Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26, 1972

The first attempt to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex.

The Cuban-Americans registered at the Watergate hotel (a separate but connected building to the building with the DNC offices), with phony names, as people working for a company that was being represented at a convention in town, which had drawn many such business delegations. This was three operatives from the Fielding break-in, two new Cuban-Americans, including a locksmith, and Frank Sturgis, who we met from the Hoover memorial affair. They booked a room for a reception which, they found in their investigation of the place, had a door that ran to an underground corridor that would get them to a stairwell and an elevator that would take them to the DNC offices without passing through security. The only problem was that the door had an alarm, which was activated, they discovered, at 11PM. No problem, they thought; May 26 was a Friday night and they figured they could get started by then.

They went ahead and held their banquet, complete with a film that they watched, Liddy reports, three times through in case anyone was looking through the window (why? I have no idea; why couldn't they just have been having after-dinner conversation?). Either McCord or his recently-hired ex-FBI assistant, Al Baldwin, meanwhile, was supposed to call from the Howard Johnson's across the street with the all-clear as soon as the DNC was dark and empty. But by 10:30, with no word from McCord and a security guard coming by on a regular sweep and telling them that they would have to leave, most of the group gave up for the night -- except for Hunt and the locksmith, Virgilio Gonzalez. The two of them hid in a liquor closet until the guard was gone, only to find that by the time they gave at at 11 when the door alarm would be activated, the door out of the banquet room was now locked, and the two of them were stuck there overnight, staying hidden in the liquor cabinet until it was safe to come out.

Or at least that's the story that Liddy tells in his book, which if I follow this correctly seems to come from Hunt, but as Emery reports the story doesn't quite work -- among other things, there doesn't seem to have been any alarm on the door in question, 11 PM set-time or no. What Emery also ads, but Liddy does not, is that Liddy's group after leaving the banquet room went back to McGovern headquarters, but failed to make any headway there, either.

One more bit: Baldwin, McCord's new assistant, met Hunt and Liddy at the Howard Johnson's that night -- and people tried to use aliases, but botched that. McCord rented the HoJo room through his own security firm, thus making it perfectly traceable to him; Baldwin made traceable personal calls to his family from the room. The Cubans used phony names and a phony business at the Watergate, but to get the banquet room, used stationary from a company in Miami that Barker was associated with. Earlier in the week, to learn the Watergate offices better, they just went there and looked around, which required them all signing the security register on the main floor (the one they were avoiding with the whole banquet room scam). Why does any of that matter? If any of them were ever caught, or say if the bugs they were trying to plant had been discovered, the Liddy-Hunt team were leaving plenty of clues for anyone investigating it, clues that would very rapidly lead to CRP, the White House, and potentially the Plumbers operations, including the Fielding break-in.

And so that's the first try at the Watergate.

5 comments:

  1. Matthew BeckmannMay 27, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Great Stuff, Doctor. Just Great.

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  2. Sounds almost like a Jimmy Breslin novel, doesn't it?

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  3. And yet, there are people that believe that 9/11 was an inside job and Obama invented time travel to plant his birth announcement in the paoer.

    Conspiracy theories are rarely right because human beings just aren't that competent!

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  4. Ever hear of “fiat justitia”

    Nixon = "I am not a crook" - Watergate

    Obama = "The only people who don't want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide" - ObamaGate

    Be patient it’s a matter of time!! ;-)

    Good point though Matt Jarvis,so what do we do then with Obama's supposedly self written bio in a booklet (circa early 1990's, Acton & Dystel Pub.) where he clearly stated that he was Kenya born? When discovered, immediately they change it and claim it was an error!!! Oh please!!!

    "I don't give them hell,I just tell the truth and they think it's hell" - President Harry Truman

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  5. Love these Watergate posts. Thanks!

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