E. Howard Hunt

Everette Howard Hunt

Everette Howard Hunt was born in Hamburg, on 9th October, 1918. During the Second World War Hunt served in the Office of Strategic Services. After the war he joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and for a while was stationed in China. While there he met and married Dorothy Wetzel.

In 1949 Hunt establish the first postwar CIA station in Mexico City. He also worked closely with President Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua.

In his spare time Hunt wrote spy novels. This included East of Farewell (1942) Limit of Darkness (1944), Stranger in Town (1947), Bimini Run (1949) and The Violent Ones (1950) Hunt was involved in clandestine operations in Guatemala against President Jacobo Arbenz. The plot against Arbenz became part of Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power).

Tracy Barnes was eventually placed in charge of what became known as Operation Success. David Atlee Phillips was appointed to run the propaganda campaign against Arbenz's government. According to Phillips he initially questioned the right of the CIA to interfere in Guatemala: In his autobiography Phillips claims he said to Barnes: "But Arbenz became President in a free election. What right do we have to help someone topple his government and throw him out of office?" However, Barnes convinced him that it was vital important that the Soviets did not establish a "beachhead in Central America".

The CIA propaganda campaign included the distribution of 100,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled Chronology of Communism in Guatemala. They also produced three films on Guatemala for showing free in cinemas. David Atlee Phillips, along with Hunt, was responsible for running the CIA's Voice of Liberation radio station. Faked photographs were distributed that claimed to show the mutilated bodies of opponents of Arbenz. William (Rip) Robertson was also involved in the campaign against Arbenz.

The CIA began providing financial and logistic support for Colonel Carlos Castillo. With the help of resident Anastasio Somoza, Castillo had formed a rebel army in Nicaragua. It has been estimated that between January and June, 1954, the CIA spent about $20 million on Castillo's army.

On 18th June 1954 aircraft dropped leaflets over Guatemala demanding that Arbenz resign immediately or else the county would be bombed. CIA's Voice of Liberation also put out similar radio broadcasts. This was followed by a week of bombing ports, ammunition dumps, military barracks and the international airport.

Carlos Castillo's collection of soldiers now crossed the Honduran-Guatemalan border. His army was outnumbered by the Guatemalan Army. However, the CIA Voice of Liberation successfully convinced Arbenz's supporters that two large and heavily armed columns of invaders were moving towards Guatemala City.

The CIA was also busy bribing Arbenz's military commanders. It was later discovered that one commander accepted $60,000 to surrender his troops. Ernesto Guevara attempted to organize some civil militias but senior army officers blocked the distribution of weapons. Arbenz now believed he stood little chance of preventing Castillo gaining power. Accepting that further resistance would only bring more deaths he announced his resignation over the radio.

In 1959 Hunt visited Cuba and decided that Fidel Castro posed a serious threat to the security of the United States: "I wrote a top secret report, and I had five recommendations, one of which was the one that's always been thrown at me, is that during... or... slightly antecedent to an invasion, Castro would have to be neutralized - and we all know what that meant, although I didn't want to say so in a memorandum with my name on it." Hunt played an important role in planning the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Hunt was CIA station chief in Mexico during the early 1960s and was rumoured to have been involved in the conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy. It was falsely claimed that he was one of the men arrested in Dallas on the day of the murder.

In 1970 Hunt officially retired from the the Central Intelligence Agency. On the advice of Richard Helms, Hunt went to work for Robert F. Bennett, the head of the Robert Mullen & Co, a small public relations company in Washington.

On 7th July, 1971, Charles Colson and John Ehrlichman appointed Hunt to the White House staff. Working under Egil Krogh and G. Gordon Liddy, Hunt became a member of the Special Investigations Group (SIG). The group was (informally known as "the Plumbers" because their job was to stop leaks from Nixon's administration).

On 15th May, 1972, Arthur Bremer tried to assassinate George Wallace at a presidential campaign rally in Laurel, Maryland. Wallace was hit four times. Three other people, Alabama State Trooper Captain E. C. Dothard, Dora Thompson, a Wallace campaign volunteer, and Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent, were also wounded in the attack.

Richard Nixon was deeply shocked by this event. He told Charles Colson, a member of his White House staff, that he was concerned that Bremer “might have ties to the Republican Party or, even worse, the President’s re-election committee”. Colson now phoned Hunt and asked him to break-in to Bremer's apartment to discover if he had any documents that linked him to Nixon or his main political opponent in the presidential election, George McGovern. According to Hunt's autobiography, Undercover, he refused to carry out this order.

Bob Woodward reported in the Washington Post: "Within hours of the Wallace assassination attempt, a White House official was asked by the Washington Post about the identity of the governor's attacker. During a subsequent conversation that evening, the official raised the possibility of Bremer's connection to leftist causes and the campaign of Sen. George McGovern, through literature found in his apartment.... One White House source said that when President Nixon was informed of the shooting, he became deeply upset and voiced concern that the attempt on Gov. Wallace's life might have been made by someone with ties to the Republican Party or the Nixon campaign."

It later emerged that Federal Bureau of Investigation officers found both left-wing and right-wing propaganda in Bremer's apartment. They also found a diary where Bremer wrote about his plans to kill George Wallace or Richard Nixon. The opening sentence was: "Now I start my diary of my personal plot to kill by pistol either Richard Nixon or George Wallace." The diary was eventually published as a book, An Assassin's Diary (1973).

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Local reporters later claimed that the FBI left Bremer’s home for around 90 minutes before coming back and sealing it. During this time reporters and other unidentified figures took away papers from Bremer’s apartment

Later that year the SIG became concerned about the activities of Daniel Ellsberg. He was a former member of the McNamara Study Group which had produced the classified History of Decision Making in Vietnam, 1945-1968. Ellsberg, disillusioned with the progress of the war, believed this document should be made available to the public. Ellsberg gave a copy of what later became known as the Pentagon Papers to Phil Geyelin of the Washington Post. Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee decided against publishing the contents on the document.

Daniel Ellsberg now went to the New York Times and they began publishing extracts from the document on 13th June, 1971. This included information that Dwight Eisenhower had made a secret commitment to help the French defeat the rebellion in Vietnam. The document also showed that John F. Kennedy had turned this commitment into a war by using a secret "provocation strategy" that led to the Gulf of Tonkin incidents and that Lyndon B. Johnson had planned from the beginning of his presidency to expand the war.

On 3rd September, 1971, Hunt and Gordon Liddy supervised the burglary of a psychiatrist who had been treating Ellsberg. The main objective was to discover incriminating or embarrassing information to discredit Ellsberg.

Another project involved the stealing of certain documents from the safe of Hank Greenspun, the editor of the Las Vegas Sun. Later, James W. McCord claimed that Greenspun was being targeted because of his relationship with Robert Maheu and Howard Hughes.

In 1972 Gordon Liddy joined the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). Later that year Liddy presented Nixon's attorney general, John N. Mitchell, with an action plan called Operation Gemstone. Liddy wanted a $1 million budget to carry out a series of black ops activities against Nixon's political enemies. Mitchell decided that the budget for Operation Gemstone was too large. Instead he gave him $250,000 to launch a scaled-down version of the plan.

One of Liddy's first tasks was to place electronic devices in the Democratic Party campaign offices in an apartment block called Watergate. Liddy wanted to wiretap the conversations of Larry O'Brien, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and R. Spencer Oliver, executive director of the Association of State Democratic Chairmen. This was not successful and on 3rd July, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord returned to the Watergate offices. However, this time they were caught by the police.

The phone number of Howard Hunt was found in address books of two of the burglars. Reporters were able to link the break-in to the White House. Bob Woodward, a reporter working for the Washington Post was told by a friend who was employed by the government, that senior aides of President Richard Nixon, had paid the burglars to obtain information about its political opponents.

Hunt threatened to reveal details of who paid him to organize the Watergate break-in. Dorothy Hunt took part in the negotiations with Charles Colson. According to investigator Sherman Skolnick, Hunt also had information on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He argued that if "Nixon didn't pay heavy to suppress the documents they had showing he was implicated in the planning and carrying out, by the FBI and the CIA, of the political murder of President Kennedy"

James W. McCord claimed that Dorothy Hunt told him that at a meeting with her husband's attorney, William O. Buttmann, she revealed that Hunt had information that would "blow the White House out of the water".

In October, 1972, Dorothy attempted to speak to Charles Colson. He refused to talk to her but later admitted to the New York Times that she was "upset at the interruption of payments from Nixon's associates to Watergate defendants."

On 15th November, Colson met with Richard Nixon, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman at Camp David to discuss Howard Hunt's blackmail threat. John N. Mitchell was also getting worried by Dorothy Hunt's threats and he asked John Dean to use a secret White House fund to "get the Hunt situation settled down". Eventually it was arranged for Frederick LaRue to give Hunt about $250,000 to buy his silence.

However, on 8th December, 1972, Dorothy Hunt had a meeting with Michelle Clark, a journalist working for CBS. According to Sherman H. Skolnick, Clark was working on a story on the Watergate case: "Ms Clark had lots of insight into the bugging and cover-up through her boyfriend, a CIA operative." Also with Hunt and Clark was Chicago Congressman George Collins.

Dorothy Hunt, Michelle Clark and George Collins took the Flight 533 from Washington to Chicago. The aircraft hit the branches of trees close to Midway Airport: "It then hit the roofs of a number of neighborhood bungalows before plowing into the home of Mrs. Veronica Kuculich at 3722 70th Place, demolishing the home and killing her and a daughter, Theresa. The plane burst into flames killing a total of 45 persons, 43 of them on the plane, including the pilot and first and second officers. Eighteen passengers survived." Hunt, Clark and Collins were all killed in the accident.

The following month Howard Hunt pleaded guilty to burglary and wiretapping and eventually served 33 months in prison. He later told People Magazine (20th May, 1974): ''I had always assumed, working for the CIA for so many years, that anything the White House wanted done was the law of the land. `I viewed this like any other mission. It just happened to take place inside this country.''

The Daily Mail (22nd January 1934)
E. Howard Hunt, testifying Senate Watergate Committee in Washington (24th September 1973)

In a comprehensive analysis of Hunt’s work published in The New York Review of Books in 1973, Gore Vidal argued that Hunt might have written the diary that was found in the car of Arthur H. Bremer, the man who attempted to assassinate George Wallace.

Howard Hunt continued to write spy novels and titles included Give Us This Day (1973) and The Berlin Ending (1973). Hunt also published the novel The Hargrave Deception. The book was based on the James Angleton investigation of Kim Philby.

In August, 1978, Victor Marchetti published an article about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in the liberty Lobby newspaper, Spotlight. In the article Marchetti argued that the House Special Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) had obtained a 1966 CIA memo that revealed Hunt, Frank Sturgis and Gerry Patrick Hemming had been involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. Marchetti's article also included a story that Marita Lorenz had provided information on this plot. Later that month Joseph Trento and Jacquie Powers wrote a similar story for the Sunday News Journal.

The HSCA did not publish this CIA memo linking its agents to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Hunt now decided to take legal action against the Liberty Lobby and in December, 1981, he was awarded $650,000 in damages. Liberty Lobby appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. It was claimed that Hunt's attorney, Ellis Rubin, had offered a clearly erroneous instruction as to the law of defamation. The three-judge panel agreed and the case was retried. This time Mark Lane defended the Liberty Lobby against Hunt's action.

Lane eventually discovered Marchetti’s sources. The main source was William Corson. It also emerged that Marchetti had also consulted James Angleton and Alan J. Weberman before publishing the article. As a result of obtaining of getting depositions from David Atlee Phillips, Richard Helms, G. Gordon Liddy, Stansfield Turner and Marita Lorenz, plus a skillful cross-examination by Lane of Hunt, the jury decided in January, 1995, that Marchetti had not been guilty of libel when he suggested that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated by people working for the CIA.

