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Fifth Chronological Conversation Tape Release, Part IV

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Finding Aid

  • Download the Adobe Acrobat PDFcomplete finding aid, which includes a detailed description of the conversations, information on how the tapes were processed according to the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974 (PRMPA) (44 USC 2111 note) and its implementing regulations, as well as the 2007 deed of gift, and background information on the Nixon White House Tapes.
  • Conversations Listed by Date
  • Conversations Listed by Number

Online Audio

All the conversations covered by this release are available online in MP3 and FLAC format:

Participants

  • White House staff members H. R. Haldeman, Henry A. Kissinger, John W. Dean, Ronald L. Ziegler, John D. Ehrlichman, Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Stephen B. Bull, and Charles W. Colson.
  • They also include members of the Cabinet, foreign dignitaries, members of Congress, the President’s friends and family, journalists, celebrities, and members of the White House staff and federal agencies.

Topics

While the conversations document the entire scope of issues in which the Nixon White House engaged in early 1973, these conversations particularly concern the peace settlement ending United States involvement in the Vietnam War and the return of American prisoners of war from Southeast Asia. Other major topics include Native Americans, the international monetary situation, events in the Middle East, the President’s domestic agenda, Most Favored Nations (MFN) status for the Soviet Union, the diplomacy around the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, and energy and broadcasting policy.

Tape subject logs, which indicate the specific topics discussed in each conversation, can be searched on this web site by going to Advanced Search and selecting "Tape Subject Logs" in the drop-down box. You may also request a free Finding Aid CD-ROM, which contains a searchable index, by contacting the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. Please contact us at the preceding link if you need any assistance in using the tapes.

  • Watergate:   With the conclusion of the Watergate burglars’ trial in January 1973 and the establishment of the Ervin Committee on February 7, 1973, the White House became increasingly focused on the growing scandal. The tapes in this opening include many previously released conversations that were part of the Watergate Trial Tapes, Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Abuse of Governmental Powers tapes releases.

  • Vietnam cease-fire/Repatriation of US Prisoners of War [POWs]:   The Vietnam cease-fire agreement in January 1973 allowed for a 60 day period to ensure the release of Prisoners of War. During this tenuous period of the cease-fire, before the signing of a peace agreement, the White House (usually the President and Henry Kissinger, but also staff members like Alexander Haig) debated reactions to cease-fire violations, reflected on the war and ultimate success of the settlement agreements, and remarked on the press coverage.

  • International Monetary Crisis and Reform:   In late January 1973, a global monetary crisis began to develop over the durability of the 1971 Smithsonian Agreement. This resulted in numerous conversations within the White House about negotiating currency actions on the part of the US and with other countries.

  • Middle East:   During these months, the tapes include discussions about the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict because of visits to Washington, DC by Golda Meir, King Hussein of Jordan, and the Egyptian foreign minister, Hafiz Ismail.

  • Native Americans:   On February 6, police and Native American protestors clashed in Custer, SD over the second degree manslaughter charge a white man received who was accused of stabbing a Native American. These clashes extended as far as Rapid City, SD. Later on February 28, Native American militants took hostages in Wounded Knee, SD and relayed a list of demands to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, particularly related to treaty obligations. The Wounded Knee occupation became a prolonged standoff between the Native Americans and Federal Marshalls with periodic eruptions of violence. The standoff lasted into May 1973. The tapes from February and March 1973 include brief updates for the President on agencies responses and responsibilities, the Administration’s positioning of the White House in the affair, potential courses of action and speculation on the militants, and the linkage between these incidents and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) occupation that occurred in 1972.

  • Domestic Issues:   The White House discussed a variety of domestic issues during these months. The most discussed issue was Phase III of the Economic Stabilization Program. Phase III involved relying on the voluntary cooperation of the private sector in making wage and price decisions, except for special problem areas. During these months, the White House also discussed veterans’ benefits, rural and farm issues, and welfare and housing.

  • MFN Status for the Soviet Union and Soviet Jewry:   During the months of February and March 1973, the White House had to balance concerns from Congress members, Israel and American Jewish groups regarding Soviet Jewish emigration with negotiations for providing MFN status to the Soviet Union. Conversations being released at this time include the President’s response to Israel’s concerns as voiced by Golda Meir and Max Fisher, the American Jewish leader.

  • Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War:   During Kissinger’s secret trip to Moscow in April 1972, the Soviets proposed a treaty between the US and Soviet Union renouncing the use of nuclear weapons against each other. This started off a year of diplomatic negotiations and treaty drafting, involving Great Britain as well. Great Britain’s involvement in the negotiations for the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, as well as Kissinger and the President’s strategy for the negotiations as it fit into larger Soviet policy are captured on the tapes.

  • Oil and Energy policy:   The White House showed concern at this time for energy and oil policy. The President in particular relied upon the advice of John Connally who advocated the United States attaining a bargaining chip with oil exporters by controlling oil shipping with US tankers.

  • Broadcasting policy:   On December 18, 1972, Tom Whitehead, the Director of the Office of Telecommunications Policy Advisor, announced new broadcasting legislative amendments that would create licensing rules contingent on things like the amount of time devoted to specific types of programs. Through January 1973, Whitehead continued to give interviews and makes speeches about the new policy which garnered criticism from the media. The tapes for this release include discussions with Whitehead about the program and his public relations strategy.

Restriction History

  • In July 2007 with the establishment of the Nixon Presidential Library, the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation signed a deed of gift donating large portions of previously withdrawn conversations from the White House tapes. Conversations determined to fall within the scope of the Nixon Foundation’s deed of gift, were reviewed according to the terms of the deed. Accordingly, access to the Nixon materials, including the tapes, is now governed by the PRMPA, its implementing public access regulations, the 1996 Tapes Settlement Agreement, and the 2007 deed of gift.

  • In the course of processing the tapes, the Nixon Presidential Materials Staff restricted a total of approximately 2 hours worth of conversations.
    1. According to PRMPA and the 2007 deed of gift, the archivists determined that approximately 1 hour remained under the restriction category “G” and would be returned to the Nixon Estate.
    2. Under the deed of gift, the archivists withheld only 14 seconds for privacy.
    3. In the course of processing these recordings, the archivists determined that approximately 3 minutes required restriction because the conversations or room noise were too unintelligible to review.
    4. The archivists only restricted 5 seconds worth of conversation because of statute (restriction category “A”).
    5. The archivists only restricted approximately 1 hour and 7 minutes and 30 seconds worth of conversation for reasons of national security (restriction category “B”).
    6. Lastly, the archivists only restricted approximately 7 minutes 35 seconds worth of conversation for restriction category “D” (release would clearly constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy).

About this Release

  • spans February 1, 1973 - March 31, 1973
  • there are 1,801 conversations
  • totals approximately 265 hours
  • conversations recorded in the Oval Office, the President's office in the Old Executive Office Building (EOB), the President's office at Camp David, and the White House telephones
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