 
Of Spooks, the Washington Post called the book “admirable,” adding that “Hougan is a superb storyteller and the pages teem with unforgettable characters. The result…is a work crammed…with superb tales…rich documentation.” The L.A. Times agreed: “Frank and racy and documented to the hilt, it is the Guinness rascal record book…a monument of fourth-level research and fact-searching.”

As the author of Spooks: The Haunting of America (William Morrow, 1978), and as Washington Editor of Harper’s Magazine from 1979 to 1984, Hougan had written extensively about the U.S. intelligence community.
 
He went on to help produce the Emmy award-winning documentary “Confessions of a Dangerous Man.”
 
In the mid-1980s, Hougan and author Sally Denton formed a company that provided investigative research for law firms and labor unions. The projects included the discovery that the Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation in West Virginia, which had locked out more than 1,700 workers, was secretly controlled by Marc Rich, a fugitive billionaire and commodities broker then living in Switzerland. The Steelworkers’ successful (and sometimes dangerous) “corporate campaign,” mounted on both sides of the Atlantic, was credited labor scholars at Cornell University with no less than “the revival of American Labor.”

Hougan returned to mainstream investigative reporting in the 1990s with work on articles, video documentaries and for CBS “60 Minutes,” among other outlets.
 
In recent years, his work has included a number of thrillers co-authored with his wife, the novelist Carolyn Johnson Hougan, using the pseudonym, "John Case.” The first of these of these was The Genesis Code, a New York Times best-seller that was succeeded by five others and Kingdom Come.
 
These and others were published in the United States by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., as well as by publishers in Europe, Asia, South jim and carolyn hougan 227x300America, Australia and New Zealand. He and his late wife have twice been short-listed for the Hammett Prize, honoring literary excellence in crime writing.
 
Hougan was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1966, he earned a degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Soon afterwards, he wed Carolyn A. Johnson (shown together) and began work as a newspaper reporter and photographer for the Prince George's County Sentinel in suburban Washington.
 
Later, while working at the Capitol Times in Madison, Wisconsin and as a stringer for the New York Times, he was named an Alicia Patterson and Rockefeller Foundation fellow. His foreign affairs reporting on "contemporary Western youth movements" appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States.

 

John O'Connor

John OConnor headshot high resJohn O’Connor, left, is a San Francisco-based lawyer whose clients have included the late high-ranking FBI executive Mark Felt, with whom the lawyer collaborated on articles and books revealing and documenting why Felt should be regarded as the iconic “Deep Throat” whistleblowing source for major revelations in the Washington Post’s Watergate scandal coverage.
 
That story was presented in the 2006 book A G-Man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat,' And the Struggle for Honor in Washington, published by Felt and his attorney as co-authors. The publisher was Public Affairs Press.
 
In November 2019, O’Connor published a sequel, Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate, and Began Today’ s Partisan Advocacy Journalism. The book published by PostHill Press reflected his dismay with his publisher’s treatment of the 2006 book and the alleged reluctance of the Post and its key personnel, including associate editor Bob Woodward and former Post reporter Carl Bernstein, to support Felt’s role and account.

According to the publisher’s summary:

john oconnor postgate coverThe conventional wisdom of Watergate is turned on its head by Postgate, revealing that the Post did not uncover Watergate as much as it covered it up. The Nixon Administration, itself involved in a coverup, was the victim of a journalistic smoke screen that prevented mitigation of its criminal guilt. As a result of the paper’s successful misdirection, today’s strikingly deceptive partisan journalism can be laid at the doorstep of the “Washington Post.”
 
After Deep Throat’s lawyer, author John O’Connor, discovered that the Post had betrayed his client while covering up the truth about Watergate, his indefatigable research resulted in Postgate, a profoundly shocking tale of journalistic deceit.
 
In an era when numerous modern media outlets rail about the guilt of their political enemies for speaking untruths, Postgate proves that the media can often credibly be viewed as the party actually guilty of deception. Americans today mistrust the major media more than ever. Postgate will prove that this distrust is richly deserved.

