Primary Documents Online: National Archives (NARA) Releases Additional Watergate-related Records
The records described below became available at Noon (EDT) on July 15, 2013.
The National Archives and Records Administration will release additional records that have been sealed under court order since the 1970s Watergate criminal trial of seven men involved in the Watergate burglary, U.S. v. Liddy, et al.
Previously, on November 30, 2012, the National Archives released 36 folders of documents totaling approximately 950 pages (in whole or in part) upon an order from Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Today, in accordance with a subsequent court order, the National Archives is releasing a small amount of additional information from those previously released pages, along with 75 pages of new documents, as described below.
These records are available online at www.archives.gov/research/investigations/watergate/us-v-liddy.html
Under Judge Lamberth’s most recent order and opinion all trial records have been “unsealed,” but the National Archives is still required to review and withhold personal privacy information, grand jury information, and illegal wiretap information, as appropriate. Accordingly, the notation “Court Sealed” has been removed from the documents. Newly unsealed records include the names only of those overheard by the bugs installed in the break-ins at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate. It also includes the pre-sentence reports for the Cuban burglars. Such records of living persons are not usually released publicly, but the court stated in its opinion that “the public’s interest in clarifying the historical record and further identifying the facts that led to the resignation of President Nixon outweigh their individual privacy interests.”
Changes were made and additional information was released in the following folders:
Folder 1/6: On pages 22, 23, & 44 of the transcript, the names of those overheard are now released.
Folder 1/8: On pages 972, 975, 977, 982, 994 of the transcript, the names of those overheard are now released; pages 973, 974, 976, 981, 983, 995, & 995A remain the same.
Folder 1/9: On the portion of Alfred Baldwin’s FBI 302, the names of those overheard are now released.
Folder 1/13: the court ordered that specific redactions be made to pages 48, 49, 59, 61, and 62. These redactions were applied and these five pages are now released.
Folder 3/29: In addition to the Bureau of Prisons reports, 46 pages of pre-sentence reports are now released with redactions applied to protect the privacy of living individuals.
Folder 3/36: 24 pages of G. Gordon Liddy’s insurance papers are now released with one redaction to protect his privacy.
On May 1, 2009, Professor Luke Nichter of Texas A&M University-Central Texas petitioned Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the District Court for the District of Columbia to release records sealed in the case of U.S. v. Liddy, the Watergate break-in case. The sealed proceedings include evidentiary discussions held outside the jury’s hearing, pretrial discussions between defendants’ lawyers and the Court, and post-trial sentencing information.
On November 2, 2012, the District Court for the District of Columbia ordered most of these records to be unsealed, with the support of the Department of Justice, given the passage of time, completion of the criminal proceedings, and non-invasive nature of the content. Consistent with the recommendation of the Department of Justice, the court ordered that the following categories of records remain sealed, pending further review by the court:
- Personal documents regarding living individuals;
- Documents regarding the content of illegally obtained wiretaps; and
- Grand Jury information.
Now, under the court order and accompanying memorandum opinion of May 13, 2013 (which was unsealed on June 11, 2013), the above-described additional materials have been unsealed. The Court’s Ex Parte Order and Memorandum Opinion are online.
Watergate-related records at the National Archives
The National Archives preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. The National Archives continues to make Watergate records publicly available – to the extent legally allowable. These materials include 1,362 cubic feet of records from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1971 to 1977. Many of these records are open for research. Others can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act. To download hi-resolution images from the Security Officer’s Log of the Watergate Office Building showing entry for the June 17, 1972 break-in, see http://research.archives.gov/description/304970.
Watergate Trial Conversations are excerpted Nixon White House tape conversations that were played in open court in U.S. v. Mitchell, et al. and U.S. v. Connally. The segments are a portion of the approximately 60 hours of tapes subpoenaed by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force (WSPF). These conversations include the segments referred to as the “Smoking Gun” and “Cancer on the Presidency.” For information on other Nixon White House tapes visit this page from the Nixon Library.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.