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The National Archives' processing of the tapes is virtually complete, and the agency is nearly ready to go forward with a schedule of phased openings.The opening of the entire four thousand hours of the White House tapes is—at least in scholarship's geological sense of time—just around the corner.
He changed his mind about tape recordings, but he did so hesitantly, over a considerable period of time, and as a consequence of a sequence of failed attempts to solve a problem that seemed to leave no alternative to recommencing taping in the White House.
The problem was that people who met with the president did not always report accurately or completely what was said and decided privately.
Contact with the president presents many temptations to people and brings out many things in their personalities that might never have appeared had they not been flattered with Oval Office meetings.
Johnson had warned Nixon and me about what would happen.
For example, during meetings with Soviet leaders, he often relied on the remarkable Viktor Sukhodrev for translations; he similarly relied on the Chinese interpreter during many of his meetings in the People's Republic of China in 1972.
He felt that this going bare, as it were, into meetings would lend them a sense of intimacy and confidence that might further the diplomatic exchange.
These Watergate-related recordings are a tiny fraction of the whole body of the White House tapes—about seventy hours out of approximately four thousand hours.
But the opening of the sixty-hour segment has an importance beyond Watergate.
The new president shared none of the outgoing one's love of gadgetry. Nixon's White House, as these actions taken immediately after our arrival seemed to assure, was to be free of garish electronics, and there was to be no surreptitious recording of meetings and conversations.
Of course, Nixon's presidency was ultimately brought down in large measure by tape recordings of his meetings and telephone conversations.