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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.

Drinan, First To File Impeachment Resolution Against Nixon, Dies, 86

The Rev. Robert F. Drinan (1920-2007)The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, the man who first filed an impeachment resolution against President Richard Nixon, has died in Washington.

Drinan served as a member of the House Judiciary Committee that voted in favour of the Watergate articles of impeachment in 1974.

The 86-year-old was a five-term Democratic Party member for the Massachusetts Third District in the House of Representatives. A liberal member, Drinan was on the famous Nixon “enemies list”. In July 1973, he proposed an impeachment resolution, not on Watergate, but on the war in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Drinan was praised by Senator John Kerry as a “tenacious advocate for social justice”. Kerry was Drinan’s campaign manager in 1970, the year Drinan was elected to Congress.

Drinan was famous for wearing his Jesuit priest’s garb in Congress. His unofficial campaign slogan was “Our father, who art in Congress”. He left Congress at the 1980 elections, following an edict from Pope John Paul II that he should leave politics or the priesthood. He was succeeded by Barney Frank.

Drinan had been dean of the Boston College Law School. Over the past quarter-century, he taught legal ethics at Georgetown University.

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.

Newspapers Report Death Of Gerald Ford

Former President Gerald Ford died on December 26, 2006.

Thirty-two years after he succeeded and then pardoned Richard Nixon, Ford was accorded considerable media coverage for his role in bringing the pain of Watergate to an end.

Los Angeles Times

Rose Mary Woods, Nixon Secretary, Dies, 87

The famous photograph of Rose Mary Woods demonstrating how she 'accidentally' erased 18 minutes from an Oval Office tape recording

Rosemary Woods, personal private secretary to President Nixon during Watergate, has died, aged 87.

Woods was supposedly responsible for the famous missing 18 and a half minutes from a White House tape recording.

In 1973, Woods testified that she had apparently made a mistake while working with the tape of the June 20, 1972 conversation between Nixon and H.R. Haldeman. This was three days after the Watergate break-in. Woods claimed she pressed the “record” button when she meant to press the “stop” button.

Woods initially denied erasing the tape but then changed her story. Haldeman’s notes of the conversation indicated that the missing section contained instructions from Nixon about a public relations strategy to distract attention from Watergate.

Woods subsequently demonstrated how the 18-minute erasure might have occurred. The improbable contortions where she attempted to show how her foot remained on the tape recorder’s remote control whilst she leaned across to answer the telephone were widely mocked.

The famous photograph of Rose Mary Woods demonstrating how she 'accidentally' erased 18 minutes from an Oval Office tape recording

Stephen Ambrose, Nixon Biographer, Dies, 66

Stephen Ambrose, the man who authored a three-volume biography of Richard Nixon, has died, aged 66.

Ambrose once said that he was a historian who was “fascinated by leadership”.

A report in the New York Times says:

Stephen E. Ambrose, the military historian and biographer whose books recounting the combat feats of American soldiers and airmen fueled a national fascination with the generation that fought World War II, died yesterday at a hospital in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Mr. Ambrose, who lived in Bay St. Louis and Helena, Mont., was 66.

The cause was lung cancer, which was diagnosed last April, his son Barry said. [Read more…]

Clinton Awards Presidential Medal To Archibald Cox

Archibald CoxArchibald Cox, the Watergate Special Prosecutor sacked by President Richard Nixon in the famous “Saturday Night Massacre” of 1973, has been awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton.

The medal was ironically established by Nixon in 1969 to honor exemplary service. Clinton said that “the greatest title any of us can hold is that of citizen”.

Clinton also awarded the medal posthumously to another former Watergate prosecutor, Charles Ruff, who also acted for Clinton in his Senate impeachment trial in 1999.

Richard Bergholz, Journalist Who Provoked Nixon, Dies

The journalist believed to be the subject of Richard Nixon’s famous 1962 comment “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”, Richard Bergholz, has died.

Bergholz was a political reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He had a stroke and died on December 26, aged 83.

The Los Angeles Times had given Nixon favorable treatment until a change of management in 1960. Berholz was the journalist who questioned Nixon in the 1962 gubernatorial race about Nixon’s allegations that his opponent, Pat Brown, was soft on communism.

After he was defeated by Brown, Nixon gave a famous “last press conference” in which he delivered a rambling speech with the “kick around” remark.

Nixon was portrayed as bitter and graceless, an attitude Al Gore was called upon not to copy a few weeks ago when conceding to George W. Bush.

Jason Robards, Star Of ‘All The President’s Men’, Dies, 78

Jason Robards with the ClintonsJason Robards, the actor who played Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee, in the 1976 film about the Watergate scandal, All The President’s Men, has died, aged 78.

Robards won an Oscar for his performance in the film.

The actor died in Connecticut after a long battle with bowel cancer.

He was particularly noted for his performances in the plays of Eugene O’Neill.

He won consecutive Oscars as Best Supporting Actor in 1977 and 1978. His portrayal of Benjamin C. Bradlee is widely seen as an impressive performance of the “feisty” editor of the Post during the Watergate period.

Charles Ruff, Watergate Prosecutor, Dies, 61

Charles Ruff, former Watergate Prosecutor, has died, aged 61.

Ruff is best known for the leading role he played in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.

During Watergate, Ruff prosecuted some of Richard Nixon’s fundraisers over taking illegal contributions. He became the Watergate prosecutor in 1975.

Ruff also investigated Gerald Ford over illegal campaign contributions, but found no evidence against the former president.

Ruff was born on August 1, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio. He contracted an unknown virus in Liberia shortly after completing law school which left him paralysed.

He became President Clinton’s chief legal adviser in 1997 at the height of the Whitewater investigations.