The date is June 17th, 1972. Night has fallen and the streets of the city are silent. Five men dressed in suits have just broken into Watergate, the Democratic headquarters. Their intent is to bug the DNC director's phone (McQuaid, 181-182). Suddenly, the lights flash on. Hiding behind desks, trying to still their breathing, they wait. But it is to no avail, for they are caught.
The great presidential scandal known as Watergate happened something like that, but it started out as much less, and became much, much more.
The US was in the midst of the Vietnam War. Reports of bombings in Cambodia reached the New York Times through a leak in the White House. President Nixon became worried and had four reporters and thirteen government officials secretly tapped for a period of over 22 months (Kilian, 8). In the summer of 1971, the White House sent agents to break into Daniel Ellsberg's office at the Brookings Institute.
Ellsberg had been responsible for the release of what are now known as the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the involvement of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in the Vietnam War (11). To discredit Ellsberg, Nixon set up a group known as the "Plumbers". The group included Howard Hunt, an ex-CIA operative, and G. Gordon Liddy, an ex- FBI agent. The "Plumbers" hired Bernard L. Barker, Eugenio R. Martinez, and Felipe de Diego to break into Ellsberg's psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis Fielding's office to find incriminating information on Ellsberg. Their ploy failed (12).
Nixon then started using the "Plumbers" to spy on the Democrats because of his fear of not being re-elected. They used childish tricks to turn the public against the Democratic candidates for President (14). The tricks did not work well enough. Then Liddy came up with a brilliant plan...