Lessons from Watergate - NBC Southern California

Lessons from Watergate

Chapman University's Law School on Friday hosted "The 40th Anniversary of Watergate: A Commemoration of the Rule of Law"



    40 years may have passed since the infamous break in that eventually brought down a president, but there are still repercussions rippling through politics, and lessons to be learned. (Published Friday, Jan. 27, 2012)

    Forty years ago the Watergate scandal began. Eventually it would bring down President Richard Nixon.

    But the scandal has left an unusual legacy.

    "The history of the Nixon Administration is the most complete we'll ever have. The Nixon tapes, they're the gift that keeps on giving," said former White House Counsel John Dean.

    In the 1970s, Dean served as Nixon's legal counsel. He eventually testified against the president, saying the Watergate break-in was a "cancer" on the presidency.

    Now Watergate is a lesson in history for students at Chapman University's Law School.

    On Friday the school hosted a legal symposium called The 40th Anniversary of Watergate: A Commemoration of the Rule of Law.

    Many students attending now believe a government based on secrecy would be impossible.

    "There's always good and a bad side when it comes to an increased amount of transparency. It may be harder to keep things secret when they shouldn't be kept secret, but it also makes it easier for the public to get the kind of information they deserve," said law student Chris Hossellman.

    Students in their 20s have grown up with WikiLeaks and have access to what once took gumshoe reporters days and months to uncover.

    "We live on leaks," said Chapman Law Professor Ronald Rotunda. "Leaks are what keeps the government honest, or prevents them from getting too crooked.

    The panel was asked why Nixon simply didn't burn the tapes? They said he never thought they would be revealed.

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