Watergate has become the name given to a complex web of political scandals that occurred in America between 1972 and 1974, and eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Milhous Nixon.
Watergate takes its name after the Watergate Hotel in Washington where a burglary took place that started a whole ball rolling. The “Watergate Burglars” bore into offices of the Democratic Party’s National Committee on the 17th of June 1972. The actual motives for the break in are, to say the least, not clear and had it not been for the quick thinking of a security guard, Frank Willis, the burglary might well have gone undetected.
The five burglars arrested in the Democratic Party’s offices were ;
- Bernard L Barker, ex CIA and was rumoured to have been involved in the Bay of Pigs scandal in 1962
- Virgillo R. Gonzales, a Cuban refugee.
- James W.McCoed, the security co-ordinator for the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Committee for the Re-election of the President (CREEP). Another ex CIA he was sacked by both RNC and CREEP the day after the break in.
- Eugenio R. Martinez, an employee of Barker who also had ties to the CIA and was a Cuban refugee.
- Frank A. Sturgis, another friend of Barker who was known to have CIA links
Nixon, who was re-elected by a landslide and subsequently sworn in to the office of President in January 1973, made the first of three speeches on the Watergate scandal on the 30th of April 1973. In this speech he announced the departure of three men Haldeman, Ehrlichman and John Dean his Whitehouse counsel. Barely four months later, in August he had to refute allegations with another defiant speech. But still it would not go away.
This was due mainly to the work done by two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstien, who along with their “insider”, known as “Deep Throat” were gradually uncovering a great political scandal.
In April 1974 Nixon had to make a third speech about Watergate and at the same time he released transcription of secret tapes of conversation made in the Whitehouse to Congress. These tapes started a major legal row between the Congress and the President which ended with the Supreme Court ordering him to release more of theses tapes. One of the tapes, which came to be known as the smoking gun tape, revealed that Nixon had, known about and indeed participated in the Watergate cover up back in June 1972.
On August the 8th 1974 Nixon made a televised speech of resignation to the nation and the next morning sent his resignation letter to the then Secretary of State, Dr Henry Kissinger.