6 People Who Stole from the National Archives (Besides Nicolas Cage)

The National Archives and Record Administration preserves billions of government and historical documents in facilities throughout the country, including 12 presidential libraries. As you might imagine, balancing the responsibility of keeping the documents secure while also making them increasingly accessible to the public is a challenge. No one, save for Nicolas Cage's character in National Treasure, has managed to smuggle the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, or Constitution out of the Charters of Freedom Rotunda at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, but other important documents and artifacts have been stolen. Here are six thieves who were caught.

1. Sandy Berger

berger.jpgBerger, who served as National Security Advisor to President Bill Clinton, removed five copies of classified documents from the National Archives in 2003. The documents, stolen before Berger was scheduled to testify before the 9/11 Commission, were related to the Clinton administration's response to a terror plot during the 2000 millennium celebration. When first confronted by investigators, who were tipped off by National Archives staff members, Berger denied taking the documents. Following a lengthy investigation by the Justice Department, he admitted to smuggling the copies by tucking them into his socks. Berger was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and fined $50,000. He also lost his law license and was stripped of his security clearance for three years. While the incident tarnished Berger's legacy, it didn't ruin his political career. He recently served as a foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign.

2. Charles Merrill Mount

Mount, an art historian and portrait painter, was arrested in 1987 for stealing documents from the National Archives and Library of Congress. The 59-year-old sold 25 rare documents, including a 1904 letter signed by novelist Henry James, to a Boston bookstore owner for $20,000. The bookstore owner became suspicious and contacted the FBI when Mount offered to sell him a collection of Civil War documents, including three letters written by Abraham Lincoln, a few months later. Federal officials were waiting to arrest Mount when he delivered the documents, which had been stolen from the National Archives. FBI officials later uncovered a safety deposit box belonging to Mount filled with other stolen documents. Mount, who published biographies of John Singer Sargent and Claude Monet, and spent extensive time researching in the Library of Congress, was charged with stealing 400 documents and sentenced to five years in prison. U.S. District Judge Aubrey E. Robinson had some choice words for Mount, who maintained his innocence throughout the trial, at his sentencing in 1989: "Never in my experience have I met a more arrogant man with your intellect," Robinson bellowed. "What a miserable waste of a life." Mount died in 1995.

3. Howard Harner

Harner, a 68-year-old history buff and collector from Staunton, Va., was sentenced to two years in prison, two years probation, and fined $10,000 in 2005 after pleading guilty to stealing more than 100 Civil War-era documents from the National Archives over a six-year period. If not for the sharp eyes of Gettysburg historian Wayne E. Motts, Harner may have stolen much more. While browsing Civil War memorabilia on eBay, Motts came across an auction for a letter dated June 4, 1861. The letter was signed by Lewis A. Armistead, a U.S. Army officer at the time, who would rise to the rank of Confederate general and die at the Battle of Gettysburg. Motts, who had examined the very same letter at the National Archives 10 years earlier, led investigators to Harner. Among the documents Harner stole by concealing them in his clothing were letters signed by Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, and George A. Custer. In some instances, Harner cut the signatures off of the documents and sold them separately.

4. Denning McTague

archive-theft.jpgUnpaid internships, while generally unglamorous, sometimes lead to bigger and better things. McTague's internship with the National Archives ended with a trip to prison. The 40-year-old McTague, who has master's degrees in history and library science, pleaded guilty to stealing 164 Civil War-era documents in 2006. The documents, which included an official announcement of Abraham Lincoln's death, were worth an estimated $30,000. As part of his internship, McTague was responsible for arranging and organizing documents in preparation for the National Archives' celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. He used a legal pad and backpack to sneak documents out of the archives and put most of them up for sale on eBay. A Civil War book publisher and would-be bidder tipped off the authorities when he became suspicious of some of the items on the auction site. McTague, whose lawyer said he had stolen the documents after becoming mired in debt, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined $3,000.

5. Evelyn Lincoln

lincoln.jpgDuring her 11 years as personal secretary to John F. Kennedy, Lincoln amassed an enormous collection of Kennedy-related documents and artifacts. After Kennedy's assassination, Lincoln gave away or sold many of the items to Robert L. White, a cleaning-supply salesman who forged an unlikely friendship with Lincoln after writing a letter to her requesting the president's autograph. When Lincoln died in 1995, she left the majority of her remaining collection to White, who sold some of it at auction. This angered the Kennedy family and piqued the interest of archivists. The Kennedy estate had bequeathed all historically important presidential artifacts to the National Archives in 1965, and it was now clear that Lincoln had illegally kept many such items for herself. Following White's death in 2003, the National Archives and White's wife reached a settlement that returned all historically important items to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. The items included a suede glove worn by Kennedy during his inaugural speech and a map of Cuba annotated by the president during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

6. Matt Whitmer

archives-kiss.jpg

While his classmates were admiring the original copy of the Declaration of Independence during an eighth-grade field trip to the National Archives Building in 1996, Matt Whitmer stole his first kiss with his girlfriend, Leigh Lacy. Last July, Whitmer took Lacy back to the same spot and got down on one knee. "It was 12 years ago we had our first kiss. I love you and want 12 million more. "¦Will you marry me?" he asked. National Archives staffers, who knew about the proposal ahead of time and had gathered in the rotunda, cheered after Lacy said yes.

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Bad Moods Might Make You More Productive
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iStock

Being in a bad mood at work might not be such a bad thing. New research shows that foul moods can lead to better executive function—the mental processing that handles skills like focus, self-control, creative thinking, mental flexibility, and working memory. But the benefit might hinge on how you go through emotions.

As part of the study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, a pair of psychologists at the University of Waterloo in Canada subjected more than 90 undergraduate students to a battery of tests designed to measure their working memory and inhibition control, two areas of executive function. They also gave the students several questionnaires designed to measure their emotional reactivity and mood over the previous week.

They found that some people who were in slightly bad moods performed significantly better on the working memory and inhibition tasks, but the benefit depended on how the person experienced emotion. Specifically, being in a bit of a bad mood seemed to boost the performance of participants with high emotional reactivity, meaning that they’re sensitive, have intense reactions to situations, and hold on to their feelings for a long time. People with low emotional reactivity performed worse on the tasks when in a bad mood, though.

“Our results show that there are some people for whom a bad mood may actually hone the kind of thinking skills that are important for everyday life,” one of the study’s co-authors, psychology professor Tara McAuley, said in a press statement. Why people with bigger emotional responses experience this boost but people with less-intense emotions don’t is an open question. One hypothesis is that people who have high emotional reactivity are already used to experiencing intense emotions, so they aren’t as fazed by their bad moods. However, more research is necessary to tease out those factors.

[h/t Big Think]

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

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