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Watergate burglars arrested

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In the early morning of June 17, 1972, five men are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate, an office-hotel-apartment complex in Washington, D.C. In their possession were burglary tools, cameras and film, and three pen-size tear gas guns. At the scene of the crime, and in rooms the men rented at the Watergate, sophisticated electronic bugging equipment was found. Three of the men were Cuban exiles, one was a Cuban American, and the fifth was James W. McCord, Jr., a former CIA agent. That day, the suspects, who said they were “anti-communists,” were charged with felonious burglary and possession of implements of crime.

READ MORE: The Watergate Scandal: A Timeline

On June 18, however, it was revealed that James McCord was the salaried security coordinator for President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee. The next day, E. Howard Hunt, Jr., a former White House aide, was linked to the five suspects. In July, G. Gordon Liddy, finance counsel for the Committee for the Re-election of the President, was also implicated as an accomplice. In August, President Nixon announced that a White House investigation of the Watergate break-in had concluded that administration officials were not involved. In September, Liddy, Hunt, McCord, and the four Cubans were indicted by a federal grand jury on eight counts of breaking into and illegally bugging the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

In September and October, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post uncovered evidence of illegal political espionage carried out by the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President, including the existence of a secret fund kept for the purpose and the existence of political spies hired by the committee. Despite these reports, and a growing call for a Watergate investigation on Capitol Hill, Richard Nixon was reelected president in November 1972 in a landslide victory.

In January 1973, five of the Watergate burglars pleaded guilty, and two others, Liddy and McCord, were convicted. At their sentencing on March 23, U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica read a letter from McCord charging that the White House had conducted an extensive “cover-up” to conceal its connection with the break-in. In April, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and two top White House advisers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, resigned, and White House counsel John Dean was fired.

On May 17, 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, began televised proceedings on the rapidly escalating Watergate affair. One week later, Harvard Law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of White House advisers Ehrlichman and Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon re-election committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.

READ MORE: Watergate: Who Did What and Where Are They Now?

In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes–official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff–was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.

Public confidence in the president rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974 the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers, and hindrance of the impeachment process. On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released, including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Four days later, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. On September 8, his successor, President Gerald Ford, pardoned him from any criminal charges.

1972: Watergate Scandal – Secrets and Cover-Ups

The burglars were unusual by the fact that wiretapping equipment, $2.300 in bills with sequential serial numbers, a radio capable of listening in to police frequencies, and 40 rolls of unused film were found in their possession.

One of the burglars, Jim McCord, was a former agent of the CIA and current member of the security for President Nixon’s election campaign.

The address books of two burglars contained phone numbers labeled “W House” and “W.H.”.

Breaking into the premises of competitive party was ordered by President Nixon’s administration, and the secret illegal operation was approved even by Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell.

After the arrest of the five burglars, the Nixon administration tried to hush up the scandal and force the FBI not to conduct an investigation.

However, the FBI was not under the control of the White House and the investigation led to higher and higher officials, until it was finally found that President Nixon was personally involved in an attempt to prevent the investigation.

Nixon resigned (he was the only president in American history to do so). After a thorough investigation, as many as 69 members of the Nixon administration were charged, of which 48 whom found guilty by the court.

Among them were: Minister of Justice John N. Mitchell (19 months imprisonment), his successor Richard Kleindienst (one month in prison), and Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman (18 months in prison).

It is possible that Nixon might have ended up in prison, but his successor in the presidential function, Gerald Ford, gave him a full and unconditional presidential pardon for all crimes that Nixon had committed during his term.

This pardon is considered controversial because Nixon was the one who previously named Ford as Vice President of the United States after the elected Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned because of another scandal (Gerald Ford was the only president in the history of the United States who was never elected in the elections, but was appointed to his position).

Watergate Chronology – 1968-72

The story of Watergate has an intriguing historical and political background, arising out of political events of the 1960s such as Vietnam, and the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

But the chronology of the scandal really begins during 1972, following the break-in at the Watergate Hotel.

By 1973, Nixon had been re-elected, but the storm clouds were building. By early 1974, the nation was consumed by Watergate. In August, Nixon resigned.

August 08, 1968: Richard Milhous Nixon accepts the Republican Party nomination for president at the party’s convention in Miami Beach, Florida.

November 05, 1968: Nixon, the 55-year-old former vice president who lost the presidency for the Republicans in 1960, reclaims it by defeating Hubert Humphrey in one of the closest elections in U.S. history.

January 20, 1969: Nixon was sworn in as the 37th President of the United States.

July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first men to land on the moon, an initiative first proposed by President Kennedy.

November 30, 1969: Nixon delivers his Silent Majority speech, an address to the nation on the Vietnam War.

January 22, 1970: President Nixon delivers his first State of the Union Address before a joint session of the Congress.

July 23, 1970: Nixon approves a plan for greatly expanding domestic intelligence-gathering by the FBI, CIA and other agencies. He has second thoughts a few days later and rescinds his approval.

June 13, 1971: The New York Times begins publishing the Pentagon Papers — the Defense Department’s secret history of the Vietnam War. The Washington Post begins publishing the papers later in the week.

September 09, 1971: The White House “plumbers” unit – named for their orders to plug leaks in the administration – burglarizes a psychiatrist’s office to find files on Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

May 28, 1972: Bugging equipment is installed at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel and office complex in Washington DC. It transpires later that this is not the first Watergate burglary.

June 17, 1972: Five burglars are arrested at 2.30am during a break-in at the Watergate hotel and office complex: Bernard Barker, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, James W. McCord and Frank Sturgis. James W. McCord is the security director for the Committee for the Re-election of the President (CREEP).

June 19, 1972: A GOP security aide is among the Watergate burglars, The Washington Post reports. Former attorney general John Mitchell, head of the Nixon reelection campaign, denies any link to the operation.

June 23, 1972: President Nixon has a conversation with his Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman. Two years later, the tape of the conversation is released, following an order by the Supreme Court. The Smoking Gun tape reveals that Nixon ordered the FBI to abandon its investigation of the Watergate break-in.

August 01, 1972: A $25,000 cashier’s check, apparently earmarked for the Nixon campaign, wound up in the bank account of a Watergate burglar, according to a report in the Washington Post.

August 30, 1972: Nixon claimed that White House counsel John Dean had conducted an investigation into the Watergate matter and found that no-one from the White House was involved.

September 15, 1972: The first indictments in Watergate are made against the burglars: James W. McCord, Frank Sturgis, Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez and Virgilio Gonzalez. Indictments are also made against E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy.

September 29, 1972: The Washington Post reports that John Mitchell, while serving as Attorney-General, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats.

October 10, 1972: FBI agents establish that the Watergate break-in stems from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of the Nixon reelection effort, according to a report in The Washington Post.

November 07, 1972: Nixon is re-elected in one of the largest landslides in American political history, taking more than 60 percent of the vote and crushing the Democratic nominee, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.

November 22, 1972: Walter Cronkite devoted 15 minutes to Watergate on the CBS Evening News. The scandal becomes a mainstream media issue.

Watergate: The Hidden History and the 2012 Elections

Finally, we have answers to the most important remaining questions about Watergate: What were the burglars after and why Nixon was willing to risk his presidency to get it? Watergate: The Hidden History: Nixon, The Mafia, and The CIA by Lamar Waldron lays it all out in extraordinary detail.

Perhaps equally important, it also shows how today's poisonous political climate and questionable campaign tactics originated with Nixon, yielding ominous lessons for the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

Last week was the 40th anniversary of Watergate, when the arrest of White House operatives at the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee triggered a scandal that eventually led to President Richard Nixon's resignation. And perfectly timed, Waldron's new book is filled with bombshell revelations about Nixon's many crimes, that puts Nixon and the scandal in a whole new light.

While much of the recent Watergate anniversary news coverage rehashed decades-old information or Nixon's own spin, Watergate: the Hidden History contains a surprising amount of new information, most of it from the National Archives, some released as recently as April 2012. Some is completely new, while other information has been known for years to historians and investigative journalists who focused on the Mafia or the CIA, but the information never made it into conventional Watergate histories.

Waldron's book shatters the common myths of Watergate, which many on the right are trotting out as a way to smear President Obama over the politically-manipulated "Fast and Furious" matter. (The book shows that Nixon was a master at spreading political smears, including those he knew were false.)

Conservatives leaders still like to call Watergate a "third rate burglary," the term Nixon's spokesman used soon after the arrests. As the book documents, there wasn't one burglary, there were actually four attempts to burglarize the DNC offices at the Watergate. In addition, the same crew burglarized the Chilean Embassy in Washington two weeks before the first Watergate burglary attempt, something Nixon admitted in a White House tape that wasn't released until 1999. As one of the burglars later admitted, they were looking for the same document at the Chilean Embassy they were hunting for at the Watergate.

Another Watergate myth is that "the cover-up was worse than the crime," which overlooks the massive amount of criminal activity on the part of the Nixon White House of which the Watergate break-ins were only a small part. The book quotes historian Stanley Kutler as saying "more than seventy persons were convicted or offered guilty plea as a consequence of the Age of Watergate."

Waldron also demolishes the myth that two intrepid Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein "brought down" President Richard Nixon. As Woodward and Bernstein themselves admitted in their recent Post editorial, it was the president's many crimes that "brought down" Nixon, and their reporting -- summarized in All the President's Men -- covered only a small faction of those crimes.

However, journalist Ron Rosenbaum pointed out on June 18, 2012, in a piece entitled "Woodward and Bernstein Don't Know Who Ordered Watergate" that the Post reporters have never answered crucial questions about the scandal, ranging from the "real purpose" of the break in to "how much was the CIA involved?" The latter question is important since, as Waldron's book documents, all of the Watergate burglars, and their supervisor E. Howard Hunt, were current or former CIA agents or officials. Even The New York Times's Tim Weiner recently wrote that "no one knows. precisely what the burglars wanted" at the Watergate.

Many people assume that Watergate was only about bugging, but planting or fixing a few bugs could have been done with a two or three-man crew, not the five people arrested at the Watergate with enough film to photograph 1,400 pages of documents. What files did they want to photograph? And why were all of the burglars CIA veterans of the agency's secret war against Fidel Castro that began back in 1960, when Richard Nixon was vice president?

