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It's time for John Dean to tell the truth about Watergate

johndeanap watergate.jpg

John Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, testifies during Senate Watergate hearing. (AP)

Saturday, August 9 marks the fortieth anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation over the scandal known as Watergate. It’s hard to believe but 40 years after Nixon’s resignation the American public still does not know who ordered the Watergate break-in, what the burglars were looking for and why they did it.

The mainstream media narrative about Watergate is a grotesque and fantastic distortion of historical fact.

No one has sought to control this narrative more than former White House Counsel John Dean. Through his books, interviews, paid speeches, lawsuits and litigation Dean has spun the myth that he was a naïve and ambitious young man sucked into the Watergate cover-up by the evil Nixon and his men.

Only Dean can supply the full story of the Watergate break-in and cover up now by releasing the transcripts of all of his conversations with Nixon on March 13,16, 17, 20 and 21.

Now Dean is back with a brand new book "Nixon's Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It" in which he seeks to write the "authoritative" narrative of Nixon and Watergate.

Dean claims his book is based on 1,000 hours of tapes that only he has had transcribed.  Missing from the July 27 New York Times review of the book by presidential historian Robert Dallek is the fact that Dean refuses to submit these transcripts for independent review.

Although Dean says his goal to "reconstruct the full history of the scandal" his book is anything but the full or complete story.

Truncated or entirely missing are recordings of Dean and Nixon discussing the cover-up on March 13, 16, 17, 20 and 21, 1973. The full audio and transcripts for these tapes can be found at http://www.nixontapes.org/watergate.html

"In assembling this story," Dean writes in "Nixon's Defense," "I have not, except in a few instances, recounted my own involvement."

Indeed, Dean has air-brushed himself out of the picture although these tapes clearly show Dean coaxing Nixon into the cover-up and coaching him on the talking points for their planned lies.

What kind of lawyer urges his client to commit crimes?

What did Dean mean when he closes the conversation with Nixon of March 16, 1973 by saying "we will win"?

By omitting any information about tape recordings on these dates, Dean has actually obscured what the president knew and when he knew it rather than revealing it.

The one-week gap in the tapes has the effect of  hiding Dean's true role and omitting a number of statements Nixon made which he could have used in the president's defense.

On the tapes that Dean mischaracterizes or completely ignores, the former White House counsel tells Nixon for the first time on March 13  that the Watergate break-in is connected to the White House through Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman's aide Gordon Strachan -- who is receiving transcripts of the Watergate bugs. 

It's clear that Dean has lied to Nixon for nine months about what he knows about White House involvement in Watergate.

During hearings of the Senate committee investigating Watergate in the months to come, Mr. Dean would falsely testify that there had been no prior White House knowledge of the break-in.

On March 16, Dean and Nixon discuss putting out a false statement in "The Dean Report" to cover up White House involvement in the burgeoning scandal.

On March 17, Dean explains his discovery that Nixon aide John Ehrlichman had used CREEP (Committee to Reelect the President) lawyer Gordon Liddy for the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist and that the arrest of Liddy would eventually lead the investigation to Ehrlichman. 

Dean also tells Nixon that beyond Strachan more people in the White House are "vulnerable" including Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, Colson and even himself ("since I have been all over this thing like a blanket") long before his "Cancer on the Presidency" speech (more on that in a moment) mentioned on the March 21 tape.

On the March 20 tape, Dean and White House aide Richard Moore are heard in a meeting with Nixon in the oval office to discuss composing that phony statement.

But wait, there's still more.

In Dean's meeting with the president on March 21, in which he informs Nixon that there is "a cancer on the presidency," the president concludes a discussion about granting clemency to the burglars by saying: "No, it's wrong, that's for sure."

Dean excises this quote from his latest book.

Why should we believe Dean now? When confronted, under oath in litigation, with discrepancies between his sworn testimony and the facts alleged in his book "Blind Ambition" Dean  claimed that his ghost writer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch, "made up out of whole cloth" key parts of his book. He later blamed his editor the well-respected Alice Mayhew.

Yet Mayhew said  "I never told John Dean what to put in his book, that's a lie, L-I-E.  I, would never have been party to, and if John Dean wants to say that Alice Mayhew and Taylor Branch, ah, are parties to such dishonest behavior ... He's got serious problems, period." 

In fact we now know that it was Dean who ordered Liddy to produce the Gemstone plan that included the break in at the Watergate hotel. 

It was Dean who ordered the Watergate cased six weeks before the first break-in, and it was Dean who was the self-described "case officer for the cover up," who  pressured the CIA to post bail for the Watergate burglars, and arranged for and ordered the payment of hush money for the Watergate burglars.

Dean began the cover-up shortly after the 1972 election by telling Nixon he had concluded that the White House had nothing to do with the break-in. Nixon would announce this in a press conference. 

Dean, in his own words, admitted to the president that he was involved in "an obstruction of justice." 

Only Dean can supply the full story of the Watergate break-in and cover up now by releasing the transcripts of all of his conversations with Nixon on March 13,16, 17, 20 and 21.

I challenge him to do so. These transcripts will prove that Dean was a progenitor of the Watergate cover-up who sought immunity and a plea bargain with Watergate prosecutors only when he saw the cover-up he was running would not hold.

Roger Stone is author of “Nixon's Secrets: The Rise, Fall and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate, and the Pardon” (Skyhorse Publishing) which will be released on August 11.