As a result of the failed legal action, in June, 1995, Hunt filed for bankruptcy protection from his creditors. Hunt spent his final years quietly in his home in Miami's Biscayne Park neighborhood with his second wife, Laura Martin Hunt.

In 2006 it was announced that Hunt had written his memoirs. This included a claim that Lyndon Baines Johnson might have been involved in ordering the assassination of John F. Kennedy. "Having Kennedy liquidated, thus elevating himself to the presidency without having to work for it himself, could have been a very tempting and logical move on Johnson's part. LBJ had the money and the connections to manipulate the scenario in Dallas and is on record as having convinced JFK to make the appearance in the first place. He further tried unsuccessfully to engineer the passengers of each vehicle, trying to get his good buddy, Gov. (John) Connolly, to ride with him instead of in JFK's car - where... he would have been out of danger."

Hunt suggests that senior CIA official, William K. Harvey could have been involved in the plot to kill Kennedy: "Harvey was a ruthless man who was not satisfied with his position in the CIA and its government salary... He definitely had dreams of becoming (CIA director) and LBJ could do that for him if he were president.... (LBJ) would have used Harvey because he was available and corrupt."

Edward Howard Hunt died of pneumonia on 23rd January, 2007. His memoir American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond was published in May 2007.

After his father's death, Saint John Hunt, released a tape where his father claimed that Lyndon Baines Johnson was the instigator of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and that it was organised by Cord Meyer, David Atlee Phillips, Frank Sturgis and David Sanchez Morales.

Primary Sources

(1) H. R. Haldeman, The Ends of Power (1978)

The Haldeman Theory of the break-in is as follows: I believe Nixon told Colson to get the goods on O'Brien's connection with Hughes at a time when both of them were infuriated with O'Brien's success in using the I.T.T. case against them.

I believe Colson then passed the word to Hunt who conferred with Liddy who decided the taps on O'Brien and Oliver, the other Hughes' phone, would be their starting point.

I believe the Democratic high command knew the break-in was going to take place, and let it happen. They may even have planted the plainclothesman who arrested the burglars.

I believe that the C.I.A. monitored the Watergate burglars throughout. And that the overwhelming evidence leads to the conclusion that the break-in was deliberately sabotaged. (In this regard, it's interesting to point out that every one of the Hunt-Liddy projects somehow failed, from the interrogation of DeMotte, who was supposed to know all about Ted Kennedy's secret love life and didn't, to Dita Beard, to Ellsberg, to Watergate)

None failed so comically as Hunt's interview with Lieutenant Colonel Lucien Conein, a CIA official in South Vietnam at the time of President Ngo Dinh Diem's assassination.

Nixon had run into a stonewall at CIA while trying to track down all the facts about the Bay of Pigs. Now, through Colson and Hunt, he went after another alleged weak spot in Kennedy's record: the assassination of Diem in 1963.

Hunt later testified that he and Colson were attempting to show that a U.S. Catholic administration had in fact conspired in the assassination of a Catholic Chief-of-State of another country'. Colson felt this would damage Senator Ted Kennedy with Catholic voters if he ran in 1972.

Hunt soon discovered that Kennedy had known of and approved the coup against Diem. But had he gone further, and approved the assassination of the South Vietnamese leader?

(2) E. Howard Hunt, interview for the television programme, Backyard (21st February, 1999)

Interviewer: When you began your period of office in Mexico City, could you tell me what year that was, and how you perceived the Monroe Doctrine and what it was?

E. Howard Hunt: My attention was soon directed to the apparent violations of the Monroe Doctrine, or the coming violations of the Monroe Doctrine, by Guatemala, by the government of Arbenz, when a number of students that I had been responsible for sending into Guatemala, at least paying... it was a very low-level thing, just paying their expenses to meet with their Catholic conference in Guatemala City... and when they come back, they told horrific stories of communist-type suppression, of beatings of Christian students, and I thought this thing could grow and become a cancer in Central America. And I reported the students' findings religiously to headquarters, and there was very, very little interest. Eventually, an officer of lower rank than myself came down to say, "Well, you know, why don't you cool it - there's no particular interest in what's going on in Guatemala." And I said, "Well, I don't think that's the thing to do," I said, "because we're faced here with the obvious intervention of a foreign power, because these homegrown parties are not really homegrown, they're being funded or advised by a foreign power - i.e. the Soviet Union."... Socialism has always had a powerful attraction for the student element in Latin America, regardless of what country it is - socialism, in my opinion, being just a step away from authoritarian communism; "communism with a happy face", you can call it....

Interviewer: What part did the American ambassador, Purefoy, play in this business?

E. Howard Hunt: Well, Purefoy was very, very helpful. He was sort of a prisoner (Laughs) of ours, of CIA and of the Department of State. He owed his ambassadorship to Eisenhower, and he understood that cooperation with us was part of the deal, and so he bent over backward to do everything he could. He had had one or two private conversations with Arbenz, trying to persuade... first of all, to determine to his own satisfaction that Arbenz was a communist, and secondly, to tell Arbenz that he was on a very sticky wicket and ought to change his direction. Of course, that did nothing at all, because Arbenz I don't think had a free will in all of this, I think that his wife was giving him the directions; she was a lot smarter, and between her and Fortuny, he was the low man on the totem pole. But Purefoy was very, very helpful. I won't say that we couldn't have done it without him, but it would just have been a little harder, a little more difficult. And then in Honduras we had Whitey Willard as ambassador, and he'd been a Flying Tiger in China at a time when I was in China, and although I didn't know him over there, everybody thought well of him, and he was the one who had to oversee all the black flights in and out of Honduras, the building of the radio station, all the transmission to keep...

Interviewer: Mr. Hunt, we'll go back over just the last bit that we were talking about before we ran out of tape. We were talking about the ambassador, John Purefoy, sometimes called Jack Purefoy, and his importance in the operation. He was an ardent anti-Communist, I have read, but could you just repeat some of the things that you said, how he was involved in PB Success?

E. Howard Hunt: Well, I never thought of Jack Purefoy as being an ardent anti-Communist. He'd been director of security for the Department of State at a time when Mr. Truman denied that we had any communists in the Department of State, and Purefoy backed him up, and his payoff for that was to be made ambassador to Greece. Of course, over in Greece he'd seen a great deal of communist-anti-communist bloody struggle, so that may have made a convert of him, but he didn't start out as an ardent anti-Communist. He was useful to us, to the Department of State, to the Eisenhower Administration and to the nation because he was expendable: if he did well for us, if he cooperated and accomplished things that we wanted done, then he had a chance to complete a career as a diplomat; and if he screwed up, he was gone, and he knew it. I suppose that somebody told him in just so many words. John Foster Dulles could easily have... told him that and gotten away with it. But Purefoy, once he got into the hang of the thing, once he got the feel of it, and the surge took place mentally and physically, then he did everything he could to cooperate with us and help bring Arbenz down.

(3) Fabian Escalante, The Secret War: CIA Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-62 (1995)

One of Howard Hunt's first jobs when he arrived in Miami was to find an efficient assistant. His mission was to convince "prominent" Cubans there to form a front to back-up the operational plans of the CIA in the months ahead. He selected Bernard Baker, the CIA agent who, months earlier, had helped Manuel Artime flee from Cuba. He also talked with Batista supporters, organized into the Anticommunist Crusade. They were a powerful force that could not be ignored. Besides, Colonel King had instructed Hunt to give preferential attention to this group, which was favorably disposed to the United States, and with whom they could do business once their cause triumphed.

Hunt had risen as far as he could in the CIA and knew that he would never be made division chief; therefore this mission suited him perfectly. He would do his job for the Agency while preparing himself for the new life he envisioned as a businessman after the fall of "the Castro regime."

Meanwhile, other plans were underway in Langley. Tracy Barnes and Frank Bender knew that Batista and his supporters had lost all prestige in Cuba and Latin America in general. The Agency was also looking for its own candidates. Two men were particularly favored because they represented two different generations of Cuban politicians: one was Tony Varona, and the other Manuel Artime Buesa. Another important candidate was the deserter Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz.

Personal interests interfered with the work of the CIA operatives. Finally a deal was struck: the political front would be represented by all of the tendencies in exile, including the Batista supporters. Howard Hunt heaved a sigh of relief; however, he still continued to question the decision by Barnes and Bender not to give that group the preferential treatment that Colonel King, the division chief, had ordered.

(4) E. Howard Hunt, Undercover (1974)

Dorothy told me that upon her return from Europe she had called Douglas Caddy on several occasions and received what she considered were unsatisfactory responses. She had been unable to reach Liddy. Confronted with this situation, and not knowing where I was or what faced me, she went to CREP headquarters and demanded to see the general counsel, an attorney named Paul O'Brien. Dorothy went on to say that O'Brien had blanched when she told him of my involvement with Gordon Liddy, and he said he would look into the circumstances at once. Mr. Rivers' call, she theorized, was in response to her enlightenment of Paul O'Brien.

Presently Bittman reported that during a conversation with CREP's attorneys - in connection with the DNC civil suits against us - he had been assured that Mr. Rivers was an appropriate person for him or Dorothy to deal with.

On the following day Dorothy received a phone call from a man identifying himself as Mr. Rivers. He said he did not want to hold any discussions with her over our home telephone line, but if she would be at a particular phone booth in Potomac Village, he would call her half an hour later.

When my wife returned, she told me that Mr. Rivers had instructed her to obtain from the arrested men, Liddy and myself an estimate of monthly living costs and attorneys' fees. This she was to do by the following day, when she was to be at a different phone booth to receive a call from Mr. Rivers. Accordingly, she telephoned James McCord, then Bernard Barker, asking the latter for a combined estimate covering all four Miami men. These figures she delivered to Mr. Rivers during their subsequent telephone contact, after which he said, "Well, let's multiply that by five to cut down on the number of deliveries."

Dorothy asked him why he was using a multiple of five - aware that five months represented the interval to the national Presidential election - and was told by Rivers that five was a convenient figure for him to multiply by.

Within a day or so Dorothy was instructed by Rivers to drive to National Airport, go to a particular wall telephone in the American Airlines section and reach under it for a locker key taped to the underside. This she did and opened a nearby locker to find in it a blue plastic airlines bag, which she brought home.

Later she told me that the contents had been considerably less than the figure agreed upon by Mr. Rivers. In fact, she told me, the monthly budget had been multiplied by three rather than five, so on that basis she set about distributing the funds. Liddy, she told me, was to receive his support funds and attorneys' fees directly through a separate channel.

The transaction represented verification of what Liddy had told me during his dramatic appearance at Jackson's home in Beverly Hills - that everyone would be taken care of, Company-style - and so I faced the future with renewed confidence that all obligations would be kept...

I was at Bittman's law offices on the evening of October 20 when Bittman answered the telephone and told me a messenger was on his way - theoretically with money. In due course a package was delivered to the then vacant reception desk, and after Bittman handed it to me, I opened it and turned over its contents to him and Austin Mittler. The precise sum I have no way of recalling, but I remember that it was far less than what was owed my attorney. And of course there was nothing in the package for family support for myself or for Liddy, McCord or the Miami men.

Dorothy now expressed to me her great dissatisfaction at the role she had been asked to undertake by Mr. Rivers. It was he who had solicited budget figures from her; they had been agreed to, yet the payments had never been fully met. Now Dorothy was dealing with "a friend of Mr. Rivers," and she felt that with the election won, the White House would be less inclined to live up to its assurances. Moreover, she had the lingering feeling that because she was a woman, her representations were given less weight than those of a man - myself, for example. For these reasons she suggested that I call Colson and attempt to explain the situation to him. On instructions of Mr. Rivers, she had given specific financial assurances to the Miami defendants, but the money had been only partially forthcoming. And their lawyer was making disquieting sounds.

