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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  August 2006, Week 4

ARCHIVES August 2006, Week 4

Subject:

CA exam + Re: Nixon tape segments (lawyers, Pentagon Papers, etc

From:

[log in to unmask]

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 22 Aug 2006 13:03:14 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (159 lines)

Many thanks, Rick, I appreciate the good comments! Yes, there is a lot 
at stake. The tapes I excerpted were part of the 201 hours of 
"governmental abuse of power" (Watergate) tapes released by NARA in 
1996, after Nixon's death. These are the tapes around which tough 
battles swirled in the early 1990s in the Kutler litigation. Had Prof. 
Stanley Kutler not filed his lawsuit in 1992 to gain access to the then 
unreleased tapes, I don't know what would have happened.

When you read the tape extracts, you can see what we NARA Nixon Project 
archivists were up against, not just in terms of what was recorded in 
the archival materials, but in the tactics and strategies used by Nixon 
and his advocates to act against perceived opponents, while in office 
and later. ("Try him in the press;" "embarrass the creeps;" "we are 
going to use any means;" etc.)  Unfortunately, the government's lawyers 
did not effectively protect us in 1992.   They pretty well sat silent 
when Nixon's lawyers and advocates attacked Nixon Project archivists in 
court (implying incorrectly that tapes supervisor Fred Graboske was 
biased against Nixon) and in the press.  (If anyone can point me to a 
document where government lawyers strongly supported my generation of 
archivists in 1992 or early 1993, I would love to see it.  I haven't 
found anything of that nature.  I actually spent a fair amount of time 
at the Federal courthouse in the early 1990s, reading through the 
pleadings in the Kutler case.  I also kept track of NARA's press 
releases back then.)

It was interesting for me to go through the process of being the target 
(along with my boss and peers) of Nixon's wrath. It taught me a lot 
about how politicians such as Nixon "play the game," to use his words. 
Having listened to so many Nixon tapes, I understood what his side was 
doing.  But, as you all can tell, the failure of the government's 
lawyers (NARA and DOJ) to protect us did scar me.  I still have 
longstanding "trust issues," as they say, and probably always will, LOL.

No surprise, then, that I've had numerous letters published in the 
Washington Post, including the one on Feb. 16, 1998 where I wrote, "So 
Nixon's lawyer served his client well. But who stood up to defend 
NARA's archivists, whose performance earlier had been rated as 
"outstanding"? No one."

Shortly after I had that letter published in the Post, John H. Taylor, 
executive director of the Nixon Birthplace and Foundation, sneered in 
his own article in The American Spectator (March 1998) that "Until six 
years ago an informal understanding existed between President Nixon and 
NARA that the "abuse of power" tapes would be defined as the 63 hours 
used by the Watergate special prosecutor in 1973-74. But then we were 
told that the Hardy Boys at NARA had kept a little list - 201 
additional fun-filled hours of their own greatest hits." In his 
article, "Cutting the Nixon Tapes," Mr. Taylor also referred to Nixon 
Project archivists as "NARA allies of the dean-for-life of the 
Nixon-haters, Professor Stanley Kutler of the University of Wisconsin." 
  I think I've mentioned that Mr. Taylor was Mr. Nixon's last chief of 
staff (this was long after RN left the White House, of course).

The Nixon Library site no longer links to the 1998 American Spectator 
article where Mr. Taylor castigated archivists.   However, it is 
available through subscription databases such as ProQuest.  Knowing 
that the Nixon Library hoped to someday become a NARA-administered 
Library, I've wondered from the time Mr. Taylor published his article 
why he characterized archivists the way he did.

Rick and List, after posting my long musings last week, I've heard 
privately from some archivists who have taken the CA exam.   Some good 
stuff in their messages, which has gotten me thinking some more.

Of course, I'll state up front once again that I  haven't taken the 
exam.  And I'm unlikely to do so.  I'm not an archivist any longer and 
am more likely to continue working as an historian rather than 
returning to the archival field. (I can't, of course, ever return to 
NARA to work.)  Still, I know how much variation there can be in 
workplaces.

I'm curious about this.  It seems to me that there can be a great 
difference in how an archivist answers an exam question, depending on 
whether he considers his longstanding experience along with his 
academic training or only answers based on archival theory. People have 
expressed concern on the List that some of the CA exam questions might 
have more than one answer.

On the CA exam, I gather the questions are multiple choice. Are there 
enough caveats to make it clear that each question is premised on 
certain conditions? I can see that things might be different in an 
academic versus a governmental setting, for example.  Or when the 
subjects of records have reason to worry about a paper trail, as 
opposed to being able to say, "hey, I did what I did, restrict for 
genuine privacy, financial and legal interests but I'm not concerned 
about the rest."  Do the exam questions set up the conditions 
sufficiently? Are they premised, for example, on legal counsel taking 
the high road and supporting an archivist (or records manager) when he 
or she takes a strictly compliance oriented, objective approach to the 
matter at hand?  Is this stated up front?  Is the fact considered that 
lawyers might face external pressure and even might craft positions 
that suit a power player rather than an archivist?  If so, how is this 
reflected in questions?

Maarja


-----Original Message-----
From: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tue, 22 Aug 2006 6:42 AM
Subject: Re: Nixon tape segments (lawyers, Pentagon Papers, etc

In a message dated 8/21/2006 12:18:37 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, 
[log in to unmask] writes:
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2006 16:40:02 EDT
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Nixon tape segments (lawyers, Pentagon Papers, etc Earlier in 
the week, in response to Ginny Jones's comment about the code of 
ethics, I mentioned some released Nixon tapes. These segments showed 
President Nixon expressing frustration that lawyers were reluctant to 
work in areas where he thought things needed to be done. And pressing 
his subordinates to take action...
Thanks for posting these extraordinary records snips, Maarja. It is so 
easy to get so caught up in the technology, standards, processes and 
professional aspects of recordkeeping in our list, conference and 
journal discussions, that we forget what it is all about. We need 
occasional citations of real records like those you posted to remind us 
what major parts accountability and social memory constitute in 
everything else we discuss on the list.

Regards,

Rick

Rick Barry
www.mybestdocs.com
Cofounder, Open Reader Consortium
www.openreader.org
A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the 
Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org. For the terms of 
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