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John Dean to speak Saturday at Martinsburg event

November 30, 1999|By CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. ? The man who became one of the most recognizable faces in America during the Watergate scandal is no stranger to Martinsburg. And he said that it is with pleasure that he will return to the West Virginia town in a little less than a week.

John Dean, who was the counsel to President Nixon and involved in the Watergate scandal and later testified for the prosecution ? implicating Nixon ? will speak on Saturday in Martinsburg as part of the West Virginia Book Faire.

Dean is the author of seven books. His most recent book, "Conservatives Without Conscience," was released in July.

Dean's roots in Martinsburg include his grandfather and father, both of whom are from the town. Both of his parents are buried there, "resting in peace," Dean said during a telephone interview from his California home.

Although he never lived in Martinsburg, an extended visit once caused Dean to enroll in an elementary school for a couple of months. Dean said he was around a third-grader's age, but he could not remember the name of the school.

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"(I) love it," Dean said of the area. "It's beautiful countryside. Nice people. Although Martinsburg is certainly growing."

Lessons learned from Watergate

Dean, 68, said he rarely talks about Watergate, noting that during a recent 90-minute radio interview with Washington Post writer and "All the President's Men" co-author Bob Woodward, the topic of Watergate only was discussed for about 10 minutes.

Watergate was "a very maturing experience," Dean said, given that he was only in his early 30s at the time.

Dean said he did not debate coming forward and agreeing to testify for the prosecution about Watergate.

"There's no question that the truth is the only way to solve a problem," Dean said when asked what lesson he took away from Watergate, but then added, "I think the lasting lesson of Watergate was, don't get caught."

Dean said he always told himself that after turning 60, he would get back into writing.

Dean has written several books related to Watergate, including "Blind Ambition," first published in 1976; "Lost Honor" and "Unmasking Deep Throat" ? which was published before it was announced that former FBI official Mark Felt was the anonymous source of Washington Post reporters Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

For six years, Dean has been writing an online column for FindLaw, a Web site with legal-related news and commentary.

Along with "Conservatives Without Conscience," Dean's other recent book is "Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush." He said he is under contract to write three more books.

"I can't believe I'm having to write the books I'm writing about the Bush administration. I thought we learned those lessons," Dean said, adding that it were as if someone dug up "a playbook" from the White House basement.

Abuse of the presidential powers and the office are the facets of that imaginary playbook that should not be revisited, Dean said.

At Saturday's event, Dean said that he will not be reading from his books, but will speak extemporaneously and answer questions. He is scheduled to speak from noon to 1 p.m. at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College (formerly The Community and Technical College of Shepherd) at 400 W. Stephen St. in Martinsburg.

Dean lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., with his wife, Maureen.

Family: Proud then, and now

Dean still has family in the Martinsburg area, including Bob Dean, a first cousin. Their fathers were brothers, Bob Dean said.

Bob Dean said he and his cousin get together when they can, and talk on the phone or exchange e-mails regularly.

"He always tries to defer the conversation to me and how I'm doing and how my family's doing," said Bob Dean, 53.

Bob Dean is reading his cousin's newest book; it's on his bedside table, he said.

"I think it's interesting that he got pulled back into politics the way he did," Bob Dean said. "(He was) kind of forced back into the political arena by the neocons and their whole approach to politics."

Bob Dean, who lives a few miles outside of Martinsburg in the Spring Mills, W.Va., area, did not shy away from answering Watergate-related questions, and expressed unwavering support for his cousin.

"We were all very supportive. I think John made the decision at some point that the only one he could make philosophically or morally was to come clean," Bob Dean said. "I think he did the right thing, and I was really proud of him at the time, and remain so to this day."

John Dean had two aunts who were teachers in Martinsburg. Bob Dean's mother, Ruth, taught at Martinsburg High School for about 25 years, and afterward taught at what then was Shepherd College, now Shepherd University, for another 14 years.

Another aunt, Mary, also taught at Martinsburg High School, Bob Dean said.

Bob Dean said he remembers talking to his cousin in 1973 ? the year that John Dean began cooperating with the prosecution and the year the Senate's televised Watergate hearings began ? when John Dean returned to Martinsburg for his father's funeral.

"Because he was actually in the hearings, he couldn't say much," Bob Dean said.

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