Concept of Free News

Posted: October 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Freedom of expression is the concept of being able to transfer ideas or thoughts verbally or otherwise freely without censorship. It was awarded global recognition as a universal human right and ingrained in the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In spite of its status, it is never absolute in any country.

The power that the media wields in a free democratic society is apparent from the status it has earned as the Fourth Estate of the society. Although it is the youngest of the four estates, it is the most powerful of all of them and has been constantly growing in power on account of its increasing command over information, its expanding and deepening reach, and it’s ever strengthening capacity to influence and shape the views and opinions of the people and the policy-makers. The advent of the electronic media and particularly the satellite television and the internet, the growing literacy, the global expansion of the print media propelled by the computer technology, the fast life and increasing dependence of the common man, intelligentsia and leaders of public opinion on the media for knowledge, views and opinions, have among other things, contributed to the intensity of the grip of the media on society.

Free media is one of the basic requirements of a free democratic society. By disseminating all requisite information, it creates an informed society. The law reflects the political system of a country. Different press laws have, therefore, developed along the lines of political philosophies of different countries. The authoritarian press laws, in the early stages of the press following the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, giving control to the rulers over the press, later gave way to the libertarian laws on the advent of the age of enlightenment.

The expansion of the press and the growth in its power in the beginning of this century spawned yet another theory of the press laws – that of social responsibility. Freedom of expression, therefore, is among the foremost of human rights. Such unlimited and unaccountable powers are liable to be misused. Hence there is need for its regulation whether by an imposed law or by voluntarily put enforceable guidelines.

India experienced its first statutory regulation of the press in colonial rule. Adam’s Press Ordinance was the first ordinance brought in by the then Governor General, John Adam. The regulations promulgated by Adam were directed against newspapers published in the Indian languages and edited by the Indians. It is now known that the Adam regulations were the forerunner of the Vernacular Press Act of 1878 and other statutory measures to control the Indian press whose power posed a major factor in the country’s struggle for freedom from colonial yoke. After India gained independence in 1947, the framers of the constitution have placed “very narrow and stringent limits to permissible legislative abridgement of the right to free speech and expression” even though such freedom had potential risk of abuse. As pointed out by the Indian Supreme Court the ‘framers of the constitution may well have reflected, with Madison who was the leading spirit in the preparation of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution’ that “it is better to leave a few of the noxious branches to their luxuriant growth than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigor of those yielding the proper fruits”. Thus, amongst the Fundamental Rights of the citizen defined therein, Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution provides for all citizens to have the right, inter alia, to freedom of speech and expression. The Constitution which guarantees this freedom as a fundamental right by Article 19 (1) (a), also permits the state under Article 19 (2), to impose reasonable restrictions on its exercise by making a law in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

In a number of cases the Supreme Court has held over and over again that any restriction, whether direct or indirect, imposed by Parliament upon the right of freedom of speech and expression other than those mentioned in clause (2) of Article 19 would be outside the scope of this Article. Pre-censorship, prohibition on import of printed and published material, placing a ban on printing and publishing material of a specified nature, demanding security from the press or placing any restriction which would amount to an indirect curb on free circulation of a newspaper or a class of newspapers have all been held to be bad in law.

Free media is as essential to a country as water is to fish. A nation can’t prosper and progress without a vibrant, pro-people and independent media. However, freedom also demands responsibility. A responsible reporting doesn’t necessarily mean restricted reporting. It only excludes sensationalism, undue hype and speculation.

Unfortunately, the race for first in news breaking has urged many media outlets, especially in India, to report irresponsibly. Objectivity demands an equal coverage of both the parties. But the TV news channels in India are under the wrong impression that only the anti-government reporting can win them audiences. It is the concern of winning audiences that is considered supreme instead of giving the audiences larger picture of the events. It is sad to see that so-called analysts and pseudo-intellectuals are commanding the air waves these days that deem it their divine duty to comment on everything. The subjective opinions have also marred the news that should base on hard facts. The tilted reporting skewed in favour of some persons or parties brings a bad name to the respectable field of journalism.

This could only be solved through self media regulation and following code of conduct and journalism ethics. Otherwise, the standard of journalism will fall further and people would stop believing the so-called ‘Free News’.


Long live Egypt

Posted: February 19, 2011 in International Affairs

It started with a doctored photograph. On show were the statesmen of the Middle East, all the big players. Resolute of brow, they marched purposely up a White House red carpet last September towards the waiting cameras. In the middle was President Obama. To his right was the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and to his left, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and King Abdullah of Jordan.

And there, two steps in front of the others – the clear leader of the group – was President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

Egypt is historically the leader of the Arab world, so maybe his position seemed justified. But when the picture was carried by the Egyptian state newspaper Al-Ahram it caused hilarity. Everyone knew Mubarak was not at the front because they had seen it on television. He was beyond Mr Netanyahu, and if anything slightly behind his colleagues. The attempt to give him face, courtesy of Photoshop, was laughable.