O’Connor’s two books draw on his long litigation experience, including work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in California’s Northern District from 1974 to 1979 during Watergate’s aftermath, albeit assigned to other cases.

He recounts how he encountered the aging Felt by happenstance via family connections and set about persuading the former FBI executive and his family to reveal his identity as “Deep Throat” to receive just recognition for his historical role. Felt was suffering from dementia at the time but O’Connor, with the former agent’s cooperation, developed a manuscript that documented also a long career that brought Felt close to the very top of the FBI hierarchy.

The first book, A G-Man’s Life, was summarized by its publisher as follows:

john oconnor mark felt gman lifeThis absorbing account of Felt's FBI career, from the end of the great American crime wave through World War II, the culture wars of the 1960s, and his conviction for his role in penetrating the Weather Underground, provides a rich historical and personal context to the "Deep Throat" chapter of his life. It also provides Felt's personal recollections of the Watergate scandal, which he wrote in 1982 and kept secret, in which he explains how he came to feel that the FBI needed a "Lone Ranger" to protection it from White House corruption.

Much more than a Watergate procedural, A G-Man's Life is about life as a spy, the culture of the FBI, and the internal political struggles of mid-20th century America.
 
Only as he neared the end of his life did Felt confide his role in our national history to members of his family, who then shared it with their lawyer, John O'Connor. The answers to the questions -- Who is Mark Felt? And why did he risk so much for his country? -- are brilliantly answered in A G-Man's Life.

O’Connor’s Postgate takes readers inside a little-discussed aspect of book publishing whereby some authors claim that their own publishers undermine their books to appease entities more powerful than authors.

Here, O’Connor states that his and Felt's publisher, Public Affairs Press, was secretly controlled by the owners of the Washington Post, for whom its publisher Peter Osnos had formerly worked as a well-respected reporter. O'Connor alleges that his book publisher thwarted the success of A G-Man’s Life in order to provide a clearer path for a Bob Woodward book covering some of the same ground. That book,, The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat by Woodward was published in 2005 by his longtime publisher Simon & Schuster.

  • Justice Integrity Project Editor’s Note: We have unsuccessfully sought a response from the book publisher, Peter Osnos, and shall update this biographical reference if one is received.

O'Connor has tried over 70 cases in federal and state venues throughout the country following his 1972 graduation from the University of Michigan Law School, where he served as an editor on the law review. His clients have included R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, a California Attorney General, and a Golden State Warriors basketball head coach. His successes have included a $1.3 million verdict for his client in a defamation and wrongful termination counterclaim. He has held the highest Martindale-Hubbell "AV" rating for over 25 years, and has consistently been named a "SuperLawyer" by his Northern California peers.

  

Recent Deaths Of Noted Watergate, Pentagon Papers Figures

July 28

len colodny 2Colodny Family, Len Colodny: A Life Well-Lived (1938 – 2021), the Colodny Family, July 28, 2021. Leonard I. Colodny, above, was a loving husband, father and grandfather (aka "Pop Pop") as well as a New York Times-bestselling author, political analyst and investigator. He passed away peacefully on July 2, 2021, at the age of 83.

The greater Tampa Bay area in Florida was Len’s home since 1984. He was born, raised, lived and worked in Washington, DC; later moving to Maryland. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Sandra Colodny, his children Sherry Colodny and John Colodny, and his grandchildren, Jeremy Hollis and Samantha Colodny. He proudly served his country in the Air National Guard.

Len served as Vice Chairman of the Prince George’s County, Maryland Human Relations Commission (1973-1978). He was on both the Law Enforcement and Education panels. He was instrumental in reducing police brutality by implementing mental health initiatives and facilitated the establishment of a Rape Crisis Center, which became a model for the country and the first of its kind.

Len co-authored two groundbreaking books, bestseller Silent Coup: The Removal of a President (1991) and The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons from Nixon to Obama (2009), where he uncovered extensive new evidence that overturned mistaken history and transformed America’s understanding of Watergate and Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Len possessed masterful investigative skills and a razor-sharp analytical mind that could connect the dots where others could not, and explain complicated and multi-layered historical events.

