CIA agent was among Watergate burglars, documents reveal

Watergate One of the men caught burglarizing the offices of the United States Democratic Party in 1972, a ploy that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, was an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to a newly declassified document. The revelation is included in a narrative history of the Watergate scandal, produced over 40 years ago by the CIA to assess its own role in the affair. It recounts the events of the early morning hours of June 17, 1972, when a security guard saw five men dressed in black breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC. When the five men were arrested by police, it was discovered that one of them was connected with the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, a fundraising organization set up by US President Richard Nixon. The remaining four burglars had CIA contacts. They included E. Howard Hunt, a retired CIA operations officer who in 1961 had played a leading role in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. It was eventually discovered that the burglary had been authorized by President Nixon himself, as part of a broader program to sabotage his political opponents.

Soon after the Watergate scandal erupted, the CIA produced an internal report entitled “CIA Watergate History – Working Draft”. Much of the 150-page document was authored by CIA officer John C. Richards, who had firsthand knowledge of the Watergate scandal. When Richards died unexpectedly in 1974, the report was completed by a team of officers based on his files. A few years ago, a Freedom of Information Act request was filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal watchdog, which petitioned to have the document released. The release was approved by a judge in early 2016 and was completed in July.

Despite numerous reductions throughout, the document gives the fullest public account of the CIA’s role in the Watergate scandal. Its pages contain the revelation that one of the men arrested in the early hours of June 17, 1972, was an active CIA agent. The man, Eugenio R. Martinez, has been previously identified as an “informant” of the CIA —a term referring to an occasional source. But the newly released document refers to Martinez as an agent —an individual who is actively recruited and trained by a CIA officer acting as a handler. It also states that Martinez was on the payroll of the agency at the time of his arrest, making approximately $600 per month in today’s dollars working for the CIA. Additionally, Martinez, a Cuban who had participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion, retained his contacts with the CIA and kept the agency updated about the burglary, his arrest and the ensuing criminal investigation.

Interestingly, the internal document reveals that the CIA was contacted about Martinez by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, which was set up by the Department of Justice to investigate the scandal. But the CIA’s General Counsel, John S. Warner, told the prosecutors that it was against the CIA’s code of practice to turn over an agent, and that “under no circumstances” would the CIA agree to do so. Senior CIA officials, including its then Director, Richard Helms, continued to refuse to cooperate with investigators, including agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, even after President Nixon’s resignation.

Martinez, who is reportedly in his mid-90s and lives in Miami, Florida, has never spoken publicly about this role in the Watergate scandal or his alleged contacts with the CIA.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 31 August 2016 | Permalink


20 Responses to CIA agent was among Watergate burglars, documents reveal

  1. Tom McNiff, Jr. says:

    To say that this Martinez fellow was an AGENT of the CIA and on the Agency’s payroll waszs not a big deal in he CIA’s early days. You write correctly that he was not an employee, though the way your story reads it seems he was a CIA officer. Men such as Mike Burke and Hod Fuller of the Albanian covert action project were at first nothing but CONTRACT agents, very well paid, but not CIA employees even though they were American citizens. At least 10 of the Albanian expatriates who were parachuted into Albania and were captured and tried were PAID agents, and not employees of the Agency. Some of their families were paid off with substantial amounts of money by the Agency many years later. . . see Ahmet Kabashi files in NWCDA collection of the BGFIEND/OBOPUS documents.

  2. Michael Best says:

    It was $100, not $600, this is clearly stated in the history you refer to. Martinez HAS given interviews on the subject. This isn’t a revelation, it was known years and years ago. How long ago? Well, this CIA memo released eighteen years ago says everything you claim was just revealed about Martinez.

  3. intelNews says:

    @Michael: Thanks for your comment. Martinez’s payment was $600 in today’s dollar value, as the article states: “$100 a month (about $575 today)”. Second, I don’t make the claim. Journalist James Rosen makes the claim. [JF]

  4. intelNews says:

    @Tom McNiff, Jr.: Thanks for commenting. I don’t agree that the article makes it sound like Martinez was a CIA officer. The title clearly states: “CIA agent was among Watergate burglars, documents reveal”. Unlike much of the news media when reporting intelligence related stories, this site makes a clear distinction between officers and agents. Martinez was not a CIA officer, and at no point did he enter the employee structure of the Agency. But he was on the payroll, and remained so post-Watergate. What’s more, it appears that Langley was not interested in cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation into Watergate. [JF]

  5. Michael Best says:

    1. You don’t attribute that claim, you simply re-report it here. As an expert, you re-report claims without attributing them?

