John Doar of Watergate

Today’s history lesson. The Watergate investigation was headed by Republican John Doar, an alumnus of Princeton and of Berkeley Law. Before serving as chief investigator in Watergate, Doar had served as an Army Air Force pilot in World War II and as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the sixties. His duties as Assistant AG included protecting James Meredith at the University of Mississippi.*

John Doar (left)

President Obama awarded Doar the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 (an award overshadowed by Bob Dylan’s).

Below is a key reminder about Doar’s character and performance. Quoted from the wonderful Jimmy Breslin’s How the Good Guys Finally Won:

The second occurrence, the dangerous one, first began to take form months before. It grew out of the nature of the political business. On one hand there was John Doar, unelected, with working methods that were as strict and severe as they were successful. Security is a rather simple word to Doar: it means you say nothing to anybody. As politicians are essentially elected washerwomen, information often their only visible means of support, this secrecy made some members [of the Judiciary Committee] nervous.

I was reminded of Doar in reading that James Quarles, reportedly on the Mueller team investigating matters under the Trump administration, was a member of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.

Does Robert Mueller remind anyone of Doar?

As a newspaper reader and one of the Washington Post’s last six print subscribers, I have to admit that I myself often enjoy reading about leaks. However, some enlightened skepticism about them is essential–and often a more interesting story. Take for example the phenomenon, throughout the George W. Bush years, of treating as leaks what were actually plants–items planted in media outlets, usually to harm some individual in government no longer in the charmed circle.

A remarkable number of leaks have come from the Mueller team investigating Russia and the 2016 election in the last couple of days. The sources are unnamed at this point, though of course I have my own guesses. One logical claim is unassailable and clear: either Mueller can control the leaks from what purports to be an investigation into serious matters, or he cannot. If he cannot, he is not in control of his team. If he can, he is basically generating the leaks.

Regardless of the benefit of leakers to individual journalists and to individual media outlets, it would be nice to see more informed scrutiny in the news media.

I would also like to see my hunches confirmed as to identity; if someone else won’t provide, I’ll have to do it myself. For analogy and another literary reference, see The Little Red Hen.

*Many people don’t seem to know that the U Mississippi nickname ‘Ole Miss’ is cant for the slave name for the mistress on an antebellum plantation. Funny to hear it used so fondly, since no one would apply ‘Ole Massa’ to anything, at least with affection.


Just after posting above, I saw Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s statement on anonymous allegations. From DOJ:

Statement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Anonymous Allegations

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today issued the following statement:

“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”



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