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Tuesday, 15 March 2011 01:34
By Douglas Caddy

“I must tell you that I am disturbed about what we don’t know about the Watergate break-in and that I am convinced that what we don’t know about the Watergate break-in may well be more important than what we do know twenty years after.”
-- Howard Liebengood, Counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, in an A&E Investigative Report “The Key to Watergate” broadcast in 1992

When in early 1977 I began reading an article in the national gay publication, The Advocate, I had no inkling that 39 years later my doing so would lead to unraveling what really happened in Watergate. Watergate was mostly a spent scandal, or so I thought, as did most Americans. It began with five burglars being arrested inside the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Office complex on June 17, 1972, and ended with twelve men being sent to prison for the break-in and subsequent cover-up and with President Richard Nixon being forced to resign from office in disgrace.
The Advocate published the lengthy article, “Revelations of a Gay Informant” in two parts in its February 23 and March 9, 1977 issues. The subject of the revelations was Robert “Butch” Merritt, who in January 1970 at the age of 26 had been recruited by the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department to become a Confidential Informant (CI). Soon thereafter the FBI and other law enforcement agencies also enrolled him as a CI. Over time, his handlers would order him to infiltrate, disrupt and spy on hundreds of organizations and individuals that they, or “the government”, had arbitrarily targeted as threats to national security. The list is long and diverse and includes groups such as the New left, liberal, right-wing, Nazi, women’s lib, homosexual, and civil rights and individuals ranging from Members of Congress to Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert Kennedy.
Washington Police Detective Carl Shoffler was the officer who enrolled Robert Merritt as a CI. Shoffler would become famous some two years later as the police officer who arrested the five Watergate burglars. His true role in Watergate will be explained shortly – one which turns the entire scandal on its head. 
As I read The Advocate article I was overwhelmed with the amount of detail it contained about Merritt’s CI activities as told by Merritt himself. As I neared its end I was startled to read the following:
“Two days after the Watergate burglary, Carl Shoffler (one of Merritt’s former police contacts) turned up with Sgt. [Paul] Leeper (these officers had been two of the three to have arrested the burglars) with what Merritt recalls as an offer of ‘the biggest, most important assignment’ he’d ever had.
“The officers, Merritt said, asked if he knew one of the Watergate attorneys. ‘They said he was gay.’ Merritt did not. ‘They asked if I could get to know him. I asked them why. ‘We’d like you to get as close to him as possible,’ they said, ‘to find out all you can about his private life, even what he eats.’ Merritt says he explained that even if the attorney was gay, it wouldn’t be likely that he could arrange to meet him. The officers, Merritt asserts, offered him the ‘money to frequent the type of place a well-to-do homosexual might visit. They said I would be paid quite well, that they weren’t talking about dimes and quarters that they were talking about ‘really big money.”
“Merritt says he refused the offer, but the police kept returning to him with the same request, as late as December 1972, months after the police claimed to have ended their Watergate investigation.”
I was surprised because I realized that I was the gay attorney who had been targeted, even though my name was not mentioned. This was the first time I became aware that my sexuality was mentioned in connection with my being the attorney for the five arrested burglars, and for Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, who were not arrested at the crime scene. I was shocked because, although I was sexually active, I had fastidiously remained closeted. Even my employers over the years, closest friends and college roommates did not know I was gay. 
I was to learn decades later that Merritt had discussed my being gay in another lengthy interview that he gave to The Daily Rag, a respected alternative Washington, D.C. newspaper, long before The Advocate story appeared. Its October 5-12, 1973, issue carried the banner headline, “FBI Informer Confesses.” Its opening paragraph trumpeted, “With the disclosure of Robert Merritt’s role as an FBI and Metropolitan Police informer, the reality of police surveillance of active community groups and illegal police activity in the District is confirmed. Such groups as the D.C. Statehood Party, RAP, Common Cause, Off Our Backs, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Gay Activists Alliance have been under surveillance. While the information Merritt provides on widespread police intelligence is substantial, it leaves open many questions as to what else is going on.”
Further inside the article the word “Watergate” appears outlined in a black box with the following written underneath it:
“What was your contact with the Watergate affair?” The article continued…
“In June 1972, a few days after the Watergate break-in and arrests, MPDC Intelligence [Officers Carl] Shoffler and [Paul] Leeper approached me and tried to get me to do one last job. They said it was the most important thing I had ever done, that it was for my country….
“They wanted me to get close to Douglas Caddy [the lawyer for the burglars caught inside the Watergate], who was gay. They wanted me to get to know him socially, sexually or any other way. They said he had been born in Cuba, that he liked Cubans and was associated with communist causes.
“Sgts. Shoffler and Leeper were among the arresting officers of the burglars inside Watergate, and one of the first witnesses before the Senate Watergate Committee. Leeper testified second and Shoffler third, if memory serves. 
“When Leeper was on the stand, I saw him on television, he was asked one question at the end of his testimony, ‘have there been any attempts at further investigation of the break-in?’ He answered ‘no.’ That was not true.”
I had not seen the article in The Daily Rag when it was published in 1973. However, after I read the article in The Advocate in 1977, I said to myself that Merritt undoubtedly had an incredible story to tell about Watergate. Yet the years rolled by without reading anything further about what he might know. Then out of the blue in May 2008, I received a telephone call from Merritt who wanted to know if I would help him write a book about what he knew – and the world did not know – about Watergate. I agreed without hesitation because in the back of my mind I still felt he had something vitally important to say. My only proviso was that the book also had to carry my own story about Watergate, which had never been fully or accurately reported. 
So we began work on the book, which was published by TrineDay earlier this year. Its title is Watergate Exposed: How the President of the United States and the Watergate Burglars Were Set Up as told to me as original attorney for the Watergate Seven by Merritt in his capacity as a CI to the FBI and Washington, D.C. Police Department.

Merritt’s role in Watergate

In 1962 Merritt at age seventeen fled an unhappy home life in West Virginia just two months short of being graduated from high school. He arrived in Washington, D.C. determined to find work and to enjoy his gay sexual freedom. Over the next eight years he held a wide variety of jobs and much of his social life centered on Dupont Circle, which was only about ten blocks from the White House. Dupont Circle served as a unique gathering place for people of all political, social and sexual persuasions. Merritt was a good looking young man and was popular with everyone. His nickname was Butch and he was known by this name by those at Dupont Circle.
In January 1970 one of the street-looking people who frequented Dupont Circle showed up several times at the drug store where Merritt worked, which was located only two blocks from the White House. On each occasion the person would have a quiet conversation with the owner of the drug store. Suddenly, without any advance notice, the store owner told Merritt that he was fired from his job as cashier. Dejected, Merritt walked home to his small apartment located at 2122 P Street, N.W., just a few blocks from Dupont Circle. He was beside himself because half of the seventy dollars weekly income from his job went towards paying the rent and the rest was used to live on. 
That same night there was a knock on his door. When he opened it, there stood the street-looking person he had seen at Dupont Circle and who had visited the drug store’s owner. The shabbily dressed man reached into his pocket and pulled out a Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police detective badge. He asked if he could enter the apartment and Merritt, still startled, acquiesced. Once inside, the detective introduced himself as Carl Shoffler. He said he was an undercover policeman. He then reached into his pocket again and this time produced an envelope that he thrust into Merritt’s hand. The envelope contained one thousand dollars.
Shoffler explained that he was the cause of Merritt’s losing his job at the drug store. He told Merritt that the government had been profiling him for several months as a possible candidate to be recruited as a Confidential Informant. He fit the bill of who they were looking for: someone who was white, young, good looking, popular, apolitical and gay. The government wanted a gay person for the role because the homosexual community was going to be one of its targets. Shoffler appealed to Merritt’s patriotism, telling him that because he was gay he could not serve in the military but he could still serve his country by going undercover as a CI. 
Shoffler, who radiated charisma, was persuasive and his proposal appealed to Merritt, who readily agreed to become enrolled as a CI. The matter settled, they smoked pot to celebrate the sudden and dramatic turn of events in Merritt’s life and as the evening wore on, Shoffler asked if he could spend the night. Merritt consented and Shoffler lay down on the couch while Merritt retreated to his bed. Within minutes, however, Shoffler slipped into bed beside Merritt and lost no time in initiating sex. This began a secret sexual relationship between them that was to last two and a half years even though Shoffler was married and had a wife and children who resided in Maryland.

