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The Outing of Deep Throat

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As the 40th anniversary of Watergate impends, we are to be bathed again in the great myth and morality play about the finest hour in all of American journalism.

The myth?

That two heroic young reporters at The Washington Post, guided by a secret source, a man of conscience they dubbed "Deep Throat," cracked the case and broke the scandal wide open, where the FBI, U.S. prosecutors and more experienced journalists floundered and failed.

Through their tireless investigative reporting, they compelled the agencies of government to treat Watergate as the unprecedented constitutional crisis it was. No Pulitzer Prize was ever more deserved than the one awarded the Post in 1973.

These young journalists saved our republic!

However, the myth, fabricated in "All the President's Men" and affirmed by the 1976 film of the same name, with Robert Redford as Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein, has a Hellfire missile coming its way.

"Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat" is an exhaustive study of the reporting of Woodward and Bernstein and the leaking by the FBI's Mark Felt, whose identify as Deep Throat was revealed in 2005.

"Leak" author Max Holland zeroes in on the last great unanswered question of Watergate: Why did Felt, an FBI No. 2 on the short list to succeed J. Edgar Hoover, risk reputation and career to leak secrets to the Post?

Woodward and Bernstein paint Deep Throat, writes Holland, as a "selfless high-ranking official intent on exposing the lawlessness of the Nixon White House." But this is self-serving nonsense.

The truth was right in front of Woodward. His refusal to see it made him a willing or witless collaborator in the ruin of the reputation and career of an honorable pubic servant, Patrick Gray.

Felt was consumed by anger and ambition. When Hoover died, a month before the break-in, Felt, who had toadied to Hoover, saw himself as Hoover's successor. But President Nixon went outside the bureau to name Gray from the Department of Justice acting director.

Concealing his rage and resentment, Felt wormed himself into Gray's confidence, and then set out to destroy Gray.

Felt's method: Leak discoveries of the Watergate investigation to a cub reporter at the Post, which everybody in Washington read, rather than to veteran journalists known to be FBI outlets.

This would cover Felt's tracks.

Published in the Post, the leaks of what the FBI was uncovering would enrage Nixon and make Gray appear an incompetent unable to conduct a professional investigation. This would make it unlikely that Nixon would ever send Gray's name to the Senate for confirmation as permanent director.

And if Gray, an outsider, fell because he couldn't keep the FBI from leaking, Nixon might turn to Felt, the ranking insider who could button up the bureau like Hoover did.

By ingratiating himself with Gray as he set out to discredit and destroy him, Felt expected that when Gray was passed over by Nixon, he would recommend to Nixon that he appoint his loyal deputy, Felt, as director.

Even if cynical and vicious, the scheme was clever.

Until Nixon found out Felt was the leaker in late 1972, he was considering Felt for the top job. Felt's machinations and deceptions at the apex of the FBI make Nixon's White House appear in retrospect to have been a cloistered convent of Carmelite nuns.

More revolting than the ruin of Gray's reputation was what Felt did to the good name of the bureau he professed to love. By leaking what agents were learning about Watergate, he was discrediting the FBI.

Inside the government, he made the FBI look like an agency of bumblers who could not keep secrets. Outside the government, the FBI looked like a three-toed sloth, while a fleet-footed and fearless Washington Post was unearthing the truth.

The FBI appeared beaten at every turn by the brilliant Post, when it was the FBI's homework Felt was stealing and the Post was cribbing.

Woodward and Bernstein were glorified stenographers.

And though Deep Throat was portrayed as a man sickened by the wiretaps and break-ins by the White House, Felt himself, writes Holland, "authorized illegal surreptitious entries into the homes of people associated with the Weather Underground."

In 1979, Felt was prosecuted and convicted and then pardoned by Reagan.

In "The Secret Man," Woodward calls Felt "a truth-teller." That's quite a tribute to an FBI man who lied to Pat Gray, lied to all of his FBI colleagues and lied to every journalist who asked him for 30 years whether he was Deep Throat.

If Felt was a hero, why did he not come forward to tell the country what he had done and why?

Because he was no hero.

Mark Felt was a snake. He used the Post to destroy his rivals and advance his ambitions, and the Post didn't care what his motives were because Felt was assisting them in destroying their old enemy.

Yes, indeed, the finest hour in American journalism.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

6 Comments | Post Comment
Have we lost the forest for the trees, Buchanan? Are you a bloodhound whose sniffer has gone bad and doesn't have a clue about how to find the trail?

