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Ashton Gray

The Watergate "First Break-In" Dilemma

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Below is an article originally published 01:32, 27 April 2006 in Wikipedia by Huntley Troth. The article since has been systematically sabotaged in Wikipedia by a person calling himself "Beek." This is the original version as posted by Troth (although I've taken certain liberties with the title and added a subtitle for this forum posting):

Ashton Gray

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The Watergate "First Break-In" Dilemma

Anatomy of a Hoax

by Huntley Troth

The Watergate first break-in on 28 May 1972 has been cited in testimony, media accounts, and popular works on Watergate as the pivotal event that led ultimately to the Watergate Scandal. Five men apprehended inside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate building on 17 June 1972 implicated themselves on other counts and charges by voluntarily telling investigators about having committed a "first break-in." Congressional and law enforcement investigations into the the first break-in relied entirely on the testimony of the co-conspirators because there was no physical evidence of a first break-in, and there were no independent witnesses to the event.

Physical evidence that might or might not have corroborated the testimony was destroyed by a number of people involved in and peripheral to first break-in, including G. Gordon Liddy, Jeb Magruder, John Dean, and acting head of the FBI at the time, L. Patrick Gray, who resigned after his admission of destruction of evidence that had been taken from the safe of E. Howard Hunt.

As a result, the only information available concerning the first break-in is contained in the sworn testimony and anecdotal accounts of the participants themselves.

As Senator Howard Baker reflected during congressional Watergate inquiries, the available testimony and accounts are "in conflict and in corroboration."

Origins of the first break-in

Motive

E. Howard Hunt, one of the two admitted co-commanders, said under oath in congressional testimony that the reason for the first break-in was because G. Gordon Liddy "had information" from "a government agency" that "the Cuban government was supplying funds to the Democratic Party." Hunt said that to "investigate this report, a surreptitious entry of Democratic national headquarters at the Watergate was made." No such report from a government agency was produced in evidence, and no other physical evidence is in the record to support or corroborate this motive.

G. Gordon Liddy, Hunt's co-commander, has never cited Cuban contributions to the Democrats as a motive for a first break-in. For several decades Liddy never cited any reason for a first break-in except an oral order Liddy said he received in a private meeting with Nixon advisor Jeb Magruder, which Liddy says took place "toward the end of April" 1972. According to Liddy, Magruder said that he "wanted to hear anything that was going on inside the office of Larry O'Brien, who was the chairman of the DNC" (and who was in Miami, Florida at the time); that Magruder "wanted to be able to monitor his [O'Brien's] telephone conversations;" and that "if there was anything else lying around," that was to be photographed.

In more recent years, Liddy began to state in speeches, and in a subsequent libel suit, that the motive for a first break-in at the DNC was John Dean's desire to determine whether the Democrats possessed information embarrassing to Dean, and that the burglars, without Liddy's knowledge at the time, must have been seeking a compromising photograph of Dean's fiancé. (In contrast, E. Howard Hunt and Bernard Barker have said under oath that the participants had been instructed to photograph documents on Democratic donors and financial records.)

There is no verifiable evidence of any motive for a first break-in at the Watergate.

Date of origin for first break-in

Records that might have verified a date for the origin of the plan for a first break-in were destroyed by the principals. There has only been conflicting testimony regarding when the plan originated:

Latest date of origin

G. Gordon Liddy has sworn under oath that the first he ever heard about an entry into the Watergate was "in late April" 1972, when he was called to Jeb Magruder's office and orally asked in private if he could "get into the Watergate." Concerning that late April meeting, the following exchange occurred in a sworn deposition of G. Gordon Liddy:

  • Q: Mr. Liddy, up until the time you received the order to enter the Watergate from Mr. Magruder, had the notion of an illegal entry into the Watergate been raised before?
    Liddy: No. Had not.

E. Howard Hunt has sworn under oath that "In April 1972, Mr. Liddy told me that we would be undertaking the Watergate operation... ."

This places the latest date for genesis of a Watergate entry plan at approximately Tuesday, 25 April 1972 or during that work week.

Earliest date of origin

Two people have said that the idea of an illegal entry into the Watergate originated earlier than late April 1972: Jeb Magruder and John Dean. Both have stated in sworn testimony that "surreptitious entry" of Watergate, among other targets, had been discussed by Liddy as early as 4 February 1972 in one of Liddy's two presentations of what has come to be known as the "GEMSTONE" plan.

In early 1972 Liddy presented for approval two versions of a plan drawn up by Liddy and E. Howard Hunt for political intelligence activities. The plans were presented in closed-door meetings in the office of Attorney General John Mitchell, with Mitchell, John Dean, and Jeb Magruder present at both Liddy presentations. These plans in their various incarnations have become known as "GEMSTONE"

G. Gordon Liddy has stated under oath that entry into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at Watergate was never part of any plan he presented for approval.

