Conservative Spotlight: G. Gordon Liddy

“When I was a boy, my buddies and I, 12- or 13-years-old, would walk through the middle of town carrying any sort of firearm and go into the woods and take shots at cans,” said G. Gordon Liddy, author of When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, among other books. “We would shoot rats, shoot crows to help the local farmers. If you wanted to own a firearm, you went down to the store and bought one. If someone wanted to cut down a tree on his land by the river to improve the view, they did. We could rake leaves into the gutter and burn them. It was a great aroma.”

Now? “I live on the bank of the Potomac River,” he said. “If I have a tree that’s already dead and threatening to fall over and hurt someone, you can’t cut it down. You have to call an official and he has to come out and say it’s dead.”

With Watergate long past, Liddy is now a radio talk show host, author, lecturer, and occasional actor. It’s the loss of liberty in America that most riles him. He recalled the days of World War II, so different from those we live in now–even though it’s the same country during war. “We had a united country then,” he said. “And we were pretty much free.” He’s worried about what George W. Bush is up to. “We have a President who said that he would, if it came to his desk, sign the extension of the assault weapons ban,” he said. “We have the biggest entitlement program since Lyndon Johnson…. I think the fundamental fallacy is to divide everything between Democrats and Republicans rather than between liberals and conservatives. The conservatives are like Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football.”

But contrary to some libertarians who argue that a John Kerry presidency would lead to less government expansion, Liddy believes Kerry would be worse. “I think Kerry, according to the Democrats themselves, is put to the left of Teddy Kennedy, which I would have thought was metaphysically impossible,” he said. “The real damage done there would be nominations and appointments of judges.” As for the Patriot Act–which has divided law-and-order conservatives from many libertarian-leaning ones–Liddy said, “I don’t have a problem using the same techniques used against organized crime used against terrorists. The problem is I don’t see a safeguard to prevent it from being used against others.”

Liddy also thinks that the war we are in has been miscast. “We are in a life-and-death struggle with radical Islam. It is not a war against terrorism,” he said, referring to a speech by former Navy Secretary John Lehman. “Terrorism is a tactic. Saying this is a war against terror is like saying World War II was a war against the blitzkrieg.”

On the G. Gordon Liddy Show’s website is a version of remarks on the topic by Lehman given before the U.S. Naval Institute and Annapolis Naval History Symposium on March 31. “We are currently in a war, but it is not a war on terrorism. In fact, that has been a great confusion, and the sooner we drop that term, the better,” said Lehman. “This would be like President Franklin Roosevelt’s saying in World War II, ‘We are engaged in a war against kamikazes and blitzkrieg.’ Like them, terrorism is a method, a tool, a weapon that has been used against us. And part of the reason we suffered such a horrific attack is that we were not prepared. . . . This was not state-sponsored terrorism. This was religious war. This was the emergence of a transnational enemy driven by religious fervor and fanaticism. Our enemy is not terrorism. Our enemy is violent Islamic fundamentalism.”

Lehman noted, “Today it is still a prohibited offense for an airline to have two people of the same ethnic background interviewed at one time, because that is discrimination. Our airline security is still full of holes.”

Liddy said that his show, which airs live 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time, does not deal with national security and civil liberties issues alone. “We have the full panoply,” he said. “I am dead-set against abortion. I’m a Catholic, not a very good one.”

His next book, still in the early stages, Liddy said, is on “Israel and the Middle Eastern situation.”


Liddy may be reached at 8750 Brookville Rd., Silver Spring, Md. 20910 (800-GGLIDDY, or 800-445-4339; e-mail:; website: