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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31, 2005

I have something to add to the end of this edition of the Tuesday Timeline, and it is something very important and personal.  It sort of goes back to what I wrote about yesterday.

In a way, I suppose it can be loosely linked to today's subject that I've picked for today.  Very loosely.  But, I suppose it will be a challenge to tie up some loose ends.

So, let's close out this month by seeing what happened throughout history this thirty-first day of May!

526 - A quarter of a million people lose their lives in a devastating earthquake that strikes Antioch

1854 - France abolishes the civil death procedure

1859 - The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament - the same tower that is the home of Big Ben - begins keeping time

1879 - Gilmores Garden is renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt

1908 - Actor Don Ameche (d. 1993) is born in Kenosha, Wisconsin

1909 - The National Negro Committee (which would later become the NAACP) convenes for the first time

1911 - The hull of the doomed ocean liner HMS Titanic is launched

1921 - Riots break out in Tulsa, Oklahoma over civil unrest; at least thirty-nine die in the melee

1927 - The final Ford Model T is rolled off the assembly line

1929 - "The Karnival Kid" - Mickey Mouse's first speaking appearance in a film - is released

1938 - Singer-songwriter Johnny Paycheck (d. 2003) is born in Greenfield, Ohio

1941 - During World War II, a Luftwaffe air raid over Dublin, Ireland claims thirty-eight lives

1942 - Sydney, Australia is subjected to attacks by Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines

1948 - Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham (d. 1980) is born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England

1954 - Disco singer Vicki Sue Robinson (d. 2000) is born in Harlem, New York

1971 - Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time - previously the date was fixed as May 30

1977 - The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is completed

1981 - Jaffna Library - located in Sri Lanka - burns to the ground during the Sri Lankan Civil War

1985 - Canada and the United States are subjected to no less than forty-one different tornadoes striking on the same day

2000 - The reality show "Survivor" debuts on CBS

2013 - Actress Jean Stapleton dies at the age of 90

I would also like to take the time to wish the following famous faces a very happy birthday; Clint Eastwood, Peter Yarrow, Sharon Gless, Joe Namath, Bernard Goldberg, Tom Berenger, Jean Chalopin, Gregory Harrison, Ben de Lisi, Susie Essman, Roma Maffia, Chris Elliott, Lea Thompson, Corey Hart, Hugh Dillon, Scotti Hill, Darryl McDaniels, Brooke Shields, Jeremy Hotz, Nick Scotti, Phil Keoghan, Sarah Murdoch, Archie Panjabi, Colin Farrell, Eric Christian Olsen, Joel Ross, Reggie Yates, Jason Smith, and Azealia Banks.

Now, while I can't promise you that the date I've selected will be quite a while back - the event in which this date is linked with certainly is.

So, let's set our time machine back eleven years to May 31, 2005.  But before we go and see what happened on this particular date, we have to go off course just a bit and go back further in time to the year 1972.

Otherwise known as what could be one of the worst years of Richard Nixon's life.

Those of you who were around and are old enough to remember what happened in could very well be summed up in one word.


The political scandal which saw Nixon resign as President in the summer of 1974, kicked off in June 1972 when five men were arrested on charges of breaking and entering the Watergate office complex in Washington D.C.  Specifically, the area in which the men targeted was the Democratic National Committee Headquarters.  At that time, the reasoning behind the break-in was not known, but when the Federal Bureau of Investigations got involved, their lengthy investigation found some very troubling information.

The investigation proved that there was definitely a link between the money that was found with the belongings of one of the men involved with the break-in, as well as money that was being stored in a slush fund used by CREEP (The Committee for the Re-Election of the President).  Keep in mind that 1972 was an election year and Nixon was about to conclude his first term as President of the United States.

A few months passed, and Nixon was re-elected as President in November 1972.  But as the calendar changed years to 1973, the investigation intensified, and by June of 1973, more damning evidence came to light against Nixon and his administration.  Between the testimony of former staff members at the Senate Watergate Committee, and the realization that there was a tape recorder in Nixon's possession that may have recorded some valuable conversations, it seemed as though Nixon's world was about to come crashing down around him.

And it did.

