Mysteries of Watergate: What really happened?
On June 17, 1972, five burglars were arrested by police at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.
The "Watergate Scandal," as it was called, not only led to Richard Nixon's resignation, but made two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, household names. The pair's reporting on the scandal even earned the Washington Post a Pulitzer.
In the fifty years since that infamous event, Watergate has been the subject of countless books, articles, television specials, and documentaries, as well as several feature-length movies. While Watergate has been covered extensively in these various media, some of the most important questions asked in 1972 about the puzzling caper remain unanswered in 2022.
Why, for example, would the Nixon campaign attempt this risky operation to spy on the Democrat party when Nixon was so far ahead in the polls? What did it expect to gain from this oddly selected target, a party office, which usually served as little more than a dispenser of bumper stickers and yard signs? Was there any significance to the fact that two members of the burglary team were Miami-based Cuban exiles, who had participated in the ill-fated 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion?
As we mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Watergate break-in, one author finally offers answers to these long lingering questions. His name is John O'Connor, and the book is called The Mysteries of Watergate: What Really Happened.
John O'Connor is perhaps best known as the lawyer who revealed the identity of "Deep Throat," the pseudonym for Bob Woodward's secret informant, who was providing Woodward with information during his investigation of Watergate. Deep Throat's identity had remained a secret until 2005, until his lawyer, O'Connor, revealed him to be W. Mark Felt, former No. 2 in the FBI and head of the Watergate investigation, in a sensational Vanity Fair magazine article.
Now O'Connor has resurfaced with what he says are answers to all the other lingering Watergate mysteries. His book refutes the conventional Watergate narrative of Nixonian evil uncovered by a pair of fearless, honest young reporters named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. That narrative, sold by these reporters and the Washington Post, O'Connor writes, is false.
The Mysteries of Watergate isn't O'Connor's first eye-opening indictment of the Washington Post's journalistic malpractice. He previously wrote of his fraught history with the newspaper after he began representing Felt back in 2002. That book, Postgate, offers a convincing indictment of the Post.
In Postgate, O'Connor not only provides a dishy recounting of his interactions with Woodward and unsuccessful attempts throughout 2002 to gain the reporter's cooperation in Felt's coming out story, but also provides a detailed analysis of what O'Connor sees as the Post's intentional deceit throughout its 3,000-article Watergate reporting.
While O'Connor's prior effort in Postgate is a convincing prosecution case against the Pulitzer Prize–winning paper, the book necessarily omitted a step-by-step recounting of what O'Connor sees as the true narrative of the scandal.
In his latest book, O'Connor seeks to explain what really happened, as his title portends. Like a lawyer, which O'Connor is, he presents the information in easily accessible vignettes, arranged in chronological order. For those unfamiliar with the Watergate Scandal, don't fret.
"Let's start at the beginning," O'Connor's first sentence reads. From there, O'Connor masterfully describes what took place fifty years ago at the Watergate building and whets the reader's curiosity by drawing attention to the many oddities surrounding both the burglary and the arrests. But before O'Connor embarks on his task to provide answers, he takes care to profile the many idiosyncratic characters, who will later appear as instrumental in indicting an entire presidential administration, which shook the foundations of our constitutional system.
While nonfiction, The Mysteries of Watergate reads like a great mystery novel. O'Connor's lucid explanations of traditional constitutional "national security" principles (a key to making sense of the facts) lead to shocking revelations of the planned trial defense by burglary supervisor Howard Hunt and the prosecutor's planned response, which were all kept hidden after Hunt's guilty plea.
Even the most informed readers will be introduced to a cast of characters they have likely never heard of, as well as heretofore unknown cloak-and-dagger operations, which the author convincingly places at the doorstep of the CIA. But that's the point: most informed citizens do not know what really happened in the most important and impactful scandal in American history — Watergate — and how the Washington Post covered it up.
O'Connor builds momentum as he hurtles toward the startling and disturbing conclusion. Any further description would be a true spoiler, but The Mysteries of Watergate is more relevant than ever before, given more recent eye-opening scandals.
Is Watergate historically linked to 9/11 and Russiagate? O'Connor thinks so. Before you congeal your doubts, read this intriguing work first. The Mysteries of Watergate delivers. You will get hooked.
Drew Allen is the host of the Drew Allen Show podcast. He is a Texas-bred, California-based, and Millennial author, columnist, and political analyst. His work can be read and seen and heard at drewthomasallen.com.
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