June 2010 will mark not a milestone, but an anniversary nonetheless, of the Watergate break-in that forever altered the landscape of American politics, if not the whole of the American psyche. Apple pie turned to "dirty tricks" 38 years ago, June 17, 1972.
Earl Robert Merritt Jr., aka Butch Merritt, says he knew about it beforehand. If it's true that Carl Shoffler of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department recruited Merritt to spy on D.C.'s gay community and others, as Merritt claims -- along with crates of corroborating, though highly redacted, documents, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act -- that's not hard to believe. After all, Shoffler, who died in 1996, is the detective who arrested the agents who broke into the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate.
Closeted at the time, Douglas Caddy has since come out as gay. Merritt says he was asked to assassinate Caddy during that infamous period in D.C. Today, Merritt, disabled and married to a woman in New York, and Caddy, retired and living in Houston, are working together. The fruit of their labor is Watergate Exposed: A Confidential Informant Tells How the Watergate Burglars Were Set-Up and Reveals Other Government Dirty Secrets "by Robert Merritt as told to Douglas Caddy, original attorney for the Watergate Seven."
As the pair market their manuscript, Merritt says he's certain there are federal agents working behind the scenes to block publication of the book, which puts blame for the Watergate break-in not at the feet of the Nixon administration, but with U.S. intelligence agencies acting independently.
"My phones are wiretapped," Merritt says, adding that allies have told him they've seen a Department of Justice memo regarding his manuscript. "I still have a lot of friends in the Police Department here [in New York City]. One of them put his job on the line to tell me. Doug sent me a video camera to start recording myself as insurance, proof that I am who I say I am and that this is a true story. It's going to be explosive when it comes out."
Caddy has also sent a letter to Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.), vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, seeking an investigation "into the heretofore undisclosed role of Intelligence Agencies and their Agents in the origins of Watergate."
Caddy says he has yet to receive a response to his March 20 letter. Regardless, he's confident the book will be published within six months. "We have enough interest from various parties," he says. "I think it's just a matter of time."
Minus an investigation, Caddy says he's still confident that Watergate Exposed could by itself help curtail what he calls an ongoing "threat to our constitutional liberties" by intelligence agencies.
As for Merritt, who told a portion of his story to Metro Weekly in 2008, he says he's not even certain he'll survive to see his book published.
"What can you do about death? I believe in predestination," says Merritt. "I'm just excited that finally the truth is going to come out. So many people have been injured by my life. This is sort of like my mea culpa to a lot of people, especially the gay community."
Read Merritt's 2008 Metro Weekly interview, "Inside Man."