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Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat

A top Washington lawyer, who is a former Clinton Adminstration Justice Department official and someone whose integrity and opinion I value highly, sent me this e-mail on the disclosure that Mark Felt is Deep Throat:

As one who lived through the Clinton wars at the Department of Justice I have a someone different take on the revelation that Deep Throat was the Deputy Director of the FBI. Throughout Louis Freeh's tenure as FBI Director we were plagued with leaks, many of them coming from high levels of the FBI, about sensitive investigations, which had the effect of politicizing them. These leaks included facts revealed during criminal investigations and the content of internal deliberations at the Department of Justice. In my view they were extremely damaging both to the Administration in a political sense and to the Justice Department institutionally.

For example, you will undoubtedly recall the intensity of the political pressure to appoint an independent counsel to investigate alleged campaign finance violations in the Clinton re-election campaign - allegations that ultimately did not even result in adminstrative action by the FEC.

Those in the FBI who leaked information about that investigation and others may well have believed that they were doing the right thing, just as much as Mark Felt did. They may well have felt, just as Mark Felt did, that a politically controlled Justice Department was covering up criminal activity - just as happened in Watergate. They were wrong, by the way, both as to the coverup and as to the political motivation. But is it really fair to lionize Felt for the same conduct simply because he was right? In my opinion, it is dangerous to the Republic to have high officials of the FBI - a sufficiently powerful organization even when acting appropriately - arrogate to themselves the power to decide when it is appropriate to disregard their duties and reveal confidential law enforcement information to the public.

Watergate truly was a cancer on the Presidency, an episode of corruption and criminality that we have not seen since (whatever haters of Clinton and Bush may think). But not the least of its ill effects is that it began the blurring of the line between politics and law enforcement, a trend that has had dangerous results for us."

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    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#1)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:34 PM EST
    Problem is that Nixon ordered the FBI not to investigate just six days after the break-in, so it was politicized from the beginning. It seems that Felt either had the choice of defying an executive order by investigating in secret, or leaking to the press and letting them put the pieces together. I don't think either option would have been ultimately good for either the institution or the administration.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:34 PM EST
    Robert F. Kennedy once famously said, "Richard Nixon represents the dark side of the American spirit." Well, RFK never met George W. Bush. The reactions of Nixon contemporaries and today's Bush sycophants to yesterday's Deep Throat revelations are predictably - and eerily - similar. But the Bush team's own overt war against anonymous single sources and brutal retribution against whistle-blowers is no joke. The tragedy for American democracy is very real indeed... For the full story, see: "Gagging on Deep Throat: The Nixon Legacy in the Bush White House"

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#3)
    by wg on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:34 PM EST
    Bush the dark side of the American spirit? Gotta be kidding! He's just smirking Forest Gump not even pretending he's trying. There is nothing to demonize here. Nothing! Foreigners? Condi's taking care of that, no need to rack my brain here. Wars? That's Rummy, he looks like he knows what he's talking about. Evil ones? Meuller's flashing them out, hope he doesn't have anything on me, the guy scares me, hee, hee. And so on. Plenty of time for my bike. 9pm hit the sack. Will push some Social Security tomorrow, converse a little you know. Learn a word or two. Stay the course! Remember Bolton! That should cover it. In the meantime neocon wackos are running like wombats in heat, Gonzales is trying to find his spine, national security state taking over everything - worldwide, prisons overflowing, budget bleeding like there was no tomorrow, few can afford health care anymore, DoD gearing to shoot nukes from the space next time around, colonies on Mars, gas prices going through the roof and Chinese squinting from across Pacific. The ship of state, rudderless, leaderless as never before. Stay the course, ride the bike. It was kind of funny watching it first time around, it's kind of scary now.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#4)
    by wg on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:34 PM EST
    P.S. I wouldn't use words like arrogate around here, who knows who reads it?

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:34 PM EST
    Bob Woodward has just published in the Washington Post an account of how the FBI's #2 man Mark Felt became Deep Throat. A key sound bite from Woodward's account, "There is little doubt Felt thought the Nixon team were Nazis." For more on the demonization of Mark Felt by both Nixon and Bush apologists, see "Gagging on Deep Throat."

