June 01, 2005

Why? Because he Felt like it!

I grabbed my copy of Fred Emery's Watergate and went to the index. There I found four references to Mark Felt.

One is a passing reference to when Chuck Colson called him to find out what he knew about the would-be assassin of George Wallace, Arthur Bremer, on May 15th, 1972.

Also, for fear that Bremer might turn out to be a "right wing wacko", Colson called Felt to plant an idea in his head. "I told him we had heard rumors that there were political motivations [to the shooting], to wit: Bremer had ties with Kennedy or McGovern political operatives, that obviously there could be a conspiracy," Colson once recalled.
Then Colson called Howard Hunt to see about planting leftist literature into Bremer's apartment, only find out later that the apartment had been sealed by the FBI.

The second mention of Mark Felt in Watergate concerns Director L Patrick Gray's lolligagging on FBI interviews of certain suspects for fear that the FBI may have stumbled onto a CIA operation. Felt insisted that the interviews go forward unless the CIA put into writing it's national security concerns. Gray relented.

The remaing two mentions of Mark Felt are interesting. They're about Nixon's strong suspicion that Felt was the man who'd leaked to Time magazine about Kissinger's wire taps of certain "newsmen and government officials". The "Kissinger taps" were begun by J Edgar Hoover (following the Pentagon Papers leak and others) in order to discover who the leakers were and, apparantly, were perfectly legal. Even if Mark Felt disagreed with some of the future phone taps, he was second in command of the FBI that was carrying out the monitoring and had a duty not to become a leaker himself. This happened well before the Watergate arrests. 'Nuff said.

According to All The President's Men it was on Sunday, June 19th, 1972, two days after the Watergate arrests, that Deep Throat confirmed to Bob Woodward that Howard Hunt was involved. (Felt would have known this because he had access to the address book that was found on one of the burglars.) I'll bet that this was not the first time that Felt and Woodward had spoken. Felt, #2 man at the FBI and in possession of the most sensitive information and personal files was, I fear, as leaky as a colander.

The last mention of Deep Throat in All The President's Men is from a November '73 meeting -- following the revelation that there existed tapes of Nixon's conversations in the Oval Office -- about which Woodward writes: "Deep Throat's message was short and simple: one or more of the tapes contained deliberate erasures."

The gaps were made public at the Watergate hearings on the day before Thanksgiving. Very few had that knowledge before it was made public. Fred Buzherdt (Nixon's council) and Alexander Haig were among them. How did Mark Felt know? The tapes were in the possession of the White House. It could have been that Haig or Buzherdt entrusted Felt with this information before they had to go public with it, only to have Felt turn around and leak it to Woodward.

The thing is, though, that no one could say definitively that the erasure was deliberate (if it was -- and it probably was) except the person who did it. Certainly not Mark Felt, who could not possibly have heard the tape up to that point.

W Mark Felt, btw, did prison time for authorizing illegal break-ins in the late '60s of the Weather Underground. He was pardoned by President Reagan in 1981.

Today many consider him a hero. They would be, I suspect, most people -- especially Democrats and Nixon-haters. Others consider him a traitor and criminal. They would be far right and, especially, Nixon loyalists.

Me? Today I consider W Mark Felt derelict in his duty. With security clearance comes a responsibility to honor it. No matter what you think of the secret information you have at your beck and call, you have a duty to your office and the discretion that's expected of you.

Standards, people. We have security clearances and background checks for a reason. If someone feels that they're bound to expose, anonymously, that entrusted information when they think it's better to do so than not, then s/he'll expose that information any ol' time they feel like it. If Felt isn't a traitor to his country, he's certainly a traitor to the Bureau that gave him his position, deciding, one fateful day, to serve under him.

My last beef is with Bob Woodward. Bob, you gave us all a bum steer! You told us that all of Deep Throat's information was "reliable a first hand". Clearly much of it came from testimony (official FBI or personal) of witnesses. This is not first hand knowledge! You threw me and all the other Throat-hunters off the scent! Damyoo!!! **shakes fist**

Posted by Tuning Spork at June 1, 2005 10:13 PM

I came to the same conclusion about Felt. After confirmation about his numerous leaks, President Nixon was correct in passing him by when it came time to appoint a new FBI director.

Posted by: Ted at June 2, 2005 12:41 PM

What's interesting is that, even before Watergate, Nixon wanted to fire him. Haldeman talked him out of it because Felt had too much knowledge. If Felt were fired he'd just spill all the beans he could in retaliation. The irony is that, by keeping in on as #2, Felt had found even more beans to spill.

I'm actually more mad at Nixon than I am at Felt. Knowing Felt's leakiness should have inspired Nixon to keep things on the up an' up. Ronald Reagan once said "Don't trust me, trust our values... and hold me responsible to living up to them." Felt was Nixon's Jimminy Cricket and Nixon ignored the warning thinking he was clever enough to get the best of the FBI's frickin' Deputy Director.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at June 4, 2005 06:04 PM
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