Merritt recruited for COINTELPRO

At the time Merritt was 26 years old and Shoffler was a year younger. After they became friends and lovers, Shoffler told Merritt that he was actually an Army Intelligence Agent assigned to the Washington, D.C. Police. He swore Merritt to keep this information confidential. Later Shoffler confided in Merritt that he was also an agent for Interpol and that he had an Interpol account at Riggs National Bank in the name of Karl Maurice Schaffer. Accompanied by Merritt, he occasionally withdrew large sums of cash from the account. 
Merritt’s initial CI work dealt with monitoring certain persons at Dupont Circle whom the government deemed to be national security risks, many of whom he knew personally and considered friends. Before long the D.C. Metropolitan Police Intelligence Division tapped him to do undercover intelligence gathering in other parts of the District of Columbia. He still worked under Shoffler’s direct supervision but also took orders from Sergeant Dixie Gildon of the MPD Intelligence Division, who told him his modest pay came from a “Huston Plan” administered by a senior official in the White House. 
In 1971, Merritt’s reputation as an effective CI caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which then recruited him as its principal CI in Washington, D.C. He worked directly under the supervision of FBI Special Agents Bill Tucker and Frank O’Connor as he engaged in a variety of COINTELPRO activities. COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program, was a series of covert, and often illegal, espionage projects conducted by the government. Merritt’s two principal targets were the left-wing Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the violence-prone Weather Underground. The latter organization had attempted to plant bombs inside the U.S. Capitol Building, the State Department and the Pentagon. Merritt was ultimately successful in infiltrating both the IPS and the leadership of the Weather Underground.

Merritt’s evolving career, his devolution and his act of defiance

One of Merritt oldest and closest friends from Dupont Circle was James Reed, who led another life as a drag queen known as Rita Reed. Rita was also from West Virginia. She worked as a PBX switchboard operator at the high-scale Columbia Plaza Apartments located across from the Watergate complex. In October 1971, Rita alerted Merritt to an American Nazi ring that was selling incendiary devices and munitions and that was operating out of one of the apartments in the building. Merritt promptly informed FBI Agents Tucker and O’Connor and soon thereafter the FBI authorized him to make munitions purchases from the Nazi ring using Rita as a go-between to make the necessary introductions. On two occasions he was able to buy various devices, including bombs and rockets. For successfully uncovering the ring and subsequently carrying out this operation FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent his personal commendation to Merritt for a job well done, relayed to him by agents Tucker and O’Connor. 
In early 1972, even though he was gaining the reputation of being a highly skilled CI, Merritt began to have second thoughts about some of the activities he was assigned to do. Among these were stealing mail from the IPS and the anti-war Hebrew Congregation, disrupting anti-war demonstrations by cutting wires to the public address system, planting illegal drugs on targeted individuals, distributing sickness inducing candy to anti-war demonstrators, breaking into the offices of peace groups to steal signed petitions in a name-gathering operation, planting wire-tapping devices on individuals, and supplying names and license plate numbers of persons who attended anti-war meetings. He was also directed to have gay sex with over seventy targeted men, some of whom were diplomats and prominent individuals. On each occasion he later filed a written report with the police, which went into a government central file. He also engaged in gay sex with six targeted policemen, again acting under orders, and later identified them through a two-way mirror at police headquarters. 
One task that Shoffler excelled in and in which he took great enjoyment was to telephone the employers of targeted individuals and spread rumors about them, rumors that in most instances were false. For example, he telephoned the head of a major department store located in Washington, D.C. and told him that a vice president of the store was embezzling money. It was false but led to the targeted individual being fired, losing his home, his wife and children and ultimately his life when he committed suicide. False information about targets was also fed to credit bureaus, which resulted in financial hardship in most cases. Merritt told me that I also was a target of Shoffler who decided to destroy my professional reputation in the early weeks of the case. With Shoffler at his side and feeding him dimes, Merritt made telephone calls from a pay phone at People’s Drug Store on Dupont Circle to dozens of Senators and Representatives telling them that I was a homosexual. Shoffler’s select list contained the private telephone numbers that were answered by these Members of Congress themselves.
It was about this time that Merritt received an FBI evaluation of his work dated April 12, 1972, which stated that “The file pertaining to the above-captioned individual has been reviewed by the Inspector Staff, and the individual has been rated as Excellent.” A prior FBI document dated February 4, 1972, reported that “During the period the informant has been contacted, he has shown no signs of emotional instability or unreliability. He has maintained very regular contact and there has been no indication that he has furnished any false information.” As snitches go, Merritt was as dependable as they come. But as these reports show, the FBI had no inkling that Merritt had begun to doubt the unethical, immoral and illegal CI work that he was being ordered to do.
Merritt’s disaffection with his CI work reached a crisis when his mother died in April 1972 and FBI Agents Tucker and O’Connor ordered him not to attend the funeral in West Virginia. They claimed that his pending work in infiltrating the Weather Underground had reached a crucial stage making it more important. Merritt defied them and attended the funeral.
In early June Merritt told the two FBI agents that he was going to accompany Jack Davis, a key leader of the Weather Underground, on a weekend trip. It was a lie. The FBI monitored Davis’ movements and realized that Merritt had instead made a trip to New York City by himself that was in no way connected with the Weather Underground. He later admitted that he did this as an open act of rebellion that stemmed from his growing disaffection with the bureau’s COINTELPRO and from the agents constantly harassing and berating him for being gay. This led to an explosive confrontation between Merritt and Agents Tucker and O’Connor on June 5, which ended in their threatening his life and soon resulted with the FBI discharging Merritt as a CI on June 8, 1972. When he learned that his job had been terminated Merritt gave a huge sigh of relief that he was free at last from contact with the FBI. As events turned out shortly thereafter, this was not to be the case.
Rita Reed makes a dangerous discovery

On June 1, 1972, a week before the FBI discharged him, Merritt received a visit in his apartment from Rita Reed who appeared visibly upset. Close friends, Merritt and Reed invariably chatted on a daily basis. This time Rita told Merritt that she had desperately urgent news but didn’t want to meet in Butch’s apartment. She knew of Butch’s sexual relationship with Shoffler, and his CI work for him, having found them together. She feared the apartment was wiretapped. She had also recently seen Shoffler at the Columbia Plaza Apartments where he and other cops used a trunk room to monitor the telephone traffic of the Nazis and a major prostitution ring, which was routed through her PBX switchboard. 
Rita insisted that they go outside to talk but even then was paranoid about speaking openly on the street. Instead they headed to P Street Beach, an area two blocks away, a grassy hill that sloped down into Rock Creek Park. Once they reached the bottom of the hill and began walking through the woods, Rita began to relax. 
She told Merritt that the day before, May 31, she had indulged her habit of secretly listening to random conversations going through her switchboard. The switchboard had three unassigned holes held in reserve, though hole number two had been used to make calls out from an undetermined location within the building. She disclosed that the previous day a call had gone out using hole two and within minutes a call back came in for the same hole…the first time this had ever happened. So Rita, her curiosity piqued, listened in. She heard two men discussing a planned break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) office in the Watergate Complex scheduled for Sunday, June 18, 1972. The two men spoke venomously about Richard Nixon and referred to their project as “Crimson Rose,” which they boasted was about to bloom and could destroy the Nixon presidency.
After Rita told Merritt what she’d overheard they continued on through the woods. They reached the end of the trail where an old gate spanned the waters of Rock Creek. Directly before them was the complex of buildings known as the Watergate. Rita raised her right arm, pointed to Watergate and ominously declared, “Butch, this will be the fate of the President of the United States.” She then again referred to “Crimson Rose” saying, “Butch, I think this rose stinks.”
Rita swore Merritt to secrecy and asked that he not tell anyone of the telephone conversation she had overheard. However, the next day, June 2, true to his calling Merritt telephoned MPD Sergeant Dixie Gildon and started telling Rita’s secret. Gildon cut short his recital, saying she was rushing to a meeting but promised to meet him later at a safe location they regularly used for exchanges. For some reason Gildon failed to show up.
The next day Shoffler returned to their apartment and Merritt told him Rita’s story. Shoffler became flushed with excitement and ordered Merritt not to talk to anyone about the subject, including Gildon. Shoffler left but returned later with two government agents, one a retired CIA employee. They asked Butch to retell the story. When he finished answering questions one of the agents remarked to Shoffler, “Carl, this is going to make you the most famous cop in the world.” The three men left after again swearing Merritt to secrecy.
Rita disappeared that same evening. Merritt became alarmed. She was not at her apartment and had failed to show up for work at the Columbia Plaza Apartments. Several days later Merritt brought up Rita’s disappearance to Shoffler but Shoffler told him to “forget about that drag queen.” Butch never saw Rita again and felt that breaking his promise to keep her secret may have led to her death.
Two days later (FBI agents) Tucker and O’Connor knocked on Merritt’s apartment door. They’d heard a rumor that Merritt knew something about burglars planning a break-in at an office building. They wanted the whole story. Merritt declined because he was still upset from being harassed by the homophobic agents and because of his emerging ethical concerns about his assignments. He also remembered Shoffler’s edict not to tell anyone Rita’s discovery. The agents left but not before telling Merritt that they found his attitude uncooperative and troublesome.
Shoffler’s Plan: entrap the burglars and get famous