All of those questions are answered in Watergate: The Hidden History, which not only documents what the burglars were looking from, but actually prints the entire file that the burglars and Nixon wanted so badly. The book also includes the first Watergate memos to ever officially link the Mafia to Watergate, which help to show how Nixon's past ties to the Mafia triggered the Watergate break-ins.

As one of the Watergate burglars admitted, and Senate Watergate Committee investigators indicated in their secret questioning of Mafia don Johnny Rosselli, Nixon was worried about a Cuban Dossier of CIA attempts to kill Fidel Castro. Those attempts began in earnest in September 1960, when Nixon was seeking an edge in his close presidential race against Senator John F. Kennedy. A Nixon associate involved in the attempts said that in 1960 "the CIA had been in touch with Nixon [and] it was Nixon who had him to a deal with the Mafia in Florida to kill Castro."

CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel continued until a December 1971 attempt in Chile, when Nixon was president and had ordered a huge covert war against Chile's socialist government. Remarkably, at those same key times -- September 1960 and December 1971 -- Nixon accepted $500,000 bribes from Mafia leaders, including some involved in his CIA-Mafia attempts to kill Fidel. Those Nixon-Mafia bribes were extensively documented by the FBI, Time magazine, and author Dan Moldea. Those Mafia bribes and Nixon's efforts to have the CIA work with the Mafia to kill Fidel Castro were the secrets that Nixon could not afford to have come out during the 1972 campaign.

I won't attempt to explain everything the book documents in this brief review. Though Waldron's book is over eight hundred pages, he summarizes everything in an excellent photo section and in the book's Chapter One. The rest of the book unfolds in clear chronological order, and is backed by over two thousand endnotes. The book uses the epic sweep of Nixon's political career to show that everything he did in Watergate was simply doing on a larger scale what Nixon had been doing for years, sometimes decades. Waldron's book builds on the work of PBS and others to firmly establish Nixon's culpability for Watergate.

All of these revelations about Nixon have important ramifications for politics today, since this -- like 1972 -- is a presidential election year, with control of Congress also hanging in the balance. Knowing what's in Watergate: The Hidden History, it's not hard to see Nixon's legacy in the current political situation, from the "win at any cost" tactics he developed to the current involvement of some he worked with in his victorious campaigns, like Roger Ailes.

The recent election results in Wisconsin show that Nixon's techniques still work, just as they did for Nixon in 1968, 1972, and his earlier elections. Any time you see a conservative candidate making -- and continuing to make -- outrageous claims about their opponent, you can thank Richard Nixon, who used that technique much more effectively than his friend, Sen. Joe McCarthy. Such claims, even after they've been debunked, keep press and voter attention off the real issues, and away from the record (and often unsavory connections) of the person making the outrageous claims.

For Nixon, it was often all about money and power, and he knew that the candidate with an overwhelming funding advantage usually wins. To Nixon, taking money from the Mafia was no different from taking huge sums -- legal and illegal -- from business tycoons, large corporations, and even foreign governments. The parallels with today are all too obvious.

Nixon's extensive use of "dirty tricks" documented in the book were brought to mind by the mysterious "robo calls" in Wisconsin, and the attempts to limit college student voting there, as well as the growing cottage industry of disruptive techniques applied to progressive and Democratic candidates.

Nixon was reelected by a large margin in November 1972, almost five months after Watergate first hit the headlines, and the scandal was not a factor at all in that election. In the same way, the investigation of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's "former staff and associates" for "allegations of campaign finance malfeasance, embezzlement of veterans funds, bid-rigging" and other crimes -- as reported by The Huffington Post on June 3 -- was not a factor in the recent election, in part, because it simply wasn't widely reported.

Just as in 1972, in 2012 the mainstream media is overwhelmingly pro-Republican -- even as Republicans make it sound like they're the underdogs fighting a huge liberal media. Nixon pioneered that technique, and even after Watergate, Nixon was endorsed by ten times the number of newspapers that endorsed his opponent, Senator George McGovern.

In 1972, only a few media outlets -- including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsday, the Los Angeles Times, CBS, and Time -- really focused on Watergate, while the vast majority of the news media ignored it or accepted Nixon's spin. The book shows that Nixon had what he called "the 10,000," which were the journalists and outlets he could always count on for favorable coverage. The PR effort that Nixon had to run out of the White House is now handled by the large conservative propaganda mills, who churn out a constant stream of anti-progressive rhetoric which is spread across America's public airwaves every day.

It also became obvious to me while reading the book that Nixon was constantly playing not checkers but chess against his Democratic and liberal opponents. Nixon was often thinking two or three moves ahead, knowing he could count on progressives to react in certain ways to his pronouncements (or those of his surrogates), and framing issues so as to distract -- and ultimately divide -- those opposed to his policies. In the same way, the right often seems to have the upper hand in framing issues today, in ways that suppress progressive voter turn out.

As the book shows, Nixon came to power using Congressional hearings, access to secret intelligence, and leaks to the press, and he would be proud of the current "Fast and Furious" hearings in the House. Those hearings and demands appear to have been timed so that President Obama would be forced to assert Executive Privilege the week of the Watergate anniversary, and Republicans spent last week trying to draw parallels between the two events.

The Bartender’s Tale: How the Watergate Burglars Got Caught

On Friday, June 16, 1972, the annual assault of heat and humidity on Washington had already begun. An undercover DC police vehicle, a light-blue 1972 four-door Ford&mdashcar #727&mdashwas cruising Georgetown with Sergeant Paul W. Leeper and officers John B. Barrett and Carl M. Shoffler, all dressed as hippies, on the lookout for street criminals doing drug deals and the like. It was best to approach possible criminals in an unremarkable car and disheveled civilian clothing.

Earlier that evening, the cops had spotted two men on Wisconsin Avenue walking briskly behind two women. Suspicious that the men might be purse snatchers, they turned their headlights off and pulled alongside the damsels in potential distress to warn them. The two women wheeled around, muttered &ldquoNarc,&rdquo and gave the cops their middle fingers.
Only a handful of crimes were reported that evening, including a series of stickups by two armed men. At Cardozo High School, a $150 calculator was reported stolen. These misdeeds were soon forgotten&mdashbut another crime committed that night remains legendary.

Though not reported on the Washington Post&rsquos police blotter on June 17, five burglars, dressed in suits but wearing surgical gloves, would be arrested at the Watergate complex in Foggy Bottom by three plainclothes police officers from the &ldquobum squad&rdquo&mdashsetting off a chain of events that changed the course of history.

While much of the story following their arrest is familiar&mdashfrom the intrepid work of Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and the secret tips of the anonymous source Deep Throat to the resignation of President Richard Nixon&mdashthe actual story of how the burglars were arrested has never been told.

It&rsquos a tale that begins where all too many end: in a bar, this one not far from the Watergate and a favorite among police.

When the Watergate call first came from the dispatcher, Officer Shoffler radioed back, reluctantly taking the case. The address was not their primary responsibility&mdashwhy wasn&rsquot squad car 80, the vehicle responsible for the area, answering? The reply came back that car 80 was &ldquotemporarily out of service.&rdquo

In the movie All the President&rsquos Men, the dispatcher said squad car 80 was getting gas. In their book of the same name, Woodward and Bern-stein never addressed the matter. Officer Barrett recalls the dispatcher&rsquos saying, &ldquoAny detective car or any cruiser anywhere, [see] guard at the Watergate Hotel . . . in reference to the possible suspicious circumstances.&rdquo

Actually, squad car 80 was not out of gas. But the uniformed police officer who drove it was definitely out of service&mdashat least according to a co-owner of PW&rsquos Saloon, Bill Lacey.

A number of break-ins and attempted break-ins at DNC headquarters in the Watergate had been reported in the weeks leading up to that June night. Security guards had periodically found tape on interior doors, put there to keep them from locking&mdashbut applied horizontally and therefore easy for security to spot and remove. The bright boys on the Watergate break-in team just kept replacing the tape. In fact, several doors up the stairwell had been taped in such ham-fisted fashion.

The guard that night, Frank Wills&mdashafter removing the tape only to find it replaced 20 minutes later&mdashhad phoned in a report of &ldquosuspicious circumstances&rdquo to DC police just before 2 am.

The undercover cops pulled up in front of the Watergate in their unmarked car and sauntered in. The three officers thought nothing odd at this point. Hell, most of the calls they received were false alarms anyway.

The officer in charge that night, Sergeant Leeper, had on a golf hat and an old jacket bearing a George Washington University logo. At 33, he was a ten-year veteran of the force.

Across the street in the Howard Johnson&rsquos Motor Lodge, a &ldquospotter&rdquo for the burglars, Alfred C. Baldwin III, was glued to the TV watching a horror movie, Attack of the Puppet People, on Channel 20&mdashoblivious to the situation developing across the street. Baldwin was holed up in a disheveled seventh-floor room with a window facing the Watergate.
If squad car 80 had been in service and pulled up in front of the Watergate with lights flashing, siren wailing, and a uniformed police officer emerging from it, that surely would have pulled Baldwin&rsquos attention away from the horror movie and likely given him time to notify the five burglars via walkie-talkie so they could have escaped and the illegal entry gone unnoticed.

Instead, by the time Baldwin noticed that things had gone awry across the street, it was too late. As Officer Barrett recalls, &ldquoWe were up on the sixth floor of the DNC walking around with guns out&rdquo when Baldwin finally got on the radio and asked how Watergate burglar James W. McCord Jr. and his men were dressed.

&ldquoWe&rsquore wearing suits and ties,&rdquo McCord replied.

&ldquoWell,&rdquo Baldwin said, &ldquoyou&rsquove got a problem because there are hippie-looking guys who&rsquove got guns.&rdquo

Squad car 80 operated out of the Second District station at 2301 L Street, Northwest, covering a relatively small portion of the city, and was only minutes away from any location in its patrol area. The station recently had installed its own gas tanks so police cruisers could fill up on site.

