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Chief Operative Behind Watergate Scandal, G. Gordon Liddy, Dies At 90

NOEL KING, HOST:

The man who claimed responsibility for the break-in at the Watergate Hotel has died. G. Gordon Liddy was indicted on charges of burglary, wiretapping and conspiracy after running the Watergate operation in 1972. That story transfixed this country.

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SUSAN STAMBERG: This is certainly a day of intriguing cloak-and-dagger words in the news. First, hijackers and now spying are what the chairman of the Democratic National Committee has called political espionage.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Liddy was a former FBI agent and an Army veteran. He led a small group of operatives known as the White House Plumbers, whose mission was to find leakers of information that made the Nixon administration look bad. Liddy devised plots against Nixon's political opponents. Those included kidnappings, hiring sex workers and an assassination. But those far-fetched ideas were never carried out.

KING: His Watergate plot, though, was approved. He masterminded the break-ins at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex. Liddy was Nixon's general counsel on his reelection committee at the time. He refused to testify before Congress and refused to testify at his own trial about his Watergate crimes.

MARTIN: The scandal led to President Richard Nixon's resignation, the first president in American history to resign from office.

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RICHARD NIXON: I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body.

MARTIN: Liddy served 52 months in prison before President Jimmy Carter commuted his sentence in 1977. After Liddy was released, he told reporters he had no regrets and would do it again.

KING: He was disbarred from practicing law, and so he had to find a new career. He tried writing books. He took on some film and TV roles, acting as the villain in popular shows. He even made a cameo in "Miami Vice."

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BOB BALABAN: (As Ira Stone) You know what you are, man? You're a pig. A USDA-certified P-I-G.

G GORDON LIDDY: (As William Maynard) The world is a very complicated place, son.

MARTIN: He later hosted a syndicated talk radio show, "The G. Gordon Liddy Show," for 20 years. It ran until he retired in 2012.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "THE G. GORDON LIDDY SHOW")

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: G. Gordon, known to some as the G Man. And this Radio Free D.C. - "The G. Gordon Liddy Show."

MARTIN: Liddy was born in Hoboken, N.J.

KING: He died on Tuesday at his daughter's home in Virginia. He was 90 years old, and he is survived by five children.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEIL COWLEY'S "CIRCULATION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.