Prescient, you say? Uh-huh.
Transcript by Mary Constantine.
Transcript by Mary Constantine.
For the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in: The untold story of President Richard Nixon, CIA Director Richard Helms, and their volatile shared secrets that ended a presidency.
Scorpions’ Dance by intelligence expert and investigative journalist Jefferson Morley reveals the Watergate scandal in a completely new light: as the culmination of a concealed, deadly power struggle between President Richard Nixon and CIA Director Richard Helms.
Nixon and Helms went back decades; both were 1950s Cold Warriors, and both knew secrets about the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba as well as off-the-books American government and CIA plots to remove Fidel Castro and other leaders in Latin America. Both had enough information on each other to ruin their careers.
After the Watergate burglary on June 17, 1972, Nixon was desperate to shut down the FBI’s investigation. He sought Helms’ support and asked that the CIA intervene―knowing that most of the Watergate burglars were retired CIA agents, contractors, or long-term assets with deep knowledge of the Agency’s most sensitive secrets. The two now circled each other like scorpions, defending themselves with the threat of lethal attack. The loser would resign his office in disgrace; the winner, however, would face consequences for the secrets he had kept.
Rigorously researched and dramatically told, Scorpions’ Dance uses long-neglected evidence to reveal a new perspective on one of America’s most notorious presidential scandals.
“In this, his third biography of a senior CIA official, Jefferson Morley’s pen is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, his prose honed by years of sifting through information citizens were never meant to see. He gives us hidden history.”
—Anthony Summers, author of The Arrogance of Power and Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Eleventh Day
“Just when you think you’ve read everything there is to read about Watergate, along comes another analysis seen through a different lens. This is particularly true of Jefferson Morley’s new book Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster, and Watergate. Mr. Morley’s lens is the relationship between President Nixon and Richard Helms, CIA Director through all but a few months of the Nixon presidency and it reveals a number of unexploded hand grenades previously undiscovered. The central issue is whether these two men enabled each other. No doubt, there is still more to be learned.”
–Gary Hart, United States Senator (Ret.)
“No historian today understands the Cold War White House better than Jefferson Morley. His decades of research into the Kennedy assassination, the intelligence agencies, and national security policy-making in the Vietnam era make him especially well equipped to untangle the complex of narratives, overlapping and conflicting, that comprise the Watergate scandal. Plumbing archival documents and other new evidence, Morley brings sensitivity and probity to his examination of the ill-fated Nixon-Helms relationship, and thereby makes Scorpions’ Dance a must read for students of those tumultuous times.”
–James Rosen, Newsmax chief White House correspondent and author of The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate
“Jefferson Morley has written a fascinating account of the relationship between President Nixon and CIA Director Richard Helms. The book enriches our perspectives on Watergate while explaining how these two towering American Machiavelli’s aided each other’s corrupt ventures, to their own downfall and the disgrace of the high offices they held. It’s a warning to the governing elite in any era.”
–Larry J. Sabato, author of The Kennedy Half-Century and A More Perfect Constitution
“Jefferson Morley’s taut, descriptive prose transports us back in time to relive the momentous events of the 1960s and 1970s, entering the minds of the colorful characters who shaped history to feel what they felt and to reimagine for ourselves the decisions they made and why. His purpose is evident in his open-minded yet relentless pursuit of the truth about the corrosive impact of intelligence covert action on individuals and organizations, and on democracy itself―and to reflect on the consequences of sacrificing truth for the sake of power.”
–Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, former CIA operations officer and senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
“Jefferson Morley has captured, in all its surreal conspiratorial glory, the last sinister tango of a pair of wicked Richards. A riveting story that will make you chuckle and shiver.”
— John Aloysius Farrell, author of Richard Nixon: The Life
“A work that sheds new light on Watergate half a century after the fact.”
“Eye-opening…Packed with lucid analyses of complex geopolitical events, this is a vital reconsideration of recent American history.”
“Thoroughly researched…With a complex cast of characters, Cold War espionage, and tense courtroom drama, Morley’s timely book will appeal to readers seeking an in-depth understanding of both Watergate and CIA history.”
“Morley (The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton, 2017) shares more of his insights into the role of the CIA in America’s recent history….The centrality of Nixon and Helms to so many pivotal moments in history makes Morley’s revelations about their sparring even more intriguing.” ―Booklist
“Morley adds rich context to Helms’s half-truth, offering new and fascinating details to what he calls a decades-long ‘clandestine collaborative’ relationship between [Helms and Nixon] … Scorpions’ Dance thoughtfully explores the relationship of the presidency to the intelligence community.” —SpyTalk
Professor Gerald D. McKnight, author of Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why, has died at a Health Center/Retirement Home in Lawrence, Kansas. Professor McKnight was a Korean War veteran serving in Graves Registration, a career educator, a distinguished researcher and author, and a close associate of the prolific litigator and JFK assassination scholar, the late Harold Weisberg. Professor McKnight was an influential teacher and historian, an exceptional person whose friendship, generosity, and depth of understanding was a gift to all who knew him.
Gerald D. McKnight was emeritus professor of history at Hood College, where he had served as chair of the History and Political Science Department.
Professor McKnight quoted for an interview in September, 2005:
I think there are several telltale evasions: 1) The WC’s failure to launch a real investigation into Oswald’s Mexico City trip. This, I believe, is a key to what forces or interests were behind the murder of JFK. 2) The destruction of JFK autopsy materials and the writing of a second autopsy protocol after it was learned that Oswald was murdered—in short, the fabrication of the JFK autopsy protocol. 3) Lastly, the fact that the FBI and the WC had the Atomic Energy Committee (AEC) run sophisticated Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) on Oswald’s paraffin casts and other forensic materials and then failed to include those results in the final Commission Report. The fact that some of the best evidence in the case was never disclosed in the Warren Report leads to one inexorable conclusion: that results exonerated Oswald.
