G. Gordon Liddy, a lawyer who devised covert and covert operations for the White House and plotted the clumsy assault that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974, died Tuesday in Mount Vernon , Virginia. He was 90 years old.
His death, at the home of his daughter Alexandra Liddy Bourne, was confirmed by his son Thomas P. Liddy, who said his father had Parkinson’s disease and was in poor health.
Decades after “Watergate” entered the common lexicon, Liddy was still an enigma among the cast of characters who fell out of favor with the 37th President of the United States.
For some, he was a patriot who went to prison in silence, refusing to betray his comrades. Others saw him as a fanatic who took advantage of his fake celebrity to become the author and host of a talk show that aired on various television networks.
As head of the so-called “plumbers” unit [agentes ocultos] White House created to plug information leaks, and later, as a strategist for the President’s re-election campaign, Liddy helped devise plots to discredit Nixon’s “enemies” and confuse Nixon’s “enemies”. the 1972 Democratic National Convention: bizarre kidnappings, acts of sabotage, traps using prostitutes, even political murder – and they never materialized.
But Liddy, a former FBI agent, and Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent, staged two raids on the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate compound in Washington. On May 28, 1972, with Liddy and Hunt accompanying everything, six Cuban exiles and James McCord, a Nixon campaign security officer, entered Democratic headquarters, set up hidden microphones, photographed documents, and left without leave a trace.
A few weeks later, on June 17, four Cubans and McCord, wearing surgical gloves and walkie-talkies, returned to the scene and were arrested by police. Liddy and Hunt, who were running the operation from a hotel room in the Watergate complex, fled but were arrested soon after and charged with theft, wiretapping and conspiracy.
In the context of 1972, with Nixon’s triumphant visit to China and a presidential campaign that went like a steamroller on the Democratic candidate, Senator George McGovern, the Watergate affair did not appear to have major consequences at first. . Nixon’s press secretary Ron Ziegler described it as “a third-rate theft.”
But the case deepened a White House cover-up that began in 1971, when Liddy and Hunt illegally entered the office of psychiatrist Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, seeking information that could harm him. .
Over the next two years, the cover-up erupted under the pressure of investigations, trials, hearings and headlines, becoming the worst political scandal in the country’s history and leading to the first resignation of a Past President.
Unlike other defendants in the Watergate case, Liddy refused to testify about his activities in the White House or on the president’s re-election committee. Of those who went to jail, he received the longest sentence. Liddy was sentenced by Judge John J. Sirica to six to 20 years, but only served 52 months in prison. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter commuted his sentence.
To reporters after his release, Liddy, a well-dressed, bald, mustached little man, said: “I lived as I thought I should live.” He said he had no regrets and would do it again if necessary. “When the prince is looking for his lieutenant, the lieutenant’s correct answer is“ fiat voluntas tua ”” (in Latin “your will be done”, from the Our Father prayer).
Banned from working again as a lawyer and with debts of US $ 300,000 (R $ 1.7 million, according to current quote), mainly legal fees, Liddy began a new career as a writer .
His first book, “Out of Control” (1979), was a spy thriller. He would write another novel, “The Monkey Handlers” (1990), and a non-fiction book, “When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country” (2002). He co-authored a handbook on counterterrorism, “Fight Back! Tackling Terrorism, Liddy Style ”(2006), and has written extensively on politics, taxes, health and other topics.
Liddy broke his silence on Watergate in 1980 with his autobiography, “Will”. Critical reactions were ambiguous, but the book became a bestseller. After years of disclosures by other Watergate conspirators, the book contained little new information about the scandal, but critics said Liddy’s account of prison life was self-explanatory. In 1982, NBC showed a movie based on the book.
Liddy has become a sought-after figure on the college lecture circuit. In 1982 he joined Timothy Leary, the LSD guru in the 1960s, to promote the debates in universities that were edited to form a documentary, “Return Engagement.” The headline alluded to an occasion in 1966 when Liddy, then a Dutchess County, New York City attorney, participated in a cult blitz involving drugs, an operation in which Leary was arrested.
In the 1980s he ventured out to work as an actor, appearing in “Miami Vice” and playing other roles in television and film. But he later became known as a talk show host with a right-wing program. “The G. Gordon Liddy Show” began in 1992 and aired on hundreds of stations on Viacom and later on Radio America, including satellite channels and Internet streaming.
The program continued until Liddy retired in 2012. He lived in Fort Washington, Maryland.
George Gordon Battle Liddy was born November 30, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Sylvester J. and Maria Liddy, whose maiden name was Abbaticchio. He spent his childhood in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was a fearful boy, with breathing problems, who learned to strengthen himself by undergoing tests of willpower. He lifted weights, ran and, as he remembered, put his hand above a flame, as an act of self-discipline.
Liddy said he once ate a rat to overcome his own loathing and beheaded chickens for a neighbor until he learned to kill like a soldier, “efficiently and without emotion or think twice. times”.
Like his father, who was a lawyer, G. Gordon Liddy studied at St. Benedict’s Prep School in Newark and Fordham University in the Bronx. After graduating from Fordham in 1952, he joined the military as an officer in hopes of being able to fight in Korea, but had to work on an anti-aircraft radar unit in Brooklyn.
In 1954 he returned to Fordham and three years later obtained a law degree from the university.
He married Frances Ann Purcell in 1957. The couple had five children. With his sons Thomas and Alexandra, Liddy leaves another daughter, Grace Liddy; two other children, James Liddy and Raymond J. Liddy; one sister, Margaret McDermott, 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. His wife died in 2010.