Louis James Russell, the son of a FBI agent was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1912. In his youth Russell was a professional baseball player.
In 1937 Russell joined the FBI. During the Second World War he worked on the Alger Hiss case but in 1944 he was forced to leave the bureau because of alcoholism. The following year he became an investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA).
While working on the Alger Hiss case Russell was put in touch with Richard Nixon and Whittaker Chambers. In 1949 he became chief investigator of the HCUA. In 1954 he was fired for drunken behaviour but was reinstated by Francis Walter and remained in the HCUA until 1966. Russell also met two other men of importance during this period, James W. McCord, an agent working for the Central Intelligence Agency and Lee R. Pennington, a member of the American Legion.
After leaving the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1967 Russell did various jobs, but mainly doing investigations and background checks for clients. He also visited Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, in 1969. Woods then sent a letter to Attorney General John N. Mitchell about the possibility of finding him a job. Woods also arranged for Russell to meet William Birely. During this period Russell ran a home for Alcoholics Anonymous.
According to Anthony Summers the author of The Arrogance of Power (2000), Russell's daughter helped the White House investigate the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. He was also involved in trying to find out information that could be used to blackmail Jack Anderson.
By 1971 Russell was working for General Security Services (GSS), the private guard service that protected the Watergate offices in Washington. He also did some part-time work for Allied Investigators, a company owned by John Leon. Russell also performed assignments for the lawyer, Bernard Fensterwald. This included investigations into the John F. Kennedy assassination.
Jim Hougan, the author of Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA (1984): "Russell's apartment was a kind of way station for depressed hookers, a safe place with someone who did not mind listening to sad stories. No one objected, then when, Russell chose to idle away his leisure time in the apartments at the Columbia Plaza. He was a friend to many of the girls, a sometime customer, a freelance bouncer and a source of referrals."
In March, 1972, Russell left GSS to join McCord Associates. One of Russell's first tasks was to investigate the journalist Jack Anderson. He also purchased $3,000 in electronic eavesdropping equipment from John Leon of Allied Investigators. Russell's friend, Charles F. Knight, was told that this equipment had been purchased for James W. McCord.
This equipment was used to tape the telephone conversations between politicians based at the Democratic Party National Committee and a small group of prostitutes run by Phillip Mackin Bailley that worked their trade in the Columbia Plaza.
On 16th June, 1972, Russell spent time at his daughter's house in Benedict, Maryland. That evening Russell traveled to Washington and spent between 8.30 until 10.30 p.m. in the Howard Johnson's Motel. This was the motel where those involved in the Watergate burglary were staying. However, Russell later told FBI agents that he did not meet his employer, James W. McCord, at the motel. Russell then said he drove back to his daughters in Maryland.
Soon after midnight Russell told his daughter he had to return to Washington to do "some work for McCord" that night. It was estimated that he arrived back at the Howard Johnson's Motel at around 12.45 a.m. At 1.30 a.m. Russell had a meeting with McCord. It is not clear what role Russell played in the Watergate break-in. Jim Hougan has suggested that he was helping McCord to "sabotage the break-in".
Later that night Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while in the Democratic Party headquarters in Watergate. Russell was interviewed by the FBI soon afterwards. He claimed that during the break-in he was in his rooming house. The FBI agents did not believe him but none of the burglars claimed he had been involved in the conspiracy and he was released.
Bob Woodward discovered that Russell had been working for James W. McCord. He interviewed Russell but decided that he had not taken part in the Watergate break-in. According to Woodward: "He (Russell) was just an old drunk".
Soon afterwards Russell received a phone call from Carmine Bellino, an investigator who worked for Edward Kennedy and the Senate Administrative Practices Committee. It is not known was was said but as a result of this conversation Russell went to stay with Bellino's friend, William Birely on the top floor of the Twin Towers complex in Silver Spring, Maryland. Birely was also a close friend of Lee R. Pennington. Both men had been active members of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Russell now went to work for Security International, a company owned by James W. McCord and a former CIA officer named William Shea. He also carried out assignments for William Birely. According to his daughter, Jean Hooper, this included several trips Rhode Island and Connecticut. In September, 1972, he did some work for Nick Beltrante at the George McGovern offices.
In April 1973, Russell suffered a heart attack. However, despite being unable to work, McCord continued to pay him as an employee of Security International. Russell did not have a bank account and his old friend, Bernard Fensterwald, paid his cheques into his Committee to Investigate Assassinations.
It was eventually discovered that Russell had indeed been involved in some way with the Watergate break-in. On 9th May, 1973, Sam Ervin asked his investigators to obtain Russell's telephone records, work diaries and bank statements. On 17th May, Deep Throat warned Bob Woodward that "everyone's life is a danger". The following day Russell suffered another heart-attack. This was the first day of James McCord's public testimony before Ervin's Watergate Committee. After a couple of weeks Russell was released from hospital.
Louis James Russell died of a massive heart attack on 2nd July, 1973. He was buried the next day. According to Anthony Summers, Russell had initially been hospitalized on May 18, 1973, shortly after writing to the Senate Watergate Committee to deny having any information that would help the investigation and three hours before James McCord began testifying. Russell was released from the hospital in June, but died on July 2 of what the death certificate described as 'acute coronary occlusion.' There was no autopsy. Russell's claim that he had been poisoned was made to his daughter shortly before his death.
