Watergate: Was The Nixon White House Involved?


What was Watergate? "Watergate" is a term used to describe a complex
web of political scandals occurring between 1972 and 1974. On January 20, 1969,
Richard M. Nixon had become the thirty-seventh president of the United States.
As Nixon entered the White House, he was ?full of bitterness and anger about
past defeats, and about years of perceived slights from others in the political
establishment.? Nixon, a Republican, once stated that, ?Washington is a city
run primarily by Democrats and liberals, dominated by like-minded newspapers and
other media.? Nixon's obligation to control his political destiny and to
forestall the damaging of his agenda by incumbents urged him toward the
development of what was, in effect, a ?secret government? (Gettlin and Colodny
6). The word, ?Watergate?, refers to the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.
In addition to the hotel, the Watergate complex houses many business offices.
It was here that the offices of the Democratic National Committee were
burglarizedon June 17, 1972. Five individuals were arrested at the Watergate
complex after the burglary. Charges were also pressed on G. George Liddy and E.
Howard Hunt ; the ?Watergate Seven? were sentenced by Judge John Sirica.
Although Nixon was worried about the break-in, he advised the White House press
secretary, Ron Ziegler, to dismiss the incident as ?a third-rate burglary?
(Cannon 107). In the years ensuing the invasion at the Watergate building,
questions and controversy have surfaced consequent to whether or not the White
House, under the control of President Nixon, was either directly or discursively
involved in the planning and/or performing of any illegal deeds. As the
Watergate scandal unfolded, the Nixon administration was quick to mitigate the
responsibility for the occurrences, however, in actuality, numerous facts and
particulars ascertain White House involvement and justify the repercussions.
The arrests of the "Watergate Seven" eventually uncovered a ?White
House-sponsored plan of espionage against political opponents and a trail of
complicity that led to many of the highest officials in the land? (Jacobs, ?
Watergate?). These high political executives included former United States
Attorney General John Mitchell, White House Counsel John Dean, White House
Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs John Ehrlichman, White House Chief of
Staff H.R. Haldeman, and President Nixon himself. Evidence corroborating White
House involvement was ample and immense. On April 30, 1973, close to a year
after the burglary and subsequent to a grand jury investigation of the break-in,
President Nixon affirmed the resignation of H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman
and announced the dismissal of John Dean; United States Attorney General Richard
Kleindienst resigned as well. The resignations and dismissal were all results
of pressure placed upon the White House to produce answers regarding the scandal
that consummated in the officials' insubordinations. However, the United States
government is based upon a system of ?checks and balances? where no one person
or party can make an ultimate decision. The noncompliances of the White House
and its administrators did not thwart the public's progression towards the
answers in the case.
Washington, no outsider to ?political shenanigans and chicanery," had
never had a political burglary before. Four of the seven individuals
apprehended for the Watergate break-in were connected with the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) and were hired hands ?on call? to take care of the
agency's ?less tasteful work?; bugging phones or picking locks (Cannon 107).
When arrested and searched, in the pockets of two of the burglars the police
retrieved the name and phone number of E. Howard Hunt. Police traced the number
and found it to be in the Nixon White House. Bringing to question, what
business did members of a CIA task force that specialized in burglary and spying
have with officials in the White House? Also retrieved from the five
individuals detained at the scene, was, altogether, $2,300 in cash, primarily in
hundred-dollar bills with the serial numbers in sequence. This was coincidental
because, John Ehrlichman once revealed, ?Bob [H.R.] Haldeman said nothing to the
rest of us about $350,000 the President had him skim off the top of the 1972
campaign funds to be held in a safe-deposit box (by Alex Butterfield ) for ?
emergencies'? (342). Perhaps, Nixon and his cabinet members and the other
officials who did ?business? with Nixon, saw the Democratic campaign as an ?
emergency? that they needed to take action against.
In May 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Activities
opened hearings on Watergate, placing Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina as
chairman. John Dean was of the first individuals to be interrogated. A series
of startling revelations followed. Dean testified, under oath, that John
Mitchell had ordered the break-in at the Watergate and that a major attempt was
under way to hide White House involvement. Dean