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Remembering Watergate

DANIEL SCHORR: It happened 35 years ago today, on June 17, 1972.


NPR senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: A whole generation has grown up since a handful of Cuban-American zealots broke into Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building. The break-in propelled President Nixon down the road to becoming America's only president to resign from office. Fascination with the Nixon era remains so strong 35 years later that it has inspired a raft of new books. In "Richard M. Nixon," Elizabeth Drew examines a complex president. This Nixon is insecure, self-pitying, vindictive.

In "Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power," Robert Dallek plumbs the depths of that neurotic relationship.

In "Very Strange Bedfellows," Jules Witcover tells of Nixon's relationship with Vice President Spiro Agnew, who resigned 10 months before his boss did.

In the posthumously published "American Spy," ex-CIA agent E. Howard Hunt writes of commanding the Watergate break-in.

And in "The Conviction of Richard Nixon," James Reston recounts Nixon's interviews with British TV journalist David Frost. That's not to mention the Broadway hit based on these interviews - "Frost/Nixon."

I have a special interest in memories of Watergate. I was a certified entry on Nixon's enemies list. Compiler Charles Colson described me as a real media enemy. But my interest in the scandal is more than mere nostalgia. I have a sense that something like Watergate may be happening again. There seems to be a sort of junta within the government. It is characterized by extralegal surveillance on a large scale, and extraconstitutional imprisonment of those the junta suspects.

After 35 years, the evidence of Nixon's misdeeds continues to mount as more and more files are released. I wonder if it will be another 35 years before we see equally damning Bush-era files that somehow have escaped the shredder.

This is Daniel Schorr. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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