Establishing Russell's whereabouts on the evening of June 16-17 is an important matter that is made difficult by his efforts, and McCord's, to conceal that same information. Russell's motives for concealing his whereabouts are themselves complicated, but they certainly include his wish to keep secret any role that he played in the break-in. That role is something of which McCord himself has been understandably protective. When, for example, I sought to interview him on the subject of Lou Russell, his attorney, Rufus King, said that McCord refused to discuss Russell under any circumstances, and that, moreover, he would not discuss Watergate with any writer who so much as expressed an interest in Lou Russell. In addition, King said, he had received two telegrams from McCord after passing on my request for an interview, and these telegrams instructed him to threaten suit against me, and to say that both Alfred Baldwin and "the Pennington family" would also bring suit should I choose to write about Russell. King confided that he was baffled by his client's attitude, but was obliged to pass the messages along. No, he said in response to a question, he himself did not know who Lee Pennington or Lou Russell was, nor did he know why McCord would link the one to the other.
As we have seen, Russell performed a number of tasks for McCord, patrolling the offices of the CRP at night, infiltrating the Jack Anderson apparat by day, and eavesdropping on the Columbia Plaza in between. (Perhaps, unlike Baldwin, Russell had voice actuated tape recorders to help him in his work.) But this was not all that Russell did for McCord. On at least one occasion he appears to have handled part of the Gemstone File itself. This occurred in early June, when McCord went to Miami for three days. In his absence, Baldwin was instructed to deliver his eavesdropping logs to a night guard at the CRP. Baldwin told the FBI that he did so -though neither Liddy nor Magruder seems ever to have received this particular batch of conversations-but added that he could not remember the guard's name. He did, however, recall that the guard in question was a man in his fifties, and that he seemed to have two first names. According to Robert Houston, McCord's subordinate at the CRP, there were only two night guards at the CRP who could be described as men in their fifties. They were Walter Braydon, a retired CIA officer, and Louis Russell."
At 8:30 P.M. on the evening of the break-in, Lou Russell was ordering dinner at the Howard Johnson's restaurant as McCord and three of the Miami men were ordering lobster tails at the Watergate. Alfred Baldwin had gone to Georgetown in a fruitless search for speaker wire and batteries while Hunt and Liddy were en route from home to their room in the Watergate Hotel. It was expected that the DNC would be vacant by 9:00 p.m. (the time of Hunt's arrival at the hotel), and that the break-in would occur at approximately 10:00 p.m.
It was shortly after 9:00 p.m. that McCord left the Watergate, saying that he was going to the Howard Johnson's. In fact he went first to his office at the CRP. In an interview with the FBI, CRP security officer Millicent ("Penny") Gleason recalled that "Sometime between 9:30 and 10 p.m., Mr. McCord came in the office and jokingly remarked that he had dropped by to make sure they had plenty of work. McCord's appearance was unusual in that his shirt sleeves were rolled up and he was not well dressed. He was usually dressed very well. McCord stated that he had come to pick up his raincoat. Upon leaving, he said words to the effect, 'Penny, I want to thank you for what you've done for our office.' Her impression was that McCord's remark seemed more like a 'goodbye' than a 'thank you.' "
It was at about 10:00 p.m. that McCord returned to the Howard Johnson's. If he and Russell told the truth, they did not see each other, despite Russell's vantage point in the coffee shop. Taking the elevator to Room 723, McCord found the room empty. Minutes later, however, Baldwin arrived to say that he had found the batteries McCord had wanted, but that he had not been able to locate any speaker wire. McCord took the batteries and, sitting on the bed, instructed Baldwin in the proper method of wiring them together in series, using a soldering gun. Baldwin nodded his understanding, and McCord took leave yet again, telling Baldwin that he knew of an all-night Lafayette radio store where he might be able to buy the needed speaker wire. When the door closed behind McCord, Baldwin sat down to solder the batteries together and, within a minute or two, melted them.
Lou Russell, a bouncer for the call-girl ring, was present outside the Watergate the night of the June 17, 1972, break-in. Lou Russell tapped the phones at the Columbia Plaza call-girl ring and stated that he overheard several conversations between the call-girl operation and the DNC.
Circumstantial evidence links money John Dean took from the White House safe containing excess 1968 campaign cash to two payoffs to Lou Russell: 1. November, 1972, $4,350 2. March, 1973, $21,000 Dean was never able to satisfactorily account for the money he took from the 1968 fund. Prior to testifying about it, he asked Fred LaRue for a receipt for $350,000. LaRue refused, stating that he only gave Dean $328,000. Dean said that he needed some of it for his honeymoon, but he could never account for all of it.
One of the major sub-plots of Watergate, and one that will eventually lead us back to the documented public record of George Bush, is the relation of the various activities of the Plumbers to the wiretapping of a group of prostitutes who operated out of a brothel in the Columbia Plaza Apartments, located in the immediate vicinity of the Watergate buildings. Among the customers of the prostitutes there appear to have been a US Senator, an astronaut, A Saudi prince (the Embassy of Saudi Arabia is nearby), US and South Korean intelligence officials, and above all numerous Democratic Party leaders whose presence can be partially explained by the propinquity of the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate. The Columbia Plaza Apartments brothel was under intense CIA surveillance by the Office of Security/Security Research Staff through one of their assets, an aging private detective out of the pages of Damon Runyon who went by the name of Louis James Russell. Russell was, according to Hougan, especially interested in bugging a hot line phone that linked the DNC with the nearby brothel. During the Watergate break-ins, James McCord's recruit to the Plumbers, Alfred C. Baldwin, would appear to have been bugging the telephones of the Columbia Plaza brothel.
Lou Russell, in the period between June 20 and July 2, 1973, was working for a detective agency that was helping George Bush prepare for an upcoming press conference. In this sense, Russell was working for Bush.
