Kurdish rebellion in Iraq
- The Iraqi Kurds revolt against the Iraq government; though the US encouraged and supported the revolt, it refuses to assist the hundreds of thousands of refugees created by the defeat of the Kurds and the subsequent repression. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger remarks, "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work." (A Timeline of Oil and Violence)
- George H.W. Bush is named Ambassador to China by President Nixon. (Bushwatch)
- George H.W. Bush, the new US ambassador to China, meets the newly divorced Jennifer Fitzgerald, who becomes his secretary. Either shortly before or just after Fitzgerald takes the position, Bush and Fitzgerald begin a 20-year affair. Although Bush repeatedly denies the affair over the ensuing years, and Fitzgerald refuses to speak of it, the evidence and information goes a long way to proving the reality of the affair. Barbara Bush later speaks openly of her resentment of Fitzgerald to writer Gail Sheehy, remarking that her husband is so neglectful of her that he even fails to notice that she had stopped coloring her hair. She also resents Fitzgerald for her strong influence over her husband; many call Fitzgerald Bush's "office wife."
- When Gerald Ford appoints Bush as head of the CIA in early 1976, Bush takes Fitzgerald along as his assistant. During this time, Barbara Bush recalls that she suffered from depression so acute that she contemplated suicide more than once. Bush leaves the CIA in less than a year, after Jimmy Carter becomes president, and returns to the corporate world. Bush arranges for Fitzgerald to become the special assistant to the US ambassador to Britain, Kingman Brewster; according to Kitty Kelley's tell-all (but well-sourced) biography of the Bush family, Bush is able to meet with Fitzgerald frequently in London.
- During the 1980 presidential campaign, Bush aide James Baker threatens to resign if Fitzgerald is involved in any way with the campaign, due to her strong influence on Bush. Bush reluctantly lets her go, but brings her back as a Reagan-Bush campaign aide later in the year. In that position she clashes with another Bush intimate, future Republican National Committee president Rich Bond; this time Bond leaves after Bush refuses to, in his words, make the same mistake twice.
- In March 1981, Bush and Fitzgerald have a minor car accident; aide Alexander Haig and Attorney General William French Smith, summoned hastily from dinner, keep the incident off the record and out of the press. In another incident, during a visit by Bush to Fitzgerald's apartment, the dwelling catches fire; the Secret Service refuses to allow city firefighters into the building until Bush can sneak out by a back entrance. In 1984, Bush goes to Geneva for disarmament talks, accompanied by Fitzgerald, as one of the accompanying staff. A lawyer from the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency goes to her room with some papers for her signature and Bush answers the door. After the talks, it is claimed that the two share a cottage on Lake Geneva for several days.
- In 1988, Bush assigns Fitzgerald to be his chief lobbyist to Congress as he prepares to run for president. During his presidency, Bush keeps Fitzgerald close; rumors of the affair persist throughout his term, irritating and annoying staffers, but as no one is willing to go on the record, and the media is generally more interested in protecting Bush than revealing his secrets, the story never comes officially to light. She becomes the Deputy Secretary of State for Bush, largely because Barbara Bush does not want her working in the White House. In 1990, Fitzgerald violates US Customs laws by trying to hide a silver fox mink and underdeclaring the value of another mink. Instead of being fired, as would have happened to anyone else, Fitzgerald is merely fined and reprimanded.
- During the 1992 presidential campaign, the Bush teams spends plenty of time berating Clinton for his so-called affair with Gennifer Flowers. In May 1994, Michael Dukakis's mother Euterpe tells a Boston Globe reporter that she knows Bush has committed adultery, but does not name with whom. Bush becomes visibly agitated when asked by CNN reporter Mary Tillotson, snapping, "I'm not going to take any sleazy questions like that from CNN." Press secretary Marlin Fitzwater later tells other White House reporters that Tillotson will never work there again. The next day George W. Bush calls Tillotson on his father's behalf and says, "The answer to the big 'A' question is N-O." The allegations are published in a long report by Spy magazine, a copy of which is placed on the seat of every delegate at July's Democratic convention. The cover story by Joe Conason names Fitzgerald as Bush's longterm paramour, as well as naming Jane Morgan, wife of movie producer Jerry Weintraub, and other alleged lovers who are not named, but cited with circumstantial evidence. One of Conason's sources is, allegedly, White House staffer Linda Tripp, who will rat out the affair betwen Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky six years later. In 1999, during Clinton's impeachment trial, Tripp tells CNN's Larry King that stories of Bush's affair are "ludicrous" and denies that she gave anyone any information about the affair; she accuses vengeful Clinton staffers of spreading rumors about Bush's infidelities, an accusation with no basis in fact. Conason stands by his story.
