Traitor or Nobel Prize Winner?

The talk show regulars and assorted big names from the Watergate era have lined up to praise or condemn Mark Felt for his role in the scandal, and there are few surprises so far.

Pat Buchanan, the former presidential candidate and Nixon speechwriter, labeled Felt "sneaky" and "dishonorable" on MSNBC's "Hardball." Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press, suggested to Salon that Felt deserved "an honorary Nobel Prize."

Online observers of the Deep Throat story are also divided. Here are some sample judgments pulled from the washingtonpost.com Message Boards:

"So how does the former number 2 man at the FBI become a pillar when he mouths off about someone JUST because he doesn't get the promotion that HE thinks he should have -- and now he's a hero? .... No wonder the chicken waited so long, I would have been embarrassed too." -- matteuen
"It is testimony to the pettiness and the amorality of the right wing that they all impugn Mark Felt's motives for leaking the facts about Watergate to Bob Woodward. They claim Felt did it because he was passed over for the job of FBI director. This is nonsense. Felt was a career FBI man had to know that in a Nixon administration which Felt knew was deeply corrupt that a job as important as FBI director would go to a political stooge, and that whoever had it would have his reputation destroyed by history, as Pat Gray's was. Only a fool would want that job at that time, and Felt was obviously no fool." -- bushlgprez
"I wonder how many other secrets he divulged that he wasn't suppose to when he was in the FBI. Did he find it easier to pass on FBI secrets after Watergate? .... He's no hero of mine, he is more of a traitor. There was a cold war and a hot war (Viet Nam) going on and he aided an attack on the commander in chief. How much did Watergate influence the North Vietnamese's efforts ... during the war?" -- Alan

-- Lindsay Howerton and Hal Straus

By washingtonpost.com |  June 1, 2005; 2:39 PM ET  | Category:  W. Mark Felt
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Really hope Woodward's Thursday article is accompanied by a graphic showing locations for parking lots where the meets took place. Often wonder if in a lot close to the White House (or I guess now, FBI) if it was a Deep Throat lot.

Posted by: billg | June 1, 2005 03:59 PM

The true fact on a crook president was revealed by a brave man, whether you like it or not, FBI policy or not, politically correct or not, republcan or not. He stood by the fact, and prevented the gross abuse of mighty power from a mad man from doing further harm to human and society, - who kenw what was next in mind to that mad man at the time he was contained. Truth must come to light, I applaud Mr. Felt as a true American Hero.

Posted by: Vogol | June 1, 2005 04:44 PM

Blind loyalty to a commander-in-chief represented in Alan's comment kept Hitler in power for so long. Patriotic loyalty to evil is the source of greatest dramas of the human race.

Posted by: Maria | June 1, 2005 04:47 PM

Felt, Smelt -- a "messenger boy" by any other name! In 1975 there was no FBI as we know it today. There was only J. Edgar Hoover: the pre-Information Age, sole proprietor of all Beltway Intel on everyone, from Jack & Bobby to Marilyn and Joe Schmoe on the street. "Information" was how Hoover survived eight presidents! I do not know why Hoover was out to bring down Nixon and his regime, someone he'd readily indulged during HUAC and the Joe McCarthy witch hunts. But if Mark Felt got his marching orders to become a "whistle blower" -- to "leak" such sensitive information to a gullible young newsman named Bob Woodward, a "newbie" who then was assigned to covering night court, a newspaper's second lowest position after rewriting obits -- it was from Director Hoover. HE was the one pulling the strings at the very headwaters of the whole darn mess. Perhaps the cynical director's last big laugh on everybody was that, with the Watergate scandal, he "played" us all!

Posted by: Michael Alexander | June 1, 2005 04:57 PM

I'm curious -- obviously Felt he couldn't take his concerns to Patrick Gray, because Gray was co-operating with the White House. What other options did Felt have other than talking to Bob Woodward? I'd be grateful for a reply.

Posted by: KC | June 1, 2005 05:06 PM

Why is Mark Felt coming forward now? Is he perhaps seeking some sort of "absolution," now that he is 91, and needs to atone for what he considers to be one of the great sins of his tenure in government? I still wonder why he appointed himself "whistle blower" to start with. Just what was his beef with the Nixon White House, the FBI, with a lot of people he torpedoed or who got caught in the crossfire back in '75?!

