Conservative radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy traveled across town from his Maryland home to spend the afternoon signing his new book in the GW Bookstore Tuesday afternoon. Liddy, best known for his involvement in the Watergate burglary, hosts a political talk show on 200 radio stations nationwide.
Liddy’s book, “When I was a Kid, this was a Free Country,” hit shelves in October. As mostly-adult fans requested pictures and signatures for holiday gifts, he described the book as “what it was like to be a young person when I was a kid in the 30s and 40s.”
“You would be astounded at the freedoms we had,” said the 71-year-old Liddy, a former FBI agent and author of three bestsellers. He mentioned fewer restrictions on carrying guns, purchasing fireworks and land management as examples.
“Each one of those liberties was carved away one by one in the name of some greater good,” Liddy said, speaking in a slightly softer tone than his pointed radio commentary. “Young people are going to have to stop it.”
Liddy also discussed his implication in the infamous Democratic National Committee headquarters break-in, for which he served about four and a half years in prison, saying “the conventional understanding of Watergate was 180 degrees of what happened.”
“Woodward and Bernstein didn’t have a clue,” he said.
Liddy said he helped orchestrate the burglary, as a staff assistant to former President Richard Nixon, believing it was an operation to uncover information that could be used in the upcoming 1972 general election.
Liddy said under the instruction of then-White House Counsel John Dean, he told the break-in team to plant a bug in then-DNC Chairman Larry O’Brien’s desk.
This was impossible, he explained, because there was not direct line of sight to the team’s stakeout in the Howard Johnson across the street from the Watergate, now GW’s Hall on Virginia Avenue, to allow the FM-wave device to work.
Investigators later found a wiretap on the phone of secretary Maxine Wells, whose desk the lookout faced.
Liddy said he later learned the mission was to search for evidence of a DNC-run call-girl ring in Columbia Plaza. Wells sued Liddy for supporting this theory, and implicating her in the alleged call-girl ring, in February 2001, but the case was thrown out. Liddy appealed and won the case in March 2001.
Liddy said he has since revisited HOVA 723, which was reserved as a Watergate memorabilia room until the University began using it for housing in fall 2001. He said the view looked the same as it did from a telescopic camera lens 30 years earlier, and he has no regrets about his involvement in the scandal that eventually forced Nixon to resign.
“Why would I regret it?” he asked.