“‘Follow the money?’ Are we nuts? It doesn’t take an FBI agent hiding in a garage to come up with that one. In Washington, that’s axiomatic. To find out anything about anybody, ‘follow the money.’ Sniff out ol’ Jesse Unruh’s mother’s milk of politics and you’ll get answers.”
Uncle Pundit was on a roll.
“All callings have axioms, truisms. We fishermen know, for example, that ‘all waders leak.’ No getting around it. Besides, the Watergate plumbers made it all too easy to follow the money.”
How so, Uncle?
“Well, since this is the 35th anniversary, I’ll tell you. The break-in, the ‘entry’, at the DNC that got ‘em caught June 17, 1972, was not their first one. They’d been there before, rented a banquet room in the Watergate and shot upstairs to photograph stuff on DNC chairman O’Brien’s desk. But that wasn’t good enough for the directors in the White House. They wanted more stuff. And a bug put on a phone in this first entry wasn’t working.
“E. Howard Hunt, a major domo of the plumbers, who had devoted 21 years service to the CIA and nearly five years before that in the Army and the Navy, resisted this second attempt. Too risky, and besides all the good stuff was being moved from Washington to Miami for the upcoming Democratic Convention.”
What, Uncle, were they looking for anyway?
“Good question. Hunt was a veteran of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Had a lot of Cuban exile friends left over from that. The suspicion was that somehow Castro and/or those guys in Hanoi, were bankrolling the Democratic campaign. I know, today it sounds outlandish. But then, so do a lot of things. The fact that Mark Felt, the ‘Deep Throat’ guy of Woodward’s, is really W. Mark Felt is a hangover of the slavishness given J. Edgar Hoover, the legendary FBI chief. Since the chief used only his first initial, then his middle and last name, all the FBI guys of that time adopted the same habit. Hundreds of guys with only a first initial, going by names even their mothers wouldn’t recognize.
“Anyhow, mention Castro to these Miami Cubans, and they are ready to roll. That’s how come four of the guys arrested in the DNC headquarters were exiles up from Miami. The fifth, the electronics guy, was James McCord.”
But, Uncle, where are we following the money here?
“Coupla things. The head Cuban, Bernie Barker, has got a fistful of hundred dollar bills, some on him, some back in his room. He has also got E. Howard Hunt’s name in his address book. The C-notes check back to a check cashed in Miami which is traceable to a source of the Committee to Re-Elect the President, CREP, as it came to be known, pronounced with a long ‘e.’ You see, it didn’t take a deep throat, or a deep intellect, to figure out what was going on, just with the arrest of those five guys in the Democratic Headquarters. They had the goods on ‘em.”
So, that’s it?
“Not altogether. To appreciate it all, you gotta know something of the tenor of the times, and I don’t mean Caruso.”
I failed to laugh and Uncle went on.
“This country was dividing like an amoeba. The Vietnam thing had guys fragging their officers in the bush over there and protesters blowing up things over here. The faith and credit of American humanity was running out. The Democratic convention in ‘68 in Chicago was a riot. Dan Rather got punched in the stomach. Humphrey’s acceptance speech was interspersed with scenes of rioting outside. That guys in office would actually suspect guys in the other political party of treason makes today’s political yammering sound like a kindergarten squabble. Hunt’s guys had already invaded a psychiatrist’s office on the West Coast trying to get some dirt on Daniel Ellsberg, the guy who leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers that gave some hint of the disorganization surrounding the Vietnam War.
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