Was Watergate just a burglary, or more?

Anonymous asked this question on 7/25/2000:

I know that H.R. Halderman is one of Nixon's closest confidants, and he was fired by Nixon because of the Watergate
Can anyone tell me some information about how did H.R. Halderman helped Nixon to defense on the case of Watergate.
I have a debate about the Watergate, and I'm the
H.R. Halderman, what kind of information I need in order to defense Nixon?
please help me, thanks......

npscott gave this response on 7/27/2000:

I was a member of Senator George S. McGovern's Presidential Campaign staff...the lowest man on the totem pole, the campaign's Volunteer Coordinator for its National Headquarters.

Yet, in even in that position, I personally gave a tour of our Headquarters to Nixon operative James McCord, who was introduced to me as "the uncle" of a staffer.

I also worked with a young man from Utah. He said to me, after Watergate had become news, "You know, you would make a great spy."

This puzzled me. "Why?" I asked.

"Because", he said, "you have access to every part of the campaign".

"No, Tom", I joked back (for that's what I thought we were doing) "You'd make a good spy. Because it's people no one would suspect of being a spy, that make the best ones".

After the 1972 election, while home visiting my parents, I picked up the Toledo Blade to see Tom's face staring out from the front page. It seems this good Mormon boy was a spy in our campaign who reported directly to Howard Hunt.

There are some short memories around. If you are left with the impression that Watergate was just a 'third rate burglary', you have missed history.

Watergate was composed of the following (which is not an exhaustive list)

1) subversion of the U.S. Constitution
2) subversion of the Democratic process
3) Massive corruption in requiring contributions from companies to the Nixon campaign, in order to do business with the
4) Violation of Nixon's Oath of Office, taken on a Bible
5) Possible Murders to effect a cover-up
6) Corruption of judicial officials, and misuse of the Department of Justice
7) Illegal use of the CIA in domestic affairs

And that doesn't cover all of it, by any means.

In the last week of the campaign, I read a story where one fellow campaign worker who was a Nixon spy with the McGovern campaign, confessed her role to the press.

She told me later, she spent the rest of the campaign "ducking bullets" which tore thorough the living room of the house on two occasions, where she had hid out, after talking with the press.

H.R. Halderman did not advice Nixon, as might mistakenly be implied from another response, to "get it all out in the open".

Halderman and Erlichman, Nixon two top White House aides, were in from the 'git go' on a cover-up of the Nixon White House illegal activities.

Because of political partisanship, some people, even today, cannot face what harm Nixon did to our form of government.

If you want to 'be' H.R. Halderman, you can get into his mindset, only by assuming an air of arrogance, and of paranoia.

These two attitudes where the 'guiding lights' of the Nixon Administration.

Nixon, incidentally, meets the definition of a "Greek tragedy". That is, a man who has the capacity for greatness, but destroys it, and himself, because of a personal flaw".

Nixon's personal flaw was an inferiority complex he compensated for with arrogance and superiority.

All these men felt--truly felt--that good, honest, Americans who disagreed with them were "the enemy". Not 'political enemies', but "The Enemy" as in traitors.

They bugged, illegally, every major Presidential candidate's offices in 1972, from the primaries on.

They used the CIA's services, to help the 'plumbers' follow and spy the opposition party, in violation of the CIA charter..

The Saturday before the Michigan Primary, polls showed George McGovern winning the that state's Democratic Primary, outpolling even Segregationist Governor George Wallace, who was popular with Detroit blue collar workers.

But, Wallace was then shot. Wallace jumped in the polls, and beat McGovern.

And, Nixon operatives hurried to the would be assassin's car, to place McGovern literature in it.

Nixon's Secret Service Agents, were not too 'cool' either. I know of at least three instances, where McGovern campaign staffers told me that a Secret Service Agent said, "You know, I could shoot you and get away with it. No one would doubt my word." One of these workers is now a top person in our State Dept.

I've been on Presidential campaigns since 1968 and around many Secret Service agents. Except for the Nixon period, I've found these Agents to be nothing but top professionals, and ladies and gentlemen. One Nixon Secret Serviceman was killed in a crash during the Nixon Campaign.

Howard Hunt's wife was killed in an Airplane crash, at a time Hunt was demanding of Nixon a huge 'pay off' to remain silent about his role in Watergate.

The Watergate Plumber's broke into a government worker's psychiatrist's office, to get his files on the worker, because the worker was opposing the Vietnam War.

Nixon himself, ordered the Plumbers to break into a political "think tank" (The Brookings Institution), and break open their safe, because he didn't like their politics.

Nixon's IRS harassed many of Nixon's enemies, including this lowly McGovern worker. Despite the fact I made $50 a week on the McGovern campaign, and kept renting a room rather than an apartment to work on the campaign at such low pay, I was audited by the IRS two years running after the 1972 election. So were many of my co-workers.

There is no defense of Nixon on this matter. But, if you play H.R. Halderman, and want to 'get into his head" (at the time), then adopt the idea that You are the Supreme Law of the Land, and can do anything you want, regardless of what the Constitution says.

Justify every action as a defense of the President, because everyone who opposes you is corrupt, and not a real American.

If you want to play Halderman, tell Nixon to "stonewall it", to "cover it up", which is what Halderman did.


Times change people. Nixon became contrite over what he had done, and apologized to the American People, especially the youth whose idealism he affected.

Halderman and Erlichman also became regretful over their role in the Nixon White House, and expressed remorse.

We're all sinners. We all do wrong.

But, that doesn't mean because we all do wrong, that we give each other a 'pass' on bad behavior.

Watergate was the worst threat to our Constitutional government and Democracy this country ever faced.

We should never forget it's lessons.

Read the Declaration of Independence. Read the U.S. Constitution. Then compare the actions during Watergate against both documents, and make your own judgement.

npscott gave this follow-up answer on 7/27/2000:

I forgot two details that might interest you about Watergate.

1) To be a volunteer on the McGovern campaign, you need only walk through the door, and volunteer.

To be a volunteer on the Nixon campaign, you had to fill out an extensive form, and be investigated.

2) The wife of the Attorney General, the man charged with enforcing the law of our land, decided to 'spill the beans' on her husband's activities, and those of the plumbers.

While she was on the phone with a reporter, she was grabbed, and dragged away screaming, and then the phone was hung up.

It later turned out that the Attorney General of the United States authorized James McCord to 'calm' his wife by sticking her with needles, and keeping her in a drugged state for days.

These boys didn't play.

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