Gemstone 1

The first Liddy presentation was made on 27 January 1972 and had a budget of $1,000,000. It was rejected by John Mitchell. There was no mention of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at Watergate in that presentation. Liddy states that the proposal did provide for several "surreptitious entries" and for "electronic surveillance." Liddy's accounting of the four targets listed in the 27 January 1972 presentation for such activities were as follows:

  • Muskie headquarters on K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. (later to become an optional "target of opportunity" after Muskie dropped out of Presidential contention).
  • McGovern headquarters on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
  • Democratic National Convention (not "Committee") headquarters, at a hotel in Miami yet to be determined.
  • One optional "target of opportunity." (In a later account, Liddy said there were two optional "targets of opportunity;" Muskie had dropped out of the race by then, with any resources earmarked for Muskie thereby being converted to a second optional "target of opportunity.")

Gemstone 2

The second Liddy presentation was made on 4 February 1972 and had been pared down to a budget of $500,000.

Liddy has sworn under oath that Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate was not a proposed target for any "surreptitious entry" or electronic surveillance in the 4 February 1972 proposal (or in any other proposal he ever submitted). John Mitchell swore under oath that no specific targets were discussed in the 4 February 1972 meeting. John Dean and Jeb Magruder swore under oath that specific targets were discussed, but their independent accounts disagree or are uncertain on what those specific targets were.

Jeb MagruderBoth Magruder and Dean have testified that the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami was one of the targets discussed—having been named as Democratic National Convention (not "Committee") headquarters at the time. Both said they thought Democratic National Committee chairman Larry O'Brien had been brought up as a target, but it is unclear as to location—Miami or D.C. Both said they thought that Democratic National Committee headquarters had been brought up, but John Dean was unclear about where that referred to, indicating possible confusion between "Democratic National Convention," "Democratic National Committee," and the location of Committee chairman, Larry O'Brien—who was actively participating in the planning and set-up of the Democratic National Convention in Miami then, traveling "back and forth" between there and D.C.

At all relevant times offhand use of the initials "DNC" could have stood for either "Democratic National Committee"—which was headquartered in the Watergate in Washington, D.C.—or for "Democratic National Convention"—which was being planned and organized in Miami, Florida, with the Fontainebleau Hotel having been named as its location.

Only Jeb Magruder has asserted unequivocally that Democratic National Committee headquarters was named as a target in the 4 February 1972 meeting.

The earliest anecdotal and uncorroborated reference to a possible "surreptitious entry" into the Watergate is 4 February 1972.

The extreme dates for the origin of any operation related to Watergate are Friday, 4 February 1972 (Magruder testimony) and approximately Tuesday, 25 April 1972 (Liddy testimony), a period of 81 days.

Between these two extremes is 30 March 1972, date of the Key Biscayne, Florida meeting of John Mitchell, Jeb Magruder, and Fred LaRue.

Gemstone 3, the 30 March 1972 meeting

Jeb Magruder said in sworn testimony that he submitted to John Mitchell the third and final version of Hunt and Liddy's "GEMSTONE" plan—this time only in the form of a condensed memorandum—on 30 March 1972 in Key Biscayne, Florida, and got Mitchell's approval for a budget said to have been $250,000.

Magruder alone has stated that a first break-in at the Watergate was part of this plan memo.

John Mitchell swore under oath, and until he died, that there was no mention of Watergate in the memo, and that he never approved any Liddy plan memo at all.

Fred LaRue testified that Mitchell only said, "Well, we don't have to do anything on this right now." Fred LaRue also testified that while the memo Magruder had brought to the meeting referred to "electronic surveillance," LaRue could not recall any specific targets being named.

Liddy was not at the Key Biscayne meeting, but was in Washington, D.C. at the time. He has sworn under oath that he never put the Watergate as a target in any plan he submitted for approval.

Magruder—the sole source of assertion that Watergate was in the memo—has changed his own testimony about the Key Biscayne meeting several times. Under oath, Magruder said that John Mitchell approved the memo concerning a "Liddy plan" on his own. More recently, Magruder told PBS that he overheard Nixon himself on the phone to John Mitchell on 30 March 1972 ordering approval of a "Liddy plan" to break into DNC headquarters and plant wiretaps.

The Key Biscayne memo does not survive. The earlier Liddy plans do not survive. There is no physical evidence to support any of the anecdotal accounts.

