The presidency of John F. Kennedy is not commonly associated with serious abuses of entrusted power. He is rather known for combating the regimes that practices such an abuse, e.g. Cuba. But that was only the beginning of long and convoluted process that led to total corruption and office misuse in US government and especially Administration.
A serious case closely connected to power abuse was related the assassination of President Kennedy; it’s commonly referred to as The Garrison Case. Jim Garrison was a District Attorney of Louisiana from and he was entrusted to investigate Kennedy’s assassination. Much controversy surrounds the figure of the Attorney, but one of the versions suggests that he was a corrupted official with extensive relations with local mafia, and that’s why the real forces behind the President’s assassination had never been discovered and persecuted.
The most consistent critics of Garrison’s abuse of power claim that the Kennedy’s murder was planned by his Vice-President, Lyndon Johnson, and the clique of the higher government officials, namely Bundy, Rusk, and McNamara, and they all misused the power of their respective offices to hide the true facts and intentions. So here we clearly see the tendency towards increasing abuse of power in US government.
When we speak about the abuse of president power in US, the first name that comes to our mind is the name of Richard Nixon. Watergate which was the typical example of power abuse scandal that brought down his presidency. Except for that burglary attempt Nixon was blamed of raising hush money and concealing his tax returns. Nixon used the IRS, FBI and the CIA to intimidate large numbers of people. The situation with Vietnam War led the general public to the conclusion that both Lyndon and Nixon abused presidential powers.
We all know the far-reaching consequences of that abuse. Smith (1996, p. 21) comments on this event in the following manner:
“Angered by Lyndon Johnson’s conduct of the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon’s intentional confrontations over government spending, and Nixon’s abuses of power such as illegal wiretapping and using the Internal Revenue Service to go after political enemies, an assertive Congress rose up to challenge not just Nixon but the presidency as an institution.”
In the times of Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford, greater control over the corruption in the government was in place, so his presidency was not marked by any special events in this field. Jimmy Carter was humiliated by Iran and rejected by the voters, so his presidency also didn’t win much trust.
Reagan is another president who is well-known for misusing his powers. Smith (1996, p.448) gives us the following evidence:
“The devastating disclosure of Reagan’s duplicity on his secret dealings with Iran was the coup de grace, echoing elements of the Watergate scandal, with some abuses of executive power, official attempts at cover-ups, shredding documents, and above all, the president’s personal policy deception.”
G.W.H. Bush, famous for invading Kuwait, is also charged with abuse of power given by the nation and unreasonable expansion of the military and security system.
To sum up my paper, I would like to make several essential conclusions. In the first hand, I would like to point out the link between the abuses of power and enhance of military system. The second conclusion concerns the progression of the abuse of power during the specific historical era. Personally I don’t believe in transparency of any of the abovementioned governments, so when there appeared no evidence of misuse of power, such evidence was simply concealed from the public.
Here I would remember a brilliant notion of Alexis de Tocqueville that the defects and weaknesses of a democratic government may readily be discovered. The fact that abuses of power were rarely discovered and successfully persecuted signified the decline of American democracy during Kennedy-Bush era.