JOHN DEAN at SANTA MONICA on Feb 5th
We had a joint meeting with Santa Monica, at the Doubletree Hotel. The lunch was buffet, and with everyone there, it took a bit longer than expected but the food was excellent. We sang God Bless America, accompanied by a guitar, and then Rev Patricia Ferris of Santa Monica Methodist gave the Invocation: “We thank thee for all those who have gone before us and shown us by their lives what it means to put Service above Self. God of this moment, and every moment, make us bold to face the challenges of our time with creativity and persistence. And we are confident, Oh God, that you will never foreclose on our tomorrows. Fill us with conviction and hope, that we may take our place in creating with you a future in which all your children thrive, and know the fullness of life. Bless us now with your spirit and your promise. Amen”.
Well done, and this is just another example that you can count on those Methodists! (After all, I can’t get fined for editorializing away from home, can I?)
Our own Prexy, ED GAULD stepped forward to introduce the Speaker, John Dean. Dean was born in Akron, Ohio, and did his undergraduate studies at Colgate. He earned his law degree from Georgetown. In July 1970, President Nixon appointed him Counsel to the President. In April 1973, President Nixon decided to try to force John Dean to resign. Dean refused and was sacked. In June 1973, he testified before the Senate Committee investigating Watergate, claiming that President Nixon participated in the cover-up. He also confirmed that President Nixon had tape recordings of meetings where these issues were discussed. John Dean has written many articles on law, government and politics. He has also written a number of books.
His books on Watergate include Blind Ambition (1976) and Lost Honor (1982). Recent books include Worse than Watergate (2004), Conservatives Without Conscience (2006) and most recently Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative and Judicial Branches. All of these books have been on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Dean began by stating that he would talk about “Keeping History Honest”. His recent reading has included a book called “Game Change”, about the recent election. What bothers him about the book is that none of the sources are identified. (and here, YOE has to admit that this has not occurred to me but then again, I don’t read as many books as many others do.) He goes on to say that his friend, Bob Woodward, has produced at least eight books with no identifying sources, so it’s not an unusual pattern. Another friend, Jonathan Altar, is writing a book about the Obama administration, and he, too, provides no identifiable sources. Journalists. do this, they claim, so they can get to the real truth they can find people who will not otherwise speak, and Dean agrees that there is some truth to that.
Dean tries to use these people only as background, and then tries to find what that source tells him. He gave an example of a call, some time ago, from Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes. He was asking if Dean was familiar with a book called “The Silent Coup”. Dean replied that he had a slight connection, in that the author had called him once and asked a few questions, but that he had heard nothing further. Wallace further told him that 60 Minutes was going to do a story on it, and they’d like to have Dean on camera. “Why me?” “Hell, John, you’re the centerpiece of the book! The first part of the book is about Bob Woodward they claim he is a CIA agent and the last part of the book is about Al Haig, whom they claim pulled off the “Silent Coup” by easing Nixon out of office, unbeknownst to any of us. And you, John, in the center of the book, are credited with being the person who actually ordered the Watergate break-in!”
Dean asked, “Mike, how did I do this and keep it secret all these years?” “That’s a fair question, and that’s why I want to talk to you”. “Tell me more.” “Well, there is more is your wife, Maureen, available to go on camera?” Dean suggested that his wife was “a total noncombatant” in all these events. “Well, these authors claim that she is the reason you ordered these break-ins.” “How did that happen?” “Well, she had a friend who was running a Call Girl Ring with which she, too, was associated. It was located near the Democratic National Headquarters, and it was servicing the Democratic National Committee. Dean then asked, “Mike, where did they get this information”? “Do you remember a fellow named Philip Mackin Bailey?” “No.” “Well, do you remember an incident, about the time of the Watergate break-in about a week before when two Assistant U.S. Attorney’s came to your office and told you about a young lawyer who was about to be indicted for extorting women into prostitution, and it might involve somebody on the White House staff?” Dean said he did remember that. What had happened was that these two attorneys had been sent by the Attorney General then, Dick Kleindeist to give us a ‘heads-up’ that this woman, who was a lawyer and who was part of the White House staff - had been part of this scheme that Philip Bailey had been running. It was pretty seedy and sordid, and not the sort of thing easily forgotten.
What Bailey was doing was to ’cruise’ the bars in Georgetown and Washington. He would find young women, who were on the outs with their boyfriends. After all, he was an attractive, engaging, fun-loving fella a lawyer (laughter, here) and his principal practice was court-appointed cases dealing with prostitutes. He would seduce these young women to develop a relationship with him and have them up to his Capitol Hill apartment, wine them, get them high on dope and then take compromising pictures of them. With those pictures in hand, he would tell them if they didn’t have sex with whomever he designated, he would use those pictures to ruin their lives telling their parents, their friends, and so, in essence, he was extorting these women into prostitution. The case had been broken by a young co-ed from the University of Maryland who had finally gone to the police and told them what had happened. They had built a very powerful case against Bailey, and one of their potential witnesses was this woman who they had to find on the White House staff. They thought she might be on my staff. She wasn’t, as it happened she worked at what was then called the Office of Emergency Preparedness. She was an attorney, and was prepared to testify when the case went to trial. It didn’t go to trial Bailey ended up pleading, and that was the last Dean heard of it. Mike Wallace told Dean that Bailey was sentenced for a long term.
