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Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA Hardcover – November 1, 1984


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (T); 1st edition (November 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394514289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394514284
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A must for anyone interested in the subject.
Gumble
It also happens to be wonderfully written -- a rare grace in the genre.
William Ney
It turns out to be Fletcher Prouty's "Secret Team"!!
P. Vuoso

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By William Ney on April 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
SECRET AGENDA was the first thorough argument, and perhaps remains the best, for the thesis that the Watergate break-in team was guided chiefly by the CIA.

All the men on the team -- aside from its supposed leader, goofy (pawn?) G. Gordon Liddy -- were CIA officers (E Howard Hunt and James McCord) or contract agents (Frank Sturgis, Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez and Eugenio Martinez, all Hunt's people going back to the Bay of Pigs).

Hunt and McCord each "retired" (early) from CIA, within months of each other, in 1970. Hunt was soon hired by Chuck Colson in the Nixon White House, where he was first tasked with forging State Department cables to indicate that JFK had ordered the assasination of President Diem of Vietnam in 1963. Hunt then hired McCord to help the Plumbers plant bugs.

But one of Hougan's accomplishments is to document the fact that McCord was not (as typically stated in the press even today) a lowly CIA electrician. He was high in the Office of Security -- the "internal affairs" unit of the CIA, rising to head of OS for Europe in 1961, during the height of the Cold War. As such he reported directly to the Director.

Hougan's book remains a must read on the subject. It argues well the case that Nixon was helped in a big way out of office by DCI Richard Helms employing officers Hunt and McCord.

(One might argue that Helms & co. did the country a favor. That would be another book.)

(OR: Read John Ehrlichman's novel THE COMPANY, a roman a clef that paints the Nixon-Helms relationship with care.)

As for SILENT COUP, which came out in 1991, seven years after SECRET AGENDA, and which several reviewers here are recommending rather than Hougan's book ...
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By P. Vuoso on June 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hougan's book is excellent. It demythologizes Watergate. Front and center is the CIA. For a great overview of what actually happened, and all of the behind the scenes machinations, this book can't be beat. I've read almost everything there is on Watergate--as well as Hearings Transcripts and White House Transcripts. This is the single best book on Watergate.

Unfortunately, as the title suggests, Hougan's thesis is that McCord, the master spy, "shut down" E. Howard Hunt's operation as it got too close to an on-going prostitution ring likely being used by the CIA. This was the "Secret Agenda" at play during Watergate.

Personally, I think Hougan was too close to the Spooks he had contact with, and they spun his story.

To those who want to know what Watergate was really about, I would ask you to focus on one single question: Was Daniel Ellsberg a CIA asset? If this is true, then the entire Watergate saga must be re-written. Interestingly, if you read the book "Wild Man", a biography of Ellsberg, the opening chapter gives us an entirely different version of what the burglars did when breaking into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office, one at odds with what Hunt tells us happened. And, what do we find in "Wild Man"? Well, it starts out with the funeral of a heralded CIA fighter, who Ellsberg just happened to know from Vietnam. (BTW, when in Vietnam, Ellsberg was 'dating' the daughter (journalist--a quaint and common CIA cover) of the #2 guy in the CIA.) We also find out that when Ellsberg is at trial, his co-defendant (well, not exactly a co-defendant because Ellsberg asked that their trials be separated, much to the consternation of Anthony Russo) came to court one day with a "red book".
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Earth that Was on January 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jim Hougan is an able investigative reporter with an interest in the "underworld" of Spooks and Spies. Hougan's book "Spooks", in many ways a companion volume to "Secret Agenda", was the product of a four year investigative project. Hougan does his home work.

"Secret Agenda" raises questions about Watergate and the numerous CIA connections in the case. In particular Hougan explores the implications of the Radford spy ring, an "unofficial" Pentagon spy operation directed at Kissinger's secret diplomacy, and a Washington DC based "Call Girl" ring over which the CIA's general security unit had some influence.

It is difficult to assess how Hougan's theory holds up today. During the famous Frost / Nixon interviews, Nixon himself alluded to some national security angles to the Watergate affair and recently Gordon Liddy has made statements in support of some of Hougan's ideas in connection with a recent court case. Still Hougan's pick for the identity of "Deep Throat" has not panned out. One person he explicitly passed over, the FBI's Mark Felt, turned out to be the one. Still as Hougan has commented from his web site, having Felt, the former chief of the FBI's Cointelpro operations as "Deep Throat" raises new questions.

Hougan's writing style is professional, clear and entertaining. Since retiring from investigative journalism, Hougan now applies his talents to spy and detective fiction.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Windes on July 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Forty years after the event, the Watergate affair has largely faded from national memory. Most people accept it for what it appeared to be at face value, a simple case of political corruption and "dirty tricks" gone wild. So far as the general public is concerned, the story ended with Richard Nixon's resignation. This is a shame, because there appears to be much more to the story. "Secret Agenda" was, perhaps, the first serious attempt to dig into the Watergate story beyond the politics. Unfortunately, few have attempted to pick up from where author Hougan left off, and it looks increasingly like no one will.

Secret Agenda is remarkable not so much for what it proves, but for the questions it asks. Chief among these is, just what were the Watergate burglars doing when they broke into DNC headquarters, and even more, how is it that the burglars behaved more like the Keystone Cops and less like a group of highly seasoned CIA "spooks?" It's very hard to believe that these men started out with the intention to be caught, an idea Hougan proposes and others have advanced. Various theories have been put forward about the purpose of the break-in, from the obvious, intelligence gathering, to the more outlandish, including theories regarding prostitution rings and possible links between such a ring and John Dean's wife. The one man who probably knew was Jim McCord, and as they say, "Dead men tell no tales." To his credit, Hougan does not claim to have all the answers.

For me, the most intriguing aspect of Hougan's work concerns a "Seven Days in May" scenario which suggests that the military and intelligence establishments badly wanted to remove Richard Nixon and especially, Henry Kissinger, from positions were they could further weaken the United States on the world stage.
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