G. Gordon Liddy

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G. Gordon Liddy
Liddy.jpg
Liddy in 2004
Born George Gordon Battle Liddy
(1930-11-30) November 30, 1930 (age 84)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupation Army officer, lawyer, FBI agent, politician, radio personality, actor, writer
Religion Agnostic
Criminal charge
Conspiracy, burglary, illegal wiretapping
Criminal penalty
20-year imprisonment, later commuted to 8 years by President Jimmy Carter
Criminal status Released when parole came up after 4.5 years in prison
Spouse(s) Frances Purcell (1957–2010; her death); 5 children
Children Alexandra (Mrs. Bourne)
Grace
Thomas
Commander James Gordon Liddy USN (SEAL) (Ret.)
Col. Raymond Joseph Liddy, USMCR
Parents Sylvester and Maria (née Abbaticchio) Liddy

George Gordon Battle Liddy (born November 30, 1930), better known as G. Gordon Liddy is a retired American lawyer best known as the chief operative in the White House Plumbers unit that existed from July–September 1971, during Richard Nixon's presidency.

Separately, along with E. Howard Hunt, Liddy organized and directed the Watergate burglaries of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building in May and June 1972. After five of Liddy's operatives were arrested inside the DNC offices on June 17, 1972, subsequent investigations of the Watergate scandal led to Nixon's resignation in 1974. Liddy was convicted of burglary, conspiracy and refusing to testify to the Senate committee investigating Watergate. He served nearly fifty-two months in federal prisons.[1]

Liddy later joined with Timothy Leary for a series of popular debates on various college campuses, and similarly worked with Al Franken in the late 1990s. From 1992 to 2012 Liddy served as a radio talk show host until his retirement on July 27, 2012.[2] His radio show as of 2009 was syndicated in 160 markets by Radio America and on both Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio stations in the United States.[3] He has been a guest panelist for Fox News Channel in addition to appearing in a cameo role or as a guest celebrity talent in several television shows.

Early years[edit]

Youth, family, education[edit]

Liddy, c. 1964

Liddy was born in Brooklyn, New York,[4] to Sylvester James Liddy and Maria (née Abbaticchio). Largely of Irish descent,[citation needed] his maternal grandfather was of Italian descent. Liddy was raised in Hoboken[5] and West Caldwell, New Jersey. He was named for George Gordon Battle, a New York City attorney and Tammany Hall DA nominee who had mentored Liddy's father.[citation needed]

Liddy spent grades 1 through 3 at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. He was enrolled in the fourth grade at SS Peter and Paul Parochial School. He was enrolled in St. Aloysius Parochial School at the sixth grade level in September 1941. He graduated in 1944 and in September of that year he entered Saint Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey, from which he graduated in June 1948, aged 17.

College, military, law school[edit]

He was educated at Fordham University, graduating in 1952. While at Fordham he was a member of the National Society of Pershing Rifles. Following graduation, Liddy joined the United States Army, serving for two years as an artillery officer during the Korean War. He remained stateside for medical reasons. He returned to New Jersey in 1954 to attend Fordham University School of Law, earning a position on the Fordham Law Review. After graduating from law school in 1957, he went to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under J. Edgar Hoover.

FBI[edit]

The filing cabinet of the psychiatrist of Nixon administration "enemy" Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers, broken into by Liddy and others in 1971, on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Liddy joined the FBI in 1957,[6] initially serving as a field agent in Indiana and Denver.[7] In Denver, on September 10, 1960, Liddy apprehended Ernest Tait, one of two people to be a two-time Top Ten Most Wanted fugitive.[7] At age 29, Liddy became the youngest[8] Bureau Supervisor at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.. A protege of deputy director Cartha DeLoach,[6] Liddy became part of director J. Edgar Hoover's personal staff and became his ghostwriter.[8] Amongst his fellow agents he had a reputation for recklessness[6][9][10] and was known primarily for two incidents.[11] The first was an arrest in Kansas City, Missouri during a black bag job; he was released after calling Clarence M. Kelley, former FBI agent and chief of the Kansas City Police.[6][11] The second was running an FBI background check on his future wife before their marriage in 1957,[6][11] which Liddy later referred to as "purely a routine precautionary measure."[12]

