Monday, May 7, 2012

Illegal Watergate Wiretaps Requsted to be Released

A historian of the Richard Nixon presidency wants to review sealed wiretap materials stemming from the 1972 burglary at the Watergate hotel and subsequent criminal prosecutions.

In a pending case in Washington's federal trial court, the U.S. Justice Department on May 3 said "the request for the content of illegally obtained wiretaps poses an unusual legal issue that the department intends to address in its response."

Justice Department lawyer Elizabeth Shapiro asked Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for two more weeks to respond to the request from Luke Nichter, an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University. The earlier deadline was May 5.

These and other sealed materials may be the key to determining why the Watergate break-in occurred, who ordered it, and what the burglars were looking [for],” Nichter, who specializes in American political history, wrote in a letter (PDF) to Lamberth in 2010. Nichter is researching whether exposing a prostitution ring was the real reason for the Watergate burglary. (more)