The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has announced that it is convening a forensic document examination team to study two pages of the handwritten notes of H. R. Haldeman, a chief of staff to President Richard M. Nixon, 1969-1973. The two pages of notes under investigation were purported to have been created during Mr. Haldeman’s 11:30 A.M. meeting with President Nixon on June 20, 1972, three days after the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
This is the same meeting in which 18 ½ minutes of tape-recorded conversation between Mr. Nixon and Mr. Haldeman were erased, prior to the White House tape recorded conversations being turned over to Judge Sirica in response to a subpoena from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
The National Archives has assembled the examination team in an attempt to clarify some mysteries surrounding the June 20 meeting, of which Mr. Haldeman’s notes are the only extant account. Historians and scholars have long speculated on the subject of that meeting. The team will attempt to determine whether there is any evidence that additional notes were taken at the meeting that are no longer part of the original file.
Instrumental examinations of the documents will include Hyperspectral Imaging at the Library of Congress to study the ink and to possibly reveal latent or indented images on the paper; Video Spectral Comparison (VSC) of the ink entries and paper substrates; and Electrostatic Detection Analysis (ESDA) to reveal indented images that could correspond to original handwriting on these or other pages – present or no longer present – among documents from the Haldeman files.
Team members include experts from the Library of Congress Preservation Research and Testing Division, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Forensic Science Laboratory, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Forensic Science Laboratory.
The National Archives will announce the test results in a press availability event as soon as the testing is complete. The expected time-frame is early 2010.