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18 1/2 Minute Gap in Watergate Tape to Remain Mystery

Gordon Novel in his youth

Richard Nixon

COMMENT: It turns out that the high-tech efforts by investigators to restore the material lost in an 18 1/2 minute gap in one of Nixon’s Watergate tapes have failed. We will never know, for sure, what was in that section of tape.

One of the central considerations in analyzing Watergate is the assassination of President Kennedy–what was referred to as “the whole Bay of Pigs thing” in the Nixon White House. Miscellaneous Archive Show M59 covers this in detail, as do several of the interviews with Russ Baker, the author of Family of Secrets.

In FTR #253, we examined efforts to recruit the enigmatic, formidable Gordon Novel to study the feasibility of erasing the Watergate tapes. (Novel is a veteran U.S. intelligence officer who was a focal point of Jim Garrison’s investigation in New Orleans.)

“The 18 1/2 Minute Gap in Watergate Tape Remains Lost to History after High-Tech Detective Work” [AP];  The Washington Post; 6/16/2011.

EXCERPT: High-tech detective work has failed to solve a puzzle from the Watergate scandal that destroyed Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Forensic scientists assembled by the National Archives have been examining two pages of notes from a June 1972 White House meeting, looking for clues about what was said during an 18 1/2-minute gap in a recording of the session.

They explored impressions in the paper, analyzed ink and hoped to find evidence of missing notes on the conversation between Nixon and aide H.R. Haldeman.

But the archives said Thursday the effort didn’t unravel the mystery. . . .


3 comments for “18 1/2 Minute Gap in Watergate Tape to Remain Mystery”

  1. No doubt that the details of 11/22/1963 was the only reason for this. There was nothing more at that point of the Watergate investigation that would have made Nixon look any worse. Ford was in place as VP with the intent of granting Nixon a full pardon on Watergate, so there was nothing else about the Watergate break in or cover up that would have outraged the public on Nixon any more than they were already. Therefore, one must ask, what was so dark about that 18 minutes that lead to Rosemary Woods erasing the contents? I am not suggesting at all that this would make Nixon look bad, I am suggesting that Nixon was probably shocked and scared by the contents of the conversation and he may have felt that national security would have been at risk if the truth about JFK’s murder came out at that time.

    Posted by Mick | February 6, 2012, 6:09 am
  2. @Mick: Perhaps so. Frankly, I can’t help but wonder if you may be right, that Nixon may have actually been rather concerned about the contents of that tape and the possible reprecussions it might have on him if they were to remain intact. We may never know now, but perhaps maybe not all hope is lost. Perhaps a full transcript exists somewhere………

    Posted by Steven L. | February 7, 2012, 5:10 am
  3. Remember how Michele Bachmann recently suddenly announced that she won’t be seeking reelection and included in her farewell video references to the various staffer investigations that she assured us had nothing to do with her resignation? Well…there’s another staffer investigation…

    The Hill
    Bachmann aide arrested in connection with House office burglaries
    By Jonathan Easley – 07/15/13 06:44 PM ET

    The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced Monday it arrested a legislative director for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in connection with a string of burglaries at the Rayburn House Office Building.

    Police charged Javier Sanchez, 37, with Theft II.

    Earlier this year the United States Capitol Police was apprised of thefts that occurred in the Rayburn House Office Building,” spokesperson Shennell Antro told The Hill in a statement.

    “The USCP conducted an investigation and were able to identify a subject. The investigation resulted in the arrest of 37 year old Javier Sanchez of Virginia. The arrest took place on 7/11/2013. Sanchez has been charged with Theft II.”

    Dan Kotman, a spokesman for Bachmman, said in email that “as of 7/12/2013, the person in question is no longer with the office. Any further questions should be directed to Capitol Police.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 15, 2013, 6:37 pm

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