Russell is relevant because he seems (although he denied it) to have been the fabled sixth man of the Watergate break-in, the burglar who got away. He may also have been the burglar who tipped off the police, if indeed anyone did. Russell was a harlequin who had been the servant of many masters. Lou Russell had once been the chief investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He had worked for the FBI. He had been a stringer for Jack Anderson, the columnist. In December, 1971 he had been an employee of General Security Services, the company that provided the guards who protected the Watergate buildings. In March of 1972 Russell had gone to work for James McCord and McCord Associates, whose client was the CREEP. Later, after the scandal had broken, Russell worked for McCord's new and more successful firm, Security Associates. Russell had also worked directly for the CREEP as a night watchman. Russell had also worked for John Leon of Allied Investigators, Inc., a company that later went to work for George Bush and the Republican National Committee. Still later, Russell found a job with the headquarters of the McGovern for President campaign. Russell's lawyer was Bud Fensterwald, and sometimes Russell performed investigative services for Fensterwald and for Fensterwald's Committee to Investigate Assassinations. In September, 1972, well after the scandal had become notorious, Russell seems to have joined with one Nick Beltrante in carrying out electronic countermeasures sweeps of the DNC headquarters, and during one of these he appears to have planted an electronic eavesdropping device in the phone of DNC worker Spencer Oliver which, when it was discovered, re-focussed public attention on the Watergate scandal at the end of the summer of 1972.
Russell was well acquainted with Carmine Bellino, the chief investigator on the staff of Sam Ervin's Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Practices. Bellino was a Kennedy operative who had superintended the seamy side of the JFK White House, including such figures as Judith Exner, the president's alleged paramour. Later, Bellino would become the target of George Bush's most revealing public action during the Watergate period. Bellino's friend William Birely later provided Russell with an apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland, (thus allowing him to leave his room in a rooming house on Q Street in the District), a new car, and sums of money.
Russell had been a heavy drinker, and his social circle was that of the prostitutes, whom he sometimes patronized and sometimes served as a bouncer and goon. His familiarity with the brothel milieu facilitated his service for the Office of Security, which was to oversee the bugging and other surveillance of Columbia Plaza and other locations.
Lou Russell was incontestably one of the most fascinating figures of Watergate. How remarkable, then, that the indefatigable ferrets Woodward and Bernstein devoted so little attention to him, deeming him worthy of mention in neither of their two books. Woodward and met with Russell, but had ostensibly decided that there was "nothing to the story. Woodward claims to have seen nothing in Russell beyond the obvious "old drunk."
The FBI had questioned Russell after the DNC break-ins, probing his whereabouts on June 16-17 with the suspicion that he had indeed been one of the burglars. But this questioning led to nothing. Instead, Russell was contacted by Carmine Bellino, and later by Bellino's broker Birely, who set Russell up in the new apartment (or safe house) already mentioned, where one of the Columbia Plaza prostitutes moved in with him.
By 1973, minority Republican staffers at the Ervin committee began to realize the importance of Russell to a revisionist account of the scandal that might exonerate Nixon to some extent by shifting the burden of guilt elsewhere. On May 9, 1973, the Ervin committee accordingly subpoenaed Russell's telephone, job, and bank records. Two days later Russell replied to the committee that he had no job records or diaries, had no bank account, made long-distance calls only to his daughter, and could do nothing for the committee.
On May 16-17, 1973, Deep Throat warned Woodward that "everybody's life is in danger." On May 18, while the staff of the Ervin committee were pondering their next move vis-avis Russell, Russell suffered a massive heart attack. This was the same day that McCord, advised by his lawyer and Russell's, Fensterwald, began his public testimony to the Ervin committee on the coverup. Russell was taken to Washington Adventist Hospital, where he recovered to some degree and convalesced until June 20. Russell was convinced that he had been the victim of an attempted assassination. He told his daughter after leaving the hospital that he believed that he had been poisoned, that someone had entered his apartment (the Bellino-Birely safe house in Silver Spring) and "switched pills on me."
Leaving the hospital on June 20, Russell was still very weak and pale. But now, although he remained on the payroll of James McCord, he also accepted a retainer from his friend John Leon, who had been engaged by the Republicans to carry out a counter investigation of the Watergate affair. Leon was in contact with Jerris Leonard, a lawyer associated with Nixon, the GOP, the Republican National Committee, and with Chairman George Bush. Leonard was a former assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Nixon administration. Leonard had stepped down as head of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) on March 17, 1973. In June, 1973 Leonard was special counsel to George Bush personally, hired by Bush and not by the RNC. Leonard says today that his job consisted in helping to keep the Republican Party separate from Watergate, deflecting Watergate from the party "so it would not be a party thing." As Hougan tells it, "Leon was convinced that Watergate was a set-up, that prostitution was at the heart of the affair, and that the Watergate arrests had taken place following a tip-off to the police; in other words, the June 17 burglary had been sabotaged from within, Leon believed, and he intended to prove it." Integral to Leon's theory of the affair was Russell's relationship to the Ervin committee's chief investigator, Carmine Bellino, and the circumstances surrounding Russell's relocation to Silver Spring in the immediate aftermath of the Watergate arrests. In an investigative memorandum submitted to GOP lawyer Jerris Leonard, Leon described what he hoped to prove: that Russell, reporting to Bellino, had been a spy for the Democrats within the CRP, and that Russell had tipped off Bellino (and the police) to the June 17 break-in. The man who knew most about this was, of course, Leon's new employee, Lou Russell."
Is it possible that Jerris Leonard communicated the contents of Leon's memorandum to the RNC and to its Chairman George Bush during the days after he received it? It is possible. But for Russell, the game was over: on July 2, 1973, barely two weeks after his release from the hospital, Russell suffered a second heart attack, which killed him. He was buried with quite suspicious haste the following day. The potential witness with perhaps the largest number of personal ties to Watergate protagonists, and the witness who might have re-directed the scandal, not just towards Bellino, but toward the prime movers behind and above McCord and Hunt and Paisley, had perished in a way that recalls the fate of so many knowledgeable Iran-contra figures.