So I phoned Colson's office on November 13, speaking with his secretary, Holly Holm. After checking with her boss, she told me I could call Colson the following day from a phone booth - not my home phone. The hour was, I believe, twelve o'clock, and after salutations I congratulated Colson on the electoral victory and suggested that with the election out of the way, people in the White House ought to be able to get together and concentrate on the fate of us seven defendants. I informed him that despite all previous assurances - some of which had been met - financial support was greatly in arrears, particularly payment of legal fees for the defendants. I believed the seven of us had behaved manfully and remarked that this was "a two-way street." I told him that, in the language of clandestine service, money was the cheapest commodity there was. By that I meant that men - the Watergate defendants - were not expendable, but money was. And money was badly needed for legal defense and the support of our families.

(5) Lalo J. Gastriani, Fair Play Magazine, The Strange Death of Dorothy Hunt (November, 1994)

Was Dorothy Wetzel Hunt, the late wife of convicted Watergate conspirator, E. Howard Hunt, murdered? Was the plane on which she was traveling - along with other key Watergate characters - sabotaged? If so, why? And by whom?

These questions have troubled researchers for more than twenty years. Along with the unanswered questions about Hunt and how he relates to the forces that brought down the Nixon presidency, also too is the question about what more the Hunts knew about Nixon; what it was that made Nixon so paranoid; that made him so willing to come up with hush money ("...a million dollars? we could get that."). Could it be that Hunt and/or Nixon were complicit in the death of JFK?

It was at 2:29 p.m. on Friday, December 8, 1972, during the height of the Watergate scandal that United Airlines flight 553 crashed just outside of Chicago during a landing approach to Midway Airport. Initial reports indicated that the plane had some sort of engine trouble when it descended from the clouds. But the odd thing about this crash is what happened after the plane went down. Witnesses living in the working-class neighborhood in which the plane crashed said that moments after impact, a battalion of plainclothes operatives in unmarked cars parked on side streets pounced on the crash-site. These so-called 'FBI types' took control of the scene and immediately began sifting through the wreckage looking for something. At least one survivor recognized a "rescue worker" - clad in overalls sifting through wreckage - as an operative of the CIA.

One day after the crash, the Whitehouse head of Nixon's "plumber's" outfit - Egil Krogh, Jr. - was made undersecretary of transportation, a position that put him in a direct position to oversee the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Agency which are both authorized by law to investigate airline crashes. Krogh would later be convicted of complicity in the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg's Psychiatrist's office along with Hunt, Liddy and a small cast of CIA-trained and retained Cuban black-bag specialists...

Ostensibly traveling with Mrs. Hunt on flight 553 was CBS news corespondent Michelle Clark who, rumor had it, had learned from her sources that the Hunts were about to spill the proverbial beans regarding the Nixon whitehouse and its involvement in the Watergate burglary; Clark also died in the crash.

A large sum of money (between $10,000 and $100,000) was found amid the wreckage in the possession of Mrs. Hunt. It was during this time that Dorothy Hunt was traveling around the country paying off operatives and witnesses in the Watergate operation with money her husband had extorted from Nixon via his counsel, John Dean. Hunt had threatened Nixon and Dean with exposing the nature of all the sordid deeds he had done.

Could it be that the fuel for Hunt's blackmail of the president had little to do with the so-called "third-rate burglary" of the Democratic headquarters? Could it have had more to do with the fate of John F. Kennedy and of Nixon's awareness of who was really behind the planning and deployment of his demise? In the Watergate tapes, Nixon displays a malignant paranoia to his chief-of-staff, H. R. Haldeman, concerning E. Howard Hunt and the Bay of Pigs operation. He decides to use this paranoia to force the CIA to help cover up the Watergate affair.

(6) Alan J. Weberman, Coup D'Etat in America: The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (1975)

After the plane carrying Hunt's wife Dorothy crashed under mysterious circumstances in December 1973, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board told the House Government Activities Subcommittee that he had sent a letter to the FBI which stated that over fifty agents came into the crash zone. The FBI denied everything until William Ruckleshaus became temporary Director, at which time they admitted that their agents were on the scene. The independent researcher Sherman Skolnick believes that Dorothy Hunt was carrying documents that linked Nixon to the Kennedy assassination. According to Skolnick these papers, which were being used to blackmail Nixon, were seized by the FBI. Skolnick's theory is corroborated by a conversation that allegedly took place between Charles Colson and Jack Caufield.

According to Caufield, Colson told him that there were many important papers the Administration needed in the Brookings Institution and that the FBI had recently adopted a policy of coming to the scene of any suspicious fires in Washington D.C. Caufield believed that Colson was subtly telling him to start a fire at Brookings and the FBI would then steal the desired documents.

Note at this point that one day after the plane crash, White House aide Egil Krogh was appointed Undersecretary of Transportation. This gave him direct control over the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration-the two agencies that would be in charge of investigating the crash. Soon Dwight Chapin, Nixon's Appointment Secretary, became a top executive at United Airlines. Dorothy Hunt was on a United carrier when she made her ill-fated journey.

(7) The Spotlight, is a nightly radio call-in talk forum on Radio Free America. On 14th February, 1994, host Tom Valentine interviewed independent investigator Sherman H. Skolnick.

Tom Valentine: The Watergate plane crash is the first investigation you and I worked on together.

Sherman Skolnick: This subject is one of the great forbidden subjects of this country. You are not supposed to talk publicly about airplanes that have been sabotaged. If sabotage is ever brought up, it’s always in some foreign country where a bomb blows up the airplane.

Tom Valentine: Then the loss of the United Airlines flight 553 was not just fog or pilot error or something like that.

Sherman Skolnick: In the history of aviation there have been a number of situations where there was actual sabotage - not necessarily a bomb - and that sabotage put the plane down and killed people for political reasons.

I started writing a book about airplane sabotage right after the plane crash. I called it “The Watergate Plane Crash.” The reason why was because on this one plane were 12 people connected with the Watergate affair.

The disaster happened exactly one month after Richard Nixon had been re-elected. The Watergate affair had started, but it was not widely known at the time.

Former CIA man (and Watergate burglar) E. Howard Hunt, part of the so-called White House Plumbers, was under arrest. It later came out that Hunt was threatening to blow the lid off the White House if Nixon didn’t take care of him. Hunt wanted $2 million.

What Hunt reportedly had was information tending to show that Nixon, who was in Dallas at the time John F. Kennedy was murdered, was complicit in the assassination. Hunt’s wife Dorothy was carrying around “hush” money to various witnesses in an effort to silence them about the Watergate affair.

She was on flight 553, and this time she was traveling under her own name. She was so concerned about the baggage (which contained $2 million worth of cashier’s checks and money orders, which some astute people could have traced back to the Nixon White House) that she bought an extra first class seat for her baggage (and the valuables therein).

The press later said there was only $10,000 in her possession, but that was false. We know about this because of records of the National Transportation Safety Board which had the manifest of the airplane.

(8) E. Howard Hunt, interviewed for the television programme, Backyard (21st February, 1999)

When I came back (from Cuba), I wrote a top secret report, and I had five recommendations, one of which was the one that's always been thrown at me, is that during... or... slightly antecedent to an invasion, Castro would have to be neutralized - and we all know what that meant, although I didn't want to say so in a memorandum with my name on it. Another one was that a landing had to be made at such a point in Cuba, presumably by airborne troops, that would quarter the nation, and that was the Trinidad project; cut the communications east to west, and there would be confusion. None of that took place. Once, when I came back from Coconut Grove and said, "What about... is anybody going after Castro? Are you going to get rid of him?", "It's in good hands," was the answer I got, which was a great bureaucratic answer. But the long and the short of it was that no attempt that I ever heard of was made against Castro's life specifically. President Idigros Fuentes of Guatemala was good enough to give our Cuban exiles two training areas in his country, one in the mountains, and then at (Retardo Lejo) we had an unused airstrip that he gave over to us, which we put into first-class condition for our fighter aircraft and our supply aircraft, and we trained Cuban paratroopers there. And the brigade never numbered more than about 1,500, which was 10 times more than Castillo Armas commanded.

(9) E. Howard Hunt, interviewed for the television programme, Backyard (21st February, 1999)

Interviewer: What part did the American ambassador, Purefoy, play in this business?

E. Howard Hunt: Well, Purefoy was very, very helpful. He was sort of a prisoner (Laughs) of ours, of CIA and of the Department of State. He owed his ambassadorship to Eisenhower, and he understood that cooperation with us was part of the deal, and so he bent over backward to do everything he could. He had had one or two private conversations with Arbenz, trying to persuade... first of all, to determine to his own satisfaction that Arbenz was a communist, and secondly, to tell Arbenz that he was on a very sticky wicket and ought to change his direction. Of course, that did nothing at all, because Arbenz I don't think had a free will in all of this, I think that his wife was giving him the directions; she was a lot smarter, and between her and Fortuny, he was the low man on the totem pole. But Purefoy was very, very helpful. I won't say that we couldn't have done it without him, but it would just have been a little harder, a little more difficult. And then in Honduras we had Whitey Willard as ambassador, and he'd been a Flying Tiger in China at a time when I was in China, and although I didn't know him over there, everybody thought well of him, and he was the one who had to oversee all the black flights in and out of Honduras, the building of the radio station, all the transmission to keep...

Interviewer: Mr. Hunt, we'll go back over just the last bit that we were talking about before we ran out of tape. We were talking about the ambassador, John Purefoy, sometimes called Jack Purefoy, and his importance in the operation. He was an ardent anti-Communist, I have read, but could you just repeat some of the things that you said, how he was involved in PB Success?

E. Howard Hunt: Well, I never thought of Jack Purefoy as being an ardent anti-Communist. He'd been director of security for the Department of State at a time when Mr. Truman denied that we had any communists in the Department of State, and Purefoy backed him up, and his payoff for that was to be made ambassador to Greece. Of course, over in Greece he'd seen a great deal of communist-anti-communist bloody struggle, so that may have made a convert of him, but he didn't start out as an ardent anti-Communist. He was useful to us, to the Department of State, to the Eisenhower Administration and to the nation because he was expendable: if he did well for us, if he cooperated and accomplished things that we wanted done, then he had a chance to complete a career as a diplomat; and if he screwed up, he was gone, and he knew it. I suppose that somebody told him in just so many words. John Foster Dulles could easily have... told him that and gotten away with it. But Purefoy, once he got into the hang of the thing, once he got the feel of it, and the surge took place mentally and physically, then he did everything he could to cooperate with us and help bring Arbenz down.

(10) Victor Marchetti, The Spotlight (14th August, 1978)

A few months ago, in March, there was a meeting at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., the plush home of America's super spooks overlooking the Potomac River. It was attended by several high-level clandestine officers and some former top officials of the agency.

The topic of discussion was: What to do about recent revelations associating President Kennedy's accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, with the spy game played between the U.S. and the USSR? (Spotlight, May 8, 1978.) A decision was made, and a course of action determined. They were calculated to both fascinate and confuse the public by staging a clever "limited hangout" when the House Special Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) holds its open hearings, beginning later this month.

A "limited hangout" is spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting - sometimes even volunteering some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.

We will probably never find out who masterminded the assassination of JFK - or why. There are too many powerful special interests connected with the conspiracy for the truth to come out even now, 15 years after the murder.

But during the next two months, according to sensitive sources in the CIA and on HSCA, we are going to learn much more about the crime. The new disclosures will be sensational, but only superficially so. A few of the lesser villains involved in the conspiracy and its subsequent coverup will be identified for the first time - and allowed to twist slowly in the wind on live network TV. Most of the others to be fingered are already dead.

But once again the good folks of middle America will be hoodwinked by the government and its allies in the establishment news media. In fact, we are being set up to witness yet another coverup, albeit a sophisticated one, designed by the CIA with the assistance of the FBI and the blessing of the Carter administration.

A classic example of a limited hangout is how the CIA has handled and manipulated the Church Committee's investigation of two years ago. The committee learned nothing more about the assassinations of foreign leaders, illicit drug programs, or the penetration of the news media than the CIA allowed it to discover. And this is precisely what the CIA is out to accomplish through HSCA with regard to JFK's murder.