- During Bush's last year in office, the New York Post publishes a front-page story called "The Bush Affair," reporting on the story by Washington lobbyist and publicist Robert Gray that he helped keep the story of the Bush-Fitzgerald affair quiet. The next day, at a White House press conference, surrounded by his family and his 91-year-old mother, Bush says, "I will not respond to it. I have not responded to it in the past. ...Except to say, it's a lie." This is the only time Bush has directly denied the allegations. Fitzgerald's mother, Frances Patteson-Knight, angrily defends her daughter, who suffers a nervous breakdown after the story was published. "Jennifer is completely tortured by this whole business," she says, and slams Bush, saying that her daughter has been "very hurt by his lack of support" and doesn't feel Bush has "acted like a man here." When NBC's Stone Phillips asks about the allegations, the White House criticizes him for his "bad manners."
- Some interesting footnotes: two Clinton staffers lose their jobs for searching through Fitzgerald's passport file. The search is prompted in part by former Bush staffer Elizabeth Tamposi's own search through Clinton's passport file to find information that might smear Clinton for his alleged, and false, Communist ties. Barbara Bush makes a single mention of Fitzgerald in Millie's Book, where Bush family dog Millie surprises Fitzgerald by walking up to her with Fitzgerald's pantyhose in her mouth. In 2000, some Republicans ask George W. Bush to give Linda Tripp a post in the White House in return for her betrayal of Clinton and Lewinsky, but Bush refuses; according to former Republican congressman John LeBoutillier, a social acquaintance of the Bushes, the Bush family detests Tripp for outing Bush and Fitzgerald and will never trust her. Fitzgerald herself has retired and does not speak publicly.
- This is important, not because of the affair itself (far too many people of all political stripes give in to this particular brand of temptation), but because of the moralistic, intolerant stance taken by many Republicans, and because of the systematic attacks mounted by Republicans, and specifically the 1992 Bush presidential campaign, against Bill Clinton for his own alleged infidelities. (Pensito Review, Wikipedia
- January: Nixon's chief lawyer for the Watergate proceedings, Charles Alan Wright, resigns, angry because Nixon refuses to let him hear the tapes. Nixon names Boston attorney James St. Clair to lead his legal team. (David Fremon)
- January: The House of Representatives passes bipartisan-sponsored amendments designed to improve the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act in actually allowing citizens to receive government information from FOIA requests. By the time the amendments reach the Senate, Gerald Ford is president. An array of White House and other agencies line up to urge Ford to veto the bill. Their prime objection is the provision that allows for a political review of what the government is allowed to keep secret, a provision that they see as an unacceptable check on the executive branch. Ford will veto the amendment on October 17, 1974, but Congress will override the veto. (Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein)
- Late January: Polls show Nixon with a miserable 23% approval rating, the lowest in history. Meanwhile, special prosecutor Leon Jaworski is busy filing over 20 demands for the White House tapes, and warns that refusal to turn over the tapes may well be an impeachable offense. (David Fremon)
- March 1: John Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell, Charles Colson, Gordon Strachan, Robert Mardian, and Kenneth Parkinson are indicted by the Watergate grand jury for obstructing justice and perjury. "There had never been such wholesale criminal proceedings against the top men in the administration of an American president," notes Judge Sirica. Ehrlichman demands that Nixon testify in his behalf. Nixon, through lawyer James St. Clair, offers to provide the grand jury with written testimony instead of making a personal appearance in front of them; when the grand jury declines the offer, Nixon again refuses to testify. Nixon is named as an unindicted co-conspirator because Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski says that a president must first be impeached and removed from office before he can be indicted. House Judiciary Committee chairman Peter Rodino is granted subopena power; he immediately subpoenas the tapes and other documents. (Chronology of Watergate Crisis, David Fremon)
- April 16: Special prosecutor Leon Jaworski requests 64 additional tapes along with the tapes he had originally demanded. Two days later, Judge John Sirica issues a subpoena for the tapes. (David Fremon)
