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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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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