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CSI Watergate: Are We about to Crack the Nixon Tape Mystery?

08/28/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

David Corn has posted a great story reporting that the National Archives is considering forensic tests to solve one of the greatest political mysteries of the 20th century: what was said during the 18 1/2-minute gap in Nixon's Watergate tapes.

That gap occurs in the tape of a meeting just three days after Watergate -- a meeting where Nixon and his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, discussed the break-in. Amateur historian Phil Mellinger went to the National Archives last year to review Haldeman's notes from the session and discovered that there is a gap in the notes corresponding to the gap in the tape. He then suggested to the archives that forensic testing might show impressions on the last page of the notes to indicate what was written on the pages above it.

The Archives tells David they are seriously considering going ahead with these tests. "Here's another avenue to shed light on an important episode in history," the archivist in charge of the Watergate collection tells David. "It's very exciting."

Read the whole thing to learn about Phil Mellinger's other provocative theories about Watergate--and how he realized that something was missing from Haldeman's notes. The story appears in the September/October issue of Mother Jones magazine, but we couldn't keep quiet for that long, so we're releasing it online today.