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Jim Hougan on Deep Throat


David G. Healy
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Deep Throat, Bob Woodward and the CIA

Strange Bedfellows

By JIM HOUGAN

That Deep Throat should turn out to be Mark Felt is not the most

welcome news at the Washington Post. The paper would have much

preferred a crypto-liberal such as Leonard Garment in the role

(assuming that Adam Sandler wasn't available). Almost anyone, in other

words, would have been better than the guy responsible for supervising

the FBI's infamous COINTELPRO operations during the 1960s.

As anyone who marched in the Sixties knows, these were secret and

unconstitutional counterintelligence programs targeting the Left and a

handful of white supremacists. As head of the FBI's Inspection

Division, it was Felt's responsibility to maximize the effectiveness of

the program in the field. Lest there be any doubt about this, it should

be emphasized that Felt's brief was not to ensure that anyone's civil

liberties were protected, or even that the law was adhered to, but to

make certain that Hoover's attack on the anti-war movement ran

smoothly.

So bestowing the mantle of Deep Throat on the Toscanini of black-bag

jobs must have felt like crowning Jenna Jamison "Sweetheart of the

Year." (Yes, she's done important work, but) Watergate editor Ben

Bradlee and his colleagues would no doubt like the public to see this

as an irony---one of those wacky things that happen in Washington all

the time. But it's not that. It's much more.

Historically, Deep Throat has been cast as an American hero, the Nixon

Administration official who came forward, however secretively, to blow

the whistle on the Administration's improprieties and crimes. By

helping the Post unravel the White House cover-up, Throat and his

cub-reporter buddies almost single-handedly destroyed the Wicked

Warlock of the West Wing. The rest is history.

And myth.

One of the most lasting consequences of the Watergate affair has been

its corrosive effect upon investigative reporting. Through its

unquestioning embrace of Deep Throat, Hollywood and the press have

romanticized the anonymous source and, in doing so, legitimized him.

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, " "White House sources denied," "A Pentagon official said."

As sources disappear, the news becomes more propagandistic. 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 the playground of anonymous sources, the public is increasingly

informed by creative writers like Jason Blair (formerly of the New York

Times), Stephen Glass (ex-New Republic), Jack Kelly (gone from USA

Today), and, ironically, Woodward's former protégé at the Post, Janet

Cooke. Not surprisingly, the public becomes increasingly skeptical.

The problem with anonymous sources is not just that they might be

"composite" characters, or that they might not exist at all, but rather

that the source's motives remain beyond scrutiny. So the story is

necessarily incomplete.

Our view of the Watergate affair may now be changed by the certain

knowledge of Throat's identity. Until recently, his motives could only

be inferred. And the inference was that he must be a government

official who was so outraged by the Nixon Administration's hubris and

patent disregard for the law that he risked all to alert the public. A

real Good Guy, in other words.

That's what Hollywood and the Post have led us to believe over the

years, and it is what Mark Felt's grandchildren believe. But inasmuch

as Grandpa was himself convicted for "conspiring to injure and oppress

citizens of the United States," having authorized numerous black-bags

job and warrantless searches at the Bureau, he seems an unlikely person

to be so deeply shocked by the break-in at the Watergate.

So perhaps Throat's concern was as much political as civic.

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, as the Post reporter makes clear, this was before

Watergate. Indeed, Woodward says, "Felt thought the Nixon team were

Nazis."

As it happens, this is exactly what I thought at the time, as did

nearly every other liberal that I knew. Strange, then, to learn that

this same point of view was shared by Mark Felt, a professional

Red-hunter so highly placed in the FBI that only the Director, J. Edgar

Hoover, outranked him.

Or maybe it's not so strange.

A similar view of the Nixon Administration was held by James McCord,

the rightwing evangelist and former CIA Security chief who led the

break-in team at the Watergate. In a series of queer "newsletters"

written after he had been arrested, McCord put forward a conspiracy

theory suggesting that the Rockefeller family was lunging for control

of the government's critical national security functions, using the

Council on Foreign Relations and National Security Advisor Henry

Kissinger as its means to an end.

At the Pentagon, the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, went

even further. To Zumwalt, the Nixon Administration was "inimical to the

security of the United States." (1) Indeed, as the admiral later

explained, he eventually left the Administration (this was in 1974)

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

andthat the duty of policy-makers, therefore, is at all costs to

conceal from the people their probable fate..." (2)

Zumwalt, Felt and McCord were by no means alone in their deep mistrust

of the Nixon White House. Within the Pentagon, a military spy-ring was

pillaging Kissinger's secrets on behalf of Adm. Thomas Moorer, Chairman

of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 1970.

