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Watergate Affair

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Essay title: Watergate Affair

Watergate Affair, the worst political

scandal in U.S. history. It led to the resignation of a

president, Richard M. NIXON, after he became implicated

in an attempt to cover up the scandal. Narrowly,

"Watergate affair"" referred to the break-in and electronic

bugging in 1972 of the DEMOCRATIC National

Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate

apartment and office building complex in Washington, D.C.

Broadly, the term was also applied to several related

scandals. More than 30 Nixon administration officials,

campaign officials, and financial contributors pleaded guilty

or were found guilty of breaking the law. Nixon, facing

possible indictment after his resignation, received from his

successor, Gerald FORD, a full pardon "for all offenses"

which he "has committed or may have committed."

Americans were deeply troubled by the scandal. Attempts

by REPUBLICAN officials to discredit Democratic leaders

and disrupt their campaign threatened the political process.

Electronic surveillance presented a threat to civil liberties.

Abuse of "national security" and "executive privilege" to

thwart the investigation suggested that those concepts

needed more precise definitions. The misuse of large

campaign donations suggested the need for further reform

legislation. The willingness of Nixon and his aides to use the

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue

Service (IRS), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

in unlawful or unethical ways against their "enemies" was a

reckless exploitation of the bureacracy. National Security

The antecedents of Watergate were steps taken by Nixon

from 1969 to 1971 allegedly in the cause of national

security. To uncover the sources of leaked news about

such matters as the bombing of Cambodia, Nixon

authorized, without court approval, the wiretapping of the

phones of government officials and newspapermen. But

some of the men whose phones were wiretapped had no

involvement with security matters, and taps on two men

continued after they had joined the staff of Sen. Edmund

Muskie (D-Me.), who was seeking the Democratic

presidential nomination. In 1971, Nixon approved an

intelligence operation that contemplated burglaries and the

opening of mail to detect security leaks. The author of the

plan, Tom Huston, acknowledged that part of his plan was

"clearly illegal." Nixon revoked the operation after a protest

by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Also in 1971, Nixon

created the Special Investigations Unit -- known as the

"plumbers" to plug news leaks. In September, agents of the

unit broke into the office of Dr. Lewis Fielding, the

psychiatrist of Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, who had given copies of

the Pentagon Papers, a secret account of U.S. involvement

in Indochina, to newspapers. After Nixon learned of the

break-in, he and his top aides agreed to say that the

break-in had been carried out for national-security reasons.

But in 1974, Charles Colson, a former special counsel to


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