As the Senate Watergate Hearings dragged on throughout the entire Summer of 1973, the testimony was illuminating, frustrating and and mystifying, as witness after witness was sworn in to give detailed accounts of the Watergate break in, the coverup and the aftermath.
And each day a recap of the days activities was broadcast on radio and TV, in addition to most networks running the hearings gavel-to-gavel.
On this day it was the former Director of the CIA and now Ambassador to Iran, Richard Helms and one of his former deputies at the CIA Gen. Robert Cushman. The subjects being covered on this day was whether or not the CIA improperly assisted the White House Plumbers back in 1971, and whether the Administration improperly attempted to enlist the CIA in a Watergate coverup in 1972.
For many reporters, it was an opportunity to take a look inside the Central Intelligence Agency and get a rare view of the super-secret agency, about which there was very little known, until this day. And Richard Helms was more than equipped to divulge that information, being a member of the CIA for the better part of 27 years, and the previous 7 years of being its Director.
Former Director Helms spared no words in saying the Watergate break-in was a rank amateur affair and the CIA had nothing to do with it. However, certain evidence popped up implicating the CIA, at least certain figures within the CIA were asked to go to L. Patrick Grey (CIA Director) and tell him to curtail what might proved to be “an embarassing or even more serious investigation into that Watergate issues. Both John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman had testified that no such directives were given.
And so went the day in Watergate hearings; August 2, 1973 as reported by CBS News and Neil Strawser with Leslie Stahl.
A nail-biting Summer, to be sure.