Tuesday, 30 April 2019


My obituary of the Watergate burglar James McCord went up on the Guardian online Sunday; you can link to it here. It should be in the paper paper soon. It is pretty much as I wrote it, as I went through it carefully with my editor to try to keep in on point to the Watergate saga and not digress too far into some of the other points of McCord's career. Thus there wasn't room for more detail on the deep background of Watergate, the relationship between Nixon and the CIA, and indeed the formal investigations: what they did and didn't approach and who indeed Deep Throat actually was. I will write more on this later, but after I talk about McCord on BBC Radio4's Last Word later this week.

The link between the Watergate burglary and Dallas is of course the biggest non-Watergate talking point. The placing of McCord in Dallas is double-hearsay, while Howard Hunt of course lost a libel suit when he was publicly named as being there on the 22nd of November 1963.

I should have brought up McCord's first big job with the Special Research Staff, which was cleaning up after the 1953 murder of Frank Olson at the Statler Hotel in Manhattan. Olson had been dosed with LSD a few days earlier in Maryland, as the CIA seemed to be worried he would inform on the 1951 incident in France involving an experiment with drugs--the deaths in the village of Pont Saint Esprit were blamed on rye bread and ergot. This was part of various CIA operations intended to use drugs as instruments of mind control and interrogation, as well as possible weaponisation. McCord helped ensure Church's death would be listed at suicide; the CIA#s MK-ULTRA program would resurface in the alleged brain-washing of Sirhan Sirhan.

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