Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Source Is Revealed

After waiting with a nagging question in the back of our minds for the last 30-odd years (alright, maybe less time in my case), we finally know the identity of the famed Watergate source "Deep Throat". His name is W. Mark Felt, and he was second in command at the FBI when Watergate broke. That's right, Deep Throat was NOT Pat Buchanan or Diane Sawyer. Personally, I think it would have been much funnier if it had been one of them, but Felt's secret makes a lot of sense considering the politics between government agencies.

You may wonder why I haven't done more coverage and commentary on Deep Throat's outing. To put it bluntly, half the world beat me to it. That's alright with me in this case; you couldn't spit last week without hitting an article about Felt, and the people talking about it were doing much more adept commentary than I could have provided. If you're still hurting for info about and reactions to the unmasking of the man who Richard Nixon referred to as "The Source", then I offer one of the more comprehensive overviews I've seen as blogged by - who else? - Dr. H. (The Deep Throat stuff is mostly in his June 1 & 2 posts. I don't think his posts have individual permalinks, so you'll have to do some scrolling.)

But then again, it wouldn't be a post signed by me without some fresh perspectives. Make sure you take a look at this Power Line post about older commentary on Deep Throat. Pay especially close attention to the context of this devastating quote from David Maizenberg:
The best journalists understand most acutely that they are being played; most journalists, however, think that they are players.

Indeed. Also, not to overly reference one blog, but it happens that Power Line had some excellent commentary of their own.

One of the more provocative questions to come from all of this has been, is Deep Throat a hero? There are apparently some people who don't think so; I was scrounging the Internet looking for info about Felt when I found a non-scientific poll at FOXNews.com. It was for Greta Van Susteren's show "On the Record", and the question was roughly, "What is your opinion of Deep Throat?" When I looked at it, a clear majority (over 50%) answered choice B: "He is a disgrace to the FBI." Felt didn't have such a high opinion of his own actions either; he reportedly was guilt-ridden for years and told his son that leaking information was the worst thing you could ever do. I personally think there's no clear answer here. Mark Felt does not fit my mental description of a hero; after all, his information wasn't the only thing that discredited Nixon, even though it did have a large part. Some might say he betrayed his agency, but if you knew that this kind of corruption was going on, wouldn't you be compelled to let somebody know? He had previously met Bob Woodward and was somewhat friendly with him, so The Washington Post was the perfect publication to talk to. Would you rather be a disgrace to your employer or allow the disgraceful to be covered up? I really believe that Felt did the right thing, even if the hero shoe doesn't quite fit.

By the way, I can't believe anyone wondered if Felt would be charged with a crime. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked if he would be brought to trial; as you might imagine, he responded that the Bush Administration had more pressing matters to attend to than Deep Throat. Who would be crazy enough to prosecute him at this point, even if he wasn't an ailing 91-year-old man?

Also, Felt's family said just recently that money was part of the reason they came forward before his death. That much is obvious, but I'm sure he wanted to finally be rid of his secret burden after all these years. Something also tells me that a tiny part of him wanted to see how people would react. I think he desperately wanted the validation of others and to believe that he was right to leak the information. Some may not agree that he did the right thing, but if anyone close to Felt is reading this:

I think he did.

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