An Odd Coincidence

Much has been made of the similarities of the Watergate scandal to that of Operation Fast and Furious. Both involved a president invoking executive privilege, both involved shady attorneys general, and both have involved a concerted effort at cover-up. Of course, it should be noted that no one died as a result of the Watergate break-in and over-up.

Reading a post on I came across another interesting link between the two scandals: they both had an ATF connection. The connection of Operation Fast and Furious to ATF is, of course, well established. However, it wasn’t until I read the obituary for Jack Caulfield who died on June 21st that I came across the ATF connection.

Caulfield played a role in Watergate as a messenger for the Nixon White House to the Watergate burglars. From his obituary in the New York Times:

Jack Caulfield, a former New York City police detective who died on Sunday in Vero Beach, Fla., at 83, was once a master of dirty tricks for the Nixon White House who had his biggest brush with history in the role of a messenger.

By all accounts, in January 1973, Mr. Caulfield met with James McCord Jr., a former C.I.A. officer and one of the burglars in the Watergate break-in, to tell him that the White House was prepared to grant him clemency, money and a job in return for not testifying against members of the administration and accepting a prison sentence.

Mr. Caulfield further told Mr. McCord that the president knew about their meeting and that its outcome would be transmitted to him.

Testifying before the Senate Watergate committee in 1973, Mr. McCord said he was told that the clemency offer had come from “the highest levels of the White House.” Mr. Caulfield also appeared before the panel.

The account appeared to link Nixon directly to efforts to cover up the White House’s involvement in the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in June 1972, the event that would lead to Nixon’s downfall.

But Nixon denied the allegation, and transcripts of White House tapes did not show that he had been behind the offer. John W. Dean III, the White House counsel, told investigators that it was he who had authorized Mr. Caulfield to broach the matter with Mr. McCord, though Mr. Dean insisted that he had done so with the president’s knowledge.

Mr. McCord was one of the first to be convicted in the Watergate affair, on conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping charges. Mr. Caulfield was not charged.

At the time Caulfield met with James McCord, he was the Assistant Director for Criminal Enforcement for ATF. He describes his role at ATF in this piece for the Nixon Era Center at Mountain State University:

To back up a bit, a few months prior to Watergate, I left the White House after seeking and getting, via the President’s support, the dream U. S. Department of Treasury position, Assistant Director: Criminal Enforcement — Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. It was the start of a second, promising career and I enjoyed a terrific first year there with big plans underway to remake the moribund “revenuer” agency, containing over 1,500 Federal agents, into a first-class Federal law enforcement entity with a sharp focus on the firearms/explosives end of what was then a dawning (and disturbing) political terrorist trend. Additionally, I felt certain, based on my one-of-a-kind White House experience/connections, that I could provide the agency with the same Washington “clout” as enjoyed by the U.S. Secret Service.

But it was over in a New York minute when McCord decided in March ’73 (nine months after his arrest), to save himself from major (Sirica threatened) jail time by publicly turning on campaign committee associates and others. In that process, he caused the Watergate case under Sirica and other judges to cascade into a plethora of prosecutions, ruined reputations, and lost jobs – which included my prized ATF position, a casualty of the above alluded-to Dean/McCord message.

What struck me about Caulfield’s plans for ATF was how closely it corresponds to the efforts of the current ATF managers – especially the William Newell’s and David Voth’s – to grab attention for ATF. Some things it seems never change.

Where Is Rose Mary Woods When Holder Needs Her?

Rose Mary Woods was President Richard Nixon’s personal secretary. She was the one officially responsible for the infamous 18-minute gap in the Watergate tapes. Whether she was the one who accidentally erased the tape or whether it was really an accident will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of the Watergate affair.

Woods demonstrating how she accidentally erased the tape.

Given the newest batch of recordings released by Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News of ATF Agent Hope McAllister and gun store owner Andre Howard, Attorney General Eric Holder is probably wishing that a Miss Woods or a modern equivalent had erased these tapes.

Watergate Redux

It was under questioning by Minority Counsel Fred Thompson at the Watergate hearings that presidential aide Alexander Butterfield revealed the existence of tape recording devices in both the Oval Office and the President’s office in the Executive Office Building. These tapes provided the nail in the coffin to Nixon’s presidency.

