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Mark Selbach GOVT-531 November 18, 2013 Reflection The Gap One of the most enduring mysteries of the

Watergate scandal, and indeed in the history of political unknowns, is the infamous 18-minute gap in the Nixon White House tapes. President Nixon fought long and hard to prevent the White House tapes from being released, so everybody knew that there was incriminating evidence on them. When he finally released them, there were 18 minutes missing from a conversation he was having with his staff. Ever since, people have speculated as to what was said, as all efforts to recover the erased portions have been unsuccessful. The first thing to consider is the contention that the missing minutes is not notable at all, and is the result of a mistake. President Nixons secretary claims that she accidentally erased them. However, most people do not believe this, as a closer look at the tapes themselves show that to erase those 18 minutes so thoroughly, one would have to do so manually, and numerous times. It is essentially impossible to believe that it was done by mistake. Clearly, there was something on those tapes that Nixon and his staff did not want the world to know. We can safely assume that whatever was said during those 18-minutes, it was enormously important and embarrassing to the White House. We can just look at what is said on the tapes that Nixon did release, and did not erase. There is the smoking gun tape of course, where Nixon is heard plotting how to obstruct the FBI investigation into the Watergate break-in, which was what caused Nixon to eventually resign, since its

release assured that he would be impeached and removed from office. There is the unfathomably profane, sexist, racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic comments he repeatedly makes. All in all, the tapes that we have heard show Nixon to be a vile, corrupt man who deserved to be removed from office. What could possibly be worse that Nixon would want it erased? In Oliver Stones film Nixon, he speculates, through the plot, that during those 18 minutes, Nixon or his staff made comments that proved they knew the assassination of President Kennedy was a conspiracy, and that they even know who was involved. This of course would be an enormous revelation, particularly if U.S. government elements were involved in the assassination, and the Nixon White House knew about it. Another idea is that during this gap, Nixon made direct and specific reference to his involvement with the Watergate break-in itself. The smoking gun tape only reveals him plotting to stall the FBI investigation, it never has him saying that he ordered the break-in. Perhaps Nixon was delusional enough to think that the smoking gun tape wouldnt be enough to convict him in the court of public opinion. He always did maintain that his only crime was not acting fast enough to punish those involved in the break-in when he found out about it, although few actually believe that he didnt order it or at least have direct knowledge about it before it occurred. A favorite conspiracy of mine is that the missing tape was placed in the golf balls that the astronauts famously hit off the moon. Obviously this is ridiculous, but I always think about it when discussing the missing tape. Whether theyre on the moon or erased forever, well likely never know what Nixon said in those 18 minutes, whether it was about Watergate, JFK, aliens, or something even more sinister.