Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Watergate: CIA withheld data on double agent

An internal history of the Watergate scandal prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency – intended to help the Agency make a clean breast of its own wrongdoing and kept in classified vaults for more than four decades – reveals how the spy service used a double agent to keep tabs on the burglars whose arrests ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and withheld information about the agent from federal prosecutors.

That CIA mole was Eugenio R. Martinez, a Cuban Bay of Pigs veteran who was recruited to the break-in team by E. Howard Hunt, the legendary former CIA officer and spy novelist who had helped plan the Bay of Pigs operation in the Kennedy era and had gone on to work as a consultant on covert projects at the Nixon White House. Along with re-election committee lawyer G. Gordon Liddy, a former FBI agent, Hunt masterminded the doomed break-in and surveillance operation at the DNC; he and Liddy would be indicted along with the five arrested men and both would serve lengthy sentences in federal prison.

While Watergate scholars have previously reported that Martinez was a CIA informant during the time he was working for Hunt and Liddy – the wiry operative known as "Musculito" provided Langley with a steady stream of information about the Cuban exile community in Miami, from where he and three of the other burglars hailed, for $100 a month (about $575 today) – the newly declassified CIA document fleshes out the relationship in greater detail and shows how highly the Agency prized it.

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