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Inside Politics

Dash, Watergate counsel, dead at 79

Richard Milhous Nixon
Robert F. Drinan
Georgetown University

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sam Dash, former chief counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee whose probe led to the resignation of President Nixon, died Saturday. He was 79.

Dash died at Washington Hospital Center, said hospital spokeswoman Paula Faria. She provided no other details.

Dean Judith Areen of the Georgetown University Law Center said in a statement that she was saddened by Dash's death.

"He was one of the great figures of the legal profession and a force for good around the world," Areen said.

According to the Georgetown University Web site, Dash's career spanned more than 50 years.

He was probably best known for his role as chief counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee during 1973-74 as it investigated the Nixon administration's involvement in the June 1972 break-in of the National Democratic Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington.

The investigation of the White House's cover-up of its involvement in the break-in and related illegal activities during the 1972 campaign led to Nixon's resignation in August 1974 after the House Judiciary Committee voted three articles of impeachment.

"As a member of the House Judiciary Committee that conducted hearings on the impeachment of President Nixon, I and all the members of this group appreciated and built upon the outstanding work of Sam Dash in his role as counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee," said the Rev. Robert F. Drinan, now a law professor at Georgetown University.

"This was a part of Sam Dash's lifelong contributions to the improvement of the administration of criminal justice."

Dash participated in several other inquiries as well.

He was ethics adviser to independent counsel Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater investigation (1994-1998), but resigned in protest when Starr advocated for the impeachment of President Clinton.

Dash, who helped to write the independent counsel law, felt Starr's testimony went beyond the scope of his legal role.

Dash joined the Law Center in 1965 and served as director of its Institute of Criminal Law and Procedure.

His latest book, "The Intruders: Unreasonable Searches and Seizures from King John to John Ashcroft," criticizes the government's expanded search, seizure and wiretapping powers following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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