HNN article cited in historians’ petition to release Nixon transcript

Historians in the News

Maarja Krusten’s HNN article “Why Aren’t All the Nixon Tapes Now Available,” originally published in February 2009, has been cited in a legal petition for the National Archives and Records Administration to unseal former president Richard Nixon’s 1975 testimony to a grand jury. The petition was spearheaded by Stanley Kutler, another regular contributor to HNN and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. Mr. Kutler has been involved in legal cases to release Nixon administration records since the early 1990s.

Ms. Krusten is a former NARA archivist and worked on the Nixon tapes from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Mr. Kutler cited Ms. Krusten’s piece in paragraph 69 of his brief, detailing his past conflicts with NARA.  Her article outlines the convoluted saga of the release of Nixon material, including the former president’s involvement in the 1992 lawsuit (the case was settled out of court after Nixon’s death) .

The petition was co-authored by the American Historical Association, the American Society for Legal History, the Organization for American Historians, and the Society of American archivists and included declarations by historians Mark Feldstein, David Greenberg, Thomas Long, Keith W. Olson, Rick Perlstein, Melvin Small, and Julian Zelizer.

Barry Sussman, editor of the Watchdog Project at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism and special Watergate editor at the Washington Post during the scandal, also penned a declaration for the petition: “It is my view that the Watergate scandal and the fact that Nixon was never indicted damaged the country’s faith in its government. Making Nixon’s grand jury testimony public would help restore faith in the legal justice system and would be extremely valuable for scholars.”

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HNN - 9/17/2010

Thanks for the clarification, Maarja! I made a slight correction in the bulletin to better reflect your tenure.

Maarja Krusten - 9/17/2010

Nice to see you pick up the item! By way of clarification, I worked with the Nixon tapes from the late 1970s to the late 1980s as an employee of the National Archives. During that twn-year period, I head approximately 2,000 of the 3,700 hours of the total number of conversations. Some was during the course of my own work and some in my role as the senior archivist who filled in for the supervisor of the tapes unit in approving restriction/disclosure determinations made by members of the Nixon tapes processing unit. Between my descriptive and review work and my sign-off work, I certainly heard many of Nixon's conversations, some since released, some still restricted.