“Len was a great patriot, driven not only to reveal the truth in our history, but to fight like a tiger to protect that truth from powerful people who seek to obscure it,” said his lawyer Charlie Carlson, “The beauty of his genius was his clear recognition of the importance of all that he was doing.”

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations may be made in Len’s name to Texas A&M University, Central Texas Historical Archive. "The Colodny Collection" includes a comprehensive archive of Len's research materials, which were the foundation of his two books. 

There will be an option to view the live stream the Memorial Service. A ‘Memorial Service & Celebration of Life’ honoring Len Colodny will be held Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021 at Trinity Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, 12609 Memorial Drive, Trinity, FL 34655.

Spartacus Educational, Len Colodny, John Simkin (web-based encyclopedia, frequently updated). Len Colodny, right, was a journalist. In 1992 he co-wrote with Robert Gettlin, Silent Coup: The Removal of Richard Nixon. In the book the authors claim that John Dean ordered the Watergate break-in because he knew that a call-girl ring was operating out of the Democratic headquarters. The authors also argued that Alexander Haig len colodny croppedwas not Deep Throat but was a key source for Bob Woodward, who had briefed Haig at the White House in 1969 and 1970.

In 1992 John Dean began legal action against Len Colodny and Gordon Liddy. Dean objected to information that appeared in books by Liddy (Will) and Colodny (Silent Coup) that claimed that Dean was the mastermind of the Watergate burglaries and the true target of the break-in was to destroy information implicating him and his wife in a prostitution ring. That case was settled in 1999 when State Farm Insurance Company paid Colodny $410,000 to allow Dean to dismiss the case without going to summary judgment. Dean also had to agree not to sue Colodny again and that was in the Court Order.

John Dean encouraged former DNC secretary Ida Wells to sue Gordon Liddy on the same subject as his original suit in US District Court in Baltimore. In July, 2002, jurors reached a unanimous decision in favor of Liddy and the theory put forward in Silent Coup: The Removal of Richard Nixon.

Colodny has written extensively about Watergate. Articles by him include "Felt Was Asked Under Oath in 1975 If He Was Deep Throat" (June 9, 2005) and "Still Protecting Al Haig" (July 7, 2005).

Primary Sources

(1) Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, Silent Coup: The Removal of Richard Nixon (1991)

Under Al Haig, (shown at right in a portrait) Larry Higby recalls, the day-to-day operation of the White House changed dramatically from what it had been under Higby's former boss, Haldeman. Higby told us that "The changes were fundamentally that Al controlled everything-everybody and everything." Whereas Haldeman had acted as a "general manager and coordinator as well as a personal adviser," Higby contends that alexander haig portraitHaldeman never blocked people from seeing the president, particularly Kissinger or Ehrlichman, and actually interceded to urge the president to see these men. "Bob [Haldeman] would often just glance at the stuff Henry was putting in or John was putting in or anybody else. Whereas Al tightly controlled each and every thing. I mean Al got much heavier involved in policy... Al was trying to manage the whole thing personally."

Haig's heavy hand meshed with the increasingly difficult times to heighten Nixon's isolation. Often the president would sit alone in his office, with a fire roaring and the air-conditioner running, a yellow tablet and pencil in hand, unwilling to see anyone. Stephen B. Bull, who served as a scheduler and later as a special assistant to Nixon during his entire presidency and also after his resignation, says that "The irony of Richard Nixon is that he had little trust in a lot of people, and he put too much trust in too few people.... When the world started closing in... it was quite convenient for [Nixon] to deal with Haig on a lot of matters and a lot of areas in which Haig really wasn't qualified." Bull remains angry at Haig, not because they were rivals, but because he viewed Haig as looking out for himself over Nixon.

The second Woodward and Bernstein book, The Final Days, paints a picture of a Haig who did not want to be everything to the president, and did not want to get Nixon into trouble. Bull saw precisely the opposite behavior on Haig's part during Bull's tenure as the day-to-day administrator of the president's office from February 197 3 through the August 1974 Nixon resignation. He watched with dismay as Haig "allowed the president to be isolated and indeed perhaps encouraged it." White House logs of the president's last fifteen months in office show Haig and Ziegler as the aides most often let into the inner sanctum with the president. To Bull, in those fifteen months, Haig seemed "duplicitous ... motivated by self-aggrandizement, rather than ideology or principle."