The uniformed officer driving car 80&mdasha &ldquoblack-and-white&rdquo&mdashhad pulled up earlier that evening in front of PW&rsquos, a new bar in downtown DC. PW stood for the Prince and the Walrus, nicknames for Rick Stewart and Rich Lacey, who owned the bar with Rich&rsquos brother, Bill.

Try as we might, my research assistant, Borko Komnenovic, and I were unable to find the police officer who drove car 80 that evening. A retired officer told us that in that era cars came and went without a lot of paperwork. Despite extensive interviews, we never found our man.

A place where young professionals gathered after work, PW&rsquos was politely known as a &ldquoswinging singles&rdquo establishment, more bluntly as a &ldquomeat market.&rdquo The bar was a favorite of Washington&rsquos Finest. Officers would stop by for free meals, Cokes, and alcoholic beverages&mdasheven while in uniform and on duty. &ldquoWe were friendly with the local police that had that beat,&rdquo Bill Lacey recalls.

Captain William Lacey had been a career Army officer, but after he and his brother slogged through the jungles of Vietnam, the two were reassigned to Fort Belvoir, a sleepy Army base some 20 miles south of DC.

&ldquoWe&rsquove always wanted to be Irishmen and own a saloon,&rdquo Bill, then 33, told his younger brother. Rich was eager, resourceful, and more than a tad mischievous. One evening in Vietnam, Bill had been startled to find that his brother had somehow procured a dining table, linens, crystal, fine wine, and steaks for a formal sit-down dinner in the middle of a firebase.

In DC, the Laceys and Stewart searched for an appropriate location and finally leased a place at 1136 19th Street, Northwest, where the bar Science Club is today. They worked for months getting it ready for a spring 1971 opening. Lacey used his Northern Virginia home as collateral for a loan. The three men worked with legitimate contractors, organized-crime shakedown artists, and representatives of the DC government. &ldquoCan you put a little something in my hand?&rdquo was a query the brothers say they often heard.

Finally, Bill recalls, they told both the inspectors and the man who represented a Mob protection racket to go to hell, flashing a Walther PPK pistol for emphasis. It worked&mdashboth the legal and illegal crooks vamoosed, and the La-ceys went about gutting and rebuilding PW&rsquos for a town that was a mixture of white-collar workers and white-collar criminals, street hoods, protesters, and other people from all walks of life.

PW&rsquos quickly became a hot spot. The walls were barnwood, the standard fare was steak and burgers, and the place reeked of bourgeois charm. Rich served as bartender and liked to mix especially strong drinks.

One day, Bill was at the bar drinking a Bloody Mary that, unknown to him, was mostly vodka with just enough tomato juice to give it color. When he finished a glass, his brother had a fresh one ready. Hours later, Bill was driving home with one eye closed.

After midnight on June 17, a policeman came in, Bill recalls, &ldquoand my brother poured him a glass of bourbon with a little Coke on top. Then he poured him another one, and another one. The policeman is sitting there, and his walkie-talkie, which was on the bar, squawked&mdashthey wanted him to investigate a burglary. He got up from the stool and could barely walk. He said, &lsquoHow the hell am I going to investigate a burglary? I can&rsquot even stand.&rsquo

&ldquo &lsquoPiece of cake,&rsquo my brother said. &lsquoGo out and get on your car radio and tell them that you&rsquore out of fuel and you got to go back and refuel before you can respond, and somebody else will take the call.&rsquo &rdquo

The policeman went out, got on the radio, and said, &ldquoI&rsquom out of fuel and I can&rsquot respond.&rdquo

The dispatcher then contacted Sergeant Leeper&rsquos undercover car.

Leeper and his men began their search in the basement and made their way up to the sixth floor&mdashwhere the Democratic National Committee office was located. There they literally stumbled onto the Watergate Five.

Having checked each office, they were down to the final one. &ldquoOur adrenaline was starting to pump now,&rdquo Leeper recalls. Officer Barrett puts it more bluntly. When he saw a hand move toward him, Barrett says, &ldquoit scared the shit out of me.&rdquo

The cops yelled, &ldquoHold it! You&rsquore under arrest!&rdquo and five pairs of hands went up. One arrestee simply said, &ldquoYou got us.&rdquo

The presence of five men&mdashMcCord, Frank A. Sturgis, Virgilio R. Gonzalez, Eugenio R. Martinez, and Bernard L. Barker&mdashwearing business suits and surgical gloves and carrying electronic surveillance equipment as well as rolls of crisp, new $100 bills struck Leeper and Barrett as, well, weird. Also odd was that the burglars were all older men&mdashin their late forties and early fifties.

The officers had only two pairs of handcuffs, so four of the burglars were cuffed together and the other, Martinez, was simply escorted out. In the process, Officer Shoffler discovered a small spiral notebook in Martinez&rsquos jacket that had &ldquoWhite House&rdquo written in it.
It was 2:10 am by the time the arrest eventually heard &rsquoround the world was made. For quite a while, police reports noted it as &ldquothe burglary at Democratic National Committee, Sixth Floor, 2600 Virginia Ave., NW.&rdquo

It was some time before it was shortened to its infamous moniker, &ldquoWatergate.&rdquo

Borko Komnenovic assisted with research for this article.

This article appears in the July 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.


The Watergate area is bounded on the north by Virginia Avenue, on the east by New Hampshire Avenue, on the south by F Street, and on the west by the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway which is along the Potomac River. [17] It is in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, next to the Kennedy Center and the embassy of Saudi Arabia. The nearest Metro station, 0.4 miles (650 m) away, is Foggy Bottom-GWU.

Site history Edit

For more than a century, the land now occupied by the Watergate complex belonged to the Gas Works of the Washington Gas Light Company, which produced "manufactured gas" (a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, and other flammable and nonflammable gases) for heating, cooking, and lighting throughout the city. [18] [19] [20] Gas production ceased at the site in 1947, and the plant was demolished shortly thereafter. [18]

During the 1950s, the World Bank considered building its international headquarters here and on the adjacent site (which now houses the Kennedy Center), but rejected the site for unspecified reasons. It constructed its headquarters at its current location at 1818 H Street NW in Washington, D.C. [21]

The name "Watergate" relates to numerous aspects of its physical and historical context. The name "Watergate" and the suffix "-gate" have since become synonymous with and applied by journalists to controversial topics and scandals in the United States [12] [13] [14] [15] and elsewhere, in places that do not have English as the main language. [16]

The complex sits near the eastern terminus of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, which operated from 1831 to 1924 and is now a National Historical Park. The remains of the gravity dam across Rock Creek, as well as Waste Weir #1 are at this site. [22] Land once owned by the canal company was part of the 10-acre (4.0 ha) site purchased in 1960 by the project's developer, Rome-based Società Generale Immobiliare (SGI). [23]

In his 2018 book The Watergate: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address, author Joseph Rodota gave three accounts of the origin of the name, based on sources inside the development team: Author and playwright Warren Adler, while working as a publicist for the developers, came up with the name Nicolas Salgo, a New York financier who suggested the original site to Societa Generale Immobiliare, acquired the name from Marjory Hendricks, owner of the Water Gate Inn and three local executives—Giuseppe Cecchi, an employee of Societa Generale Immobiliare, Nicolas Salgo and Royce Ward—came up with the name, inspired in part by the Water Gate Inn, and recommended it to executives in the Rome office for approval. According to Rodota, the earliest use of the name Watergate in the surviving files of Societa Generale Immobiliare is a June 8, 1961 memorandum authored by Giuseppe Cecchi, summarizing an early meeting with officials of the future John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts about the proposed project. [24]

In his 2009 book Presidential Power on Trial: From Watergate to All the President's Men, William Noble wrote that the Watergate "got its name from overlooking the 'gate' that regulated the flow of water from the Potomac River into the Tidal Basin at flood tide." [25] That gate (near the Jefferson Memorial) is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) downriver from the Watergate complex.

Another namesake, the "Water Gate Inn" restaurant (1942–1966), operated on the site for more than two decades before the Watergate complex was built. [26]

In 2004, Washington Post writer John Kelly argued that the name was most directly linked to the "Water Steps" or "Water Gate," a set of ceremonial stairs west of the Lincoln Memorial that led down to the Potomac. [27] [28] [29] The steps had been originally planned as a ceremonial gateway to the city and an official reception area for dignitaries arriving in Washington, D.C., via water taxi from Virginia, though they never served this function. [27] Instead, beginning in 1935, a floating performance stage on the Potomac River was anchored to the base of the steps. It was the site for open-air concerts and the audience could sit on the stairs. [27] [28] Up to 12,000 people would sit on the steps and surrounding grass to listen to symphonies, military bands, and operas. The barge concerts ended in 1965 when jet airliner service began at National Airport and the noise impaired the venue's viability. [19] [27] [28] [30] [31] [32]

The music venue was depicted in scenes in the motion pictures Houseboat (1958) [19] and Born Yesterday (1950). [33]

The proposed complex Edit

The Watergate complex was developed by the Italian firm SGI. [34] [35] The company purchased the 10 acres (40,000 m 2 ) that belonged to the defunct Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in February 1960 for $10 million. [34] [35] [36] [37] The project was announced on October 21, 1960. [36] Luigi Moretti of the University of Rome was the chief architect, and Milton Fischer of the D.C.-based firm of Corning, Moore, Elmore and Fischer the associate architect. [4] [17] [28] [34] [36] [38] [39] [40] [41] The apartment buildings included two-story units on the first and second floors, while the top-floor units had private rooftop terraces and fireplaces. [2] [4] The design for the entire complex also envisioned an electronic security system so extensive that the press claimed "intruders will have difficulty getting onto the grounds undetected." [4] Boris V. Timchenko, a noted D.C.-based landscape architect, supervised the design of the grounds, which included more than 150 planters, tiers of fountains designed to create sounds like a waterfall, landscaped rooftop terraces, swimming pools, and a 7-acre (28,000 m 2 ) park. [4] [41] Landscape features such as planters would also be used to create privacy barriers between apartments. [38] The complex was the first mixed-use development in the District of Columbia, [20] [42] [43] and was intended to help define the area as a business and residential rather than industrial district. [41] The Watergate complex was intended to be a "city within a city," and provide so many amenities that residents would not need to leave. Among these were a 24-hour receptionist, room service provided by the Watergate Hotel, health club, restaurants, shopping mall, medical and dental offices, grocery, pharmacy, post office, and liquor store. [20] At the time, it was also the largest renewal effort in the District of Columbia undertaken solely with private funds. [44]

