Scandal in America


History 112


1 December 2001


The Watergate Scandal was a series of crimes committed by the President Nixon and his staff members who were found to of spied on and harassed political opponents, accepted illegal campaign contributions, and covered up their own misdeeds.


On June 17, 1972, The Washington Post published a small story. In which the reporters stated that five men had been arrested breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. These bumbling fools had made two attempts prior; the first time they were halted in their efforts due to what they thought was an alarm, their second attempt the next day led them to no better conclusion, when they were confronted by a locked door, which they were unable to open. Finally on the third day (Sunday) having sent the locksmith back to Miami on a day round trip, they got the door wrenched open and went in. (Emery, 05).


The democratic headquarters were located in a Washington, D.C. building complex called Watergate. These burglars were carrying equipment to wiretap telephones and take pictures of documents. The Washington Post had two reporters who researched deep into the story. Their names were Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, they discovered that one of the suspects had an address book with the name and phone number of a White House official who could have been involved in the crime (Woodward). The reporters suspected that other White House officials had ordered the break-in. During a press conference in August of 1972, president Nixon said that nobody on the White House staff was involved in the crime. Most of the public accepted Nixon\'s word and dropped the questioning. But when the burglars went to trial four months later. The story changed rapidly from a small disturbance to a national scandal, which ended only when Richard Nixon was forced from office. The Watergate investigation eventually exposed a long series of illegal activities in the Nixon administration. Nixon and his staff were found to have spied on and harassed political opponents, embezzled campaign contributions and tried to cover-up their illegal acts.


For years Nixon was carrying on the crimes and they were not noticed until 1972. 1969 was the date in which the Watergate scandal really began.


It all started when Nixon had the White House staff make up a list called the "enemies list". Nixon had enemies, which include about 300 liberal politicians, journalists and actors. Most of these people made a public speech against the Vietnam War. Nixon\'s aids formed a tax audit on these ‘enemies’ (Feinberg, 75). He also had agents find out personal information that would harm them politically. Nixon was always worried about government employees revealing secret information to the newspapers or other media sources. The president’s agents helped him by wiretapping phone lines that belonged to reporters in order to find out any revealing material. Nixon was so worried about internal espionage that during the Cambodia bombing he felt he had to wiretap his own staff members. In June of 1971, The New York Times formed work that was published about the history of the Vietnam War; these were known as the Pentagon Papers. The classified information pointed towards some policies that may have been responsible for causing the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg, a former employee, gave some classified documents to the Washington post. Nixon was infuriated by their publishes. Nixon then tried to twist Ellsberg\'s actions into a form of treason, but Nixon did not want to take Ellsberg to court. Instead he made a secret group of CIA agents that went by the code name "plumbers" this is a name made up “because they cover up leaks”(Schudson, p.18), that could hurt the White House, such as the pentagon papers. While they were searching for incriminating evidence the “Plumbers” stumbled across Ellsberg\'s psychiatrist\'s office. Although they discovered nothing wrong they were not content to leaving Ellsberg alone and it is believed that they had initiated a plan to try and further discredit Ellsberg’s reputation (Watergate, Cover-up).


One of Nixon’s biggest worries was about having enough votes for the election in 1972. Nixon was concerned that Edmund Muskie of Maine would win because he was the strongest Democratic candidate. Hoping to wipe out Edmund from the competition, the Plumbers