Some people, especially those born after the assassination, seem to think this is “old news.” How do you explain to them that the unanswered questions surrounding that event are still incredibly relevant more than 40 years later?
A president is assassinated—there can be no more de-stabilizing crime in our system of government—and there is no good-faith effort to uncover the facts. What does this say about the legitimacy of our government? Moreover, once JFK was removed, there followed possibly history-altering changes in our foreign policy. Had Kennedy lived, would he have liquidated our involvement in Vietnam? Many credible historians speculate that he would have ended our involvement by the end of 1964. Kennedy’s tentative steps toward a rapprochement with Castro’s Cuba ended with Dallas. Once LBJ heated up our Vietnam involvement, the Soviet-American detente growing out of the peacefully resolved 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was terminated. This raises the foreboding question: Was JFK’s assassination a coup d’etat?
Professor McKnight is the author of the books, The Last Crusade: Martin Luther King Jr., the FBI and the Poor People’s Campaign (1998) and Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why (2005, republished for a 2013 edition).
My JFK Conversations interview with Professor McKnight may be found here:
LISTEN to Alan Dale’s 2014 conversation with Professor McKnight HERE. Duration: 01:09:17
In 2017, AARC filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act in Washington D.C. to obtain documents from the CIA related to its study of the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler to develop a plan to overthrow Fidel Castro in Fall 1963. The basis of the request is a formerly Top Secret Joints Chiefs of Staff memo dated September 25, 1963 found by Bill Kelly.
The memo records a briefing by Desmond Fitzgerald, CIA’s head of anti-Castro operations. Fitzgerald tells the Joint Chiefs that CIA is studying the plot to kill Hitler in depth to come up with an approach to dealing with Castro. The timing of this study is contemporary to the lead-up to President Kennedy’s assassination, and government bodies that have investigated the JFK assassination have been concerned that such activity may have caused or been linked to the President’s assassination. Doc 1, pg. 3 JCS Briefing, 25 September, 1963
AARC filed a FOIA request in 2012 with CIA asking for information related to the CIA’s study of the Hitler plot to deal with Castro. CIA initially stated they could find no records, then retracted, and said they were still looking. After lengthy delays, CIA reverted to its earlier position and stated it could find no records. AARC filed suit in federal court.
APPELLANT’S PETITION FOR REHEARING OR PETITION FOR REHEARING EN BANC
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
D.C. Cir. No. 18-5280
ASSASSINATION ARCHIVES AND RESEARCH CENTER,
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY,
On Appeal from the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia, Hon. Trevor N. McFadden, District Judge, Cv. no. 17-0160
Daniel S. Alcorn
D.C. Bar No. xxxxxx
xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx
McLean, VA 22101
Phone (xxx) xxx-xxxx
Counsel for Appellant
James H. Lesar, #xxxxxx
xxx xxxxx xxx
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
Counsel for Appellant
Dated: January 29, 2021
USCA Case #18-5280 Document #1882637 Filed: 01/29/2021 Page 1 of 22
Case no. 19-1273, Assassination Archives and Research Center v. CIA
On June 8, 2020 the Solicitor General of the United States, Noel J. Francisco, filed a waiver of response in AARC’s petition to the United States Supreme Court seeking documents related to new information related to the assassination of President Kennedy. AARC seeks documents related to a briefing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 25, 1963 by CIA Cuban operations head Desmond Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald informed the Joint Chiefs that CIA was studying in detail a parallel in history to develop an approach to dealing with Fidel Castro- the July 20, 1944 plot by German military officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler. One-time CIA Director Allen Dulles was in close contact in 1944 with the German plotters from his position as head of European operations for OSS in Bern Switzerland. CIA denies finding any such records and instead has pointed to the National Archives as a possible source for information. Clear Supreme Court case law holds that federal agencies cannot shirk their duties under the Freedom of Information Act by pointing requesters to another agency of the government, as CIA has done.
Solicitor General Francisco’s waiver of a response is another instance of CIA failing to address troubling facts related to the assassination of President Kennedy. A copy of the waiver is attached. The Supreme Court is likely to take up AARC’s petition before its summer adjournment at the end of June.
AARC v. CIA12 CIA Waiver Letter 19-1273 AARC v. CIA12 CIA Waiver Letter 19-1273
Relevant to the AARC’s efforts to seek the release of critical assassination-related materials being withheld by the U.S. federal government:
In the Supreme Court of the United States. ____________________
Assassination Archives and Research Center,
Central Intelligence Agency,
On Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit _____________________
PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI ____________________
This Court granted of a writ of certiorari on February 28, 2020 in case # 19-547, Fish and Wildlife Serv., et al. v. Sierra Club, Inc. That case presents an issue closely similar to one in Petitioner’s case involving the deliberate process privilege under Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5). The results of the two cases arising from different circuits are in conflict. The Fish and Wildlife Service case presents an issue of compelled release under the FOIA of draft documents for which the government asserts a deliberative process privilege under FOIA Exemption 5. Petitioner AARC’s case involves the Central Intelligence Agency’s successful assertion of the Exemption 5 deliberative process privilege for information reflecting CIA’s search activities in responding to Petitioner’s FOIA request. Petitioner’s FOIA request relates to a matter of public importance- new information about the circumstances of the assassination of President Kennedy.