When Haig learned at a staff meeting of a decision that had been made without consulting him, Bull recalls that Haig "began pounding the table with his fist... and said two or three times, `I am the chief of staff. I make all the decisions in the White House.' We thought he was crazy." Such outbursts would characterize Haig's responses even to decisions made on nonpolicy matters such as the president's daily schedule. According to Bull, Haig at one point said, "If you think that this president can run the country without Al Haig... you are mistaken."

(2) Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, Silent Coup: The Removal of Richard Nixon (1991)

If a senator made a speech against the president's policies in regard to Vietnam, Nixon would issue an order to Haldeman: "Put a twenty-four-hour surveillance on that bastard."

Why a surveillance? To obtain deleterious information that could be used against the senator. Nixon liked that sort of secret, intrigue related intelligence, and fostered an environment within the White House that put a premium on it. The president believed that the domestic information-gathering arms of the government -- the FBI and other federal policing agencies -- could not be counted on to j edgar hoover 7 24 67undertake confidential assignments of the sort he had in mind. J. Edgar Hoover, Nixon believed, had files on everybody, but even though Hoover (shown at right in 1967) often cooperated with Nixon, the FBI director was reluctant to release any of those files to Nixon even after he became president, just as reluctant as Director Richard Helms would be in 1971 to release the CIA's Bay of Pigs files when Nixon instructed him to do so.

And so, just weeks after Nixon's inauguration, the president directed White House counsel John Ehrlichman to hire a private eye. "He wanted somebody who could do chores for him that a federal employee could not do," Ehrlichman says. "Nixon was demanding information on certain things that I couldn't get through government channels because it would have been questionable." What sort of investigations? "Of the Kennedys, for example," Ehrlichman wrote in Witness to Power.

(3) Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, Silent Coup: The Removal of Richard Nixon (1991)

Shortly after assuming his position, John Dean (shown in a White House photo) began thinking about expanding his domain, and hired former Army officer Fred F. Fielding as an assistant lawyer in the counsel's office. They became close friends. In Dean's 1976 memoir, Blind Ambition, he recounted how he explained to his new associate the way in which their careers could quickly rise: "Fred, I think we have to look at our office as a small law firm.... We have to build our practice like any other law firm. Our principal client, of course, is the president. But to convince the president we're not just the only law office in town, but the best, we've got to convince a lot of other people first." Especially Haldeman and Ehrlichman.

john dean white house photoBut how to convince them? As Dean tried to assess the situation at the White House, events soon showed him that intelligence gathering was the key to power in the Nixon White House. One of Dean's first assignments from Haldeman was to look over a startling proposal to revamp the government's domestic intelligence operations in order to neutralize radical groups such as the Black Panthers and the Weathermen.

The scheme had been the work of another of the White House's bright young stalwarts, Nixon aide Tom Charles Huston. The impetus was a meeting chaired by Nixon in the Oval Office on June 5, 1970, attended by J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Helms, and the chiefs of the NSA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The various agencies were almost at war with one another; just a few months earlier, for instance, Hoover had cut all FBI communication with the CIA. Nixon wanted the agencies to work together against the threat from the "New Left." In the aftermath of Nixon's decision in May 1970 to invade Cambodia, and the killings of several students at Kent State University, colleges all over the country were again being rocked by riots and demonstrations as they had been in the last year of Lyndon Johnson's presidency, and for the same reason-young people were objecting to the president's war policies. In Nixon's view, the threat was grave and must be attacked; therefore the agencies must find some way to bury their differences and concentrate on the true enemy. Huston was assigned to help Hoover and the intelligence chiefs clear obstacles to their working jointly on these matters.

