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Abuse of Power

17/09/2017 at 15:08

The central theme of my books in “The Puppet Meisters Trilogy” is state abuse of power, although such abuse may equally be carried out in the commercial sector.

Over the next few months I intend to post examples of some of the most high profile abuses. The reader will see that such abuses are not limited to autocracies or those forms of government in what are effectively one-party states. The so-called liberal democracies are just as capable of producing leaders who abuse their power.

The Watergate affair

Perhaps the most egregious display of political corruption in the 20th century was that committed by US President Nixon and many of his senior White House staffers between 1972 and 1974.

Nixon, a Republican, was keen to get re-elected in November 1972 for a second term in office. He set up a clandestine unit, known as the “White House Plumbers”, who were instructed to dig the dirt on the Democratic Party.

The Plumbers carried out their tasks with alacrity and with little or no respect for the law. One of their crimes was to break into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) which were located in the Watergate building in Washington D.C.

They were caught and an FBI investigation uncovered a link between cash found on the burglars and a slush fund used by Nixon’s Committee for the Re-election of the President.

See below an image of the filing cabinet that was broken into. It is now in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington D. C.

One thing led to another and during the following two years investigators and special prosecutors uncovered a multitude of illegal activities, including: burglaries, criminal conspiracies to cover up, money-laundering, bank fraud, perjury and political spying and attempted sabotaging of the election prospects of the Democratic Party by illegal means.

These activities had been carried out by the most senior members of Nixon’s White House administration (many of them, lawyers), the most prominent being President Nixon himself.

Consequences

Sixty-nine people were indicted, resulting in 48 being found guilty and receiving prison sentences of various lengths. The convictions included two Attorney Generals: John N Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst; Nixon’s Chief of Staff: H. R. Haldeman; Counsel and assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs: John Ehrlichman; White House Counsel: John Dean III and Nixon’s Special Counsel: Charles W Colson.

The scandal led the American Bar Association to radically overhaul its code of ethics for lawyers, in order to avoid Federal government regulation.

Nixon, also a lawyer and having been found out to be a liar, was forced to resign when impeachment proceedings were imminent.

On 9 August 1974 he left the capital for the last time, with his family, in a helicopter from the South Lawn of the White House.

All the President’s Men

In 1974 the two Washington Post investigative reporters who are credited with uncovering the scandal, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, wrote a book about the affair: All the President’s Men. It was turned into a film in 1976 in which Robert Redford played Woodward and Dustin Hoffman played Bernstein.

Relevance today?

As Luisa Singletary says in her slide show entitled “Watergate Scandal”:

Following the Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal finished destroying the faith Americans had in the government and built trust in the media. It caused the destruction of an administration and changed the way politicians were viewed forever. https://www.slideshare.net/thisisaslideshareacct/this-is-a-watergate-powerpoint-4336508

That lack of trust in politicians still exists today and, unfortunately, the same can now be said of the increasing lack of trust in the agenda-driven mainstream and social media.

The Orwellian doublespeak of politicians and corporations, who boast of their “open government”, “transparency” and “accountability”, is belied by their lies, deceit and hypocrisy – as you will see in forthcoming posts.

 

(c) Adrian Churchward September 2017