Political Espionage

Intelligence operations “are commonplace in political campaigns and usually include efforts to collect all published information about an opponent along with occasional efforts to obtain advance copies of speeches, travel schedules and the like,” wrote Seymour M. Hirsh in the New York Times. But Watergate went far beyond this; the illegal acts that the term now signifies must be condemned.

Billy Graham in another Times piece commented that Watergate is “a symptom of the deeper moral crisis that affects society.” How right he is! Anyone at all familiar with the Washington scene knows there are skeletons stacked high in some congressional closets. If all these doors were opened, the Watergate scandal would no doubt rate only second billing.

What jars us is the selective morality some persons display in regard to the Watergate and Ellsberg cases. Whatever may have happened subsequently, we need to remind ourselves that Ellsberg admitted stealing and reproducing the Pentagon Papers and delivering them to the news media. Both the Watergate and the Ellsberg incidents are exhibitions of law-breaking, and nothing should be allowed to obscure this fact.

Columnist David S. Broder, who just won a Pulitzer Prize, wrote in the Washington Post (May 8):

We could well discuss with our readers … why the same papers that have been so outraged by the threat to civil liberties resulting from the bugging of a party headquarters or the break-in at a psychiatrist’s office feel free themselves to print the transcript of secret grand jury testimony, regardless of the risk to the reputations of persons who may be mentioned in that non-adversary proceeding.

We do not think that Nixon knew what was going on at Watergate at the time it ...

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