With Russell silenced forever, Leon appears to have turned his attention to targeting Bellino, perhaps with a view to forcing him to submit to depositioning or other questioning in which questions about his relationship to Russell might be asked. Leon, who had been convicted in 1964 of wiretapping in a case involving El Paso Gas Co. and Tennessee Gas Co., had weapons in his own possession that could be used against Bellino. During the time that Russell was still in the hospital, on June 8, Leon had signed an affidavit for Jerris Leonard in which he stated that he had been hired by Democratic operative Bellino during the 1960 presidential campaign to "infiltrate the operations" of Albert B. "Ab" Hermann, a staff member of the Republican National Committee. Leon asserted in the affidavit that although he had not been able to infiltrate Hermann's office, he observed the office with field glasses and employed "an electronic device known as 'the big ear' aimed at Mr. Hermann's window." Leon recounted that he had been assisted by former CIA officer John Frank, Oliver W. Angelone and former Congressional investigator Ed Jones in the anti-Nixon 1960 operations.
Alch told the senators that Fensterwald had volunteered to him the information that Fensterwald and McCord had "a past relationship" going before Watergate. Alch said Fensterwald referred to contributions, in fact, that McCord had made to the CTIA. What could be going on?
Two days after Alch told the world this story I visited the 'dilapidated downtown Washington office of Fensterwald's CTIA and tried to get some reaction to Alch's testimony' from Fensterwald's (then) aide and office manager Bob Smith, a small, overwrought, pale, exasperated man of middle age, who was sarcastic and impatient with the idea of a prior McCord-Fensterwald relationship or that something between them might be hidden. Then what about the contributions Alch says Fensterwald says McCord made to, the CTIA? Were there any such contributions? To my surprise, Smith sputtered and said that there were of course no contributions, but that there had been certain irrelevant, money transactions involving McCord, Fensterwald, and the CTIA going back well before Watergate.
Smith's story was that Fensterwald's old friend Russell materialized in McCord's ambit when he was hired by McCord's Security International to help handle convention security on contract to the Republican National Committee. When Russell found it difficult to cash his paychecks from McCord's security firm, said Smith, he got into the habit of bringing them around to Fensterwald's office at the CTIA. . Russell would sign his McCord check over to the CTIA and Fensterwald would write him a personal check for the like ' amount, which Russell could then easily cash around the corner at Fensterwald's bank. Russell brought the first such check around, recalled Smith, in March 1972. The practice was current as of Watergate. There were, as Smith remembered, about a dozen such checks. The larger, he thought, were for about $500.
Lou Russell was in the Howard Johnson Motel at the very time of the Watergate break-in. He lied to the FBI, about why he was there. Someone set him up after that in a penthouse with a car. He lived on Q St. 7 or 8 blocks from Fensterwald's office when he started exchanging checks in March 1972. He worked for General Security Services Co., which was protecting Watergate at the time of the break-in. Lou Russell was Nixon's chief investigator when Dirty Dick went after Hiss. Nixon - knew Russell very well.
It was at about this time that Russell received a telephone call from a prominent man - Carmine Bellino, an "investigative accountant," whose life had been spent in close association with the Kennedy family. He had known Lou Russell when the latter had been chief investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and he was telephoning Russell at the suggestion of a mutual friend, John Leon.
Leon later said that Bellino had wanted to learn everything he could about the attack on the DNC. Knowing of Russell's employment by McCord and suspecting his involvement in the break-in, Leon urged Bellino to contact the private detective. At the time, Bellino was the de facto point man of the congressional investigation then impending. Under the authority of Senator Edward Kennedy, the then chairman of the Senate's Administrative Practices Committee, Bellino was laying the groundwork for the day when he would be appointed chief investigator for the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (the Ervin committee).
We do not know what Bellino said to Russell or what Russell said to Bellino. Soon after the call, however, a Good Samaritan came to Russell, offering sanctuary. The Samaritan was William Birely, Bellino's close friend and longtime stockbroker. Asked if there was any connection between his friendship with Bellino and his subsequent generosity to Russell, Birely insists that there was not. Similarly, Birely says, his friendship with Lee Pennington was also a coincidence: both he and Pennington had long served together as executive officers in various patriotic societies based in Washington.
It was "out of the goodness of my heart," Birely recalls, that he offered to rescue Russell from his squalid quarters in the capital. Russell accepted the offer, and was soon resident in an apartment on the top floor of the Twin Towers complex in Silver Spring, Maryland, just across the District line. Provided with "walking around money" and a better car than he had been driving until then, Russell found that his situation had improved dramatically.
"I pitied him," Birely told me. "There was nothing more to it than that. Lou had just picked himself up. He'd stopped drinking. He had great hopes for his work with McCord and then, all of a sudden, he was out of a job. The Watergate business just devastated
In fact Russell was not "out of a job." Despite McCord's arrest, and the apparent dissolution of McCord Associates, Inc., Russell remained in the employ of the Watergate burglar, albeit under different auspices. On June 9th McCord had rented office space at the Arlington Towers complex in Rosslyn on the Virginia side of the Potomac. There McCord established a new firm, Security International, Inc., headed by a former CIA officer named William Shea (whose wife, Theresa, had previously worked as McCord's secretary). The new firm was to achieve remarkable success; whereas McCord Associates had won only two clients (the CRP and the RNC) after two years of trying, Security International signed twenty-five to thirty (never identified) new clients in its first nine months of existence. Moreover, even while the Arlington Towers were unusually secure, so also was the suite of offices that McCord had rented for his new firm. The doors of that firm were kept locked around the clock (even while its employees worked inside), and no outsiders were permitted to enter. Salesmen and others who called in person were told that all business had to be transacted over the telephone. It was while living at the Twin Towers in Silver Spring as a guest of William Birely's that Russell continued to work for McCord under the auspices of Security International. According to Russell's daughter, Jean Hooper, "Mr. McCord was a pallbearer at my dad's funeral (in July i973). And when it was over, Mr. McCord came to me with my dad's last paycheck. I think it was for $285-something like that."