So, too, as it now turns out, was Mubarak’s determination to stay in power after 30 years in office by rigging a series of presidential and parliamentary elections. In December, his ruling party won a landslide of Saddam Hussein proportions. Yet Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, issued nothing more trenchant than some mildly deprecating remarks and President Obama gave the diplomatic equivalent of a wry shrug even as the man who for decades had been a lynchpin of US policy in the Middle East cut an increasingly absurd figure. In Washington, they are now playing a panicked game of catch-up as mobs on the street said what America failed to see – that it was time for Mubarak and his chums across the region to go.

There are similarities between Tunisia and Egypt; but even by Middle Eastern standards the spectacle of an 82-year-old president pressing for yet another term while entering his fourth decade in office was extreme. There was little doubt that Mubarak will now go. The appointment of his security chief as vice president (the post he held himself before taking power) implied that he had given up the idea of installing his son Gamal as successor.

Tens of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators took to the streets on 25 January, young and old, Muslim and Christian, rich and poor, educated and not so-educated. They all chanted “Long live Egypt”, “Life, liberty and human dignity” and “Down with the Mubarak regime”. The scale of the protests came as a blow to all those who have been betting that a sleeping dragon will continue its slumber. For three decades now, Egyptians have been kept on a tight leash, fed more with promises than with bread. They were cajoled into compliance by a media that has the interests of the regime at heart and a religious establishment that owes its allegiance and existence to the state, but were often threatened into submission by the force of the baton if they refused to comply.

Egyptian grievances are numerous. They have seen neither the fruits of peace nor of the huge economic growth that Egypt is reported to be making in international economic indices. What they experience on a daily basis is endless queuing for inedible bread and suffocating traffic congestion as the police force is increasingly burdened with the task of protecting the regime and its men. There were also demonstrations last month calling for a minimum monthly wage of 1,200 Egyptian pounds (roughly £130). Too much, said the government. It could only promise to institute a minimum wage of 400LE (£43). This is hardly surprising from a government made up of businesspeople who no doubt have a vested interest in keeping wages as low as possible.

Grievances of Egyptian protesters have focused on legal and political issues including police brutality, state of emergency laws, lack of free elections and freedom of speech, and uncontrollable corruption, as well as economic issues including high unemployment, food price inflation, and low minimum wages. The primary demands from protest organizers was the end of the Hosni Mubarak regime, the end of Emergency Law, freedom, justice, a responsive non-military government, and management of Egypt’s resources. Labour unions were said to play an integral part in the protests.

As of 16 February, at least 365 deaths had been reported, and those injured number in the thousands. The capital city of Cairo was described as “a war zone,” and the port city of Suez has been the scene of frequent violent clashes. The government imposed a curfew that protesters defied and that the police and military did not enforce. The presence of  Egypt’s Central Security Forces police, loyal to Mubarak, was gradually replaced by largely restrained military troops. In the absence of police, there was looting by gangs that opposition sources said were instigated by plainclothes police officers. In response, civilians self-organized watch groups to protect neighbourhoods.


International response to the protests was initially mixed, though most have called for some sort of peaceful protests on both sides and moves toward reform. Mostly Western governments also expressed concern for the situation. Many governments issued travel advisories and began making attempts at evacuating their citizens from the country. The Egyptian Revolution, along with Tunisian events, has influenced demonstrations in other Arab countries including Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Libya.

Mubarak dissolved his government and appointed military figure and former head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Omar Suleiman as Vice-President in an attempt to quell dissent. Mubarak asked aviation minister and former chief of Egypt’s Air Force, Ahmed Shafik, to form a new government. Mohamed ElBaradei became a major figure of the opposition, with all major opposition groups supporting his role as a negotiator for some form of transitional unity government. In response to mounting pressure Mubarak announced he would not seek re-election in September.

On 11 February, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak would be stepping down as president and turning power over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The junta, headed by effective head of state Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, announced on 13 February that the constitution would be suspended, both houses of parliament dissolved, and that the military would rule for six months until elections could be held. The prior cabinet, including Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, would continue to serve as a caretaker government until a new one is formed.

First Tunisia, Then Egypt, Now Yemen. What will happen ahead? Will this create a revolution in Europe too??




Posted: December 21, 2010 in POLITICAL SCANDALS

On October 10, 1973, following months of pressure and scandal, Vice President Spiro Agnew turned in his letter of resignation to President Nixon (who was soon to follow him) becoming only the second vice president to resign. Michigan representative Gerald R. Ford took his place as vice president on December 6, 1973.

