However, the fact that the ubiquitous use of the term "911" is now used to generically describe the horror of the World Trade Center event, no longer makes that shield and number a light-hearted betting curiosity, but, in my view, a sacred badge honoring all of my fallen brothers.
"Different" also manifested itself in an all-consuming passion to become a NYPD detective. I achieved that goal via a lucky but newsworthy arrest within 27 months and was, because of a fair (later fluent) Spanish-language qualification, fortuitously assigned to the Department's then elite detective unit, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigations (BOSSI); which opened up a world I hardly realized existed.
BOSSI detectives (most being second-language fluent), engaged in two basic functions: (a) providing personal security protection (along with the Secret Service) to the President when he was in New York City; and, in concert with State Department security, protecting visiting of Heads of State (most of whom were in the City for an official United Nations visit); and (b) conducting investigations into the many radical groups operating within the City of New York. These groups ranged as wide in political orientation as the hard-right, American Nazi Party headed by the since-assassinated madman, George Lincoln Rockwell (I personally arrested him in 1965 on a Jewish War Veteran's warrant) to the hard-left (Castro apologist) Fair Play For Cuba Committee (FPCC) based in NYC, and all those in-between. By the way, the FPCC had a New Orleans chapter, which included among its membership none other than Lee Harvey Oswald.
At one time or another, in the turbulent 1960's and early 70's, BOSSI had over 60 potentially dangerous groups under investigation and/or penetrated via undercover operations. An inordinate number of planned violent acts were resultantly prevented, or quick arrests were made, after the fact (sometimes in concert with the FBI). These included a BOSSI intercepted U.S.-Canadian terrorist attempt (widely covered in the national media) to blow-up this Nation's most precious monuments in 1965 and BOSSI's ability to quickly quell the 1964 Harlem riot. The unit utilized a gutsy black undercover detective to cause the arrest of NYC-based revolutionaries, who were secretly inciting the riot from their Harlem headquarters (coincidentally located just one block from Rice High School, where I had graduated, seventeen years earlier). As an investigator, I was involved in both cases and numerous other successful BOSSI efforts.
Assigned to over a hundred Head of State/Presidential security escorts which included the protection of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates of both parties during their many campaign visits to the City in the period 1955-1968, I found I was adept at such work. The totality of those assignments provided me with an ever-developing intelligence/security expertise vis-à-vis Presidential political campaigns. Also, I thus had an unusual opportunity for close-up, personal insights/observations regarding many of the world famous (both political and royal) personalities visiting New York during that period; some of these experiences are historically unique.
For example, because I had emerged as the Department's "expert" on all things pro and anti-Castro in NYC, I was assigned to the BOSSI security detail for Fidel Castro during his famous 1959 and 1960 visits to the City and the UN. The most memorable of those was in September 1960 when Nikita Khruschev, then the head of the Soviet Union (also visiting the UN) decided, without notice, to visit Castro at his hotel. For PR political purposes, Castro had taken an ad-hoc presence in Harlem's resultantly famed Hotel Theresa. The total confusion and chaos of that event, documented somewhat on national television, will always be embedded in my memory. Indicative, was my "ringside-seat" observation of Khrushchev's personal bodyguard knocking unconscious and breaking the jaw of a uniformed Castro security aide. The aide, who could not speak Russian, thought the good-looking, Soviet chief was "a gringo agent" and was attempting to deny him access to the room where Castro and Khrushchev were then meeting. Khrushchev's soviet general could have made a lot of money as a heavyweight fighter!
On that same visit, Castro, was correctly alerted by his aides that I was gathering visual intelligence, at a restricted UN party, hosted by the Cuban Government. The FBI advised me they desperately needed to know whether a certain diplomat was among the guests. I was able, via a lot of prior UN-visiting experience, to get into that restricted party and confirm that he was there (wearing distinctive national dress, no less). Castro, not knowing specifically what I was up to, nevertheless personally challenged me verbally, in a jocular manner (in front of media cameras) just as he exited the UN premises and was about to enter his limousine. The huge press contingent, covering his departure, missed a helluva story because the "in-your-face" exchange was unexpected, quick, occurred in Spanish and was just out of earshot. One of these days I am going to dig up the video archive of that incident. I could then do a Spanish voice-over and send it to Fidel for comment!
My defining detective career moment was created by the famous Bazooka shelling of the United Nations building, which was an attempted assassination of the colorful but revolutionary killer, Ernesto "Che" Guevara (then Cuba's Minister of Industry). This event occurred during his speech to the UN General Assembly on December 12, 1964.
