The final report of the Watergate Commission, Vol. 1, was released in 1974. the report runs 761 pages in it's pocketbook edition. The final 29 pages, although not a part of the official report, consist of a Minority Report authored by Senator Howard Baker and his staff relating to alleged CIA involvement in Watergate. On the final page of the Minority Report, and the last page of the entire Watergate Report, is a sole paragraph which reads:
Michael Mastrovito of the Secret Service should be interviewed concerning his Agency communications on June 17, 1972. Agency documents indicate that Mastrovito agreed to downplay McCord's Agency employment; that Mastrovito was being pressured for information by a Democratic state chairman; and that Mastrovito was advised by the CIA that the Agency was concerned with McCord's emotional stability prior to his retirement.
This paragraph has been mentioned in at least two books and has been referenced on the internet, and in the past I received inquiries from investigative reporters. Obviously, the paragraph infers that I and the Secret Service may have had further information relating to Watergate, or worse, may have been involved in it. I was never called to testify and I was not even given the courtesy of a phone call from either Michael Madigan or Howard Liebengood, staff lawyers for Senator Baker who authored this report, to advise me that my name was being included in their final paper.
When the Watergate incident occurred, early in the morning of June 17, 1972, I was in charge of the Protective Intelligence unit of the Secret Service in Miami Beach, Florida in support of the protection of dignitaries for the Democratic National Convention which was held in Miami Beach later that summer. I had been there since late May in liaison with all police agencies, the FBI and the CIA. The CIA chief and I met frequently. This was not a new assignment for me as I had served in the same capacity for the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach in 1968.
The paragraph in question results from a phone conversation I had with the CIA chief held later in the morning of June 17, 1972. I had been advised by my Headquarters in Washington of the general details of the incident and that James McCord was one of those arrested. I knew little of McCord, had never met him, and did not know where he had been working. The chief and I agreed that it was a stupid operation and we discussed McCord's involvement. The chief did not tell me at this time that others arrested also had CIA connections. Following our conversation the chief sent a classified cable to his Headquarters reporting our conversation. I have never seen the cable, thus, I have no knowledge of what other comments he made regarding me. Obviously, the Minority Staff took out of this cable only what they felt was pertinent for their interest and wrote the paragraph about me.
The final section of the Minority Report is entitled, Action Required, and a sub-section is entitled, Miscellaneous. In their haste to conclude their Minority view, the authors threw in my name in this sub-section to juice up their position that further investigation needed to be conducted. Obviously, nobody else agreed with their politically inspired Minority Report, because no further investigation was ever made. To be the only name mentioned four times in one paragraph on the last page of this long report has been quite upsetting for me. If I had been called to testify, under oath or not, I would have responded to the three insinuations in this paragraph as follows:
In response to: "Mastrovito agreed to downplay McCord's Agency employment":
My answer: I made no such agreement. I told the CIA chief that the Secret Service convention advance group would make no comments regarding Watergate from Miami Beach, and that any statements would be made by our Public Affairs office in Washington. I also told the chief that it was well known that McCord had worked for the Agency (indeed, at his arraignment later in the day of June 17, 1972, McCord's previous Agency employment was publicized). There would have been little reason for me to make a futile attempt to downplay McCord's Agency employment. It appears to me that the chief was trying to impress his headquarters that he was attempting to keep the lid on McCord's previous employment.
In response to: "Mastrovito was being pressured for information by a Democratic State Chairman":
My answer: I personally was not pressured by any Democratic official. I told the CIA chief that the Democratic Party was naturally upset that some of the Watergate perpetrators had come from Miami. I told him that Dick Murphy, the Chairman of the Democratic National Convention had been in touch with our Miami Beach office (not me ), and that he wanted assurances that the Secret Service would keep him updated.
In response to: "Mastrovito was advised by the CIA that the Agency was concerned with McCord's emotional stability prior to his retirement":
My answer: The CIA chief did make that comment to me. My reaction was to laugh, knowing that this was his attempt to cover the Agency's backside. I also recall making a flippant comment to him on the order of "McCord must have been nuts to get involved in this mess."
As I stated above, I never saw the cable which the chief sent to his Headquarters following our phone conversation, therefore, I do not know what other comments he made in this message. Obviously, he was under a lot of pressure, thus, his comments regarding our conversation were crafted to his advantage. I do find it shoddy tradecraft that he used my true name in a classified cable.
Senator Baker made the following statement which is printed on the back cover of the pocketbook edition of the Watergate Report:
"We aspire...to write a report that will stand as an important document in the political history of the Nation."
Unfortunately, his Minority Report degrades the overall Report and will confuse historians in the future, plus, of course, give food for thought for the conspiracy theorists. To quote Robert Novak in his column 0f March 27, 1975,"Senator Baker insinuated much, but proved nothing. And by hinting at revelations that he could not produce, Baker seriously damaged his own credibility."
I might not entirely agree with Novak's assessment that Baker damaged his credibility. Senators always seem to have a way of slithering out of problem areas. But if he did not damage his reputation, he sure cast suspicion on mine. I have no other information relating to Watergate. I had none when it occurred, and I have none now. But unfortunately for me, my name will always be associated with this sordid affair due to the Star Chamber mentality of Senator Howard Baker and his staff. Shame on them.