Which raises the question: Why did - how could - McCord keep Russell on the payroll for more than a year after the Watergate arrests and, indeed, even after the detective was incapacitated by a heart attack (in April 1973)? If we are to believe the impression given at the time, McCord was in desperate financial straits. Raising bail was said to be a serious problem, his family was allegedly hard put to make ends meet and so forth. And yet, despite these difficulties, McCord was able to pay Russell a good salary and, what is more, to reject a $105,000 publishing advance for what appear to have been artistic reasons.
He does not recall ever receiving a phone call on April 25, 1972, from McCord Associates to the phone number 234-9746 which is the pay telephone located in the hall of the rooming house where he resides. He advised that he does know James McCord of McCord Associates and that he is employed by James McCord. He stated that the phone call could have been taken by any of the tenants living in the rooming house...He first met James McCord in January or February 1972 at Scholls Restaurant in Washington, D.C. at which time McCord asked him to work for him as an investigator for the National Committee to Re-elect the President. He stated that McCord said he was recommended to by someone, whose name he did not disclose. Russell advised that this is probably correct as he has done investigative work in an around Washington, D.C. for some time. He said his first job was to do a background check on a female, name 'Jane' (LNU) who was in the employ of the National Committee to Re-elect the President. He said for that job he received $40 paid by check in advance by McCord. His next job was a background check on a male 'hippie' messenger for the National Committee to Re-elect the President. He said for that for this job he received $25. He advised he was also asked to check out a magazine by the title of The Sociables and a woman by the name of Rita Gerin. He gave written reports to McCord on all the above cases. On June 1, 1972, McCord put him on retainer of $710 per month to continue until the Presidential Election was over with the purpose of investigating Jack Anderson to determine the source of Anderson's information. He furnished McCord with one report on Anderson for which he received $75. He stated that he worked this case solely during the month of June but that now that the 'Democratic Committee Bugging Incident Occurred' he does not know if he will still be employed by McCord. He advised that he also worked for McCord as a security guard at 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest, Washington, D.C. for about two weeks prior to being put on retainer by McCord. He said that it was his understanding he was employed by the National Committee to Re-elect the President and was hired by McCord. His checks were drawn on the Maryland National Bank on the account of Mr. and Mrs. James McCord or McCord Associates. He couldn't remember which.
Russell advised that his background concerning investigative work started in 1937 when he was a Special Agent for the FBI. He was employed by the FBI from June 1937 until 1944, when he left the FBI because of personal reasons; i.e. first wife committing suicide and his becoming a heavy drinker. He stated that most of his work in the FBI was in the Washington, D.C. area. After 1944 he worked in many varied jobs and found work wherever he could. From 1945 until 1954 he worked as an investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities and was fired in 1954 for drinking, but was reinstated in 1957 by Francis B. Walter. He stayed with the House Committee on Un-American Activities until 1967.
Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy regaled a federal jury in Baltimore yesterday with details of the covert political mission that eventually brought down a president, telling how he shredded documents and hundred-dollar bills after the famous 1972 break-in and matter-of-factly warned his wife that he was headed to jail.
But as to the purpose of the botched burglary at the Democratic National Committee, Liddy said he learned only years later the explanation he now believes is true - that the burglars were secretly directed by then-White House counsel John W. Dean III to find pictures that could have linked Dean's future wife to a call-girl ring.
It is a theory that has landed Liddy in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, defending himself against a $5.1 million defamation lawsuit.
Ida "Maxie" Wells contends the revisionist theory of Watergate that Liddy now supports falsely portrays her as helping to run the alleged call-girl operation from the DNC, where she worked as a young secretary at the time of the break-in.
Testifying yesterday, Liddy said orders from Nixon campaign director Jeb Stuart Magruder to send his team of CIA-trained burglars into Democratic headquarters never fully made sense to him because there was little sensitive information kept there at the time and it was not a target for the "black bag" political espionage operations he had planned for that spring.
"Absolutely not," Liddy testified, noting that he had intended to break into the campaign headquarters of the two top Democratic presidential candidates and to stake out the Democrats' national convention in Miami. "There was nothing to be gained at the Watergate, and there was no plan to go in there."
In his first-hand account of the history, Liddy told jurors yesterday about the hardships of prison and his subsequent career as a talk radio host and occasional television actor. He also told how he came to believe that Dean - who in the history books became Watergate's whistle blower hero - was secretly directing the burglars.
Dean has denounced the alternate theory linking Watergate to a call-girl ring or to his wife, Maureen. The Deans also sued Liddy in the early 1990s, but the case was dismissed.
Wells' 1997 lawsuit has twice been dismissed by a federal judge in Baltimore but was reinstated each time by an appeals court. The case also has been to trial once before - a jury hearing the case early last year deadlocked 7-2 in favor of Liddy.
Liddy gave a more subdued performance yesterday than at the first trial, where he barked his name in military parlance at the beginning of his testimony - "Liddy: that's Lima, India, Delta, Delta, Yankee" - and summed up his first lengthy public testimony on Watergate with the explanation: "My father didn't raise a snitch or a rat."