Initially, the project was to cost $75 million and consist of six 16-story buildings comprising 1,400 apartment units, a 350-room hotel, office space, shops, 19 luxury "villas" (townhouses), and three-level underground parking for 1,250 vehicles. [17] [36] [38] The Watergate's curved structures were designed to emulate two nearby elements. The first was the proposed Inner Loop Expressway, a curving freeway expected to be built just in front of the Watergate within the next decade. [4] [a] The second was the nearby Kennedy Center, then in the planning stage and whose original design was supposed to be curvilinear. [28] [34] Although the Kennedy Center later adopted a rectangular shape for cost reasons, the Watergate complex's design did not change. [34] [52] Incidentally, the curved structures would also give apartment dwellers an excellent view of the Potomac River. [38] Because of the curves in the structure, the Watergate complex was one of the first major construction projects in the United States in which computers played a significant role in the design work. [4] [20] [53]

Approval controversies Edit

Because the District of Columbia is the seat of the United States government, proposals for buildings in the city (particularly those in the downtown area, near federal buildings and monuments) must pass through an extensive, complex, and time-consuming approval process. The approval process for the Watergate complex had five stages. The first stage considered the proposed project as a whole as well as the first proposed building. [54] The remaining four stages considered the four remaining proposed buildings in turn. [54] At each stage, three separate planning bodies were required to give their approval: The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the District of Columbia Zoning Commission (DCZC), and the United States Commission of Fine Arts (USCFA) (which had approval authority over any buildings built on the Potomac River to ensure that they fit aesthetically with their surroundings). [55]

In December 1961, 14 months after the project was publicly announced, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voiced its concern that the project's 16-story buildings would overshadow the Lincoln Memorial and the proposed "National Cultural Center" (later to be called the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts). [44] At the time, the District of Columbia had a 90-foot (27 m) height limit on all buildings except for those located exclusively along business streets. [44] To obtain a height waiver, SGI would have to include retail office space in the complex, but the site was then zoned only for apartment buildings. [44] Thus, initial approval first had to be won from the District of Columbia Zoning Commission. [56]

By the time the DCZC met to consider approval in mid-April 1962, the cost of the project had been scaled back to $50 million. [56] Because the District of Columbia lacked home rule, DCZC planners were reluctant to act without coordinating with agencies of the federal government. [56] [57] Additionally, many civic leaders, architects, business people, and city planners opposed the project before the DCZC because they feared it was too tall and too large. [56] By the end of April, DCZC had announced that it would delay its decision. [58] The Commission of Fine Arts also had concerns: it felt some of the land should be preserved as public space [44] and objected to the height of the proposed buildings as well as their modern design. [59] Three days after the DCZC meeting, the USCFA announced it was putting a "hold" on the Watergate development until its concerns were addressed. [59] To counter this resistance, SGI officials met with members of the USCFA in New York City in April 1962 and defended the complex's design. [58] [60] SGI also reduced the planned height of the Watergate to 14 stories from 16. [4] [17] In May 1962, the NCPC reviewed the project. Additional revisions in the design plan pushed the cost back up to $65 million, even though only 17 villas were now planned. [35] Based on this proposal, the NCPC approved the Watergate plan. [61]

With the support of the NCPC, SGI dug in its heels: It declared it was not interested in developing the unsightly, abandoned commercial site unless its basic curvilinear design (now called "Watergate Towne") was approved, and it lobbied DCZC commissioners in late May, lecturing them on the District's architectural heritage and the beauty of modern architecture. [20] [62] [63] SGI officials also lobbied the USCFA. Meanwhile, White House staff made it known that the Kennedy administration wanted the height of the complex lowered to 90 feet (27 m). [4] Three key staff were opposed to the project on height grounds: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Special Assistant to the President August Heckscher III, Special Consultant on the Arts and William Walton, a Kennedy family confidante. [64] The three briefed President John F. Kennedy on the issue, but it was not clear who made the decision to request the height reduction or who made the request public. [64] The White House announcement surprised many, and offended federal and city planners, who saw it as presidential interference in their activities. [64]

SGI's chief architect, Gábor Ács, and Watergate chief architect Luigi Moretti flew to New York City on May 17 and defended the complex's design in a three-hour meeting with USCFA members. [4] [57] SGI agreed to shrink three of the planned buildings in the development to 13 stories (112 ft), with the remaining building rising to 130 feet (40 m). [4] [17] [57] SGI also agreed to add more open space by reducing the size of the Watergate to 1.73 million square feet (161,000 m 2 ) from 1.911 million square feet (177,500 m 2 ) and by reorienting or re-siting some of the buildings. [57] The USCFA gave its assent to the revised construction plan on May 28, the White House withdrew its objections, and the DCZC gave its final approval on July 13. [4] [58] [65] [66] [67] [68] The final plan broke one building into two, creating five rather than four construction projects. [65] [68] Moretti later admitted he probably would have lowered the height of the buildings anyway, [38] and thought that the approval process had gone relatively smoothly. [40] Construction was expected to begin in spring 1963 and last five years. [68]

The Watergate project faced one final controversy. The group Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State began a national letter-writing campaign opposing the project, alleging that the zoning waivers would not have been given had the Vatican not been a major investor in SGI. [20] [69] By mid-November 1962, more than 2,000 protest letters had been sent to Congress and another 1,500 to the White House. [69] But the group's attempt to stop construction failed, and the project went forward.

The project won its $44 million financial backing in late 1962, and its construction permits in May 1963. [55] [70] [71] Construction began on the first building, the Watergate East apartment, in August 1963. [17] [72] The builder was Magazine Bros. Construction. [4] Groundbreaking occurred in August 1963, and major excavation work was complete by May 1964. [4] [17]

The U.S. Commission on Fine Arts attempted once more to revise the project. In October 1963, the USCFA alleged that the height of the Watergate complex, as measured from the parkway in front of it, would exceed the agreed-upon height restrictions. [55] SGI officials, however, contended that architects are required by law to measure from the highest point on the property on which they are to build using this measurement, the building met the May 1962 agreement stipulations. [55] On January 10, 1963, SGI and the USCFA agreed that the height of the complex would not exceed 140 feet (43 m) above water level (10 inches below that of the nearby Lincoln Memorial), that fewer than 300 apartment units would be built (to reduce population congestion), and to eliminate the proposed luxury villas (to create more open space). [54] Luxury penthouse apartments, however, could extend above the 140-foot (43 m) limit if they were set back from the edge of the building and the 14th floor was foregone. [54] With these adjustments, the total cost of the first apartment complex (excluding plumbing, electricity, and decoration) was estimated at $12,184,376. [54]

Construction Edit

Construction proceeded. The foundation and basement of the first building, the 110-foot (34 m) Watergate East, were completed by September 1964, and the metal and concrete superstructure rose in October. [72] In September 1964, the Watergate's developers signed a first-of-its-kind agreement under which the Washington Gas Light Co. would provide the entire complex with its heating and air conditioning. [73] The Watergate East was completed in May 1965, and a month later the first model apartment unit was opened to the public for viewing. [74] The building formally opened on October 23, 1965, and the first tenants moved in a few days later. [4] [75] Prices for the 238 cooperative apartment units ranged from $17,000 for efficiencies to more than $250,000 for penthouses, and were almost completely sold out by April 1967. [2] [4] [41] The average apartment contained two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a dining room, and a kitchen, and cost $60,000. [2] Each parking space in the underground garage cost $3,000. [2] The tenants took title to their building on April 8, 1966. [76] In November, a Safeway supermarket, a Peoples Drug (now known as CVS pharmacy), beauty salon, barber shop, bank, bakery, liquor store, florist, dry cleaner, post office, upscale shops, and high-end restaurant took up residency in the retail space on the ground floor. [4] [41] [77] [78] Riverview Realty was the leasing agent for the complex. [4]

Construction began on the second building, the 11-story office building and hotel, in February 1965. [79] Both opened on March 30, 1967 the Watergate Hotel welcomed its first guests the same day. [4] [80] The 12-story hotel initially included 213 rooms, while the 12-story office building, attached to the hotel by a colonnade, had 200,000 square feet (19,000 m 2 ) of office space. [41] The combined hotel/office building included a health club, space on the ground floor for shops, and a restaurant, the Roman Terrace, on the top floor. [4] [41] Later in April, the Democratic National Committee leased office space in the building's retail office portion. [81]

The third building in the complex, Watergate South, [20] opened in June 1968. It contained 260 residential units, more than any other building in the complex. [82]

Construction on the fourth building in the complex, the Watergate West apartments, began in July 1967. [83] Apartments in the unfinished building, priced from $30,000 to $140,000, began selling in October 1967, an indication of how popular the complex was with District residents. [77] [84] The Watergate West topped out on August 16, 1968, at which point the cost of the project had risen to $70 million. [85] Construction was completed in 1969. [4]

The 5th building Edit

Controversy arose over the construction of the Watergate Office Building, the complex's fifth and final structure. Its original design called for a 140-foot (43 m) structure with the upper floors set back to create more space and light. [86] But in June 1965, as excavation and clearing began for the Kennedy Center, its advocates began agitating to lower the planned height of the final Watergate building. [86] The general counsel for the Kennedy Center told the USCFA that the Watergate Town (the development had dropped the "e") was planning a 170-foot (52 m) building that would harm the aesthetics of the Kennedy Center and intrude on its park-like surroundings. [86] The Watergate's attorneys responded that their building would stay within the agreed-upon 140-foot (43 m) height. [86]