Nobody gives a flying you-know-what about deep throat. And as far as the reporters who blew the cover on the Watergate scandal, if you don't think they were risking their jobs as reporters by going after that one, you really have fried your brain cells with your rhetoric, denial, or whatever that drug is that's coursing through your veins.

You like good police work, right Buchanan? Well, guess how they get their good stuff most of the time: They play on the motives, however evil and unrelated to the issue the cops are after, of the folks who have information that leads to evidence of a crime. Doesn't matter what Deep Throat's motives were—what mattered was the information he was willing to spill.

It says a lot that reporters had to play the role of police investigators, doesn't it?

Those reporters were true heroes—they risked their careers to break a story of earthshaking magnitude. You, with your tired desire to tarnish those who were a thorn in the side of the right wing agenda, cannot deprive them of that truth. And truth was exactly the issue, wasn't it?

And I don't quite get your concern for the FBI. Why did a couple of “cub” reporters have to do the work the FBI should have beat them too long before to bring Nixon to justice? Somehow I don't have the warm fuzzy feeling that the FBI would have come to the rescue if those cub reporters hadn't forced the issue.

And I can't imagine you, with your ultra-right political ambitions at the time, being anything other than complacently comfy if the cubbies had just let well enough alone.

You're bummin and scummin it, Buchanan, looking for anything you can scratch up to write. Can't you find a higher road than this? Or maybe you're just over the hill?
Comment: #1
Posted by: Masako
Mon Apr 9, 2012 10:06 PM
Sir; ... Masako is correct; and I would say your ideological well has run dry... People can get a sense of the future by the examination of the past, but the quality of their foresight equals the detail of their hindsight... What are you seeing??? That gay J.E. Hoover, who ruined so many, who manipulated politics, who made a personal cause of communism and organized labor and missed organized crime and the obvious threat of attack to Pearl Harbor left the FBI a nest of brown nosers and sycophants is obvious... The fact that nothing has changed since their fearless leader died seems to have escaped you...These people playing their inevitable office politics left America defensless again for the 9 11 attacks... Where was the single head that rolled??? No one has to take responsibility, but everyone wants the credit...

Nixon said it best: Hoover has files on everybody... They had files on my brothers who as children had socialist ideas... Who is going to report a kid with Polio, eighty percent parlyzed, and his beast of burden as threats to national security, and who would take them seriously??? You get it??? These secret police are numb skulls... What is the last, or first serial killer case they solved??? The Unibomber??? If he had not given himself to them, they would never have caught him... They catch the sort of people everyone already knows are guilty, but they are as a class, the same, and it may be with the deepest regrets that those Gestapo convict the rich, the Bankers and the Frauds who regularly take our money and live long enough in prison to see daylight as free men...

Law is for little people, and if the press had not pushed them, Nixon would never have suffered the infamy of resignation...If his class of politicians had not already forgiven him his sins in advance he would never have known the rehabilitation of pardon... The law and order class has always prized order above law, and law above justice... The reason the notion of Justice has survived from the dark and dusty days of prehistory is that humanity has found it cannot live without it... The FBI helped to construct a state where justice is accidental and not essential to our daily lives... We have paid the price for the police state they helped to create, and we pay it yet today...

Because of them, it is pointless to try to organize for change, and so, no change occurs... We are left with only one option, the natural option, to act as individuals as we all believe we are, but are unwilling to prove in order to act against the state in a disorganized fashion... I believe it would be better if people could think before they act, and share their thoughts before they move... The secret police make such organization, and conversation impossible... And yet, when people feel they need to, they will act, and act in the most irrational and disorganized fashion... Let us decry such violence, and admit that the individual frustration suffered by a whole people together is behind it... We all need justice, and for that we have government, but when government denies the people justice, and prevents their organization to achieve justice they are dooming themselves... Why suffer government and pay taxes when the government represents the enemy of the people??? Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:57 AM
Okay, I get it.
Felt was a snake. Woodward and Bernstein were stenographers.
All well and good and facinating, I suppose, in it own right.
What I am not seeing is how any of this negates, abbrogates or, indeed, even materially impacts the core narrative of America's highest elected official and his co-conspirators commiting and then covering up common criminal acts in a paranoid [and most likely unnecessary] quest to scam the democratic process and assure re-election.
Did I miss the part where you explained that?