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#6)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    et al - You guys aren't listening. This guy isn't saying Nixon was good, he is saying that leaks are bad, and that Felt was the start. You know, Felt could have gone public, went to the AG and the press, and the results would have been the same, except cleaner, quicker and better for the country he was supposed to have been serving.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    It is hard to imagine that if he followed protocol and chain of command that he would not have been the target of an awful smear campaign. I agree with PPj in principle but the cover up and ensuing smear campaign would have been just awful. And knowing that he was later fired for unethical conduct i am sure they would have found something to discredit him and bury the story.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    "But is it really fair to lionize Felt for the same conduct simply because he was right? " Yes--there's an apreciable difference between blowing the whistle on an attempt to destroy the Constitution, and leaking false charges in an attempt to secure partisan political advantage.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#9)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    There are some interesting posts on why Felt is probably not "Deep Throat" -- and on whether there ever was such an entity at all -- over at Cannonfire.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#10)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    et al - I included the press, who would have been on his side. Would he have had a difficult time? Yes. But if you can't stand heat, you shouldn't be the number 2 man (or #3?) in the FBI.

    The blurring of the line between politics and law enforcement was precisely the reason Felt talked to Woodward. The blurring was Nixon's doing, not Felt's. It will be interesting to see how Felt is portrayed now that we know who he is. The fact remains that what he did vis a vis Nixon and Watergate was the morally right thing to do. And the fact remains that heroes are often exceedingly complicated people, and are never ideologues.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#12)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    From Wonkette: • Book deal for Felt family likely to top $1m. [WSJ]

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#13)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    Gotta love the right trash. They lecture that he should have gone to higher ups to report what was going on. Like who? John Mitchell? LMFAO!

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#14)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    It's evident from the Woodward piece that Felt was a pretty consistent source for him even before Watergate. He's definitely no angel, but I think he did the right thing in this case--otherwise Watergate would have been suppressed and Nixon would have been able to continue sending the "plumbers" on down the rest of his enemies list, and who knows how else the face of history might have been changed.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#15)
    by MikeDitto on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    PPJ is right in that he could have gone totally public with it, but I think if he had done that Nixon would have had more opportunity to mop up the evidence and it may not have been blown completely open. That and he was covering his own rear end, as he and his family might have become a target of the plumbers himself--not to mention a DOJ investigation.

    What? He should have gone to the AG? As I recall, AG John Mitchell was implicated in the planning for Watergate. Sure, PPJ, he should have gone to Mitchell, who headed his '72 campaign, who was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury, and served 19 months in prison for Watergate. LMFAO!

    Thanks for sparing me the comment, Adept. As far as I'm concerned, Nixon calling you a traitor can't be all bad.

    One is glad to have been of service, Mfox. Yes, I'd agree that being called a traitor by Nixon is at least as big an honor as being branded an "evildoer" by Dobson and Falwell. BTW- Sorry to hear of your experience in the LE Joke thread.

    I hope that my subsequent understanding of our (in)justice system will ultimately be worth it, Adept. When you get discouraged, remember who's on "our" side and who's on "theirs". We get Reid and Felt. They get Frist and Nixon. And Mitchell. And Dobson. They get the She-Pundit with the LBH. We get Jeralyn. They get Reagan but we get Carter, Kennedy and Galbraith. They get PPJ. We get you, Adept : )

    Mfox- Thanks for the kind words. Always enjoy your posts, as well. Take care, RL beckons.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#22)
    by desertswine on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    I think Che's right. There was literally no one at all Felt could have gone to.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#23)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    et al - Watch my lips. As I previously posted, and which some of you didn't read in your haste to attack. He should have gone to the AG who would have fluffed him. He should have gone to the head of the FBI, Patrick Gray, who would not have fluffed him, but probably wished he would go away. And he should have gone to the press, who definitely would have taken him seriously, and would have not let go. Michael D - Perhaps, but I don't think that would have been possible. There would have been too many press people, too many others for anyone to cover it up. mfox writes -
    They get PPJ. We get you, Adept : )
    Who is "They?" I'd like to know what group I belong to. Perhaps it is the "read the comment before attacking group." You missed it again today, by agreeing with Adept, who paid only half attention to what I had commented at 6:04AM.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#24)
    by Linkmeister on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    ABC's World News Tonight last evening pointed out that all the people to whom Felt could have addressed his complaints were corrupt, including his boss (Gray) and Mitchell. The Congressional investigaton committee wouldn't be empaneled for another year; Archibald Cox (spec. prosecutor) also was a year away from being appointed. Felt had virtually nowhere to go.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#25)
    by chupetin on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:35 PM EST
    PPJ, Maybe you should look at the rest of the "they" list if you're unsure what group you belong in.

