Friday, June 03, 2005

More by Jim Hougan on Mark Felt and Deep Throat

While I cannot finish my own piece on Felt today, I do have just enough time to pass along something that just now fell into my lap. Secret Agenda author Jim Hougan -- who also writes terrific spy novels under the name "John Case" -- has offered further thoughts on the recent revelations. He has given permission to pass this text along.

What follows below the asterisks are his words, not mine; anyone quoting this blog should be careful in assigning credit or blame.

* * *

Mark Felt, Jason Blair and "Misty Beethoven"
By Jim Hougan

Mark Felt is "Deep Throat."

Bob Woodward says so, and his word is law in this particular arena. No matter that Woodward had a dozen sources, some of whom may have been more important than Throat himself. The point is that "Throat" is anyone Woodward says he is, and he says he's Felt.

So let’s not hear anything more about "composite" sources. (Well, maybe just a little bit more...)

In case you've been on the Moon, Mr. Felt is the smiling old man on everyone’s front page, peeking out of a doorway under the protective gaze of family and friends. It would be grand to interview Mr. Felt, but at the suggestion of those same relatives, citing their grandad's advanced age and unhappy medical condition (he’s suffered a stroke), I'll respect his wish for privacy. So will you.

Still, there are a couple of points to be made about Throat in general, and Felt in particular, points that the press has so far tended to overlook. I don't mean the business about Mr. Felt having denied for 30 years that he was Throat, or Woodward's insistence that Mr. Throat was not a part of the intelligence community. (Even so, this last bit must have come as something of a surprise to the good folks at the FBI, where Felt was No. 3 to the Bureau's Director, J. Edgar Hoover, and his close-personal-friend, Clyde Tolson. The Bureau is alleged to have some small responsibilities with respect to counter-espionage and anti-terrorist operations.)

What I'm concerned about, in a general way, is Deep Throat's "legacy," which is more or less the ruination of investigative journalism. Through its embrace of Deep Throat, Hollywood and the press have romanticized and legitimized the anonymous source. The results are there to be seen in your daily newspaper: story after story attributed to no one in particular. "Speaking on condition of anonymity...a Pentagon official said... White House sources denied…"

So the news gets fuzzier---some would say it becomes more propagandistic---as sources disappear. Ambitious and calculating pols drop innuendos and send up trial-balloons, without ever having to take responsibility for what they’ve said. Or not said. In a universe of anonymous sources, we’re increasingly informed by creative writers like Jason Blair at the Times, Stephen Glass at the New Republic, Jack Kelly at USA Today, and Woodward’s own protégé at the Post, Janet Cooke. Not surprisingly, the public becomes increasingly cynical as "news" devolves into "entertainment."

And along comes Mr. Felt. Who is applauded, but not much examined. Who is he, other than a G-man?

Well, he's the fellow who was outraged by the Watergate break-in, which (we're told) was about Nixon's evil spooks breaking into, and bugging, the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate. (Never mind that the only bugging device found inside the DNC was characterized a broken "toy" by Felt’s own FBI---that's a very different story.)

Doesn't it seem a little odd that Felt should have been so outraged by James McCord's break-in at the Watergate, when he himself was presiding over a maelstrom of black-bag jobs at the FBI? I don't mean court-ordered surveillances. I'm referring to warrant-less break-ins and wiretaps during the early 1970s targeting the friends and families of antiwar activists and others. (Among them, the very interesting Yeoman Charles Radford. He was one of the undercover agents in the Pentagon spy-ring that came to be known as "the Moorer-Radford Affair." You may recall that the Yeoman ransacked the briefcases and burn-bags of the President's National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger---ostensibly on behalf of the President's Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Thomas Moorer.)

For his efforts in this arena, Felt was indicted for "conspiring to injure and oppress citizens of the United States." (He was eventually convicted, slapped smartly on wrist, and fined.

It would appear, then, that Throat was not so much opposed to illicit break-ins and eavesdropping as he was to the Nixon Administration as such. In his June 2 article in the Post, outing his source, Woodward tells us that Felt regarded the Nixon White House as “corrupt…sinister…(a) cabal.” And this was before Watergate. Indeed, lest we miss the point, Woodward tells us that "Felt thought the Nixon team were Nazis."

How interesting! That’s what I thought! And so did every other liberal I knew at the time.

Surprisingly, this was also the point-of-view of James McCord---the rightwing evangelist and former CIA officer who led the break-in team into the Watergate. In a series of queer "newsletters," written after Watergate (and virtually un-circulated), McCord put forward a conspiracy theory suggesting that the Rockefeller family was lunging for complete control over the government's critical national security functions, using the Council on Foreign Relations and Henry Kissinger as its surrogates.

