Eyewitness Reports in History Watergate Scandal Part 4

An eyewitness account of the Watergate Scandal an important event in United States history involving Richard Nixon.


Eyewitness Report: In his book A Piece of Tape (published by Washington Media Services, Rockville, Md., 1974), James McCord, Jr., gives this account of his arrest:

"Once inside DNC, the men split up. Gonzalez worked on a glass door of the suite of Larry O'Brien, head of DNC. Barker and I went inside a file room just inside the rear door, where I picked forms off a desk, one dealing with college press credentials and another with a travel schedule. These were for Barker for his document collection.... We had hardly gone into the O'Brien reception room when Sturgis quickly came in, and we saw a light go on behind him. He told us the obvious--someone had come in the back door, and that 'someone' was law enforcement personnel. We immediately heard them searching rooms at the other end of the wing, shouting, 'Come out, police.'

"The room we were in was completely enclosed. Moments earlier, or later, we would have been able to exit out the windows onto a parapet. There was no alternative but to crouch and wait, hoping not to be seen. We crouched beneath a wooden screen around a secretary's desk which came up to about head level. Had the police search not been as thorough as it was, we might have escaped detection. Had they only opened the glass door into the reception room, and had seen no one, then moved on, we would not have been found. But they were too well trained. They searched every cubicle. One of the police officers came up to our cubicle, saw an arm, and ordered us to come out. After a momentary pause we stood up, arms, in the air. Barker was the last to rise--he had turned on the radio and whispered into it that we were caught.

"The team was calm and Sturgis assured the police they had nothing to fear from us, that we were not going to cause them any difficulty. The police were sharp, and they were also edgy. They had expected youths who had broken in to commit a theft of money or something salable. They found five men in their forties and fifties, well dressed, giving them no hassle verbally, with no weapons, offering no resistance. They circled us trying to figure us out. We didn't fit the pattern and they said so.... Shortly, we were taken out of the building and into the familiar paddy wagons to the nearest police precinct. There we signed in with false names. The police tried to question us, after going through the usual procedure of advising us of our rights. Sturgis pretended to be a lawyer in the group and to speak for the rest. All the others remained silent. The police offered us the opportunity to call an attorney. No one did. That, too, was confusing, but by this time, around 3:00 A.M., Sergeant Leeper, who had headed the police team, had figured out that he had a political espionage team."

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