The disagreement continued for nearly two years, [87] delaying the planned fall 1967 start to construction. [88] Watergate apartment residents such as Senator Wayne Morse lobbied the USFCA, DCZC, and NCPC to force SGI to accede to the Kennedy Center's wishes. [89] In November 1967, the USCFA reaffirmed its approval of the Watergate project. [90] When the DCZC appeared on the verge of giving its approval as well, the Kennedy Center argued that the DCZC had no jurisdiction over the controversy. [91] The DCZC disagreed, and re-asserted its jurisdiction. [91] The Kennedy Center then argued that the DCZC had not properly considered its objections, and should delay its approval pending further hearings. [92] The District's legal counsel disagreed, giving the DCZC the go-ahead to reaffirm (or not) its approval ruling, [92] which the Zoning Commission did on November 30, 1967. [93]

Although it appeared that SGI was winning the legal battle over the fifth building, D.C. city planners attempted to mediate the dispute between the Kennedy Center and the Watergate and achieve a contractual rather than legal solution. Three separate proposals were made to both sides on December 7, 1967. [94] On April 22, 1968, SGI agreed to turn its fifth building slightly to the southwest in order to open up the Watergate complex a little more and give the Kennedy Center a bit of open space. [95] Although the Kennedy Center accepted the proposal, it demanded that the fifth building include apartment units, rather than be completely devoted to office space, to maintain the area's residential nature. [96] The fight now moved to the NCPC. In June 1968, the NCPC held a hearing at which more than 150 Watergate apartment residents clashed with SGI officials over the nature of the final building. [97] On August 8, 1968, SGI and the Kennedy Center reached a resolution, agreeing that only 25 percent of the fifth building's 1.7 million square feet (160,000 m 2 ) would be used as office space and that the remaining space would become apartment units. [96] The NCPC approved the revised plan in November 1968, and the DCZC did so five weeks later, specifically zoning the building for nonprofit and professional use only. [98] [99]

The fifth building was completed in January 1971. [17] Its first tenant was the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which secured occupancy in February 1971, and its first major tenant was the Manpower Evaluation and Development Institute, which leased the entire eighth floor. [4] In October 1972, several high-end fashion boutiques, jewelers, and a restaurant opened in a retail space named "Les Champs." [4]

The total cost of the project was $78 million. [20]

Critical reception Edit

The Watergate's initial reception was poor, but the complex soon became recognized as one of D.C.'s finest examples of modern architecture. When models of the Watergate were unveiled in 1961, critics said the structure "would ruin the waterfront". [4] Other critics denounced it as "nonconforming" and decried it as "Antipasto on the Potomac". [58] As noted above, many individuals also felt the complex blocked views of the Potomac River, tended to overshadow nearby monuments and other buildings, and consumed too much open space. Some residents even felt the construction of the units was substandard. [100] Architectural critics called the detailing "clunky". [28]

The Washington Star newspaper, however, was an early proponent of the Watergate. In May 1962, it editorialized: "It is true that the so-called 'curvilinear' design is at variance with most commercial architecture in Washington. But in our opinion the result, which places a premium on public open space and garden-like surroundings, and which proposes a quality of housing that would rank with the finest in the city, would be a distinct asset." [4] The curving design has continued to draw praise. A noted 2006 guidebook to the city's architecture concluded that the Watergate brought a "welcome fluidity" to the city's boxy look. [28] Others praised the complex's internal public spaces. When the Watergate East opened in 1965, The Washington Post called these areas opulent and evocative of the best in Italian design. [101] The New York Times characterized the design as "sweeping," and complimented each building's spectacular views of the Potomac River, Virginia skyline, and monuments. [41] Many residents later said the flowing lines reminded them of a graceful ship. [2]

Watergate II Edit

In 1970, as the Watergate was nearing completion, SGI proposed building a "Watergate II" apartment, hotel, and office complex on the waterfront in Alexandria, Virginia, several miles down the Potomac River from the original Watergate. [102] Although the project initially received support from Alexandria city officials and business people, residents of the city's Old Town strongly objected. [103] [104] [105] The project stalled for two years due to protests from residents and a land dispute regarding title to the waterfront land on which the project was to be sited. [105] [106]

The Watergate II project was eventually abandoned in favor of a much larger complex near Landmark Mall in Alexandria (a site nowhere near water). [106]

The entire Watergate complex was initially owned by Watergate Improvements, Inc., a division of SGI. [40] In 1969, the Vatican sold its interest in SGI and no longer was part-owner of the Watergate. [107] Although the Watergate was considered one of the most glamorous residences in the city, as early as 1970 residents and businesses complained of substandard construction, including a leaking roof and poor plumbing and wiring. [100]

The three Watergate Apartment buildings total some 600 residential units. [42] Among the many notable past occupants are the following: Alfred S. Bloomingdale, [108] [109] Anna Chennault, [110] [111] Bob and Elizabeth Dole (Watergate South), [108] [112] [113] Plácido Domingo, [108] [114] [115] [116] Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Watergate South), [108] [112] Alan Greenspan, [4] [108] [117] [118] Monica Lewinsky (she stayed briefly at her mother's apartment in the complex), [108] [119] [120] Senator Russell Long, [2] [121] [122] [123] Clare Boothe Luce (after 1983), [124] [125] [126] Robert McNamara, [4] [108] John and Martha Mitchell, [108] [113] [121] [127] [128] Paul O'Neill, [129] [130] Condoleezza Rice, [108] [131] [132] Mstislav Rostropovich, [108] [133] [134] Maurice Stans, [113] [116] Ben Stein, [135] [136] [137] Herbert Stein, [138] [139] John Warner and Elizabeth Taylor (during their marriage), [108] [140] [ dead link ] Caspar Weinberger, [141] [142] Charles Z. Wick, [108] [109] [143] and Rose Mary Woods. [108] [113] The Watergate's popularity among members of Congress and high-ranking executive branch political appointees has remained strong ever since the complex opened. So many members of the Nixon administration settled there that the Washington, D.C., press commented on it [144] and nicknamed it the "Republican Bastille". [4] The complex enjoyed a renaissance during the early 1980s and became known as the "White House West" due to the large number of Reagan administration officials living there. [4] [109]

The Watergate complex changed hands in the 1970s, and each building was sold off separately in the 1990s and 2000s (decade) (see below). Strict lease agreements, however, have kept the apartment buildings in residents' hands: In the Watergate South, for example, owners cannot rent their unit until a full year has passed, and no lease may last more than two years. [20] In 1977, one of the Watergate's financiers (Nicholas Salgo) and Continental Illinois Properties bought SGI's stake in the development for $49 million. [145] [146] Two years later, Continental Illinois sold its interest to the National Coal Board Pension Fund in the U.K. [147] Salgo did the same in 1986. [4] The coal board pension fund put the Watergate complex up for sale in 1989, and estimated the complex's worth at between $70 million and $100 million. [5] Several buildings were sold in the 1990s (for details, see below). [5] The property was valued at $278 million in 1991. [20] Efficiency units in that year sold for $95,000, while penthouse apartments went for $1 million or more. [20] Various buildings were sold again in the early 2000s (decade). [6] In 2005, all of the retail space in the complex was put up for sale. [3]

Little redevelopment of the site has occurred in the 40 years since the Watergate was first built. The complex still includes three luxury apartment buildings, the hotel/office building, and two office buildings. [42] The entire development was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 21, 2005. [148]

Watergate East Edit

The Watergate East apartment building is probably the second-best known of the five buildings in the development. It became the most sought-after living location in the city when it opened in 1966. [2]

Problems with the building's construction became apparent shortly after its occupancy. The roof was leaking by 1968. [149] The Washington Post published reports in October 1968 that SGI refused to fix the leaks unless residents dropped their opposition to the construction of the complex's fifth building. [149] By 1970, problems at Watergate East led the press to dub the building the "Potomac Titanic," [100] and its residents filed suit against the developer in 1971 to correct the structure's problems. [77] Another lawsuit, filed in February 1970, sought exclusive access to the underground parking garage the cooperative claimed as its own, and demanded that the developer stop selling spaces in the residents' parking area. [77] SGI filed a $4 million counterclaim alleging "malicious embarrassment" and five years later paid residents $600,000 to settle the cases. [4]

The Watergate East was also the site of a major protest in 1970. In the weeks prior to the jury verdict in the trial of the Chicago Seven (in Chicago, Illinois), political activists began planning and then advertising that a protest would occur at the home of United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell (who lived in the Watergate East). [150] As expected, the verdict was handed down on February 18, 1970 (all the defendants were found not guilty of conspiracy but five were found guilty of incitement to riot [151] ). That night, more than 200 people rallied at D.C.'s All Souls Unitarian Church to prepare for the mass protest demonstration the next day. [152] On February 19, several hundred protestors gathered in front of the Watergate East and attempted to enter the building. [150] [153] Several hundred police, bused in to prevent the demonstration, engaged in street fighting with protestors, forced them to retreat, and eventually launched several tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd. [150] More than 145 protesters were arrested. [153] Although a second protest was expected the following day, it never emerged and police spent the day drinking coffee and eating cookies and pastries baked at the Watergate East's pastry shop. [4] [154] [155]

The Watergate East tenants' cooperative refinanced its mortgage some time after 2000, and bought the land beneath its building. [17]

Watergate Hotel and Office Building Edit

The Watergate Hotel and Office Building is one of the five buildings in the Watergate development.