In early July, Huston sent a long analysis to the president, endorsed by Hoover and the other intelligence agency directors, on how to enhance cooperation. To this memo Huston added his own secret one that became known as the "Huston Plan." It called for six activities, some of which were clearly illegal. They included electronic surveillance of persons and groups "who pose a major threat to internal security"; monitoring of American citizens by international communications facilities; the relaxation of restrictions on the covert opening of mail by federal agents; surreptitious entries and burglaries to gain information on the groups; the recruitment of more campus informants; and, to ensure that the objectives were carried out and that intelligence continued to be gathered, the formation of a new interagency group consisting of the agencies at the June 5 meeting and military counter-intelligence agencies. Nixon endorsed these measures in the Huston Plan on July 14, 1970, because, as he put it in his memoir, "I felt they were necessary and justified by the violence we faced."

The secret plan angered J. Edgar Hoover, not because he objected to coming down hard on dissidents, but, rather, because he felt that any new interagency group would encroach on the turf of the FBI and because he was concerned about the negative public reaction should any of the activities be exposed. On July 27, the day Dean began work at the White House, Hoover took the unusual step of venturing out of his own domain to visit his nominal superior, Attorney General John Mitchell. As Hoover learned, Mitchell did not know anything about the Huston Plan at the time. "I was kept in the dark until I found out about it from Hoover," Mitchell later told us. But as soon as he was apprised of the plan, Mitchell agreed with Hoover that it must be stopped -- not for Hoover's reasons, but because it contained clearly unconstitutional elements -- and immediately visited Nixon and told him it could not go forward. In testament to Mitchell's arguments and good sense, Nixon canceled the plan shortly thereafter and Huston was relieved of his responsibilities in the area of domestic intelligence.

Coordination of official domestic intelligence from various federal agencies concerning anti-war activists and other "radicals" was then handed to the new White House counsel, John Dean, along with a copy of the rejected Huston Plan. But it seemed that the president was still not satisfied with the quality of domestic intelligence, because in August and September Haldeman pushed Dean to try and find a way around the Hoover road-block. In pursuit of a solution, on September 17, 1970, Dean went to see his old boss, John Mitchell (shown below right on the cover of a biography by Fox News White House correspondent James Rosen). Hours earlier, Mitchell had lunched with Director Helms and other senior CIA officials who had all agreed that the FBI wasn't doing a very good job of collecting domestic intelligence.

Dean and Mitchell spoke, and the next day Dean prepared a memo to Mitchell with several suggestions: "There should be a new committee set up, an interagency group to evaluate the government's james rosen the strong man croppeddomestic intelligence product, and it should have "operational" responsibilities as well. Both men, Dean's memo said, had agreed that "it would be inappropriate to have any blanket removal of restrictions" such as had been proposed in the Huston Plan; instead, Dean suggested that "The most appropriate procedure would be to decide on the type of intelligence we need, based on an assessment of the recommendations of this unit, and then to proceed to remove the restraints as necessary to obtain such intelligence."

Dean's plan languished and was never put into operation. Years later, in the spring of 1973, when Dean was talking to federal prosecutors and preparing to appear before the Senate committee investigating Watergate, he gave a copy of the Huston Plan to Federal Judge John J. Sirica, who turned it over to the Senate committee. Dean's action helped to establish his bona fides as the accuser of the president and was the cause of much alarm. In his testimony and writings thereafter, Dean suggested that he had always been nervous about the Huston Plan and that he had tried to get around it, and as a last resort had gotten John Mitchell to kill the revised version. In an interview, Dean told us, "I looked at that goddamn Tom Huston report," went to Mitchell and said, "General, I find it pretty spooky." But as the September 18, 1970, memo to Mitchell shows, Dean actually embraced rather than rejected the removal of "restraints as necessary to obtain" intelligence.

A small matter? A minor divergence between two versions of the same incident? As will become clear as this inquiry continues, Dean's attempt to gloss over the actual disposition of the Huston Plan was a first sign of the construction of a grand edifice of deceit.

July 25

washington post logoWashington Post, James Polk: 1937–2021: Pulitzer Prize winner for Watergate reporting at the old Washington Star dies at 83, Matt Schudel, July 25, 2021. James R. Polk, a journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for his reporting on the Watergate scandal for the old Washington Star, and who later worked with NBC News and CNN, died July 15 at his home in Marietta, Ga. He was 83.

