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Archives: A Blast from Probes Past

2 minute read

Dirty tricks. Pungent character assessments. Expletives undeleted. Not far from the Iran-contra hearings, another portentous probe into White House misdoings came briefly back to life last week. Reason: the National Archives ) made public more than 250,000 pages of sensitive documents accumulated during the 1974 Watergate investigation of Richard Nixon. The papers come from the files of such top Nixon aides as John Dean, John Ehrlichman and Egil Krogh Jr. Among the newly unearthed gems:

— A 1971 Nixon directive to tar John F. Kennedy with the assassination of former Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

— A 1969 Nixon memo to White House Counsellor Ehrlichman suggesting legislation that would require financial disclosure by judges as a “subtle and effective way to get at some of the real crooks on the highest court.”

— A 1972 quip by New York’s then Governor, Nelson Rockefeller, to the effect that the Democratic presidential slate ought to pair Ted Kennedy with Thomas Eagleton, one implicated in the Chappaquiddick drowning and the other known to have undergone electroshock therapy. Rockefeller dubbed the duo “waterproof and shockproof.”

The documents represent only a fraction of the 1.5 million-page trove sequestered by Congress during the Watergate probe. Further releases are expected, but Nixon and his former associates are still challenging disclosure of some of the remaining material.

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