Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor

Friday, June 10, 2005

The rest of the story on 'Deep Throat'

Dear Editor,

It seems that everyone that grew up at the feet of Dan Blather and Walter the Cronkite is curious about the old news regarding Deep Throat, the credited source, or informant, of the then fresh young investigative reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who worked for the Washington Post, the leading liberal newspaper south of the New York Times. These reporters are credited with the demise of the Nixon administration, although the Nixon administration certainly made their job easier. Recently a now-retired former high-ranking executive of the FBI has at long last made the self-revelation that he was the source, Deep Throat. His name is W. Mark Felt.

Felt is now 91 years of age and living with his family. There is much speculation of Felt's motive for revealing himself at this late date. We are talking of events that occurred more than 30 years ago. There are unconfirmed rumors, that the family needs money and perhaps he/they are seeking a book or film deal. For those who weren't there, here is the "rest of the story," or at least a part of it.

I made the acquaintance of Felt mid-stride in his career that reached the FBI rank of deputy director, immediately under Director J. Edgar Hoover, who had been director from 1924 to the year of his death in 1972. He had been appointed director of what was then called Bureau of Investigation and given the assignment to take the agency out of politics and make it a legitimate, semi-independent investigative arm of the federal government under the Jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. The Bureau's jurisdiction was limited to investigations of specific violations of federal crimes under statutes determined by Congress. This jurisdiction was continuingly expanded by Congress and by presidential executive orders.By about 1972, this included approximately 180 areas of jurisdiction. They ranged from bank robbery, stolen cars, espionage, domestic security and kidnapping to violations of the Federal Duck Stamp Act. When I became acquainted with Felt, he was an inspector -- not the TV term of inspector. He and a chosen team made surprise inspections of each FBI Division throughout the United States and units located at FBI Headquarters, such as the FBI laboratory. The goal was to perform an inspection of the various selected FBI units approximately each 18 months. The purpose was to determine if each unit and each agent had followed Bureau rules. Felt had the reputation of being fair, competent, and extremely knowledgeable of the Bureau's operation. He was also ruthless. If a mistake, error of judgment or violation of the rules was discovered, the punishment could range from a Letter of Censure, which held up any advancements in salary or rank, a year's probation, undesirable transfer or termination if warranted. Among the troops, Felt's nickname was "The Iceman." This was perhaps because he had never been known to smile in public! Once an agent becomes an inspector, he is definitely being groomed for the top executive ranks. Felt was not a popular person in the ranks below that of inspector. Of course there were many Inspectors and a few were even known to smile, or on rare occasions perhaps, even tell a joke at a conference. To be or even to want to be, an Inspector required considerable ambition and a certain ego. Felt and a few others had that quality.

Later after Felt had reached the zenith of his career, my knowledge of him broadened somewhat: His secretary was the older sister of a relatively new agent on my Domestic Security Squad in Washington, D.C. There are few real secrets among FBI personnel.

Now we have Watergate. I won't go into detail, suffice to say that the Nixon administration became increasingly involved in various illegal actions that included attempted bugging of telephones, illegal entry, obstruction of justice and most serious of all attempting to cover-up such involvement. Nixon attempted to involve the CIA and and false claims of national security. Nixon detested Hoover and the FBI, but nevertheless the FBI was called in to make a preliminary investigation. Hoover and later Felt were not overly cooperative with the White House and did only about what the letter of the law required. Then Hoover dies. Nixon is not about to appoint a man selected by Hoover to be a future leader of the FBI, although of course Felt was the logical selectee. Nixon appoints a retired Navy submarine captain to be director of the FBI, L. Patrick Gray. Gray may have run a great submarine, but he was completely in over his head in the FBI without a submarine. Felt was not smiling at being passed over by Nixon. Felt knows that the White House and its top staff people, especially Nixon, are in up to their eyebrows in misdemeanors, certain felonies and etc., and Nixon is to blame. But Felt has a dilemma. He can't go to Gray (who wouldn't have known a violation if it were looking down his periscope) who he feels is in Nixon's pocket. He can't to to the Department of Justice/attorney general. He wouldn't go to Congress; one doesn't get something from Congress without the forfeiture of an unbearable ransom of some sort. At this point, the White House, the Department of Justice and Congress are licking their respective chops to politicize the FBI and bring it in under their control. No more Hoovers, or Hoover men.