Posted by: Michael Patrick | June 1, 2005 05:13 PM

The comments reinforce the inclination of the right wing to not be interested in the truth when it has a chance of upsetting their controlled world. To prefer Nixon lies to Felt's telling the truth is beyond my comprehension, but is also so much in keeping with our country today: What Republican wants to get to the bottom of the Downing Street memo? That these otherwise rational people can be so invested in dishonesty is mind-boggling. The only administration that comes anywhere close to Nixon is today's adminsitration, and the only way to fight against it is to promote those brave enough to tell the truth to come out and tell it. That is why people are drawn to Steve Clemon's Washington Note blog: he is dedicated to giving us an accurate portrayal of John Bolton. The truth is a powerful tool, but in an environment like this it is not easily told, and not told without a price. More power to the the truth-tellers. Amen.

Posted by: MDSand | June 1, 2005 05:17 PM

What nonsense to Call Felt a traitor! He was charged to uphold the law and Nixon was breaking the law. We don't have a king here folks; we have a President who stands in front of the American people and swears to uphold the Constitution of the United States. If he won't keep that promise let's hope that someone has the guts to take action. America is a nation of Laws and no one, especially the Prez is above obeying those laws.

Posted by: nicklesworth | June 1, 2005 05:20 PM

Declining - nearly disappearing - respect and sympathy for the US nation changes for a while with Mr. Felt refreshing my Danish memory of the brave moments 30 years ago, when the press and the media turned down the crook of those days. But could you do it once again? You need it, we all need it.

Posted by: Peter W. Svendsen | June 1, 2005 06:01 PM

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"
http://www.perrspectives.com/blog/archives/000185.htm

Posted by: JP | June 1, 2005 06:32 PM

I hope Mr. Felt and his family sought legal counsel before his coming out. I would not be surprised if Dick Cheney and others in the White House aren't looking for some way to charge Felt with treason for revealing information that could conceivably have harmed the US during time of war.

Posted by: SME | June 1, 2005 07:15 PM

Mr. Felt should get a Congressional medal. He saved a nation. It's a shame some are so mired in their own demagoguery they cannot realize that. Nixon and his minions were out of control, and this guy helped take him down. He's a hero.

Posted by: agogo | June 1, 2005 07:17 PM

The Washington Post wrote this about Mark 'Deep Throat' Felt:

"He chased down lawbreakers of all kinds, using whatever means were available to the bureau, and was convicted in 1980 of authorizing illegal break-ins -- black-bag jobs, as they were known -- of friends of members of the Weather Underground. He was later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan."

What Mr. Felt did was to give FBI information to two reporters who did a bang-up job to nail down a story. But that doesn't make Mr. Felt a hero. He is no pariah or rat -- but he CERTAINLY is no hero. By all accounts -- he loved to do the exact things Nixon did -- only for the FBI! This is such a fascinating story because the real story doesn't live up to the myth in any measure. Felt's rationale was really to screw over Nixon because Nixon
screwed him over for a job. And as we all now know -- those "black-bag jobs" Mr. Felt was a part of (in Nixon terminology, "rat-fu$#ing") were really even more than that when the FBI was chasing down the members of the Weather Underground. Those FBI men helped to recruit Chicago police as thugs, and as some civil rights activists suspect -- were even part of the deaths of some Black Panthers. The irony is astounding. So -- ultimately -- Mr. Felt leaking info that helped to bring down Tricky Dick -- is just one FBI rat-fu$#ker helping to bring down a bunch of White House rat-fu#$ers.

Posted by: David D. Robbins, Jr. | June 1, 2005 07:25 PM

By failing to reveal who his sources were or where their interests lie, Woodward concealed the fact that many of his sources had axes to grind and/or agencies to protect. For example, his source Robert Bennett, then working for the Mullen Company (Howard Hunt's "employer", was a CIA asset who wrote a memo to his CIA handler that Woodward agreed to downplay CIA involvement in exchange for exclusive information. Likewise, Felt knew the FBI had much to hide in terms of illegle wiretaps and break-ins (blackbag jobs), the very things Felt was squealing on Watergate crowd for, and that his exclusive information provided to Woodward would keep the investigation away from FBI misconduct, misconduct which came to light several years later.

Posted by: butterfield 8 | June 1, 2005 07:52 PM

Bravos to Agent Felt for his courage and love of his country. Nixon , Liddy (the incompetent fool), and the rest of the crew, are guilty of criminal actions. With any luck, there is a present day Agent in place that will have the courage to spill the beans on the current crooks in the White House. We Patriotic Americans can not stand by while the country is brought down by a bunch of loud mouth , lying , crazies.