Agnew began his political life as a liberal Democrat and ended it as a law-and-order Republican who pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to charges of tax fraud. He once called the media “nattering nabobs of negativism” and found a political base with both social conservatives and what would later be called Reagan Democrats.

He rose quickly from a mere county executive of Baltimore County in 1962 to the Republican candidate for governor of Maryland in 1966. The Democrats nominated a race-baiting candidate and Agnew, running to the left of him, won becoming one of the first Republican governors south of the Mason-Dixon Line since the Civil War. Just two years later, Nixon chose him to be his far-right, hippie-bashing, anti-intellectual attack dog – a role he (along with speechwriters William Safire and Pat Buchanan) clearly relished.

In fact, he was a hero to many and the subject of one of the first fads of the decade: T-shirts and other products sporting his image were mass-produced. To his credit, Agnew refused royalties for merchandise with his likeness and instead asked that any proceeds go to aid families of American POWs(prisoners of wars).

As Richard Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Theodore Agnew served from 20 January 1969 until 10 October 1973, when he resigned over matters unrelated to the Watergate scandal. Agnew, the son of Greek immigrants, grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he began practicing law in 1949. From 1962 to 1969 he served as a county executive in Baltimore before being elected governor in 1967. As Nixon’s vice president he was not closely involved in policy decisions, but he was a media favorite for his staunch defense of the Vietnam War and his colorful attacks on war protesters, the press and political dissidents. Agnew’s fiery rhetoric became legendary: he famously called the press “nattering nabobs of negativism” and referred to war critics as “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as ‘intellectuals.'” After Nixon and Agnew were elected to a second term, Agnew became the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Maryland for financial irregularities while he held state office. Rather than face trial, Agnew resigned and entered a plea of no contest to charges of evading income tax. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $10,000. After he left office Agnew avoided publicity and went into business as an international broker. In 1981 he was ordered by a Maryland court to repay more than $248,000 to cover bribes he took while in state office.

A defiant Agnew spent most of 1973 deflecting attention away from the growing Watergate scandal with his own troubles. He was accused of receiving kickbacks – illegal payments – from contractors who wished to do business with the state of Maryland while he was governor. The charges soon expanded to include payments he received while vice president. He claimed the charges were “damned lies” and vowed never to resign.

Some cynics saw the selection of Agnew as a running mate as Nixon’s insurance against being assassinated. Considering all of the assassinations in the sixties, any kind of insurance would have been prudent. But even Nixon-haters were glad it never came to that. He was a lightning-rod for liberals and Agnew’s troubles – no matter how damaging to the Republican Party – certainly helped keep Nixon’s troubles off the front page. That is, until Agnew had to resign. Agnew pleaded no contest to charges of tax fraud. Ironically enough, the charges stemmed not from having received kickbacks and bribes as he had been doing for the better part of a decade, but for not reporting them on his income tax returns.

In typically brash Agnew style, he apparently had them deliver the illegal payments – which he called legitimate political contributions (in unmarked envelopes containing as much as $20,000 at a time) – directly to his vice presidential office! When you believe you are above the law, there is no reason to make such transactions any more complicated than they have to be.

While you or I would have spent five to ten in the pen, Nixon’s Justice Department took pity on him and let him off with a fine and three years probation. The puny $10,000 fine only covered the taxes and interest due on what was “unreported income” from 1967 even though there was evidence that the payments continued while he was vice president. That sweetheart plea bargain was later mocked as the “greatest deal since the Lord spared Isaac on the mountaintop” by former Maryland Attorney General Stephen Sachs.

After resigning his post and paying his fines, Agnew wrote two forgettable novels (one about a disgraced Vice President!) and a paranoid and unapologetic memoir entitled Go Quietly or Else, where he claimed Nixon’s henchmen were out to get him and that the president “naively believed that by throwing me to the wolves, he had appeased his enemies.” He also worked as a lobbyist (the party takes care of its own – even if they resign in disgrace) before disappearing into complete obscurity. Agnew did attend Nixon’s funeral in 1994. Spiro Theodore Agnew died of leukemia on September 17, 1996 at the age of 77. His understated gravestone reads: “Agnew, Spiro T. 1918-1996.”

As sex increasingly becomes a more prominent issue to be considered in the political age of today, this article looks back at the most (in)famous sex scandal of them all. In American politics it is the topic that everybody is aware of but nobody will mention. Sex, still the taboo subject, often dictates who is elected to office, who stays in office and who gets kicked out.