About a week later Shoffler boasted to Merritt that he had implemented a plan to catch the burglars. It involved wire-tapping “triangulation”, a strategy he’d learned as an Army Intelligence Agent at Vint Hill Farm Station, the National Security Agency’s wiretapping school in Virginia. His scheme set the burglars up by temporarily splicing into the wiretap that they were using…then carrying on a phony two-person telephone conversation that he himself had orchestrated. The burglars were duped into believing what they heard, never realizing that it was not the usual telephone line they used for wiretapping. According to Merritt, Shoffler bragged that the message he left, and overheard by the burglars, falsely disclosed that there was an envelope in a secretary’s desk in the Democratic National Committee offices that contained a vital document and a key to a safe deposit box…a box which contained even more important materials. The envelope had to be picked up on Saturday, June 17, before Noon. A key to the desk would be left under the telephone on the secretary’s desk. The message further required the burglars to move their planned break-in forward from June 18 to the 17th; Shoffler planned to give himself a very special birthday present. The burglars unwittingly complied. 
A few days before the planned break-in, Merritt went to a nearby locksmith store at Shoffler’s request and purchased a blank safe deposit key. When he returned to their apartment Shoffler used his finger nails (to avoid putting his fingerprints on it) to give Merritt a plain envelope and a sheet of paper that had garbled language on it. Shoffler directed Merritt to fold and insert the sheet of paper and blank safe deposit key inside the envelop and seal it.
Once this was done, he asked Merritt to place the sealed envelope in a pocket inside his jacket.
Now all it took for Shoffler was to wait for the burglars to break-in so he could make the arrests.
On Friday, June 16, Shoffler’s shift ended at 10 P.M. Though it was late, he arbitrarily volunteered for another shift, even though his wife and children had gone to Pennsylvania to stay at his parents’ home where they awaited his arrival looking forward to celebrating his birthday the next day. Shortly after midnight, at Shoffler’s suggestion, Shoffler, Sergeant Paul Leeper and Officer John Barrett parked their undercover police vehicle a block from the Watergate, at Shoffler’s suggestion. Just before 2 A.M. dispatch alerted them that Watergate security had called – urgently requesting support. It appeared that someone had broken in, leaving a door with its lock taped behind them. Shoffler, Leeper and Barrett responded immediately and within minutes arrested five burglars inside DNC offices. 

The Two Keys

In recounting what took place during the arrests, Shoffler claimed that after the five burglars had been forced to lean against a wall with their hands, he saw one of the burglars, Eugenio Martinez, slide his hand to something in his pocket. Shoffler asserted that he struggled with Martinez and seized a small notebook that had a key taped on its back. In a deposition, this is how Shoffler described the event under oath on March 13 and 15, 1995. Lawyers for Maureen and John Dean had filed suit against St. Martin’s Press, Inc., publishers of Silent Coup: The Removal of the President, whose co-authors are Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin. Shoffler testified: 
“We had placed them on the wall with their hands against the wall and their feet out. And we started on the extreme right of the five to search and seize the evidence. 
“Martinez was on the extreme left.
“As I was writing what [Officer] Barrett was seizing, I observed that Martinez was sliding his hand down the wall. We had padded them down initially for weapons. And I didn’t feel that he had a pistol or anything on him. But I wasn’t certain at this point while he was sliding his hand down.
“So I moved quickly over to him, pushed his hand forcefully back up. He struggled a little. I had my revolver out. [Burglars] McCord or Frank Sturgis, I believe, instructed him to calm down and just follow our instructions. I think that there was a realization on their part that we were younger officers and we were aggressive. And he started calming Martinez down, and asking him to follow our directions.
“Martinez did not comply. At some point, within seconds, his hand was back again going into the area of his coat pocket. We had a struggle again. I was very forceful with him. The others were yelling. We thought things were getting out of hand.
“I decided to follow Martinez’s hand. He was grasping something. I’ve always said that I had the impression that whatever he was grasping he was going to get rid of or eat. I don’t know how to put that into words any better than that.
“I struggled with him. And I recovered from his hand what he was so concerned about, even to the point of possibly risking being shot. And it turned out to be a simple notebook with a key on it. And that was certainly a bit of a puzzle.”[pp. 23-25]
With the arrests wrapped up, Shoffler telephoned the Washington Post and alerted the newspaper to what had transpired at Watergate.
At around 7 A.M., nearly five hours after the arrests, Shoffler returned to the P Street apartment that he shared with Merritt and woke him up. Shoffler was happy and excited and he embraced Merritt and kissed him, proudly exclaiming “I arrested five burglars.” He showed Merritt the notebook the he had taken off one of the burglars. He also showed Merritt the envelope that Merritt had previously sealed, now open, along with the paper inside. He produced two keys, one of which was the blank safe deposit key that Merritt had purchased at Shoffler’s request. He took a roll of duct tape from a drawer in the kitchen and taped the second key to the back of the notebook. He then again swore Merritt to secrecy, making him promise never to tell that they knew two weeks in advance of the burglars’ break-in plan of the DNC. He then departed, saying he was going to get breakfast at nearby Hartnett Hall and afterwards go to court to assist the prosecutor in the arraignment of the arrested burglars. 
The “Missing” Notebook and Key
What happened to the notebook and key, which, pursuant to police standard operating procedure should have been bagged and tagged, and included in the list of items seized at the crime scene inside the DNC? In his sworn deposition of March 15, 1995, Shoffler provided the answer when asked additional questions posed by the Dean’s lawyer:

“Q. Now, what did you do with the notebook and key?
“A. Well, it was only recently that I became aware of the fact that, in the logs for all the evidence that we seized, it doesn’t appear that there was an entry for the notebook. And the only explanation I could offer of that is that I was shown a photograph of the national archives. My initials are clearly on the book and the date.
     “My recollection is that when I got back to the precinct, because we had deviated in our game plan from the actual persons to list and search and seize, because of that shuffle and the fact that I had to actually seize the notebook, I believed I retained possession of it, noted it, and it was my responsibility to process it.
     “And I believe that’s why it isn’t in the entry that you’ve shown me or someone has shown me recently.”
“Q. All right. Let me show what I’ll ask the court reporter to mark as Exhibit 6, which is, and I will represent to counsel, a copy – excuse me, it’s a photocopy of the key and the notebook that is now at the National Archives and was recently copied there, and ask you if you can identify whether that is the notebook and the key that you took from the burglars that night?
“A. Yes, sir. I believe this is the notebook and the key. My initials appear in the upper right-hand corner.
“Q. Can you show that to the videographer, please?
“A. (Witness complied.)
“Q. Okay, thank you. Now, at the time of the arrests, did you conduct any investigation to determine whether this key that you seized from the burglars fit any particular lock?
“A. No, sir, I didn’t.
“Q. Do you know if any such search, excuse me, any such investigation was ever made?
“A. I pointed it out to who would be responsible for the furtherance of the investigation. That was the FBI. I don’t recall the particular agent, but I believe I may have even supplied him the notebook. And I read, years later, read a 302, a bureau report, in which two weeks after the burglary, apparently they had taken the key back down and determined it fit the desk of the secretary of whom some of that [burglars’] material was laying on.” [pp. 30-32]
Thus, Shoffler admitted that in contravention of universal and standard police procedure he retained personal possession of two primary pieces of evidence from the crime scene, the notebook and the key, which should have been listed and bagged at the crime scene.
There is further discussion of the matter in the same sworn deposition:
“Q. Mr. Shoffler, you personally obtained some of the evidence, or not obtain, but collected some of the evidence from the Watergate burglars on the morning of June 17, ’72; is that correct?
“A. The notebook and the key, yes, sir.
“Q. That’s it?
“A. From the burglars?
“Q. Yes.
“A.Yes, sir.
“Q. Those are the only items of evidence that you personally collected from the burglars?
“A. I was a listing officer. Officer Barrett was a seizing officer.
“Q. So, Officer Barrett did not collect the notebook and key, you did?
“A. Correct.
“Q. Everything else was collected by Officer Barrett?
“A. That’s correct.
“Q. How did you handle the notebook and the key when you took it from the person of Mr. Martinez so as not to contaminate it?
“A. I maintained possession of it and I properly disposed -- deposited it at the precinct. And my last recollection was it was collected by the FBI.
“Q. What was inside the notebook that was attached to the key?
“A. I provided – the only recollection that I can provide, there was some sort of chart or like a little diagram or line X, whatever you want to describe it as. There were -- something else was written on it, I don’t recall what it was, and there was a key taped to it with gray tape. [pp. 459-460]
“Q. Did you ever testify about the key when you testified before the Senate Watergate Committee?
“A. I was not asked.
“Q. Is there any reason why you didn’t bring it up?
“[lawyer for St. Martin’s Press] He just said he wasn’t asked.
“Q. Is there any other reason?
“A. The room was full of cameras, a bunch of senators, and they wanted to get on with the show and the police were asked – and I was asked one or two questions, did you – were you there? Did you arrest them? Have a nice day. [p. 538]
“Q. Have you ever discussed it with Don Campbell [one of the original three Watergate prosecutors]?
“A. Numerous times.
“Q. And when did you first discuss the key with Mr. Campbell?
“A. Around the time that I started getting real interested.
“Q. Which was 1973?
“A. ’73, ’74, somewhere in there.
“Q. And when was the last time you discussed the key with Mr. Campbell?
“A. Oh, I don’t recall. Maybe a year ago.
“Q. Do you recall what you said to him a year ago about it?
“A. Just that I was still attempting to find out – I was curious that there was no major interest generated. It seems to me that anyone who is still puzzled over a burglary that occurred 20 something years before, as to the motive of the burglary, yet a key that is found on one of the burglars under the circumstances I described, fitting a desk in there, didn’t seem to generate interest. I was puzzled about that.” [pp. 542-543]
Like a pyromaniac who cannot resist going back to watch the fire he has set, Shoffler kept returning to the subject of the key, which was the linchpin of his triangulation plan that set up the burglars. Like a serial killer who always left his signature piece of evidence as a way to taunt law enforcement, Shoffler was puzzled why his brilliant scheme involving the key did not attract the attention and interest it obviously deserved. 

