The aspiring novelist who would ultimately be known for his central role in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion and the botched Watergate burglary died in Miami on Tuesday at the age of 88.
New York Times:
“I am crushed by the failure of my government to protect me and my family as in the past it has always done for its clandestine agents,” Mr. Hunt told the Senate committee investigating the Watergate affair in 1973, when he faced a provisional prison sentence of 35 years. “I cannot escape feeling that the country I have served for my entire life and which directed me to carry out the Watergate entry is punishing me for doing the very things it trained and directed me to do.”
He was a high-spirited 30-year-old novelist who aspired to wealth and power when he joined the C.I.A. in 1949. He set out to live the life he had imagined for himself, a glamorous career as a spy. But Mr. Hunt was never much of a spy. He did not conduct classic espionage operations in order to gather information. His field was political warfare: dirty tricks, sabotage and propaganda.
When he left the C.I.A. after a decidedly checkered career in 1970, he had become a world-weary cynic. Trading on the thin veneer of his reputation in the clandestine service, he won a job as a $100-a-day “security consultant” at the Nixon White House in 1971.
In that role, he conducted break-ins and burglaries in the name of national security. He drew no distinction between orchestrating a black-bag job at a foreign embassy in Mexico City and wiretapping the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex. He recognized no lawful limit on presidential power, convinced that “when the president does it,” as Nixon once said, “that means it is not illegal.” Mr. Hunt and the nation found out otherwise.