With the recent death of G Gordon Liddy, known as Watergate burglary mastermind, the Watergate scandal has once again started circulating in discussions. Let’s look at what the scandal was, and how it contributed to the downfall of US President Nixon.
Crux of the Matter
G Gordon Liddy
On 30th March 2021, G Gordon Liddy died at the age of 90. Liddy was the ‘Watergate burglary’ mastermind. He was an Army Vet and an ex FBI agent, and had started his radio show, security firm, etc. after his prison time.
Watergate Scandal Timeline
- June 1971: The New York Times started publishing ‘Pentagon Papers’.
These ‘top-secret’ US Government papers revealed the role of US in aggravating the Vietnam War.
- September: White House “plumbers” broke into the office of psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, who had leaked Pentagon Papers, to find material on him.
Plumbers: Team of former CIA and FBI agents hired by President Nixon to repair the ‘leak’ after Pentagon Papers.
- Liddy, one of the ‘plumbers’, was then shifted to ‘CREEP’: Committee to Re-Elect the President (Nixon).
- June 1972: 5 men arrested while setting up wiretapping in Democratic National Committee Headquarters.
The DNC is the Democratic Party Headquarters in Watergate Complex, Washington.
- September: The Washington Post reported that previous Attorney General John Mitchell had used funds for operations collecting intelligence against Democrats.
- November: Nixon, elected in 1968, was re-elected as the President.
- January 1973: The plumbers attempting break-in were convicted. One of them confessed in a letter that a bigger conspiracy existed.
Scandal Reaches White House
- April 1973: FBI Director L Patrick Gray resigned after admitting evidence destruction in the case.
- June: Ex Presidential Appointments Secretary Alexander Butterfield testified that Nixon wiretapped all conversations and calls in White House.
Nixon gave these tapes to the Judiciary only after Supreme Court orders.
- These tapes showed Nixon attempts to ‘obstruct’ FBI investigation into the Watergate break-in using CIA and so on.
In August 1973, Nixon resigned before the whole impeachment process was completed. Vice President Gerald Ford became the President, who pardoned Nixon before further trial on him could go on. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter (Democrat) pardoned Liddy after he had spent 4+ years in prison.
- The central five-acre pentagonal plaza is nicknamed “ground zero” on the presumption that it would be a prime target in a nuclear war. In relation to nuclear explosions, ground zero is the point on the Earth’s surface closest to a detonation.
- On Thanksgiving evening of 1971, David Young (member of white house plumbers) arrived home from his planning at the Special Investigative Unit, when his grandmother asked him, “What do you do at the White House?” He replied, “I am helping the president stop some leaks.” She exclaimed, “Oh, you’re a plumber!”. And the whole group adopted the name, “White house Plumbers“.
- The suffix -gate derives from the Watergate scandal. The suffix has become productive as a libfix and is used to embellish a noun or name to suggest the existence of a far-reaching scandal, particularly in politics and government.