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.
Entitled “Working Draft – CIA Watergate History,” the 155-page study was largely written by John C. Richards, a CIA officer who died in December 1974, and was brought nearly to completion by unnamed Agency colleagues who built on Richards’ typed draft and handwritten annotations.
Earlier this year, a federal judge ordered the government to turn the document over to Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog, which had sued for access under the Freedom of Information Act. The group finally received the declassified report in July and shared it with Fox News.
Even in draft form, the document represents CIA’s fullest narrative treatment of the Watergate affair, which first surfaced publicly in the predawn hours of June 17, 1972. That’s when Washington police, dressed in plain clothes and responding to a call from a private security guard, arrested at gunpoint five burglars inside the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington.
The arrested men were wearing business suits and rubber gloves and carrying electronic eavesdropping devices. Investigation swiftly revealed that one of them was employed by the president’s re-election campaign committee, and that four of the five boasted past ties to CIA. But one of the arrested men, it turns out, was still on Langley’s payroll at the time of the arrests, and had been feeding information about the break-in team to his CIA case officers the entire time.
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