Posted by: Rational Republican | June 1, 2005 09:09 PM

I was so delighted to learn DT's identity, and to realize how risky the whistle-blowing was, that I wore a patch of yellow felt on my lapel all day Wednesday, in honor of someone who abetted the truth in those dark times.

Try it. See who asks.

Posted by: Athena | June 1, 2005 10:28 PM

The fact is that President Nixon was a crook. The lens of history makes that all too clear for any rational person to understand.

Mark Felt feared that his concerns would fall on deaf ears were he to take the traditional route as Pat Buchanan and others have suggested. We know that given the Nixon Administration's propensity for cover ups and personnel "massacres", that very well could have happened.

Again, I believe the lens of history absolves Agent Felt's actions in this manner.

Posted by: Another Rational Republican | June 1, 2005 10:35 PM

This all goes back to corruption under Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York and money from General Electric Co. Bush has tried to reverse the effects of the Yalta Conference and account for Alger Hiss & Co.

Posted by: 007 | June 1, 2005 10:37 PM

"Disgruntled employee" is a favorite comment by those who have nothing of substance to say about anyone who reveals an unfavorable fact about their heroes and idols.
Thanks to Mr. Felt, who lived to be 91 by keeping his secret all these years.

Posted by: alonzo32 | June 1, 2005 10:45 PM

Chuck Colson said last night on CNN that Felt should've reported to his supervisor, confronted the President, and then resigned and had a press conference.

Based on the mud-slinging cast Deep Throat's way 30 years later I can't imagine how nasty it might have been then. It seems that when a whistle blower comes forward half the population stoops down, picks up two handfulls of mud and waits...waits for a hint of a reason to start hurling (Having written a book explaining his position, Richard Clarke was attacked for profiteering by Republicans - the irony).

Felt isn't perfect. No individual can ever stand up to everyone else's scrutiny. It is impossible. The story of how a newspaper risked it all on a cloak and dagger informant and brought down the White House during a festering war because of arrogance is truly a whole chapter in the history of this great nation.

Posted by: fd | June 1, 2005 11:19 PM

Hero or traitor,who can say? One thing is for sure:The American People endured a lot of suffering from the Watergate affair.It was a perilous time.The Presidency was so weakened by it that it could not respond adequately to the Arab oil embargo that crippled the nation economically,the Soviets were emboldened to the point that Mr. Nixon had to declare a nuclear alert to prevent the fall of Isreal and in the end Viet Nam fell as a direct result of a decimated Presidency.And the ripples continued.The Iran-Contra affair would not have had the possibility of reaching critical mass had it not been for Watergate.If Reagan had fallen,that would have meant that the United States hadn't had a successfull Presidency since Eisenhower.Kennedy assinated,Johnson destroyed by Viet Nam,Ford never sanctioned by election,Cater humilated by Iranian events and if Reagan had gone down there would have been a whole generation of Americans who had never lived through a successful Presidency.A pretty stiff price for a nation to pay for a third rate political bag job at the Watergate Democratic HQ.I don't know if Agent Felt took an oath to protect the American People and he certainly can't be blamed for the whole of Watergate,but if the Washington Post is correct,he played a big part in Nixon's downfall.The American People didn't win anything from Watergate and Nixon was no closet Fascist.He and his people just screwed up.We as a People,would have been better off to forgive Mr. Nixon's error and we would have been better off if Agent Felt had kept his mouth shut because,in the end,it came very close to costing us our country.

Posted by: Mr.Myrtle | June 1, 2005 11:43 PM

I commend Mr. Felt's family for encouraging him to reveal his role in Watergate. I can not believe that some critics use values to negate or belittle Mr. Felt's contributions to rid our government of a most dysfunctional administration.

I hope the timing of this revelation will encourage journalists to review the basic tenets of their profession. Not only will we have Mr. Felt to thank for his efforts thirty years ago, he may be responsible for restoring journalism to the respectful role it once had, not perfect but so much more responsible and dignified. I can only hope.

My copy of "All The President's Men" shows its age as well as the fact it does not just sit on a book shelf. Whenever I need a reminder of the power of individual Americans who know right from wrong and who will challenge those who believe they are above our way of life, I re-read the book and find comfort in its pages.