The Watergate Hotel Edit

Management and ownership of the hotel have changed several times since the mid-1980s. In 1986, Cunard Line, the cruise ship company, took over management of the hotel and began redecorating and refurbishing it. [156] The British Coal Board pension fund sold the hotel portion of the building to a British-Japanese consortium in 1990 for $48 million. [5] Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, the real estate affiliate of the Blackstone Group, bought the hotel for $39 million in July 1998. [42] For a few years in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), the Watergate Hotel was operated by the Swissôtel hotel group. [42] But the hotel underperformed other Swissôtel operations of similar size, location, and price. [42] Jean-Louis Palladin's eponymous restaurant in the building closed in 1996. [112] [157] The hotel subsequently underwent a renovation in 2000. [28] Swissôtel was purchased by Raffles Hotels and Resorts, and Raffles' management contract ended in May 2002. [42] Blackstone began managing the hotel, and put it up for sale in the fall of 2002 (with an asking price of $50 million to $68 million). [42] Monument Realty bought the hotel for $45 million in 2004 and planned to turn it into luxury apartment co-ops. [158] [159] But many residents in other parts of the complex (some of whom owned the 25 percent of the hotel not sold to Blackstone) [112] argued that a hotel would better enhance the livability of the area and challenged the conversion in court. [160] [161] The hotel closed on August 1, 2007, for a $170 million 18-month renovation, during which the hotel rooms were intended to be roughly doubled in size to 650 square feet (60 m 2 ). [161] But the renovation never occurred, and the building sat empty—consuming $100,000 to $150,000 a month in security, heating, electricity, water, and other costs. [159] Lehman Brothers, Monument Realty's financing partner, went bankrupt in 2008 and Monument was forced to attempt to sell the property. [159] No buyer emerged and the Blackstone Group regained ownership of the hotel. [159]

The Blackstone Group transferred the Watergate Hotel to its Trizec Properties subsidiary. Trizec did not pay the hotel's property taxes for 2008 (which amounted to $250,000), and estimated that it would take $100 million to make the hotel habitable due to the stalled 2007 renovation. [159] The hotel was put on the market in May 2009, but once again no buyer emerged. The hotel was auctioned off on July 21, 2009 (with the minimum bid beginning at $25 million), but there were no buyers and Deutsche Postbank, which held the $40 million mortgage on the property, took over ownership. [158] [159] The bank began marketing the property for sale, and Monument Realty submitted a bid in October 2009 to buy the hotel back. [162] Monument was outbid by developer Robert Holland and the Jumeirah Group (a luxury hotel chain based in Dubai), but the deal collapsed in November 2009 when financing fell through. [162] Euro Capital Properties purchased the hotel in May 2010 for $45 million, with plans to rehabilitate it over the next two years. [163]

Euro Capital announced its year-long, $85 million renovation of the hotel in January 2013. Among the improvements it wished to make were the addition of six outdoor "summer gardens" where liquor may be served. The plan would require the approval of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which voted to protest the liquor licenses unless the company reached an agreement with all the tenant associations in the Watergate cooperative. [164] A year later, the company said its design team, led by the architectural firm BBGM, had completed a plan to increase the number of luxury hotel rooms to 251 to 348, renovate the lobby to add a bar and lounge, add a restaurant with some outdoor seating, and add a rooftop bar with a small water feature. Euro Capital also said it would seek a hotel management company to continue to operate the Watergate Hotel as an independent hotel. Construction on the new interior elements is planned to start in March 2014. [165]

Euro Capital received the construction permits for its now $100 million renovation in May 2014. Architect Bahram Kamali of BBGM said the renovation will completely replace the electrical, HVAC, mechanical, and plumbing (fresh water and sewage) systems. The renovation now featured two new restaurants, upgraded ballrooms, and a new spa and fitness area. [166] The meeting space, which was quite small by industry standards, was expanded to 17,000 square feet (1,600 m 2 ), and the ballroom enlarged slightly to 7,000 square feet (650 m 2 ). Watergate officials said the new rooftop bar will seat 350, and other internal structural changes will add nearly 100 guest rooms. [167] Kamali said the interior will feature high-quality, expensive plaster, stone, and wood finishes, but the exterior's iconic textured concrete balconies will remain unchanged except for repairs, repainting, and new windows. Grunley Construction will oversee all the renovations. [166] Israeli artist and interior decorator Ron Arad designed all the metal sculptures and other work that will be featured in the hotels' bar, lobby, and other interior space. [167]

The cost of the renovation was pegged by Euro Capital at $125 million in November 2014. The 336-room hotel reopened in 2016, nine years after it closed. [168]

Office building Edit

The office building portion of the building contains 198,000 square feet (18,400 m 2 ). [3]

In 1972, the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) occupied the entire sixth floor of the 11-story building at 2600 Virginia Avenue. [7] [169] The DNC had occupied the space since the building opened in 1967. [81] On May 28, 1972, a team of burglars working for President Richard M. Nixon's re-election campaign bugged the phones of and took photos in and near the DNC chairman's office. [11] [113] [170] The phone taps were monitored from the burglars' rooms (first Room 419, later Room 723) at the Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge across the street at 2601 Virginia Avenue NW. [11] [113] [169] [170] [b] During a second burglary on June 17, 1972, to replace a malfunctioning phone tap and collect more information, five of the burglars were arrested and the Watergate scandal began to unfold. [7] [11] [113] [170] [171] A plaque on the sixth floor of the office building portion of the Watergate Hotel commemorates the break-in. [172] The sixth floor space, occupied by SAGE Publishing since 2015, houses a private exhibit commemorating the break-in and ensuing scandal. [173]

The break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters was not the first break-in at the Watergate. The first break-in, however, shares a remarkable connection with the DNC burglary. The first break-in at the complex was the burglary of a residential unit in 1969. [4] [174] The victim was Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon's personal secretary. [4] [174] The burglars took jewelry and some personal items. [174] Woods would later be accused of erasing 18 and a half minutes from President Nixon's secret Oval Office audio taping system—specifically, the tape from June 20, 1972, that proved central to the Watergate scandal. [11] [113] [170]

In 1993, the British coal board pension fund sold the office portion of the building (as well as the land under two of the three Watergate apartment buildings) to The JBG Companies (an American firm) and Buvermo Properties Inc. (a Dutch company). [5] In 1997, JBG Cos. and Buvermo Properties sold the office building to the Blackstone Group's Trizec Properties division. [175] Trizec put the office building up for sale for $100 million in 2005 and sold it to BentleyForbes Acquisitions LLC, a private firm owned by C. Frederick Wehba and members of the Los Angeles-based Webha family. [3] [158] [176] BentleyForbes put the office tower up for sale on March 12, 2009. [177] In November 2011, after 20 months on the market, the office building sold for $76 million to the Penzance Cos. [178]

In mid-2012, the office building's new owner began a multimillion-dollar upgrade to the Watergate Office Building's lobby, common areas, and Virginia Avenue entrance. The modernization was complete in December 2012, and the building began leasing space again in January 2013. [179] Hitt Contracting designed the renovations, and oversaw the construction. [180]

Penzance sold the office building to a subsidiary of Rockwood Capital for $75 million at the end of 2016. Penzance retained a small ownership stake in the structure, and said it would continue to manage it for Rockwood. [181]

Watergate South Edit

Among the notable people who have lived at the Watergate South is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. [182] As with the Watergate East, residents of this building have discussed buying the land beneath their building, but there is no urgency as the lease on the land does not expire until 2070. [17]

Watergate West Edit

Construction problems and leaks at Watergate West led the press to ridicule this building, like others in the complex, as the "Potomac Titanic." [100] On March 2, 1971, residents of the Watergate West filed a lawsuit against SGI in which they claimed their units had defective stoves, faulty air conditioning, leaky windows and balconies, and deficient plumbing. [77] SGI said the problems were similar to those with any new building, and that it had already spent $300,000 on repairs. [77]

Like the Watergate East, residents of this building have discussed buying the land beneath their building but do not need to do so until the land lease expires in 2070. [17]

Watergate 600 Edit

Britain's National Coal Board Pension Fund sold the Watergate Office Building to John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance in the early 1990s. [5] The building underwent a renovation of its office spaces in 1994. [28] [176] The building saw extensive renovations in 1997. [183]

The Atlantic magazine owner David G. Bradley purchased the office building in 2003. [6] The new owner renovated the building again, a project which included expanding its lobby and restaurant space. [183]

In March 2017, the Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (WashREIT) purchased the building from Bradley for $135 million. Under terms of the agreement, Bradley will also become owner of an operating unit [c] within WashREIT. The new building owner said it would continue renovating various spaces in the structure, as well as upgrade and expand the rooftop amenities and build a new fitness center and new conference center. [183]

A look back at how Watergate scandal began

Forty-nine years ago Thursday, five burglars were arrested inside the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office complex in Washington. The arrests would set off a chain of events that would dominate the news for the next two years and lead to the first resignation of a U.S. president. Here’s a look back at June 17, 1972.

The Watergate Office Building was part of a six-building complex constructed along the Potomac River from 1963 to 1971 that included offices, a hotel and apartments. The DNC’s offices were located on the sixth floor.

The first story in The Washington Post began this way:

“Five men, one of whom said he is a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, were arrested at 2:30 a.m. yesterday in what authorities described as an elaborate plot to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee here.”

The plot had been devised by G. Gordon Liddy, a leader of the White House “plumbers” unit set up to plug information leaks and a strategist for President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign.

Liddy, a former FBI agent, and E. Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent, engineered two break-ins at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate in 1972. On May 28, as Liddy and Hunt stood by, six Cuban expatriates and James W. McCord Jr., a Nixon campaign security official, went in, planted bugs, photographed documents and got away cleanly.

A few weeks later, on June 17, four Cubans and McCord, wearing surgical gloves and carrying walkie-talkies, were arrested when they returned to the scene to fix problematic bugs from their first visit.

Liddy and Hunt, running the operation from a Watergate hotel room, fled but were soon arrested and indicted on charges of burglary, wiretapping and conspiracy.

In the context of 1972, with Nixon’s triumphal visit to China and a popular presidential campaign that soon crushed Democrat Sen. George S. McGovern, the Watergate case looked inconsequential at first. Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, dismissed it as a “third-rate burglary.”

The burglary was discovered when Frank Wills, a 24-year-old security guard at the Watergate offices who was working the midnight shift, discovered tape over a lock on a basement door. Thinking some worker had left it to make it easier to get in and out, he removed it. On another inspection round, he found the lock taped over again, and called the police, who eventually found five suspects. Wills quit his job soon after the burglary was discovered, believing that he did not get the raise he deserved. He later played himself in the 1976 movie version of “All the President’s Men.” Wills died in 2000 at the age of 52.

McCord, chief of security for the Nixon reelection campaign and a leader of the “plumbers” unit, led the band of burglars. Later, McCord became the first to break the silence surrounding the break-in when he revealed at an arraignment that he had once worked for the CIA. He died in 2017 at the age of 93.

