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Questions About Secret Agenda


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I finished reading Jim Hougan's truly fascinating 1984 book, Secret Agenda, last night.

Three questions for the forum.  (Apologies in advance if this has already been reviewed.)

1)  I still don't understand why E. Howard Hunt and James McCord were trying to sabotage Nixon.  Was it mainly an attempt to protect Richard Helms and the Company?

2)  Was Alexander Haig Deep Throat?

3)  Have any movies or screenplays been based on Secret Agenda?

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1 hour ago, James DiEugenio said:

2. Deep Throat was a composite as is proven in the book, In Nixon's Web

I though Mark Felt was Deep Throat.  It was revealed 10 to 15 years ago--I forget how long its been.  Is this not true?

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3 hours ago, Paul Bacon said:

I though Mark Felt was Deep Throat.  It was revealed 10 to 15 years ago--I forget how long its been.  Is this not true?

Hougan points out that Bob Woodward's "Deep Throat" source was, apparently, unfamiliar with certain critical details of the FBI investigations of the Watergate burglaries-- indicating that Deep Throat was probably not involved with the FBI.

Edited by W. Niederhut
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Jim Hougan wrote the following in 2005 about the Felt story.

 

Quote

All y'all,

In the last couple of hours I've gotten half-a-dozen emails, and a couple of phone-calls, about Mark Felt's belated declaration (in the upcoming *Vanity Fair*) to the effect that he's Deep Throat. I've just done an interview with Fox (James Rosen/Britt Hume), and it looks like this is the story de jour.

That said, it's possible, maybe even likely, that you have no absolutely interest in Wategate. If so, put this down as parapolitical spam, and stop reading.

Anyway, here's my take on Felt's declaration:

1. He was badgered into it by family and friends. Felt is 91 years old, and counting. A reporter who recently interviewed him found the interview an incoherent waste of time, and killed his own story. 

2. Felt has always denied that he was Deep Throat until, as we're told, members of his family recently pointed out to him there might be a buck in it, and that his children and grandchildren have bills to pay.

(And there is a buck in it: Bob Loomis told me, 20 years ago, that Throat could probably get a $4-million advance from Random House for his life-story.)

3. Felt wrote a book about his career in the FBI. In it, he goes out of the way to say that he met Woodward on a single occasion. This was in Felt's FBI office, and the upshot of it was that Felt told Woodward that he would not cooperate with him in his pursuit of "Watergate."

4. After a careful study of Throat's relationship to the *Post* and to the White House, first in *Secret Agenda* and subsequently while working with Len Garment, it became clear that *no one* in or around the Nixon White Hoouse was in a position to know all of the things that Throat is alleged to have told Woodward. For example, Felt had no way of knowing about the 18-and-a-half minute gap in Rosemary Woods' tape. This strongly suggests that Throat was a composite.

5. Just as importantly, if Felt was Throat, he betrayed the people for whom he was a source. This is so because the biggest story that anyone could have broken in the Summer of 1972 was Alfred Baldwin's decision to come forward and tell what he knew. An employee of James McCord's, Baldwin told the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI that he had monitored some 250 telephone conversations from "the Listening Post," his room in the Howard Johnson's motel across the street from the Watergate. The significance of this information was that the public and the press believed that the Watergate break-in was a failure, and that the burglars were arrested before they could succeed in placing their bugs. Because of that, the public believed, no telephone calls were ever intercepted. Baldwin gave the lie to that, and Felt knew it. For him to have withheld that information from the *Post* would not only have been a betrayal---it would not have made sense if Felt's alleged intention (as Throat) was to keep the story alive. (The Baldwin story was eventually broken in the Fall of 1972 by the Los Angeles Times.)

6. What we have here, then, is the sad spectacle of an old man being manipulated. 

For the record, it seems to me that if anyone proposes to identify Deep Throat, or to identify the lead singer in the choir of sources subsumed by the identity of Throat, they must meet a very basic criterion. That is, they must demonstarate, at a minimum, that their candidate met repeatedly and secretly with Bob Woodward. (Throat is obviously Woodward's creation. I don't think Bernstein would know him from a bale of hay.)

The only person who meets that criterion, to my knowledge, is Robert Bennett. Now one of the most powerful men in the U.S. Senate, Bennett was President of the Robert R. Mullen Company in 1972-3. This was the CIA front for which Howard Hunt worked. (It was also the Washington representative of the Howard Hughes organization.) As I reported in *Secret Agenda*, Bennett's CIA case officer, Martin Lukoskie, drafted a memo to his boss, Eric Eisenstadt, reporting on his monthly debriefing of Bennett after the Watergate arrests. According to Eisenstadt, Bennett told him that he, Bennett, had "made a backdoor entry to the Washington Post through Edward Bennett Williams' office," and that he, Bennett, was feeding stories to Bob Woodward, who was "suitably grateful." (Williams was the Post's attorney, and attorney, also, for the Democratic National Committee.) 