Nowhere in the book are there crude or cruel descriptors of people. Nowhere are the rules bent so the end can be achieved, nowhere are individuals slandered and/or libeled, nowhere are untruths stated as gospel. The time to reflect on today's America is now, may this be the catalyst to restore our dignity and return communication to facts rather than threats, innuendos and outright lies. Respect for the American way of life will return and we can begin to re-build on our principles.

Posted by: Mary | June 1, 2005 11:57 PM

I commend Mr. Felt's family for encouraging him to reveal his role in Watergate. I can not believe that some critics use values to negate or belittle Mr. Felt's contributions to rid our government of a most dysfunctional administration.

I hope the timing of this revelation will encourage journalists to review the basic tenets of their profession. Not only will we have Mr. Felt to thank for his efforts thirty years ago, he may be responsible for restoring journalism to the respectful role it once had, not perfect but so much more responsible and dignified. I can only hope.

My copy of "All The President's Men" shows its age as well as the fact it does not just sit on a book shelf. Whenever I need a reminder of the power of individual Americans who know right from wrong and who will challenge those who believe they are above our way of life, I re-read the book and find comfort in its pages.

Nowhere in the book are there crude or cruel descriptors of people. Nowhere are the rules bent so the end can be achieved, nowhere are individuals slandered and/or libeled, nowhere are untruths stated as gospel. The time to reflect on today's America is now, may this be the catalyst to restore our dignity and return communication to facts rather than threats, innuendos and outright lies. Respect for the American way of life will return and we can begin to re-build on our principles.

Posted by: Mary | June 1, 2005 11:58 PM

Mark Felt has come forward now because of changes in news reporting that led to the retiring of Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, media failures in the 2004 Presidential election and pre-Iraq, and new attacks on "free speech" and the press. His coming out will allow time for new debates and introspection.

As for Mark Felt's actions, had he gone to the FBI or White House, his information likely would have been used for destruction of evidence and to seal any subsequent investigation.

The only argument against his actions were that he "violated" his oath of secrecy. But what would have been the greater derelection of duty: Remaining silent and aiding two corrupt institutions, or breaching an FBI oath to protect the greater institution, the Constitution and future of the United States?"

Felt's actions forever created a new "responsibility" of the U.S. media to report on corruption - no matter what level of business or government, and later led to the "Whistleblower Act."

Sadly, in recent years, the media has misused its role to aid those with unilateral agendas, and sensationalized news for ratings! Many Americans today question the media's committment to oversight reporting FOB our nation. Perhaps this renewed discussion of the Watergate reporting will re-energize our trust in the media.

We must be able to trust our Congress and eg. FDA to keep their oaths for important public policy matters. My personal experiences demonstrate otherwise.

When government thwarts U.S. law and its oath to its citizens, what do they expect of us? What would the U.S. media have us do with such knowledge? What differently should any citizen have done in Mark Felt's position?

Posted by: HydroMac | June 2, 2005 12:01 AM

> ate and Nixon was no closet Fascist.He and
> his people just screwed up.We as a
> People,would have been better off to
> forgive Mr. Nixon's error and we would have
> been better off if Agent Felt had kept his
> mouth shut because,in the end,it came very
> close to costing us our country.

I can only hope that this post is Swiftian irony at work, but based on the commentary being pushed by the corporate media outlets today I fear not. Nixon and his cronies were crooks, pure and not-so-simple, who did more to undermine the Constitution and the United States than anyone before and since (although W is giving them a run for their money at the moment). For anyone to claim we would have been better off for Nixon's crimes not to be revealed is treason IMHO.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | June 2, 2005 10:01 AM

Perhaps the revelations about Deep Throat will be a sufficient hook for the mainstream press to do some (any) investigative reporting about the current administration, which, to my mind, is the bastard child of Nixon and Joseph McCarthy. Rather than journalists giving each other self-congratulatory pats on the back, I would hope that a few reporters would realize that speaking truth to power is more important than being a lapdog for a group of fanatical demogogues.

Posted by: David | June 2, 2005 01:22 PM

Had Mark Felt done what Colson suggests -- come forward in a press conference -- the White House would have trashed him exactly as the right-wingers are doing today. The debate would have centered on what Felt did instead of what Nixon did.
Felt did the right thing.

