Monday, July 25, 2005


The WaPo: Thirty years of mythmaking punctured by Watergate editor-- and an important truth revealed

Via one of America's last investigative reportersMurray Waas, we get linked to a key figure in breaking Watergate. Were Woodward and Bernstein central to breaking the story? Did Deep Throat provide critical information? Not according to Barry Sussman, who was the editor managing the story. In October 1972, Deep Throat gave us confirmation on an important story dealing with dirty tricks. But that’s it... An investigator in Miami who helped us one time was a lot more important than Deep Throat....On Aug. 1, 1972, we reported that contributions to Nixon had flowed directly from his re-election committee into a Miami bank account of Watergate burglar Bernard Barker. Prosecutors in Washington and the FBI – and thus, presumably, Deep Throat – had known about these transfers since the end of June. The Post found out about them, however, not from him but rather through a Dade County state’s attorney investigator, Martin Dardis....The case is pretty strong that the Dahlberg check story was the single biggest contribution the Washington Post made in the course of the scandal. It led to creation of the Ervin Committee, thus to the knowledge of the existence of the Nixon tapes, the payment of hush money and Nixon’s subsequent demise...The Post’s managing editor, the late Howard Simons, stayed at work late that night because of another story, so it was fitting that he should be there to make space for the Dahlberg check story. From the beginning, Simons was the main force behind the Post’s Watergate coverage....Bradlee came to the story fairly late. Reading Sussman, it's very hard to figure out what, exactly, Woodstein and Bradlee did to get any credit. But all that is water under the bridge. What's important about this article is that Sussman understands just how huge the Watergate scandal was: A great oddity about Watergate, then and now, is that few people had or have any real idea of what the scandal encompassed. From the moment Nixon took office in 1969, he and several of his chief aides took an us-against-them attitude, with us being the White House and its political allies, and them being everyone else, especially people who might not support Nixon on the Vietnam war. ... Watergate also came to include Nixon Administration or re-election committee bribery, massive campaign finance fraud and political extortion, perjury and suborning perjury, lying to the FBI, contempt of court and contempt of Congress, destruction of evidence, embezzlement, distributing false campaign literature, slander, libel, malicious use of the courts, IRS audits done for political reasons and the secret bombing of Cambodia (only a handful of members of Congress were aware of it) during the Vietnam war. Looked at in this light, the Watergate break-in was just a routine raid by White House thugs who thought they were above the law and who couldn’t distinguish tough politics from crime. The FBI, including Mark Felt, also was deep into illegal activities, infiltrating antiwar groups and at times prodding them to actions, including bombings that they might not have committed on their own. The difference between Bush and Nixon is that Nixon had to contend with a Democratic Congress and an independent judiciary, so he had to be a little more careful.
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