1972 January 27

Notorious GEMSTONE Meeting in Attorney General’s Office: Illegal Activities Planned


At a meeting in the office of Attorney General John Mitchell on this day, White House operative G. Gordon Liddy outlined plans for Operation GEMSTONE, a series of “security” measures, ostensibly to protect the president and national security, that included burglaries, kidnapping, and other illegal activities. Mitchell rejected this plan but told Liddy to come back with a less expensive one. Liddy made two subsequent presentations of the revised and much scaled-down versions of GEMSTONE in February and March 1972.

The basic ideas behind GEMSTONE lived on and became the basis of the famous Watergate burglary. On March 24, 1972, Liddy and E. Howard Hunt asked a retired CIA physician for an “LSD-type” drug that would provoke erratic behavior in someone given the drug. Ultimately, GEMSTONE provided the inspiration for the Watergate break-in on June 17, 1972.

As some commentators have observed, the truly incredible aspect of the meeting on this day was that illegal actions were discussed in the office of the Attorney General and that neither the Attorney General nor anyone else flatly objected to a discussion of breaking the law or Liddy’s activities. In short, this initial GEMSTONE presentation set in motion the events that led to the Watergate Scandal and President Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974.

Read Gordon Liddy’s Personal Account: Gordon Liddy, Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy (1980)

Gordon Liddy explains the Watergate burglary on YouTube:

But also read the whole Watergate story: Stanley Kutler, The Wars of Watergate (1990)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!