Present in the Assembly Hall at the time of the explosion (as part of Guevara's NYPD security entourage), I made an intelligence guess as to which anti-Castro group was responsible (based on a lot of anti-Castro group/s experience) within five minutes of the shell's detonation in the East River, just 100 yards shy of the UN building. Some ten tough days later, I personally arrested the three members of that group who (we interestingly learned from an unstable relative) had set the automatic bazooka device on the UN building's opposite shoreline in the wee hours of December 12th before its subsequent 12:10 PM detonation, which was the precise moment when Guevara was speaking. A photo of the terrorists being booked in the Queens 108th precinct accompanied by me appeared in almost every major newspaper in the world. It didn't get any better than that in my detective career.
The hard ball/no nonsense tactics that I, my NYPD detective partners and the FBI employed in identifying and then forcing those "crazies" to come in and surrender was, I suggest, an outstanding example of how terrorist acts of that day were successfully handled. Given the "911" event, we, as a people, need to be made aware of how such tactics were employed and how they will invariably work in today's terrorist climate; and, we must loudly demand to see similar results especially as they relate to the arrest of the killer co-conspirators, allied with organizations that not only planned the World Trade Center event, but, in my opinion, are currently involved in the planning of future, large scale terrorist schemes. These may well make "911" appear to be minimal by comparison. Given the context, we really have no choice but to uncompromisingly support all of this nation's law enforcement organizations unless, of course, civil-liberty concerns causes one to disregard the hard reality of worldwide, fanatical terrorist entities.
An interesting irony, in this overall regard, is that the UN building's terrorist act of 1964 occurred within a Manhattan "stones-throw" of the soon to be built twin tower buildings. Unfortunately, New York City will always be at the top of any international terrorist group's hit list.
My multi-faceted, twelve-year BOSSI experience convinced me in late 1967 that Richard Nixon was going to run and likely win the Presidential election in 1968. I subsequently approached the Nixon people from the 1960 Presidential campaign (with whom I had worked as a BOSSI detective) and made it known I was available for candidate/staff security purposes during the 1968 campaign. I was interviewed and then brought on board by Bob Haldeman and Rosemary Woods as Chief of Security for the Nixon Campaign Staff.
That experience can only be described as one of the wildest, intelligence/security rides ever across America in that it occurred within the anti-war, political-madness year of 1968. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, along with burning cities and the anti-war riots at the Chicago Democratic convention and beyond, were major contributing factors to what had become a nation in dangerous schism. Somehow, I got the Nixon campaign staff through associated anti-war campaign-turmoil occurring in a number of the 77 cities visited by candidate Nixon without a security calamity.
But that successful effort was fraught with numerous misses, including a most memorable attempt at political sabotage by members of a democratic electrical union in NYC. They pulled the power plug, just as Nixon began his most important, nationwide-TV campaign speech broadcast live from Madison Square Garden just days before the election. Fortunately, we had installed a redundant system, which was instantly activated. John Ehrlichman pulled me off the campaign trail to go into New York and supervise the security for that critical event I had clearly lucked-out.
Simultaneously, I was engaged in multi-subject White House liaison activities (involving cross-border narcotics trafficking and monitoring violent anti-war demonstrations and events) with most of the leading federal law enforcement agencies, the White House representative at overseas Interpol conferences and the White House contact for the Agency for International Development's worldwide police support programs (essentially a CIA operation). Additionally, I was White House liaison with the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Indicative of the White House "bunker" atmosphere of that time were the over 300 82nd Airborne Division soldiers I observed in the basement cafeteria of the Old Executive Office Building (adjacent to the White House) on a Saturday morning in 1970. With bayonets fixed, they were a discreet reserve contingent ready to go if any of the 250,000, anti-war demonstrators outside broke thru an ad-hoc barrier of some 300 plus commercial buses strategically placed bumper-to-bumper around the sixteen-acre White House complex. The idea was to prevent the "crazies" from jumping the White House fence. Intelligence sources indicated that that was the plan of a small "way out " anti-war contingent. The strategy worked, although some of the more violent ones managed to nearly overturn one of the buses before being beaten off by Washington, D.C. police. In my mind, that event crystallized the White House's vulnerability to violently prone people.
Working at the White House is unlike any other governmental experience. Upon arriving at the White House for his National Security Advisor duties in 1969, Henry Kissinger remarked to John Ehrlichman, "Vere do we go from here, John?" He was right. I had a large office in that historic Old Executive Office Building, a secretary and White House mess privileges. In addition, a military chauffeur was at my disposal; super efficient White House telephone operators optionally placed calls that were always returned and then there was the one-of-a kind Presidential trips on Air Force One. These trips were humorously highlighted by the traveling staff's betting pool that attempted to guess the exact time of arrival (anywhere), which was invariably within 30 seconds or less of the ETA.