He had complications from a series of strokes, said his wife, Cara Polk.

james polk indiana universityMr. Polk, right, spent only two years with the Star, then called the Washington Star-News, but in that time he uncovered financial irregularities concerning the reelection campaign of President Richard M. Nixon, including a secret contribution from a shady financier, delivered in a briefcase.

After the break-in at the Watergate office complex in June 1972, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led an investigation that led to a Pulitzer Prize in 1973. But reporters from other news organizations, including Mr. Polk, also pursued the story about White House corruption, centered on Nixon’s reelection committee.

Early in 1973, Mr. Polk revealed that Robert L. Vesco, who was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for stealing $224 million in assets from an offshore investment fund he controlled, had made an unreported $200,000 contribution to Nixon’s 1972 campaign.

Mr. Polk’s findings, which were printed in newspapers across the country, showed that Nixon’s onetime Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Commerce Secretary Maurice H. Stans were part of an effort to funnel the money to the reelection effort and to defendants in the Watergate break-in. Mr. Polk uncovered details of the transaction that seemed to be drawn from a movie about organized crime.

“A Vesco business aide, Laurence B. Richardson, who carried the $200,000 in a briefcase to Nixon fundraiser Maurice H. Stans,” Mr. Polk wrote, delivered the cash by saying, “I have a message from Mr. Vesco.”

July 22

ny times logoNew York Times, Harry Rosenfeld, Who Saw News in a ‘Third-Rate Burglary,’ Dies at 91, Sam Roberts, July 22, 2021. He assigned Woodward and Bernstein to follow the Watergate break-in for The Washington Post and fended off efforts to supplant them. 

Harry M. Rosenfeld, right, harry rosenfeldwho injected his brash brand of journalism into the Washington Post, where he oversaw the two reporters who transformed a local crime story into the national Watergate corruption scandal that toppled the Nixon administration, died on July 16 at his home in upstate Slingerlands, N.Y. A survivor of Nazi Germany, as recounted in a memoir shown below, he was 91.

The cause was complications of Covid-19, his daughter Amy Rosenfeld Kaufman said.

As The Post’s assistant managing editor for metropolitan news, Mr. Rosenfeld directly supervised Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they mined secretive sources in their follow-the-money unraveling of the Watergate break-in, which President Richard M. Nixon’s press harry rosenfeld coversecretary had described as a “third-rate burglary attempt” and which led to Mr. Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

At one point Mr. Rosenfeld shielded the two reporters from attempts to remove them from the story once its broad implications became apparent. The Post’s editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee, had sought to replace “Woodstein,” as the duo were nicknamed, with Post veterans steeped in government and politics.

As quoted in Mr. Woodward’s and Mr. Bernstein’s book All the President’s Men — a line delivered by Jack Warden playing Mr. Rosenfeld in the 1976 movie version — Mr. Rosenfeld defended the reporters by asking Mr. Bradlee a rhetorical question.

“They’re hungry,” he said. “You remember when you were hungry?”

June 27 

washington post logoWashington Post, Mike Gravel 1930–2021: Senator from Alaska with theatrical flair dies at 91, Chris Power, June 27, 2021 (print ed.). Former U.S. senator Mike Gravel, an Alaska Democrat with a flair for the theatrical who rose from obscurity to brief renown by reading passages of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record in an effort to end the Vietnam War and who ran quixotic campaigns for the presidency in 2008 and 2019, died June 26 at his home in Seaside, Calif. He was 91.

The cause was multiple myeloma, said his daughter, Lynne Mosier.

mike gravel offical photoBorn into a working-class Massachusetts family of French Canadian immigrants, Mr. Gravel (pronounced gruh-VELL), right, was drawn to politics at a young age but sensed that he would be hindered by his lack of connections and polish. After graduating from college, he set out for Alaska in 1956 — three years before it became a state — hoping to find greater political opportunities in a place with no entrenched establishment.