Developments after the break-in

On June 19, two days after the arrests at Watergate, FBI Agents Tucker and O’Connor returned to Merritt’s apartment. This time they were adamant that Merritt tell them what he knew about the break-in. Since the FBI had terminated his CI job less than two weeks before, Merritt felt he was under no obligation to respond to their questions. 
Later the same day Shoffler, accompanied by Sergeant Leeper, approached Merritt with their proposition that he get to know me on a personal basis, as described previously in The Advocate article. He declined, primarily because he did not think it was feasible that our paths would cross.
A few days later Shoffler and Leeper again returned to Merritt’s apartment, this time accompanied by FBI Agents Tucker and O’Connor, in an attempt to persuade him to accept the assignment of getting to know me on a personal basis. He refused their entreaties.
On June 28, eleven days after the arrests, Shoffler again showed up at the apartment, this time accompanied by four CIA agents. Their proposition to Merritt was somewhat different: they wanted him to assassinate me.
“I asked the agents what the reason was that they wanted me to go to this length and why they and the government were taking such a risk. I was told that this matter involved a high national security situation that they were not at liberty to disclose. The agents stated that their orders did not allow them to know the answers and that they were only following orders from their superiors who sometimes did not know the answers either and merely implemented instructions from those above. However, from the agents’ comments I inferred that because Douglas Caddy was gay, that was enough.”
Even though the government agents offered him $100,000 to undertake the assassination assignment, Merritt steadfastly refused.

