Watergate Figure John Dean Threatens to Sue Historian Over Damaging Tape Recordings

Historians in the News

Watergate figure John Dean, who once spent eight years embroiled in a libel suit against a publishing house, is now suing a college history professor for posting audio tapes online that suggest the Nixon confidant-turned-government witness is covering up his real role in the most infamous political scandal in American history.

Dean, the former White House counsel whose damning testimony led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, is continuing what critics call a pattern of frivolous lawsuits meant to stifle questions about his role in Watergate. Now, a historian who runs a Web site dedicated to the Nixon tapes is feeling that pressure.

"I want to minimize my legal exposure," said Luke Nichter, the Texas A&M professor who runs Nixontapes.org, and who dropped two audio files from his Web site after receiving threats from Dean demanding that they be removed.

"It's an incident of a much broader pattern that this is how Dean treats people who present information contrary to his views."

Nichter had posted a 1989 phone call in which Dean disavowed the accuracy of his memoir, "Blind Ambition," the national bestseller that helped establish the public's view of the conspiracy to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972.

"What happened is, the editors got real excited, interesting, wanted to make it more intriguing. That's why all that shit got in there," Dean said in the phone call, referring to material in his book he said was inaccurate. "I never actually went back and re-read my testimony when I was writing my book." The recording is still available at Watergate.com.

Nichter set those admissions against a 4-minute tape from a June 2009 speech Dean gave at the Nixon Library promoting the re-release of his memoir. Dean's new edition did not change the content he has disavowed as the creation of zealous editors, though he added a 95-page afterword.

"I merely wanted to bring these contradictions to light and thought I was doing a service, but Dean was absolutely mortified when he found out that I had these materials," Nichter told FOXNews.com.

Nichter says he is interested in full disclosure of Watergate documents and doesn't "take a side" in the decades-old clashes....
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