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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Taping conversations a risky, dirty activity

Any evidence of lack of candor from President Bush about his past gets overshadowed in the tapes that his old friend and confidant Doug Wead recorded secretly.

Mr. Wead took advantage of a friendship, then used the tapes for personal gain to write a book.

A contrite Mr. Wead now says he regrets having made the tapes and will turn them over to the president. Further, he says, future proceeds from his book will go to charity.

Some people may find rationale in the secret tapings just as some did when Linda Tripp took advantage of Monica Lewinsky during the Clinton White House scandal and taped their telephone conversations.

Most people, however, see such activity as unseemly and a gross betrayal of trust.

Mr. Wead no doubt is feeling the public's reaction against what he did. "I have come to realize that personal relationships are more important than history," he said this week.

Mr. Wead said his only motive in taping the future president was in the interest of history. Had he taped Mr. Bush and used the information only in his book, "The Raising of a President," that excuse might seem more plausible. It appears, however, he got caught up in the hype of promoting his book, which was published last month, and lost his historical perspective.

Had he cited Mr. Bush's lack of candor in the book, then had the White House call him a liar, releasing the tapes may have had some justification.

Mr. Wead took a risk and it backfired on him because the public doesn't condone that kind of conduct.

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