My Own Watergate Story

We now must take a temporary detour from recounting Merritt’s involvement in Watergate to explain my own, if the full story of the scandal is to be told.
In 1956 I enrolled in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In 1958, still enrolled, I and my roommate, David Franke, founded the National Student Committee for the Loyalty Oath, which was the first national conservative youth organization. This led to our founding Youth For Goldwater for Vice President whose aim was to get Nixon to choose the Arizona Senator as his running mate in the 1960 presidential election. After being graduated from Georgetown in May 1960, I accepted a position as an assistant to former Governor Charles Edison of New Jersey, the son of Thomas Edison. Governor Edison was chairman of the McGraw-Edison Company and lived in the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria where his neighbors and fellow bridge players were former President Herbert Hoover and General Douglas MacArthur.
In July of 1960, at the Chicago Republican Convention which nominated Nixon, Goldwater emerged on the national scene as a major political figure. After Nixon chose Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate, Senator Goldwater spoke to his young supporters urging those who had coalesced around his Vice Presidential candidacy to form a permanent organization. This led to the founding of Young Americans for Freedom in September 1960 at Great Elm, the family estate of William F. Buckley, Jr. in Sharon, Connecticut. I was chosen to be its first National Director. YAF sponsored the first mass conservative rally the next year in the Manhattan Center in New York City and followed this up with another mass rally the following year in Madison Square Garden. After decades of being dormant, Conservatism was on the march.
In 1962 I enrolled in New York University Law School where I attended night classes while working during the day for New York Lieutenant Governor Malcolm Wilson, a conservative. His office was on the fifth floor of a townhouse at 22 West 55th Street owned by Governor Nelson Rockefeller whose offices occupied the remaining floors in the building.
After being graduated from NYU Law School in 1966, I went to work for General Foods Corporation in White Plains, New York, where my task was to advise the company on government relations. In 1969, General Foods transferred me to Washington, D.C. with the aim of opening up an office there to represent the company in its government relations. However, for the first year General Foods wanted me to work out of the offices of its public relations firm, the Robert Mullen Company. What General Foods failed to tell me at the time was that the Robert Mullen Company was a CIA front operation, having been incorporated by the CIA in 1959 and that General Foods lent its name as a client of the Mullen Company as a cover for secret CIA activities.
Soon after I began working in the Mullen Company offices in 1969, Howard Hunt became a Mullen employee. His sponsor was Richard Helms, Director of the CIA. Hunt and I immediately became close friends when we found that we had something in common: our friendships with William F. Buckley. Buckley was the godfather of Hunt’s children and had served as a CIA agent under Hunt when the latter headed the CIA’s office in Mexico City. I, as noted previously, had worked with Buckley in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, literally, founding the modern conservative movement. 
In early 1971 Mullen approached Hunt and me about purchasing his company as he was nearing retirement age. The discussion dragged on until Mullen suddenly announced that he was selling the company to Robert Bennett, son of the Republican senator from Utah. About that time I was offered employment as an attorney with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Gall, Lane, Powell and Kilcullen. I accepted the offer and one of my first clients was Howard Hunt.
In March 1972, John Kilcullen, a partner in the firm, assigned me to do volunteer work for the Lawyers Committee to Re-Elect President Nixon. For the next three months I periodically performed legal work under the direction of John Dean, Counsel to the President, and Gordon Liddy, Counsel to the Finance Committee for the Re-Election of Nixon. 
On June 17, 1972, the story of Watergate broke with the arrests of the burglars. Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, who had remained in a room in the Watergate Hotel while the burglary operation was undertaken, fled the hotel within minutes after the arrests of the five burglars. How I became involved as an attorney was recounted by Hunt in his biography, Undercover: Memoirs of an American Secret Agent (Berkley, 1974):
“From there I drove to the White House Annex – the Old Executive Office Building, in bygone years War Department and the Department of State.
“Carrying three heavy attaché cases, I entered the Pennsylvania Avenue door, showing my blue-and-white White House pass to the uniformed guards, and took the elevator to the third floor. I unlocked the door of 338 and went in. I opened my two-drawer safe, took out my operational handbook, found a telephone number and dialed it.
“The time was 3:13 in the morning of June 17, 1972, and five of my companions had been arrested and taken to the maximum-security block of the District of Columbia jail. I had recruited four of them and it was my responsibility to get them out. That was the sole focus of my thoughts as I began talking on the telephone.
“But with those five arrests the Watergate affair had begun…
“After several rings the call was answered and I heard the sleepy voice of Douglas Caddy. “Yes?”
“Doug? This is Howard. I hate to wake you up, but I’ve got a tough situation and I need to talk to you. Can I come over?
“Sure. I’ll tell the desk clerk you’re expected.
“I’ll be there in about twenty minutes,” I told him, and hung up. 
“From the safe I took a small money box and removed the $10,000 Liddy had given me for emergency use. I put $1,500 in my wallet and the remaining $8,500 in my coat pocket. The black attaché case containing McCord’s electronic equipment I placed in a safe drawer that held my operational notebook. Then I closed and locked the safe, turning the dial several times. The other two cases I left beside the safe, turned out the light and left my office, locking the door.”
Hunt arrived at my apartment at 3:35 A.M. and told me what had happened at Watergate. He retained me as his attorney in the case. He telephoned Liddy, who also retained me as his attorney. They then both retained me to represent the five arrested burglars. Our goal was to attempt to keep the case from attracting public attention, although it was later learned that Shoffler was alerting the Washington Post of the break-in and arrests even as we spoke. At that point I called Robert Scott, a partner at Gall, Lane et al, and explained the situation. He then contacted a criminal lawyer. The criminal lawyer and I agreed to meet at the courthouse at 9AM for the arraignment of the burglars. Hunt left for home.
Strangely, and coincidentally, I came to learn that Merritt had lived right across the street from me during this whole affair but our paths had never crossed. Merritt lived at 2122 P Street and I lived at 2121 P Street. On the morning of the break-in, after the arrests, Hunt came to my apartment at 3:35 AM and departed around 5 AM. At 7AM Shoffler arrived at the apartment across the street that he shared with Merritt, exuberant about having arrested the burglars at 2:30 AM. He left at 8 A.M. to get breakfast, and then went to court. I left my apartment building at 8:30 AM to meet my new co-counsel who would represent the burglars at their arraignment. All this activity between strangers, and truly principal players in Watergate, took place within a radius of 200 feet, with none of us the wiser. It was lucky timing that I and Shoffler didn’t crash into each other as we each prepared to go the arraignment at the courthouse.
On June 28, eleven days after the arrests (and the same day that Shoffler and the four CIA agents approached Merritt with their scheme to assassinate me), I was working on the case in the federal courthouse when I was stopped by one of the three prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Campbell. When he saw me Campbell thrust a grand jury subpoena authorized by John Sirica, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, into my hand. The subpoena stated that I was to appear “Forthwith” before the grand jury. Campbell then grabbed me by my arm and pulled me into the grand jury room.
Over the next three weeks I was to appear before the grand jury five times, answer hundreds of questions and have my personal bank account records subpoenaed. On July 10, the prosecutors submitted to the court 38 questions that I had refused to answer on the grounds of the attorney-client privilege. I did so on the advice of five attorneys who were representing me in the grand jury proceeding. On July 12 Chief Judge Sirica in open court that was packed with the press ordered me to answer the 38 questions under threat of being held in contempt of court if I failed to do so, declaring:
“You see, to put the matter perfectly bluntly, if the government is trying to get enough evidence to indict Mr. Caddy as one of the principals of this case even though he might not have been present at the time of the alleged entry in this place, I don’t know what the evidence is except what has been disclosed here, if the government is trying to get an indictment against Mr. Caddy and he feels that way and you feel it and the rest of you attorneys feel it, all he has to say is ‘I refuse to answer on the grounds what I might say would tend to incriminate me.’ That ends it. I can’t compel him to say he knows Mr. Hunt under the circumstances. He doesn’t do that, understand? He takes the other road. He says there is a confidential communication. Who is he to be the sole judge of if it is confidential or not? That is what I am here for.”
Sirica, a homophobic jurist cut from the same cloth as the police, FBI and CIA agents whose actions against me have been previously chronicled, used his position to try to frame me. He was to fail but at a severe cost to the defendants and to the nation.
On July 13, I appeared before the grand jury and refused to answer the 38 questions. Sirica immediately convened a court hearing and held me in contempt of court and directed that I be jailed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit later that day ordered that I be released, pending an appeal before it of my contempt citation. The headline in The New York Times the following day read, “Lawyer Held in Contempt in Democratic Raid Inquiry.”
On July 18, the Court of Appeals upheld Sirica’s order holding me in contempt. On the advice of my five attorneys the next day I went before the grand jury and answered all the questions. Had I not done so I would have been jailed for an indefinite period or until I did agree to answer the questions.
The actions of Sirica and the Court of Appeals did not go unnoticed by the White House. In an Oval Office tape of July 19, 1972, an incredulous President Nixon asked John Ehrlichman, “Do you mean the circuit court ordered an attorney to testify?” to which Ehrlichman responded, “It [unintelligible] to me, except that this damn circuit we’ve got here with [Judge David] Bazelon and so on, it surprises me every time they do something.”
Nixon then asked, “Why didn’t he appeal to the Supreme Court?”
What Nixon and Ehrlichman did not realize was that I and my attorneys firmly believed that we had created a strong legal record of the violation of the constitutional rights of both the defendants and me as their attorney so as, if Hunt, Liddy and the five arrested defendants were found guilty, their convictions could be overturned as a result of the abusive actions of Sirica and the Court of Appeals.
Sirica’s vitriolic courtroom antics, aided and abetted by a biased Court of Appeals, had the effect of encouraging the defendants to embark on a “hush-money” cover-up after they realized early on that the courts were not going to give them a fair trial. Hunt later wrote that “If Sirica was treating Caddy – an Officer of the Court – so summarily, and Caddy was completely uninvolved in Watergate – then those of us who were involved could expect neither fairness nor understanding from him. As events unfolded, this conclusion became tragically accurate.” Bear in mind all the above described courtroom events involving me occurred in the first 23 days of the case. The dye was cast then by the prosecutors and the courts to deny the seven defendants a fair trial.
In December 1972 Dorothy Hunt, Howard Hunt’s wife, died in what some believed was a mysterious plane crash at a Chicago airport. When the trial of the burglars began in January, 1973, Hunt, along with the four Cuban-Americans pleaded guilty, the four Cuban-Americans staying loyal to Hunt and following his lead. The death of his wife had devastated Hunt and he had no stomach for the fight. Burglar James McCord and Gordon Liddy chose to stand trial and were found guilty. I testified at the trial both as a witness for the government and as a witness for the defense. 
In March 1973, on the eve of being sentenced to prison, McCord wrote a letter to Judge Sirica revealing that there had been a cover-up by the White House and that “hush” money had been paid. This led to subsequent investigations by the Senate Watergate Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
Merritt’s attempts to come clean
 Shoffler moved out of the apartment he shared with Merritt the day after the two FBI agents visited Merritt on June 19, 1972, attempting to extract information he had about prior knowledge of the break-in. The media spotlight was now focused on Shoffler and he had to make certain no one connected him to Merritt, who was both openly gay and knew too much. To keep Merritt quiet and away from prying reporters he decided to assign Merritt undercover informant work in a porn shop run by Buster Riggin, a leader in the prostitution ring that operated out of the Columbia Plaza Apartments. 
Merritt won Riggin’s confidence at their first meeting by blatantly posing as an ex-CI who was thoroughly disaffected with the police and FBI. Riggin promptly named Merritt manager of the porn shop and gave him an apartment above it to live in. Riggin was a talkative kind of guy and soon had told Merritt much of the criminal operation that he ran with his Mafia associate, Joseph Nesline.
One of the regular customers of the porn shop was Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post. When Bernstein entered the store shortly after Merritt became manager, Riggin wasted no time introducing him to Merritt. Riggin even told Bernstein that Merritt had worked with Carl
Shoffler of Watergate fame, the police and the FBI. This information did not seem to register with Bernstein, who, according to Merritt, was preoccupied with perusing and buying S&M, bestiality and golden shower films. Years later, after Merritt had left employment at the book store, he telephoned Bernstein at the Post and asked him to reveal the truth about Merritt’s role in the Watergate arrests and being an informant for the government. Bernstein claimed that he had never met Merritt and as far as he was concerned he and Bob Woodward had left no stone unturned in pursuing the Watergate scandal. Merritt even talked to Woodward and got the same attitude and feed-back. Woodward refused to believe anything he told him about Bernstein and Buster Riggin.
