The New York Times site has just posted a very thought-provoking article (to appear in tomorrow’s edition) about recent charges by several historians that Abuse Of Power, the 1997 volume of transcripts of White House tape conversations transcribed and edited by University of Wisconsin professor emeritus Stanley I. Kutler, presents a garbled and in some cases inaccurate version of what was said on the recordings, especially where John W. Dean’s role in Watergate is concerned.
The article includes quotes from an irritated Professor Kutler, who wants to know if his critics are waiting “for me to get in my sackcloth and my ashes,” and Dean, who dismisses as revisionism the arguments of historians such as Peter Klingman and Joan Hoff that Abuse Of Power misrepresents his role.
The most damning statements in the article are from Frederick J. Graboske, who once was the supervisory archivist at the National Archives in charge of processing the tapes, and who charges that Professor Kutler has “changed the original evidence”:
“I spent 12 years listening to the tapes,” [Graboski] said, contending that no one could mistake the evening and morning recordings [referring to two conversations between RN and Dean on March 16, 1973] as being part of the same conversation. “I don’t know why he did it, but what he did was deliberate.”
He added: “I did work with Stanley. I’m sorry that it has come to this.”