- April 29: In a televised address, Nixon releases heavily edited transcripts allegedly containing all relevant Watergate information. The transcripts are edited by Nixon himself, supposedly to remove redundancies and protect national security. Even in their heavily edited state, the transcripts reveal Nixon and his aides to be vulgar and constantly plotting to "get" their enemies (the phrase "expletive deleted" becomes a pop mantra). Observers note that key portions of the tapes are often noted as "inaudible" or "unintelligible," while trivial conversations about non-Watergate manners tend to come through loud and clear. Republican Senator Scott calls the taped conversations "shabby, disgusting, and immoral." The key 18½-minute section of a June 20, 1972 meeting is still inexplicably missing. The Chicago Tribune, a reliably conservative paper who has endorsed Nixon for president three times, runs an editorial demanding his impeachment. "We have seen the private man," says the editorial, "and we are appalled." Two days later, the House Judiciary Committee rules that the transcripts are unsatisfactory, and renews its demands for the tapes themselves. Nixon refuses. (Chronology of Watergate Crisis, David Fremon)
- May 9: The House of Representatives officially begins the long, arduous process of impeachment against Nixon. The hearings are chaired by Judiciary chairman Peter Rodino, a Democrat known for his impartiality and fairness. The members include Democrats Barbara Jordan, Robert Kastenmeier, Charles Rangel and John Conyers (the last two members of Nixon's "enemies list"), who are strongly against Nixon, and Republican supporters such as Trent Lott, Delbert Latta, and Edward Hutchinson. 21 Democrats and 17 Republicans sit on the Judiciary Committee; Nixon knows he needs 3 Democrats to vote with his Republican allies to avoid impeachment, and targets three Southern Democrats, Walter Flowers, Ray Thornton, and James Mann; all three are more conservative than the average Democrat, and all three represent districts that went for Nixon in the last election. However, the Republicans are by no means solid; moderates William Cohen, Robert McClory, Thomas Railsback, and Caldwell Butler, are by no means certain votes for Nixon. Unlike earlier hearings, these will be closed to the public. (Vietnam War Timeline, David Fremon)
- June 6: The Los Angeles Times discloses Nixon's "unindicted co-conspirator" status to the public. The public outcry is ferocious. (David Fremon)
- June 30: The Senate Watergate Commission reaches its conclusions about the Watergate investigation, and releases its findings a few days later. It denounces the chronic and criminal abuse of power by the Nixon administration, noting specifics such as the Watergate break-in, the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office, and abuse of the FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department. It makes public almost 8,000 documents, and releases its own transcripts of eight of Nixon's tapes; these transcripts differ greatly from those released by Nixon, and show Nixon as being intimately involved in the criminal proceedings running rampant through the White House and the subsequent coverups. One phrase uttered by Nixon to Mitchell on March 23, 1972, resonates particularly strongly with the public: "I want you all to stonewall it, let them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up, or anything else." The committee lashes Nixon for his "deliberate, contrived, continued, and continuing deception of the American people." The report persuades at least one conservative House Judiciary Committee member, Lawrence Hogan, to announce that he will vote for impeachment (a few conservatives, such as Republican Trent Lott, insist that Nixon's actions do not warrant impeachment, but their numbers continue to decline). Desperate for Democrats on the committee to support him, Nixon phones George Wallace to ask him to try to persuade fellow Alabamian Walter Flowers to vote for him in the House; Wallace refuses. Nixon turns to Alexander Haig and says, "Well, there goes the presidency." (David Fremon, Hilton and Testa)
- July 24: In U.S. v. Richard Nixon, the Supreme Court rules that Nixon must hand over all subpoenaed tapes. Voting 8-0, the court rules that executive privilege does not apply and that Nixon must hand over tapes to Judge John Sirica. Nixon's lawyer James St. Clair argues unsuccessfully that the claim of executive privilege is absolute; Leon Jaworski disagrees, asking, "shall the evidence from the White House be confined to what a single person, highly interested in the outcome, is willing to make available?" The 8-0 verdict, including votes by four Nixon appointees, stuns Nixon. Jaworski says after the verdict, "The unanimous decision had completely disarmed Nixon of whatever plans he had to disobey and circumvent the Court." (Chronology of Watergate Crisis, David Fremon)
- July 27: The House Judiciary Committee votes on the variety of impeachment charges against Nixon. Article I, claiming Nixon obstructed justice in the Watergate coverup, passes by a 27-11 vote. Article II, charging Nixon with a litany of abuse of presidential power, passes 28-10. Article III, charging Nixon with failure to comply with subpoenas from the House of Representatives, passes 27-10. Two other articles, covering the secret bombing of Cambodia and Nixon's failure to pay taxes, fail to pass. Two days later, Senate leaders meet to discuss how to proceed with a trial in the Senate as mandated by the Constitution. (Chronology of Watergate Crisis)
