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Article published November 1, 2012
Judge orders some Watergate records unsealed
WASHINGTON — Some documents sealed in the 1970s as part of the court case against seven men involved in the Watergate burglary must be released, a federal judge in Washington says. U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth said in a two-page order today that some materials being sought by a Texas history professor should be released. He gave the National Archives and Records Administration a month to review and release the materials. Luke Nichter from Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen wrote the judge in 2009 to ask that potentially hundreds of pages of documents be unsealed. Nichter also runs a website cataloging secret recordings made by President Richard Nixon in the White House. He says the court records could help explain the motivation behind the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters that ultimately led Nixon to resign from office three years later. Attorneys for the U.S. government said earlier this year that they would not oppose the release of some of the files. But government attorneys argued that three categories of documents should remain secret: those containing personal information, grand jury information and those regarding the content of illegally obtained wiretaps. Judge Lamberth agreed that those documents should remain sealed for now. But he ordered the Department of Justice to copy those documents and explain why each should not be made public. The department has a month to submit that information to the judge who will then decide whether to order the information released.