Woodward's gratefulness was manifest in the way he kept the CIA, in general, and the Robert R. Mullen Company, in particular, out of his stories. (I obtained the Lukoskie memo under the Freedom of Information Act. Eric Eisenstadt's reaction to that memo, which I also obtained under FOIA, was considered so secret that it was delivered by hand to then-CIA Director Richard Helms.

What bothers me the most about all this, and what inspires me to write this unforgiveably long email to so many about something so few care about, is the gullibility of "the press"---by which I mean Talking Heads like Jeffrey Toobin---who have bought Felt's story hook, line and sinker.

That Woodward and Bernstein have taken a no-comment stance toward Felt's story is interesting and probably predictable. On the one hand, if I'm right about Bennett being Throat, they have a serious problem where their source is concerned---not just that he was a composite, but that their relationship to him was predicated on a quid pro quo concealing the CIA's involvement in the Watergate story.

Thanks for listening (if you're still there),

Jim Hougan

 

Joseph Cannon has a decent article on it here.

https://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2005/05/deep-throat-felt-response.html

And the Xymphora site wrote this commentary back in 2005. 

 

Quote

 

Joseph Cannon has two excellent posts on the 'revelation' that Deep Throat is Mark Felt. Felt may honestly feel that he was Deep Throat, but could not have known everything that Deep Throat knew. He is an excellent patsy to take on the role, as he has Alzheimer's and can't be asked any embarrassing questions.

I imagine the long wait for the identity of Deep Throat was a wait dependent on finding someone with the proper characteristics who could assume the role without having to provide details (i. e., either dead or senile). I doubt very much there ever was a Deep Throat. He was a fictional method of funneling the information that Woodward was getting from whomever he was really working for - likely CIA or Joint Chiefs of Staff - into the stories intended to unseat Nixon, or at least weaken him. Woodward needed a mysterious source to explain how he was getting material that should have been impossible to obtain, and a source who could never be questioned. Deep Throat was a brilliant plan (the name itself, in the context of the times, was brilliant marketing, as everyone got a cheap thrill by being allowed to say it).

We know the Joint Chiefs of Staff were spying on Nixon, and that Nixon caught them and let them get away with it. The American Powers That Be were apparently terrified that Nixon, who up to the end of the 1960's was a reliable, crooked, mob-connected political hack, was intelligent enough to realize that his place in the history books would be determined by the substantial good he did. China whet his appetite, and there was a very real danger that the old fool would succeed in approaching the Soviets and ending the Cold War fifteen years early (and billions and billions of dollars in weapons sales early), all in a bid to take his place in history. He had to be stopped, so the barely-literate Woodward mysteriously appeared at the Washington Post, was hooked up with a real, if spectacularly unsuccessful, journalist in Bernstein, and suddenly received all kinds of unexpected help from the Very Establishment Ben Bradlee. A newspaper that you would never expect to even consider challenging the status quo, and very connected to the CIA, was suddenly lauded as the king of investigative journalism, and the savior of the Republic. All nonsense, of course. Nixon's big character flaws, instinctive dishonesty and paranoia, were manipulated to slide him into a completely unnecessary cover-up of a completely unnecessary burglary conducted by a bunch of CIA agents (a burglary Nixon wasn't even aware of until after the fact, with the burglars conveniently getting caught through extreme bungling and conveniently having documented ties to Nixon's crooked political financing system), and Nixon was safely pushed out of office before he could do any real harm. Rather than being a victory for journalism, Watergate was the start of the systematic corruption of the disgusting American media, which continues to do its job in hiding the fact that the United States has been a military dictatorship since November 22, 1963.

 

 The little I've read about Watergate generally reconfirms what Jim just posted further above.

Edited by Anthony Thorne
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Ed Gray finished the book his father L. Patrick Gray started, In Nixon's Web.  Which, BTW, is the best of the newer books on the subject.  Clearly  better than Risen's or Holland's. 

Neither father nor son thought that Felt was the only source that Woodward used.

So Ed Gray went to the University of Texas archives, the place the two twerps--Woodward and Bernstein--sent their notes for quite a ducal sum.  Gray found out that clearly,  through his own hand and descriptions,  Felt was not Woodward's only Deep Throat source.  And when he called Woodward, it made for a humorous conversation.

