Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Looking Back at Watergate

Peter B. Collins Presents Saint John Hunt

In this interview with the son of Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, we get a new angle on the scandal that brought down Nixon. Howard Hunt was a CIA agent who participated in the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the JFK assassination, and was recruited for the “plumbers” crew that broke into the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. In a new book, “Saint” focuses on his mother’s role as the bag woman who distributed “hush money” from Nixon’s allies and was killed in a mysterious plane crash in 1972. We get some interesting new insights and anecdotes on the state crimes against democracy linked to Watergate.

*Saint John Hunt’s new book is Dorothy: The Murder of E. Howard Hunt’s Wife—Watergate’s Darkest Secret. More information and links to his music recordings are here.

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  1. Fascinating interview, thank you Peter for your usual fine job. An interesting guy, Saint John Hunt, and a valuable perspective. It’s so odd to hear the mix in his voice of pride and revulsion towards his father, or at least so I imagine. He describes his father’s involvement with things that he finds morally repellent, but with a touch of pride at how important his dad had become. Which makes perfect sense of course, it’s just kind of mind-boggling, and gives some of these “classic CIA stories” a human dimension we don’t always get access to.

    I think with these kinds of things my mind always starts racing from the things I do hear to all the things I’d also like to hear, most of which of course you can’t get to because it’s one hour not twenty. One thing about you, Peter, is that you’re nice. It’s not your style to do a combative interview, and I appreciate the respect you have for the people who give you their time. Nevertheless at times (from the safety and serenity of my couch) there are questions that seem to be begged in the course of the conversation that you don’t explore, some of which are fairly important.

    I think the most important of these would be Hunt’s deathbed confession to his son about JFK. You are no doubt aware of the questions about the credibility of this story, in particular about how he lays the whole assassination at the feet of LBJ. Saint seems like a nice and a reasonable person as far as I can tell but there is a sort of journalistic obligation, I should think, to be aware that his own credibility is not a given. It’s something that needs to be explored and established. I don’t think that needs to be done in a combative way, and you’d be as good a candidate as I can imagine for somebody who could do it tactfully, professionally, and without evoking hostility in your subject. I think in general, interviews are better when the questions are tougher, or rather when points of view are explored and contested and fleshed out, so if I could be granted one wish for my Peter B Collins fix, it would be that you’d (gently and tactfully) challenge some of your guests a bit more, in cases like this where we’d all stand to be enlightened by the results. Not to give the guy a hard time for the sake of it of course, but along the lines of “how would you respond to skepticism about this” or “a cynic might say” and so on. These opportunities don’t come along that often. But I’m nitpicking. Thanks for a fascinating conversation.

  2. Tomcat108 says:

    Very interesting. Thx Peter.

  3. Gary Binmore says:

    Good stuff. Excellent interview.

    As for EHH’s bedside confession, there probably isn’t much need to go into that since it’s obviously absurd and would only embarrass Saint. The “It was LBJ’s idea” meme has become a standard line for disinfo agents – just another symptom of how desperate the deep state has become.

    Certainly it’s very hard for someone like Saint to be completely honest all of the time. A good rule for living is to steer clear of the deep state – but what happens when you’re born into it?

    • Ronald Orovitz says:

      Is anyone saying “It was all LBJ”? I don’t think so. There were many players involved -Pentagon, CIA, “oil boys” (LBJ quote), Marcello, Giancana, Trafficante, Lansky syndicates, and yeah probably even the Mossad was involved, but LBJ was certainly part of it as well. He was the immediate beneficiary, and not just because he became POTUS, but because his political career was about to be destroyed, and he was even facing jail time – Congressional hearings were underway investigating just how mobbed up he was (through Bobby Baker) and Life was preparing a devastating expose on LBJ for the week that they ended up covering the JFK assassination instead. It was over for him, and the only way out was to take the helm and manage the cover up, so that is what he did.

      The evidence is overwhelming that LBJ was a central but by no means the only player in the plot. It perplexes me when this is treated as just a “crazy” idea here. Come on people. Get with it.

      • In Hunt’s supposed confession, he very clearly names LBJ as the mastermind who ordered the deed done. I haven’t read absolutely everything about the JFK assassination, but I’ve read quite a bit, including some LBJ-did-it books like Lamar Waldron’s Legacy of Secrecy — and while it’s clear enough that LBJ certainly participated in the cover-up, in my opinion the “evidence” that he had anything to do with the planning is extremely flimsy.

        “Cui bono” is a vastly overrated principle, by the way. People frequently benefit from things they had nothing to do with. Noting the benefits to LBJ does not a case make. Not even close.

        Check this out if you’re interested. It’s a rather well-researched and well-argued analysis of the main common points of evidence in the LBJ-did-it literature, and why they really don’t hold up. These are the points you’ll need to refute if you want to make a credible case:

        I’m not trying to be dismissive, by the way. I stand ready as always to be convinced by evidence I have not yet considered. Happy to listen to counter-arguments or follow useful links.

        • Ronald Orovitz says:

          John, thanks -well I guess there have been quite a few who do try to pin it all on Johnson. I was speaking in terms of what seems to be the current consensus within certain factions of the JFK research community, though admittedly there are other factions that do not share in that – all together they can be quite a contentious bunch.

          In any case, the above linked article was written in 2012, a year before Peter Janney published Mary’s Mosaic, which does offer corroborating support for Hunt’s allegation of Cord Meyer’s involvement in the plot, though not necessarily being as central to it as Hunt would have us believe.

          Janney’s book is where Johnson’s immanent difficulties are laid out, with the Life expose that was quashed immediately after the assassination and the Senate Rules Committee hearing that was underway as the assassination was taking place. On the latter, quoting:

          Senator John Williams of Delaware… was being given documented testimony from a panicked Don Reynolds, a close associate of Bobby Baker’s… The Reynolds bombshell was that he had seen Bobby Baker with a suitcase containing what Baker alleged was a $100,000 payoff to Lyndon Johnson for his role in securing the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) contract for General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas. Reynolds also stated that he had refused several attempts by Johnson to buy his silence. However, Reynolds’s testimony abruptly ended when news reached the committee that President Kennedy had been assassinated… -Pg. 307

          It’s not just a question of cui bono for Johnson, then, but for elements of the military industrial complex and organized crime syndicates, all of whom stood to lose big had these investigations been carried through.

          This site… has more on the Nov. 22 testimony along with Johnson’s efforts to suppress it and smear Reynolds with the help of J. Edgar Hoover. I wasn’t aware – as the CTKA article lays out – that Johnson’s first choice to head an investigation of the assassination was Hoover’s FBI – perhaps this was intended as a favor to Hoover, in the latter’s perpetual turf war with the CIA. In the end, however, Dulles prevailed and I think everyone agrees that the Warren Commission should be properly named the Dulles Commission, as Allen Dulles did dominate its proceedings. Regardless, all parties involved were happy with the commission’s conclusion.

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