Five men, one of whom said he is a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, were arrested at 2:30 a.m. yesterday in what authorities described as an elaborate plot to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee here.
A $25,000 cashier’s check, apparently earmarked for President Nixon’s re-election campaign, was deposited in April in a bank account of one of the five men arrested in the break-in at Democratic National Headquarters here June l7.
John N. Mitchell, while serving as U.S.Attorney General, personally controlled a secret Republican fund that was used to gather information about the Democrats, according to sources involved in the Watergate investigation.
Last night, Mitchell was reached by telephone in New York and read the beginning of The Post’s story. He said: “All that crap, you’re putting it in the paper? It’s all been denied. Jesus. Katie Graham (Katharine Graham, publisher of The Washington Post) is gonna get caught in a big fat wringer if that’s published. Good Christ. That’s the most sickening thing I’ve ever heard.”
FBI agents have established that the Watergate bugging incident stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of President Nixon’s re-election and directed by officials of the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President.
Richard Milhous Nixon announced last night that he will resign as the 37th President of the United States at noon today.
The Watergate that we wrote about in The Washington Post from 1972 to 1974 is not Watergate as we know it today. It was only a glimpse into something far worse. By the time he was forced to resign, Nixon had turned his White House, to a remarkable extent, into a criminal enterprise.
On the day he left, Aug. 9, 1974, Nixon gave an emotional farewell speech in the East Room to his staff, his friends and his Cabinet. His family stood with him. Near the end of his remarks, he waved his arm, as if to highlight the most important thing he had to say.
“Always remember,” he said, “others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”
His hatred had brought about his downfall. Nixon apparently grasped this insight, but it was too late. He had already destroyed himself.
Woodward and Bernstein’s techniques were hardly original. But, propagated by “All the President’s Men,” they became central to the ethos of investigative reporting: Become an expert on your subject. Knock on doors to talk to sources in person. Protect the confidentiality of sources when necessary. Never rely on a single source. Find documents. Follow the money. Pile one hard-won detail on top of another until a pattern becomes discernible. Just a few years ago, Dana Priest of The Post used similar methods to reveal the CIA’s secret overseas prisons in which terrorism suspects were aggressively interrogated.
As it happens, life didn’t turn out so well for Frank Wills. He couldn’t get another job after he lost the job at the Watergate. (One university in D.C. told him it was afraid to hire him for fear it might lose its federal money. So much for the “lessons” of Watergate.) When his mother down in South Carolina suffered a stroke, Wills moved in to take care of her, and they survived on the $450-a-month she got from Social Security. When she died, Wills lost the house and was briefly homeless. He got busted for shoplifting a $12 pair of shoes in 1983. He died, penniless, on September 27, 2000. Richard Nixon, needless to say, got rich.
But, if you happen to be passing by the Mount Transfiguration Baptist Church Cemetery in Aiken County down in South Carolina, you might stop by the grave of Frank Wills and say a little prayer for his soul. This weekend is his 40-year anniversary. It belongs to him, and to the three cops — public employees, as they are reckoned in the politics of the moment — who answered his call. Forty years ago this Sunday, they all did their jobs very well. In the 40 years since, as citizens of a self-governing republic, we’ve all done ours very badly.