The Lewinsky scandal was a political sex scandal emerging from a sexual relationship between United States President Bill Clinton and a then 22-year-old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. The news of this extra-marital affair and the resulting investigation eventually led to the impeachment of President Clinton in 1998 by the U.S. House of Representatives and his subsequent acquittal on all impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in a 21-day Senate trial.
In 1995, Monica Lewinsky, a graduate of Lewis & Clark College, was hired to work as an intern at the White House during Clinton’s first term, and began a personal relationship with him, the details of which she later confided to her friend and Defense department co-worker Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded their telephone conversations. When Tripp discovered in January 1998 that Lewinsky had signed an affidavit in the Paula Jones case denying a relationship with Clinton, she delivered the tapes to Kenneth Starr, the Independent Counsel who was investigating Clinton on other matters, including the Whitewater scandal, the White House FBI files controversy, and the White House travel office controversy. During the grand jury testimony Clinton’s responses were guarded, and he argued, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”.

The wide reporting of the scandal led to criticism of the press for over-coverage. The scandal is sometimes referred to as “Monicagate“, “Lewinskygate“, “Tailgate“, “Sexgate” and “Zippergate“, following the “gate” nickname construction that has been popular since the Watergate scandal.

It is likely that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s near obsession with public perception of her throughout the presidential race has inadvertently resulted in her mechanical-like demeanor. It is apparent that Mrs. Clinton’s overtly cautious approach results from her husband, Bill Clinton’s affair with the former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, whilst he was president.

Campaigning for his wife’s bid for president, William Jefferson Clinton has been enjoying the level of media attention he has not been accustomed to since he held the keys to the White House himself, but nine years on, the shadow of the Lewinsky affair still hangs over the former president.

Despite his obvious talents as a politician, not least his achievements as president, Clinton’s legacy shall always be tarnished by his sexual affair with Lewinsky. The scandal saw Hillary Clinton stand by and defend her husband publicly and introduced the world to the independent counsel Kenneth Starr, whom Hillary, amongst other critics, claimed held a personal vendetta against her husband.

Impeachment Trial

The Kenneth Starr investigation lasted from 16th January 1998 until 12th February 1999. The Republican lawyer Starr was first associated with President Clinton in 1994, when he was appointed as Independent Counsel to investigate Clinton’s role in criminal activities in the Whitewater real estate deal. Starr’s investigation for Clinton’s impeachment led to such startling statements such as E. Said’s assertion that “no president has ever been so intimately investigated as Clinton, and it is likely that no one ever will be again”.

After the infamous television address to the nation, in which Clinton gave the immortal line, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky”, seven months later, on 17th of August 1998, in another speech to the nation, he admitted, “I did have a relationship with Ms Lewinsky that was not appropriate”. He also challenged Starr to stop “prying into private lives”. This speech followed only a few hours after his statement to the Grand Jury, during his impeachment trial.

In Clinton’s statement to the Grand Jury, he said, “When I was alone with Ms Lewinsky on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in 1997 I engaged in conduct that was wrong. These inappropriate encounters ended at my insistence in early 1997”. In this statement however, Clinton was keen to point out that, in his view, he did not believe that these “inappropriate encounters” “constitute sexual relations as I understood that term to be defined”.

Clinton’s impeachment trial lasted from January 7th 1999 to February 12th 1999. A motion to end the trial was blocked by Republicans, who used their majority in the Senate to vote for the continuation of the trial. President Clinton however, was later acquitted of the charges made against him and continued as president until the end of his second term.

It is the view of many political commentators that the Watergate scandal of the Richard Nixon years inadvertently had repercussions for President Clinton. As President Nixon resigned in the wake of Watergate, he was not held entirely publicly accountable for his actions. As J. F. MacCannell has stated, the “so-called national trauma of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and of the president’s impeachment by the House of Representatives, though overtly about sex, was actually a restaging of President R. Nixon’s guilt and exposure in the Watergate affair” (2000).

Public reaction to the impeachment trial did not have the disastrous consequences for the Democrat Party in elections that was largely expected. The American public, it would seem, keep separate the president’s private life, and his performance in office. Clinton was seen by many Americans as promiscuous, immoral even, yet remained in the views of the majority, an excellent president.


Posted: December 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Let’s start with some history on the Bofors scandal, which remains till date one of the biggest scandals in Indian politics.

It all started when India decided to purchase 400; 155mm Howitzers (fancy word for really-big-kickass-gun) from Swedish company Bofors AB for $1.4 billion in 1986.

In 1987 the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several others were accused of receiving kickbacks for this deal. The case came to light during Vishwanath Pratap Singh’s tenure as defense minister, and was revealed through investigative journalism by Chitra Subramaniam and N. Ram of the newspapers the Indian Express and The Hindu.

Ottavio Quattrochi was a businessman close to the Gandhi family and a prominent man in the hallowed passages of Indian government. His name came up as the middleman in this deal.

The Bofors scandal was huge. Rajiv Gandhi lost the 1989 elections due to the backlash of these allegations.

Other accused included the Hinduja brothers and Win Chaddha, an agent of the Bofors Company.

Chaddha died in 2001. Gandhi was assassinated in 1991, and was cleared of the corruption charges against him in 2004. In 2005, the charges against the Hinduja brothers were dismissed by the Delhi High court.

