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Howard Hunt, the man who masterminded the burglary at the Watergate office complex that eventually destroyed the Nixon presidency, died from a long bout of pneumonia at 88. Hunt had a colorful career that involved him in some of the nation's more questionable activities before landing him in prison for conspiracy:
Howard Hunt, the CIA officer who helped to plan the Watergate break-in that led to the downfall of US President Richard Nixon has died, aged 88. Mr Hunt, who was jailed over the incident, had died after a lengthy bout of pneumonia in Miami, his son said.
The accidental discovery of the Watergate burglary snowballed into the country's biggest political scandal. The conspirators wanted to plant bugs to spy on the Democrats during the Republicans' re-election campaign.
While working for the CIA, Mr Hunt recruited four of the five actual burglars, and always stressed he preferred to be known as the "Watergate conspirator".
Watergate wasn't the extent of Hunt's resumé. He also helped organize the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, which ended disastrously when John Kennedy pulled air support from the mission and led to decades of bitter relations between Fidel Castro and the US. He also worked on the CIA mission to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz as Guatemala's president in 1954, one of a series of coups generalled by Langley in the crucible of the Cold War.
Hunt had to declare bankruptcy ten years ago, and blamed his woes on the ongoing difficulties from the Watergate scandal. His post-release experience stands in stark contrast to that of Richard Nixon, who resigned from office but returned to write several books and to consult with succeeding Presidents. Hunt expressed bitterness over the disparity in treatment, but as a man who engineered the deliberate downfall of other national leaders, he had to understand that they usually set up fall guys -- and it was Hunt's turn. (I'm assuming he didn't join in the lionization of Gerald Ford and the pardon decision last month.)
Don't expect to see fond public reminiscences of Howard Hunt in the aftermath of his death. Most people would like to forget him altogether and bury the scandal of Watergate along with him. Others will attempt to minimize his crimes and excuse them as Washington politics. We should recall Hunt and his crimes, though, and the remarkable and despicable use of a CIA operative by an administration to spy on its political opponents. In our democracy, that's an abuse that should never be forgotten.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Watergate Plotter Dies from It Shines For All
"Howard Hunt, the CIA officer who helped to plan the Watergate break-in that led to the downfall of US President Richard Nixon has died, aged 88. Mr Hunt, who was jailed over the incident, had died after a lengthy bout... [Read More]
Tracked on January 24, 2007 8:47 AM
» Who Killed E. Howard Hunt? from Jon Swift
His modus operandi was to make each of the missions he was involved with only seem like fiascos. There are many aspects of the War in Iraq that seem to have the hallmarks of a Hunt mission. [Read More]
Tracked on January 24, 2007 10:35 AM
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