Now Felt had made the acquaintance of Bob Woodward a few years earlier before Woodward had become a reporter. Woodward claims they had developed a mutual trust of each other. According to Woodward, Felt had on occasion suggested a topic that might be of interest to him. So again, according to Woodward, Felt would discreetly indicate to Woodward certain avenues to follow in the Watergate debacle. Such suggestions such as to "Follow the money." Felt of course insisted on anonymity.

This was against all of the Bureau rules; but it was a blow against Nixon and probably, in Felt's thinking, served Nixon right for passing over him for not being appointed as Director.

However, it is questionable that Felt was the sole Deep Throat source. Knowing Woodward's editor at the Washington Post, it is highly unlikely he would put his paper out on a limb with the work of a couple of young reporters having just one source of information, no matter how highly placed that source may have been. Felt may have, with his well developed ego, thought he was the only source. Regardless, the Nixon Administration was wrecked, the FBI was drawn into the political orbit of Congress and the Department of Justice, all Federal governmental institutions were now opened to question whether justified or not and the quest of investigative journalism was institutionalized. Also a very profitable book and a very popular film promptly materialized. Having said all of the above, it is well to remember that no one drowned at Watergate.

In summary Felt at least did for Woodward and Bernstein what with out him they would most likely have accomplished anyway eventually. As to Felt's motive for violating his oath of office, it most likely was greed, ego, thwarted ambition and a deep resentment of Nixon. He didn't realize that much of the Bureau's success under Hoover had been that when a problem arose, it was kicked around among several levels of responsibility, thoroughly examined from all angles, suggestions were set out and if the problem was serious enough, it was presented to Hoover for approval or disapproval. Felt had no one to turn to for consultation. The path he chose was not the FBI way. If Hoover had been faced with Felt's dilemma, he would have gone public at a time of his choosing and resigned.

Now if Felt had just continued to keep his mouth shut forever, his reputation as a gifted public servant would have remained intact. So why did he now come out of the closet at this late date? The man is 91 years old; he resigned from the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI five or six years ago for "reasons of health" (This is a very unique action; a retired agent need not be active or participate in any of the Society's activities -- just pay your dues and draw a breath now and then. Besides. he had never been active in the organization anyway). Woodward re-interviewed Felt in 1999, and recently observed that he now questioned Felt's mental competency. Recent TV images show him openly smiling in public and waving friendly greetings to the cameramen and reporters. This is not the Felt I knew.

I personally think Felt is in an undetermined state of progressive dementia. It is such a shame really. There is much positive information about Hoover and his FBI that could be said, but now it will be further buried by the sensationalism that the media will give this affair. Felt no doubt is being given misguided advice by unsophisticated members of his family and perhaps an unscrupulous attorney. The poor man is going to pay for his folly. He is no hero.

-- Richard Coffman

Miles City, Mont.

Thanks to book committee

Dear editor:

To the Vernon County History Book Committee, thanks for the hard work you and your staff did on the History Book. It is a masterpiece from the standpoints of contents, indexing and presentation. What a beautiful document.

No doubt, you had cost over runs, in time if not money, and I want to send extra money to cover some of the cost, and for a copy to be sent to the Library of Congress.

Thanks again for the great job.

Leonard Teyssier

La Jolla, Calif.

Leonard Teyssier family are the decendants of Horace Ripley, who came to Missouri after the Civil War and settled in the Deerfield and Moundville area.

Sac-Osage Electric Co-op elections coming


We want to thank the members of Sac Osage Electric Co-op that have supported our ideas for By-Law and Board Member Reform. We are not playing on an even field as you could tell by the article you received in your ballot packet from the co-op board. We asked the general manager for copies stating our amendment so we could post them in various public locations, but he said the board refused our request.

Several people have reported to our committee that they stopped by the co-op office and asked for their ballot back and were met with stiff opposition. We would remind you again if you were not clear on the amendments and have already sent in your ballot, you need to consider getting a new one and revoting.

Amendment No. 2 with all of its printed matter is a bit confusing, but it comes down to this; if you vote for Amendment No. 2, you can kiss member input good-bye.

Amendment No. 3: Let's pay the board members what they are worth, not what they think they're worth. Vote for Amendment No. 3.

It is important that you attend this annual meeting. Tricky little things are always popping up from the floor.

See you June 14. We will have a lot more to digest than Lion burgers and pop.

-- Committee for Bylaw and Board Reform.

Ronald Hubbard, chairman.