    You don’t say that it’s in today’s dollars. What you DO say is “It also states that Martinez was on the payroll of the agency at the time of his arrest, making approximately $600 per month working for the CIA.” The fact that you put “at the time of his arrest” just before the amount and never making it clear that it’s adjusted for inflation…

  6. intelNews says:

    @Michael Best: I would kindly ask that you focus on the topic, and not on me. Whether I am “an expert” or not is irrelevant to the facts. On the Internet, in the 21st century, attribution is generally provided via links. The article above links to the source of the report. As I do have a day job, I don’t have time to check on the accuracy of everything that we re-report. The article in question was authored by a nationally known reporter, so I have to trust that he knows how to do his job. In any case, I find it somewhat interesting that your issue appears to be with my post, and not with the original article, to which I refer via a link. I would also point out that whether Martinez was paid by the CIA $600 in 1972 dollars, 1992 dollars, or 2022 dollars is largely beside the point. What matters here is that Martinez was on the payroll of the CIA at the time when he burgled the DNC headquarters. But, if it makes you feel better, I added “in today’s dollars” in the article, so I am hoping that we can now move on. [JF]

  7. M.K. Router says:

    Michael Best misses the main revelation of the CIA narrative, which is that Martinez is identified as an agent. No such identification appears in previous CIA disclosures, including the one he cites. The argument about the money is stupid at best. Really, what difference does it make if Martinez was paid 100, 200 or 600??

  8. mm says:

    Dr. Fitsanakis, I retired after years in the IC and this blog is how I start my day, every day. Some of my grandchildren would refer to Mr. Best as an “internet troll.” I wouldn’t waste too much time if I were you.Keep up your great work.MM.

  9. Most of these comments are a tad nit-picking and detract from just how interesting the article is for those who don’t profess to be arm chair lawyers or know it alls!

  10. Michael Best says:

    1. Actually, Martinez WAS identified as such back in 1998. It wasn’t hard to find that out and I even linked to it elsewhere. Here it is I addressed this yesterday, and even included in my post about the subject (which I sent to IntelNews, which decided to ignore it.)

    2. As for being an expert – that’s JF’s claim, not mine.

    3. The article has several other inaccuracies that haven’t been addressed – such as the fact that it’s not the first time this information has come out.

    4. I’m not an internet troll, I’m just someone who’s pissed at false reporting and re-reporting.

    5. Attribution requires attribution, not merely a link. If the ENTIRE ARTICLE is based off of re-reporting, you have to say so. In fact, the way you provided the link gives no indication that your article is merely a re-tread of someone else’s reporting.

    6. The article in question was authored by a nationally known reporter, so I have to trust that he knows how to do his job.” You DID NOT have to trust that. You could have, and should have, done your own research. Did you read the report? I did.

    7. I don’t have much issue with FOX News because everyone knows they’re unreliable. You have credibility, however.

  11. Michael Best says:

    “What matters here is that Martinez was on the payroll of the CIA at the time when he burgled the DNC headquarters.” That’s old, old old information. What matters is that you’re recycling click bait without doing any new research or even BASIC FACT CHECKING.

  12. Michael Best says:

    “I don’t have time to check on the accuracy of everything that we re-report.” Do you have the time to make it clear when all you’re doing is that? You claim to do your reporting in a “responsible manner” but you just re-report things without making that clear.

    Of course, you could just NOT REPORT ON IT if you can’t read the source material or do basic fact checking. It took me a few minutes to find memos released eighteen years ago referring to his employment and his status as an agent. Since you deleted one comment I left with the second memo link, here it is again.

  13. Joey says:

    [Edited as per intelNews’ comments-posting rules, section (f)]

  14. Carl says:

    [Edited as per intelNews’ comments-posting rules, section (f)]

  15. Michael Best says:

    I’m sorry to be harsh, but I really expected better from you. A single link isn’t attribution for a full article, especially if it’s the sole source and the text never makes it clear that you’re just re-reporting or even mentions the original article. The fact that the information is actually old and is being presented as new is a pet peeve, but the two documents I linked to clearly show that this information was available in 1998. It didn’t take long to find them, either, and neither relied on my own archives. Both showed up in Internet searches.

    I really expected you to do basic fact checking, or at least add a disclaimer when you don’t and all you’re doing is re-reporting something else. Or better yet… just don’t re-report it. If you don’t have something new to say, then don’t say it. Not posting yesterday would’ve been fine, and surely preferable to incorrect information or even correct information that you hadn’t verified.

  16. Virginia says:

    i love this website and please don’t change the way you present this information. thank you for all you do.

  17. Mike says:

    Interesting article. Thank you.

  18. Kyle Johnson says:

    I don’t usually comment on articles even though I’ve been reading Intelnews for years. But this nitpicking by someone who is obviously trying to show how off how much he “knows” is ridiculous. These are blog posts, not academic articles. If I want an extensive bibliography, I’ll resort to a journal. Links will do just fine. Actually if you hover your mouse pointer over a link, it gives you the bibliographical listing for the source, which is a lot more than what other blogs do. Some people have way too much free time on their hands. Kyle Johnson, South Africa.

  19. Mac says:

    Nixon never ordered the Watergate break in, but he was guilty of the cover up.

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