- July 31: Former Republican Party chairman Bob Dole, a leading GOP senator, tells Nixon that at least 58 senators are ready to vote for impeachment, far more than the simple majority required by the Constitution. (David Fremon)
- August 1: Nixon informs his chief of staff, Alexander Haig, that he has decided to resign. His decision is impelled not only by his certain conviction in the Senate, but by monetary reasons: if he resigns, he will collect an annual $60,000 pension, plus $96,000 in staff salaries; if he is convicted and forcibly removed from office, he collects nothing. Haig and Vice President Ford discuss Nixon's various options: he can continue in office, forcing the Senate to remove him; he could step aside until the impeachment proceedings are through; he can pardon himself, then resign; he can pardon himself and everyone involved in the Watergate scandal, then resign; he can agree to resign on the condition that Ford, as the newly installed president, pardon him. No decision is reached. (David Fremon)
- August 2: Nixon reverses himself and decides not to resign. His daughter Julie, and his close friend, financier "Bebe" Rebozo, encourage him to stay and fight. (David Fremon)
- August 5: Nixon releases transcripts of three tapes to soften the impact of full disclosure to several key members of Congress and, hours later, to the press; included is the "smoking gun" which proves that Nixon ordered a cover-up as early as June 23, 1972, and lied to the public for nine months. The tape also shows Nixon approving of payments to the Watergate burglars for their silence, and Nixon agreeing with H.R. Haldeman's suggestion to use the CIA to scotch the FBI investigation. Before the release of the tapes, Nixon's chief lawyer, James St. Clair, determines that the best course of action will be for Nixon to resign before the impeachment trial can begin. Nixon goes on television that night and argues that nothing in the transcripts warrants the impeachment of a sitting president. The press, and even Congressional members who support Nixon, disagree. Charles Wiggins, his strongest backer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says that Nixon led the country "down the garden path" and announces his decision to vote for impeachment. Conservative columnist James Kilpatrick, another strong Nixon supporter, writes, "We have been led astray. We have been lied to. ...My president is a liar!" (Chronology of Watergate Crisis, David Fremon)
- August 5: Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger orders all military commanders to refuse orders from the White House unless also signed by him, signaling his lack of trust in Nixon's decision-making. Rumors of Nixon's heavy drinking and paraniod, irrational behavior fly around Washington. (Chronology of Watergate Crisis)
- August 7: GOP senator Barry Goldwater, along with fellow Republicans Hugh Scott and John Rhodes, inform Nixon that he has virtually no support in Congress. At most, 15 of the 100 senators will vote against impeachment, leaving 85 voting to remove Nixon from office. Goldwater adds that only four of the 15 are solid. He tells Nixon that for the good of the country, he must resign. Later that afternoon, former aides Haldeman and Ehrlichman ask Nixon for pardons; he refuses. Later that evening, a depressed and possibly drunken Nixon asks a visibly shaken Henry Kissinger to pray with him. The next day, even loyalist George Bush calls for Nixon to resign. (David Fremon)
Nixon resigns rather than be impeached
- August 8: Facing impeachment over the Watergate campaign scandal, Richard Nixon resigns from office at 9 pm. He makes the announcement in a short, graceless TV address: "It has become evident that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress" to remain in office, he says, implicticly blaming Congress for refusing to tolerate his own crimes. Reactions are mixed; Judge John Sirica speaks for many when he says, "I was sorry for him, but I was also relieved to see him go." Later that evening, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger opens an envelope containing Nixon's one-sentence letter of resignation. By that time, Nixon is on a plane to his home in San Clemente, California. (Watergate Time Line, JFK Assassination Timeline, (Chronology of Watergate Crisis, David Fremon)
- August 9: Shortly after noon, Gerald Ford is sworn in as President of the United States. (David Fremon)