Chief among those to be exposed by the new investigation will be E. Howard Hunt, of Watergate fame. His luck has run out, and the CIA has decided to sacrifice him to: protect its clandestine services. The agency is furious with Hunt for having dragged it publicly into the Nixon mess and for having blackmailed it after he was arrested.

Besides, Hunt is vulnerable - an easy target as they say in the spy business. His reputation and integrity have been destroyed. The death of his wife, Dorothy, in a mysterious plane crash in Chicago still disturbs many people, especially since there were rumors from informed sources that she was about to leave him and perhaps even turn on him.

In addition it is well known that Hunt hated JFK and blamed him for the Bay of Pigs disaster. And now, in recent months, his alibi for his whereabouts on the day of the shooting has come unstuck.

In the public hearings, the CIA will "admit" that Hunt was involved in the conspiracy to kill Kennedy. The CIA may go so far as to "admit" that there were three gunmen shooting at Kennedy. The FBI, while publicly embracing the Warren Commission's "one man acting alone" conclusion, has always privately known that there were three gunmen. The conspiracy involved many more people than the ones who actually fired at Kennedy, both agencies may now admit.

A.J. Weberman and Michael Canfield, authors of Coup d'Etat in America, published pictures of three apparent bums who were arrested at Dealy Plaza just after President Kennedy's murder, but who were strangely released without any record of the arrest having been made by the Dallas police. One of the tramps the authors identified as Hunt. Another was Frank Sturgis, a long time agent of Hunt's.

Hunt immediately sued for millions of dollars in damages, claiming he could prove that he had been in Washington D.C. that day-on duty at CIA. It turned out, however, that this was not true. So, he said that he had been on leave and doing household errands, including a shopping trip to a grocery store in Chinatown.

Weberman and Canfield investigated the new alibi and found that the grocery store where Hunt claimed to be shopping never existed. At this point, Hunt offered to drop his suit for a token payment of one dollar. But the authors were determined to vindicate themselves, and they continued to attack Hunt's alibi, ultimately completely shattering it.

Now, the CIA moved to finger Hunt and tie him to the JFK assassination. HSCA unexpectedly received an internal CIA memorandum a few weeks ago that the agency just happened to stumble across in its old files. It was dated 1966 and said in essence: Some day we will have to explain Hunt's presence in Dallas on November 22, 1963 - the day President Kennedy was killed. Hunt is going to be hard put to explain this memo, and other things, before the TV cameras at the HSCA hearings.

Hunt's reputation as a strident fanatical anti-communist will count against him. So will his long and close relationship with the anti-Castro Cubans, as well as his penchant for clandestine dirty tricks and his various capers while one of Nixon's plumbers. E. Howard Hunt will be implicated in the conspiracy and he will not dare to speak out-the CIA will see to that. In addition to Hunt and Sturgis, another former CIA agent marked for exposure is Gerry Patrick Hemming, a hulk of a man-six feet eight inches tall and weighing 260 pounds. Like Sturgis, Hemming once worked for Castro as a CIA double agent, then later surfaced with the anti-Castro Cubans in various attempts to rid Cuba of the communist dictator. But there are two things in Hemming's past that the CIA, manipulation HSCA, will be able to use to tie him to the JFK assassination.

First, Castro's former mistress, Marita Lorenz (now an anti-Castroite herself), has identified Hemming, along with Oswald and others as being part of the secret squad assigned to kill President Kennedy. And secondly, Hemming was Oswald's Marine sergeant when he was stationed at CIA's U-2 base in Atsugi, Japan-where Oswald supposedly was recruited as a spy by the Soviets, or was being trained to be a double agent by the CIA.

In any event, Hemming's Cuban career and his connection with Oswald make the Lorenz story difficult for him to deny, particularly since the squad allegedly also included Hunt and Sturgis.

Who else will be identified as having been part of the conspiracy and/or coverup remains to be seen. But a disturbing pattern is already beginning to emerge. All the villains have been previously disgraced in one way or another. They all have "right wing" reputations. Or they will have after the hearings.

(11) Mark Lane, Plausible Denial (1991)

Howard Hunt, close associate of David Atlee Phillips, with whom he worked in the both the CIA's Guatemalan campaign of 1954 and the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. Hunt would later be arrested for his role in the Watergate affair. … In one of Hunt's libel suits, one Marita Lorenz gave sworn testimony that Lee Harvey Oswald, American mercenaries Frank Sturgis and Gerry Patrick Hemming, and Cuban exiles including Orlando Bosch, Pedro Diaz Lanz, and the brothers Guillermo and Ignacio Novo Sampol, had met one November midnight in 1963 at the Miami home of Orlando Bosch and had studied Dallas street maps. She also swore that she and Sturgis were at that time in the employ of the CIA and that they received payment from Howard Hunt under the name "Eduardo," … They arrived in Dallas on 21 November 1963, and stayed at a motel, where the group met Howard Hunt. Hunt stayed for about forty-five minutes and at one point handed an envelope of cash to Sturgis. About an hour after Hunt left, Jack Ruby came to the door. Lorenz says that this was the first time she had seen Ruby. By this time, she said, it was early evening. In her testimony, Lorenz identified herself and her fellow passengers as members of Operation Forty, the CIA-directed assassination team formed in 1960 in preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion. She described her role as that of a "decoy.".

(12) Washington Post (25th June, 1995)

E. Howard Hunt, the ex-CIA operative and Watergate figure who became a mystery novelist, has filed for protection from creditors under personal bankruptcy laws.

Hunt claimed $234,000 in debts and $147,182 in assets in the recent filing in federal Bankruptcy Court.

"It took me a long time to reach that juncture, but it finally had to be done," Hunt said.

His assets included half ownership in a 1989 Mercury with 90,000 miles plus. "Needs brakes and transmission," court papers said.

Hunt was connected to the five Watergate burglars caught inside Democratic National Headquarters in Washington in 1972. The burglary led to the downfall of the Nixon administration in 1974, and more than 2 1/2 years in prison for Hunt.

Hunt complained that his Watergate fines and legal fees cost him dearly. However, in 1981 a jury in Miami awarded Hunt $650,000 in a libel case he brought against the Liberty Lobby, a right-wing group that published an article falsely linking him to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That award was later overturned.

(13) Victor Marchetti, Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History (2001)

There was a fairly widespread belief that one reason Kennedy was assassinated was because he was going to get us out of Vietnam. Don't you believe it. He was the CIA's kind of president, rough, tough, and gung-ho. Under Kennedy we became involved in Vietnam in a serious way, not so much militarily as through covert action. It is a fact that the United States engineered the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam’s premier, and Ngo Dinh Nhu, his powerful brother. A cable was sent out to the ambassador which said, "If Lou Conein goofs up (Lucien Conein was a key CIA operative in Saigon), it's his responsibility." So when E. Howard Hunt faked these memos and cables when he was working for the "plumbers" on behalf of President Nixon (and against the Democrats), he knew what he was doing. That was his defense, that he wasn't really forging or inventing anything. "Stuff like that really existed, but I couldn't find it," he said. Of course Hunt couldn't find it by that time the original documents were gone. But Hunt knew what he was doing.

(14) Several years after being imprisoned for the Watergate incident, Eugenio Martinez, wrote an account entitled Mission Impossible.

I can't help seeing the whole Watergate affair as a repetition of the Bay of Pigs. The invasion was a fiasco for the United States and a tragedy for the Cubans. All of the agencies of the U.S. government were involved, and they carried out their plans in so ill a manner that everyone landed in the hands of Castro - like a present.

Eduardo (E. Howard Hunt) was a name that all of us who had participated in the Bay of Pigs knew well. He had been the maximum representative of the Kennedy administration to our people in Miami. He occupied a special place in our hearts because of a letter he had written to his chief Cuban aide and my lifelong friend, Bernard Barker. He had identified himself in his letter with the pain of the Cubans, and he blamed the Kennedy administration for not supporting us on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs.

So when Barker told me that Eduardo was coming to town and that he wanted to meet me, that was like a hope for me. He had chosen to meet us at the Bay of Pigs monument, where we commemorate our dead, on April 16, 1971, the tenth anniversary of the invasion. I always go to the monument on that day, but that year I had another purpose - to meet Eduardo, the famous Eduardo, in person.

He was different from all the other men I had met in the Company. He looked more like a politician than a man who was fighting for freedom. He was there with his pipe, relaxing in front of the memorial, and Barker introduced me. I then learned his name for the first time - Howard Hunt.

There was something strange about this man. His tan, you know, is not the tan of a man who is in the sun. His motions are very meticulous - the way he smokes his pipe, the way he looks at you and smiles. He knows how to make you happy - he's very warm, but at the same time you can sense that he does not go all into you or you all into him. We went to a Cuban restaurant for lunch and right away Eduardo told us that he had retired from the CIA in 1971 and was working for Mullen and Company. I knew just what he was saying. I was also officially retired from the Company. Two years before, my case officer had gathered all the men in my Company unit and handed us envelopes with retirement announcements inside. But mine was a blank paper. Afterward he explained to me that I would stop making my boat missions to Cuba but I would continue my work with the Company. He said I should become an American citizen and soon I would be given a new assignment. Not even Barker knew that I was still working with the Company. But I was quite certain that day that Eduardo knew.

We talked about the liberation of Cuba, and he assured us that "the whole thing is not over." Then he started inquiring: "What is Manolo doing?" Manolo was the leader of the Bay of Pigs operation. "What is Roman doing?" Roman was the other leader. He said he wanted to meet with the old people. It was a good sign. We did not think he had come to Miami for nothing.

(15) Tad Szulc, Compulsive Spy: The Strange Career of E. Howard Hunt (1974)

Howard Hunt is not a man who believes in retirement or vacations. In the afternoon of April 30, 1970, he walked out for the last time from the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency. Next morning, May 1, he was at work at his new job with the Robert R. Mullen & Company public relations firm, on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington.

Hunt was fifty-one years old going on fifty-two, and he desperately wanted and needed employment. His constant need for money was something of a mystery to his friends and associates. His CIA pension was $24,000 and the Mullen company was paying him $24,000 a year. Dorothy, his wife, worked part time at the Spanish Embassy, where she wrote letters in English for the Ambassador. The family's income, therefore, had to be at least $50,000, which was not bad in Washington in 1970. Besides, Hunt received residual royalties from some of the forty-four novels he had published over the previous twenty-eight years.

To be sure, the family had high expenses and they lived well. The mortgage and upkeep for Witches' Island was rather high. Kevan, the younger daughter, was attending Smith college. Lisa, the eldest, had a history of illness, and medical bills must have been considerable. Earlier, both girls had attended Holton Arms, an expensive private girls' school in the Maryland suburbs not far from the Hunts' house. The family had two cars, a Chevrolet and a Pontiac. Kevan had a red Opel station wagon of her own.

The Hunts lived comfortably, then. On Howard's insistence, they dined every evening by candlelight. They were busy on the suburban Potomac cocktail circuit. Their house was full of animals-cats and dogs and birds and even, once, a small boa constrictor. By all accounts, Dorothy was a warm and loving mother to her children. She was interested in Howard's new activities. Now that he had left the CIA, he could talk freely about his work-at least for a while. Friends who visited the Hunts during weekends found them relaxed and at ease. Howard, puffing on his pipe, would fondle one of the kittens. Dorothy mixed the drinks. Much of the housework was done by a Uruguayan woman who had been with the Hunts since their days in Montevideo more than ten years earlier. All in all, it was a rather pleasing picture of a well-to-do American family, with the father embarked on a new career, the mother working but dedicated to the children and to her pursuit of horsemanship, and the kids doing well at school.

