Winston Churchill once said that there's nothing more exhilarating than being shot at - and missed.

It's a sentiment that describes our feelings in a week marking the 20th anniversary of the Watergate burglary. And it's a reminder that "eternal vigilance" is still the price of liberty.Very few people recall the state of siege that befell Washington in the months immediately following the infamous burglary. In pursuing the Watergate story, the media became targets in a shooting gallery, sitting ducks for the White House to align in its sights.

Sources tipped us off to an CIA investigation and provided us with the license numbers of the cars that were following us. With this information in hand, we unleashed the nine Anderson children to conduct their own surveillance of the surveillants. They not only found the agents but also managed to take their pictures.

Slapstick occasionally intruded into the deadly serious scandal of Watergate. But largely it was a moment in history when it seemed the United States was verging on a coup. Some of the chronology tells the story:

Oct. 6, 1970 - President Nixon, who had complained about earlier stories we had written, positively exploded over a column about his backstage efforts to get a higher presidential pension. Not long afterward, Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman assigned a special White House investigator, Jack Caulfield, to examine us.

Dec. 14 or 15, 1971 - Nixon, furious over our stories that he had lied about his India-Pakistan policy, unleashed the notorious White House plumbers against us. They set aside their investigation of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg and scrawled the name Jack Anderson on a wallboard in their basement sanctum as their new public enemy No. 1.

Late December 1971 - The plumbers also discussed coating the steering wheel of our car with an exotic poison. This was supposed to penetrate the skin, causing a fatal accident. But, as far as we could learn, no assassination order was actually issued to the plumbers.

January 1972 - The Central Intelligence Agency began "Project Mudhen," an illegal and top-secret investigation of the sources that led to the India-Pakistan columns. A staggering total of 1,566 CIA employees were grilled, without a single confession or clue.

April 3, 1972 - The CIA snoops ceased their vigil, perhaps demoralized by the unwelcome junior paparazzi. The turning point, the vindicating moment for the media, did not come until more than a year after "Project Mudhen." It happened when one of the burglars, James McCord, passed a note to U.S. District Judge John Sirica, just as McCord was about to be sentenced for the break-in. The note said the third-rate burglary was just the tip of an ugly iceberg.