Dean wanted to know what Bailey had to do with all this and he, apparently, is the ‘new’ source on Watergate! He actually knows what happened, and the authors of The Silent Coup found this guy and picked up the story. Bailey claims that Dean’s wife was associated with this Call Girl group, and Dean learned of the existence of this group from him. Dean in turn passed this word along to those from whom he thought he could profit, and ordered the Watergate break-in to get more information! Dean said, “Mike, it’s not true never happened. Would you send me a copy of the book that claims this?” “I can’t do that”. “Why not who’s the publisher?” St. Martin Press a major publisher. “Why can’t you send me the book? I’d like to be able to, at least before I go on camera, know who and what they were saying and why. “Well”, Wallace said, “We had to sign a confidentiality agreement. I should also tell you that Time Magazine is going to excerpt this book and run it as a major news story.”Dean said, “That’s not possible”. “Well, it’s going to run anyway” replied Wallace. “Would you go on camera?” Dean said he would.
When he got off the phone, Dean called a reporter at Time Magazine, Hayes Dorin he had covered most all of Watergate. Dean asked Dorin what about this story, and Dorin said he had never heard of it. He wanted to call New York and find out, which he did. Dorin called back in 20 minutes, saying “Sure enough, we bought the rights to this book, and we’re covering it. ‘ But a curious thing when Dorin asked for a copy of the book, he was told that Time had been told not to send him a copy. This also applied to Carl Bernstein, Woodward’s partner. All this sent Dorin’s antenna quivering, and he began calling people he knew at the Democratic National Committee. Since he had covered the DNC for several years, he felt certain that if there were, indeed, a Call Girl Ring, some of his contacts would know of it (again, laughter). So Dean told St. Martin that if they published, he would sue. They did indeed publish, and the suit went on for nine years. At one point during this time, Dean learned that the defendants and there were many had spent about fifteen million dollars in fighting the lawsuit. Dean also quickly learned a lot about Philip Bailey. They found that Bailey had been in and out of mental institutions during his entire adult life, that he never met Dean’s wife, and that the Call Girl Ring was composed of almost every attractive woman in Washington at that time! One example was Diane Sawyer current anchor for NBC News. Before they deposed Bailey, his psychiatrist, who had been treating Bailey for the past eight years, said that among his problems, he was unable to distinguish fact from fiction. This doesn’t seem to be the best source for turning history around, but St. Martin’s apparently believed they could bury Dean by continuing to spend huge sums of money. One way they got this book on the New York Times Best Seller List was when they employed a collaborator named G. Gordon Liddy.
Dean told us this story with two goals in mind. He got a subpoena which allowed him permanent access to all the facts on Watergate, which in turn insures that its history can no longer be questioned. Finally realizing that they could not risk going to trial, St. Martins settled. Dean is bound by Confidentiality, but suffice it to say “The Dean’s are satisfied!” They got not only the settlement, but a literal ton of information. While Richard Nixon did not directly order the break-in, he was responsible for it. His intent was to protect his China initiative, which the Democrats were attacking. Dean is back on his old territory, but from a different and more knowledgeable viewpoint, and his next book will complete that history. Meanwhile, he has been lecturing at USC for the past nine years, and has found that students there have no knowledge whatsoever of Watergate this alone is a reason to finally set the record straight.
In his “Worse Than Watergate” he points out that even under Nixon, torture was not permitted, and this should be a wakeup call. Secrecy is the basic culprit here. And this led to a brief Q&A:
Were you surprised at the identity of Deep Throat? Yes, I had wasted a lot of time guessing even at one point thought it might be Al Haig. But Mark Felt was a surprise, and here’s why. Woodward gets information from Deep Throat. Dean studied All The President’s Men on a long flight to Australia, and found Woodward’s contact with Deep Throat began on June 19th 1972 through early November of 1973. Now Dean knew that Mark Felt left the FBI in May 1973, so any information after that time could not have come from any access to the White House. Also, Dean had expected that the source would be someone higher up than Felt, and we should take into account that Felt wanted to become the FBI Chief, which certainly colored his reports. Felt was later prosecuted for a “Black Bag” job, and was pardoned for that offense by Reagan. Thus, in summation, Felt is a disappointing Deep Throat. How does attorney-client privilege affect your testimony? First, Nixon waived attorney-client privilege for Dean, and besides, it does not apply in criminal cases. How do you stand on transparency in government? There is no question that a President cannot govern in a fishbowl, particularly in areas of National Security. However, to his credit, Obama has rescinded many of the rules brought in by Bush and Cheney concerning legal rights. He has brought fully into play the Freedom of Information Act, and reinstituted the provision that allows a former President to keep his records to himself only for twelve years after he serves. So far as I have heard, Obama has yet to apologize for any failure he may have caused. Is this right? The job of being President is much more difficult than anyone thinks it is going to be. He is a fast learner, and I’ll be more willing to judge him in another six months. He does have a very good disposition for the job. Dean felt he, personally, learned more about how Washington works when he returned during the Clinton impeachment activity he was an Anchor Buddy, for the networks, and that gave him a chance to see the whole operation. He was struck by the extreme polarization he encountered everywhere. Why is that? They don’t live in Washington maybe three days a week, and none of their families are with them. How long will the American people tolerate this? Someday they will throw everybody out, and say, Get your act together and run the country! Huge applause!
John Dean, we thank you for giving us your opinions.