Source of first break-in at the Watergate

Liddy has sworn under oath that Magruder gave to Liddy the order to "get into the Watergate" in late April 1972. Liddy has opined that Magruder was merely passing the order along from "a higher source," but no evidence exists for the order at all, or for Liddy's assumption of a different source than Magruder.

Magruder has sworn under oath that Watergate entry was an idea that originated from Liddy and Hunt, that it was included in the 4 February 1972 plan that Liddy presented to Mitchell, Magruder, and Dean, and that it was included in the Key Biscayne memo, 30 March 1972.

Summary of origin for a first break-in at the Watergate

The genesis of an illegal Watergate entry is not on any linear path; it is on a closed loop, both in time and in alleged source:

  • A. It has no identifiable beginning, spanning time from 4 February 1972 (Magruder testimony) to late April 1972 (Liddy testimony), revolving around a 30 March 1972 center (Magruder testimony).
    B. It has no verifiable source, since Magruder cites Liddy/Hunt as the source (4 February 1972 GEMSTONE presentation) and Liddy cites Magruder as the source (late April 1972 meeting).

There are no documents and no evidence in existence that can prove or counter either conflicting claim.

Two failed attempts: Memorial Day weekend 1972

The Watergate co-conspirators who were apprehended on and after 17 June 1972 volunteered testimony about an earlier 28 May 1972 break-in they said they had been involved in at the Watergate, and also volunteered information about two previous unsuccessful attempts during Memorial Day weekend 1972. There was no evidence or external knowledge of any such earlier break-in that could have been used to prosecute them on the additional counts of illegal entry and wiretapping for any such earlier break-in without their volunteered testimony.

There is no physical evidence of a first break-in on 28 May 1972, or of any of the prior unsuccessful attempts the participants described.

Ameritas dinner break-in attempt, 26 May 1972

The Watergate co-conspirators testified that a dinner had been held in the Continental Room at the Watergate on the evening of Friday, 26 May 1972 for the purpose of a first attempt at breaking into the DNC headquarters that night through a corridor leading from the Continental Room to the elevators and staircase. They said the attempt had failed.

Briefing for the Ameritas break-in attempt

E. Howard Hunt stated that he flew to Miami prior to 22 May 1972 and briefed Bernard Barker about a planned break-in at the Watergate that would be conducted under the cover of a dinner in the Watergate's Continental Room. According to Hunt, Barker told Hunt about the existence of an inactive corporation Barker had formed "sometime before" called Ameritas that could be used to hold the dinner as a cover for the break-in. In sworn testimony, G. Gordon Liddy said "we created an organization called Ameritas" for the purpose of the break-in.

Bernard Barker said in congressional hearings that although he had been briefed on the Ameritas dinner being held, the first time he was told that the dinner was a cover for a break-in attempt was on 22 May 1972 at the Mullen public relations firm in Washington, D.C., where E. Howard Hunt worked, after Barker had flown with his men to Washington to attend the dinner. Barker went on to testify that he then briefed the other men about the break-in.

Virgilio Gonzalez, the locksmith recruited by Barker and Hunt for the break-in, said in congressional testimony that he heard nothing at all about a planned break-in until late on the night of the dinner, after the meal was over, and that Hunt told him then that that's what they were there for.

Whereabouts of G. Gordon Liddy

Liddy said in his autobiography that he was at the Ameritas dinner, providing details such as "polishing off McCord's meal," being bored by a film being shown, and finally leaving with the rest of the men (except for Hunt and Gonzalez) when told to leave the Continental Room by a guard at 10:30 p.m.

In later sworn deposition, Liddy stated under oath that he "was not at that dinner," saying further: "I was present in the area but not at that dinner."

The corridor door alarm

In his autobiography, E. Howard Hunt said that before the day of the Ameritas dinner, he and James McCord had inspected the Continental Room when it was vacant and noted "a magnetic alarm" system on the door to the corridor, but that "McCord said he was familiar with the system and would be able to defeat it when the time came."

In congressional testimony, Hunt said that he and Virgilio Gonzalez had "noticed there was...a magnetic alarm" only after he and Gonzalez became locked in the Continental Room late that night when the dinner was over.

Liddy, in his autobiography, said McCord had "discovered that the alarm was not activated until 11 p.m.," and that was "the key" to their plan, because they "expected the DNC headquarters would be vacant well before 11 p.m," allowing them to get into the access corridor before the alarm was activated. According to Liddy, that plan was thwarted when a guard looked in at 10:30 and told them they would have to leave. Liddy says that he left the Continental Room dinner then with others (see "Whereabouts of G. Gordon Liddy," above).