    PPJ writes: "And he should have gone to the press, who definitely would have taken him seriously, and would have not let go." Uh, PPJ I think you'll find that he DID go to the press, and that's what the right is complaining about!

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#27)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:36 PM EST
    Deep Woodward For more on why Deep Throat was probably made up, scroll down to the lower right-hand corner of the above webpage.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#28)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    Linkeister writes -
    "Felt had virtually nowhere to go."
    Only the WP, NYT, SFC, AJ, AC, Chicago Trib, Sun, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News and PBS, just for starters. He didn't go because he didn't want to suffer the problems that would come with going, so he took the backdoor route to one pair of reporters, and even then he led them, not by saying what he knew, but by asking questions that, when they answered them, would give them what he wanted. By doing this he avoided breaking the "law." Sorry folks, but the above is not a description of a hero, but of someone who wanted to achieve a political end by subterfuge.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#29)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    Sorry folks, but the above is not a description of a hero, but of someone who wanted to achieve a political end by subterfuge. And what political end was that? To catch a criminal. That was his JOB. You may not like the use of subterfuge. I think he showed a hell of a lot of initiative.

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#30)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    Che - Getting rid of Nixon. Now you may say that was good. Others may say that was bad. But it was a politicial end. And you write:
    To catch a criminal. That was his JOB. You may not like the use of subterfuge. I think he showed a hell of a lot of initiative.
    Come on. How hypocritical can you get? Or are you going to tell me that you can do anything as long as you are convinced the cause is just. Che, meet Che.

    Deep Throat is a hero,[name calling deleted] Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass highlights the double standard on whistle blowers (Felt vs. Tripp) in his June 2nd column. link [Note: urls must be in html format, see comment box for instructions. Future plain urls will be deleted. They skew the site.]

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#32)
    by Andreas on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    The reaction of this Clinton official is representative for the current establishment. The reaction of the WSWS is completely different:
    It is ludicrous to suggest that Felt was somehow guilty of an abuse of trust because he failed to join Colson, Buchanan & Co. in covering up the crimes of the Nixon White House. Felt was supervising a criminal investigation into the burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices in Watergate, where the evidence pointed to a White House connection. This investigation was being systematically sabotaged by that very same White House. In other words, the criminal conspiracy that produced the Watergate break-in was continuing in the form of a cover-up. Felt’s release of information to the Washington Post was thus an effort to expose an ongoing crime whose ringleaders were his own bosses: the president of the United States and his chief White House aides, as well his immediate supervisor, interim FBI Director L. Patrick Gray. The aides were subsequently convicted of serious crimes and sent to prison, a fate that Nixon only escaped by agreeing to resign as president in return for a pardon from his successor, Vice President Gerald Ford.
    Watergate in historical perspective: Why does today’s criminal White House face no similar challenge? By Patrick Martin, 3 June 2005

    Re: Former DOJ Official Weighs In on Deep Throat (none / 0) (#33)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:40 PM EST
    Yeah you pull that old babaloo bit every week. (YAWN) I can recite it to you by now. Is that all you got? Cause I can get more than that on Bautista (or Bush). And it's actually verified, unlike your right trash anecdotes. Just give me a sec. Now despite your attempts, I'll get right back on topic. It is you who are the hypocrite in that suddenly it's unlawful for a law enforcement official to nail a criminal using means outside of the norm. What he did was microscopic potatoes compared to who ever on Monkey Boy's team leaked the name of a CIA agent, for a political end, in your words. Finally Jim, I would like to thank you. Thank you for coming and commenting here. In debating you here I have improved my conversational techniques so that people I talk to understand better what is happening around them. It's nice to see someone nod and see the realization in their eyes. People ask me for web sites and I give hints on how to surf the net. Many of the conservative types I know (highly educated-MD's,PhD's) dismiss the net as a bunch of liberal junk. So thanks. You've been very helpful.