A historically interesting event was the chance (there I go again!) White House-mess luncheon I had with then 35 year old, Elvis Presley on December 21, 1970. This was just minutes after his famous visit with the President in the Oval Office. He sure was a country boy right down to his "grits" side order. White House staffer Egil Krogh (also at the luncheon table) actually wrote an entire book on his visit! I didn't even have the presence of mind to get his autograph on the White House menu (the eventual value of which could have sent a grandchild to college).
Not in anyone's wildest speculation could it have been envisioned that I would, 20 years after joining the NYPD, become a public figure. That distinction resulted from the Watergate drama in which my investigative duties and other activities as White House Staff Assistant would, like dozens of my colleagues, come under intense review and be laid out eventually in the public record. One of my post-White House activities fell into a controversial category, in that I was, in January '73 unwittingly led by John Dean, then White House counsel, into the final moments of a disastrously imploding Watergate cover-up. I later learned that John Dean, then White House counsel, had silently masterminded the cover-up for six months. During part of my White House tenure, I had reported to Dean but had left the White House five months before the break-in and ensuing cover-up. Resultantly, I knew zero about Dean's cover-up activities although it didn't take a rocket scientist to guess that something major was going on
Only because my loyalty was to the President (no matter what the consequences), was Dean able to get my reluctant participation in arranging to obliquely transmit, via telephone, a fuzzily inferred Presidential commutation message to one of the Watergate burglars, James McCord. I initially believed that I was acting in the President's interests. As it turned out the entire matter accomplished absolutely nothing, but "trouble in River City." What I later shockingly learned was that not only was the message inane, but deceitful in that (as White House tapes prove) Nixon was in no way involved in, or had prior knowledge of that cunning transmittal.
In fact, the commutation message was arbitrarily composed out of thin air, in what was the most foolish of Dean's attempts to save himself during the last moments of his Machiavellian cover-up activities. John Ehrlichman had it about right when he publicly characterized Dean's action as "a monumental error." For his part, Dean masterfully avoided the entire matter in his book, Blind Ambition oh, well.
Actually, Dean somewhat succeeded in saving himself when some three months later, he decided to head to the prosecutors "giving up" everyone around him, including the President of the United States, while offering them every purported foible (and document) that was connected directly or indirectly to "generic Watergate." All of this was in order to get his subsequent "deal", which turned out to be a good one for him. The D.C. legal profession was resultantly exposed to newfound clients the likes and numbers of which has never been seen before or since.
In the transcript of the famed, 3/21/73, "Cancer on the Presidency" White House tape, Dean deceived the President when he reported that McCord initiated the so called commutation subject: "Uh, McCord did ask to meet with somebody and it was Jack Caulfield" (uh, uh, John!.... YOU initiated that specific commutation subject with McCord via a telephone call to me which I took in the presence of a close friend at the San Clemente White House on January 6, 1973; see if your vaunted memory can bring that up). .Dean continued: "and he wanted to know, well, you know, (coughs) he wanted to talk about commutation and things like that."
So, that was the type of sophisticated evasion of the facts in which Dean was engaged at that late moment; further, what is now retrospectively clear is that both Dean and McCord were, in fact, the historical catalysts that initiated a rapidly descending "funnel-cloud" (aka Watergate) and sent it heading directly for the White House.
Many of my White House colleagues subsequently went to jail for generically-related, "Watergate" political activities (profoundly regrettable to me because most all of them are/were basically good and outstandingly able men, caught in a senseless political maelstrom, that none could have even remotely imagined). I did not for two reasons, as I now see it: first, I tend to agree with Dean's candid assessment of me to Richard Nixon: "he is an incredibly cautious person" who, I suggest, perceptively saw and fortuitously avoided many of the snares in the ever hazardous trail that was the Nixon White House. My extensive BOSSI experience had served me well in that environment; Second, Irish luck which is the only way to describe what I later learned, was a strong positive comment made about me by Judge John Sirica to the Watergate prosecutors immediately following my Watergate Committee testimony on live television. Included, was my reading of a 27-page statement in which I referred to the numerous NYPD commendations I had received for anti-terrorist work.
