How could a seemingly insignificant mistake like placing a piece of tape the wrong way change the course of American history?

Posted: May 25, 2014 in First Chapter, Tiny Blunders / Big Disasters Preview
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 How could a seemingly insignificant mistake like placing a piece of tape the wrong way change the course of American history?


How could this be possible?

How could this be possible?

June 16, 1972:

The Plan

The daring and dangerous plan was to break into the offices of the campaign chairman at night, steal politically useful information, and exit the building without being caught. The burglars and their handlers were professional and cunning. They realized that a mishap of one kind or another could possibly occur. A security plan was in place to prevent detection. Alert lookouts were positioned on the roof with walkie-talkies. If any police cars were seen approaching the building, the lookouts would radio their confederates in ample time to escape. There was no reason to think something would go wrong. And nothing would have, except for a single tiny unexpected stumble.

The Mistake

In order to gain access to the Watergate’s main building, the burglars picked the lock between the garage and the adjoining staircase. To keep the door from relocking they had been told to place a piece of tape in a vertical position across the door edge. But instead they placed it in a horizontal across the door face. In this position, the tape was visible to anyone walking by the doorway inside the building. The night watchman, Frank Wills, in making his normal rounds, noticed the strip of tape and saw that the door had been jimmied. Wills grabbed the nearest telephone and called the police. No uniform cops were available, so the Washington police sent an undercover squad, “The Bum Patrol”, cops dressed as vagrants. When the unmarked car pulled up to the Watergate complex the lookouts on the roof failed to recognize the disheveled officers.

And so cops who resembled freight-car hoboes apprehended burglars dressed in business attire.


The ensuing investigation tied the burglars to mid-level people in the Republican campaign, who were in turn linked to high-level people in the Nixon Administration. There was a Senate probe by the Judiciary Committee with public hearings and enormous publicity. A desperate cover-up was attempted and failed. In the final analysis, it was the cover up, with its charges of obstruction of justice and misprision of a felony that destroyed the Nixon Administration. Facing certain impeachment from a democratic congress, Richard Nixon was forced to resign. He left the White House and flew back to his home state of California in humiliation and disgrace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s