G. Gordon Liddy, Chief Operative behind the Watergate Scandal, dies at 90: NPR
G. Gordon Liddy, pictured in 2001, died Tuesday at the age of 90. He was convicted for orchestrating the Watergate break-in and wiretapping program that led to President Nixon’s shameful resignation. Roberto Borea / AP Hide caption
Roberto Borea / AP
Roberto Borea / AP
G. Gordon Liddy, the Republican adviser convicted of his role in the Watergate scandal that overthrew President Richard Nixon, died Tuesday.
The 90-year-old died at his daughter’s home in Virginia, his son Thomas P. Liddy told the Associated Press. He did not give any cause of death.
Liddy was convicted in 1973 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping of the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate office complex. At the time, he was Nixon’s General Counsel on his re-election committee.
Liddy’s was part of a small group of staff known as the “White House plumbers” whose job it was to identify anyone who had leaked information that made the Nixon administration look bad.
Before the Watergate break-in, he helped illegally enter Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon papers, proving that the Johnson administration lied to the public about the role of the military in the Vietnam War.
Although he had spent more than four years in jail for his Watergate crimes, including more than 100 days in solitary confinement, he later said, “I would do it again for my president.”
He refused to testify during the Watergate hearings as well as during his own trial, and later told the Los Angeles Times, “My father didn’t raise a Snitch or a rat.”
President Carter, a Democrat, overturned Liddy’s sentence and was released after 52 months in prison.
Liddy was born on November 30, 1930 in Hoboken, New Jersey. He described himself as a frail child who was deeply fearful.
In a 1980 interview with Terry Gross, NPR’s Fresh Air host to promote his autobiography, Will, Liddy explained his unorthodox attempts to overcome his fears as a child and into adulthood.
He said that in order to overcome his fear of rats, he mimicked the traditions of the Indian and Zulu tribes who devour “the heart, brain and genitals” of their enemies.
“I boiled part of the rat and ate it. After that, I was no longer afraid of rats,” he said.
Liddy served in the Army and earned a law degree from Fordham University Law School before joining the FBI. He ran for a seat in Congress in New York, but after losing the race, Liddy joined the US Treasury Department and eventually the White House.
While he took great pride in remaining silent during the Watergate investigation and his own criminal case, Liddy seemed to be enjoying the notoriety of the scandal and he was pleased to speak about it.
In the early 1990s, while hosting one of the most popular Conservative talk shows in the country, Liddy openly discussed the botched burglary that disgraced Nixon – with no regrets other than being caught.
He has also taken on numerous television roles and appeared as the villain on popular shows including Miami Vice. And he became a regular at college alongside LSD evangelist Timothy Leary.
Liddy is survived by five children.