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Published:August 22nd, 2013 08:24 EST
Nixon`s Not So Secret Audio Tapes Released by the National Archives and Records Administrations!

Nixon`s Not So Secret Audio Tapes Released by the National Archives and Records Administrations!

By John G. Kays

The National Archives and Records Administration has released the last of the Nixon audio tapes, apparently 340 hours of the desperate 37th president talking on the telephone, cutting deals with powerful people of the day. This set of tapes captures the period of Nixon`s presidency, running from April 9th through July 12th, 1973, about a year before Watergate fully imploded (or exploded, you can use either word). One question I have, which has probably been put forth before, is didn`t Nixon suspect his taped conversations, laced with conspiracy to cover-up the burglary, would ultimately be confiscated, then used against him?

Thank goodness for Dick Nixon`s blatant narcissism! Well, perhaps he just thought of the taping as a way to preserve history; my curiosity is up on what`s the exact date when he was required to shut down shop (the secret taping)? Here all these powerful people were talking to him on the phone, such as Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., and even Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and they didn`t know they were getting recorded. Nixon liked to get over, even with some of his closest conservative colleagues.

The news coverage on the final Nixon tapes was quite impressive; I read several good pieces in the Washington Post, a nice one in The New York Times, as well as a great one in The Wall Street Journal. Still, I encountered some confusion when trying to understand the archival angle and handling of the tapes, part of the story. That is, The Los Angeles Times said the tapes were made public by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda (California), whereas The Wall Street Journal mentions the audio records were released by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Pardon my confusion, but were these two substantial archival organizations in cahoots on this project? This would have to be, unless one of these news organizations didn`t quite get the scoop straight. Well, I`m sure with presidential archives, it must get a little complicated; surely, I could do some research and untangle this mystery, but I don`t know whether I can get quite that motivated, as far as Nixon is concerned. I`ve already spent half of my life trying to forget Tricky Dick, (so why would I want to remember him even clearer)?

I do want to know how NARA conducts their business though; I`ll be going to Washington DC in late May of 2014, and a visit to NARA is a high priority item on my list of things to do. Okay, so there`s other parts of the story that pique my interest also; these are technical issues, triviality really, but are curiosities nevertheless, I`d like to know. AP ran a photo of the tape deck used by Nixon, but I couldn`t see it too clearly. What brand is it? Why did Nixon purchase and use this particular deck? What type of reel to reel audio tape was utilized? Did the president use Scotch tape?

I`m not joshing you, I care about this sort of thing. Did Nixon work with some sort of audio engineer? Who would change the tapes out? Did anyone review the tapes once a reel was filled, or did they just madly keep taping until their covert bugging operation was finally shut down (like a liquor still during Prohibition)? Another question, is when did the sound archivists convert the analog tapes to digital? I must say, the tapes were highly durable! I have reel to reels myself from the early 1970s, that need to be converted to digital, so I`m impressed with what these libraries have done. Nixon got his wish, history was preserved for eternity, even though it was catching him in a heinous act of Obstruction of Justice!