On February 2, 1980, details of ABSCAM, an FBI operation to uncover political corruption, were released to the public. FBI agents had posed as representatives of Abdul Enterprises, a fictional business owned by an Arab sheik. Under FBI video surveillance, agents met with the officials and offered them money or other considerations in exchange for special favors, such as the approval of government contracts for companies in which the sheik had invested. Senator Harrison A. Williams (D-NJ), and five House members – John Jenrette (D-SC), Richard Kelly (R-FL), Raymond Lederer (D-PA), Michael Myers (D-PA), and Frank Thompson (D-NJ) – were convicted of bribery and conspiracy in separate trials in 1981. John Murtha (D-PA) was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, though never indicted or prosecuted. Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) refused to take the bribe and was called a “hero” by Walter Cronkite.
On Feb. 2, 1943, the last of the German forces fighting at Stalingrad under General Field Marshall Friedrich von Paulus surrendered, despite Hitler’s order that, “The troops will defend themselves to the last!” The Battle of Stalingrad began in the summer of 1942, as German forces assaulted the city, pushed the Soviets almost to the Volga River in mid-October and encircled Stalingrad. But with diminishing resources, partisan guerilla attacks, and the cruelty of the Russian winter taking their toll, the Soviets launched a counteroffensive that encircled the Germans. Roughly half of the 280,000 men under Paulus’ command were already dead or dying, about 35,000 had been evacuated, and the remaining 91,000 were taken to Soviet POW camps, from which only 5,000 ever returned.