Press/Journalists

Press Release
December 3, 2003


National Archives Releases 240 Hours of Additional Nixon White House Tape Recorded Conversations

WHAT: The National Archives and Records Administration will open approximately 240 hours of White House tape recordings from the Nixon Presidency. Included are approximately 3,000 conversations that were recorded at the White House from July 1972 through October 1972. These conversations comprise the fourth of five chronological segments to be released. The 3,073 tape segments are reproduced on 304 compact discs. In accordance with the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974 and its implementing regulations, the National Archives has designated approximately 264 hours as personal and returnable to the Nixon estate. Approximately 21 minutes are restricted for national security, as provided for in Executive Order 12958. Approximately 7 minutes are restricted for invasion of privacy, 14 hours as unintelligible, and 14 hours as non-historical.

As of December 10, the National Archives will have opened 2,019 hours of tapes from the Nixon Presidency. This is the tenth opening of Nixon White House tapes since 1980. Previous releases included conversations constituting "abuses of governmental power" and conversations recorded in the Cabinet Room of the Nixon White House.

The tapes cover a wide variety of domestic and foreign topics. Topics of interest include:

  • 1972 Presidential Campaign: There are numerous conversations regarding Democratic nominee George McGovern and his policies and statements. These conversations, often between the President, his chief political aide Charles Colson, his Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, Committee to Re-Elect the President Clark MacGregor, and other officials from the Republican party, also reflect Nixon's views and campaign strategy.

  • The Vietnam War and Paris Peace Talks: A recurring theme throughout the conversations during this period is Vietnam. In July, there are several discussions about Congressional efforts (including the Cooper-Church Amendment) to withdraw U.S. troops from Indochina by a certain date contingent upon the return of American prisoners of war (POWs). In August, September, and October, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger discusses his progress at the Paris Peace talks with the President. Discussions focus on South Vietnam's reluctance to accept the terms of the agreement and the timing of the announcement of the agreement.

  • U.S.-Soviet Relations: An important issue discussed during this period was legislation proposed by Senator Henry Jackson and Congressman Charles Vanik granting Most Favored Nation trading status to the Soviet Union if the Soviets relaxed restrictions on Jewish emigration. Another topic of conversation is the signing of an interim agreement on the limitation of offensive nuclear arms (SALT) at the White House on September 30, 1972.

  • Foreign Relations: The President met with a number of foreign leaders and U.S. officials dealing with foreign policy, among them UN Ambassador George Bush and Secretary of State William Rogers to discuss terrorism and the upcoming UN General Assembly session. Other topics relating to foreign affairs that figured prominently during this time period were the massacres in Uganda and Burundi and the murder of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich.

  • Domestic Issues: The President discussed the effects of Hurricane Agnes and the damage done in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Other substantive conversations include legislation in Congress relating to busing, the Clean Water Bill, veterans benefits and welfare reform. The President met with a number of dignitaries and public figures, including Gerald Ford, Hale Boggs, Nelson Rockefeller, Johnny Cash, Armand Hammer, and Ray Charles.

  • Watergate: This release also contains segments which have been identified as relating to the Watergate investigation and Abuses of Governmental Power.

At the opening, the National Archives will also release corresponding portions of a tape log that includes the date, time, location, outline of conversations, and names of participants that will help locate conversations. Because this portion of the log contains approximately 10,000 pages, researchers are encouraged to use the electronic version in CD-ROM, which can be accessed in any word processing software version from 1995 to present.

WHEN: 9 A.M., Wednesday, December 10, 2003.

WHERE: National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road. Lecture Rooms D & E.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: The public may make copies of the taped conversations that are being released on disc. Researchers must bring their own recorders and recording media if they wish to make copies. Recorders may be connected to the provided CD players using RCA connections, researchers should bring their own cables and adaptors.

To assist researchers in locating conversations on the tapes, free finding aids on disc in Rich Text Format (.rtf) will be available on Monday, December 8, at 9 A.M. in Room G-8 at the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. Beginning on Tuesday, December 9, the discs may be obtained from the Public Affairs staff at the National Archives at College Park by calling 301-837-1700.

All researchers must have a current National Archives researchers card. Researchers who do not have current Archives II researcher ID cards must provide a picture ID and proof of current address to obtain a researcher ID card. Clean research room rules will apply. Laptop computers will be allowed in the research room.

For more information on the Nixon Presidential Materials go to: www.nixon.archives.gov.

For press information, call the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 301-837-1700.

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