Watergate’s Scorpions: The CIA and White House
New revelations emerge in Jefferson Morley's tale of how the CIA's Richard Helms and Richard Nixon circled each other as mortal enemies—and allies.
Jefferson Morley’s latest book on the intelligence underworld opens with former CIA Director Richard Helms telling Congress under oath that he and his spy Agency had nothing to do with Watergate. But in Scorpions’ Dance: The President, the Spymaster, and Watergate, Morley adds rich context to Helms’s half-truth, offering new and fascinating details to what he calls a decades-long “clandestine collaborative” relationship between the two that had its origins in some of the ugliest chapters of Washington’s obsession with Fidel Castro. Coming on the 50th anniversary of the clumsy break-in that eventually toppled Richard Nixon, his welcome book is deeply informed by nine recently released recordings of conversations between the president and Helms that took place between February 1971 and June 1972. By then, the two had long learned to distrust each other, even as they found the other useful.
Morley traces Nixon’s initial disdain toward the CIA as an organization to a presidential debate…