Within a few years, Mr. Gravel was prospering in real estate development and won election to the state House of Representatives, rising to the position of speaker in 1965. Buoyed by his telegenic looks, and what he presented as his support for the Vietnam War in a relatively hawkish state, he narrowly unseated an incumbent octogenarian U.S. senator in 1968.

“I said what I said” about Vietnam, he told NPR decades later, “to advance my career.”

In Washington, he reversed his stance and became known among the chamber’s more traditional denizens as a gadfly. He was by his own admission “too abrasive” for backroom persuasion and enjoyed filibustering. His legislative preoccupations, besides ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam, included opposing the Nixon administration’s war on drugs and abolishing the draft.

March 31

gordon liddy

ny times logoNew York Times, G. Gordon Liddy, Mastermind Behind Watergate Burglary, Dies at 90, Robert D. McFadden, Updated March 31, 2021. Unlike other defendants in the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, Mr. Liddy refused to testify and drew the longest prison term.

G. Gordon Liddy, a cloak-and-dagger lawyer who masterminded dirty tricks for the White House and concocted the bungled burglary that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, died on Tuesday in Mount Vernon, Va. He was 90.

His death, at the home of his daughter Alexandra Liddy Bourne, was confirmed by his son Thomas P. Liddy, who said that his father had Parkinson’s disease and had been in declining health.

Decades after Watergate entered the lexicon, Mr. Liddy was still an enigma in the cast of characters who fell from grace with the 37th president — to some a patriot who went silently to prison refusing to betray his comrades, to others a zealot who cashed in on bogus celebrity to become an author and syndicated talk show host.

As a leader of a White House “plumbers” unit set up to plug information leaks, and then as a strategist for the president’s re-election campaign, Mr. Liddy helped devise plots to discredit Nixon “enemies” and to disrupt the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Most were far-fetched — bizarre kidnappings, acts of sabotage, traps using prostitutes, even an assassination — and were never carried out.

But Mr. Liddy, a former F.B.I. agent, and E. Howard Hunt, a former C.I.A. agent, engineered two break-ins at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex in Washington. On May 28, 1972, as Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt stood by, six Cuban expatriates and James W. McCord Jr., a Nixon campaign security official, went in, planted bugs, photographed documents and got away cleanly.

A few weeks later, on June 17, four Cubans and Mr. McCord, wearing surgical gloves and carrying walkie-talkies, returned to the scene and were caught by the police. Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt, running the operation from a Watergate hotel room, fled but were soon arrested and indicted on charges of burglary, wiretapping and conspiracy.

In the context of 1972, with Mr. Nixon’s triumphal visit to China and a steam-rolling presidential campaign that soon crushed the Democrat, Senator George S. McGovern, the Watergate case looked inconsequential at first. Mr. Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, dismissed it as a “third-rate burglary.”

But it deepened a White House cover-up that had begun in 1971, when Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt broke into the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, looking for damaging information on him. Over the next two years, the cover-up unraveled under pressure of investigations, trials, hearings and headlines into the worst political scandal — and the first resignation by a sitting president — in the nation’s history.

“I have lived as I believed I ought to have lived,” Mr. Liddy, a small dapper man with a baldish pate and a brushy mustache, told reporters after his release. He said he had no regrets and would do it again. “When the prince approaches his lieutenant, the proper response of the lieutenant to the prince is, ‘Fiat voluntas tua,’” he said, using the Latin of the Lord’s Prayer for “Thy will be done.”

Disbarred from law practice and in debt for $300,000, mostly for legal fees, Mr. Liddy began a new career as a writer. His first book, “Out of Control,” (1979) was a spy thriller. He later wrote another novel, “The Monkey Handlers” (1990), and a nonfiction book, “When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country” (2002). He also co-wrote a guide to fighting terrorism, “Fight Back! Tackling Terrorism, Liddy Style” (2006), and produced many articles on politics, taxes, health and other matters.

In 1980, he broke his silence on Watergate with his autobiography, Will. The reviews were mixed, but it became a best seller. After years of revelations by other Watergate conspirators, there was little new in it about the scandal, but critics said his account of prison life was graphic. A television movie based on the book was aired in 1982 by NBC.

