Watergate hero gets no respect

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We admit it. We can’t resist THE SMOKING GUN, where the power of The Freedom of Information Act is taken to its logical and entertaining extremes.

Take, for example, a new addition to the site (this one didn’t require a FOIA — it’s in the NATIONAL ARCHIVES): The Watergate hotel security guard’s handwritten log of events the night of the infamous break in, when Nixon cronies sneaked into Democratic National Committee headquarters on the hotel’s sixth floor the night of June 17, 1972.

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9/23 – Tokyo gets toasty In sloppy, loopy elementary school cursive, overnight hotel rent-a-cop turned American hero Frank Wills begins to notice something awry when he comes on duty at midnight to find a door in the basement with its latch taped back to prevent it from locking:

12:20 a.m.: “B2 Level door stuff with paper. Both doors also one door on the other on B3 level was open the other stuff with paper and the door annex outside off (sic) office building was open.” Wills notes removing the tape and closing the doors, only to find that someone has retaped them when he returns 10 minutes later. According to the log, Wills called the police at 1:47 a.m. The interlopers were caught in the act minutes later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Whatever happened to Frank Wills? Before he died penniless this week, he had old reporters he was blacklisted in DC and couldn’t get a job because of his role in Watergate, so he moved back to Augusta, Ga. He did play himself in the film adaptation of “All the President’s Men,” but says he’s alienated by politics because he got nothing for essentially exposing a national scandal. “Not even from the Democrats,” he told the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE in 1997.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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