In deposition testimony under oath, Liddy said the alarm on the door to the corridor was supposed to be "disarmed by McCord" after it was activated at 11:00 p.m., "and that would be how we would get in." According to Liddy's sworn testimony, "everything went according to plan until it came time for Mr. McCord to disarm the alarm, and he was unable to do so."

Whereabouts of James McCord

G. Gordon Liddy said in his autobiography that James McCord "excused himself from the banquet, leaving us with one extra serving." E. Howard Hunt, in his autobiography, said that McCord never came to the dinner. In both accounts, McCord was not there to disarm the alarm.

According to Liddy, McCord had two important assignments on the first break-in: "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." By 26 May 1972, date of the Ameritas dinner, Liddy had given at least $69,000 in cash to McCord for the purchase of electronic equipment.

Liddy says that on the night of the Ameritas dinner McCord was elsewhere, reporting by walkie-talkie whether the DNC headquarters was yet vacant. E. Howard Hunt says that McCord was "across the street"—room 419 at the Howard Johnson's motel. Hunt also has stated that McCord was in walkie-talkie communication with him later in the evening, after Hunt and Gonzalez hid in a closet of the Continental Room, and that McCord was reporting to Hunt on the status of the DNC headquarters in the Watergate.

The only room at the Howard Johnson's across the street that McCord had occupancy of and access to on 26 May 1972 was room 419, on the fourth floor. The DNC offices in the Watergate were on the sixth floor. Liddy said in his autobiography: "McCord told me he had rented a room at the Howard Johnson's motel across the street from the Watergate, but it was on the fourth floor. To see into the DNC offices, he'd need one higher up, which he promised to get." McCord did get room 723 in the Howard Johnson's, on the seventh floor, but not until 29 May 1972, three days after the Ameritas dinner.

Whereabouts of Alfred Baldwin

Alfred Baldwin had been hired by James McCord, and on 26 May 1972 was the "monitor," or lookout, in room 419 of the Howard Johnson's. According to both Liddy and Hunt, one of only four walkie-talkies available that night had been allocated to Baldwin for use in room 419. Another walkie-talkie had been allocated to McCord, who, according to some of the conflicting accounts, also was in room 419 with Baldwin throughout the entire dinner.

Whereabouts of E. Howard Hunt and Virgilio Gonzalez

Liddy, Hunt, and Virgilio Gonzales have said that Hunt and Gonzalez stayed behind and hid when everyone was told to leave. Liddy says that was at 10:30 p.m. Hunt said in congressional testimony that it was at 11:00 p.m.

In his autobiography Hunt said that everyone left earler, at 10:00 p.m., and that he and Gonzalez stayed behind then hoping to "proceed through the corridor before the alarm system was armed at eleven."

In congressional testimony Hunt said one reason for having stayed behind at 11:00 with Gonzalez was to open the door to the corridor leading into the office building where DNC headquarters were, but said "we noticed there was an alarm, magnetic door alarm."

Gonzalez testified under oath that after everyone had left, he emerged from the closet with Hunt and tried to open the corridor door—"the door going into the building." When he did, Gonzalez said he discovered "that it had the alarm connected," and told Hunt: "If we open that door, the alarm will go off."

In his autobiography, Hunt wrote that "the entire banquet subterfuge had been wasted" because McCord had not "neutralized the corridor alarm system as promised."

In congressional testimony, Hunt said another reason that he and Gonzalez, the locksmith, stayed behind when everyone else left at 11:00 was to re-open the locked main entry doors to the Continental Room. Hunt says in his autobiography that Gonzalez did attempt to pick the main Continental Room entrance doors, but that despite Gonzalez's "best efforts, the lock would not yield."

Virgilio Gozalez said in congressional testimony that he did not attempt to pick the lock on the main doors to the Continental Room at all because they were glass and "somebody could see me." According to Gonzalez, he never had a chance to pick that lock.

All accounts say that Hunt and Gonzalez spent the night locked in the Continental Room.

Photography equipment

In his autobiography, E. Howard Hunt emphasized the importance of photography for the first break-in. Hunt had told Bernard Barker: "the idea is to photograph the list of contributors the Democrats are required to keep," saying, "the team's prime function...was photography," and that "the photography mission was paramount."

Bernard Barker told Congressional investigators that his "only job" on the first break-in was to "search for documents to be photographed" by Eugenio Martinez.

Hunt's own detailed account of the Ameritas dinner, where the break-in team was gathered for the purposes of getting access to the DNC offices after hours, does not mention the photography equipment. In a later account of a second failed attempt at the first break-in (see Second break-in attempt, night of 27–28 May 1972), Hunt describes the Cubans having "a suitcase" to carry the photo equipment and lights in, plus "a hatbox" to carry a Polaroid camera and film, but neither Hunt, nor any of the other participants who have described the Ameritas dinner, mention anything about the presence of photography equipment for the break-in being at the dinner.

