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Early one Sunday morning in the spring of 1996, editors at the Washington Times decided that something in their paper was so terrible it had to be fixed, and that the edition already printed had to be destroyed. Nobody at the Times will say what caused such a stir. And don’t go looking for a paper trail — the Times shredded all 70,000 copies.

Shredding companies — like professional escort services — are among Washington’s most profitable cottage industries, with more than 18 listings in the local Yellow Pages. The Rolls Royce of shredders is the Whitaker Bros. 007S, which slices classified documents into particles 3/32 of an inch wide. “It’s a lot smaller than snowflakes,” says Whitaker salesman George Shugars. And the 007 line is in high demand: Whitaker Bros. is one of the leading providers of shredders to government agencies. The White House, for example, has its own 007.

Whitaker memorializes its legacy in the demonstration area of its D.C. office. There’s the kind that Nixon’s Committee for the Re-Election of the President used to shred Watergate papers. There’s the model Henry Kissinger had when he was Nixon’s secretary of state. And then there’s the type of shredder the U.S. embassy in Iran destroyed documents with before it was besieged by Iranian militants in 1979. What will the exhibit’s next addition be? Whitaker president Vince Del Vecchio won’t speculate. But rumor has it that a small Southern law firm recently bought its very own 007.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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