In early 1973 Merritt decided to go public with what he knew about the roles of the police and FBI in the COINTELPRO activities that he had been directed to engage in. By a stroke of luck he got free legal representation in this endeavor from David Isabell, a partner in the distinguished law firm of Covington and Burling and a leader of the American Civil Liberties Union. In another stroke of luck, nationally syndicated columnist Jack Anderson took up Merritt’s cause and wrote several columns about Merritt’s CI work for the police and FBI. 
A few months later Merritt was subpoenaed to appear before a closed Executive Session of the Senate Watergate Committee. He had to testify by himself, without Isabell, his attorney, being permitted in the room. Shoffler was alarmed by this turn of events and told Merritt to stay clear of discussing what they knew about the origins of Watergate, adding that, in any event, being an open homosexual he would be attacked and ridiculed and his word discounted.
As Merritt entered the building to testify, he was stopped by Wayne Bishop, the Committee’s chief investigator. Bishop warned him that if he proceeded to testify, he would be jailed the same day. Bishop suggested that he should turn around and return home and let Bishop inform the committee that he had been suddenly taken ill. Merritt, shaken by Bishop’s overt threat, nevertheless went ahead and testified. After being administered the oath the first question asked him by one the Senators was whether he was a homosexual. When he responded that he was, several senators denounced him as being immoral. At that point Senator Howard Baker ordered the court reporter charged with transcribing testimony to take her machine and leave the room. Merritt says that he testified under oath about the COINTELPRO activities for about six hours over a three day period and never again saw the court reporter with her machine in the room during this period.
In late 1973, Merritt appeared before the Watergate Special Prosecution Force headed at that time by Archibald Cox. Again he testified about his COINTELPRO activities but he also told the special prosecutor about the visits paid him by Officers Shoffler, Leeper and FBI Agents Tucker and O’Connor asking him to get to know me on an intimate basis.
A lengthy Watergate Special Prosecutor Force memorandum of November 20, 1973, included the following excerpts:
“Merritt provided the following concerning the Schoffler (sic) [redacted] incident. Merritt stated that a few days after June 17, 1972, the date of the Watergate arrests, he was contacted by Schoffler and Leper (sic) who came to Merritt’s home. Schoffler and Leper asked Merritt it he knew [redacted] and Merritt said he did not know him. They then stated that [redacted] was a homosexual with pro-Cuban contacts and was involved with the Young Americans for Freedom. They asked Merritt to take the assignment of getting close to [redacted], know him intimately, socially, and to get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people [redacted] was in contact with. Merritt asked why they wanted him to do this and all they stated was that this was the most important assignment that they had ever given to him and that it came from a high source, and that he would be paid well. They stated that the assignment was not for the MPD, CIA, FBI, or ATF. Merritt stated that he would think about it and let them know. A few days later, Merritt called and told Schoffler that he would not do it. Schoffler was annoyed. Schoffler also denied that the assignment had anything to do with Watergate. Several months later, in the fall of 1972, Merritt was talking to Schoffler and arguing about various things concerning the police. Schoffler told him the assignment was to get close to [redacted] because he was involved in Watergate.
“In June 1973, after the testimony of Schoffler and Leper before the Senate Select Committee, Merritt made an anonymous call to Jim Flug, of Senator Kennedy’s Subcommittee on Administrative Practices and Procedures, and told him that he thought Schoffler and Leper had been lying to the Select Committee. Flug suggested to Merritt that he call the Senate Select Committee, which Merritt did. Merritt spoke to Wayne Bishop of the Senate Select Committee and began to tell him his story concerning Schoffler. At first, Merritt would not identify himself but later he called Bishop back and identified himself and began to tell his story. As he proceeded, he decided it would be better if he had Bishop contact his lawyer, Mr. Isabell. Shortly after this, Schoffler came to see Merritt. Merritt stated that Schoffler appeared to come on a friendly pretense, but then stated that he understood that Merritt was trying to get involved in Watergate and if Merritt knew what was good for him, he would stay out of it. Schoffler then reminded Merritt of certain things that had been said to him by Tucker at the time Merritt 
stopped working for the FBI. The conversation with Tucker had taken place in May of 1972, at which time Tucker told Merritt to remember the bad checks he had passed in West Virginia and not to participate in any further demonstrations because ‘we’d hate to see you get shot accidentally.’ Tucker had gone on to tell Merritt that he should remember what happened to someone else who he knew and stated, “We’d hate to find you in the Potomac with cement over-shoes.”
[At the time it was made, Merritt took this last threat from Tucker as a reference to the sudden disappearance of Rita Reed on the night of June 1, 1972, after she told him what she had learned.]
CIA retaliation
 A Watergate Special Prosecution Force memorandum of December 20, 1973 on the Force’s interview of Shoffler contained the following:
“Schoffler (sic) was questioned concerning the incident involving [redacted.] Schoffler stated that at some time after the Watergate arrests, Schoffler and Leper (sic) were in their car and met Merritt near his residence at 2121 P Street. Schoffler stated that he had first seen [redacted] the day after the Watergate arrests when [redacted] came to represent the Cubans. When Schoffler and Leper met Merritt, Merritt stated that he might know [redacted] and Merritt had an article from the newspaper with a picture of [redacted] in it. Schoffler told Merritt to let him know if Merritt found out who [redacted] was and if he was ‘funny’, i.e., homosexual. Schoffler stated that this was an off-hand comment and he never expected Merritt to do anything, and Merritt never told Schoffler anything about Caddy.
“Schoffler stated that in the summer of 1973, after he had testified in the Watergate hearings, Schoffler met Merritt. Merritt stated that he had made all sorts of calls to Senators concerning Watergate and the Caddy incident with Schoffler. Schoffler stated that he told Merritt if he, Merritt, reported something that was only in his head it was going to come back on him. Schoffler said that he did not in any way threaten Merritt.
“Schoffler stated that he introduced Merritt to FBI Agents O’Connor and Tucker and that it took about a week for them to find out that he was a liar. Schoffler stated that of the leads that Merritt gave, only perhaps one in ten or twenty would turn out to be of any value but that Schoffler always followed the leads because of that one in twenty chance.”
Shoffler’s statement to the Watergate prosecutor about Merritt being a liar directly contradicted the FBI Inspector’s reports of February and April 1972, which had rated Merritt as being an “Excellent” CI who had showed “no signs of emotional instability or unreliability.” 
In regard to the interview with Shoffler, it should be noted that in two places my name, Caddy, was left unredacted. So there is no doubt but that the actions proposed against me by MPD Officers Shoffler and Leeper and FBI Agents Tucker and O’Connor were not figments of Merritt’s imagination. Had Shoffler and the four CIA agents had their way, I would have been assassinated.
At this point it might be appropriate to ask why these government agents wanted me killed. There is no way to know what was in their minds but my guess is that they targeted me because (1) Although I was a General Foods Company employee, I had worked inside the Robert Mullen Company, which as a CIA front, and may have gained access to the extensive files stored there, (2) Robert Mullen had once telephoned me from Chile and told me he was there as part of the U.S. government operation to overthrow Chilean President Salvador Allende, who was later killed, (3) Howard Hunt may have discussed CIA activities with me, (4) Two months before Watergate broke, Hunt and the CIA’s General Counsel, Lawrence Houston, had interviewed me about becoming a CIA agent and, if I accepted, my assignment was to build a luxurious tourist hotel on the seashore in Nicaragua as a means to lure leaders of the Sandinistas there, (5) Hunt may have told me about the role of CIA agents in the assassination of President John Kennedy, which he revealed in 2004 in his deathbed taped confession, and (6) and I was gay, and involved as an attorney in Watergate, the country’s biggest criminal case of the Twentieth Century.
The agents’ approach to Merritt took place on June 28, 1972, eleven days after the arrests, which was the same day that I was subpoenaed to appear “forthwith” before the federal grand jury investigating Watergate. My appearing before the grand jury, which resulted in news stories, made me too visible to be taken out by government assassination.
In 1975 Merritt testified before the House Select Committee on Intelligence, known as the Pike Committee after its chairman, Representative Otis Pike of New York. Pike held hearings on the illegal activities of the CIA and other government agencies. When presented with a draft of the Committee’s report, CIA legal counsel Mitchell Rogovin was quoted as declaring, “Pike will pay for this, you wait and see…there will be political retaliation…we will destroy him for this.” Indeed The New York Times led the attack on Pike, joined by other media outlets. In the end, because of the pressure brought to bear by the CIA, FBI, other agencies and the media, the Committee’s 1976 report was never accepted by the full House of Representatives.
Here is what the suppressed Pike Committee report stated in regard to Merritt:
“The Committee investigated another example of lack of control over informants. The FBI used Robert Merritt as an informant on New Left activities during the early 1970’s. His duties included reporting on activities at the Institute for Policy Studies. Merritt told the Committee that his FBI handling-agents instructed him to conduct break-ins, deliver unopened mail acquired illegally, and solicit and provide information to the FBI regarding homosexual proclivities of politically prominent people and individuals of the New Left.
“The FBI agents who handled Merritt denied these allegations under oath. They stated that Merritt acted on his own.
“The handling-agents [named in the Committee Report’s footnotes as FBI Special Agents Tucker and O’Connor] stated that they terminated Merritt because they ascertained that he provided false information on one occasion and had reason to believe he provided false information at other times in the past. If this was true, it does not fit with other facts. During the seven months that Merritt was an FBI informant, he provided over 100 reports on at least 25 people. He had, in fact, been categorized as ‘reliable’ in FBI records. 
“No effort was ever made to ‘correct’ the Merritt reports by indicating that the information contained therein might be unreliable. No prosecutive actions were ever recommended as a result of Merritt’s alleged wrongdoing. His effort apparently fit well with intelligence operations.
“Further, Merritt told staff that he had committed numerous illegal acts at the direction of the District of Columbia Police.
“His FBI handling-agents stated that although they acquired Merritt from the Metropolitan Police Department, they never inquired as to the nature of his prior activities as a police informant. This attitude of ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ appears to violate the seemingly rigid regulations of the FBI manual, designed to effect the recruitment of responsible and reliable informants.
“Conflicting testimony in the Merritt matter reveals the problem itself. Since FBI agents’ instructions to their informants are, by necessity, given orally and without witnesses, it is difficult, if not impossible, to accurately fix responsibility for an informant’s actions.” 
Of course, there was a reason why the two FBI agents’ statements to the Pike Committee about Merritt did “not fit well with the facts.” Had they acknowledged their responsibility for directing Merritt’s illegal COINTELPRO activities, they would have opened themselves to criminal prosecution. In fact, in 1980, four years after the Pike Report was issued but never accepted, two high-ranking FBI officials, Associate Director Mark Felt and Assistant Director Edward Miller, were found guilty of illegal COINTELPRO “black bag” break-in jobs conducted by FBI agents under their direction.
The Mysterious Role of Mark Felt
 The occasion of criminal prosecution of Felt and Miller serves appropriately to examine the mysterious role of FBI Associate Director Mark Felt in Watergate, who gained fame in 2005 when Vanity Fair magazine revealed him to be “Deep Throat.”
When J. Edgar Hoover died on May 2, 1972, Merritt was sitting with Agents Tucker and O’Conner in a Volkswagen at the bottom of a hill near Hoover’s residence. When word came over the FBI radio that Hoover had been found dead, O’Connor quickly gave Merritt money to catch a taxi home, after which the agents rushed into Hoover’s home.
President Nixon named L. Patrick Gray III as the FBI’s Acting Director, passing over Mark Felt, who was named Associate Director. This did not sit well with Felt, who believed he should have been named Director. 
When Watergate broke, Felt decided to get even with Nixon for not naming him Director. As second in command, Felt saw everything compiled on Watergate before it went to Gray. He started leaking key information gathered by the FBI investigation to Woodward and Bernstein at the Washington Post. His actions did not go unnoticed. In an Oval Office tape of October 19, 1972, H.R. Haldeman told the President that Felt was speaking to the press: “You can’t say anything about this because it will screw up our sources but there’s a real concern. [John] Mitchell is the only one who knows about this and he feels strongly that we better not do anything because …if we move on him, he’ll go out and unload everything. He has access to everything.”
In April 1978 Felt, Miller and Gray were indicted for engaging in a conspiracy to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens by searching their homes without warrants. The case against Gray was dropped but a jury in November 1980 found Felt and Miller guilty. President Ronald Reagan in March 1981, only a few months after taking office, granted pardons to the two men. 
Ironically Merritt may have been responsible for the indictment and trial of the FBI officials because of his detailed testimony before an Executive Session of the Senate Watergate Committee, the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and the Pike Committee about the FBI directing his activities in COINTELPRO.