I agree with Hougan.  Robert Bennett had to be one of the sources for the composite character.  But Woodward could never admit that after Jim Hougan printed the Lukoskie memo.

William, very glad you read Secret Agenda.  One of the very best books, if not the best, ever written on the subject I think.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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We must remember that All the President's Men appeared before Nixon's resignation, and one of the publishing criteria was that it read as a slightly dangerous suspense story.  To achieve that, and elide attribution of information to sources, Deep Throat was invented by the publisher's editor. 

If the Deep Throat figure appears as a source only in the book All The President's Men, and is not anonymously sourced or referred to in any of the Woodward-Bernstein Washington Post Watergate stories - as I believe is true, and despite its convolutions is borne out by the film of the book - then we're speaking of the book as a work of propaganda and not of journalism.

See if John Dean agrees.

FYI, a good couple of podcasts on Watergate are Midnight Writer News nos. 102 and 108, with Geoff Shepard of the Nixon White House; and nos. 003 and 053 with Len Colodny, author of Silent Coup.

Edited by David Andrews
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4 hours ago, Paul Bacon said:

I though Mark Felt was Deep Throat.  It was revealed 10 to 15 years ago--I forget how long its been.  Is this not true?

I thought so too.  They're going way over my head and loosing me in a hurry.  Glad I'm not the only one.  I've not read the book's they speak of.

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BTW, this was all made worse by Robert Redford.

Who fell for the book All the President's Men in all its aspects.

I have always felt that Bernstein kind of understood what happened later.  If you recall, he quit the Post.

He then wrote that milestone article about Operation Mockingbird in Rolling Stone.

A lot of that came from the stuff that the Church Committee was not allowed to print once Bush became CIA DIrector.

I kind of felt that perhaps Bernstein realized what Woodward and Bradlee were up to.

 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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13 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

Ron, Paul.

If you do not read Secret Agenda then you do not know the other half of the story.

Its like talking about the JFK case if you have only read the Warren Report.

Hougan"s true history of McCord, Hunt, Baldwin, and the bungled Watergate burglaries should be made into a movie.  It's more bizarre than any fiction.

The truth would surprise the American public.

 

Edited by W. Niederhut
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8 hours ago, Ron Bulman said:
12 hours ago, Paul Bacon said:

I though Mark Felt was Deep Throat.  It was revealed 10 to 15 years ago--I forget how long its been.  Is this not true?

I thought so too.  They're going way over my head and loosing me in a hurry.  Glad I'm not the only one.  I've not read the book's they speak of.

On behalf of Ron and me, thank you gentlemen :huh:.  There just isn't time, in life, to read everything needed to understand CIA shenanigans over the past 5 decades, sheesh. 

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11 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

BTW, this was all made worse by Robert Redford.

Who fell for the book All the President's Men in all its aspects.

I have always felt that Bernstein kind of understood what happened later.  If you recall, he quit the Post.

He then wrote that milestone article about Operation Mockingbird in Rolling Stone.

A lot of that came from the stuff that the Church Committee was not allowed to print once Bush became CIA DIrector.

I kind of felt that perhaps Bernstein realized what Woodward and Bradlee were up to.

 

    If I recall correctly, Bernstein omitted any references to his WaPo employers in his famous Rolling Stone article about Operation Mockingbird.

     As for Ben Bradlee, Peter Janey presented some compelling evidence in his book, Mary's Mosaic, about Bradlee's close ties to the CIA-- including his friendship with Wistar Janey, and the fact that he (Bradlee) was Cord Meyer's brother-in-law.

       Hard to believe that Yale graduate and former Naval Intelligence officer, Bob Woodward, is not a Company man.

       As for Alexander Haig, Jim Hougan made a fairly compelling case at the end of Secret Agenda that Haig was the most likely source for most of Woodward's original Deep Throat material.  (From Anthony's quote above, it looks like Hougan later suspected that Robert Bennet was Throat.)

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During the shooting of ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, I had an interview

lined up with Alan J. Pakula for Daily Variety, or so I was told by a publicist.

I went to Pakula's home at noon on a Saturday and found him distracted; he did

not realize I was coming, and he apologetically said he had no time to talk.

So I figured I had time for one question. A friend of mine who was investigating

the RFK assassination had told me that Bob Woodward was CIA (actually, as

we know, he was/is ONI). So I asked Pakula if he had heard Woodward was CIA.

He said he had, "but if I think about that while making this movie I'd go crazy."

Edited by Joseph McBride
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