- After Nixon's resignation, Henry Kissinger notes, "In destroying himself, Nixon had wrecked the lives of almost all who had come in contact with him." 46 individuals and 13 corporations will plead guilty, are indicted, or are convicted of crimes connected with the Nixon administration. Dozens of White House officials and people with high-level connections to Nixon are sentenced to jail terms, given stiff fines, or both. Only a few of Nixon's top officials escape indictment; Henry Kissinger is never connected to Watergate, and continues to enjoy unprecedented influence in Washington for decades to come. Chief of staff Alexander Haig, famous for crying, "I'm in charge!" after Nixon's resignation, remains a powerful figure in Republican politics. Nixon speechwriter Patrick Buchanan goes on to become a national pundit, a renowned author, a two-time presidential candidate, and a bellwether of old-time Republican politics. Bob Dole, a staunch Nixon supporter, continues in the Senate for 30 more years and becomes the GOP nominee for president in 1996. And Judge John Sirica is named Time magazine's Man of the Year for 1973. As for Nixon himself, he will retire to his San Clemente home and become an eminence grise for Republicans and even some Democrats. He will write a number of books, all of which are composites of fact and badly disguised, sometimes self-contradictory lies attempting to rehabilitate his reputation. Two years after his resignation, Nixon will reveal how unrepentant he is, along with his failure to understand the depths of his crimes against his country, when he tells the BBC's David Frost, "if the president does it, it can't be illegal." (The Liberal Avenger, David Fremon)
- Ford calls on his old friend Donald Rumsfeld to leave his post as ambassador to NATO and head his transition team. Once that job is complete, Ford makes Rumsfeld his chief of staff. Rumsfeld almost immediately brings aboard his longtime crony, Dick Cheney, as his deputy. As chief of staff, Rumsfeld begins to chip away at the stranglehold on power enjoyed by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. (PBS)
"Doonesbury" cartoon from August 12, 1974, called "Stonewall:" the artist, Garry Trudeau, will win a Pulitzer Prize for this strip
Ford becomes president and pardons Nixon
- September 8: Newly installed President Gerald Ford proclaims that the "long national nightmare is over," and pardons Nixon for any and all crimes that he may have committed as President, causing fresh outrage among Americans and world observers. Ford says a criminal trial of Nixon would cost the country too much money and too much time. Ford considers and rejects George Bush as his vice-president, eventually naming the more moderate Nelson Rockefeller. Bush is quite disappointed at the rejection; he has lobbied hard for the spot, and won a number of promises of support among Republican backers. Ford will name both Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as White House Chief of Staff during his term. Former Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan will lobby, unsuccessfully, for the ambassadorship to South Africa, where he would represent the US to the apartheid regime he so admires. (He once referred to the 1960 Sharpsville massacre, where 67 South African blacks were shot down in cold blood by whites, as "whites mistreating a couple of blacks." (Chronology of Watergate Crisis, Nationmaster, Kevin Phillips)
Ethiopia deposes Haile Selassie for a Marxist government
- Mid-September: Emperor Haile Selassie is ousted from power in Ethiopia, giving way to a revolutionary Marxist government. The carefully orchestrated coup takes place with little violence and unrest. The long-running civil war involving the separatist states of Eritrea and Tigre continues until 1991, when Eritrea wins its independence from Ethiopia. (Time, SIM)
- September 16: President Ford announces a clemency program for draft evaders and military deserters. The program runs through March 31, 1975, and requires fugitives to take an oath of allegiance and also perform up to two years of community service. Out of an estimated 124,000 men eligible, about 22,500 take advantage of the offer. (Vietnam War Timeline)
- October: Powerful Democratic congressman Wilbur Mills is arrested by Washington, DC police after they stop his car and find him drunk and with a bloody face. A woman later identified as an Argentinian stripper who uses the name Fanne Foxe leaps from the car and attempts to escape by leaping into the nearby Tidal Basin. It is later confirmed that Mills' face was bloodied during a struggle with Foxe, and that Mills is a frequent patron of Foxe's strip shows and a frequent companion of Foxe. The storm of publicity forces Mills to resign his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, and though he does not resign his House seat, he does not run for re-election. (Wilbur Mills Biography)
- October 26 - 29:During the 7th Arab Summit Conference at Rabat, Morocco, the PLO is officially recognized as the sole representative body of the Palestinian people. Two weeks later, PLO head Yasser Arafat will speak at the United Nations on behalf of Palestinians. (Dan Cohn-Sherbok)
- November 19: William Calley is freed after serving 3 1/2 years under house arrest following his conviction for the murder of 22 My Lai civilians. (Vietnam War Timeline)
