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Bernard Barker, 92, a Watergate Burglar, Dies

Bernard L. Barker, one of the burglars whose 1972 break-in at the Watergate building in Washington led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, died Friday. He was 92.

His stepdaughter, Kelly Andrad, told The Associated Press that Mr. Barker, who had lung cancer and heart problems, died Friday morning at his suburban Miami home after being taken to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center the night before.

Mr. 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 Mr. Hunt’s days in the Central Intelligence Agency and the planning of the 1961 invasion of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba.

In 1971, Mr. Barker took part in a break-in at the Los Angeles office of the psychiatrist Daniel Ellsberg, who disclosed the Pentagon papers to the press.

Then on June 17, 1972, Mr. Barker was found crouching under a desk at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building. Three other men caught with him also had ties to the Bay of Pigs operation. A fifth, James W. McCord Jr., was security chief for Nixon’s re-election campaign.

In May 1973, Mr. Barker told the Senate Watergate committee that his aim in the Watergate break-in had been to find proof that the Democratic Party had received financial support from the government of Cuba and thus speed the “liberation” of Cuba.

Mr. Barker pleaded guilty in January 1973 to seven charges of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping. Later, however, he asked Judge John J. Sirica to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea and stand trial. Judge Sirica denied that request and on Nov. 19, 1973, he sentenced Mr. Barker to a prison term of 18 months to six years.

In January 1974, Mr. Barker was freed from prison to appeal that decision. On July 11, 1975, Judge Sirica told Mr. Barker and the other three Cuban-Americans involved in the Watergate break-in that he was reducing their sentences to time served.

After his release from prison, Mr. Barker, a former real estate agent, went to work for the City of Miami as a sanitation inspector as part of a federally financed jobs program. He later worked as a city building inspector but took early retirement at the age of 64 rather than fight charges that he had been loafing on the job.

In repeated interviews, Mr. Barker expressed no regrets about his role in the Watergate and Ellsberg break-ins, saying he believed he had been acting in the interests of national security. But in 1976, he did tell a reporter: “Washington’s a place to keep away from. Cubans don’t do very well up there.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/06/us/06barker.html

Comments Bernard Barker was one of those persons who was definitively associated with the Watergate Affair, but as most researchers know, the really interesting part of Barker's career is ostensibly his activities in the year 1963. While I am stating an opinion, the NARA website seems to buttress my argument. However the real test is to look for yourself, just remember the number 326, which is?

The number of hits that surface when searching last name only, Barker.

Take the document below for example.

AGENCY : CIA

RECORD NUMBER : 104-10164-10000

RECORDS SERIES : JFK

AGENCY FILE NUMBER : 80T01357A

DOCUMENT INFORMATION

ORIGINATOR : CIA

FROM : [No From]

TO : [No To]

TITLE : BARKER, BERNARD.

DATE : 01/01/0000

PAGES : 84

DOCUMENT TYPE : PAPER - TEXTUAL DOCUMENT

SUBJECTS : NBR

CLASSIFICATION :

RESTRICTIONS : 1B

CURRENT STATUS : POSTPONED IN FULL

DATE OF LAST REVIEW : 12/31/1997

COMMENTS : JFK64-3 : F2 : 1997.12.31.08:22:08:436082 : NBR, DIF

Bernard Barker: Hunt told me, "we're operational again."

Edited by Robert Howard
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The most detailed obituary appears in the Miami Herald:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/5min/story/1084180.html

The passages in bold are especially interesting:

BY ELINOR J. BRECHER

ebrecher@MiamiHerald.com

Bernard Leon Barker was a hero to many, first as a World War II flier and prisoner of war, later as a CIA operative working to overthrow Fidel Castro. But he is best remembered as a White House ''plumber:'' one of the burglars whose break-in helped topple a U.S. president.

He died Friday at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center in Miami at 92.

His only child, Marielena Harding of Miami Lakes, said the cause was lung cancer. He had been living in Westchester with his fourth wife, Dora Maria Barker.

Barker -- nicknamed ''Macho'' as an infant -- was a protégé of the late E. Howard Hunt, the CIA mastermind who planned the Bay of Pigs and Watergate operations.

The former failed to oust Castro in 1961. The latter forced President Richard Nixon out of office in 1974.

Conspiracy theorists have long implicated Barker in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who sanctioned the Bay of Pigs invasion then withdrew air support, dooming the mission.

''It's not true,'' his daughter said. "But he always suspected that Castro was involved.''

Barker organized a Cuban exile force in Miami known as Brigade 2506 for the overthrow attempt. It landed on a beach southeast of Havana on April 17, 1961, under heavy fire, and sustained massive losses.

Barker flew with José Miró Cardona, who was to have become provisional president in the event that Fidel Castro was overthrown, Harding said. Defeated but uninjured, Barker and Cardona returned to Miami.

''When it was obvious there was not be a free Cuba, [barker] became. . .a real-estate broker and he was doing quite well,'' Harding said.

A decade later, Hunt resurfaced in his life, proposing an assignment in Washington.

'Howard sent a little note to him saying, `If you're still the same Macho that I always knew. . .,' '' Harding said.

Barker, with Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez and James McCord, was caught breaking into Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. They were working for the Special Investigations Unit of the Nixon White House, paid by the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP).

PLUGGED LEAKS

They were called the ''plumbers'' because they had been hired to plug information leaks from the White House to its enemies.