Summary of Ameritas Dinner

Other than the testimony of the participants, there is no evidence to support or verify any of the accounts of the events before, during, or after the Ameritas dinner on the night of Friday, 26 May 1972.

McGovern headquarters night of 26–27 May 1972

Alfred Baldwin stated under oath in congressional testimony that around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning of 27 May 1972—during the same night as the Ameritas dinner break-in attempt at the Watergate—he, Liddy, McCord, and other unnamed Watergate co-conspirators were at McGovern headquarters. In his testimony, Baldwin said that he rode around in a car with James McCord and G. Gordon Liddy for "over a half hour," McCord having been "in communication over a walkie-talkie unit with some other individuals."

Baldwin is detailed in his account, making reference to McCord having been looking for a "yellow volkswagon" with a "boy" in it—Thomas Gregory, one of Hunt's operatives working on the inside at McGovern headquarters—before they pulled up next to "a light colored car" from which Liddy emerged. According to Baldwin, Liddy got into the car with McCord and Baldwin. Baldwin says that after riding around for over a half an hour in discussion about the prospects of getting into McGovern headquarters, Liddy said, "We'll abort the mission."

Baldwin also testified that he had been introduced by McCord to G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt only hours earlier, during the afternoon of 26 May 1972, prior to the Ameritas dinner, in room 419 of the Howard Johnson's motel.

G. Gordon Liddy swore in deposition testimony, and wrote in his autobiography, that he did not meet Alfred Baldwin at all until four days later, on 31 May 1972, in what Liddy described as the "observation post" room at the Howard Johnson's motel across Virginia Avenue from the Watergate.

Second break-in attempt, night of 27–28 May 1972

Several of the co-conspirators have said that there was a failed second attempt at a first break-in on the night of Saturday, 27 May 1972, continuing into the early morning hours of Sunday, 28 May 1972. The two most detailed accounts come from the co-commanders, Liddy and Hunt, whose accounts not only contradict each other, but expose other contradictions and omissions.

According to Hunt, on the evening of Saturday, 27 May 1972, he had Bernard Barker and Eugenio Martinez (a.k.a. Rolando) come to the room that Hunt and Liddy were staying in at the Watergate Hotel. Hunt says he had them set up the "lights and photography equipment," and simulate photographing documents while he watched them. He then briefed them again on the importance of photographing Democratic "account books, contributor lists, that sort of thing." They then packed the photography equipment and lights into a suitcase to carry with them in the new break-in attempt, along with a hatbox carrying a Polaroid camera and film.

No such photography dry-run had been done prior to the previous night's Ameritas dinner.

Both Hunt and Liddy say in their respective accounts that later on the evening of 27 May 1972, Barker, Martinez, Gonzales, and Frank Sturgis went to the garage-level entrance to the stairway, where McCord had "taped the locks," and there met up with McCord. Hunt and Liddy, though, give conflicting accounts about when during the night this is supposed to have occurred.

Hunt has said that there was a "guard change at eight o'clock," after which McCord had taped the locks. He then states that "a little after ten o'clock" word came from McCord—in room 419 of the Howard Johnson's—that the DNC headquarters were empty, so the Cubans left then to meet McCord in the garage.

In Liddy's account, the failed break-in attempt happened two hours later. According to Liddy, there was not a "guard change" at eight o'clock, but "a building inspection." According to Liddy, they all were waiting for hours after that for word that the DNC headquarters were empty, which didn't come until "too close to the midnight shift change and building inspection" for Liddy's comfort, so they "waited until that was accomplished and sent in the team."

Hunt and Liddy do agree that the Cubans met up with McCord at the garage-level entrance and climbed six flights of stairs to the DNC headquarters, where Gonzalez attempted for some time without success to pick the lock on the main door.

Gonzalez had been recruited for the job because he was a locksmith. On or about Tuesday, 23 May 1972, Gonzalez had been taken overtly up to the sixth floor of the Watergate by McCord to view the entrance to DNC headquarters, so Gonzalez had gotten to see the actual DNC lock four days before this second break-in attempt. Hunt states in his autobiography that on Wednesday, 24 May 1972, he had gone up "to the glass doors of DNC headquarters" and had "pressed a lump of plasteline against the door lock." With it, Hunt says he "made a plaster cast from which Virgilio Gonzalez was to be able to determine the kind of lock-picking devices he would need for the entry."