Bernard L. Barker, a Cuban-born American, was recruited for undercover operations during the Nixon administration by E. Howard Hunt Jr. The ties between the two went back to Hunt’s days in the CIA and the planning of the 1961 invasion of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. He died in 2009 at the age of 92.

Eugenio Martínez, who was said to have infiltrated Cuba hundreds of times on CIA missions to plant anti-Castro agents there or extract vulnerable Cubans, was the only figure in the scandal besides Richard Nixon to be granted a presidential pardon. “I wanted to topple Castro, and unfortunately I toppled the president who was helping us, Richard Nixon,” Martínez said in a 2009 interview. He died earlier this year at the age of 98.

Frank A. Sturgis, a staunch anti-Communist, said Hunt had recruited him for the burglary by saying it was a mission essential to the nation’s security. He died in 1993 at the age of 63.

Virgilio R. Gonzales, a locksmith from Miami, was a refugee from Cuba who left following Fidel Castro’s takeover. He died in 2014 at the age of 88.

Although Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein became famous for their coverage of the scandal, the byline on the newspaper’s first article about the break-in, which appeared on the front page on Sunday, June 18, was that of veteran police reporter Alfred E. Lewis. Because of his contacts with police, he was the only reporter admitted to the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate on the day of the break-in. Years later, Woodward said Lewis was able to get the kind of details concerning the burglary and the burglars that convinced Post reporters and editors that this was no minor crime. “His work laid the foundation for what the paper was able to do in reporting the story,” Woodward said.

For months, White House aides tried to fend off reports suggesting ties between the president’s men and the burglars. But in January 1973, Hunt and the burglars pleaded guilty, and McCord and Liddy were convicted in a federal trial, all seven on charges of burglary, wiretapping and conspiracy. Disclosures by investigators and conspirators of a White House taping system that had recorded incriminating conversations between the president and his aides led to the brink of impeachment and Nixon’s resignation on Aug. 9, 1974. Dozens of conspirators went to prison, but Nixon was pardoned by his successor, President Gerald R. Ford, and died in 1994.

Howard Hunt, Watergate Conspirator, Dies, 88

E. 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.

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.

Watergate burglars arrested, June 17, 1972

On this day in 1972, five men were apprehended while breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate, an office-hotel-apartment complex near the Potomac. They possessed burglary tools, cameras, film and pen-size tear gas guns. In rooms the menhad rented at a motel across Virginia Avenue from the burglary scene, police found electronic bugging equipment.

Three of those arrested were Cuban exiles and one was a Cuban-American. Their leader was James McCord, a former CIA agent and a security coordinator for President Richard Nixon’s Committee for the Reelection of the President. Prosecutors also charged E. Howard Hunt Jr., a former White House aide, and G. Gordon Liddy, a CREEP finance counsel, as accomplices.

In September, a federal grand jury indicted Hunt, Liddy, McCord and the four burglars on eight counts of breaking into and bugging the DNC headquarters. Nixon, having proclaimed that no administration officials were involved, coasted to a second term.

In January 1973, the Watergate burglars pleaded guilty while Liddy and McCord were convicted. At their sentencing on March 23, U.S. District Court Judge John Sirica read a letter from McCord charging that the White House had conducted an extensive “coverup” to conceal its links to the break-in. In April, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and two of Nixon’s top advisers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, resigned, while White House counsel John Dean was fired.

In July 1974, the House Judiciary Committee adopted three articles of impeachment against Nixon. In the meantime, transcripts of Watergate recordings, released under an order from the U.S. Supreme Court, revealed that the president had told Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the probe. On Aug. 9, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. On Sept. 8, his successor, President Gerald Ford, pardoned him from any criminal charges.

Source: “The Final Days,” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1976)

The first burglary, May 28 [ edit | edit source ]

According to the volunteered confessions of the principals, a successful burglary of the DNC headquarters in the Watergate actually took place late in the evening of May 28.

Two purposes [ edit | edit source ]

According to G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, there were two primary missions for a first burglary of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate on the night of May 28.

Liddy said in sworn deposition: "There were two things they were to do. One was the telephone of Larry O'Brien, wiretap, and the other was a room monitoring device of Larry O'Brien's office."

Hunt said in his autobiography that "photography had been the priority mission," and that "the photography mission was paramount." Bernard Barker said in congressional testimony that his "only job" on the first burglary was to "search for documents to be photographed" by Eugenio Martínez, namely "documents that would involve contributions of a national and foreign nature to the Democratic campaign, especially to Senator McGovern, and also, possibly to Senator Kennedy," and in particular any contributions from "the foreign government that now exists on the island of Cuba."

Events of May 28 [ edit | edit source ]

Hunt says that on the evening of Sunday, May 28, he and Liddy met in the room at the Watergate hotel that Hunt and Liddy were using as a command post.

Liddy said in his autobiography, also, that he had joined Hunt in the command post at the Watergate on May 28, and was there throughout, but when asked in sworn testimony where he was during the first burglary, Liddy said "it is not so clear to me exactly where I was at what time, but I was in the area."

According to Hunt, McCord came from "the Listening Post"—room 419 of the Howard Johnson's across the street—to report that there had been "little activity" in the Democratic headquarters that day. Hunt says, "the blinds had been conveniently raised, permitting observation from the Listening Post, and as matters stood, only one employee was in the sixth-floor offices" of the DNC. Liddy, though, has said that "to see into the DNC offices", a room was needed on a higher floor of the Howard Johnson's than room 419, and such a room was not rented by McCord until the following day, May 29, when records show that McCord rented room 723.

Still, Hunt says that McCord took two walkie-talkies and "left for the Listening Post to continue observing the sixth-floor target windows," and that shortly thereafter Hunt and Liddy were joined by Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martínez, Frank Sturgis, and Virgilio Gonzalez.

Liddy says that around 9:45 p.m. word came from McCord that the DNC offices were empty. At around 11:00 p.m. Liddy and Hunt say they then sent the four men who were with them to the Watergate garage area to meet McCord, who earlier had taped the locks.

In Hunt's account, the men climbed the stairs to the sixth floor, and within 15 minutes it was reported by Bernard Barker over the walkie-talkies that Gonzalez had successfully picked the lock on the main door of the DNC. "Shortly after midnight," says Hunt, Barker reported that the team was leaving the Watergate.

According to Liddy, when the men returned to the command post room, Barker had "two rolls of 36-exposure 35-mm film he'd expended on material from O'Brien's desk, along with Polaroid shots of the desk and office." Hunt says Barker reported having "found on Lawrence O'Brien's desk a pile of correspondence," which Barker and Martinez "had photographed while McCord worked elsewhere in the office suite."

In congressional testimony, under oath, Bernard Barker said that the men never were in Larry O'Brien's office at all during the May 28 first burglary, giving that as the reason in his testimony for the later burglary on June 17 during which the men were arrested.

James McCord said in congressional testimony that during the first burglary he had placed a bug on Larry O'Brien's phone.

Photos taken during the first Watergate burglary [ edit | edit source ]

There is some contradictory testimony by the Watergate co-conspirators concerning the question of what was photographed by the burglars during the first Watergate entry, where the photos were taken, which kind of equipment was used and how many cameras were taken into the DNC that night. On the other hand, there is strong agreement among the testimonies of the co-conspirators, of other people involved and of the employee of a Miami photo shop that photos of DNC documents were in fact taken on 35-mm films during a burglary at the Watergate office building on May 28/29, that the results of this photo shooting were later developed in a photo shop in Miami and that the prints of these photos were delivered to CREEP by G. Gordon Liddy.

G. Gordon Liddy has stated in his 1980 biography Will that two kinds of photos were taken during the first Watergate burglary: Shots of documents of “material from O’Brien’s desk” exposed on 35-mm film as well as “Polaroid shots of the desk and office before anything was touched so that it could all be returned to proper order before leaving.” [Will, p. 233]. Liddy has also stated in his 1980 biography and in sworn testimony in 1996 that on Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day), he delivered to Jeb Magruder the Polaroid photographs of the interior of the Watergate office of Democratic National Committee Chairman Lawrence O'Brien. Liddy says he told Magruder that the Polaroids had been taken by Bernard Barker on the night before, May 28, during a "successful entry" into the DNC offices at the Watergate [Will, p. 234]:

"On Monday morning, May 29, I reported to Magruder the successful entry into Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate. For proof, I showed him Polaroid photographs of the interior of Larry O'Brien's office, taken by Bernard Barker."

No other person involved confirms Liddy’s version that Polaroid photos were taken at or of Larry O’Brien’s office or of his desk or at all during the first Watergate burglary and that these photos were handed over to Jeb Magruder on Monday, May 29, the morning after the burglary. Magruder writes in his memoir that Liddy, on May 29, in fact only informed him that documents had been photographed the night before in the DNC and that he, Magruder, told Liddy “to show me the results as soon as he had them.” [American Life, p. 209] According to Magruder, he received the “photographs of some documents from Larry O’Brien’s files” in “early June” [American Life, p. 209]. As Liddy tells us in his own memoir, when Magruder asked him whether the documents photographed during the first Watergate entry included material from locked file cabinets in the DNC, Liddy answered they didn’t “because our instructions had been to photograph whatever was available while the electronic installation was being accomplished, adding that the men had gone in with only one camera.” [Will, p. 236, emphasis added].

There is some dispute among the Watergate conspirators on whether the documents were taken from and/or the photographs made in the office of Chairman Larry O’Brien or elsewhere in the DNC. Bernard Barker testified in congressional hearings that he never was in Lawrence O'Brien's office during the first burglary, stating that the burglars never "came to the office of the Chairman" until the "second entry" on June 17, both were not present in the DNC in the night of the first Watergate entry), later in their memoirs described the photographed documents as showing “material from O’Brien’s desk” [Will, p.233] or “documents from Larry O’Brien’s files” [American Life, p. 209]. Howard Hunt writes in his memoir that Barker had reported to him after the burglary that “rather than commence searching the file cabinets as instructed, he had found on Larry O’Brien’s desk a pile of correspondence. This he and Martinez had photographed while McCord worked elsewhere in the office suite.” [Undercover, p. 228]. Barker himself has admitted that during this first Watergate burglary, he was searching the DNC for documents proving the assumed financial contributions from Cuba or from leftist organizations to the DNC. Because he could find none, Barker says, he looked out for documents where specific names were mentioned or others where numbers were involved. Eugenio Martínez wrote in 1974 that, during the first Watergate burglary, Barker had handed these documents (which Martinez believed to be lists of contributors to the Democratic Party) to him and that it was he, Martinez, who had taken some 30 or 40 photos of them while James McCord “worked the phones”. This version is confirmed by James McCord, who explains in his memoir that while he "had been working on the electronic end of the operation, the Miami men had their photographic equipment out and were snapping photographs of a variety of documents which Barker and the others had been pouring over." [Piece of Tape, p. 25] According to Martinez, immediately after the successful entry into the DNC, he handed the two exposed films over to Howard Hunt.