In 1997, Barker told The Miami Herald that Hunt, who died in 2007, "said this would put us in a situation in which we can later ask for help for the freedom of Cuba.''

The five who broke into the Watergate, along with Hunt and CREEP general counsel G. Gordon Liddy, pleaded guilty to wiretapping, planting electronic surveillance equipment and document theft. They faced 40-year sentences.

Barker served nearly 18 months at the Federal Correctional Institute in Danbury, Conn., and Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola.

After his release in 1974, he worked as a Miami building inspector, but was fired for slacking on the job. He then became a zoning consultant. In 1983, Barker was charged with perjury in connection with alleged payoffs to city Zoning Board members. He was acquitted at trial.

Bernard Barker was the son of Americans living in Cuba. He is thought to have been the first person from Cuba to enlist in the U.S. Army after Pearl Harbor.

A bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress, he was shot down over Germany in early 1944 and held as a prisoner of war for nearly 18 months.

In July 1945, he married Clara Elena Fernández, the daughter of a prominent Havana newspaper publisher. Still in the U.S. Air Force, he was sent to Jamaica, where Marielena was born in 1947.

Barker joined the Cuban national police, then the FBI and, after Fidel Castro took power, the CIA. He moved his family to Miami in 1960.

Her father lived two lives, Marielena said: ''one before Watergate, one after.'' The first, she said, was ''normal family life.'' The second: ``disaster for everyone around him. . .

``My mother put together a very large group where every Cuban who knew my father gave the deed to their houses for collateral for the bonds.''

DIFFERENT ROLES

His role in the Bay of Pigs made Barker a hero in the exile community. His Watergate role made him a celebrity of a different kind.

''Everywhere he went in Miami, women chased him,'' his daughter said. He left his wife, who died last year, and remarried three times.

Barker lived quietly in a house that his daughter owns. He spent his days doing crossword puzzles, ''walking around on his walker,'' listening to Cuban music and playing solitaire on his computer -- which has no Internet access.

He outlived all the men who broke into the Watergate except Martinez, who lives in Miami.

A funeral procession will leave Bernardo Garcia Funeral Home, 8215 Bird Rd., at 1 p.m. Saturday for Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 4801 W. Flagler St., where Mass will be celebrated at 1:30 p.m. Internment follows at Graceland Park Cemetery, 4420 SW Eighth St., Coral Gables.

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I feel like I have just lost a next-door neighbor near my childhood home in Miami. As I matter of fact, I just did. The yellow and black (and red?) sign from Barker's Keyes Realty (Real Estate) company appeared out of the blue in front of my neighbor's house in Grapeland Heights the week after JFK was killed. That company was a known CIA front company and might have received some press during Watergate days as well. That is the same CIA safe house where people like E. Howard Hunt, Frank "Fiorini" Sturgis, Gerry "Patrick" Hemming, Jack Ruby (wearing his trademark 1930's mobster hat inside either a 1957 or 1958 "Pepto Bismol pink" Nash Rambler station wagon which was an almost identical match for my father's 1956 version) were seen by me as an inquisitive teenager growing up in Miami. Mary Ferrell said that it must have been Jack Ruby, because he always wore his

hat in Texas even inside his car, even if it was 100 degrees outside. Thanks, Mary, for all the kind assistance you always offered me over the years. Your introduction of Roy Hargraves to me provided more information in 2-3 interviews than an entire lifetime of research could ever provide.

This house was owned by someone named Aubrey Donaldson who lived in Florida. When I called him or his son on the ruse of a pending property line legal dispute between our 2 property lines, he told me:

"Nice try, but I am not going to tell you anything. They told me you would be calling me someday."

"Who do you mean by 'they'?"

"Never mind, that is none of your business. Good bye." (click)

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The most detailed obituary appears in the Miami Herald:

PLUGGED LEAKS

They were called the ''plumbers'' because they had been hired to plug information leaks from the White House to its enemies.

In 1997, Barker told The Miami Herald that Hunt, who died in 2007, "said this would put us in a situation in which we can later ask for help for the freedom of Cuba.''

Anybody got any ideas on this?

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The most detailed obituary appears in the Miami Herald:

PLUGGED LEAKS

They were called the ''plumbers'' because they had been hired to plug information leaks from the White House to its enemies.

In 1997, Barker told The Miami Herald that Hunt, who died in 2007, "said this would put us in a situation in which we can later ask for help for the freedom of Cuba.''

Anybody got any ideas on this?

Is it possible - and not just from the info in this tidbit - that the Cubans were recruited into the burglary because they were upset at Nixon's neglect of Cuba?

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  • 8 years later...
On 6/9/2009 at 5:47 AM, John Simkin said:

Anybody got any ideas on this?

I think this speaks to the culpability of Nixon in the assassination of JFK; "The whole Bay of Pigs" thing. When Barker gets caught at Watergate, with McCord, Hunt, et al, It would have been a direct threat to follow through on "liberating" Cuba. If you see Dorothy Hunt's death as a murder, you have the answer to that threat. I don't think that answer came from Nixon, who I believe would have liked to fulfill the obligation to the Cuban exiles and Mafia interests. I believe that answer came from racists and evangelicals, who did not care to see a free, Mafia-infested, Catholic, Spanish-speaking, mulatto, black and Hispanic dominated Cuba; that answer also came from the Navy who foresaw the loss of Guantanamo Bay in any normalization of relations with that same, free, and independent Cuba.

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