Woodward and Bernstein’s first article on the Watergate scandal
One of five men arrested early Saturday in an attempt to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters is the salaried security coordinator for President Nixon’s re-election committee.
The suspect, former CIA employee James W. McCord Jr., 53, also holds a separate contract to provide security services to the Republican National Committee, GOP National Chairman Bob Dole said yesterday.
Former Attorney General John N. Mitchell, head of the committee for the president’s re-election, said yesterday that McCord had been employed to help set up that committee’s security system.
In a statement released in Los Angeles, Mitchell said McCord and the four other men arrested Saturday at the Democratic headquarters were “not operating on our behalf or with our consent” in the alleged eavesdropping attempt.
Dole released a similar statement, adding that “we deplore any such action in or out of politics.” A Dole aide said he was unsure at this time what security McCord had been hired to perform by the National Committee.
Law enforcement sources said last night they were looking for a sixth man in connection with the attempted eavesdropping. Sources would not give further details.
Other sources familiar with the investigation said yesterday there was still no explanation as to why the five suspects might have attempted to wiretap the Watergate Democratic headquarters at 2600 Virginia Ave., NW , or if they worked for other people or organizations.
“We are confused at this point. . . the mystery deepens,” a senior Democratic Party source said.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Lawrence F. O’Brien said that “the eavesdropping incident. . . raised the ugliest questions about the integrity of the political process that I have encountered in a quarter of a century.
“No mere statement of innocence from Mr. Nixon’s campaign manager will dispel these questions.”
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The Democratic presidential candidates were unavailable for comment yesterday.
O’Brien, in his statement, called on Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst to order an immediate “thorough professional investigation” of the entire matter by the FBI.
A Kleindienst spokesperson said yesterday. “The FBI is already investigating. . . . Their investigation report will be submitted to the criminal chamber for further action.
The White House had no comment.
McCord, 53, retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 1970 after 19 years of service and started his own “security consulting firm”, McCord Associates, at 414 Hungerford Drive, Rockville. He lives at 7 Winder Ct., Rockville.
McCord is an active Baptist and a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, according to neighbors and friends.
In addition to McCord, the four other suspects, all Miami residents, have been identified as: Frank Sturgis (also known as Frank Florini), an American who served in Fidel Castro’s Revolutionary Army and later trained a guerrilla force of anti-Castro exiles; Eugenio R. Martinez, real estate agent and notary public active in anti-Castro activities in Miami; Virgilio R. Gonzales, a locksmith; and Bernard L. Barker, a Havana native said by exiles to have worked occasionally for the CIA since the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.
The five suspects gave false names to police after being arrested on Saturday. McCord also told his attorney his name was Edward Martin, the attorney said.
Sources in Miami said yesterday that at least one of the suspects – Sturgis – was trying to organize Cubans in Miami to demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention next month.
The five suspects, well-dressed, wearing rubber surgical gloves and unarmored, were arrested around 2.30am on Saturday when they were caught by Metropolitan Police inside the 29-office suite at the Democratic headquarters on the sixth floor of Watergate.
The suspects had full photographic equipment and some electronic surveillance instruments capable of intercepting both regular conversations and telephone communications.
Police also said two ceiling panels near Party Chairman O’Brien’s office had been removed to allow a listening device to be slid into them.
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McCord was being held in the DC jail yesterday on $30,000 bail. The other four were being held there on $50,000 bail. All are charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other conversations.
McCord was hired as the Committee’s “security coordinator” for the President’s Reelection on Jan. 1, according to Powell Moore, the Nixon committee’s director of press and information.
Moore said McCord’s contract called for a “net salary of $1,200 per month and the former CIA employee was assigned an office at the committee headquarters at 1701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Over the past one or two weeks, Moore said, McCord has been visiting Miami Beach — where the Republican and Democratic national conventions will be held. The purpose of the trip, Moore said, was “to establish security at the hotel where the Nixon committee will be staying.”
