5 President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
Few people in the U.S. are unfamiliar with the sex scandal involving President Bill Clinton and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. President Clinton denied all accusations of a sexual relationship with Lewinsky, even going so far as to flat-out lie that he had not had “sexual relations with that woman,” yet when “that woman” brought forth a blue dress stained with Clinton’s semen in August 1998, the FBI concluded that the semen did indeed belong to the President. Clinton’s denial of engaging in sexual acts with Lewinsky during a deposition led to his impeachment because he had committed perjury. The President was ultimately allowed to keep his job despite lying repeatedly to an entire country that should have been able to trust him.
4 Iran-Contra Affair
The Iran-Contra Affair was a scandal involving the policies of the U.S. government as they related to Iran and Nicaragua. The scandal broke during Reagan’s presidency, when the public learned that the government had been lying about selling weapons to Iran and supporting Nicaraguan contra rebels. This was during the time of the Iranian Revolution. The scandal made many question the president’s power to pardon as well as the appropriateness of congressional oversight and covert operations.
3 My Lai Massacre
One of the saddest and most memorable incidents of violence enacted by U.S. military personnel on civilians occurred on March 16, 1968, when a unit of soldiers called the Charlie Company marched into My Lai in South Vietnam and murdered 500 or more villagers. The soldiers were looking for Viet Cong and instead found the 700 or so inhabitants of My Lai eating breakfast. There were no men of fighting age and no threat, just children as young as 3-years-old, unarmed women and elderly adults. The soldiers raped women, mutilated some people, and stabbed, shot, and clubbed villagers. An Army photographer, Ron Haeberle, exposed the massacre before the government could completely sweep it under the rug.
2 Abu Ghraib Torture Scandal
One of the largest stains on America’s history is the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. A report written by Major Gen. Antonio Taguba detailed shocking acts of inhumane treatment inflicted on prisoners was released in March 2004, and with that one act any claim the U.S. had of moral superiority was wiped out. The report exposed incidents of inhumane acts performed by U.S. military police in the Baghdad prison in 2003. The media released graphic photos of inmates being threatened by dogs and forced into demeaning sexual poses. Taguba was forced to resign for doing too good of a job exposing U.S. crimes.
The word Watergate has become synonymous with scandal. The Watergate scandal cost President Richard Nixon his presidency and made the careers of two now-famous journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The scandal’s name comes from the Watergate Hotel, the building that housed the offices of the Democratic National Committee, the scene of the crime. Police apprehended five men who were trying to illegally bug the offices to gain information to help President Nixon get re-elected, ironically ensuring the downfall of their leader. The incident occurred on June 17, 1972. Although this type of sleazy behavior is somewhat expected of politicians, it was nevertheless a major scandal in its time and led to the now famous line from Nixon, “I am not a crook.”