Plasteline is a non-hardening clay. Pressing plasteline into a lock generally results in a lock filled with plasteline, not an impression of the key for the lock. If Hunt did end up with something from which a plaster cast could have been made—which would have required the intermediate step of a rubber mold—he would have had a plaster casting of the key needed to unlock the door.

Given that Hunt says that he made the plasteline impression on Wednesday, 24 May 1972, the locksmith Virgilio Gonzalez would have had a model of the key to DNC headquarters for two days before the Ameritas dinner on the night of 26 May, and three days before the 27 May second attempt.

Hunt and Liddy provide different accounts of how they learned of the lockpicking failure:

Hunt says that he and Liddy had waited in their "command post" room at the Watergate Hotel (not room 419 of the Howard Johnson's), getting reports by walkie-talkie of the men's progress to DNC headquarters, then getting a report that Gonzalez was working on the lock. Hunt says that about an hour passed after that, when "Barker came on the air to report that Gonzalez was unable to pick the lock" because he "doesn't have the right tools." In Hunt's account, Liddy then ordered the men over walkie-talkie to leave the building and report back to the "command post."

Liddy says that he and Hunt waited to "learn by radio" that the attempt had been successful, but that no radio report came. Instead, he says, the men merely showed back up at the "command post" in "about forty-five minutes," and that there, in person, Barker reported Gonzalez's failure to pick the lock. Liddy goes so far as to say that he was concerned enough about the lock having been damaged by Gonzalez that he took the risk of going up the elevator to the DNC headquarters himself and inspecting it while Hunt and the others waited in the "command post." Liddy says the lock had "marks of tampering," but they "weren't obvious," so he returned to the room.

Liddy goes on to say that he "overrode Hunt's objections and ordered Gonzalez to return to Miami the following morning for the correct tools." Hunt says that he, not Liddy, "excoriated" Barker and Gonzalez, and told Barker that he "wanted Villo [Gonzalez] to return to Miami in the morning, pick up whatever tools he might need and return by nightfall."

In congressional testimony, Hunt was asked if there had been a second unsuccessful break-in attempt after the Ameritas dinner. Hunt replied under oath:

"I recall something about that, but it seems to me that was more in the nature of a familiarization tour, that McCord took not more than one or two of the men up there and walked them down [sic] to the sixth floor to show them the actual door. Then they simply got back into the elevator. It was simply a familiarizing with the operational problem of the two glass doors that opened into the Democratic National headquarters."

Summary of second failed break-in attempt

Other than the testimony of the co-conspirators, there is no evidence to support or verify any of the accounts of a second break-in attempt on the night of Saturday, 27 May 1972.

The first break-in, 28 May 1972

According to the volunteered confessions of the principals, a successful break-in of the DNC headquarters in the Watergate actually took place late in the evening of 28 May 1972.

Two purposes

According to G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, there were two primary missions for a first break-in of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate on the night of 28 May 1972.

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 break-in was to "search for documents to be photographed" by Eugenio Martinez, 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 28 May 1972

Hunt says that on the evening of Sunday, 28 May 1972, 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 28 May 1972, and was there throughout, but when asked in sworn testimony where he was during the first break-in, 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, 29 May 1972, 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 Martinez, 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 28 May 1972 first break-in, giving that as the reason in his testimony for the later break-in on 17 June 1972 during which the men were arrested.

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

Polaroid photos of Lawrence O'Brien's office

G. Gordon Liddy has stated in his biography and in sworn testimony that on Monday, 29 May (Memorial Day) 1972, he delivered to Jeb Magruder Polaroid photographs of the interior of the Watergate office of Democratic National Committee Chairman Lawrence O'Brien. Liddy says that the Polaroids had been taken by Bernard Barker on the night before, 28 May 1972, during a "successful entry" into the DNC offices at the Watergate:

"On Monday morning, 29 May, 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."

Bernard Barker testified in congressional hearings that he never was in Lawrence O'Brien's office during the first break-in, stating that the burglars never "came to the office of the Chairman" until the "second entry" on 17 June 1972, the night the burglars were apprehended.

The first break-in bugs

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 break-in came to him from Liddy, and that in the first break-in 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 break-in, 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 break-in, 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 5 June 1972 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 break-in.

McCord said in congressional testimony that the reason a second break-in 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 break-in on the night of 16–17 June 1972—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 17 June 1972, 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 break-in on 28 May 1972 is actually strong evidence that no bugs ever had been planted at all.

Wiretap phone logs

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

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, 5 June [1972], I dictated from the typed logs to Sally Harmony...editing as I went along."

Summary of first break-in

The break-in of 17 June 1972 in which Bernard Barker, Vergilio Gonzales, Eugenio Martinez, Frank Sturgis, and James McCord were apprehended inside the DNC headquarters ostensibly was undertaken to correct problems and failings of the first break-in, covered in detail above.

