Bernard Barker, Watergate Burglar, Dies, 92

Associated Press reports that Bernard Leon Barker has died in Florida, aged 92.

Barker was a Cuban-born CIA operative who became of the burglars arrested at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972.

AP says: “Barker’s stepdaughter, Kelly Andrad, says that he died Friday morning at his suburban Miami home after being taken to the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center the night before. He had suffered from cancer and heart problems but his exact cause of death was unclear.

“Barker was one of five men who broke into the Watergate building in Washington on the night of June 17, 1972. They were trying to plant a wiretap to gather information on Richard Nixon’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, George McGovern.

Howard Hunt, Watergate Conspirator, Dies, 88

E. Howard Hunt, 1918-2007E. Howard Hunt, the man who recruited the burglars and organised the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex, has died, aged 88.

Reports quoting Hunt’s sun, Austin, say that he died at a Miami hospital, following a bout with pneumonia.

Everette Howard Hunt was a former Central Intelligence Agency operative. Born in Hamburg, New York, on October 9, 1918, he worked as a war correspondent and screen writer before beginning a long career with the CIA from 1949-70. During this time he was involved with the organisation of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1962.

Hunt recruited four of the five Watergate burglars: Barker, Gonzalez, Martinez and Sturgis. All four men had previously worked with Hunt on the Bay of Pigs. Along with James McCord, they were arrested in the Watergate complex on the evening of June 17, 1972. Hunt was observing the burglary from a room in the Howard Johnson hotel opposite the Watergate complex. Hunt’s White House phone number was found in the address book of Bernard Barker.

Bernard Barker's Address Book With Howard Hunt's White House Phone Number

Hunt spent 33 months in prison on burglary, conspiracy and wiretapping charges. He and the burglars pleased guilty to federal charges in January 1973.

Hunt was also responsible for organising the burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, Lewis Fielding. Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, part of the group known as the “Watergate Plumbers”, broke into the office to gain information about Ellsberg, the Pentagon official who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971.

Hunt’s first wife, Dorothy, died in a plane crash in Chicago on December 8, 1972. Investigators found $10,000 in $100 bills in Mrs. Hunt’s purse. The money was believed to be from pay-offs to the Watergate conspirators.

As the Watergate conspiracy unfolded, Hunt demanded money for his silence. His blackmail attempts were the subject of a taped conversation between White House counsel John Dean and President Nixon in March 1973. During the conversation, Dean tells Nixon that Hunt is demanding $72,000 for personal expenses and $50,000 for his legal fees. Nixon says: “If you need the money, I mean you could get the money… I mean it’s not easy, but it could be done.”

Hunt’s autobiography, “American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond,” is scheduled for publication in March.

Frank Wills, Man Who Discovered Watergate, Dies, 52

Frank Wills, the man who discovered the Watergate burglary, has died in the United States, aged 52.

Wills was the security attendant who discovered taped locks in the Watergate office and apartment complex on June 17, 1972.

When Wills alerted the police, the capture of the Watergate burglars set off a train of events that resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon in August 1974.

Wills played himself in the movie All The President’s Men, but spent much of his life living in hardship. He suffered a brain tumor prior to his death.

25th Anniversary Of Watergate Break-In

The 25th anniversary of the Watergate break-in led to a considerable amount of media coverage.

The links below were posted in 1997. Most of them have now expired.

James McCord’s Letter To Judge John Sirica

This is the full text of the letter from James W. McCord to Judge John Sirica.

McCord claimed that his plea and testimony were perjured and given under “political pressure”.

The letter was filed in: United States v. George Gordon Liddy, et al., C.R. 1827-72, United States District Court for the District of Columbia; Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21; NARA, College Park, MD.

James W. McCord, Jr.
7 Winder Court
Rockville , Maryland 20850

TO: JUDGE SIRICA March 19, 1973

Certain questions have been posed to me from your honor through the probation officer, dealing with details of the case, motivations, intent and mitigating circumstances.

In endeavoring to respond to these questions, I am whipsawed in a variety of legalities. First, I may be called before a Senate Committee investigating this matter. Secondly, I may be involved in a civil suit, and thirdly there may be a new trial at some future date. Fourthly, the probation officer may be called before the Senate Committee to present testimony regarding what may otherwise be a privileged communication between defendant and Judge, as I understand it; if I answered certain questions to the probation officer, it is possible such answers could become a matter of record in the Senate and there-fore available for use in the other proceedings just described. My answers would, it would seem to me, to violate my fifth amendment rights, and possibly my 6th amendment right to counsel and possibly other rights.

On the other hand, to fail to answer your questions may appear to be non-cooperation, and I can therefore expect a much more severe sentence.

There are further considerations which are not to be lightly taken. Several members of my family have expressed fear for my life if I disclose knowledge of the facts in this matter, either publicly or to any government representative. Whereas I do not share their concerns to the same degree, nevertheless, I do believe that retaliatory measures will be taken against me, my family, and my friends should I disclose such facts. Such retaliation could destroy careers, income, and reputations of persons who are innocent of any guilt whatever.

Be that as it may, in the interests of justice, and in the interests of restoring faith in the criminal justice system, which faith has been severely damaged in this case, I will state the following to you at this time which I hope may be of help to you in meting out justice in this case:

  1. There was political pressure applied to the defendants to plead guilty and remain silent.
  2. Perjury occurred during the trial in matters highly material to the very structure, orientation, and impact of the government’s case, and to the motivation and intent of the defendants.
  3. Others involved in the Watergate operation were not identified during the trial, when they could have been by those testifying.
  4. The Watergate operation was not a CIA operation. The Cubans may have been misled by others into believing that it was a CIA operation. I know for a fact that it was not.
  5. Some statements were unfortunately made by a witness which left the Court with the impression that he was stating untruths, or withholding facts of his knowledge, when in fact only honest errors of memory were involved.
  6. My motivations were different than those of the others involved, but were not limited to, or simply those offered in my defense during the trial. This is no fault of my attorneys, but of the circumstances under which we had to prepare my defense.

Following sentence, I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you privately in chambers. Since I cannot feel confident in talking with an FBI agent, in testifying before a Grand Jury whose U.S. Attorneys work for the Department of Justice, or in talking with other government representatives, such a discussion with you would be of assistance to me.

I have not discussed the above with my attorneys as a matter of protection for them.

I give this statement freely and voluntarily, fully realizing that I may be prosecuted for giving a false statement to a Judicial Official, if the statements herein are knowingly untrue. The statements are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.

[signed]
James W. McCord, Jr.