Nixon Aides Develop ‘Operation Sandwedge’

Jack Caulfield’s White House ID card. [Source:]

On 17th September, 1971, John Dean and Jeb Magruder asked Caulfield to establish a new private security firm. Caulfield was told that Tony Ulasewicz and his associates would be required to carry out “surveillance of Democratic primaries, convention, meetings, etc.,” and collecting “derogatory information, investigative capability, worldwide.” Caulfield was told that this was an “extreme clandestine” operation. Given the name Operation Sandwedge, its main purpose was to carry out illegal electronic surveillance on the political opponents of Richard Nixon. A staff aide to President Nixon, former New York City police detective Jack Caulfield, develops a broad plan for launching an intelligence operation against the Democrats for the 1972 re-election campaign, “Operation Sandwedge.” The original proposal, as Caulfield will later recall, is a 12-page document detailing what would be required to create an “accurate, intelligence-assessment capability” against not just the Democrats but “also to ensure that the then powerful anti-war movement did not destroy Nixon’s public campaign, as had been done to Hubert Humphrey in 1968” (see November 5, 1968). Sandwedge is created in anticipation of the Democrats mounting their own political espionage efforts, which Caulfield and other Nixon aides believe will use a private investigations firm, Intertel, headed by former Justice Department officials loyal to former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Caulfield will later recall, “Intertel represented, in my opinion, the potential for both formidable and sophisticated intelligence opposition tactics in that upcoming election campaign.” Charles Colson suggested to Caulfield that his men fire-bomb the Brookings Institute (a left-wing public policy group involved in studying government policy in Vietnam). Caulfield sent Ulasewicz to investigate the location of offices, security provisions, etc. According to Caulfield the fire-bomb plan was eventually “squelched” by John Dean. Operation Sandwedge is given to the “Special Investigation Unit” (see March 20, 1971 and September 29, 1972) headed by G. Gordon Liddy. Caulfield resigns from the White House shortly thereafter to head up the new Drug Enforcement Agency. He will later call the decision not to implement “Sandwedge” a “monumental” error that “rapidly created the catastrophic path leading directly to the Watergate complex—and the president’s eventual resignation.” Caulfield has little faith in Liddy, considering him an amateurish blowhard with no real experience in intelligence or security matters; when White House counsel John Dean asks him for his assessment of Liddy’s ability to run such an operation, he snaps, “John, you g_ddamn well better have him closely supervised” and walks out of Dean’s office. Caulfield later writes, “I, therefore, unequivocally contend that had there been ‘Sandwedge’ there would have been no Liddy, no Hunt, no McCord, no Cubans (see 2:30 a.m.June 17, 1972) and, critically, since I had personally decided to negate, while still on the White House staff, a developing intelligence interest by Dean in the Watergate’s Democratic National Committee offices, seven months prior to the break-in! NO WATERGATE!” [John J. ‘Jack’ Caulfield, 2006; Spartacus Schoolnet, 8/2007]