There is a record of room 419 in the Howard Johnson's motel having been rented by James McCord, but it had been rented 21 days earlier than the Memorial Day weekend, on 5 May 1972. Since McCord didn't rent room 723 until 29 May 1972, the day after the purported successful break-in of 28 May 1972, 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 break-in.

There is a record of the Continental Room having been used for an Ameritas dinner on the night of 26 May 1972, 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 23 July 1971 and 20 August 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 break-in 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."

References

  1. Hunt, E. Howard Undercover, Memoirs of an American Secret Agent Berkely ISBN 399-11446-7
  2. Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings, 93rd Congress Book I, Events Prior to the Watergate Break-in U.S. Government Printing Office 1974
  3. Senator Howard Baker during Fred LaRue testimony, July 18–19 1973, 6 SSC 2280–82, 2344
  4. Alfred Baldwin testimony, May 24, 1973; 1 SSC 399–401, 410–11
  5. Bernard Barker testimony, May 11, 1973; 165–66, 196–97 SSC Executive Session
  6. Bernard Barker testimony, May 24, 1973; 1 SSC 371, 377
  7. Virgilio Gonzalez testimony, December 10, 1973; 9–11 SSC Executive Session
  8. Sally Harmony testimony, June 5, 1973; 2 SSC 461, 467
  9. E. Howard Hunt testimony, September 24-25, 1973; 9 SSC 3683–84, 3688, 3708, 3710–11, 3764, 3785–86, 3792
  10. E. Howard Hunt testimony, December 17, 1973; 13–15 Executive Session
  11. Fred LaRue testimony, July 18-19, 1973; 6 SSC 2280–82, 2284, 2344
  12. Fred LaRue testimony, April 18, 1973; 7–12 Watergate Grand Jury
  13. Jeb Magruder testimony, June 14, 1973; 2 SSC 787-90, 793–97, 800
  14. Jeb Magruder testimony, May 2, 1973; 22-25 Watergate Grand Jury
  15. James McCord testimony, May 18, 1973; 1 SSC 128, 156–57, 169–70, 184–85, 195, 232–33
  16. Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings, 93rd Congress Book II, Events Following the Watergate Break-in U.S. Government Printing Offlce 1974
  17. Robert Mardian testimony, May 24 1973, 6 SSC 2357–63
  18. Liddy, G. Gordon Will, the Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy St. Martin's ISBN 0-312-92412-7
  19. Liddy, G. Gordon Deposition in Dean v. Liddy et al., U.S. District Court D.C. 92-1807
  20. "New Shocks—and More to Come" (May 7, 1973) Time
  21. "Victory How Sweet It Is!" The Liddy Letter

========================

Edited by Ashton Gray

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Below is an article originally published 01:32, 27 April 2006 in Wikipedia by Huntley Troth. The article since has been systematically sabotaged in Wikipedia by a person calling himself "Beek." This is the original version as posted by Troth:

Ashton Gray

I hope people will READ this article ( by clicking on the hypertext of your original post of this name), and then click on the "discussion" portion -(top of page)- and read the discussion. It's very similar to reading the posts here on this very topic. What irony!!

Dawn

=========================

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I hope people will READ this article ( by clicking on the hypertext of your original post of this name)

Actually, I've edited all my messages that originally pointed to that Wikipedia page to point to this thread instead, which is protected from that kind of sabotage.

If people want to compare, the Wikipedia page is here:

Watch honest Watergate "first break-in" information being re-fictionalized in slow motion before your very eyes

If you click on the "discussion" tab at the top, you can see how the little worm who has been sent in is attempting to justify his vandalism. Note that he won't reveal how he has all these federal "Official Story" materials at his fingertips, nor how he's able to sit on the article like a vulture around the clock.

Then click the "history" tab, and track his worm-like movements, slowly, slowly, leaving droppings of all the federal fictions scattered throughout.

Maybe somebody should add a note to the discussion page letting him know that the vulture is being watched by hawks above, and linking back to this thread. :rolleyes:

Ashton Gray

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Ashton,

Putting aside the Forum controversy that seems to be swirling around your posts, you are an outstanding writer and a dogged researcher.

As far as your approach in questioning Messrs Baldwin and Caddy, I'll definitely stay out of that discussion for the time being.

Have you ever considered self-publishing a small run book on Watergate? I'll buy two or three copies.

Thanks for making me revisit the Watergate mystery. Time does tend to blur perceptions.

Take care,

Mike Hogan

PS) I have carefully read the links you have provided.

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[quote name='Michael Hogan' date='Jun 29 2006, 10:45 PM' post='66700']

Ashton,

Putting aside the Forum controversy that seems to be swirling around your posts, you are an outstanding writer and a dogged researcher.

As far as your approach in questioning Messrs Baldwin and Caddy, I'll definitely stay out of that discussion for the time being.

Have you ever considered self-publishing a small run book on Watergate? I'll buy two or three copies.

Thanks for making me revisit the Watergate mystery. Time does tend to blur perceptions.

Take care,

Mike Hogan

PS) I have carefully read the links you have provided.

Mike:

I do believe he's written one here for us. For free B)

Dawn

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Hi Michael,

Putting aside the Forum controversy that seems to be swirling around your posts, you are an outstanding writer and a dogged researcher.

I'll warrant the "dogged researcher" part, and thank you graciously about the writer part—although you might want to get a second opinion on that. There's an abundance of other opinions around.

As far as your approach in questioning Messrs Baldwin and Caddy, I'll definitely stay out of that discussion for the time being.

Can't say that I blame you. I'm beginning to have grave suspicions that I'm not really a contender in the forum Mr. Congeniality contest. And I already know I don't have a prayer in the bathing suit competition.

Have you ever considered self-publishing a small run book on Watergate? I'll buy two or three copies.

No, I haven't. I've been far too busy with the time and limited resources I have available just to get this information into the public view. (As Dawn pointed out, maybe at some point I could organize what I've already written and wrap it in a cover. I'll give it some thought.)

Thanks for making me revisit the Watergate mystery. Time does tend to blur perceptions.

The pleasure's all mine! I'm very gratified to know that the information has been of value and interest to you. It makes all the work worth it, and I hope you'll use it to help rekindle the interest of others.

Ashton Gray

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]

. And I already know I don't have a prayer in the bathing suit competition.

( Ashton Gray)

Maybe that should be a new rule: that we all post a pic in our bathing suits B)

Happy weekend everyone.

Let's hope the forum stays up and

any (phony) "terror" threats on tv are seen for what they are.

(happens every July 4th- high alert)

Dawn

ps I see Tim Carroll's name at the bottom of the page when I am reading here, but find it

curious that his posts are absent. Sure not like Tim, who is a resident "Dallas to Watergate"

expert, imho.

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A couple of points.

1) Who is Huntley Troth? Sure sounds like a nom de plume for Ashton Gray...

2) The article posted above is not remotely convincing of anything. Anyone who's done a study of eyewitness statements and compared them over a period of years will see that people experiencing the same event will have different impressions, and that these impressions will degrade and change over time. The writer's supposition that one can take from two conflicting eyewitness accounts that the event discussed NEVER happened, is bizarre. To apply this logic to the Kennedy assassination, my area of expertise, one can say that because Mrs. Connally remembered her husband yelling "Oh, no, no, no" before he was shot and he remembered yelling "Oh, no, no, no" after he was shot, that he was never shot. Crazy.

3) The article cites Magruder's testimony and compares it with the statements of others, in an attempt tp show that all the stories conflict. The writer fails to cite that Magruder's testimony was an admitted rehearsed perjury, for which Magruder eventually served time.

4) The writer cites the conflicting statements regarding the motive for the break-in, and takes from this that these men were mis-remembering a rehearsed lie. This is silly, IMO. When one reads the Cubans' statements, it is clear that Hunt misled them about the purpose of the break-in, using Democratic complicity with Castro as the lure to receive their free services. Martinez was later to write about Hunt's deception. Hunt himself I believe admitted to this deception (although right now I can't remember where).

5) The writer's representation of Sally Harmony's testimony is misleading. Ms. Harmony testified that she wrote up transcripts of the conversations that were dictated by Liddy. Liddy of course refused to testify. McCord testified to witnessing Ms. Harmony's retyping of some of the transcripts for the purposes of their presentaion to Mitchell. She says she wrote these logs up as a script, with questions and answers. Her presentation was thus different than Baldwin's notes, which Liddy, as stated in the article above, found unusable.

5) Gray's representation of "the worms" on Wikipedia, who sabotaged this article, is a bit strange. It is my understanding that Wikipedia is a reader-written history, and that the articles presented on Wikipedia are subject to change when they are too exotic or controversial. Gray's inability to acknowledge that his (and his pal Troth's) ideas are on the fringe and are subject to review and alteration is indicative of his over-whelming self-absorption.

I ask you again, Mr. Gray, did the Diem cables exist or not?

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<Deep Inhale> Ahhhhhh, I love the smell of smoke screens in the morning!

Ashton Gray

Edited by Ashton Gray

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