By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
It was the night of June 17, 1972, that 5 so-called “burglars” were caught red-handed inside the National Democratic Party Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC.
But as it turned out, not only did the burglars have CIA and anti-Castro Cuban connections – they also – and most importantly – were being paid out of a slush fund from the Committee to Re-Elect President Nixon, which was managed by the highest officials inside the White House.
The burglary of the Democratic Party’s HQ was just the tip of the iceberg – but it was that tip that eventually led to Nixon’s resignation on August 8th, 1974.
Nixon and his chief White House staff directed the entire US intelligence system to be used for years against his opponents – which ranged from Democratic candidate Muskie, other perceived “enemies” within the Establishment, down to the grassroots anti-Vietnam war movement and the Black Power movement.
When that abuse of executive power began being exposed – primarily by hard-working reporters and journalists – Nixon and his henchmen employed a cover-up. This, too, was exposed, and within the impeachment documents drawn up by Congress, obstruction of justice was the first charge. Two reporters from the Washington Post, Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein did much of the legwork that resulted in the scandal being brought to light.
They were aided by a highly-placed member of the intelligence community, called “Deep Throat” who leaked info and gave direction to the reporters’ investigation. Years later, in 2005, we found out that Deep Throat was actually Mark Felt, the Associate Director of the FBI.
Today, the term “Watergate” signifies the corruption and abuse of power and its cover-up.
It is so tragically remarkable as this anniversary passes the current White House is embroiled in its own Watergate-type of scandal.
With rumored threats that Trump is considering firing Special Counsel Bob Mueller – which means he would probably have to fire Rod Rosenstein, the Acting Attorney General – echoes of Watergate come exploding back into our national consciousnesses.
If this drastic coup against the rule of law happened, it would be on the same level as the “Saturday Night Massacre” when Nixon had to fire the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General before he found someone who would fire Archibald Cox – the then special prosecutor. This usurpation of law directly led to Articles of Impeachment being drawn up against the president.
It’s a good thing we still have memories of Richard Nixon and Watergate to kick around – otherwise, we wouldn’t understand today the significance of the scandalous crisis the country is in.
And it was 45 years ago that it all began unraveling for Nixon and his men – many of whom plead guilty to charges of abuse and obstruction and were sentenced to imprisonment. Nixon of course was pardoned by the new president, Gerald Ford – his former vice-president – and he never saw the inside of a jail cell.
Donald Trump would best be wise to understand this history. Otherwise, he too will be subjected to the wrath of the entire nation.