Way back when: Today in history
BY GENE CURTIS
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 2:59 AM
1973 - Tape gap revealed
President Richard Nixon's attorney, J. Fred Buzhardt, revealed to U.S. District Judge John Sirica the existence of an 18 1/2-minute gap in one of the White House tape recordings related to Watergate. The gap was in a discussion June 20, 1972, between Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, three days after the burglary.
1980 - Fire hits Vegas hotel
An electrical fire that had smoldered for hours at the MGM Grand Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas sent lethal clouds of smoke through all 26 floors, killing 87 and injuring more than 500. It was the worst fire in Las Vegas and the second worst hotel fire in U.S. history. Las Vegas fire officials said as many as 8,000 people, including 4,500 to 5,000 guests and an undetermined number of employees, were in the hotel when the fire broke out.
1984 - Hoover papers opened
Letters, sketches and notes of President Herbert Hoover showed him as a relaxed and compassionate leader rather than as a cold, humorless president responsible for the Great Depression. That was the belief of archivist Dale Mayer of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa, after 260,000 of Hoover's documents were opened after being sealed in a vault for 20 years following his death, per Hoover's instruction. Among the papers were handwritten notes, sketches and letters by Hoover himself. The vault also included papers of Mrs. Hoover who died in 1944 that showed she was a low-key activist and a moderate supporter of women's rights.
1987 - Cuban prisoners riot
Cuban prisoners rioted and took 26 hostages in the start of an eight-day siege at a detention center in Oakdale, La., for fear that they might be sent back to Cuba. Cuba had agreed to take back 2,500 of the 125,000 refugees who came to the U.S. in the 1980 Mariel boatlift. Most of those to be returned were criminals or mentally ill. The inmates burned several of the prison buildings. The 950 Cubans threw their homemade knives, clubs, hammers and nail-studded boards into a pile after signing a surrender on Nov. 29. The agreement promised no reprisals for the damage to the prison and a one-by-one review of all prisoners' cases before returning them to Cuba.
Oakdale Federal Detention Center inmates gather for a mass in November 1987 after 26 hostages they were holding were released. Associated Press file