'Hatchet Man' Chuck Colson Dead at 80

Nixon 'dirty tricks artist' converted to evangelical Christianity
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2012 5:04 PM CDT
In this June 29, 1973 photo, former White House aide Charles Colson enters a House intelligence subcommittee in Washington.   (AP Photo/Files)

(Newser) – Notorious political "hatchet man" and prison reform advocate Chuck Colson has died at age 80 outside of Washington, DC. Renowned as a "dirty tricks artist" for President Nixon, Colson underwent a religious conversion in 1973 when facing charges for his role in discrediting Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. After 7 months in prison, the man who once boasted that he would "walk over my own grandmother" to ensure Nixon's reelection devoted his life to prison reform and evangelical Christianity, the Washington Post reports.

His 1976 autobiography Born Again sold millions of copies and solidified his position as a leading evangelical figure. The Prison Fellowship Ministries he founded became an international movement with branches in over 110 countries. But many greeted his conversion with hilarity, recalling his willingness to hire E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy to burglarize Ellsberg's psychiatrist and set fire to the Brookings Institution as a diversion. Colson himself admitted that he “was willing at times to blink at certain ethical standards” because “'Chuck will get it done’ was the phrase I so loved to hear in the White House.”

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