Yet things were not all that simple downtown for Howard Hunt. In the first place, he was frustrated in his job. In the second place, he craved more money. The frustration evidently came from the instant transition from a glamorous association with the CIA (so it was believed to be) to the brain-addling dullness of writing press releases and other publicity material for the Mullen firm. For this is what Hunt was doing at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue, although he claimed he was a vice president of the company. As Richard Helms was to testify in the summer of 1973 at the Senate Select Committee hearings, Hunt had been given undemanding jobs at the Agency in his last two years because of his daughter's medical problems, which, Helms said, required much of his attention. Still, it was painful for Hunt to be cut off so abruptly from the CIA and from the comforting sense of belonging to an elite, even though Hunt was increasingly critical of the CIA for losing its old aplomb. Now he was an outsider in the intelligence community and a "has-been." It must have rankled. Humorously or wistfully, Hunt decorated his personal memo pad, the kind that has the owner's name at the top, with an imprinted "00?" in the right-hand corner. This play on James Bond's "007" code number, which indicated "license to kill," revealed Hunt's uncertainty over his own identity in the context of a new life.

Financially, Hunt was always "haggling" for more money, as his associates at the public-relations company reported later. When he first discussed joining the Mullen firm before his retirement from the CIA, he talked about buying into the company. Robert Rodolf Mullen, founder and chairman of the board, was in his sixties and thinking about retirement. Hunt expressed an interest in buying a share of his equity, but when the time came he seemed to have difficulties in raising the $2000 in "earnest money" which the Mullen firm required. Later, he put up an argument for an $8,000 salary increase - this would have brought up his salary to $32,000 - but the Mullen people turned him down. Hunt made noises about resigning over the money issue but never did anything about it.

Actually, the Mullen company was an interesting place for a man like Hunt to be in Washington in 1970. Robert Mullen, a veteran newspaper man, had served as director of public information for the Economic Corporation Administration between 1946 and 1948 (the latter being the year when Howard Hunt used the ECA as his CIA cover in the Paris station). It is unclear whether Mullen and Hunt met in those days, although it is possible that Mullen had some contacts with the Agency. In any event, the two references Hunt gave when he applied for the job with the Mullen company were Richard Helms and William F. Buckley. Helms was then still Director of the CIA and Buckley, an old CIA friend, was now a famous commentator. Many people around Washington believe that there is indeed such a thing as a CIA "old-boy network."

At the time of the Watergate raid and in subsequent testimony before the Senate Investigating Committee, Helms insisted that he barely knew Hunt. But there are reasons to believe that Helms was at least quite aware of Hunt's existence. For one thing, according to senior Agency officials, Helms tried hard to get Hunt the Madrid station job which Allen Dulles had promised him. For another thing, Helms kept copies of Hunt's spy novels around his office and often gave or lent them to friends and visitors.

(16) A. L. Bardach, Slate Magazine (6th October, 2004)

E. Howard Hunt is one of the most notorious spies of the 20th century. The son of an influential Republican leader in upstate New York, Hunt began his career as a founding member of the OSS, the precursor of the CIA in the 1940s. After beginning as an intelligence operative in China, Hunt trailblazed the path for the CIA in Latin America from 1950 to 1970, ever on the lookout for the Communist menace. By his account, he was the architect of the 1954 U.S.-backed coup ("Operation Success") in Guatemala that deposed democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz. Adept at psych ops (propaganda and subversion) and running "black flights" (covert operations), he also played a role in the Bay of Pigs: He was responsible for propaganda operations and the organization of a post-Castro government. Such exploits and excesses led to the scaling back of the CIA's prerogatives following hearings by the Church Committee in 1976.

In July 1970, Hunt went into "private practice," taking with him the tools he acquired during his 25 years in the intelligence business. His most famous black-bag jobs were breaking into Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office and, later, Watergate, where Hunt's "plumbers" cadre, recruited from among his Cuban exile comrades, rifled and bugged the offices of the Democratic Party in May and June of 1972.

Since pleading guilty to his role in Watergate and spending "33 months in 13 federal prisons," Howard Hunt has lived in Miami where he met and married his second wife of 27 years, Laura. An expert storyteller, Hunt has had a second career as a spy novelist. The couple live in a modest ranch house at the end of a cul-de-sac in north Miami. Posted around his door are warnings against trespassing, which seems somehow appropriate for a man with a history of illegal entry.

Hunt answered the door in a wheelchair. One of his legs has been amputated due to atherosclerosis, and for the past few months, he's battled lymphoma localized in his jaw (it is now in remission). He wears a hearing aid and sports rimless, bifocal glasses. While no longer the dapper spymaster, he remains salty and unremorseful.

As a general rule, Hunt said, he doesn't talk about Watergate or "the old days." But with his 86th birthday soon to occur on Oct. 9, he was feeling a bit more chatty.

Slate: You started the CIA's first bureau in Mexico in 1949. Did you first start working on Guatemala from there?

Hunt: In Mexico, I had a few agents from Washington with me, and I had recruited a few others … [including] a young Catholic priest. So the priest came to me one time, and he said, "I'm sending down several young men to Guatemala to get a view of the situation there. It's not good." He said, "My people were beaten up and put into jail, and then exiled from the country." And he sort of sat back expectantly. And I said, "That's certainly not right. I'll let Washington know what's going on in Guatemala." So I retold the story of Guatemala and the treatment of my young Catholic friend. I found that there was a lot of intense interest in what I had to say.

Slate: We're talking about the time after 1952, the year Jacobo Arbenz was elected president of Guatemala.

Hunt: He was in power then, yes. But his wife was by far the smarter of the two and sort of told him what to do. She was a convinced communist. … I waited for orders [from Washington]. A couple of [CIA and military] officers came down to join me, and it became apparent that there was going to be an effort to dislodge the communist management [laughs] of Guatemala. Which indeed happened. We set up shop and had some very bright guys working against Arbenz, and the long and short of it was that we got Arbenz defenestrated. Out the window. [Laughs]

Slate: But President Arbenz ended up in exile—not really out the window?

Hunt: Yeah. In Czechoslovakia. With his very bright and attractive wife.

Slate: So it seems you were the architect for the Guatemalan operation?

Hunt: It was mine because nobody else knew more than I did. I would say that I had more knowledge about it than anybody did. I knew all the players on both sides.

Slate: How did you run the Guatemalan operation?

Hunt: We set up the first Guatemalan operation/shop at Opa-Locka [airport in Miami, formerly an Army base]. There were three barracks, and we used the airstrip to fly in people from Guatemala and to send our people into Guatemala. These were known as "the black flights." They always occurred at night; they are a secret and officially do not exist as having happened.

Slate: Do you think the Guatemala coup went well?

Hunt: Yes—it did. And I'm glad I kept Arbenz from being executed.

Slate: How did you do that?

Hunt: By passing the word out to the people at the airport who had Arbenz to "let him go."

Slate: To whom did you give the word?

Hunt: It was a mixed band of CIA and Guatemalans at the airport and their hatred for him was palpable.

Slate: You were worried they would assassinate him right there?

Hunt: Yeah. … And we'd [the CIA and the United States] get blamed for it.

Slate: Some 200,000 civilians were killed in the civil war following the coup, which lasted for the next 40 years. Were all those deaths unforeseen?

Hunt: Deaths? What deaths?

Slate: Well, the civil war that ensued for the next 40 years after the coup.

Hunt: Well, we should have done something we never do—we should have maintained a constant presence in Guatemala after getting rid of Arbenz.

Slate: Did you ever actually meet Jacobo Arbenz?

Hunt: They [he and his wife] were neighbors of mine—years later—on the same street in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Slate: What were you doing there?

Hunt: I was the CIA chief of station.

They had come from [exile in] Czechoslovakia, and nobody in Washington had told me they were coming and so it was a big surprise to me, to my wife and me. We went to the country club for dinner one evening and lo and behold, the Arbenzes were seated a few tables away.

Slate: What did you do?

Hunt: Well, nothing. I sent a cable to Washington saying, "In the future when we have important arrivals, please let me know." It's the least they could do.

Slate: I'd like to talk about Cuba now. Did you have a lot of responsibility during Bay of Pigs?

Hunt: Leading up to it.

Slate: How so?

Hunt: I came to Miami, and of course there were [Cuban] exiles, all anxious to take weapons in hand and charge back [to Cuba]. And the CIA was given the responsibility of a twofold action against Cuba. There was the psychological warfare branch which I headed [propaganda, covert operations], and the paramilitary which oversaw the training [of Cuban exiles] that took place in Guatemala.

My [other] responsibility was to form and manage the future government of Cuba. At that point I formed the Cuban government-in-exile with Manuel Artime [Bay of Pigs veteran designated by the United States to succeed Castro]. I had told them [the exile trainees] to meet me in my safe house in Coconut Grove. An FBI guy whom I knew came to me and he said your neighbor has reported you to the police saying that men are coming and going at all hours of the night. … He said he thought it was a gay brothel.

Slate: Did you go to Cuba after Castro took power in January 1959?

Hunt: I did go to Cuba. I went there under a very flimsy cover. Batista was out—it was 1959. I'd been sent to Havana to nose around and get a grass-roots feeling and talk to the proverbial taxi drivers and find out what their likely response would be to a possible U.S. invasion. And I did. And I told them don't count on it because it's not going to happen. But that is exactly what happened.

Slate: Did you help in the planning of Bay of Pigs?

Hunt: Not the military [planning]. And I couldn't find anybody who thought that it was a good plan.

Slate: What were the objections?

Hunt: There was an objection on the part of Dean Rusk, secretary of state under Kennedy. He didn't want a "go-and-see invasion"—that was the term he used. And our people [CIA planners] had planned an invasion that combined both a seaborne assault and an airlift. Dean Rusk was a great naysayer—he was not a fellow with useful ideas. When our plan was submitted to Rusk for his OK, he said, "This is too noisy, you gotta do something else." So the assault point was moved to the Bahia de Cochinos—the Bay of Pigs. Which had nothing in its favor. It was a beach that came down from the jungle. A lot of mosquitoes. Our people made that beach landing and they were scooped up pretty soon thereafter.

Slate: Did you ever think there was a way to get rid of Castro, short of a military coup?

Hunt: No. When Castro went into Cuba and took over, this was the moment—with all the chaos and disorganization—that our forces could have gone in and unseated him. But we always confronted this dreadful organization called the Department of State. Who needs it?!

Slate: What was your feeling about Batista?

Hunt: Well, I thought he ran a good government there. There was a lot of corruption, but there's always been corruption in Latin America. We can't be too purist about these things.

Slate: Let's talk about the finals days and execution of Che. Do you know what the real story was there?

Hunt: I do. El Che was becoming a popular threat to Castro. Castro was a gradualist; his view was that great changes couldn't take place immediately. But El Che had a different idea—he had wanted the entire continent of Latin America to become Communist. And Castro, sort of to get rid of him, said, "Take a band down to Bolivia. Here's money, and radio phones, and all that." So Che went down there. But Che's very first [radio] transmissions were picked up by our people at the National Security Agency. The agency was able to track him wherever he went with his little forlorn band. The Bolivians wanted to get rid of him as soon as possible, and our people kept the Bolivian army informed as to where he was.

Slate: So you knew where he was all the time?

Hunt: Yes. There was no question about where he was or what he was trying to do. The Bolivians had gone through this kind of BS before, and they wanted to put an end to it as soon as possible. Eventually they just said, "We're gonna put an end to this farce," and they rounded up this little band of Che's, and they didn't kill anybody except Che.

Slate: I thought it was Felix Rodriguez, the Bay of Pigs Cuban exile, who says he killed Che.

Hunt: No, the Bolivians did.

Slate: What did the Americans want to do with Che?

Hunt: We wanted deniability. We made it possible for him to be killed.

Slate: Do you think anybody back then was thinking this guy would become a cult figure, that he might be more trouble dead than alive?

Hunt: No, nobody had the foresight for that. … What I thought was great foresight was that the Bolivian colonel had Che's hands cut off.

Slate: Why did he do that?

Hunt: So he couldn't be identified by fingerprints. That was a pretty good idea—if you don't want somebody identified. People still shiver a little when they think about hands being cut off.

Slate: Did that idea come from the Bolivian colonel or from the CIA?

Hunt: I have no idea. But I talked with Felix about it. I said, "You were there when Che expired." He said they had taken him into this room, and they shot him there and killed him. And they had kind of a medical examination table. They put his body on that and cut off his hands. They fooled around for a day or so before they disposed of the body. And that was done in a very sloppy fashion. The colonel had a shallow grave dug and his remains were dumped in there.

Laura Hunt: [Interjects] For all we know, Felix [Rodriguez] did shoot him.

Hunt: It was just important that it was done.

Slate: Maybe Rodriguez arranged for the Bolivians to do the killing and then took credit?

Hunt: What we certainly didn't want was a public monument to Che. We wanted his memory to vanish as soon as possible. But it never did. Even my son goes on about Che.

Slate: What do you think of Felix Rodriguez campaigning these days against John Kerry, who questioned him at the Iran-Contra hearings?

Hunt: I think that's great! Felix can do no wrong in my book.

Slate: What led you to leave the CIA?

Hunt: I found out the CIA was just infested with Democrats. I retired in '70. I got out as soon as I could. I wrote several books immediately thereafter.

Slate: I still don't understand how you get involved in Watergate later. Through the CIA?

Hunt: I had been a consultant to the White House. I greatly respected Nixon. When Chuck Colson [special counsel to Nixon] asked me to work for the administration, I said yes. Colson phoned one day and said, "I have a job you might be interested in." This was before Colson got religion.

Slate: How long were you in prison for the Watergate break-in?

Hunt: All told, 33 months.

Slate: That's a lot of time.

Hunt: It's a lot of time. And I've often said, what did I do?

Slate: Did you get a pardon?

Hunt: No. Never did. I'd applied for one, and there was no action taken, and I thought I'd just humiliate myself if I asked for a pardon.

Laura Hunt: He was sort of numb because all of this happened to his wife and his family, his children went into drugs while he was still in prison.

Slate: Wasn't your first wife killed in a plane crash?

Laura Hunt: She was killed when her plane crash-landed at Chicago's Midway Airport. And there was all this speculation from conspiracy buffs that the FBI blew the plane up or something … so that she would never talk, all this ridiculous stuff.

Slate: How do you feel about Chuck Colson?

Hunt: He failed to come to my assistance, which would have helped Nixon and me.

Slate: Do you hold anyone responsible for Watergate?

Hunt: No, I don't.

Slate: And you didn't apologize?

Hunt: No. It never occurred to me to apologize.

Slate: Should Nixon have resigned?

Hunt: No.

Slate: I know there is a conspiracy theory saying that David Atlee Phillips—the Miami CIA station chief—was involved with the assassination of JFK.

Hunt: [Visibly uncomfortable] I have no comment.

Slate: I know you hired him early on, to work with you in Mexico, to help with Guatemala propaganda.

Hunt: He was one of the best briefers I ever saw.

Slate: And there were even conspiracy theories about you being in Dallas the day JFK was killed.

Hunt: No comment.

Laura Hunt: Howard says he wasn't, and I believe him.

Slate: Any regrets?

Hunt: No, none. [Long pause] Well, it would have been nice to do Bay of Pigs differently.

(17) New York Post (14th January, 2007)

E. Howard Hunt - the shadowy former CIA man who organized the Watergate break-in and was once eyed in the assassination of President Kennedy - bizarrely says that Lyndon Johnson could be seen as a prime suspect in the rubout.

Only the most far-out conspiracy theorists believe in scenarios like Hunt's. But in a new memoir, "American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate & Beyond," due out in April, Hunt, 88, writes: "Having Kennedy liquidated, thus elevating himself to the presidency without having to work for it himself, could have been a very tempting and logical move on Johnson's part.

"LBJ had the money and the connections to manipulate the scenario in Dallas and is on record as having convinced JFK to make the appearance in the first place. He further tried unsuccessfully to engineer the passengers of each vehicle, trying to get his good buddy, Gov. [John] Connolly, to ride with him instead of in JFK's car - where . . . he would have been out of danger."

Hunt says Johnson also had easy access to CIA man William Harvey, who'd been demoted when he tried to have Fidel Castro poisoned in defiance of orders to drop covert operations against Cuba. Harvey was "a ruthless man who was not satisfied with his position in the CIA and its government salary," Hunt writes.

"He definitely had dreams of becoming [CIA director] and LBJ could do that for him if he were president . . . [LBJ] would have used Harvey because he was available and corrupt." Hunt denies any hand in the assassination, insisting he wasn't one of three mysterious hobos who were photographed at the scene.

On Watergate, Hunt says he saved G. Gordon Liddy from gagging on urine-tainted booze as they got ready to break into Democratic National Committee headquarters, telling him, "I know you like your scotch, but don't order it... Last night when we were hiding in the closet, I had to take a leak in the worst way, and when I couldn't bear it any longer, I found a fairly empty bottle of Johnnie Walker Red - and now let's just say it's quite full."

(18) Rachel Donadio, The Triumph of The Thriller (18th February, 2007)

When E. Howard Hunt died last month at 88, he was remembered as the longtime Central Intelligence Agency officer who helped organize the botched Bay of Pigs invasion and served jail time for orchestrating the Watergate break-in. Less well known is that Hunt was once a promising literary writer.

Like so many in the first wave of C.I.A. men, Hunt, a Brown graduate, worked for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, then headed to Europe in 1948, where he traveled in the Paris-Vienna orbit of other literary-minded Ivy Leaguers working in government jobs, some covertly. He spent much of the ’50s in Latin America, and left the agency in 1970, having been sidelined in the ’60s after the Bay of Pigs mission went awry. But before all that, while still in his 20s, Hunt published short stories in The New Yorker and Cosmopolitan, then a showcase for serious fiction.

Not exactly on a par with Nabokov and Cheever, whose work was appearing in The New Yorker at the same time, Hunt instead imitated the hard-boiled Hemingwayesque style in vogue in those years. “I thought of the North Atlantic, where I’d rolled around on a tin can for almost a year,” he wrote in “Departure,” a story about soldiers waiting to be sent home from the South Pacific, published in December 1943. “That had been tough, too, but there was always Boston or New York or Norfolk at one end of the line and Reykjavik or Londonderry at the other. At least they were places. Towns, cities, villages with people and pubs and stores and shops and girls who looked like girls you’d seen before.”

Hunt’s first novel, “East of Farewell,” published in 1942, when he was 23, was also a fictionalized account of his time on convoy duty in the North Atlantic. Hunt recalled his surprise when the prestigious publisher Knopf agreed to take it on. “Amazingly to me, the work was quickly accepted,” Hunt wrote in his memoir, “American Spy,” which is scheduled to appear in March. “Reviews were all I could have hoped for, but I couldn’t compete with the real-life war blaring in the newspaper headlines and newsreels. Sales were not good enough to escalate me to full-time author.”

The New York Times reviewer called “East of Farewell” a “crashing start for a new writer.” Critics weren’t so fond of Hunt’s fourth novel, “Bimini Run” (1949), a love triangle set in the Caribbean. The Times found it “lifeless and unexciting,” but it sold 150,000 copies and Warner Brothers bought it for $35,000, a fortune at the time.

In 1946, Hunt had been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and had gone to Mexico to write a novel, “Stranger in Town,” which sold well in paperback. That year, two other up-and-coming writers were denied the same fellowship. “The only thing Truman Capote and I have in common was Howard Hunt beat us out for a Guggenheim,” Gore Vidal recalled in an interview. “That sort of summed up my view of prizes and foundation work; they would instinctively go to the one who was least deserving.”

In 1948, Hunt went to Paris to work for the Marshall Plan, ostensibly distributing aid through the Economic Cooperation Administration. There, Hunt crossed paths with another former O.S.S. man, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. In his 2000 memoir, “A Life in the Twentieth Century,” Schlesinger recalled that Hunt had “attracted attention” in the E.C.A. “as a certified published novelist.” “I did not much like him; he seemed on the sneaky side,” Schlesinger wrote. In a recent telephone interview, Schlesinger said he hadn’t read any of Hunt’s books, but reiterated that he found him “a sneaky character.” In his 1974 memoir, “Undercover,” Hunt was similarly dismissive of Schlesinger, seeing him as part of “the E.C.A.’s ambivalent attitude toward Communism.”

Indeed, Hunt’s hard-line views increasingly put him at odds with the more genteel anti-Communist liberalism prevalent within the C.I.A. in those years. It was a stance he shared with William F. Buckley Jr., who joined the C.I.A. after graduating from Yale and worked undercover for Hunt in Mexico City, one of the first agency men posted there in the early years of the cold war. Beyond politics, the two men also shared a taste for good food and wine, often dining at what Hunt said was “then the only good French restaurant in Mexico City.”

In an interview, Buckley recalled that Hunt was remarkably prolific. “He did have a reputation for simply holing up on a Wednesday morning and then finishing the book by the weekend,” Buckley said. “But he never discussed it. That was a completely discrete operation.”

Back in Washington after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Hunt wrote increasingly pulpy, glamorous espionage fantasies, far removed from the drudgery of his actual duties. In a column last month, Buckley recalled that Allen Dulles, then head of the agency, told Hunt — who wrote more than 70 novels — that he could continue to publish his fiction without clearance, as long as he used a pseudonym. (Hunt’s noms de plume included John Baxter, Robert Dietrich and David St. John.) “Hunt handed me his latest book, ‘Catch Me in Zanzibar,’ by Gordon Davis,” Buckley wrote. “I leafed through it and found printed on the last page, ‘You have just finished another novel by Howard Hunt.’ I thought this hilarious. So did Howard. The reaction of Allen Dulles is not recorded.”

It was Hunt’s time working for the C.I.A. in South America — when he helped overthrow the leftist president Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954 and later became station chief in Montevideo, Uruguay — that caught the attention of Norman Mailer, who included a fictionalized portrait of Hunt in “Harlot’s Ghost,” his 1991 novel about the C.I.A. In one scene, Mailer describes a dinner at an agency safe house in Key Biscayne. “I used to engage the place occasionally during the pre-Pigs period, but Howard occupies it now, and demonstrates for me that there are amenities to agency life,” the narrator says. “We had a corkeroo of a repast, polished off with a Château Yquem, served up — I only learn of their existence at this late date — by two contract agency caterers, who shop for special occasions, chef it forth in haute cuisine, and serve it themselves.”

“I found him fascinating,” Mailer said of Hunt in a recent interview. “Not in a large way but as a man of middle rank in intelligence. He was so full of virtues and vices and airs and vanities that I thought he made a marvelous character.”

Vidal called Hunt’s prose “overheated, slightly dizzy.” In a comprehensive analysis of Hunt’s work published in The New York Review of Books in 1973, Vidal introduced the eccentric theory that Hunt might have written the diary that was found in the car of Arthur H. Bremer, the unemployed busboy who in 1972 attempted to assassinate Gov. George Wallace of Alabama. “I was fairly convinced after reading the diaries very carefully when they finally came out that he must have had a hand in them,” Vidal said recently. “I’m still convinced of it. There are similarities in the style.”

Vidal’s essay appeared in the heat of the Watergate scandal. No longer with the C.I.A. — he later said he quit the agency because it “was infested with Democrats,” although by then his C.I.A. career had pretty much run aground — Hunt was working in public relations and still writing novels when he got a call from another Brown alumnus, Charles Colson, then special counsel to President Nixon. Colson recruited Hunt to help wiretap the Democratic National Committee headquarters and organize the break-in.

When the scandal broke, Buckley offered Hunt the services of his personal attorney for his Watergate trial. But in his column, he offered a scathing assessment of his former boss. “Hunt had lived outside the law in the service first of his country, subsequently of President Nixon,” he wrote. Hunt had invented himself through his novels, but even in the largest sense, his fictions were at odds with the truth. In the end, Buckley wrote, “Hunt, the dramatist, didn’t understand that political realities at the highest level transcend the working realities of spy life.”