In the early 1970s, Felt had overseen COINTELPRO. Jennifer Dohrn was one of the persons targeted for illegal abuse by the FBI because her sister, Bernadine, was a leader in the Weather Underground. Jennifer Dohrn, appearing on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now program on June 2, 2005, recounted that:
“I remember when I was pregnant with my firstborn feeling extremely vulnerable because I was followed a great deal of the time, and then it was revealed when I received my Freedom of Information Act papers, over 200,000 documents, that there actually had been developed by Felt a plan to kidnap my son after I birthed in hoping to get my sister to surrender…I was not asked to testify [at Felt’s criminal trial in 1980], and it is interesting that the concrete thing that he could be convicted of were burglaries against me and several other people, break-ins, which were documented and recorded.”
FBI Agents Tucker and O’Connor were Felt’s right-hand soldiers in carrying out COINTELPRO. They, in turn, directed Merritt. As has been recounted here, they visited Merritt two days after he told Shoffler what he had learned from Rita about the planned break-in of the DNC. They told Merritt that they had heard rumors that he knew of a planned break-in. He refused to answer their questions. They returned again two days after the Watergate arrests and again demanded any information he might have about the plan to break-in the DNC. He again refused to answer their questions.
Merritt was an integral part of COINTELPRO infiltration of the Weather Underground. Felt was in charge of it. Who sent agents Tucker and O’Connor to see Merritt on these occasions? Felt. If the two agents had picked up a rumor about a planned break-in, this would have been documented in an FBI report as required under standard FBI procedure. Thus, the FBI had knowledge of a planned break-in within a few days after Merritt learned this from Rita on June 1. Of course, nothing of this role of the FBI came out in the Watergate investigation. Instead Felt used his official status as second in command to leak FBI investigative documents to Woodward and Bernstein. He did not leak any FBI internal document that showed the FBI had prior knowledge of a planned break-in. William F. Buckley, Jr. in his column of June 5, 2005, after Vanity Fair named Felt as Deep Throat, wrote:
“Now Mr. Felt steps forward and says that it was he who in effect staged the end of the Nixon Administration. What he did, over a period of months, was to report to two industrious journalists of the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, everything that came to his attention through the fish-eye lens. Mr. Felt wanted to know everything about the traffic of dollars to and from the Committee to Reelect the President, and everything about the background and activities of everyone associated with the White House, from the Attorney General down to the plumbers.
“As evidence accumulated of wrongdoing and crime, he reported not to the director of the FBI (his immediate superior), but to two journalists. Bob Woodward was thoughtful enough to have recorded, the day after the news about Felt broke, his first meeting with Deep Throat back in 1970, two years before the Watergate break-in. There they both were, waiting in the West Wing of the White House, Woodward to deliver a message from the Chief of Naval Operations, the Assistant Director of the FBI on a mission of his own. ‘I could tell he was watching the situation carefully. There was nothing overbearing about his attentiveness, but his eyes were darting about in a gentlemanly surveillance. After a few minutes I introduced myself. “Lieutenant Bob Woodward,” I said carefully, appending a deferential “sir.”“Mark Felt,” he said.“Mark Anthony, meeting Brutus, deserved no greater headline in history.”
Wrapping Everything Up
In evaluating Merritt’s story, here are some points to keep in mind:
There would probably have never been a Watergate scandal had Merritt not told Shoffler what he had learned from Rita.
Despite the multiple government and media investigations into Watergate that led up to Nixon’s removal from office, none ever focused on the background of the arresting officer, Carl Shoffler. It was as if he, despite his quest for fame, played a cameo role in the drama when even a cursory examination could have uncovered a clue that would have led to the unraveling of his scheme.
For example, the Senate Watergate Committee made little effort to pursue an allegation made by Captain Edmund Chung, Shoffler’s former commanding officer at NSA’s Vint Hill Farm Station. Chung claimed that Shoffler told him not long after Watergate broke that the arrests were the result of a tip-off and that if Shoffler ever made the whole story public, “his life wouldn’t be worth a nickel.”
It would be exceedingly difficult to pass judgment on Merritt’s revelations without first reading what Jim Hougan wrote in his 1984 best-seller, Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA. Only Hougan traced the actions of Shoffler in the hours before the arrests, noting that he skipped his planned birthday party when his shift ended at 10 P.M. to volunteer for a second shift. Hougan observed that Shoffler then joined a plainclothes unit that cruised the streets and that the unit’s three officers parked their vehicle only a block from Watergate, “as if they were awaiting the dispatcher’s summons.”
Hougan wrote further that, “The mysteries surrounding Shoffler are peculiar in the extreme and none more so than the allegations made by one of Shoffler’s former informants, Robert ‘Butch” Merritt. A homosexual, Merritt was employed by the police and the FBI in spying on the New Left, a task that ultimately led to his infiltration of the Institute for Policy Studies, a bête noire of America’s right wing. According to Merritt, Shoffler approached him sometime after June 16, 1972, and asked him to undertake a bizarre assignment. If we are to believe the disaffected informant, Shoffler told him to establish a homosexual relationship with Douglas Caddy, stating that Caddy was gay and a supporter of Communist causes. In fact, Caddy was about as conservative as they come…
“Predictably, perhaps, Shoffler ridicules Merritt’s accusation, calling it absurd. One can only agree with the police detective, and yet, where Merritt is concerned there appears to have been more going on than met the eye.” 
Hougan then described Merritt turning up after the Watergate case broke at Buster Riggin’s porn store, one of whose frequent customers being Carl Bernstein. Hougan disclosed that an internal inquiry by the Post uncovered that “Bernstein was a participant in the frolics of an informally organized ‘social club’ whose membership seemed to be dominated by CIA officers, their girl friends and their wives.” Merritt said that Riggin frequently was host to these “frolics” and that for one party Riggin sent him to bring back a sheep from a farm in Virginia.
There would have been no cover up and no resignation by President Nixon if within the first week or two of the case evidence had been produced linking Shoffler with having prior knowledge of the planned break-in. The whole investigation would have then turned attention on Shoffler, the two other intelligence agents who also had advance knowledge, Merritt’s role, the disappearance of Rita Reed, and what the FBI knew. An early resolution of the case would have prevented the poisonous atmosphere that has permeated Washington ever since, which has led to extreme political partisanship making it almost impossible to implement successfully necessary government policies.
Why is Merritt telling his complete story now, 39 years after the scandal broke open? There is no single answer. First and foremost, however, is that Merritt would have been killed if he had attempted to reveal what he knew while Shoffler was alive. Shoffler died in 1996 at the age of 51 years from a rare blood disease. Shoffler knew Merritt’s whereabouts and kept in contact with him until 1994, two years before his death. 
Shoffler was not the only Intelligence Agent whose life was on the line if the real story of Watergate had come out. Two other Intelligence agents heard Merritt’s story of the planned break-in on June 3, almost two weeks before the arrests. There were obviously others, those named in Crimson Rose.
What was “Crimson Rose,” the two words overheard by Rita Reed when she listened in on the telephone conversation on May 31, 1972? Crimson Rose, an acronym, stood for a 400 page CIA document whose title was “Confidential Report on Intelligence of Military Secret Operations on Nixon” and whose subtitle was “Report of Operations of Secret Surveillance and Eavesdropping.” It was marked “Eyes Only.”
Both Military Intelligence and the CIA had wire-tapping operations located in the Columbia Plaza Apartments in the weeks prior to the Watergate case breaking open. The CIA had an office that was located at 2430 E Street, N.W., within walking distance of both the Watergate and Columbia Plaza Apartments. 
Authors Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin in their 1991 book, Silent Coup: The Removal of the President recounted in detail a military intelligence spy ring that reported to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon that penetrated the White House and that was opposed to Nixon’s foreign policy goals. Crimson Rose, the secret CIA report, dealt with this military intelligence spy ring. Its title spoke volumes about its contents. 
It would be interesting to find out if Crimson Rose contained information about Bob Woodward , who from 1969-70 as a Naval Lieutenant, served as liaison to the White House from Admiral Thomas Moorer, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Woodward’s assignment at the White House was to brief General Alexander Haig inside the office of the National Security Council. It was this period when the military intelligence spy ring operated inside the White House that was secretly chronicled in the CIA’s Crimson Rose document.
Upon learning of its existence, Military Intelligence devised a plan to steal Crimson Rose, which it viewed as an explosive and incriminating report, from within the bowels of the CIA. Military Intelligence deemed retrieving the sole “Eyes Only” copy of the Crimson Report as being absolutely essential. This was because, in the wake of Watergate and the disclosure of other unseemly government activities, in 1975 the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, known as the Church Committee after its chairman, Senator Frank Church, initiated hearings into the activities of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The great fear of Military Intelligence was that should the Church Committee (or the Pike Committee) get its hands on a copy of Crimson Rose in the course of its investigation of the CIA, disclosure of its contents would lead to exposing the role of Military Intelligence in bringing down the Nixon Administration and would drastically affect how the American public perceived its military. Disclosure could lead to a complete reorganization of the Pentagon and court martial trials, perhaps criminal trials, of those involved.
Shoffler played the key role in carrying out the plan to obtain Crimson Rose. In June 1975 Mitchell Rogovin, General Counsel to the CIA, was lured by someone he knew and trusted to dinner at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. In the course of the dinner his drink was spiked, causing him to appear inebriated. Several men who were Military Intelligence agents assisted him to a freight elevator that transported them to a floor above. The elevator operator for the special occasion was Merritt, who in prior years had held that position at the hotel. The regular operator of the freight elevator had been given one hundred dollars and told to get lost for an hour. Rogovin was then carried into a hotel room and quickly stripped naked. He was positioned on a bed and a prostitute climbed into bed beside him. Shoffler had arranged with Buster Riggin for the use of the prostitute from the prostitution ring operated by Riggin. Graphic photographs were taken of Rogovin and the woman in different sexual positions. Subsequently, Rogovin was shown the photographs and told that unless he obtained and delivered the Crimson Rose report from within the CIA, the incriminating photographs of him would be leaked. He was also threatened that his son would be set up and falsely charged with selling illegal drugs if he did not cooperate. 
Presented with these horrific threats, Rogovin chose to retrieve the Crimson Rose report and give it to the military agents involved, whose leader was Shoffler. When Rogovin gave it to Shoffler, the 400-page Crimson Rose file was encased in a formidable binder bearing the seal of the CIA that had a broken chain dangling. The “Eyes Only” document had been protectively situated, chained to a circular table in a secure room inside CIA. In the center of the table were a large number of other CIA “Eyes Only” documents in their chained binders, allowing the documents to be read but not removed from the table. When given to Shoffler, the chain to the Crimson Rose document had been cut. 
Rogovin resigned as CIA General Counsel the next year.
Who were the burglars actually wire-tapping? There is reason to believe that the wire-tapping was of the prostitution ring being run out of the Columbia Plaza Apartments and not of the DNC. Examination of the tapes and the transcripts of the taped conversations would go far towards resolving this issue.
The Washington Evening Star on June 9, 1972 published an article that announced the prostitution ring had been broken and its manager, Phillip Bailley, arrested. The same day John Dean summoned the prosecutor handling the case to his White House office and requested that the case file be brought. At the meeting Dean made a careful and detailed examination of the manager’s “trick book” that contained the names of the “Johns” and the women who were the prostitutes. He asked if he could keep the “trick” book but the prosecutor refused his request. Dean and Magruder each had a special reason to want to know what names were in the book.
What was the intent of the team of burglars headed by James McCord who were arrested inside the DNC? Gordon Liddy expressed shock in the A&E Investigative Report “The Key to Watergate” upon learning that the burglars were caught around the desk of a secretary (under whose telephone, Shoffler had led them to believe, was planted the key to the desk containing the prized envelope.) Liddy had been under the impression that the team had gone into the DNC to wiretap Chairman Larry O’Brien’s phone. Furthermore, none of those at the scene of the arrests, including Shoffler’s fellow officers and the five arrested burglars, could recall any struggle between Shoffler and Martinez that resulted in Shoffler grabbing a notebook with a key taped on its back from Martinez. Only Shoffler maintained such a struggle took place.
There also has existed the question of whether Shoffler contaminated the notebook as evidence while it was in his personal possession and before he turned it in at the police precinct. The precise date on which he surrendered possession of the notebook and key was not recorded. Did he remove one or more pages from the notebook containing information that would have revealed the wiretap triangulation that he used to set up and entrap the burglars? 
To view the A&E Investigative Report “The Key to Watergate” go to:

The time line of the DNC break-in raises a fundamental question as to who ordered the burglars to go back in on June 17:
May 28: First break-in at DNC
May 31: Rita Reed overhears telephone conversation about Crimson Rose and a break-in planned for the date of June 18. Those speaking on telephone express hatred of Nixon and desire to bring him down
June 1: Rita Tells Merritt what she heard
June 3: Merritt informs Shoffler of Rita’s information
June 9: Washington Star reports the investigation of Columbia Plaza call-girl ring
June 9: Dean summons prosecutor handling call-girl ring investigation to his White House office
June 12: Magruder tells Liddy to mount a second DNC break-in
June 17: Burglars arrested during second break-in
If this time line is accurate, then the two persons having the telephone conversation on May 31 knew of a second break-in being planned for June 18 before Dean, Magruder or Liddy could have known. Crimson Rose was a CIA operation. Thus, someone in the CIA either knew or was calling the shots that a second break-in had to be mounted. Dean did not get concerned about the call-girl ring linked to the DNC until June 9. Magruder told Liddy on June 12 to go back in. Who told Magruder? 
The evidence shows that three of the men on the burglar team were active CIA agents: Howard Hunt, James McCord and Eugenio Martinez.
It is likely that the two people having the Crimson Rose telephone conversation on May 31 did not plan for the burglars to be arrested. Instead they wanted to use the break-in information to blackmail Nixon or his key aides later on. They did not count on Shoffler setting-up the burglars to be arrested.
The arrests shocked them and affected their over-all strategy.
In regard to my own story, despite homophobic Judge Sirica falsely accusing me of being a “principal” in the crime and trying to frame me because I was gay, I was never indicted, never named an unindicted co-conspirator, never disciplined by the Bar or even interviewed by the Senate Watergate Committee. In fact, at the trial of those accused of the cover-up it was revealed that when I was approached by a mysterious caller to disburse the “hush” money, Herbert Kalmbach, Nixon’s personal attorney, testified “Well, the sum and gist of it was that Mr. Caddy refused to accept the funds.” There can be no doubt but that Sirica’s contempt citation against me, upheld by the Court of Appeals, spurred the cover-up.
Watergate would have had a different ending had not homophobia reigned supreme. The police, FBI, the government investigations all mistreated Merritt because he was an open homosexual. Even the Oval Office tapes revealed anti-gay conversations between Nixon and his aides. My being pulled “forthwith” before the grand jury and later being falsely accused by Sirica stemmed from anti-gay bias. 
Merritt and I realize that our book Watergate Exposed: How the President of the United States and the Watergate Burglars Were Set Up is not the final word on the scandal. There still exist a large number of unreleased government files that would confirm and elaborate on what Merritt claims. The FBI, in response to Merritt’s Freedom of Information Action request, provided some 400 documents to him but withheld 300 other papers. Release of Merritt’s complete government file and that of Shoffler’s would go far in clearing up what really happened in Watergate.
Merritt’s story, and to a lesser extent my own story, present a revisionist history of Watergate. This revisionist history joins the controversy surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in raising questions of what actually occurred at the time of these two events, which saw both Presidents removed from office in different ways. 
It may take a historian, grand jury or congressional committee, building on what Merritt and I supply in Watergate Exposed, to reopen and bring true justice to the case.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 21:41
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