John Sirica, I subsequently learned, loved NY cops and, apparently, any and all of Sirica's comments were of intense interest to the politically adept Watergate prosecutors . . . (after all, there was a group of very "heavy hitters" to be tried!) . . . Resultantly (I believe), his positive comment diminished any potential prosecutorial interest in me, a "small fry," if you will. Of course, we may never know if my observation is accurate which is a nice way of saying I know more than I am writing here.
To back up a bit, a few months prior to Watergate, I left the White House after seeking and getting, via the President's support, the dream U. S. Department of Treasury position, Assistant Director: Criminal Enforcement Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. It was the start of a second, promising career and I enjoyed a terrific first year there with big plans underway to remake the moribund "revenuer" agency, containing over 1,500 Federal agents, into a first-class Federal law enforcement entity with a sharp focus on the firearms/explosives end of what was then a dawning (and disturbing) political terrorist trend. Additionally, I felt certain, based on my one-of-a-kind White House experience/connections, that I could provide the agency with the same Washington "clout" as enjoyed by the U.S. Secret Service.
But it was over in a New York minute when McCord decided in March '73 (nine months after his arrest), to save himself from major (Sirica threatened) jail time by publicly turning on campaign committee associates and others. In that process, he caused the Watergate case under Sirica and other judges to cascade into a plethora of prosecutions, ruined reputations, and lost jobs - which included my prized ATF position, a casualty of the above alluded-to Dean/McCord message. An additional casualty was my health, which included the onset of latent alcoholism, a heart attack, etc., as the madness that was Watergate drove the nation's media into excesses of every type. Everyone (including friends and relatives) even remotely connected to Watergate in 1973 was fair game personal rights, reputations, family privacy, etc, meant absolutely nothing.
McCord was a self-described and promoted "physical security expert" bearing former CIA credentials. I had personally interviewed and hired him in January '72 (before I left the White House) for strict, solely defensive security work at the Republican National Committee and the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). He had been highly recommended to me for that job by a Secret Service supervisor, who had been a career associate of his. Actually, at that time I thought he was a good find.
Prior to Watergate, we were on good but reserved terms. Notwithstanding my total shock at his arrest, I had even obliquely expressed personal concerns to him for his plight. However, putting it all together much later, it became clear to me that the "expert" was at best a political amateur, with questionable judgment and likely over-sold electronic skills, etc. Right along with him was his fellow, (also former-CIA) co-conspirator, E. Howard Hunt, who wound up essentially cowering (Dean said blackmailing) the White House via its cover-up players, for very big bucks. Hunt's political intelligence track record, by the way, was pretty consistent as an active CIA employee he was a key participant in the Bay of Pigs disaster operating under the name, "Eduardo".
I have already decided that my now work-in-progress book (tentatively entitled "Caulfield"...Shield #911-NYPD . . .The Other Side Of The Stories), will end with quotes about me from John Dean to Richard Nixon, contained in the introductory part of that same White House tape, in which the President was getting Dean's version of Watergate's genesis.
Speaking To Nixon about the Senior Staff not going with my submitted "Sandwedge" intelligence plan, DEAN, INADVERTENTLY, SAID IT ALL FOR ME!: ". . . uh, in retrospect that might have been a bad call 'cause he (Caulfield) is an incredibly cautious person and and, wouldn't have put the situation to where it is today!!!"
Via the colossal understatement ("might have been a bad call"), Dean was, in substance, telling the President that the Senior Staff's dismissive turn-down of my hard-nosed, but realistic, '71 campaign intelligence plan ("Operation Sandwedge"), was an error. I go a lot further and say that that "error" was, in fact, the most monumental of the Nixon Presidency in that it rapidly created the catastrophic path leading directly to the Watergate complex and the President's eventual resignation.
In that same genesis description, Dean tells Nixon that Haldeman had directed him to put together, in the Fall of '71, an intelligence plan for the upcoming '72 campaign and that since he had no experience in such matters, he tasked me, then a member of his staff, with the preparation of a final draft document. "Operation Sandwedge" was a twelve page analysis/proposal of what would be required for structuring an accurate, intelligence-assessment capability, of not only the Democratic party's opposition's tactics 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. It also anticipated facing a Democratic campaign effort that would utilize the astute services of a leading private investigative entity called Intertel, then headed by former officials of Bobby Kennedy's Justice Department. Intertel represented, in my opinion, the potential for both formidable and sophisticated intelligence opposition tactics in that upcoming election campaign.
I had also credibly learned (from a loose-tongued participant) some of the details of a very discreet, politically adept, "take no prisoners" Democratic intelligence entity that had been ad-hoc formed, based in NYC and employed against Nixon during the 1968 campaign. "Sandwedge" proposed to respond in kind during the 1972 campaign by creating a Republican Intertel, if you will. To say the least, the Presidential stakes in that game were exceptionally high. Prior experience and observations indicated to me that close U.S. elections were often won or lost solely on the quality of a candidate's intelligence capability.