- December 13: North Vietnam violates the Paris peace treaty and tests President Ford's resolve by attacking Phuoc Long Province in South Vietnam. President Ford responds with diplomatic protests but no military force in compliance with the Congressional ban on all US military activity in Southeast Asia. (Vietnam War Timeline)
- December 22: The New York Times prints a front-page story by Seymour Hersh that reveals the CIA has maintained decades' worth of surveillance files on at least 10,000 American citizens. The CIA is prohibited by law from spying on Americans within the borders of the country. Hersh reports on what a select few in the government call "the family jewels," which he calls "dozens of other illegal activities by members of the CIA inside the United States, beginning in the nineteen-fifties, including break-ins, wiretapping, and the surreptitious inspection of mail."
- The story began to work its way forward in February 1973, when new CIA director James Schlesinger was horrified to discover what he thought of as closets full of "skeletons" in the agency. On May 8, 1973, Schlesinger ordered all CIA employees to report any activities, past or present, which might be construed to be outside the legislative charter of the agency. Schlesinger compiled an ugly picture by the end of the month, including revelations of CIA assassination attempts against foreign leaders. CIA operatives had also spied on a number of American reporters, including future Fox News anchor Brit Hume, who then worked for investigative reporter Jack Anderson. Shortly thereafter, Attorney General Elliot Richardson learned that the National Security Agency had been feeding information gleaned from its surveillance operations to the FBI and the Secret Service. Richardson ordered NSA director Lew Allen to stop it because it was probably illegal, despite Allen's protests that it was only information intercepted in the course of what he called "foreign intelligence activities."
- In July 1974, Schlesinger became secretary of defense, replaced as CIA head by agency veteran William Colby, best known for his heading of the infamous Vietnam "Phoenix Project." Colby quietly briefed the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on the so-called family jewels before the Senate voted to confirm him. Once he became director, he issued strict guidelines on what was and was not acceptable. It is not known how Hersh learned of the damning information.
- On May 29, 1975, Hersh and the Times prints another bombshell: US spy submarines had violated the three-mile territorial limit of the USSR to tap into Soviet communications. In the story, Hersh writes that his sources leaked the information to him in hopes that it would stop the illegal spying, because they believe that the spying could potentially cripple the detente process as well as puts the submarine crews at risk. White House chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld orders his deputy, Dick Cheney, to devise an administration response to the story. Cheney's response is, in the words of authors Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein, "as stunning as it [is] predictive of positions he would take when he had real power as George Bush's co-president." Cheney meets with Attorney General Edward Levi and White House counsel Philip Buchen to discuss options. Levi, with a reputation for integrity and nonpartisanship, is able to rein in Cheney, who wants to respond by breaking into Hersh's home and search for his source information. Cheney also wants to threaten Hersh and the Times with prosecution for reporting classified information. Levi counsels restraint, and the White House chooses not to respond at all in hopes that the story will fade from the headlines.
- However, Cheney is more successful in targeting the administration to block investigations by the Church Committee, chaired by Democratic senator Frank Church, which had opened an investigation into the "family jewels" revelations and will eventually release 14 reports on the formation of US intelligence agencies, their operations, and the abuses of law and of power that they had committed, together with recommendations for reform. Cheney asks if the Hersh leak can be used "to bolster our position on the Church committee investigation? To point out the need for limits on the scope of the investigation?" One item that the Ford administration chooses to fight the committee rather than cooperate is over Project SHAMROCK, a Cold War-era program that has private communications corporations such as AT&T and Western Union giving access to the NSA to review almost all communications between the US and foreign countries. The NSA shut down the program the same day that committee investigators began asking questions. By 1966, the program had grown so large that the NSA and CIA created a front company in New York City just to process the intercepts. The program reviewed as many as 150,000 messages a month. Of course, SHAMROCK was thoroughly illegal.
