Watergate Revisited: The CIA's War Against Nixon
Double Agents and Sabotage
On the night of June 17, five men—all using aliases—were caught red-handed inside the Watergate complex. James McCord, the White House's Security Chief, was booked at the jail, along with Frank Sturgis, Barker, Eugenio Martinez and Virgilio Gonzales. Hunt's name was in two of the burglar's address books and his link to the operation became known within 24 hours. He quickly left Washington.
In later years, evidence came to light that McCord had likely botched the break-in intentionally. First, he went back and re-taped a garage-level door, which served as a telltale sign to the cops. McCord claimed to have removed the tape from all the doors, but actually several had been taped to stay unlocked. A few days later, all of McCord's papers were destroyed in a fire at his home, while a CIA contract agent stood by. Hunt made a whole series of mistakes, too, surrounding the Watergate burglary. Nixon, in his Memoirs, suggested—referring to the break-in to Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office—that Hunt could have been “a double-agent who purposely blew the operation.”
There was also the matter of a $25,000 cashier's check that had been deposited into the bank account of a Miami real estate company owned by burglar Barker. This check, laundered through a fund-raiser for the Committee to Re-Elect the President, was the first link connecting the burglars to the CREEP—after Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post broke the story about it. Well, it turns out the check was deposited by the CREEP. Liddy had given it to Hunt, who put it in Barker's account. So, money that should have stayed anonymous and untraceable then became an easy mark to track.
Three days after the break-in, Nixon called Haldeman, instructing him to “tell Ehrlichman this whole group of Cubans is tied to the Bay of Pigs... Ehrlichman will know what I mean.” Six days after the break-in, Hunt sent word through his boss at the Mullen Company that he wanted the White House to find him a lawyer. That same day, June 23, came Nixon's smoking-gun conversation with Haldeman. When the presidential tape was released two years later, it became proof positive that Nixon had been involved in trying to cover up the burglary—and this led to his resigning before he could be impeached.
“Well, we protected Helms from one hell of a lot of things,” Nixon said on the tape, referring to the CIA director. “Of course, this is Hunt, that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab, there's a hell of a lot things and we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves.”