The Wikipedia page on Quattrochi throws up some interesting information about the amount of clout he used to enjoy.

From roughly 1980 to 1987 – Indira Gandhi’s final years and Rajiv Gandhi’s honeymoon years – Quattrocchi had the Midas touch. No deal was refused to him. “It was understood,” remembers a Congressman from the original Mrs G’s days, “that a fertilizer contract meant Snamprogetti. That was considered the favour to Sonia and Rajiv.”

It is alleged Quattrocchi was so influential with the office of the prime minister — Rajiv Gandhi — that bureaucrats used to stand up when Quattrocchi visited them.

In 2002 a Malaysian court refused extraditing Quattrochi to India, observing that the offenses alleged against him were open to doubt.

Dismissing India’s review petition for his extradition, Justice Augustine Paul of Kuala Lumpur High Court upheld the Sessions Court verdict earlier this month throwing out the extradition case on the ground that the descriptions of the offenses in the requisition papers were “insufficient, vague and ambiguous.” While discharging Quattrocchi unconditionally, the Sessions Court on December 2 had also ordered return of his passport and the bail.

The CBI chief PC Sharma attributed the failure to the fact that they were in a foreign country and had to present the case through a foreign lawyer. Maybe they should start training multi-lingual Indian lawyers? Malaysian ones are apparently no good.

In December 2005 the Indian government de-froze Quattrochi’s bank accounts on grounds of insufficient evidence to link those accounts to the Bofors payoff. A month later the Supreme Court directed the government to ensure that money was not withdrawn from those accounts. It was too late by then. Rs 21 crore ($4.6 mn) had already been withdrawn from the accounts.

Quattrochi was arrested in Argentina in February 2007. However, as there was no extradition treaty between India and Argentina, this case was presented in the Argentine Supreme Court. The government of India lost the extradition case as the government of India did not provide a key court order which was the basis of Quattrochi’s arrest. In the aftermath, the government did not appeal this decision owing delays in securing an official English translation of the court’s decision.

The Italian businessman no longer figures in the CBI’s list of wanted persons and the 12-year Interpol red corner notice against the lone surviving suspect in the Bofors payoff case has been withdrawn from the agency’s website after the CBI’s appeal.

The CBI had the option of appealing to a higher court, but it failed to get a clearance from the center. I wonder why that would be.

The judge noted that the CBI did not even present proper legal documents for Quattrochi’s extradition, which led to their request getting rejected. Besides, the Indian government’s decision to de-freeze Quattrochi’s bank accounts did not really add credence to their request.

Over more than two decades the case has dragged on like an Energizer bunny, with no end in sight. For some involved parties the case ended with death, some were cleared of charges, but the scandal lives on.

Strangely enough, you can’t attribute it all to the Congress. The Congress may have had an interest in this case, but we have had some non-Congress governments too during these past twenty years that have allowed this drama to carry on, culminating with Manmohan Singh’s government’s farewell gift to Mr Quattrochi.





The Iran Contra Affair was a secret arrangement to provide funds to Nicaraguan contra rebels from profits accumulated by selling arms to Iran in the 1980’s. It was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. There is much controversy surrounding this scandal, including the president’s knowledge of these events. Throughout the trials, President Regan claimed that he knew nothing about the diversion of funds, or the illegal arms sales to Iran. The following information gathered will prove otherwise. The president not only knew about these arrangements, but also made certain that the contra rebels would be funded. During the trial of Oliver North, he was asked, “Do you remember thinking that you were in a den of thieves?” North was indignant. “I never regarded that I was working in a den of thieves,” he declared. “I honestly believe I was working for honorable men doing their level best to make this country a better place, and I was carrying out lawful orders to that end.” North testified that he had believed that the diversion of arms proceeds had been approved by President Reagan. Throughout the trials North claimed that he was carrying out direct orders from the president, and he felt he was involved in something that was beneficial to him and his country. President Reagan had pushed congress to authorize funding for the Contras, but congress took no such measure. Even so, the president would have it this way.

