Political scandal in the United States are like shooting stars. Every number of years, a scandal of dramatic proportions unfolds and consumes the public’s interest. Media outlet, political opponents, and conspiracy theorists are always on the lookout for the next conflict. In the recent political history of the United States, the biggest scandals have been:
1. NSA Surveillance Controversy
The Obama Administration was recently caught red-handed when a security contractor going by the name ‘Edward Snowden’ spilled the beans on what can only be referred to as ‘largescale surveillance’. Apparently, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 regulates intelligence gathering with the objective of protecting the interests of the United States and its allies from potential enemies. However, it appears that President George W Bush allowed the NSA (National Security Agency) to access certain types of otherwise confidential data without the approval of the FISA. Such activities have been criticized as an outright violation of the fourth amendment, and the debate has been raging on regarding balancing between security needs and the right to privacy for American citizens.
2. Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal
In 1998, TV airtime was abuzz with details of a high-level illicit affair between then president Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. This damning scandal just came to light after a sexual harassment case was filed by an Arkansas state employee against President Clinton. Although both Bill Clinton and the alleged mistress, Monica Lewinsky, denied being in a relationship, the scandal led to the impeachment of the president. However, the evidence was publicized to the country’s shock, and republicans had the day of their life hard-hitting at the democrat president.
3. Pentagon Papers
This scandal involved the unauthorized release of a document (7000 pages long) to the media. These were top-secret papers from the US Department of Defense detailing the involvement of the American armed forces in the Vietnam War for a period of time spanning 26 years (1945 – 1971). It appeared that an employee with the department leaked the secret info to the New York Times after disillusionment with the role played by the nation in the long war.
4. Watergate Affair
This is perhaps the most infamous American political scandal to ever happen. This involved a secret bid to re-elect President Richard Nixon in the upcoming elections. At least 5 of the president’s loyalists broke into headquarters for the Democratic National Committee on 27th May 1972. Among them was a former NY district attorney, and former CIA operatives. They photographed documents, tapped phones and did all other sorts of weird things. During a subsequent break-in attempt, the five were cornered by Washington police who arrested them. The subsequent investigation laid bare the details of one of the worst scandals in the history of the country. President Nixon’s involvement in the affair was proved beyond doubt through recorded evidence. He had no choice but to resign from office on August 9th, 1974.
5. Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys
In the early 1960s, a scandal engulfing both John F Kennedy and his brother Robert F Kennedy. Back then, Marilyn Monroe was a dazzling symbol of feminine success. But beyond the flamboyance, there was an affair between the president and his brother. It appears that many in the political class were aware of the happenings, but carefully hushed them up so that the public had no clear facts to make a judgement on. But Monroe didn’t seem to agree and even threatened to go public. However, she soon died under mysterious circumstances. Official reports suggest that she committed suicide, but critics have always asserted that the Kennedys had her ‘removed’ to safeguard their image. The truth remains elusive.