Bernard Leon Barker (March 17, 1917 – June 5, 2009) was a Watergate burglar.

Barker was born in Havana, to a Russian American father[1] and a Cuban mother. Therefore, Barker was a dual citizen of Cuba and the United States.[2] At the age of 16 Barker joined the ABC, a revolutionary group opposed to then president Gerardo Machado Morales. It was during this period that he acquired the nickname "Macho". Worried by these developments, Barker's father sent him to live in the United States. In 1935 Barker became an American citizen but he returned to Cuba in order to study at the University of Havana.[3]

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, triggering American entry into World War II, Barker joined the U.S. Air force, where he became a B-17 crewman and a Second Lieutenant bombardier. On his thirteenth combat mission, he was shot down on a bombing raid to Brunswick, Germany, February 10, 1944. The Germany held him as a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft I in Barth. The Red Army liberated the camp on May 2, 1945.[3]

After the war, Barker returned to Cuba and joined the secret police.under Fulgencio Batista[4] He was later recruited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and worked for them as an undercover agent. He also did work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[3] He joined Operation 40 and the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.[5]

Some conspiracy theorists have accused Barker as being complicit in the 1963 John F. Kennedy assassination.[5] During the time of the Watergate scandal, a Dallas deputy constable police officer stated that he recognized him as the man showing secret service credentials and keeping the public away from the grassy knoll, from which according to many conspiracy theories the fatal shot was fired. Barker denied this, pointing out the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's pro-Castro leanings.[3]

In September 1971, his former CIA superior, E. Howard Hunt, recruited him for the "Plumbers", the Nixon White House's "Special Investigations Unit". He was recruited by Hunt to find background information on Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg was under watch for leaking the "Pentagon Papers", a series of articles featured in the New York Times in 1971 detailing U.S. government secrets concerning the Vietnam War's history. Along with Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, Barker broke into the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis J. Fielding. The mission's purpose was to find discrediting information on Ellsberg. The mission was completed, but largely unsuccessful in finding any damaging information about Ellsberg.[3]

In 1972, Barker was one of the five burglars paid by the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), Nixon's re-election campaign fundraising committee, for a break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and subsequently was convicted in the Watergate scandal. The others were Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez and James McCord. Along with the other Watergate burglars, G. Gordon Liddy, and E. Howard Hunt, Barker was charged with, and pled guilty to, wiretapping, planting electronic surveillance equipment, and theft of documents.

Barker also worked with CREEP to get monies which went into the Nixon campaign coffers off the books; it was via his bank account that twenty-five thousand dollars from Archer Daniels Midland Chief Executive Dwayne Andreas was obtained by CREEP in violation of campaign finance laws.[6][7]

File:Frank Sturgis and Bernard Barker, 1960 and 1972.jpg

Frank Sturgis and Bernard Barker, 1960 (top) and 1972

On March 2, 1974 Barker was indicted for the burglary.[3] Barker was released pending appeal after serving one year of a two-and-a-half to six-year sentence.

After Barker's release from prison, he worked as a building inspector for the city of Miami, Florida, earning $18,512 per year. He chose early retirement in 1982 rather than fight proceedings seeking his dismissal for loafing on the job.[8]

President Jimmy Carter denied him a pardon.[9]

Barker died of lung cancer in his Miami home on June 5, 2009, aged 92. His fourth wife, Dora Maria Barker, survived him.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Bernard Barker: CIA agent caught in the Watergate burglary that led to Nixon's fall
  2. "Bernard Barker dies at 92; Watergate burglar was a CIA operative". Los Angeles Times. June 6, 2009.,0,6871098.story. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Simkin, John. "Bernard L. Barker". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  4. Carlson, Michael (Monday 8 June 2009). "Obituary: Bernard Barker". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Watergate burglar dies in Florida". BBC. 6 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  6. Friedman, Thomas L. (January 27, 1989). "Bugged Embassy in Moscow Gets Chance for a New Life". New York Times (New York, New York). Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  7. Myers, Steven Lee (April 27, 1992). "Richard E. Gerstein, Dead at 68; Prosecuted Key Watergate Figure". New York Times (New York, New York). Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  8. "Bernard Barker to Retire From Miami Job Early", New York Times, January 28, 1982
  9. "Ehrlichman Seeks a Pardon for Watergate Crimes". New York Times. AP (New York, New York). August 15, 1987. Retrieved 2009-09-08. "Two of the burglars of the Democratic headquarters, Bernard L. Barker and Frank Sturgis, were denied pardons by President Carter." 

External links[edit | edit source]

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