Now more tapes are leaking out of the conversations between ATF agents and the owner of Lone Wolf Trading Company Andre Howard. These tapes seem to indicate a strong effort to conceal the details of Operation Fast and Furious as well as a strong disdain for Senator Grassley. The one item that was mentioned that I find particularly interesting was the assertion by ATF Agent Hope McAllister that she had a file that would cover her if the operation went sour. I wonder if she is still in possession of that file and, if so, have copies been provided to Congressional investigators.

The more  I see and read of Project Gunwalker the more it reminds me of Watergate. Of course, no one died in Watergate nor was the press complicit for the most part in hushing up the scandal.

The excerpts of the tape and transcript are from CBS News.


Dealer: Question: do your people have any confidence that you can forestall subpoena? Or is it still up in the air?

Agent: No, my understanding is person, the only people that can request a congressional hearing has to be a majority party. Grassley is a Republican.

Dealer: I know.

Agent: And as of right now…

Dealer: In the Senate right.

Agent: Yeh. And as of right now we don’t have any interest from anybody in the majority party to the extent that he’s shown interest. So even if you wanted to at this point unless he gets CUTS OUT somebody from the majority party to jump on board, he can’t…

Dealer: Not on his own no but you know Leahy and rest of ’em these people are snakes, they’ll do anything they can…

Agent: My understanding also is that the Attorney General’s office is supposed to come out little bit stronger…um…

Dealer: I understand that.

Agent: position…which may or may not, um, you know, help.

Dealer: I’ll tell you what I’ll give him that, he’s got f—ing b—s making that statement. I don’t wanna even go there.


Dealer: Until something else happens they’re not stupid, Hope, they connect the dots.

Agent: No and you know and all that’s fine if Senator Grassley wants to come in and tell us show us how to work these cases more efficiently more effectively by all means.

Dealer: Don’t think Grassley, think Leahy.

Agent: Well, him too. I… I welcome him to come down and work…

Dealer: He’s an arrogant b—–d

Agent: So is Grassley though

Dealer: Chuck probably and I don’t know a thing about him other than from somebody else I’ve heard seems to be just somebody who’s hitching his wagon to any star to.. for his own aggrandizement.

Agent: Yeh

Dealer: You know that. He’s an arrogant

Agent: Yeh

Dealer: individual. Look he’s a United States senator there it is right there.


Agent: That’s kind of what my suggestion but nobody thought that was funny like if I were a P.I. I’d put him on Grassley, I’m sure there’s a lot would go away. Actually my one suggestion was just tell him in a registered Republican. I’m sure if he knew that everything would be fine, they didn’t like that either.

Dealer: Well.

Agent: Alright.

Dealer: You gotta be, watch your back. I don’t trust these people around you one bit. You’ve been very lucky so far.

Agent: Again I’ll be more than happy to talk to somebody, they won’t let me, but more than happy to talk to anybody about the decisions we made.

Dealer: Hope, stay off the screen. You don’ t need this sh–. Neither does your husband.

Agent: Believe me I have…

Dealer: You gotta have a f—–g life man.

Agent: I have a file and…

Dealer: shhh

Agent: It’s all, it’s all public stuff I dont’ care.

Dealer: Well don’t even convey it in that. I’m sure you do. Hopefully this thing will subside…

Agent: You keep saying that but ?

Dealer: I know.

Dealer: You and I both know how bad it’s gonna get I won’t bull—t you you don’t bull—t me

Agent: Ha ha.

Dealer: my a– is up here and yours is here here but you’re covered I’m out in the open

Agent: Ha ha.

Dealer: God.

Quote Of The Day

Dave Hardy at Of Arms and the Law has an excellent analysis of Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson’s interview with House Oversight Committee investigators and the timing of it. What makes Melson’s actions even more remarkable is this:

I’ve never heard of an agency head defecting, as it were. Closest think I can think of is John Dean, counsel to the President, meeting secretly with investigators during Watergate, and maybe “deep throat,” Mark Felt, who was Associate Director of the FBI, leaking to the press. And Watergate involved quite a bit less than running thousands of guns to the most violent criminals on earth with fatal results.

It is important to remember that both Watergate and Project Gunwalker involved the subversion of constitutional rights. The former involved the subversion of elections and the latter is an attempt to build support for the subversion of the Second Amendment. 

No one died because of Watergate. I wish we could say the same about Project Gunwalker.