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G Gordon Liddy, Watergate mastermind, dead at 90

G Gordon Liddy, a mastermind of the Watergate burglary and a radio talk show host after emerging from prison, has died at age 90.

March 31, 2021 / 08:25 AM IST
G. Gordon Liddy (Image: AP) Liddy was head of a team of Republican operatives known as

G. Gordon Liddy (Image: AP) Liddy was head of a team of Republican operatives known as "the plumbers", whose mission was to find leakers of information embarrassing to the Nixon administration.

G Gordon Liddy, a mastermind of the Watergate burglary and a radio talk show host after emerging from prison, has died at age 90. His son, Thomas Liddy, confirmed the death on Tuesday but did not reveal the cause, other than to say it was not related to COVID-19.

Liddy, a former FBI agent and Army veteran, was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping for his role in the Watergate burglary, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. He spent four years and four months in prison, including more than 100 days in solitary confinement. "I'd do it again for my president," he said years later.

Liddy was outspoken and controversial as a political operative under Nixon. He recommended assassinating political enemies, bombing a left-leaning think tank and kidnapping war protesters. His White House colleagues ignored such suggestions. One of his ventures -- the break-in at Democratic headquarters at the Watergate building in June 1972 -- was approved. The burglary went awry, which led to an investigation, a cover-up and Nixon's resignation in 1974.
Liddy also was convicted of conspiracy in the September 1971 burglary of the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, the defence analyst who leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers. After his release from prison, Liddy became a popular, provocative and controversial radio talk show host. He also worked as a security consultant, writer and actor. His appearance -- piercing dark eyes, bushy moustache and shaved head -- made him a recognizable spokesman for products and TV guest.

On air, he offered tips on how to kill federal firearms agents, rode around with car tags saying "H20GATE" (Watergate) and scorned people who cooperated with prosecutors. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, George Gordon Battle Liddy was a frail boy who grew up in a neighbourhood populated mostly by German-Americans. From friends and a maid who was a German national, Liddy developed a curiosity about German leader Adolf Hitler and was inspired by listening to Hitler's radio speeches in the 1930s.