The former FBI agent, who spent almost five years in prison for his role as the head of the political espionage team in Watergate, detailed his work for the Nixon White House and told what happened in the hours and days after the five burglars working for him were arrested inside the DNC.
When he went home that night, Liddy testified, he woke up his wife and told her something had gone wrong.
"'My guys got caught tonight,'" he said. "'I think I'm going to jail.' And then I went to sleep."
Later, at his own office, Liddy said, he shredded reams of documents as well as $1,300 in consecutively numbered hundred-dollar bills.
Liddy said he long accepted the conventional theory of Watergate. But he offered a detailed accounting of the evidence he said convinced him that Dean was the unseen hand behind the burglary.
He said his investigators in the 1990s talked to a stockbroker for the call-girl ring's de facto bouncer, a former FBI agent named Lou Russell.
The broker said Russell, who typically lived close to the bone, suddenly had about $25,000 to invest between late 1972 and early 1973 - money Liddy suggested came from GOP campaign cash that Dean never accounted for.
Russell had knowledge, not only of the Rikan call-girl ring and of successful taps on the phone line, but also of McCord's plans to break into the DNC. Russell was apparently present at the scene of the June 16 break-in, and may have been source of a detailed warning to the Democrats about it the previous April (via Joe Shimon, Jack Anderson's source when breaking the Martino-Rosselli story).
Whatever Russell's role, to which Hougan devotes fifty inconclusive pages, he was sought as a witness by the Republican minority staff on the Ervin Committee. On May 18, 1973, one week after declining a committee subpoena for his records, Russell suffered his first massive heart attack. On July 2, 1973, soon after he was approached again about his knowledge, he had a second, and died. The Republican investigator who approached him, John Leon, was "convinced that Watergate was a setup, that prostitution was at the heart of the affair, and that the. .. burglary had been sabotaged from within." He too died of a heart attack: one month later, on July 13, 1973, the day he was scheduled to hold a Watergate press conference.
A year into the presidency, having requested an appointment with Nixon himself, Russell had visited with Rose Woods at the White House. He wanted a job, and Woods wrote to the White House personnel department on his behalf. A report on Russell was later sent to Attorney General Mitchell, and the former agent lunched with William Birely, a Washington stockbroker who had long been friendly with Nixon and his secretary.
Russell worked on the continuing White House probe of Chappaquiddick and, according to his daughter, was used as a courier to carry large sums of cash. Then, in 1972, he began working for CREEP. His known responsibilities included running staff security checks, researching leftist newspapers, and the latest stage of what had now become a White House preoccupation investigating the columnist Jack Anderson.
This operative with a personal connection to the president, however, had a special qualification. It can hardly be a coincidence that before joining CREEP, Russell had worked for the security service that protected the Watergate building...
Russell had initially been hospitalized on May 18, 1973, shortly after writing to the Senate Watergate Committee to deny having any information that would help the investigation and three hours before James McCord began testifying. Russell was released from the hospital in June, but died on July 2 of what the death certificate described as "acute coronary occlusion." There was no autopsy. Russell's claim that he had been poisoned was made to his daughter shortly before his death. More intriguing than the manner of his death, for this author, is the fact that in the months between the Watergate arrests and his death Russell had far more money than usual. He made two bank deposits during that period, one for $4,750 and a second for $20,895. William Birely, Nixon's stockbroker friend had lent him a pleasant apartment and a car after Watergate and helped him invest his recent financial windfalls. Birely and McCord, who had continued to employ Russell, both attended his funeral.
The CIA is behind it all. That's the conclusion of Mae Brussell - one of America's foremost assassination experts - a researcher who has collected every pertinent newspaper story, every book, every document since the Watergate break-in four years ago on the night of June 17, 1972.
Miss Brussell is the only person in America who perceived the gruesome string of deaths that stretches from Watergate to now.
She believes that a faction within the Central Intelligence Agency is responsible not only for Watergate, but for the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy.
She believes, as President Nixon stated on the Watergate tapes, that everything horrible that's happened in American politics is connected, starting with the Bay of Pigs.
Some of the 30 people who died, she says, knew only about CIA involvement in Watergate. Some of them knew much, much more.
A few of the dead, like Martha Mitchell, Lyndon Johnson, Congressman Hale Boggs and Mafia hoodlum Sam Giancana, are well-known. Others might have been - if they had lived and told their stories. But 30 are dead. And there's no reason to believe that there won't be more.
1. Beverly Kaye, 42, died of a "massive stroke" in December, 1973, while riding in the White House elevator. She was Secret Service agent John Bull's secretary and her job included the actual storing and preservation of the White House tapes. It is almost without question, says Mae Brussell, that she knew what was on those tapes, including the 18 minutes of recorded conversations which were mysteriously erased. As reported in the West Coast news service, "Earth News," on June 5, 1974, from the stories she told her friends and neighbors, she was convinced that the president and his aides were involved in the Watergate bugging and cover-up.
2. Murray Chotiner, a long-time friend of Nixon's was killed when a government truck ran into his car on January 23, 1974. At first it was reported that Chotiner suffered only a broken leg, but he died a week later. According to a March 31, 1973 article in the Los Angeles Times, Chotiner may have been one of the people who received the tape recordings made inside the Democratic campaign headquarters in the Watergate building.
3. William Mills, the Congressman from Maryland, was found shot to death - an apparent suicide - one day after it was disclosed that he failed to report a $25,000 campaign contribution given to him by President Nixon's re-election finance committee. Mills, 48, was discovered with a 12-gauge shotgun by his feet and an "alleged suicide note" pinned to his body. In all, seven such notes were found, apparently written by Mills, although this was never verified. According to Miss Brussell, the $25,000 came from the $1.7 million dollar secret fund for "dirty tricks" used by the Committee to Re-Elect the President.
