Monday, April 26, 2010

Watergate's Smoking Gun

We'll either be talking about the Watergate Scandal in class or you'll be reading about it in the notes that I'm giving out (to those classes where I simply ran out of lecture time) so I thought this little tidbit that I picked up on was interesting.

With the Watergate Scandal, the were always 2 big questions...#1- how involved was Nixon in all of this and #2- who was Deep Throat?

#2 was answered in 2005 when former FBI Deputy Director W. Mark Felt announced that he was the person who ratted Nixon out to the Washington Post but #1 has always kept people going "Hmmm."

Nixon was forced to turn over tapes of conversations held in the Oval Office but still not enough to say "Bam- he knew! Off to the firing squad!" However, there was an 18 1/2 minute section on one of the tapes that was nothing but static, ostensibly deliberately erased. Seriously, Nixon already looked guilty with all the other info on the tapes, what in the world could be in the 18 1/2 min gap.

Historians and technicians dig the tape out of storage every so often to take a crack at it with the latest technology, hoping to recreate the data. Up until this point, no such luck.

But now, forensic techniques are being applied to the situation. Yes, they are still trying to dig through the static, but an investigator is also looking at all of the handwritten notes taken by people in the Oval Office while the 18 1/2 minute conversation was being held. The investigator has acknowledged that there is a page missing from the yellow legal pad with the notes but lo and behold, he's pulling a Macgyver- he's using computer technology to see if the missing page can be recreated from indentations on the next page. I have this image in my mind of him taking a pencil and running it obliquely across the page to see what is left.

All he needs now is a paper clip, a rubber band and the foil wrapper from a piece of chewing gum and he can crack the code! (For those of you who have never seen Macgyver, you'll have no clue what that means. Just go with it.)

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