Feb. 11

ny times logoNew York Times, Eugenio Martínez, Last of the Watergate Burglars, Dies at 98, Sam Roberts, Updated Feb. 11, 2021. A hero to exiles from Castro’s Cuba, he was the only person other than Richard Nixon to receive a presidential pardon in the scandal.

eugenio martinez mugEugenio Martínez, right, the last surviving Watergate burglar and the only figure in the scandal besides Richard M. Nixon to be granted a presidential pardon, died on Saturday in Minneola, Fla. He was 98.

His death, at his daughter’s home near Orlando, was announced by Brigade 2506, a veterans group of Mr. Martínez’s fellow anti-Communist Cuban exiles. Their abortive invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 to overthrow the government headed by Fidel Castro was covertly supported by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Martínez was indelibly linked to a crime that set in motion the downfall of a president. “I wanted to topple Castro, and unfortunately I toppled the president who was helping us, Richard Nixon,” Mr. Martínez said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo in 2009.

Mr. Martínez, who was said to have infiltrated Cuba hundreds of times on C.I.A. missions to plant anti-Castro agents there or extract vulnerable Cubans, was one of four operatives recruited in 1972 to burglarize the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate complex in Washington. He said he had been enlisted by E. Howard Hunt, a White House operative and another Bay of Pigs veteran and C.I.A. alumnus.

By Mr. Martínez’s account, the burglars were instructed to search for proof that Castro was subsidizing the campaign of Nixon’s Democratic rival for re-election, Senator George S. McGovern.

On June 17, 1972, on their second foray into the Watergate offices, to fix problematic listening devices that they had planted weeks earlier, according to the authorities, they caught the attention of an alert security guard, who notified the police.

In January 1973 four of the five burglars — members of the so-called plumbers, an informal White House team assigned to plug information leaks — pleaded guilty so as to avoid revealing details of the bungled operation. They were convicted of conspiracy, theft and wiretapping.

The others, also Cuban-born, were Bernard L. Barker, a former Miami real estate agent and C.I.A. operative, who died in 2009; Virgilio González, a Miami locksmith, who died in 2014; and Frank A. Sturgis, a soldier of fortune, who died in 1993. (In 1971, the four had taken part in the break-in at the Los Angeles office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who disclosed the Pentagon papers to the press.)

Each of the four served about 15 months in prison. Mr. Hunt served about 31 months.

They were led by James W. McCord Jr., a security coordinator for the Nixon campaign whose confession to the judge just before his sentencing precipitated the revelations of White House crimes and cover-ups that culminated in Nixon’s resignation in 1974. For aiding prosecutors in pursuing senior presidential aides in the scandal, Mr. McCord had his one-to-five-year sentence cut to less than four months.

In 1977, the four Cuban-born burglars each accepted an out-of-court settlement of $50,000 from the Nixon campaign. They said they had been misled into believing that they had acted with government sanction on behalf of a White House administration that was concerned about American security and sympathetic to Cuban refugees.

In 1983, after his requests for clemency had been rejected by Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter, Mr. Martínez — who, it turned out, had still been on retainer to the C.I.A. at the time of the Watergate break-in — was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan.

The pardon, which was granted because Mr. Martínez had been regarded as the least culpable of the defendants, restored his right to vote. Despite the ordeal, he prided himself on one Watergate keepsake — a golden lucky clover inscribed, in Spanish, with the words “Good luck, Richard Nixon.”

Eugenio Rolando Martínez Careaga was born on July 7, 1922, in what is now the province of Artemisa in western Cuba. Before Castro’s rise he was exiled as a critic of the dictator Fulgencio Batista. He later returned to Cuba but left again in 1959 for opposing Castro’s newly installed regime.

“My mother and father were not allowed to leave Cuba,” he wrote in a reminiscence published in Harper’s Magazine in 1974. “It would have been easy for me to get them out. That was my specialty. But my bosses in the Company — the C.I.A. — said I might get caught and tortured, and if I talked I might jeopardize other operations. So my mother and father died in Cuba. That is how orders go. I follow the orders.”

 

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