4. and 5. James Webster and James Glover, key men in Congressman Mills' campaign, were killed in a car accident in February of 1972. Another campaign worker stated in the Washington Post on May 23, 1973, that the illegal $25,000 contribution was delivered to Mills' campaign manager James Webster.
6. Hale Boggs, the Congressman from Louisiana and a member of the Warren Commission, died in July of 1972, one month after the Watergate arrests. Boggs and two other men disappeared when the light aircraft in which they were flying crashed in Alaska. The Los Angeles Star, on November 22, 1973, reported that "Boggs had startling revelations on Watergate and the assassination of President Kennedy." Richard Nixon made some unintelligible remarks about Congressman Boggs which were recorded on the White House tapes, just seven days after the Watergate break-in.
7. Dorothy Hunt, the wife of convicted White House "plumber" E. Howard Hunt, was killed, along with 41 other people, when United Airlines Flight 553 crashed near Chicago's Midway Airport on Dec. 8, 1972. Mrs. Hunt, who, like her husband, had worked for the CIA, was allegedly carrying $100,000 in "hush" money so her husband would not implicate White House officials in Watergate. The day after the crash, White House aide Egil (Bud) Krogh was appointed Undersecretary of Transportation, supervising the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Association - the two agencies charged with investigating the airline crash. A week later, Nixon's deputy assistant Alexander Butterfield was made the new head of the FAA, and five weeks later Dwight Chapin, the president's appointment secretary, was dispatched to Chicago to become a top executive with United Airlines.
The airplane crash was blamed on equipment malfunctions.
8. and 9. Ralph Blodgett and James Krueger, attorneys for Northern Natural Gas Co., were killed in the same airplane as Mrs. Hunt. The two men, Miss Brussell contends, had documents linking Attorney General John Mitchell to Watergate, and documents of a secret transfer of El Paso Natural Gas Co. stock made to Mitchell after the Justice Department dropped a $300 million anti-trust suit against the company. The money from these stocks may have been used for political espionage. Blodgett told friends before boarding the plane in Washington that he would "never live to get to Chicago."
10. and 11. Dr. and Mrs. Gary Morris died in March of 1972 when their boat mysteriously disappeared off the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia. Their bodies were never found. But their names were on the dead body of Mrs. Dorothy Hunt, according to an article in the Oct. 3, 1975 Washington Post. "The plane crash that killed Mrs. Hunt in Chicago has now been officially ruled an accident," the story stated. "But there's one bizarre coincidence that may never be explained. "Her red wallet at the time of her death had a slip of paper with the name of a Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Gary Morris, on it." Neither Howard Hunt nor his wife were patients of the doctor, who was already dead at the time of the plane crash. It is interesting to note, Mae Brussell says, that Dr. Morris was an expert in hypnosis and that Mr. Hunt used "mind control" in his espionage work.
12. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, died on May 1, 1972, a month before Watergate. There is considerable evidence that he may have known about the White House "dirty tricks." An article in the Harvard Crimson quotes Felipe De Diego, a Cuban exile who took part in the break-in at psychiatrist Daniel Ellsberg's office, as saying:
"Two burglaries took place at Hoover's Washington home. The first was in the winter of 1972 to retrieve documents that might be used for blackmail against the White House. "After the first burglary," according to Diego, "a second burglary was carried out; this time, whether by design or misunderstanding, a poison, thyonphosphate genre, was placed in Hoover's personal toilet articles. Hoover died shortly after that." Thyonphosphate genre is a drug that induces heart seizures. Its presence in a corpse is undetectable without an autopsy. No autopsy was ever performed on the body of J. Edgar Hoover.
13. Sam Giancana, the Mafia chief, was murdered on June 22, 1975, as he was about to testify before Sen. Frank Church's Senate Committee, investigating the use of underworld figures by the CIA, for the purpose of assassinating foreign leaders. Giancana had ties to E. Howard Hunt and the CIA. His murder is unsolved, although police say "it didn't look like a Mafia hit." His former girlfriend, Judith Campbell Exner recently revealed her secret romance with JFK.
14. Lyndon Baines Johnson, the former president, died on January 20, 1973, in a helicopter ambulance en route to San Antonio, Texas. Three months before his death, Johnson was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying, "We've been running a damn Murder Inc. in the Caribbean." This was two years before Sen. Church's committee revealed the plots to assassinate foreign leaders. "Coincidentally," Mae Brussell says, "Johnson died in the arms of a secret service agent Mike Howard, who in 1963 had been assigned to protect Marina Oswald after her husband was killed."
15. George Bell, assistant to Charles Colson, special counsel to the White House, died of unreported causes on June 30, 1973. When questioned about President Nixon's infamous "enemies list," Colson told the House Subcommittee Investigating Watergate that the "late George Bell" was responsible for the list of 200 celebrities and politicians whom the President considered dangerous.
16. Lee Pennington, Jr., a CIA agent, died of an apparent heart attack in October of 1974. Immediately after the Watergate arrests two years earlier, he had been sent to ransack burglar James McCord's home. Richard Helms, the CIA chief at the time, did not reveal this fact to any investigators. It was not until June 28, 1974, four months before Pennington's death, that the new CIA director, William Colby, reported to Sen. Howard Baker: "The results of our investigation clearly show that the CIA had in its possession, as early as June, 1972, information that one of its paid operatives, Lee R. Pennington, Jr., had entered the James McCord residence shortly after the Watergate break-in and destroyed documents which might show a link between McCord and the CIA."
