Search Post Watergate Stories

Also in the Post:

GOPAide Among Those Arrested in Burglary

Go to
Watergate Chronology

Go to
Watergate Front

O'Brien Sues GOP Campaign
Lays Blame For Bugging on White House

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 21, 1972; Page A01

Democratic National Chairman Lawrence F. O'Brien, apparently seizing on the break-in and attempted bugging of party headquarters here as a major campaign issue, attempted yesterday to lay responsibility for the incident at the door of the White House.

He said there is "a developing clear line to the white House," and cited what he called the "potential involvement" of special counsel to the President, Charles Colson.

O'Brien made his remarks as the Democratic National Committee filed a $l million suit in U.S. District Court here against the Committee for the re-election of the President, whose chief security agent was one of five men arrested at the break-in at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.

President Nixon's campaign chairman, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell, again deplored the bugging incident, denied any party responsibility for it and called the law suit "another example of sheer demagoguery on the part of Mr. O'Brien."

In other developments yesterday:

  • White House consultant and former CIA employee Howard E. Hunt, whose name was found in two of the suspects' address books, was reported to be a "good friend" of the suspects' first attorney, Douglas Caddy.
  • Federal sources close to the investigation said that a diagram that could have been used in a past or future bugging attempt on Miami Beach headquarters on Sen. George S. McGovern was found among the suspects' belongings.
  • Sources in the FBI said that agents were ordered to question Hunt yesterday, but the sources were unable to indicate if Hunt had been reached. This was the first indication that the government thought Hunt might have some information about the bugging.

    Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that the Federal Reserve Board "ducked, misled, hid out, avoided calls" and gave him "the idiot treatment" in connection with his request that the board produce the name of the bank involved in issuing 58 $l00 bills seized from the five suspects.

    Proxmire, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Banking Committee, said that the board's failure to act "suggests they have something to hide."

    Banks are required to record details of any transaction involving sums over 5,000 or large federal reserve notes.

    O'Brien charged that Mitchell attempted to make it appear that former CIA employee James W. McCord Jr., the security agent who was arrested Saturday, had ended his employment with the Nixon committee some months ago.

    Until Monday McCord was the salaried security chief for the committee. Mitchell's first statement Sunday on McCord's employment with the committee was that McCord was employed months ago.

    "We know that as of the moment of his arrest at gunpoint just l0 feet from where I now stand, Mr. McCord was in the pay of the Committee for the Re-election of the President," O'Brien said.

    "If John Mitchell's reflex attempt to conceal that fact is any signal of what is to come from the Republican Party and administration, I fear we shall be long in getting at the truth."

    O'Brien went on to call the incident a "cheap cloak-and-dagger intrigue at the national political level. We learned of this bugging attempt only because it was bungled. How many other attempts have there been? And just who was involved?"

    He said the lawsuit was an attempt to force the issue into examination by the court. A Democratic spokesman said court hearings on the matter could begin in "the near future."

    "I believe we are about to witness the ultimate test of this administration that so piously committed itself to a new era of law and order just four years ago." O'Brien said.

    In a prepared statement, Mitchell called O'Brien's suit a "political stunt."

    "This committee did not authorize and does not condone the alleged actions of the five men apprehended Saturday morning. We abhor such activity.

    "The Committee for the Re-election of the President is not legally, morally or ethically accountable for actions taken without its knowledge and beyond the scope of its control." Mitchell said.

    In yesterday's editions, The Post reported the existence of Hunt's name in the suspects' address books and that he functioned at the White House as an assistant to Colson.

    A White House aide confirmed that Colson, who is said to handle delicate assignments for the president, was the man who brought hunt to the White House. The aide, who said Hunt was hired because of his CIA expertise, said Hunt worked on declassifying the Pentagon Papers and, most recently, on narcotics intelligence.

    He said Hunt last worked for the White House on March 20.

    Presidential spokesman Ronald Ziegler said yesterday morning, "I talked to Mr. Colson after reading The Washington Post story this morning, and he made it clear that he is in no way involved with this matter..." Later Ziegler told reporters that he was finished with any comment on the subject.:

    Federal sources close to the bugging investigation said two large ballrooms scheduled to be used as Miami headquarters for McGovern during the Democratic Convention were diagrammed in another address book taken by authorities from the suspects' belongings.

    The rough diagram, a sketch, shows the Regency and Mediterranean rooms at the Doral Hotel on the Ocean in Miami.

    It also denotes the location of two emergency exits from the rooms. The word "May" was written by the diagram, apparently a reference to the month, the sources said.

    Asked about the diagram yesterday, McGovern's convention coordinator, Owen Donley, confirmed that the rooms have been slated for use by McGovern convention staff since January.

    Donley said one room would be used by the news media and the other for staff or delegate caucuses.

    "If they wanted to bug the two rooms, it wouldn't bother anyone anyway. They are both public rooms in the hotel. We will hold staff caucuses there, but they will be mass meetings. There wouldn't be anything said there that wouldn't be said out on the street."

    Donley said the McGovern campaign staff was exploring various antibugging methods before the Democratic National headquarters incident.

    "We didn't suddenly become paranoid. We were paranoid beforehand. That is just part of convention procedure," Donley said. He indicated that antibugging precautions would be taken at the headquarters in Miami.

    Hunt, the White House consultant, has a full-time job in the public relations firm of Robert R. Mullen Co., l700 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, directly across from Nixon's re-election headquarters and the chief White House offices.

    Yesterday, Robert E. Bennett, president of the Mullen firm, said that Hunt was a "good friend" of the suspects' first attorney, Caddy.

    Hunt and Caddy once shared an office at the Mullen firm, according to Bennet. Caddy was not employed there but acted as liaison with General Foods Corp. where he was employed.

    In Superior Court here Saturday when the five suspects appeared for arraignment, Caddy was secretive and stayed in the background, bringing in another attorney to represent the five men.

    Shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday, Caddy told a reporter, he received a call from the wife of Bernard L. Baker, one of the five men arrested. "She said that her husband told her to call me if he hadn't called her by 3 a.m. that it might mean trouble," Caddy said.

    Caddy said he had met Barker once, a year ago, and that they had had a "sympathetic conversation."

    Barker, who owns a real estate firm in Miami, has been active in anti-Castro activities and is reported to have played a role in the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in l961.

    In addition to McCord and Barker, the other three suspects are: Frank Surges, also known as Frank Florini, an American who served in Fiddle Castor's revolutionary army and has since been a leader in the anti-Castro movement in Miami: Virgilio R. Gonzalez, a locksmith; and Eugenio R. Martinez, a real estate salesman for Barker.

    McCord was still being held in D.C. jail yesterday on $30,000 bond. The other four were being held there on $50,000 bond. All are charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communication.

    Their attorney, Joseph A. Rafferty Jr., filed a motion yesterday seeking a reduction on the bond.

    Meanwhile, yesterday Sen. Bob Dole, head of the Republican National Committee, denied as totally false reports that the Republicans had urged Spanish community leaders and other Republicans not to discuss the bugging incident with anyone.

    © Copyright 1972 The Washington Post Co.

    Back to the Top

    Main |  Chronology |  The Players |  The Reforms |  Deep Throat
    The Post and Watergate |  Special Guests
Navigation image map
Home page Site Index Search Help! Home page Site Index Search Help!