Prosecutor and politician[edit]

Liddy resigned from the FBI in 1962 and worked as a lawyer in New York City until 1966. He was then hired by then district attorney Raymond Baratta as a prosecutor in Dutchess County, New York after interviewing and providing references from the FBI.[8] In 1966, he led a drug raid on Timothy Leary's Milbrook estate which resulted in an unsuccessful trial. The case generated much publicity though other lawyers complained Liddy received credit for something in which he played a relatively small role.[8][9] He was also reprimanded for firing a revolver at the ceiling in a courtroom.[9][10]

He ran unsuccessfully for the post of District Attorney. In 1968, he ran for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 28th congressional district, running under the slogan "Gordon Liddy doesn't bail them out; he puts them in", but lost to Hamilton Fish IV in a close race.[12] He then worked with Egril "Bud" Krogh, Gordon Strachan and David Young, all aides to John D. Erlichman, Assistant to the President For Domestic Affairs. He then attained the post, in 1972, of General Counsel, Finance Committee of the CRP. In Sept. 1973 Krogh, Liddy, Young and Erlichman were indicted for conspiracy to commit burglary.[13]

White House undercover operative[edit]

In 1971, after serving in several positions in the Nixon administration, Liddy was moved to Nixon's 1972 campaign, the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP),[14] in order to extend the scope and reach of the White House "Plumbers" unit, which had been created in response to various damaging leaks of information to the press. His formal title at CRP was general counsel of the finance operation.[15]

At CRP, Liddy concocted several plots in early 1972, collectively known under the title "Operation Gemstone". Some of these were far-fetched, intended to embarrass the Democratic opposition.[16] These included kidnapping anti-war protest organizers and transporting them to Mexico during the Republican National Convention (which at the time was planned for San Diego), as well as luring mid-level Democratic campaign officials to a house boat in Baltimore, where they would be secretly photographed in compromising positions with prostitutes. Most of Liddy's ideas were rejected by Attorney General John N. Mitchell, but a few were given the go-ahead by Nixon Administration officials, including the 1971 break-in at Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office in Los Angeles. Ellsberg had leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times.[17] At some point, Liddy was instructed to break into the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Complex.

Watergate burglaries[edit]

Main article: Watergate burglaries

Liddy was the Nixon Administration liaison and leader of the group of five men who broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Complex. At least two separate entries were made in May and June 1972; the burglars were caught and apprehended on June 17.[18] The purposes of the break-in were never conclusively established. The burglars sought to place wiretaps and planned to photograph documents. Their first attempt had led to improperly-functioning recording devices being installed. Liddy did not actually enter the Watergate Complex; rather, he admitted to supervising the second break-in which he coordinated with E. Howard Hunt, from a room in the adjacent Watergate Hotel. Liddy was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping.[19]

Liddy was sentenced to a 20-year prison term and was ordered to pay $40,000 in fines. He began serving the sentence on January 30, 1973. On April 12, 1977, President Jimmy Carter commuted Liddy's sentence to eight years, "in the interest of equity and fairness based on a comparison of Mr. Liddy's sentence with those of all others convicted in Watergate related prosecutions", leaving the fine in effect.[20] Carter's commutation made Liddy eligible for parole as of July 9, 1977. Liddy was released on September 7, 1977, after serving a total of four and a half years of actual incarceration.

After prison[edit]

G. Gordon Liddy at the Miami Book Fair International of 1990

In 1980, Liddy published an autobiography, titled Will, which sold more than a million copies and was made into a television movie. In it he states that he once made plans with Hunt to kill journalist Jack Anderson, based on a literal interpretation of a Nixon White House statement "we need to get rid of this Anderson guy".[17][21]

In the mid-1980s Liddy went on the lecture circuit and was listed as the top speaker in the college circuit in 1982 by The Wall Street Journal. He later joined with LSD proponent Timothy Leary on a series of debates which were popular on the college circuit as well; Leary had once been labeled by Liddy's ex-employer Richard Nixon as "the most dangerous man in America." Liddy remained in the public eye with two guest appearances on the television series Miami Vice as William "Mr. Real Estate" Maynard.[22]

He appeared in the 1993 Golden Book Video release of Encyclopedia Brown: The Case of the Burgled Baseball Cards as Corky Lodato. In Miami Vice, he acted with John Diehl, who would later go on to portray Liddy himself in Oliver Stone's 1995 movie Nixon. Liddy's other TV guest credits include Airwolf, MacGyver and the short-lived The Highwayman. Comic book author Alan Moore has stated that the character of The Comedian (Edward Blake) from his graphic novel Watchmen was based in part on Liddy. In the 1979 TV adaptation of John Dean's book "Blind Ambition", Liddy was played by actor William Daniels.