17. J. Clifford Dieterich, a 28-year-old secret service agent assigned to Nixon, was killed when the president's helicopter crashed off the Bahamas in May of 1973. Dieterich was one of seven men in the helicopter, but the only one to die. Miss Brussell believes that in guarding Richard Nixon, he may have come to know too much.
18. Clay Shaw, who years earlier had been acquitted of conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy, died of a heart attack, on August 16, 1974. His death came just weeks after Victor Marchetti, author of "The Cult of Intelligence," revealed that Shaw had worked for the CIA. He had been on assignment in Mexico in 1963 at the same time as CIA agent E. Howard Hunt and Lee Harvey Oswald. Shaw was cremated. There was no autopsy.
19. Merle D. Baumgart, an aide to Rep. Peter Rodino of the House Judiciary Committee on Impeachment, was killed in a traffic accident on May 20, 1975. Washington police described his death as "a routine traffic accident" - until they received an anonymous call to "look into it." According to the Portland Oregonian of June 30, 1975, U.S. agents joined the probe but kept it secret because of the "stature of some individuals who might be involved."
Miss Brussell speculates that in his work to impeach Nixon, Baumgart may have come across some dangerous information.
20. Nikos J. Vardinoyiannis, a Greek ship owner who contributed funds to Nixon's presidential campaign, died of undisclosed causes in 1973. Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski was investigating Vardinoyiannis when the Justice Department declared that the Greek's contribution of $27,000 was not illegal. The Department reached this conclusion, Mae Brussell says, even though the contribution was made after one of Vardinoyiannis' companies was contracted to supply fuel for the U.S. 6th Fleet, and even though federal law bars foreign contractors from contributing to U.S. political campaigns.
21. Joseph Tomassi, the 24-year-old head of the American Nazi Party in California was shot to death on the front steps of his Los Angeles headquarters, on August 15, 1975. Two years earlier, the Los Angeles Times had reported that "the Committee to Re-Elect the President gave $10,000 in undisclosed funds to finance a surreptitious campaign to remove George Wallace's American Independent Party from the 1972 California ballot."
The Times went on to say that "$1,200 of the fund found its way to Joe Tomassi, head of the Nazi Party in California."
22. Mrs. Louise Boyer, Nelson Rockefeller's assistant for 30 years, fell to her death from a 10th story New York apartment on July 3, 1974. At the time, as a consequence of Watergate, Rockefeller was being considered for the vice-presidency. Accusations had been made that he had been involved in the illegal removal of gold from Ft. Knox. It's believed that Mrs. Boyer supplied the investigators with this information.
23. Jose Joaquin Sangenis Perdimo, a Cuban exile who worked with the CIA at the Bay of Pigs, died mysteriously in 1974. Code-named "Felix," he had worked with Watergate plummers Hunt and Barker. In 1972 he was awarded a secret merit medal by the CIA.
24. Rolando Masferrer, another Cuban exile employed by the CIA, was blown blown to bits when his car exploded on October 5, 1975. Masferrer had worked with "plummers" Hunt, Sturgis and Barker. According to Miss Brussell, "He would have been investigated for his activities in connection with assassination attempts on foreign leaders, had he not been killed."
25. Lou Russell, an old friend of Nixon's from the "Red Scare" days, died of natural causes on July 31, 1973.
In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, Nixon's secretary Rosemary Wood stated: "I met Lou Russell once when he came to the office. He said he worked on the old House Un-American Activity Committee and that he needed a job." Russell found a job alright, with "McCord Associates," a CIA front run by Watergater James McCord.
26. Jack Cleveland, a partner of the president's brother Donald Nixon, died in Canada in November of 1973. At the time he was wanted for questioning in connection with a possible government pay-off to Howard Hughes. Cleveland was suspected of being a go-between in a deal whereby Nixon's brother gained an interest in a large Nevada ranch allegedly in exchange for the president's clearing the way for the billionaire's takeover of Air West.
"When Watergate came apart," Miss Brussell says, "this deal came under investigation."
27. Richard Lavoie, chief of security for International Telegraph and Telephone, died of a heart attack on December 27, 1972. At the time Lavoie was guarding Ditta Beard, an ITT secretary who claimed she had a memo that her company had contributed $400,000 to Nixon's campaign fund so that John Mitchell would not bust up some of ITT's holdings. When columnist Jack Anderson broke this story, Miss Beard was moved from Washington to Denver, Colo., where she was hospitalized for an apparent heart attack. She was whisked away, Anderson claimed, so that she couldn't testify. Miss Brussell suspects that Lovoie may have heard too much from Dita Beard.
28. Mrs. Andrew Topping, the wife of a man arrested for plotting to kill Nixon, died of gunshot wounds on April 6, 1972, two weeks after the Watergate break-in. Her death was declared a suicide. Andrew Topping told police that "pro-rightist forces" beyond his control caused his wife's death.
29. James Morton was President Gerald Ford's campaign treasurer. According to a New York Times report of November 2, 1973, Ford was being questioned by a senate committee prior to his appointment as vice president, and was asked about a secret sum of $38,000 used in his campaign for the House of Representatives. The Times story stated, "Ford confirmed under questioning that a committee organized in Washington raised $38,216 for his re-election in 1972... but Ford said he did not know the names of the donors because the committee treasurer, James G. Morton is now dead." Like so much of the Watergate money, Miss Brussell notes, no records were kept.
30. Martha Mitchell, estranged wife of the former attorney general, died on Memorial Day, 1976. A constant "pain in the side" of the Watergate conspirators, she was the first person to point the finger at Richard Nixon and suggest he resign.