After a legal battle between the United States Supreme Court and Nixon - who refused to submit any of the recordings taped between 1972 and 1973 - the Supreme Court ruled that Nixon was obligated to release the tapes and its contents as evidence.  And when the tapes were listened it, they confirmed what many had suspected.  That Richard Nixon had tried to cover up some activities had taken place after the break-in, and that he used federal officials to delay and deflect the investigation.

Nixon formally resigned his presidency on August 9, 1974, and Gerald Ford was sworn in one month later.  Although Ford would later pardon Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal, the damage was done, and Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon's legacy as President was forever tarnished.

But how did this whole scandal get tipped off?  Surely if Nixon knew that what he was doing was wrong, you would think that he would have taken all the necessary steps to make sure that no information leaked out drawing suspicion towards him and his administration.  After all, if the general public got word of what was going on, it would surely mean impeachment, or even prison time.

See, this is where we go back to our original timeline date of May 31, 2005.

You see, back in 1972, it was long suspected that somebody who was either part of Nixon's administration or was involved in the Watergate break-in investigation was secretly feeding information to two reporters from the Washington Post - Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.  The two men had covered the whole investigation and scandal in the newspaper for the two year duration, and the Post was known for publishing inside information about the case before any other media source.

It was later revealed after the scandal had ended that Bernstein and Woodward had a secret informant who went by the name of "Deep Throat".  And it was the information that Deep Throat revealed that helped the investigation continue onward, leading to the biggest political scandal of the 20th century - well, until the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky story broke in the late 1990s anyway.

But nobody knew who Deep Throat was.  And it was a secret that was kept closely guarded for thirty-one years after Nixon's resignation.

The list of suspects as to who could have been Deep Throat was long.  Fred F. Fielding, Ron Ziegler, John Erlichman, L. Patrick Gray, William Rehnquist, Henry Kissinger, and even future Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush were suspected as being Deep Throat.

If Richard Nixon knew who Deep Throat was, he certainly didn't talk.  He mostly kept a low profile after his resignation, and he passed away on April 22, 1994.

It would be eleven years later, on May 31, 2005, that the identity of Deep Throat would finally be revealed - in of all places, Vanity Fair Magazine!

And who was Deep Throat?  Well, that would be W. Mark Felt, who at that time was Associate Director for the FBI!

The news was published in an article on the magazine's website, written by John D. O'Connor - an attorney who was acting on behalf of Felt.  At that time, Felt was suffering from the effects of dementia, and initially even denied that he was Deep Throat.  But once O'Connor had his article published in which Felt admitted that he and Deep Throat were one in the same, it was more or less confirmed by the two journalists who worked closely with him in the Watergate investigation.

So, I suppose the one question that needs to still be answered is why did he come forward with the information at that particular time?  Some might say that it was personally motivated, with Felt wanting to provide information to Bernstein and Woodward to satisfy his disappointment over L. Patrick Gray being named Director of the FBI over himself.  According to Woodward and Bernstein, they say Felt had a loyalty to his country and felt he had to step up before Nixon damaged it beyond repair.

Or, it could just be that most of the key players in the Watergate scandal had passed on at the time Felt made his announcement and felt that he had nothing to lose.  Felt himself would succumb to his disease just three years later in December 2008.

Whatever the case, the Deep Throat mystery saw its conclusion eleven years ago today.

All now to tie this entry to the one I wrote yesterday.  Well, obviously I was not linked to any political scandal.  The closest I ever came to that was when "Elbowgate" in the House of Commons took place on my 35th birthday!  And, I certainly haven't kept a secret for 31 years.  At the age of four, I was a chatterbox back then!

But I do know what it's like to have so much emotion eating away at you for so long.  I get the impression that with most of the Watergate key figures deceased, Felt had no reason to fear any repercussions for speaking out.

And for me, being out of school for 16 years gave me the courage to speak out against something that really held me down and controlled me.  Yesterday was the day I decided to take it back, and I feel so much better because of it.

I guess I just want to say thanks to everyone who might have taken something away from what I wrote yesterday.  It's nice to know that there are people who understand and who are supportive, and I will never forget that.

So, that concludes 31 days of new entries.  I'm going to take a break for a couple of days and will be back on Friday with a new entry.  I reckon I've earned it!

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