In the early 1980s, Liddy joined forces with former Niles, Illinois policeman and co-owner of The Protection Group, Ltd., Thomas E. Ferraro, Jr., to start up a private security and countersurveillance firm called, G. Gordon Liddy & Associates. The firm was not a success, however, and it filed for bankruptcy on November 12, 1988.[21] In 1992, he emerged to host his own talk radio show. Less than a year later, its popularity led to national syndication through Viacom's Westwood One Network and later on, Radio America, in 2003. Liddy's show ended on July 27, 2012.[2]

In addition to Will, he wrote the nonfiction books, When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country (2002), and Fight Back! Tackling Terrorism, Liddy Style (2006, with his son,[23] Cdr. James G. Liddy, along with J. Michael Barrett and Joel Selanikio), he published two novels: Out of Control (1979) and The Monkey Handlers (1990). His novels did not sell as well as his non-fiction works.[citation needed]

Liddy was one of many people interviewed for the biography of Abbie Hoffman, Steal this Dream, by Larry "Ratso" Sloman.

Controversial statements[edit]

  • August 25, 1986: Liddy's felony convictions rendered him unable to legally possess firearms. Despite this, Liddy founded G. Gordon Liddy & Associates, a private security firm. When asked how he was able to maintain such a close relationship with guns despite his status as a convicted felon, Liddy replied, "Mrs. Liddy has an extensive collection of firearms, some of which she keeps on my side of the bed."[24]
  • August 26, 1994: Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests." … "They've got a big target on there, ATF. Don't shoot at that, because they've got a vest on underneath that. Head shots, head shots.... Kill the sons of bitches.[25]
  • September 15, 1994: If the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms insists upon a firefight, give them a firefight. Just remember, they're wearing flak jackets and you're better off shooting for the head.[26]

Liddy claimed his detractors omitted some important context:

I was talking about a situation in which law enforcement agents come smashing into a house, don't say who they are and their guns are out, they're shooting and they're in the wrong place. This has happened time and time again. The ATF has gone in and gotten the wrong person in the wrong place. The law is that if somebody is shooting at you, using deadly force, the mere fact that they are a law enforcement officer, if they are in the wrong, does not mean you are obliged to allow yourself to be killed so your kinfolk can have a wrongful death action. You are legally entitled to defend yourself and I was speaking of exactly those kind of situations. If you're going to do that, you should know that they're wearing body armor so you should use a head shot. Now all I'm doing is stating the law, but all the nuances in there got left out when the story got repeated.[26]

Acting career[edit]

Liddy acted in several films, including Street Asylum, Feds, Adventures in Spying, Camp Cucamonga, and Rules of Engagement. He appeared on such television shows as The Highwayman, Airwolf, Fear Factor, Perry Mason, and MacGyver. He had a recurring role on Miami Vice, and guest starred in Al Franken's LateLine. On April 7, 1986, he appeared at WrestleMania II as a guest judge for a boxing match between Mr. T (with Joe Frazier, The Haiti Kid) versus Roddy Piper (with Bob Orton and Lou Duva).[27]

Liddy appeared on a celebrity edition Fear Factor, the show's series finale, on September 12, 2006 (filmed in November 2005). At 75 years of age, Liddy was the oldest contestant ever to appear on the show. Liddy beat the competition in the first two stunts, winning two motorcycles custom built by Metropolitan Chopper. In the final driving stunt, Liddy crashed and was unable to finish.[citation needed]