As J. Anthony Lukas writes in his Watergate book Nightmare, Hunt flew to Miami on June 10 (that is almost two weeks after the burglary), met there with Bernard Barker for lunch and handed the two rolls of film over to him. Hunt asked Barker to get the film developed. According to a Watergate article by burglar Eugenio Martínez, Barker in fact didn’t know that these films were the ones with the photos taken by Martinez during the Watergate burglary. During its Watergate investigation, the FBI established that Barker on the same day of June 10, brought the two rolls of exposed films to a photo shop in Miami. As the son of the owner, Michael Richardson, later explained to the FBI, while developing the exactly 38 photos, he realized that the pictures were taken during a “cloak-and-dagger” activity and later told Barker so. The photos showed hands in surgical gloves holding documents mentioning for example the names of a member of the Kennedy family (either Bobby or Teddy) and of Hubert Humphrey as well as “more or less a file on this woman who headed up Humphrey’s campaign.” The photo specialist also remembered shots of interoffice memos and shorthand notes as well as documents showing the heading “Chairman Democratic National Committee.” Because the FBI was later unable to locate the rug seen in the background of the photos (described as a shag rug with a long nap by Richardson) in the DNC, Watergate researcher Jim Hougan has concluded that a “double cross had taken place” and that, without Barker’s knowledge, the exposed films had secretly been exchanged with others, either by McCord or by Hunt or by both of them. Less dramatically, J. Anthony Lukas writes that, because there was a shag rug in James McCord’s hotel room 419 at the Howard Johnson Motor Inn, this suggested that “the burglars had taken at least some of the documents back there to photograph.”According to Lukas [Nightmare, p. 201], Barker brought the shots (developed quickly on the same day for a $40 surcharge) to Miami airport, handed them over to Hunt who brought them back to Washington. Liddy writes in his memoir that around June 11, Hunt gave him the prints of the photos taken in the DNC and that he “put them, together with the second batch of edited logs [of McCord’s phone tap], into the usual two sealed envelopes for delivery to John Mitchell.” [Will, p. 238]. ⎞]

In the week after the Watergate arrests of June 17, 1972, the FBI's early success in getting information from Richardson on photos shot during the first Watergate burglary of May 28/29, 1972 contributed to the general concern of President Nixon’s closest advisers that the Watergate investigation was going “in some directions we don’t want it to go.” As the transcript of the famous first "Smoking Gun” conversation of June 23 (the publication of which in mid-summer 1974 almost immediately led to the first and only resignation of an American president), shows, Richard Nixon was informed that day in the Oval Office by his Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman that (one day) earlier “an informant came in off the street to the FBI in Miami, who was a photographer or has a friend who is a photographer who developed some films through this guy Barker, and the films had pictures of Democratic National Committee letter head documents and things.” ⎟]

All in all, books and testimonies by Liddy, Hunt, Magruder, McCord, Barker, Martinez and photo shop employee Richardson support the conclusion that the House Judiciary Committee under Peter Rodino reached during its hearings on the impeachment of President Nixon in 1974: That during a burglary at the Watergate office building in the night of May 28, photos were taken of DNC documents and that the prints of these photographs were subsequently handed over to Jeb Stuart Magruder at CREEP [Judiciary Committee, book 1, p. 215 and 233].

The first burglary bugs [ edit | edit source ]

G. Gordon Liddy had recruited James McCord as an electronics expert because McCord had "a background as a tech in the Central Intelligence Agency" and also had a background "in the FBI."

McCord testified in congressional hearings that all instructions and priorities for the first burglary came to him from Liddy, and that in the first burglary the "priorities of the installation were first of all, Mr. O'Brien's offices. "

Liddy later testified in a sworn deposition that during the first burglary, McCord had been instructed to place only two electronic bugs: "to place a tap on the telephone in the office of Lawrence O'Brien and to place a room monitoring device in the office of Lawrence O'Brien. . There were two things they were to do. One was the telephone of Larry O'Brien, wiretap, and the other was a room monitoring device of Larry O'Brien's office."

McCord stated under oath in congressional hearings that during the first burglary, acting on Liddy's instructions, he had placed one bug in a phone extension "that was identified as Mr. O'Brien's," and a second phone bug on "a telephone that belonged to Mr. Spencer Oliver" (Chairman of the Association of Democratic State Chairmen).

Liddy said in his autobiography that on June 5, he and McCord discussed problems with a "room monitoring device" that McCord had planted. According to Liddy, this conversation between him and McCord about how to fix problems with a "room monitoring" bug is what led to a second burglary.

McCord said in congressional testimony that the reason a second burglary was planned was that Liddy wanted a problem with one of the phone bugs fixed, and also wanted "another device installed. a room bug as opposed to a device on a telephone installed in Mr. O'Brien's office. ."

According to Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin in their book Silent Coup, just a day or two before the burglary on the night of June 16–17—where the burglars actually were caught with bugging devices in their possession—the telephone company swept the DNC phones for bugs and found none at all.

Shortly after the burglars were caught on the morning of June 17, the police and the FBI also made sweeps of the DNC headquarters and also found no bugs at all.

The only independent evidence regarding bugs allegedly planted during a purported first burglary on May 28 is actually strong evidence that no bugs ever had been planted at all.

Wiretap phone logs [ edit | edit source ]

Several people have testified to the existence of logs of conversations from bugs purportedly planted in the DNC on the first burglary.

G. Gordon Liddy said that he was the recipient of all written records of the bugs, and said in sworn testimony: "I wasn't getting any tapes, nor was I getting transcriptions of anything. I was getting logs. . And the stuff was just of no use at all."

James McCord was responsible for passing the written records from Alfred Baldwin—who was making the records using an electric typewriter—to Liddy. James McCord said in congressional testimony that the records he received were not just logs, as Liddy reported. McCord said the records had "a summary of what was said."

Alfred Baldwin was questioned under oath in congressional hearings about what he had typed up while monitoring the bugs:

Senator Ervin: The information you got while you were at the Howard Johnson [across] from the Democratic headquarters, what form was it in when you gave it to Mr. McCord?

Alfred Baldwin: The initial day, the first day that I recorded the conversations was on a yellow sheet. On Memorial Day. when he [McCord] returned to the room he brought an electric typewriter. He instructed me in the upper left-hand corner to print—or by typewriter. the date, the page, and then proceed down into the body and in chronological order put the time and then the contents of the conversation. .

Senator Ervin: And you typed a summary of the conversations you overheard?

Alfred Baldwin: Well, they weren't exactly a summary. I would say almost verbatim, Senator.

Sally Harmony was G. Gordon Liddy's secretary. She testified in Congress that she had typed up logs of telephone conversations G. Gordon Liddy had supplied to her, and that she typed them on special stationery Liddy also had supplied with the word "GEMSTONE" printed across the top in color.

G. Gordon Liddy later admitted in sworn testimony that what he had supplied to Ms. Harmony was actually his own dictation, which Liddy claims he did from what Baldwin had produced, saying, "On Monday, June 5, 1972, I dictated from the typed logs to Sally Harmony. editing as I went along."

Summary of first burglary [ edit | edit source ]

The burglary of June 17 in which Bernard Barker, Vergilio Gonzales, Eugenio Martínez, Frank Sturgis, and James McCord were apprehended inside the DNC headquarters ostensibly was undertaken to correct problems and failings of the first burglary, covered in detail above.

There is a record of room 419 in the Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge having been rented by James McCord, but it had been rented 21 days earlier than the Memorial Day weekend, on May 5. Since McCord didn't rent room 723 until May 29, the day after the purported successful burglary of May 28, he and Baldwin would have to have moved the receiving equipment the co-conspirators say McCord earlier had installed in room 419 up to room 723 and reinstalled it there on the very day after the purported first burglary.

There is a record of the Continental Room having been used for an Ameritas dinner on the night of May 26, and witnesses to at least some of the Cuban team having been there, but there is no surviving record of who was actually in attendance.

The "command post" room in the Watergate hotel had been rented by a person or persons unknown using counterfeit ID that the CIA had created and supplied to E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy about ten months earlier, on July 23 and August 20, 1971 respectively.

There is no physical evidence to account for the whereabouts or activities of E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, James McCord, or Alfred Baldwin for Memorial Day weekend 1972, only their own testimony and anecdotal accounts.

Perhaps the best possible summary of the first burglary is provided by former FBI agent Anthony Ulasewicz. After leaving the FBI, Ulasewicz had worked for Jack Caulfield, whose "Operation Sandwedge" proposal of 1971 was the forerunner to the "GEMSTONE" plan of Liddy and Hunt. Ulasewicz wrote, "I assumed the break-in at the DNC had been orchestrated with an army in order to cover the real purpose of the effort." Others would argue that the neatest summary of the first Watergate burglary is still the conclusion reached by the Rodino Committee during its Presidential Impeachment investigation in 1972: "On or about May 27, 1972, under the supervision of Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt McCord, Barker, Martinez, Gonzalez, and Sturgis, broke into the DNC headquarters. McCord placed two monitoring devices on the telephones of DNC officials, one on the telephone of Chairman Lawrence O'Brien, and the second on the telephone of the executive director of Democratic state chairmen, R. Spencer Oliver, Jr. Barker selected documents relating to the DNC contributors, and these documents were then photographed." [Judiciary Committee, Book I, p. 215]

Watch the video: Place Branding with Julian Stubbs (May 2022).