(19) William F. Buckley Jr., Los Angeles Times (4th March, 2007)

I met E. Howard Hunt soon after arriving in Mexico City in 1951. I was a deep-cover agent for the CIA — deep-cover describing, I was given to understand, a category whose members were told to take extreme care not to permit any grounds for suspicion that one was in service to the CIA.

The rule was (perhaps it is different now) that on arriving at one's targeted post, one was informed which single human being in the city knew that you were in the CIA. That person would tell you what to do for the duration of your service in that city; he would answer such questions as you wished to put to him and would concern himself with all aspects of your duty life.

The man I was told to report to (by someone whose real name I did not know) was E. Howard Hunt. He ostensibly was working in the U.S. Embassy as a cultural affairs advisor, if I remember correctly. In any event, I met him in his office and found him greatly agreeable but also sternly concerned with duty. He would here and there give me special minor assignments, but I soon learned that my principal job was to translate from Spanish a huge and important book by defector Eudocio Ravines.

Ravines had been an important member of the Peruvian Communist Party in the '40s. He had brought forth a book called "The Road From Yenan," an autobiographical account of his exciting life in the service of the communist revolution and an extended account of the reasons for his defection.

It was a lazy assignment, in that we were not given a deadline, so the work slogged on during and after visits, averaging one every week, by Ravines to the house that I and my wife had occupied that used to be called San Angel Inn - post-revolution, Villa Obregon. (We lived and worked at Calero No. 91.) It is a part of Mexico City on the southern slopes, leading now to the university (which back then was in central Mexico City).

It was only a couple of weeks after our meeting that Howard introduced me to his wife, Dorothy, and their first-born child, Lisa. I learned that Howard had graduated from Brown University and was exercised by left-wing activity there, by the faculty, the administration and students. This made him especially interested in what I had to say about my alma mater. My book, "God and Man at Yale," was published in mid-October 1951, and I shook free for one week's leave to travel to New York to figure in the promotion.

I persevered in my friendship with the Hunt family. But in early spring of 1952, when the project with Ravines was pretty well completed, I called on Howard to tell him I had decided to quit the agency. I had yielded to the temptation to go into journalism.

Our friendship was firm, and Howard came several times to Stamford, Conn., where my wife and I camped down, and visited. I never knew — he was very discreet — what he was up to, but assumed, correctly, that he was continuing his work for the CIA. I was greatly moved by Dorothy's message to me that she and Howard were joining the Catholic communion, and they asked me to serve as godfather for their children.

Years passed without my seeing Howard. But then came the Watergate scandal — in which Howard was accused of masterminding the break-in at Democratic Party headquarters, among other things, and was ultimately convicted of burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping — and the dreadful accident over Midway Airport in Chicago that killed Dorothy in December 1972. I learned of this while watching television with my wife, and it was through television that I also learned that she had named me as personal representative of her estate in the event of her demise.

That terrible event came at a high point in the Watergate affair. Then I had a phone call from Howard, with whom I hadn't been in touch for several years. He asked to see me.

He startled me by telling me that he intended to disclose to me everything he knew about the Watergate affair, including much that (he said) had not yet been revealed to congressional investigators.

What especially arrested me was his saying that his dedication to the project had included a hypothetical agreement to contrive the assassination of syndicated muckraker Jack Anderson, if the high command at the Nixon White House thought this necessary. I also remember his keen surprise that the White House hadn't exercised itself to protect and free him and his collaborators arrested in connection with the Watergate enterprise. He simply could not understand this moral default.

It was left that I would take an interest, however remote, in his household of children, now that he was headed for jail. (Neither he nor Dorothy had any brothers or sisters.)

Howard served 33 months. I visited him once. I thought back on the sad contrast between Hunt, E.H., federal prisoner, and Hunt, E.H., special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Mexico, and his going on to a number of glittering assignments but ultimately making that fateful wrong turn in the service of President Nixon, for which his suffering was prolonged and wretchedly protracted.

I prefer to remember him back in his days as a happy warrior, a productive novelist, an efficient administrator and a wonderful companion.

(20) Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times (20th March, 2007)

A sweating and disheveled E. Howard Hunt roused his 19-year-old son from a dead sleep to help him wipe fingerprints from the burglars' radios and pack the surveillance equipment into a suitcase. Then, father and son raced to a remote Maryland bridge, where they heaved the evidence into the Potomac River just before dawn on June 17, 1972.

"From that point on I felt relevant in his life, that I was the one he could count on," said Howard St. John Hunt, now 52, who is called St. John.

It also was a turning point for St. John's brother and two sisters. They learned that their father wasn't just a Washington advertising executive and former diplomat. He was an ex-CIA agent and veteran of the ill-fated Cuban Bay of Pigs operation who worked for the Nixon White House as part of a secret team of "plumbers" that fixed information leaks.

The unmasking of Hunt, who was convicted in 1973, sent his family into a tailspin: His first wife, Dorothy, was killed in a plane crash in 1972 while carrying $10,000 in hush money from the White House to the burglars' families; son David was sent to live with his militant Cuban godfather in Miami; St. John later became a drug addict and daughters Kevan and Lisa became estranged from their father.

But before his death at age 88 in January, E. Howard Hunt had reconciled with his children and left the sons one last tantalizing story, they say. The story, which he planned to detail in a memoir and could be worth big money — was that rogue CIA agents plotted to kill President Kennedy in 1963, and that they approached Hunt to join the plot but he declined.

Unfortunately, when the old spy's memoir appeared this month, there was something missing.

Before the break-in at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate office complex, the Hunt family of Potomac, Md., was, to outward appearances, fairly typical for a beltway power player. Their father was in advertising; the mother worked at the Spanish embassy; and the four children, ages 8 to 23, attended private schools.

Watergate was a bomb that detonated under the family.

"Our life as we knew it came to an explosive end," recalls daughter Kevan Hunt Spence, now 54, of Pioneer, 50 miles east of Sacramento. "Our home was lost. Our financial security was lost. Our mother was dead. Our father was in prison.''

Kevan, who was 20 at the time, and her sister Lisa, then 23, distanced themselves from a father they blamed for their mother's death and took refuge with friends, away from the besieged family home.

Kevan played her own role in the Watergate fallout. Instead of burning records of White House payoffs as her father had asked, she hid them in her Smith College dorm room for a nearly a year, when her father's lawyer needed them to prove White House complicity to get her father a reduced sentence.

David, the youngest of Hunt's children with Dorothy and 8 at the time of the break-in, was effectively orphaned when Hunt went to prison in 1973. At his father's request, lifelong friend William F. Buckley Jr. spirited David from the house to get him away from Lisa and St. John, who, Hunt notes in a posthumous memoir, were furious with their father.

David left his privileged life to spend three years at the crowded Miami home of his Cuban exile godfather. A Bay of Pigs veteran and anti-communist militant, Manuel Artime would take David on gun-running missions to Central America, letting the boy fire pistols with the bodyguards of right-wing dictators the exile visited.

Hunt's daughters headed west to create new lives. Kevan came to California, where she has practiced law for 25 years. Lisa became a fundamentalist Christian and runs an insurance firm in Las Vegas.

St. John was estranged from his father from the late 1970s to the start of this decade.

He was convicted twice on felony drug charges in the Bay Area but served no prison time. When he became homeless, he renounced his drug habit, renewed ties with his father and siblings and moved to this Pacific Coast timber and fishing town. He now works assisting elderly patients in their homes and is a student at College of the Redwoods.

David, now 43, also abused drugs after his mother's death and the years he spent in the violent milieu of Cuban exile politics. He now sells Jacuzzis at a West L.A. spa shop.

The sisters remain estranged from the brothers but all were on good terms with Hunt and his widow Laura and their children, Austin and Hollis, when the veteran CIA operative and spy novelist died.

Hunt had been preparing for publication of "American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond," released this month.

St. John says it was he who suggested the idea of a memoir when he convinced his father that it was time to reveal anything he knew about the Kennedy assassination.

It had always been suspected that Hunt shared his Cuban exile friends' hatred of Kennedy, who refused to provide air cover to rescue the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion that Hunt helped organize.

"He told me in no uncertain terms about a plot originating in Miami, to take place in Miami," said St. John. He said his father identified key players and speculated that then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for moving the venue to Dallas, where the Texan could control the security scene.

But the memoir's published passages about the assassination have an equivocal tone. Hunt provides only a hypothetical scenario of how events in Dallas might have unfolded, with Johnson atop a pyramid of rogue CIA plotters.

The brothers insist their father related to them a detailed plot to assassinate Kennedy. Hunt told them he was approached by the conspirators to join them but declined, they say.

That information was cut from the memoir, the brothers say, because Hunt's attorney warned he could face perjury charges if he recanted sworn testimony. Hunt also had assured Laura before they married in 1977 that he had nothing to do with the assassination.

St. John said he respected his father's wishes while he was alive but felt no obligation now. He is writing a script about his father, and David is shopping for a publisher for their father's account of CIA involvement in the Kennedy shooting.

Despite the brothers' efforts, their father's role will probably never be known.

The materials they offer to substantiate their story, examined by the Los Angeles Times, are inconclusive.

Hunt answers questions on a videotape using speculative phrases, observing that various named figures were "possibly" involved. A chart Hunt sketched during one conversation with St. John shows the same rogue CIA operation he describes in the memoir. None of the accounts provides evidence to convincingly validate that their father disclosed anything revelatory.

Hunt's widow and her two children, 27-year-old Austin and 23-year-old Hollis, dismiss the brothers' story, saying it is the result of coaching an old man whose lucidity waxed and waned in his final months.

Kevan bitterly accuses her brothers of "elder abuse," saying they pressured their father for dramatic scenarios for their own financial gain. Hunt's longtime lawyer, Bill Snyder, says: "Howard was just speculating. He had no hard evidence."

St. John, who sports a mustache and longish graying coif combed back from a receding hairline, has a more personal reason to believe in his father's disclosures. He said he was instructed by Hunt in 1974 to back up an alibi for his whereabouts on the day Kennedy died, 11 years earlier.

"I did a lot of lying for my father in those days," St. John said.

The brothers, who both possess Hunt's piercing pale-blue eyes, concede they would like to profit from their father's story but insist he meant them to.

"My father died utterly unapologetic about anything he did," David said.

"People do that kind of thing all the time," St. John said of the prospect of making money from his father's deeds. Nor does he think the story will reflect badly on their father. "I don't think it was terrible that he was approached [with the assassination plot] and turned them down."

That Hunt, a skilled obfuscator, might have left contradictory accounts of the Kennedy plot to protect friends and preserve the mystery is not lost on his sons.

"That's the way spies are," David says with a wry smile, remembering a father he never really knew.

"They lead double lives and maintain cover."

(21) Erik Hedegaard, Rolling Stone (March, 2007)

Finally, in 2001, on the heels of two drug busts, Saint (Howard St. John Hunt) decided to go straight. With his ex-girlfriend, their daughter and her son, he stayed in a series of shelters, then took them to live in Eureka, several hours north of Oakland. He's since earned a certificate in hotel management, but jobs don't last. And the questions and uncertainties about his father continue to circulate in his head.

"In some ways we turned out similarly," he says. "He was a spy, into secrets and covert activity. I became a drug dealer. What has to be more covert and secret than that? It's the same mind-set. We were just on opposite sides of the - well, actually, in our case, I guess we weren't even on opposite sides of the law, were we?" That time in Miami, with Saint by his bed and disease eating away at him and him thinking he's six months away from death, E. Howard finally put pen to paper and started writing. Saint had been working toward this moment for a long while, and now it was going to happen. He got his father an A&W diet root beer, then sat down in the old man's wheelchair and waited.

E. Howard scribbled the initials "LBJ," standing for Kennedy's ambitious vice president, Lyndon Johnson. Under "LBJ," connected by a line, he wrote the name Cord Meyer. Meyer was a CIA agent whose wife had an affair with JFK; later she was murdered, a case that's never been solved. Next his father connected to Meyer's name the name Bill Harvey, another CIA agent; also connected to Meyer's name was the name David Morales, yet another CIA man and a well-known, particularly vicious black-op specialist. And then his father connected to Morales' name, with a line, the framed words "French Gunman Grassy Knoll."