He was also an interviewee in the documentary, The U.S. vs. John Lennon as well as a commercial spokesman for Rosland Capital, selling gold on television commercials.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Liddy is a Catholic.[citation needed] He was married to Frances Purcell-Liddy, a native of Poughkeepsie, New York, for 53 years until her death on February 5, 2010. She was an educator.[29] The couple had five children and twelve grandchildren.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Watergate Files: G. Gordon Liddy". Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum. Retrieved January 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b RBR.com; TVBR.com, Voice of the Broadcasting Industry by Carl Marcucci, June 7, 2012.
  3. ^ Sirius Satellite Radio, Weekends at 6:00am Eastern on Channel 144.
  4. ^ Liddy, G. Gordon; "The G. Gordon Liddy Show"; November 2, 2009 hour #2
  5. ^ Grove, Lloyd. "The Reliable Source", The Washington Post, August 16, 2001. Accessed February 6, 2013. "When G. Gordon Liddy was a puny lad in Hoboken, N.J., he roasted and ate a rat – 'to demonstrate to myself my lack of fear', the convicted Watergate burglar explained in his 1980 autobiography, Will."
  6. ^ a b c d e Michael Newton (2003). The FBI Encyclopedia. McFarland. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-7864-1718-6. 
  7. ^ a b Kernan, Michael (November 1, 1972). "Liddy: Cowboy on the Potomac". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Epstein, Edward Jay (November 17, 1990). Agency of Fear: Opiates and Political Power in America. 
  9. ^ a b c J. Anthony Lukas; Joan Hoff (September 30, 1999). Nightmare: the underside of the Nixon years. Ohio University Press. p. viii. ISBN 978-0-8214-1287-9. 
  10. ^ a b Perlstein, Rick (2008). Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. Simon and Schuster. p. 583. ISBN 978-0-7432-4302-5. 
  11. ^ a b c Curt Gentry (2001). J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. Norton. p. 692. ISBN 978-0-393-32128-9. 
  12. ^ a b Norden, Eric. "The Playboy Interview". In Golson, G. Barry. Norden, Eric 2. New York: Putnam. pp. 347–74. ISBN 039950768X. 
  13. ^ Dean, John W (2014. P.xxix,638). The Nixon Defense.  Check date values in: |date= (help)ISBN 978-0-670-02536-7
  14. ^ Joan Hoff (2010). L. Edward Purcell, ed. Richard Milhous Nixon. Vice presidents: A Biographical Dictionary. Infobase Publishing. p. 357. ISBN 978-1-4381-3071-2. 
  15. ^ John W. Dean (2014)"The Nixon Defence" p. xviii.ISBN 978-0-670-02536-7
  16. ^ Knight P. (2003), Conspiracy Theories in American History p. 344. ABC-CLIO; ISBN 1-57607-812-4, ISBN 978-1-57607-812-9.
  17. ^ a b Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy Gordon. St. Martins. July 15, 1991. pp. 208–211. ISBN 978-0312924126. 
  18. ^ White, Theodore Harold (1975). Breach of faith: the fall of Richard Nixon. New York: Atheneum Publishers. p. 155. ISBN 0-689-10658-0. 
  19. ^ Facts on File, Inc. (1974). Edward W. Knappman, ed. Watergate and the White House: July–December 1973 2. University of Michigan. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-87196-353-6. On January 8, 1973, a US District Court convicted the original Watergate burglars, plus Liddy and Hunt, of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping. 
  20. ^ "Jimmy Carter: Commutation of G. Gordon Liddy's Prison Sentence Announcement of the Commutation, With the Text of the Order". Presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  21. ^ a b "The G. Gordon Liddy Story Continues With Chapter 11". New York Times. November 12, 1988. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  22. ^ "G. Gordon Liddy". Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  23. ^ "Start-Up". washingtonpost.com. August 29, 2005. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  24. ^ "An American Samurai: Gordon Liddy". People. August 25, 1986. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  25. ^ "Did MSNBC Know Liddy's History?". Fair. Retrieved 2005-04-29. 
  26. ^ a b "The G. Gordon Liddy Interview – Right Wing News (Conservative News and Views)". Right Wing News. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  27. ^ G. Gordon Liddy at the Internet Movie Database
  28. ^ Sanburn, Josh (April 11, 2011). "G. Gordon Liddy". TIME. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  29. ^ "Frances Liddy obituary". Legacy.com. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 

External links[edit]