In 1971 Egil Krogh, gave a White House assignment to David R. Young, a member of the National Security Council Staff. His official job concerned the classification and declassification of documents. However, his real task was to discover the people “leaking” classified documents and secret information. G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, were appointed as Young’s assistants.
The White House then asked the CIA for help with this investigation. James Angleton suggested that the man they should approach was John Paisley. Joseph Trento suggests that Angleton was growing increasingly suspicious of Henry Kissinger and that Angleton “wanted Paisley in Young’s proximity was that Paisley may well have been working for Angleton all along.” Trento adds that Kissinger was very interested in “how hundreds of pounds of enriched uranium were transferred illegally to Israel to seed their nuclear weapons program.” Angleton had been the man responsible for this and feared that if this story was discovered, he would be sacked from the CIA.
Paisley became CIA liaison to the White House Special Investigations Unit. He also agreed to help the White House to search for the source of these leaks. His first task was to investigate the activities of Daniel Ellsberg. By August 1971, the project to discredit the leakers of the Pentagon Papers became known as Operation Odessa. It is not known what role Paisley played in Watergate. He kept details of these activities from friends and family, including colleagues in the CIA.
In 1971 while he was Director of the CIA’s Office of Security John Paisley became the CIA liaison to the White House Special Investigations Unit, commonly known as the “Plumbers“. Paisley’s continued interaction with the Plumbers is supported by White House memoranda. Despite these facts the Senate Watergate Committee did not follow up on the CIA connection further.
Paisley’s link with the Kennedy assassination did not come about until the time of his death. On September 24, 1978, Paisley took his 31-foot sloop Brillig for a sail on Chesapeake Bay. He had radioed in requesting that lights at the dock be left on so he could return later in the evening. His boat never arrived. The next day the boat, containing Paisley’s personal effects including an attaché case filled with classified documents, was recovered by the Coast Guard. They notified the OS who took possession of the documents. Paisley had retired from the CIA in 1974, the fact he had such documents later led the New York Times to do its own investigation and conclude the retirement was a sham and the CIA was misrepresenting Paisley as a low-level analyst when in fact he was involved in numerous high-level clandestine operations.
Several days later Paisley’s body was found floating in the bay. The body had a single gunshot wound to the left side of the head and had been strapped and weighed down with diving weights. Eventually the death would be deemed a suicide.
At the time of his death the House Select Committee on Assassinations was hearing testimony on the defection of Yuri Nosenko. Nosenko claimed he had personally evaluated Lee Harvey Oswald for service in the KGB.
May 1, 1971