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Partying With G. Gordon Liddy

Charles Bennett/AP file photo
This week's "The Scene" feature in the Washington Post's "Sunday Style" section (I can't find a link to it on the paper's website) features a set of photos of D.C. insiders enjoying a Mad Men-themed gala thrown by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Among the revelers pictured: "G. Gordon Liddy, Radio America host."

In case you've managed to forget (or are too young to remember), separately in the same edition of the Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein provide a reminder of how Liddy achieved his fame, in their "Five Wars of Watergate" essay. The former FBI agent was a member of the notorious Watergate "plumbers" burglary outfit, who had a few creative ideas of his own for helping President Nixon's 1972 reelection effort:

John N. Mitchell, Nixon’s campaign manager and confidante, met with Liddy at the Justice Department in early 1972, when Mitchell was attorney general. Liddy presented a $1 million plan, code-named “Gemstone,” for spying and sabotage during the upcoming presidential campaign.

According to the Senate Watergate report and Liddy’s 1980 autobiography, he used multicolored charts prepared by the CIA to describe elements of the plan. Operation Diamond would neutralize antiwar protesters with mugging squads and kidnapping teams; Operation Coal would funnel cash to Rep. Shirley Chisholm, a black congresswoman from Brooklyn seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, in an effort to sow racial and gender discord in the party; Operation Opal would use electronic surveillance against various targets, including the headquarters of Democratic presidential candidates Edmund Muskie and George McGovern; Operation Sapphire would station prostitutes on a yacht, wired for sound, off Miami Beach during the Democratic National Convention. Mitchell rejected the plans and told Liddy to burn the charts. At a second meeting, less than three weeks later, Liddy presented a scaled-back, $500,000 version of the plan; Mitchell turned it down again. But soon after, Mitchell approved a $250,000 version, according to Jeb Magruder, the deputy campaign manager. It included intelligence-gathering on the Democrats through wiretaps and burglaries.

What a party animal!

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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