In 1986, President Reagan authorized the CIA to sell arms directly to Iran, and North coordinated this activity for the president. As the foreign funding for the contras ran out, North and his colleagues inflated the price of the weapons sold to Iran and secretly diverted the excess funds from the U.S. to private Swiss bank accounts. It seems impossible that President Reagan had no clue as to what was going on in his own administration. He was the head of the U.S. government. At times he contradicted himself when asked about these events. On October 8, 1986, Reagan was asked by a news conference: “Was there any United Sates involvement in this fight over Nicaragua – carrying the arms – any involvement whatsoever?” Reagan replied, “I’m glad you asked that. Absolutely not.” Later, after the government admitted to selling arms to Iran, Reagan stated that these sales would be stopped. He had to have known about these arrangements before the American public found out. Reagan’s first priority was freeing the hostages and Iran had already stated that it would free the hostages if more arms were supplied. This is an even greater cause for Reagan to proceed in aiding the Contras. He wanted to stay an adored public figure, and he wanted to succeed where President Carter failed. He would do so even if the law had to be broken. It was well-known that the President ran the White House with full authority. He was personally active in national security affairs and attended almost all of the relevant meetings involving the Iran initiative. He, as much as anyone, should have insisted that an orderly process be observed. In addition, he especially should have made sure that plans were made for handling any public disclosure for the initiative. He must take primary responsibility for the chaos that descended upon the White House when such disclosure did occur. The President was in full control and should take responsibility for these actions. Everyone in the White House knew who was in charge, so how could something like this just slip by without him knowing? President Reagan’s knowledge of these events is fairly obvious. It is just hard to see because he knew how to hide things well. The president always watched the way he would say things, and made sure to say them clearly. He never did say go lie to Congress. He did say, for example, when learning of the contribution of a foreign country that we shouldn’t share that with congress. This may seem innocent, but in actuality he is telling these people to lie for him. His knowledge of these events seems pretty clear in some of his statements.

On December 8, 1986, Reagan stated, “Let me just say it was not my intent to do business with Khomeini to trade weapons for hostages, nor to undercut our policy of anti-terrorism.” Then on March 26, 1987, Reagan stated: “With regard to whether private individuals were giving money to support the contras, yes, I was aware that there were people doing that. But there was nothing to my knowledge, of anyone whom I was aware of.” Two days later Reagan said, “As a matter of fact, I was definitely involved in the decisions about support to the freedom fighters. It was my idea to begin with.” It seems Reagan is taking the credit when it is convenient, but he otherwise denies involvement. Reagan later denied having known of the diversion of funds or having authorized his colleagues to violate the Boland amendments or to deceive congress. These Iran operations were carried out with the knowledge of, among others, President Ronald Reagan. Reagan had been informed from not one, but many people in his administration. He had known about the secret deals before anyone else. McFarlane spoke with President Reagan shortly after the President’s return from Bethesda Naval Hospital where he had undergone his cancer surgery. McFarlane claims to have informed the president of his proposal to supply arms to Iran, but the president had no recollection of this conversation. Reagan frequently answered questions in this manner. He would say that he could not recall, or he couldn’t remember the conversation. Reagan had told many lies about the arms deals and the transfer of funds. He told the Tower Commission that he “approved the shipment of arms by Israel to Iran” but later said that he was “surprised that the Israelis had shipped arms to Iran.” Then he said that incorrectly remembered both instances. He was good at doing this, telling stories that is. Reagan was a good public speaker and a lot of people believed in what he had to say. He was a true American in the sense that he was what every American pictured in the American president. Reagan wrote in his autobiography that, “To this day I still believe that the Iran initiative was not an effort to swap arms for hostages. But I knew that it may not look that way to some people. Unfortunately, an initiative meant to develop a relationship with moderate Iranians and get our hostages home took on a new shape I never expected and was never told about. The only way to get the hostages back and develop that relationship would be to negotiate with the Iranians. They wanted something, and the President had to comply to get what he wanted. The hostages got released, and the contras were funded with the President’s knowledge and participation. The commander-in-chief would make these types of negotiations, of compromises.

Reagan was the leader of the government, but to those under him he was more than that. Poindexter said, “The President was the commander-in-chief; and he was also an irresistible civilian employer, a charming and shrewd old man to whom the players felt overpowering loyalty. Reagan was our boss, they were his staff of and his servants, political appointees serving at his pleasure.” This is how most of the administration felt about Reagan. What he wanted was given to him the way he wanted it. His staff and employers did as they were told, no matter what it was. Oliver North once boasted that he would take a spear in his chest for Ronald Reagan. His men were taught to be loyal, and they stayed loyal. They would have done anything for Reagan, even lie at times. President Reagan lied himself, and frequently told others to lie. He was once pressed by some of his advisors for a commitment that no more arms would go to Iran, but this proposal drew no support. After the meeting, a White House press release stressed concern for the safety of the hostages and pledged that, “no US laws have been or will be violated and our policy of not making concessions to terrorists remains intact.” President Reagan asked his advisors to ensure that their departments refrain from making comments or speculating about these matters. This sounds like the President was trying to keep this covered up, and for no one to look into this statement any further. He did not want anyone to form any ideas that may lead to uncovering a secret. The Iran Contra is difficult to understand at times. It is hard to determine who told the truth, and who lied. It just seems easier to trust the one man, whom nearly everyone did trust, the President. He was more than the President to a lot of Americans. He was what many Americans pictured as the classic family man with all of the morals and truth that should come with any man. People are very innocent and naive. This man was the head of the United States government. There were no secret negotiations that went on behind his back. Those negotiations were secret from congress and the American public. Reagan asked for permission from congress to supply arms to Iran on many occasions, and when he did not get what he wanted, he took it. He lied to congress, he lied to the American people, and he had other people in his administration do the same. He ran the White House. He had all of the power, all the trust and loyalty of his administration, and they went down for him. He is as much to blame for this scandal as anyone.


