James McCord, Security Coordinator for President Nixon, is Named in Watergate Bugging Arrests
One of the five men arrested early Saturday in the attempt to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters is the salaried security coordinator for President Nixon's reelection 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 Re-Election of the President, said yesterday McCord was employed to help install that committee's own security system.
In a statement issued in Los Angeles, Mitchell said McCord and the other four men arrested at Democratic headquarters Saturday "were not operating either in our behalf or with our consent" in the alleged bugging attempt.
Dole issued a similar statement, adding that "we deplore action of this kind in or out of politics." An aide to Dole said he was unsure at this time exactly what security services McCord was hired to perform by the National Committee.
Police sources said last night that they were seeking a sixth man in connection with the attempted bugging. The sources would give no other details.
Other sources close to the investigation said yesterday that there still was no explanation as to why the five suspects might have attempted to bug Democratic headquarters in the Watergate at 2600 Virginia Ave., NW, or if they were working for other individuals or organizations..
"We're baffled at this point . . . the mystery deepens," a high Democratic party source said.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Lawrence F. O'Brien said the "bugging incident . . . raised the ugliest questions about the integrity of the political process that I have encountered in a quarter century.
"No mere statement of innocence by Mr. Nixon's campaign manager will dispel these questions."
The Democratic presidential candidates were not available for comment yesterday.
O'Brien, in his statement, called on Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst to order an immediate, "searching professional investigation" of the entire matter by the FBI.
James W. McCord was born in Waurika, Oklahoma, on 26th January, 1924. After graduating from George Washington University he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation . It is believed that during this period he worked in a special intelligence operation against German spies in the United States (1942-43). This was followed by a period in the US Army Air Corps (1943-45).
In 1948 McCord returned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and worked as a special agent in San Diego and San Francisco. He was also a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
McCord became a member of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1951. He worked for the Physical Security Division. In 1962 McCord became a CIA senior security officer in Europe. This included working closely with MI5 in England. Later he was given responsibility for security at Langley CIA headquarters. McCord retired from the CIA in August, 1970.
After leaving the CIA McCord taught a security course at Montgomery Junior College. Later he established his own security consulting firm, McCord Associates, in Rockville, Maryland. He also founded Security International, a company that provided security systems and services.
In 1972 McCord was appointed as security director for the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP). Later that year Gordon Liddy presented Nixon's attorney general, John N. Mitchell, with an action plan called Operation Gemstone. Liddy wanted a $1 million budget to carry out a series of black ops activities against Nixon's political enemies. Mitchell decided that the budget for Operation Gemstone was too large. Instead he gave him $250,000 to launch a scaled-down version of the plan.
One of Liddy's first tasks was to place electronic devices in the Democratic Party campaign offices in an apartment block called Watergate. Liddy wanted to wiretap the conversations of Larry O'Brien, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Liddy recruited McCord to help him with this. On 28th May, 1972, McCord and his team broke into the DNC's offices and placed bugs on the telephones of O'Brien and R. Spencer Oliver, executive director of the Association of State Democratic Chairmen.
It became the job of Alfred Baldwin to eavesdrop the phone conversations. Over the next 20 days Baldwin listened to over 200 phone calls. These were not recorded. Baldwin made notes and typed up summaries. Nor did Baldwin listen to all phone calls coming in. For example, he took his meals outside his room. Any phone calls taking place at this time would have been missed.
It soon became clear that the bug on one of the phones installed by McCord was not working. As a result of the defective bug, McCord decided that they would have to break-in to the Watergate office again. He also heard that a representative of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War had a desk at the DNC. McCord argued that it was worth going in to see what they could discover about the anti-war activists. Gordon Liddy later claimed that the real reason for the second break-in was “to find out what O’Brien had of a derogatory nature about us, not for us to get something on him.”
The original operation was unsuccessful and on 17th June, 1972, McCord, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez and Bernard L. Barker returned to the Watergate offices. However, this time they were caught by the police. McCord employed Bernard Fensterwald as his lawyer.
The phone number of E. Howard Hunt was found in address books of the burglars. Reporters were now able to link the break-in to the White House. Bob Woodward, a reporter working for the Washington Post was told by a friend who was employed by the government, that senior aides of President Richard Nixon, had paid the burglars to obtain information about its political opponents.
Frederick LaRue now decided that it would be necessary to pay the large sums of money to secure their silence. LaRue raised $300,000 in hush money. Tony Ulasewicz, a former New York policeman, was given the task of arranging the payments.
On 21st December, 1972, McCord wrote a letter to Jack Caulfield: " Sorry to have to write you this letter but felt you had to know. if Helms goes, and if the WG (Watergate) operation is laid at the CIA's feet, where it does not belong, every tree in the forest will fall. It will be a scorched desert. The whole matter is at the precipice right now. Just pass the message that if they want it to blow, they are on exactly the right course. I'm sorry that you will get hurt in the fallout.”
One of the first men convicted in the Watergate criminal trial, McCord led the June 17, 1972 early-morning burglary of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C.. He was convicted on eight counts of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping. He later wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge John Sirica stating that his plea and testimony, some of which he claimed was perjured, were compelled by pressure from White House counsel John Dean and former Attorney General John N. Mitchell. His letter set off the Watergate scandal in earnest by implicating many higher-ups in the Richard Nixon administration for covering up the conspiracy that led to the burglary.