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Watergate, WikiLeaks, Whistleblowers and Stooges in Tapes: Art of Apprehending ‘Dignified’ Parliamentarians

13 January 2020 12:05 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Nixon Tapes or Watergate scandal was a major political scandal in the US involving the administration in early 1970s 
  • After the 2010 leaks, the US government opened a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks
 
MPs of both sides have informed police and the Defence Ministry, Arresting an MP should be done in a manner which would not impair the honour and dignity of a ‘worthy-of-respect’ parliamentarian. Instructions were given at a meeting Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had with government and Opposition MPs at the parliament complex. According to the release, “If a member of any political party had committed an offence, the MP should be duly arrested. However, the MPs informed that a proper mechanism should be put in place and the police officers should be issued proper guidelines in this regard. It is learnt that Speaker has requested police to ensure that MPs’ privileges are safeguarded. 
If the law makers maintained honour, dignity and decorum of the high office they held, the question of arrest wouldn’t arise. By hugging the Policemen, exposing the cuffed  wrists by raising them above their heads, laughing and sharing comments with colleagues who rushed to the scene, obliging the media cameras with voice-cuts on their way to the police jeeps and then from courts to Prison vehicles, they themselves have added to the deterioration of the term Law-makers. 
 
"Hugging cops, exposing cuffed  wrists, laughing, obliging media cameras with voice-cuts on their way to the police jeeps and then from courts to Prison vehicles brought disrepute to the term ‘Law-makers ‘"
 
 
Jeremy Waldron writing in The Cambridge law Journal under “How Law Protects Dignity”-- says,
“One way in which law protects dignity is by enforcing human rights provisions that explicitly prohibit degradation. But, as Lon Fuller and others have observed, law’s connection with dignity is also deeper and more pervasive than this. In the way that its requirements are presented, in its procedures, in its sponsorship of argumentation, in treating people as equals, even in the distinctive way in which it makes use of coercion, law treats humans as dignified agents, capable of self-control, with a good sense of their own interests, and an ability to respond intelligently to its demands.” - March 2012: pp. 201
Law should protect dignity of all people irrespective of positions. There are internationally accepted norms governing human dignity -- Common Article 3 of Geneva Conventions prohibits, “outrages upon personal dignity”. It is protected also by Article 7 of ICCPR, and Article 3 of European Convention of HR. With House sittings now being telecast live and schoolchildren in the public gallery to see what their great law makers are doing in Parliament, it is imperative that a strict code of conduct be maintained by the Speaker. Parliament is the voice of the people, people are supreme and there shouldn’t be a special code of conduct that the police observes in arresting a suspect whether it is a parliamentarian or an ordinary citizen. Treat people as equals before law. The decorum, and dignity is something common to every suspect; there shouldn’t be ‘mechanisms & guidelines’ for arresting a particular sector.
 