Posted by: KC | June 2, 2005 01:43 PM

Deep Throat has added such mystery and intrigue to the whole Nixon-Watergate era that the revelation of his identity is like reading the last page of the book. I am just glad to know that the hero is still alive to reveal himself. I always felt that the Nixon-led group of men was capable of everything and had no respect for anything and worried that one day he might disappear or die mysteriously. Maybe they were smart enough to figure out that if they did get him, they would have Woodward and Bernstein to answer to. Like the other bloggers, I, too, hope that someone comes forward about the current administration.

Posted by: threeperros | June 2, 2005 03:00 PM

Where the system was unlikely to expose Nixon for his abuse of the Constitution, Felt brought him to justice. At this time, let us not forget that the Constitution has no more relevance than the morals of those who hold the reins of power.

Posted by: Peter | June 2, 2005 03:53 PM

While I'm no fan of Nixon's use of bribery and other malfeasance, he was a brilliant commander in chief who got us out of Vietnam by using force against a powerful enemy--which was the only reason they understood. The cowardly Democratic Congress in 75 refused to supply any more ammo and parts to the South Vietnamese and let their country get overrun. Also, Nixon was brilliant in opening China and a seasoned President in dealing with domestic issues. I don't see any great accomplishment here in the Post bringing Nixon down, all I see is the Post's view of itself and journalism as the people who right the wrongs of the corrupt and powerful. In my humble opinion, they live to find fault and tear down. No good has been accomplished in journalism since Watergate, only a cynical development of the journalist's view that takes a soured eye on anything American, traditional, religious, or honestly good.

Posted by: Mark | June 2, 2005 05:38 PM

Well done Mr. Felt! I hope your courageous example serves as a beam of light to those in the current administration.

Posted by: James | June 2, 2005 05:53 PM

As a younger Post reader, I have naturally heard a lot of the Watergate story. However, since I didn't live through it, the whole picture is a lot harder to comprehend. This is an uneducated view, but Mr. Felt seems like a true patriot if he would rather take huge risks than keep silent on something that could ruin the country.

Posted by: Hannah | June 2, 2005 06:56 PM

Blaming Felt for the consequences of the Watergate prosecutions is akin to blaming witnesses who put a murderer behind bars for leaving the murderer's children orphaned. It is the criminal who is ultimately responsible for every result of his crime.

Felt is an honorable witness who deliberated on the best way to end the crimes.

Posted by: Gloria | June 2, 2005 07:03 PM

I was reminded today at my office of the "Whistle Blower Policy" and what it really means. I am amazed at the negative responses to those who do not realize that Mark Felt did exactly what the current Whistle Blower policy is suppose to accomplish which is the following: "The purpose of this policy is to provide a method for applicable parties to report questionable accounting, auditing, and business practices, or any acts that are potentially illegal, dishonest, or unethical." So to those who say that he did exactly this and is amoral or unethical, I propose to them to look at their own practices, ethics, and abuse of power for example: Enron, Adelphia Cable, and the list could continue. The two fold part of this is is that this is happening again with the Extreme Right Wing Conservatives issuing statements that they are watching every Republican that does not give the President and his administration the 110% that want so badly, that, they (the Right) are threating their political careers come next election. Remember that these elected officials are people who are either true Americans or are Power Hungry, look at the current State of Ohio with its political mess from Governor Taft to those Republican loyalist that are on trial for their own transgressions. So look outside of the box and ask each one of yourselves "If this were my position and it is in jeopardy, am I ultimately doing the right and ethical thing, or do I sit by and let those with power abuse all that is good around me and those I love acceptable practices."

To Mr. Woodward, Bradlee, and Bernstein, I have read Martha Grahams book "Personal History" and I understand completely now more than ever how you not only risked your own credibility but that of a national treasure as the Post and I know that Ms. Graham is looking down on each one of you to say "Job Well Done" as well as to Mark Felt. She would be very proud of this day.

Bravo to Mark Felt and those who believe in protecting the what is best for the country and those around us. There should be more Mark Felts in the world.

Posted by: Mark | June 2, 2005 07:16 PM

To the previous blogger, the only thikng Ms. Graham did was get rich by killing her printer's union in this town and using scabs to print her paper. You don't see any major donations in this city by the billionaire family that runs the Post. No resurrection of the Corcoran or any major philanthropic effort. The Post is liberal on the front page and conservative on the business page, especially when it comes to their own ox. History looking back will see what a strong president Nixon was and how self-serving the Post, and their journalists were.

Posted by: mark | June 2, 2005 11:33 PM

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