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Notes About Content of Nixon’s White House Tapes Are Burned

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The National Archives on Tuesday burned 70,000 pages of notes about the contents of Richard Nixon’s White House tapes. The archives said it had no choice since a court has ordered that the secrets contained in the notes were never to be made public.

In the years after Nixon resigned in 1974 to avoid impeachment, the government seized Nixon’s tapes. The former president--and later his estate--went to court to get them back.

The Supreme Court ruled that the portions of the 2,900 hours of tapes that contain personal and private conversations, such as talks with his wife and daughters or conversations of a purely political nature, would have to be returned.

Over the years, archivists made notes of what each tape segment contained. It was those notes that were shredded this week, then put in 126 bags and burned in an archives’ incinerator, said Gerald George, archives director of policy and communications.

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“We had a bunch of duplicate logs, partial logs, stuff that we have made over a long period of time for use in processing the tapes for determining what could be released under the law and what was personal and private and had to be returned,” George said. “That’s what we destroyed.

“It sounds dramatic to say we shredded and burned, but when you’re dealing with material that you are legally instructed not to make public, you have to make sure it doesn’t become public,” he said.

R. Stan Mortenson, a lawyer for Nixon’s estate, said he was not disturbed by news of the notes’ destruction.


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