In addition to McCord’s monthly salary, he and his company received a total of $2,836 from the Nixon Committee for the purchase and rental of televisions and other security equipment, according to Moore.
Moore said he wasn’t sure who on the committee hired McCord, adding that “it definitely wasn’t John Mitchell.” According to Moore, McCord never worked in previous Nixon election campaigns “because he only left the CIA two years ago, so that would have been impossible.” Last night, Moore said. McCord was still on the reelection committee’s payroll.
In his statement from Los Angeles, former Attorney General Mitchell said he was “surprised and appalled” by reports of McCord’s arrest.
“The person involved is the owner of a private security firm that was employed by our committee months ago to help install our security system,” Mitchell said. “He has, as we understand, a number of clients and business interests and we have no knowledge of those relationships.”
Referring to the alleged attempt to bug opposition headquarters, Mitchell said: ‘There is no room in our campaign, or in the electoral process, for this type of activity and we do not. neither allow nor tolerate it.”
About two hours after Mitchell released his statement, GOP National Chairman Dole said, “I understand that Jim McCord. . . is the owner of the company with which the Republican National Committee contracts for security services. . . if our understanding of the facts is correct, Dole added, “we will of course terminate our relationship with the company.”
Tom Wilck, vice chairman of communications for the GOP National Committee, said last night that Republican officials are still checking when McCord was hired, how much he was paid and what exactly his responsibilities were.
McCord lives with his wife in a $45,000 two-story home in Rockville.
After being contacted by The Washington Post yesterday, Harlan A. Westrell, who claimed to be a friend of McCord, gave the following information about McCord:
He comes from Texas, where he and his wife graduated from Baylor University. They have three children, a son who is in his third year at the Air Force Academy and two daughters.
The McCords were active in the First Baptist Church of Washington.
Other neighbors said McCord is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve and also taught safety courses at Montgomery Community College. This could not be confirmed yesterday.
McCord’s previous employment with the CIA was confirmed by the intelligence agency, but a spokesperson said further data on McCord was not available yesterday.
In Miami, Washington Post writer Kirk Schartenberg reported that two of the other suspects – Sturgis and Barker – are well known among Cuban exiles there. Both are known to have had numerous contracts with the Central Intelligence Agency, exiled sources reported, and Barker was closely associated with Frank Bender, the CIA agent who recruited many members of Brigade 2506, the Bay of Pigs invasion force.
Barker, 55, and Sturgis, 37, reportedly showed up uninvited at a meeting of Cuban exiles in May and claimed to represent an anti-communist organization of refugees from “captive nations”. The purpose of the meeting, at which the two men reportedly spoke, was to plan a protest in Miami in support of President Nixon’s decision to operate the Port of Haiphong.
Barker, a Havana native who lived in both the United States and Cuba during his youth, is a U.S. Army veteran who was imprisoned in a German POW camp during World War II. He later served in Cuba’s Buro de Investigationes – the secret police – under Fidel Castro and fled to Miami in 1959. He was reportedly one of the main leaders of the Cuban Revolutionary Council, the exile organization created with l help from the CIA to organize the Bay of Pigs. Invasion.
Sturgis, an American soldier of fortune who joined Castro in the hills of Oriente province in 1958, left Cuba in 1959 with his close friend, Pedro Diaz Lanz, then head of the Cuban air force. Diaz Lanz, once active in Cuban exile activities in Miami, has more recently been involved in right-wing movements such as the John Birch Society and Reverend Billy James Hargis’ Christian Crusade.
Sturgis, better known as Frank Florini, lost his US citizenship in 1960 for serving in a foreign military force – Castro’s army – but, with the help of then-Florida Senator George Smathers , found her.
Washington Post writers EJ Bachinski, Bill Gold, Claudia Levy, Kirk Scharfenberg, JY Smith and Martin Weil contributed to this report.