- While the Senate committee focused on the review of international cables, the House wanted to go much deeper. House subpoenas to AT&T were rebuffed by the White House, who, astonishingly, declared that "the American Telephone and Telegraph Company was and is an agent of the United States acting under contract with the Executive Branch." A sweeping investigation by a House subcommittee chaired by Democrat Bella Abzug eventually forces a legislative remedy -- though Abzug correctly suspects that the NSA continues its illegal surveillance activities even after terminating SHAMROCK.
- One of the White House's most useful operatives in battling the Church and Abzug investigations is assistant attorney general Antonin Scalia, the future Supreme Court justice. Scalia and Cheney become close friends and ideological kindred during their mutual efforts to defend executive privilege and oppose any meaningful reform. When Scalia is considered for the chairmanship of the Federal Trade Commission, Buchen writes a memo saying that Scalia is too valuable in his present post to be allowed to leave, and cites seven major areas of Scalia's involvement; the third is "Constitutional issues involved in warrantless electronic surveillance of all types."
- One of the upshots of the controversy is the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the creation of a secret FISA court which will issue warrants as needed for such domestic surveillance. Levi is the point man for the creation of such a court, and finds himself embattled with Rumsfeld, Cheney, CIA director George Bush, and national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, who opposed any such oversight. Ford will eventually side with Levi and support the FISA legislation, which is signed into law by Ford's successor, Jimmy Carter, in 1978. (Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein, Wikipedia)
Lebanese civil war
- Internecine strife and civil war rages in Lebanon for eight years. Over 100,000 Lebanese die in the fighting, half of those in Beirut alone, which is in a constant state of warfare. Hundreds of thousands, mostly Christians, flee Lebanon to live in other countries, mostly France, Germany, and the US. Lebanon's former status as the economic hub of the Middle East disappears. Two of the several combatants are not even indigenous to the country, the Syrians and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The remaining Christians survive largely by making an uneasy truce with the Syrians, who occupy Lebanon as an ostensible peace-keeping force but in actuality control large portions of the country. The Syrians agree to stay on their side of an Israeli-mandated "red line;" the area south of that line becomes populated by Christians and Shi'ite Moslems more or less friendly to Israel, though the PLO dominates the western and southern portions of Lebanon. This area sees an explosion of PLO-funded "terror camps" and training facilities, partially sponsored by the Soviet Union.
- In 1978 Israel sends an army into southern Lebanon to contain and even eradicate PLO bases; the UN pressures Israel to withdraw in return for a UN-backed peacekeeping force. Israel agrees, and the PLO soon reestablishes itself in the region, ignoring the UN peacekeepers, who were forbidden to use force unless directly attacked and therefore unable to enforce UN dictates. Israel begins air strikes against PLO targets. The PLO becomes a more formidable and aggressive entity, largely using Soviet military hardware but also possessing large stocks of American weaponry provided by Saudi Arabia. In June 1981 Israel launches a massive air strike against PLO targets; Yassir Arafat calls on the Saudis to intervene with the US to force Israel to stand down, and the US does so. The PLO uses the respite to rebuild, and continues to attack Israeli targets until the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. The Israeli Air Force decimates the Syrian air presence in Lebanon, and Israeli ground forces advance to just outside Beirut. Eventually Israel enters Beirut, but only after Arafat has left for safer havens. After the invasion, the PLO will no longer be a dominant force in Lebanon, though the Israeli plans to place their Phalangist Christian allies in power falls through; Syria continues to dominate Lebanon to this day. The Muslim Shi'ite community gains some power, partially under the auspices of Shi'ite-controlled Iran, and through this the Islamic terrorist group Hamas comes into existence. A UN peacekeeping force of approximately 3500 still remains in Lebanon. (Eretz Yisroel, Palestine Facts)