Posted: December 16, 2010 in POLITICAL SCANDALS

The Watergate Scandal was a series of crimes committed by the President and his staff, who were found to spied on and harassed political opponents, accepted illegal campaign contributions, and covered up their own misdeeds. On June 17, 1972, The Washington Post published a small story. In this story the reporters stated that five men had been arrested breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. The headquarters was located in a Washington, D.C., building complex called Watergate. These burglars were carrying enough equipment to wiretap telephones and take pictures of papers.

The Washington Post had two reporters who researched deep into the story. There names were Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, they discovered that one of the suspects had an address book with the name and phone number of a White House official who could have been involved in the crime. The reporters suspected that the break-in had been ordered by other White House officials.

In a press conference on August in 1972, President Nixon said that nobody on the White House Staff was involved in the crime. Most of the public accepted Nixon’s word and dropped the questioning. But when the burglars went to trial four months later, the story changed rapidly from a small story to a national scandal. It ended only when Richard Nixon was forced from office.

Watergate was connected to Vietnam, it eventually exposed a long series of illegal activities in the Nixon administration. Nixon and his staff were found to have spied on and harassed political opponents, planned contributions to the campaign, and tried to cover-up their illegal acts. These crimes that they did were called the Watergate scandal, named after the building that it happened.

For years Nixon was carrying on the crimes and they were not noticed until now. 1969 was the really date in which Watergate was really beginning. It all started when the White House staff made up a list called “enemies list”. Nixon had enemies which include 200 liberal politicians, journalists and actors. Most of these people made a public speech against the Vietnam war. Nixon’s aides formed a conducts tax audits on these people that he thought were enemies. He also had agents find out secret information that would harm them.

Nixon was always worried about govt. Employees revealing secret info. To the news paper or any sort of press. The presidents agents helped him by wiretapping phone lines that belonged to reporters in order to find any revealing some material. Nixon was so worried that during the Cambodia bombing he had to wiretap his own staff members.

On June in 1971, The New York Times formed work that was published about the history of the Vietnam War, these were known as the Pentagon Papers. They got the information from secret government papers. The papers blamed the policies that were formed and caused the beginning of the war in Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg, a former employee , gave the documents to the paper. Nixon became very angry by their publishes.

Nixon tied to make Ellsberg’s actions a form of treason, but he was not content to take him to court. Instead he made a secret group of CIA agents they were called the “plumbers” this is a name made up because they cover up leaks, such as the pentagon papers, that could hurt the White House. While they were searching for info. They found Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office. They discovered nothing wrong. The next time the plumbers are involved is the next election.

Nixon was always worried about having enough votes for the election in 1972. Nixon was concerned that Edmund Muskie of Maine would win because he was the strongest Democratic candidate. Hoping to wipe out Edmund from the competition, the plumbers began to play a bunch of so-called “dirty tricks”. They issued make-believe statements in Muskie’s name and told the press false rumors about him, so that they could publish it to the public. And most of all, they sent a letter to the New Hampshire newspaper starting that Muskie was making mean remarks about French Canadian ancestry. All of these aides forced Nixon to begin getting above Muskie in the elections.

Overall, the Democratic nomination went to George McGovern, a liberal senator from South Dakota. His supporters included many people who supported the civil rights, anti-war, and environmental movements of the 1960s. McGovern had fought to make the nomination process more open and democratic. Congress had also passed the 26th amendment to the Constitution allowing eighteen-year-Olds to vote. As a result, the 1972 Democratic Convention was the first to include large numbers of woman, minorities, and young people among the delegates.

McGovern’s campaign ran into trouble early. The press revealed that his running mate, Thomas Eagleton, had once received psychiatric treatment. First McGovern stood by Eagleton. Then he abandoned him , picking a different running mate. In addition, many Democratic voters were attached to Nixon because of his conservative positions on the Vietnam War and law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Nixon’s campaign sailed smoothly along, aided by millions of dollars in funds. Nixon campaign officials collected much of the money illegally. Major corporations were told to contribute at least 100,000 dollars each. The collected much it clear that the donations could easily buy the company’s influence with the White House. Many large corporations went along. As shipbuilding tycoon George Steinbrenner said “it was a shakedown. A plain old-fashioned shakedown”

The final blow to McGovern’s chances came just days before the election, when Kissinger announced that peace was at hand in Vietnam. McGovern had made his political reputation as a critic of the war, and the announcement took the wind out of his sails. Nixon scored an enormous victory. He received over 60 percent of the popular vote and won every state except Massachusetts. Congress, however, remained under Democratic control.