I was later informed that because "Mitchell wanted a lawyer" for the campaign intelligence job, my plan and participation was arbitrarily scrapped and G. Gordon Liddy was resultantly hired by three members of the White House and Nixon Presidential Campaign staffs (Dean, Krogh and McGruder). He (Liddy) was told by Dean to not only come up with an alternate plan but he was also given my complete "Sandwedge" plan, with the comment by Dean that it was deemed "inadequate." Not one of them (including Liddy) had ever been previously involved in a Presidential campaign at a staff level from a security/intelligence perspective or otherwise.
In breaking that news to me, Dean asked for my assessment regarding Liddy's upcoming role. I gave him a suppressed, Irish temper response which, I suspect, he has pondered many times since "John, you goddamn well better have him closely supervised" and I walked out of his office.
I was unaware that that moment was the opening curtain of the Shakespearean tragedy, called Watergate; however, I was aware that the famous Henry Ford observation, "EXPERIENCE IS THE THING OF SUPREME VALUE IN LIFE" meant absolutely nothing, in this case, to the President's Senior Staff decision makers.
I knew Gordon Liddy and had enjoyed his company at a few social functions in and around Washington; and, in "bar talk" conversations, had listened to his humorous descriptions of "Black Bag jobs" (breaking and entering for intelligence purposes), etc., occurring when he was an FBI agent. No question he was also highly intelligent. In my view, he would have made a great NYPD detective squad commander especially in the "Fort Apache" precinct in the South Bronx but, God help us!, not the commander of a singularly inept, quasi, "over the hill" CIA/Cuban "soldier of fortune" group, which was to be not only silently sanctioned by the White House but embarrassingly paid for by the Committee to Re-Elect the President!
Its difficult, even today, not to shake my head at the asinine nature of that entire development for not one responsible White House or Presidential campaign official EVER questioned or checked the credentials of the so called Hunt "Latin team" regarding their backgrounds, motivations, intelligence bona fides and Cuban revolutionary track record before they began acting illegally (and assertively) on behalf of the President of the United States. I spent an entire detective career in that very unique, investigative area and would have known better than anyone in the forthcoming Nixon campaign, the would-be political hazards/improprieties of such an ill advised recruitment of intelligence personnel (who were to be mindlessly directed at the most questionable of all Presidential political targets the offices of the Democratic National Committee). Therein, in a nutshell, lies the great strategic error of the Watergate catastrophe.
Thus in April 1972, a partial $250.000 sign-off on Liddy's near-insane, alternate "Gemstone" plan, which unbelievably envisioned strategies for kidnapping anti-war political dissidents, sexual blackmail, wiretapping, bugging, etc. (it was presented in its entirety in the Office of the Attorney General of the United States) and was approved in a "blind-leading-the-blind" manner. The plan's subsequent oversight was then delegated without discussion/evaluation to 25 & 30 year olds, who, while otherwise able members of the White House and campaign staffs, were totally lacking in the necessary experience and knowledge of an intelligence gathering process for a Presidential campaign. Resultantly, even today (30 years later) historians, writers, living staff, direct participants, etc., can't/won't agree regarding who actually financed, approved, directed and monitored the various wiretapping/bugging decisions at the Watergate complex; and, more importantly, why.
What we do accurately know is that within just 48 days of the approval of "Gemstone," Liddy and Hunt's ragtag team were arrested, June 17, 1972 in the DNC offices of the Watergate complex thus, the end of the Nixon Presidency had begun.
I, therefore, unequivocally contend that had there been "Sandwedge" there would have been no Liddy, no Hunt, no McCord, no Cubans 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! Indeed, when John Mitchell called (just prior to his death) and candidly asked me why I had personally finessed and subsequently negated Dean's fledgling DNC interest at that time, I responded, "It was too dangerous, John." His long silent, non-response was quite profound. Dean, then, perhaps was right about my being an "incredibly cautious person."
Folks, that is the end of this story and, as they say in the Bronx, "I'M STICKING TO IT!"
To those who wish to make conjecture about me personally and/or my briefly described life experiences, I suggest they read my forthcoming book for a more detailed perspective and then make a judgment you may well disagree with what I will have to say, but I can assure y'all it won't be dull or uninteresting! If you wish to be alerted to the publication date of the book, merely send an email to my name in Spanish: firstname.lastname@example.org and just say, Yes!