Seems to me that if the road to Hell can be paved with good intentions [as Mr Nixon's seems to have been] then the path to Heaven need not be completely devoid of self-serving motive.
Comment: #3
Posted by: ABarkus
Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:09 AM
Was this a thinly veiled advertisement for a book? It's just missing the hyperlink to Amazon.
Comment: #4
Posted by:
Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:56 PM
Re: ABarkus;... The bright and shining star of that generation was to be found among that pack of political thugs and scoundrals... It was the wife of the Attorney General, John Mitchell... She had wit and humor about her; and I believe that she exemplified all that American Conservatism should...

We are a revolutionary country, and born out of a revolution that promised us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as rights, minimum...As I am a revolutionary, so am I a conservative, holding on to the human rights granted in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; and only demanding more... There is no way the crimes and abuses of rights by the Nixon administration for the mailed fist of political power could not be anathema to a true conservative; but the many reactionaries who are all too fast with their label makers- call themselves conservatives because they recognize conservatism as a characteristic of all human beings trying to hold on to the best part of the past, and carry it forward...

If every reactionary who falsely labeled himself a conservative were to tell the truth, that they wish to crush true liberty and enjoy power as absolute monarchs once did, or as one clearly noble on horseback among the rabble of hopeless serfdom, then they would be marched out and shot... We like out burger kings and dairy queens... We admire from afar the flair and foibles of the British royal line, but that does not mean we want, as a nation to turn back the hands of time, and suffer disease as squaler as our forefathers once did...

There is a great deal of contempt for democracy, and it is well founded, based the quality of the democracy we have experienced, and that has little in common with true democracy... That contempt is not so profound or pronounced as it was in Germany during the Weimar Republic, but it is significant... There are many among us who simply hate democracy and do all they can to destroy it, or to make the little we have useless and a burden to us...It is not to lose established rights that we fight and work for more and better rights... If we had democracy, and if our rights were protected as they should be by the constitution we would not be in a constant state of defense of rights...

If we have no wealth it is because we have no rights... If we must work eight hours a day for a minimum of wages, and then commute, and then decide whether we will meet the emotional and physical needs of our families, or instead, watch the news so we can be informed at least of new threats to our freedom from our reactionary citizens; then our rights are not secure...As a nation we find ourselves so economically pressed for the necessities of life because of want of rights that it takes an heroic effort to defend the rights we find necessary to have any political influence...

The question is soon to be put to us in bold letters: Will this people sell its birthright to freedom for a plate of lentils, and if the majority should decide to do so under an economic necessity made certain the moment constitution was accepted, then can they give up the rights of the minority with their own???...

We need to define rights again, though it is the hardest task, even for philosophers...One man says rights are a property... Another says they are inalienable... Many properties once thought inalienable were thrown on the market out of economic necessity... Mrs. Mitchell, in my opinion, did not agree with that class who thought our political and civil rights could be made legitmate property through theft and fraud...She did not agree with those who put political power up for the highest bid...Yet, as our wages are driven to their minimum value by the necessity of keeping flesh on bones, and so, our lives are not sold by the hour at their best, or even at a fair price, thus we find ourselves under economic pressure having to defend rights others are prepared to sell as things of little value when they were bought with life and sweat and blood...

I understand the constitution is a rigged game... I understand that the moment it was accepted that we were put on a course of living with slavery or trashing it and fighting again for freedom... That does not mean I want to lose all that the constitution says is mine by way of right... Rather, we should recognize that the prize of power that makes for crimes and criminals, that makes a toy of truth, that mocks and minimizes the rights of the people -is our power to give or withhold...

When our constitution said we had rights but denied us power it put this society on the path of destruction from which no one has yet veered...No person aware of their own power as a human being needs power over others... We all only need so much power as will protect our selves and the rights of our children, and it is out of this power that we give authority to government...As long as we let government, and the class which owns government beat on this people and whipsaw us into slavery, no right will be certain, and all will be for sale out of threat of starvation... Many have sold their rights, but it is not possible for one to sell any more than his own rights... Many have voted to deny rights to others, but if a right is a right it is a right out of necessity for life, liberty, or happiness; and as such it is not a question a vote can deny...Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:38 AM
Nixon extended the Vietnam war by four more years which ended or wrecked the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and many hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. He is also responible for the unprecedented crime of poisoning their land. Under him our economy entered a decade of stagflation. It is ironic that he was driven from office for something as trivial as spying on his political opponents. Mr. Buchanan owes much to Nixon but most of us owe to those who helped country get rid of him.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Peter Ungar
Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:52 AM
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