NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Watergate Intrigue Unfolds
Of the original seven men charged in an eight count indictment including conspiracy, burglary, bugging and wiretapping, five have pleaded guilty and the remaining two are in their second week of trial. The five, former White House consultant E. Howard Hunt; and Bernard L. Barker, Eugenio R. Martinez, Frank A. Sturgis, Virigilio R. Gonzalez, all with former CIA backgrounds all face maximum possible prison sentences of 55 years each.
Defense sources said the latter four, all connected with the Bay of Pigs invasion, had been under intense pressure to plead guilty to avoid a full disclosure of the charges against them.
But the four denied any pressure behind their cops and stated that they were acting patriotically under the impression that their activities were going to somehow stop "a Communist conspiracy" against the United States.
"I would do anything to protect this country against a Communist conspiracy," said Frank Sturgis. "Anything!"
Barker and Hunt had somehow "led" the four to believe that the political situation in the United States was the same as in Cuba and somehow related.
Even though, in court the four had denied that they had received any promises of early prison releases and that "their families would be taken care of" Sturgis had said later that he suspected that the money that they were still being paid was coming from the Committee to Re-elect the President.
Defense sources were also quoted as saying that Hunt, after he had copped his plea, had led the four to believe also that their families would indeed be taken care of. Sturgis has finally stuck to the later story.
Meanwhile, in the trail of the remaining two, James W. McCord and G. Gordon Liddy, the government's central witness, former FBI agent Alfred C. Baldwin (the third!), testified to the climax of his three weeks of monitoring the wiretap of the Democratic National Headquarters. McCord was security co-ordinator for the Committee to Re-elect the President and Liddy, at time of arrest, was a financial counsel to the Committee.
The night of their capture, Baldwin said that he was monitoring the wiretap as usual when McCord came into the room, built a bugging device and handed him a walkie talkie, ordering him to watch the building and call him (McCord) if anything unusual happened.
Then the end to the election conspiracy ended when three men pulled up and entered the building.
"A few minutes later, lights went on in the reception area of Democratic Headquarters and two of the gentlemen went out on the balcony with guns drawn," Baldwin testified.
"I got on the walkie-talkie and called 'base to unit one; base to any unit.' Somebody answered and I asked if our people were dressed or in casual clothes. They said 'We're dressed in suits - why?' And I said, "Well, we've got some trouble. There are some people there in casual clothes and they've got weapons drawn."
Minutes later the police arrived and Baldwin stated: "A voice carne on the radio saying in a whisper, They've got us.'"