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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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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