Plan Could Divine Missing Watergate Minutes, CSI-Style

Archivist pushes plan to uncover lost pages' imprints
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 28, 2009 4:08 PM CDT
In this 1977 file photo, former President Richard M. Nixon bids goodbye to British commentator David Frost, left, following the last taping of their 12 interviews in Laguna Beach, Calif.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A Watergate hobbyist has a plan to discover what was discussed during the 18½ minutes erased from a taped conversation between President Nixon and his chief of staff after the break-in. Phil Mellinger doesn’t want to examine the tape itself; that's been done without success. He says the answer lies on sheets of legal yellow paper used by HR Bob Haldeman to take notes during the conversation, Mother Jones reports.

Mellinger noticed that a page of the notes appears to contain the end of a discussion on Watergate. Previous pages, he reasoned, likely went missing—pages that could fill in the blanks of what was on the tape. The notes from those pages could be reconstructed, he thinks, through a high-tech examination of indentations left by a pen on the remaining pages. Now it’s up to the National Archives to approve Mellinger’s plan, and early responses look promising.