Hunt, E. Howard 1918-2007 (John Baxter, Gordon Davis, Robert Dietrich, P.S. Donoghue, Everette Howard Hunt, Jr., Howard Hunt, David St. John)

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Hunt, E. Howard 1918-2007 (John Baxter, Gordon Davis, Robert Dietrich, P.S. Donoghue, Everette Howard Hunt, Jr., Howard Hunt, David St. John)

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born October 9, 1918, in Hamburg, NY; died of pneumonia, January 23, 2007, in Miami, FL. Spy and author. Hunt was a disgraced CIA agent who had organized the infamous Watergate break-in and had also been involved in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba; however, he was also an accomplished novelist. A 1940 graduate of Brown University, he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve that year and was later a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. An intelligence officer in China, after the war Hunt was a Marshall Plan spokesman. Interestingly, his early success was in writing. A correspondent for Life magazine in 1943, he was the author of numerous thrillers and spy novels under his own and various pen names, beginning with 1942's East of Farewell. He also worked briefly as a screenwriter for Warner Bros. Hunt, however, envisioned for himself a thrilling life as an American spy. Toward that end, he joined the CIA in 1949. The spy organization was still recently formed at the time, and Hunt was given assignments that were beyond his expertise. He was told to train recruits in the areas of psychological and political warfare, for example, and in 1950 he was put in charge of the Mexico City station. Here, Hunt met lifelong friend—and later conservative writer—William F. Buckley, Jr., who would be godfather to his children. In 1954, Hunt orchestrated his first important operation: the overthrow of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. While Arbenz was indeed removed from power, the CIA's meddling resulted in forty years of military violence in the country. After his work in Central America, Hunt was an agent in Japan and Uruguay. His career remained unspectacular until 1961, when he was instructed to lead efforts to set up a provisional government in Cuba after the predicted overthrow of Fidel Castro with the Bay of Pigs invasion. The invasion was a total fiasco, and the small force of U.S. troops were easily routed by the Cuban army. After the Bay of Pigs, Hunt's career went nowhere. He worked in propaganda until leaving the CIA in 1970 and joining a Washington, DC, public relations firm. Then, a fellow Brown University alumnus, Charles W. Colson, contacted Hunt. Colson was special counsel to President Nixon and he sought out Hunt to lead various secret operations. One of Hunt's first assignments was to discredit Daniel J. Ellsberg. Ellsberg, a former national-security aide, had leaked the Pentagon Papers concerning the federal government's unsavory activities in Vietnam. Hunt tried to put pressure on Ellsberg by breaking into his psychiatrist's office to look for incriminating evidence. The break-in was discovered later, and the original charges against Ellsberg for leaking classified information were dropped. Oddly, despite a less-than-impressive record, it was Hunt who was put in charge of the break-in at Watergate, where Nixon wished to bug the phone lines of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters. The first bugging mission failed to put in the phone taps correctly, and on the second attempt the spies were discovered. When the scandal broke and charges were brought against him, Hunt was shocked and disillusioned by the lack of support he got from the White House. After Nixon resigned in 1974, Hunt was left to languish in prison. He had already lost his wife to a plane crash in 1972, and his misery was compounded by the million dollars in legal fees he owed for his defense. Released from jail in 1978, he moved to Miami and remarried. Except for his years in jail, Hunt had, remarkably, continued to produce a steady stream of novels—over sixty in all. Among his many titles are Bimini Run (1949), Give Us This Day (1973), The Kremlin Conspiracy (1985), Body Count (1992), and Dragon Teeth (1997). His last book was a memoir, American Spy: My Secret History in the C.I.A., Watergate and Beyond, written with Greg Aunapu and scheduled to be published posthumously.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2007, Section 2, p. 13.

New York Times, January 24, 2007, p. C13.

Times (London, England), January 25, 2007, p. 61.

Washington Post, January 24, 2007, pp. A1, A24.

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Hunt, E. Howard 1918-2007 (John Baxter, Gordon Davis, Robert Dietrich, P.S. Donoghue, Everette Howard Hunt, Jr., Howard Hunt, David St. John)

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