Watergate Scandal and President Richard Nixon

 
The United States is a relatively young country. It has existed as its own nation for almost two and a half centuries, but compared to many Asian nations that have existed since ancient times, it is still in its infancy. However, US have grown and accomplished much since its birth in 1776. What started as a loose confederation of former British colonies has grown into a major world power whose influence is felt around the globe. 
How did US manage to develop into a global super power in such a short time? The answer lies in a close study of its unique history. The story of America unlike any other—filled with colourful characters, a variety of exciting settings, and events  too incredible to be anything other than true. Too often, the experience of history is lost among the basic facts: names, dates, places, laws, treaties and battles. The Nixon Tapes or Watergate scandal was a major political scandal in the US involving the administration of President Nixon in early 1970s. It stemmed from June 1972, break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters located  at the Watergate complex building in Washington, and the Nixon administration’s attempts to cover up its participation in the crime. [cover-up scandal very similar to our Bond Scam] Soon after the arrest of perpetrators, the press and the Justice Ministry  revealed a connection between cash found on them and a slush fund used by the Nixon’s campaign office. [Bond Scam was allegedly initiated by fund raisers of a party’s election office in 2015].
Further investigations, along with revelations during subsequent trials of the burglars in January 1973, led the House of Representatives to grant its Judiciary Committee additional investigation authority to probe into certain matters within its jurisdiction, and the Senate was to create a special investigative group to look into the scandal. The resultant Senate Watergate hearings commenced in May 1973. The proceedings aroused enormous public interest. It was established that the President had approved plans to cover up administration’s involvement in the Scam, and learned of the presence of a voice-activated recording system in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, Nixon’s administration resisted its probes, leading to a constitutional crisis. 
Several major revelations and conspicuous presidential action against the inquiry later in 1973 impelled the House to consider impeaching the President in February 1974. While the impeachment was in progress, the Supreme Court on on July 24, 1974, unanimously ruled that Richard Nixon was duty-bound to release the Oval Office tapes to state for the use of investigators. The tapes exposed Nixon that he had conspired to cover up actions that happened after the break-in and that there had been attempts to use federal officials to ward off the investigation. Then the Judiciary Committee approved clauses of impeachment against the President for abuse of power, contempt of Congress, obstruction of justice, and reported on the said articles to the House of Representatives. A total of 69 people involved in the scandal  were indicted; [number is less than the Bond Scam perpetrators, taking into account the Parliamentarians who received ‘Santhosam’ cheques from the main benefactor, the Perpetual Group] resulted in 48 people being found guilty—number included many top Nixon administration officials.  An assortment of illegal activities undertaken by Nixon administration was termed ‘Watergate’. Some of the activities included secretly recording  discussions at offices of political opponents and his own party people of whom President or his coterie were suspicious, using the  FBI, CIA, and the Internal Revenue Service as political weaponry. 
 

WikiLeaks of Assange and Manning

 
An Australian editor, publisher, and campaigner founded WikiLeaks in 2006.Julian Paul Assange became famous in 2010 when he published a set of leaks given to him by one Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst of US Army.  The leaks included among other things, the Murder video of April 2010, the Afghanistan war logs of July 2010, the Iraq war logs of October 2010, and Cable Gate, November 2010: the whistle-blowing site, disclosed the contents of over 200,000 cables from US embassies to countries around the world. Washington warned that the disclosure of highly sensitive papers could deeply impact not only her foreign policy interests, but those of her allies around the world. The site published only 200 cables, but, like in ‘Ranjan Tapes’ it shared information from the entire hoard with several media both electronic and press. After the 2010 leaks, the American government opened a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.
 
"The leaks included among other things, the Murder video of April 2010, the Afghanistan war logs of July 2010, the Iraq war logs of October 2010, and Cable Gate, November 2010"
 
Swedish government in November 2010, issued an international warrant for arrest of Julian Assange, after inquiring for months about allegations of sexual assault. Assange denying  the allegations, said that they were only a pretext of a plan to extradite him  from Sweden to America  because of his responsibility in publishing  the US documents. However, he surrendered to the police department of UK in December 2010 to be released on bail after ten days. Breaching his bail [£340,000] after being unsuccessful in his challenge to the exile proceedings, Asange, in June 2012  sought  asylum from Ecuador, which was granted. He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship in 2018, but it was suspended after one year compelling Assange to remain in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the next seven years. 
A series of disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities arose in 2019, resulting in the withdrawal of Assange’s asylum in April 2019. The embassy invited police and he was arrested. Being  found guilty of breaching the bail condition on May 1, 2019Assange was sentenced to a 50-week prison term in the UK. American government opened an indictment against him for alleged computer infringement related to the papers provided by Manning. He was further charged with violating the Espionage Act  by the US government, in the midst of criticism by Editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Assange is imprisoned in His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, is reportedly not in good health and is confined to the prison hospital. 
Last week two junior Police officers were sentenced to 28 years for accepting a bribe of Rs.10,000, while  a senior Parliamentarian reported by a Presidential Commission one and-a-half years ago for accepting a bribe of 160 million is “Maintaining the dignity of the House, with authorities safeguarding his privileges”!   
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