So there it was, according to E. Howard Hunt. LBJ had Kennedy killed. It had long been speculated upon. But now E. Howard was saying that's the way it was. And that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't the only shooter in Dallas. There was also, on the grassy knoll, a French gunman, presumably the Corsican Mafia assassin Lucien Sarti, who has figured prominently in other assassination theories.

"By the time he handed me the paper, I was in a state of shock," Saint says. "His whole life, to me and everybody else, he'd always professed to not know anything about any of it. But I knew this had to be the truth. If my dad was going to make anything up, he would have made something up about the Mafia, or Castro, or Khrushchev. He didn't like Johnson. But you don't falsely implicate your own country, for Christ's sake. My father is old-school, a dyed-in-the-wool patriot, and that's the last thing he would do."

Shortly thereafter, Laura found out what had been going on, and with the help of E. Howard's attorney put an end to it. St. John and his father were kept apart. When they did see each other, they were never left alone. And they never got a chance to finish what they'd started. Instead, the old man set about writing his autobiography and turned his back on his son. He wrote him a letter in which he said that Saint's life had been nothing but "meaningless, self-serving instant gratification," that he had never amounted to anything and never would. He asked for his JFK memos back, and Saint returned them, though not before making copies.

There is no way to confirm Hunt's allegations -- all but one of the co-conspirators he named are long gone. St. John, for his part, believes his father. E. Howard was lucid when he made his confession. He was taking no serious medications, and he and his son were finally on good terms. If anything, St. John believes, his father was holding out on him, the old spy keeping a few secrets in reserve, just in case.

"Actually, there were probably dozens of plots to kill Kennedy, because everybody hated Kennedy but the public," Saint says. "The question is, which one of them worked? My dad has always said, 'Thank God one of them worked.' I think he knows a lot more than he told me. He claimed he backed out of the plot only so he could disclaim actual involvement. In a way, I feel like he only opened another can of worms." He takes a deep breath. "At a certain point, I'm just going to have to let it go."

Later that week, E. Howard also gave Saint two sheets of paper that contained a fuller narrative. It starts out with LBJ again, connecting him to Cord Meyer, then goes on: "Cord Meyer discusses a plot with [David Atlee] Phillips who brings in Wm. Harvey and Antonio Veciana. He meets with Oswald in Mexico City. . . . Then Veciana meets w/ Frank Sturgis in Miami and enlists David Morales in anticipation of killing JFK there. But LBJ changes itinerary to Dallas, citing personal reasons."

David Atlee Phillips, the CIA's Cuban operations chief in Miami at the time of JFK's death, knew E. Howard from the Guatemala-coup days. Veciana is a member of the Cuban exile community. Sturgis, like Saint's father, is supposed to have been one of the three tramps photographed in Dealey Plaza. Sturgis was also one of the Watergate plotters, and he is a man whom E. Howard, under oath, has repeatedly sworn to have not met until Watergate, so to Saint the mention of his name was big news.

In the next few paragraphs, E. Howard goes on to describe the extent of his own involvement. It revolves around a meeting he claims he attended, in 1963, with Morales and Sturgis. It takes place in a Miami hotel room. Here's what happens:

Morales leaves the room, at which point Sturgis makes reference to a "Big Event" and asks E. Howard, "Are you with us?"

E. Howard asks Sturgis what he's talking about.

Sturgis says, "Killing JFK."

E. Howard, "incredulous," says to Sturgis, "You seem to have everything you need. Why do you need me?" In the handwritten narrative, Sturgis' response is unclear, though what E. Howard says to Sturgis next isn't: He says he won't "get involved in anything involving Bill Harvey, who is an alcoholic psycho."

After that, the meeting ends. E. Howard goes back to his "normal" life and "like the rest of the country . . . is stunned by JFK's death and realizes how lucky he is not to have had a direct role."

After reading what his father had written, St. John was stunned too. His father had not only implicated LBJ, he'd also, with a few swift marks of a pen, put the lie to almost everything he'd sworn to, under oath, about his knowledge of the assassination. Saint had a million more questions. But his father was exhausted and needed to sleep, and then Saint had to leave town without finishing their talk, though a few weeks later he did receive in the mail a tape recording from his dad. E. Howard's voice on the cassette is weak and grasping, and he sometimes wanders down unrelated pathways. But he essentially remakes the same points he made in his handwritten narrative.

(22) Letter from the Hunt Estate and the Hunt Family to the Intelligence Daily (6th April, 2007)

There is no such thing as E. Howard Hunt's “Last Confession,” contrary to claims currently being circulated by Mr. Hunt's two elder sons, Howard St. John and David Hunt in recent articles published in the Los Angeles Times and in Rolling Stone magazine following Mr. Hunt's death. Motivated by an apparent need for notoriety and financial gains, these theories regarding Mr. Hunt's alleged knowledge of a JFK assassination conspiracy involving the late President Johnson and now dead CIA agents have no basis in fact and are not credible. There is nothing inherently newsworthy in the sad tale of rogue relatives sewing seeds of dissension after the death of a well-known public figure. What is true is that in his lifetime, E. Howard Hunt's two elder sons were a deep disappointment to their father and family. If these theories rest on the credibility of the two elder sons, then their own backgrounds and reliability are well worth investigation. St. John Hunt has actually revealed his decades of drug use, abuse and drug dealing in the Rolling Stone article. Considering their source, reputable journalists should dismiss these claims as entirely lacking in credibility.

The theories advanced by his two elder sons after his death are totally inconsistent with Mr. Hunt's tireless efforts to fight any and all conspiracy allegations during his lifetime. The Warren Commission report investigating the Kennedy assassination is a matter of public record. Unhappy with its findings that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, a veritable conspiracy industry has arisen, and because of Mr. Hunt's CIA background, some theorists have speculated that Mr. Hunt was connected in some way. Allegations caused Congress to act and the JFK investigation was renewed in the early 1970's. In 1974, Mr. Hunt repudiated and rejected these absurd theories as part of a 90-page sealed deposition before the Senate investigative committee. In that recently declassified and released transcript, which is available online, Mr. Hunt detailed each and every CIA assignment and every contact during his 21-year CIA career. During Mr. Hunt's deposition, each bizarre conspiracy theory involving President Kennedy was detailed exhaustively, and Mr. Hunt testified that he had absolutely no knowledge of anything pertaining to the assassination. In addition, Mr. Hunt engaged in protracted litigation against Liberty Lobby, a political newspaper that had published conspiracy allegations concerning him. Although he won at trial the verdict was overturned on appeal. Mr. Hunt continued to fight against defamatory accusations, and specifically repudiated each one in detail in a chapter included in his final memoirs. Mr. Hunt also resisted several Hollywood “big money” offers to “cash in” on assassination speculations by lending credibility to CIA-connected JFK assassination scenarios. It is curious indeed, and perhaps sinister, that his elder sons would wait until after their father's death to propagate conspiracy theories in an alleged “last confession” when Mr. Hunt is no longer able to personally repudiate them. All of Mr. Hunt's knowledge concerning LBJ and any CIA agents is dealt with extensively by him in his new book American Spy (Wiley, 2007).

Mr. Hunt had also always firmly rejected any and all conspiracy theories involving the death of his first wife. The National Transportation Board and Federal Aviation Administration exhaustively investigated her accidental death on board a United Airlines passenger plane in 1972. Should there have been a conspiracy to murder her, the opportunities were many, and it is ludicrous to believe that the most effective method was to cause an airliner to crash, killing more than a hundred others. The verdict of the inquiry into the causes of the crash was that it was pilot error combined with extremely poor weather conditions, a verdict on which rational persons agree.

In 2005, Mr. Hunt's two elder sons proposed a book project in conjunction with an individual with film industry connections. Unfortunately, as things developed, it was clear that the project was not about the interesting details of Mr. Hunt's life. Rather, it was a vehicle to promote further conspiracy-fueled speculations involving rogue CIA agents and LBJ in the Kennedy assassination. Mr. Hunt definitively rejected that project, and he specifically rejected the theories it contained, both to his attorney, William A. Snyder, Jr. and to his youngest son, Austin, who was living at home and finishing his college courses. When that project did not proceed because of the bizarre conspiracy theories initially promoted, the elder brothers' opportunities for financial gain faded. Their resulting reaction has been to continue to exploit Mr. Hunt, to create conflict and division within the family, to threaten their siblings and worst of all, to further a very selfish and greedy personal agenda.

In the interests of truth and fairness, Mr. Snyder and Mr. Austin Hunt should be consulted as the family's spokespersons on this issue as their first-hand accounts are critical to emphatically contradict these spurious claims on behalf of Mr. Hunt, his widow and his remaining four children.


The Hunt Estate and the Hunt Family

(23) Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet (30th April, 2007)

The "deathbed confession" audio tape in which former CIA agent and Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt admits he was approached to be part of a CIA assassination team to kill JFK was aired this weekend - an astounding development that has gone completely ignored by the establishment media.

Saint John Hunt, son of E. Howard Hunt, appeared on the nationally syndicated Coast to Coast Live radio show on Saturday night to discuss the revelations contained in the tape.

Hunt said that his father had mailed cassette the tape to him alone in January 2004 and asked that it be released after his death. The tape was originally 20 minutes long but was edited down to four and a half minutes for the Coast to Coast broadcast. Hunt promises that the whole tape will be uploaded soon at his website.

E. Howard Hunt names numerous individuals with both direct and indirect CIA connections as having played a role in the assassination of Kennedy, while describing himself as a "bench warmer" in the plot. Saint John Hunt agreed that the use of this term indicates that Hunt was willing to play a larger role in the murder conspiracy had he been required.

Hunt alleges on the tape that then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was involved in the planning of the assassination and in the cover-up, stating that LBJ, "Had an almost maniacal urge to become president, he regarded JFK as an obstacle to achieving that."

(24) E. Howard Hunt, last testament (January, 2004)

I heard from Frank that LBJ had designated Cord Meyer, Jr. to undertake a larger organization while keeping it totally secret. Cord Meyer himself was a rather favorite member of the Eastern aristocracy. He was a graduate of Yale University and had joined the Marine Corps during the war and lost an eye in the Pacific fighting.

I think that LBJ settled on Meyer as an opportunist... and a man who had very little left to him in life ever since JFK had taken Cord's wife as one of his mistresses. I would suggest that Cord Meyer welcomed the approach from LBJ, who was after all only the Vice President at that time and of course could not number Cord Meyer among JFK's admirers - quite the contrary.

As for Dave Phillips, I knew him pretty well at one time. He worked for me during the Guatemala project. He had made himself useful to the agency in Santiago, Chile where he was an American businessman. In any case, his actions, whatever they were, came to the attention of the Santiago station chief and when his resume became known to people in the Western hemisphere division he was brought in to work on Guatemalan operations.

Sturgis and Morales and people of that ilk stayed in apartment houses during preparations for the big event. Their addresses were very subject to change, so that where a fellow like Morales had been one day, you'd not necessarily associated with that address - the following day. In short, it was a very mobile experience.

Let me point out at this point, that if I had wanted to fictionalize what went on in Miami and elsewhere during the run up for the big event, I would have done so. But I don't want any unreality to tinge this particular story, or the information, I should say. I was a benchwarmer on it and I had a reputation for honesty.

I think it's essential to refocus on what this information that I've been providing you - and you alone, by the way - consists of. What is important in the story is that we've backtracked the chain of command up through Cord Meyer and laying the doings at the doorstep of LBJ. He, in my opinion, had an almost maniacal urge to become President. He regarded JFK, as he was in fact, an obstacle to achieving that. He could have waited for JFK to finish out his term and then undoubtedly a second term. So that would have put LBJ at the head of a long list of people who were waiting for some change in the executive branch.