Felt, McCord and a boatload of liberals weren't the only ones to demonize the Nixon White House. A similar point of view was held by a number of high-ranking Naval officers, including Adm. Elmo Zumwalt. Indeed, as Zumwalt later explained, he left the Administration because “its own officials and experts reflected Henry Kissinger’s world view: that the dynamics of history are on the side of the Soviet Union; that before long the USSR will be the only superpower on earth and…that the duty of policy-makers, therefore, is at all costs to conceal from the people their probable fate…”1

Whether Admiral Moorer agreed with Zumwalt’s assessment or not is uncertain. But he was spying on the White House. And this is where gets a bit incestuous, because in the months before Woodward began his try-oout at for the Post, he was a young Naval officer assigned to Admiral Moorer’s staff. In that capacity, he presided over the CNO’s code-room, and served as both a briefer and a courier to the White House.

Which is where he says he met Felt. Sitting outside the Situation Room. Coincidence? Possibly. Kismet? Certainly. But what seems so strange about this most political story is the way in which the press has ignored the political ramifications---indeed, the poltical meaning---of Woodward’s identification of Felt as Deep Throat.

But what about "Misty Beethoven"?

Not the porno film, but Woodward’s “other source,” Robert Bennett. I have for some time been of the firm opinion that Bennett was Throat. This was so because it seemed to me that, as a bare minimum, someone’s candidacy for Throat should be backed up by evidence that the candidate met secretly with Woodward and fed him stories about Watergate.

Bennett fit the bill. No one else did.

The Bennett I refer to was, of course, the owner of the Robert R. Mullen Company. This was a CIA front with offices in Washington and abroad. Among Bennett’s employees at the time of the Watergate break-in was E. Howard Hunt. Politically hyper-active during the Nixon Administration, Bennett was also the Washington representative of the Howard Hughes organization (which was negotiating with the CIA over plans to recover a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean’s floor). It was Bennett who suggested that Hunt might want to interview ITT lobbyist Dita Beard concerning newspaper leaks to Jack Anderson, and it was Bennett who volunteered his nephew to work as infiltrator at the DNC.

Today, Bennett is today one of the richest men in the U.S. Senate, and a Mormon elder. That he was also a key source of Bob Woodward’s during the Watergate affair is memorialized in a memorandum written by Martin J. Lukoskie, his CIA case-officer in 1972. According to Lukoskie, Bennett dissuaded reporters from the Washington Post from pursuing a “Seven Days in May scenario” that would have implicated the CIA in a Watergate conspiracy.

In a memo to his boss, written July 10, 1972, Lukoskie wrote that Bennett “has established a ‘back door entry’ to the Edward Bennett Williams law firm which is representing the Democratic Party.2 Mr. Bennett is prepared to go this route to kill off any revelation by Ed Williams of Agency association with the Mullen firm.”

Subsequently, Lukoskie’s boss, Eric Eisenstadt, wrote his own memo, which was hand-delivered to then CIA Director Richard Helms. In it, Eisenstadt explained that “Mr. Bennett…has been feeding stories to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post with the understanding that there be no attribution to…Bennett. Woodward is suitably grateful for the fine stories and by-lines which he gets and protects Bennett (and the Mullen Company).”

Hmmmnnnn…it’s enough to make you wonder, though not, apparently, enough to make the press wonder. But this is what the Deep Throat mystery is all about. It’s not just a parlor game to create yet another celebrity. Rather, it’s a question of deciding whether or not the Post’s coverage of the Watergate affair was, in some sense, politically motivated, or what’s worse, politically manipulated by a cabal of spooks working to destroy an unpopular president.

As conspiratorial as this may sound, it’s would seem to be in keeping with Throat’s own perspective. In a meeting with Woodward just before the Watergate hearings were to begin, Throat told the reporter that:

Everyone’s life is in danger…

(E)lectronic surveillance is going on and we had better watch it.

Who was responsible? C-I-A…3

Now, there’s a story! But I don’t remember seeing it in the Post.


1 Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., On Watch (New York: Quadrangle Books, 1976), p. xiv.

2 It was also representing the Washington Post.

3 Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, All the President’s Men (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1974, p. 317.


Anonymous said...

And, of course, speaking of Nazis---

George Bush I was a protegee of Rockefeller. And though Nelson only came as high as vice president, it could be argued that the Rockefeller interests have now, in George Bush II, achieved their finest hour---autocratic control over the USA.

Might even explain some of the otherwise inexplicable things about W.

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