The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included "dirty tricks" such as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides ordered harassment of activist groups and political figures, using the FBI, CIA, and the Internal Revenue Service. The activities became known after five men were caught breaking into Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972. The Washington Post picked up on the story; reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward relied on an informant known as "Deep Throat"—later revealed to be Mark Felt, associate director at the FBI—to link the men to the Nixon administration. Nixon downplayed the scandal as mere politics, calling news articles biased and misleading. As a series of revelations made it clear that Nixon aides had committed crimes in attempts to sabotage the Democrats and others, senior aides such as White House Counsel John Dean and Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman faced prosecution.
In July 1973, White House aide Alexander Butterfield testified that Nixon had a secret taping system that recorded his conversations and phone calls in the Oval Office. These tapes were subpoenaed by Watergate Special Counsel Archibald Cox. Nixon refused to release them, citing executive privilege. With the White House and Cox at loggerheads, Nixon had Cox fired in October in the "Saturday Night Massacre"; he was replaced by Leon Jaworski. In November, Nixon's lawyers revealed that an audio tape of conversations, held in the White House on June 20, 1972, featured an 18½ minute gap. Rose Mary Woods, the President's personal secretary, claimed responsibility for the gap, alleging that she had accidentally wiped the section while transcribing the tape, though her tale was widely mocked. The gap, while not conclusive proof of wrongdoing by the President, cast doubt on Nixon's statement that he had been unaware of the cover-up.
At the height of Kissinger's prominence, many commented on his wit. In one instance, at the Washington Press Club annual congressional dinner, "Kissinger mocked his reputation as a secret swinger." He was quoted as saying "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac."
Kissinger has shied away from mainstream media and cable talk shows. He granted a rare interview to the producers of a documentary examining the underpinnings of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt entitled Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace. In the film, a candid Kissinger reveals how close he felt the world was to nuclear war during the 1973 Yom Kippur War launched by Egypt and Syria against Israel.
A feature length documentary titled Kissinger, by Scottish historian Niall Ferguson and produced by Chimerica Media, was released in 2011 on the National Geographic Channel.
Since he left office, some efforts have been made to hold Kissinger responsible for perceived injustices of American foreign policy during his tenure in government. These charges have at times inconvenienced his travels. Christopher Hitchens, the late British-American journalist and author, was highly critical of Kissinger, authoring The Trial of Henry Kissinger, in which Hitchens called for the prosecution of Kissinger "for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture".
On April 8, 2013, WikiLeaks published what they said were 1.7 million U.S. diplomatic and intelligence documents from 1973 to 1976, calling them the Kissinger cables. The release is part of information that was already previously available from the National Archives and Records Administration, but now harmonizes spellings of names and places between cables, and includes updated meta data to assist in searching and organization of the cables.
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