On January of 1973, two months after Nixon had won the presidential election, the misdeeds of Watergate began to surface. The Watergate burglars went on trial in Washington D.C.., courtroom. James McCord, one of the burglars , gave shocking evidence. A former CIA agent who had led the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, McCord worked for the Nixon re-election campaign. McCord testified that people in higher office had paid people “hush money” to the burglar who were involved in Watergate. With the money they were supposed to conceal White House involvement in the crime.

After they investigated for a while, they quickly found out that the break-in was approved by the attorney General, John Mitchell. Even thought John Mitchell was one of the most trusted advisors, Nixon denied to know anything about the break-in and cover-up of the crime. The public found out not to soon that Nixon was not telling the truth. The public also found out that Nixon had ordered his aides to block any info to the investigators.

The White House also tried to stop flow of the investigations, because they were afraid that it would uncover very important secrets. Nixon would not appear at the congressional committee, complaining that if he were to testify it would violate the separation of powers. Even thought that idea doesn’t appear in the constitution at all. It was a developing tradition to protect the president. This made people feel that Nixon was abusing executive privileges just to cover-up his crimes.

When Nixon had no possible way of protecting the White House staff he fired them. Such as when he fired two of his aides, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichwan, because they were on the line of being charged for the crimes. But they were still convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury.

On may of 1973, they broadcasted the hearings on television to millions of people, the public felt that it was very gripping and made them distraught. An official told the court that Nixon had tape-recorded all the conversations on tape. Nixon had hoped these tapes would one day be used by historians to document the triumph of his term, instead they were used to prove that he was guilty.

The president refused to release the tapes, claiming the executive privilege gave him the right to keep his record private. That caused him to go to court, before it was decided, Vice President Agnew was charged with income tax evasion. He was also charged for accepting bribes and exchanging for political favors. Agnew resigned because of the charges on October of 1973. He was only charged of tax evasion and the others were dropped. This scandal was not connected to Watergate, but it put a lot of stress on Nixon. Nixon nominated Gerald Ford in place of Agnew. Ford did very little to salvage Nixon reputation.

A couple of days after Agnew resigns, the federal court made Nixon hand over the tapes. Nixon refused, and Cox ordered him to, but Nixon had his attorney fire him. Cox was an idle to Richardson, because he was his professor in law school. Richardson refused Nixon’s order and resigned. President Nixon then ordered the deputy Attorney General to fire Cox. This massive event was known as the Saturday Night Massacre. Many people of the nation felt that Nixon’s blocking of the judicial process, a proof of guiltiness. People mailed Congress many telegrams saying to begin impeaching proceedings against the president. So the House Judiciary Committee did that, and fired him.

President Nixon had remained cool and still acted as if he was innocent. At a press conference on November, his famous quote was ” I am not a crook”. He avoided questions and was agitated. People that day who were watching television knew that Nixon was gonna be in hot water.

Internal Revenue Services also discovered something that could harm Nixon. They noticed that in 1970 and 71′ he had only paid $800 in taxes when he earned over $500,000. The nation found out that he also used public money to fix-up his house in Florida and California.

Nixon keep on refusing to give up Watergate tapes. Then, on April 1974, he gave out the transcripts of the tapes. He edited the transcripts and tried to cover up the crimes, but it did not work and it gave Nixon a bad reputation.

The Committee voted to bring impeachment charges in July against Nixon. The first one said that the president knowingly covered-up the crimes of Watergate. The second said that he used Government Agencies to violate the Constitution of the U.S.. The third asserted that he would be impeached because of the withholding of evidence from Congress.

Shortly after the house committee voted to impeach the President, the case want to the entire House for a final say. Nixon at this point still counted on the public to back him out , because of some that doubted his involvement.

A decision came out a couple of days after the vote for Nixon to release the tapes that involved the Watergate. Nixon at this point had to follow through with it and hand over the tapes.

Nixon for a long time claimed that he had no idea of the Watergate scandal until John Dean told him on March 21, 1973. The tapes showed that Nixon was a true liar, and not only knew about it, but ordered it.

Because of this Nixon met with A group of republican leaders and they tried to convince him to resign from office. He did just that on August 9, 1974, Nixon broadcasted that he was resigning to the nation. This meant that President Richard Nixon was the first president of the United States to resign from office.

The nation was shocked after this whole scandal by the way Nixon had lied to the public and abused his own powers. This lead most of the public never to trust a president as they did before, because of the massive secrecy in the Government. But the best part is that the country did survive the trauma, which is wonderful. The day of Nixon’s resignations Gerald Ford was sworn in to presidency.