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The October Surprise Mysteries

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"Do We Have It?"

The Oval Office conversation on June 17, 1971, is the first transcript in Stanley I. Kutler's Abuse of Power, a book of Nixon's recorded White House conversations relating to Watergate, and suggests Nixon had been searching for the 1968 file for some time.

"Do we have it?" a perturbed Nixon asked his chief of staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman. ..."I've asked for it. You said you didn't have it."

Haldeman responded, "We can't find it."

National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger added, "We have nothing here, Mr. President."

Nixon: "Well, damnit, I asked for that because I need it."

Kissinger: "But Bob and I have been trying to put the damn thing together."

Haldeman: "We have a basic history in constructing our own, but there is a file on it."

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Nixon: "Where?"

Haldeman: "[Presidential aide Tom Charles] Huston swears to God that there's a file on it and it's at Brookings."

Nixon: "Bob? Bob? Now do you remember Huston's plan [for White House-sponsored break-ins as part of domestic counter-intelligence operations]? Implement it."

Kissinger: "Now Brookings has no right to have classified documents."

Nixon: "I want it implemented. ... Goddamnit, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it."

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Haldeman: "They may very well have cleaned them by now, but this thing, you need to --"

Kissinger: "I wouldn't be surprised if Brookings had the files."

Haldeman: "My point is Johnson knows that those files are around. He doesn't know for sure that we don't have them around."

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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