Within the offices of the National Security Council, and on secret

missions to China, Kissinger's briefcases were rifled and his burn-bags

ransacked. In all, perhaps a thousand top-secret documents were stolen

and transmitted to Moorer's office (if not elsewhere, as well) by

Yeoman Charles Radford, a young Mormon acting on orders of Adm. Robert

Welander.

Here, matters become a bit incestuous.

Admiral Welander was an aide to Moorer. But he was also a mentor of Lt.

Bob Woodward, whose commander Welander had been aboard the USS Fox.

Reportedly, it was at the urging of Welander---who had yet to be

implicated in "the Moorer-Radford affair"---that Woodward extended his

tour of duty in 1969, going to the Pentagon to serve as Communications

Duty Officer to then-CNO Tom Moorer.

In that capacity, Woodward presided over the CNO's code-room, reading

every communication that went in and out, while acting, also, as a

briefer and a courier. This, he tells us, is how he met Deep Throat,

while cooling his heels outside the Situation Room in the White House.

It was 1970 and, according to Woodward, Mark Felt was sitting in the

next chair.

The Moorer-Radford affair is not usually considered a part of the

Watergate story, though it deserves to be. The Nixon Administration

learned of the Pentagon spy-ring in late 1971, but the affair did not

become public until almost three years later. By then, the Watergate

story was almost played out.

While president, Nixon was determined to keep the affair secret,

telling Kissinger aide David Young, "If you love your country, you'll

never mention it." But the Pentagon's chief investigator, W. Donald

Stewart, was more forthcoming. Asked how seriously the affair should

have been taken, Stewart replied with a rhetorical question: "Did you

see that film, Seven Days in May? That's what we were dealing with..."

The film is about a military conspiracy to topple the president. A coup

d'etat, in other words.

So it is interesting to learn that Mark Felt placed Yeoman Radford

under electronic surveillance long after the White House learned of his

activities, and even after Radford had been transferred to a dead-end

military post 3000 miles from Washington. This suggests that Felt may

have been more concerned with counterintelligence issues than he was

with prosecutorial ones. (Radford was never charged with a crime.)

So why did Radford do it?

According to the yeoman himself, his "superiors" were of the opinion

that Kissinger's foreign policy was "catastrophic" by design. His own

espionage activities, he said, were intended to defeat a conspiracy

conceived by "the Rockefeller family" and orchestrated by the Council

on Foreign Relations. The purpose of this supposed conspiracy, Radford

said, was to win the Soviets' cooperation in guaranteeing the

Rockefellers' "continued domination" over the world's currencies. In

return for this, Nixon and Kissinger were to construct a foreign policy

that would ensure eventual Soviet hegemony and a one-world government.

(3)

Yikes! It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for Nixon. But not

quite.

It wasn't just Donald Stewart who was worried about a Seven Days in May

scenario. The CIA, which was also spying on the White House, as well.

In this connection, another of Woodward's sources is relevant. This was

Robert Bennett.

Until Woodward identified Mark Felt as Deep Throat, I was of the firm

opinion that the honor belonged to Bennett. This was so because it

seemed to me that, at a minimum, for someone to be taken seriously as a

candidate for Deep Throat, there should be some evidence that he met

secretly with Woodward and fed him stories about Watergate.

Until Woodward outed Felt, the only candidate who fit the bill was

Bennett.

In 1972, when Mark Felt was reading transcripts of Yeoman Radford's

conversations, Bennett was the new owner of the Robert R. Mullen

Company. This was a CIA front with offices in Washington and abroad.

Among Bennett's employees was the seemingly retired CIA officer, E.

Howard Hunt. Politically hyper-active during the Nixon Administration,

Bennett was also the Washington representative of the Howard Hughes

organization (which was just entering negotiations 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, and it was Bennett who volunteered his own

nephew to work as an infiltrator at the DNC. One might go on, but the

point is made: Bennett was a very well-placed source, if not a

co-conspirator.

Today, Senator Bennett is a Mormon elder and one of the richest men in

Congress. That he was also a key source of Bob Woodward's during the

Watergate affair is memorialized in a Memorandum to the Record written

by Martin J. Lukoskie, Bennett's CIA case-officer in 1972. (4)

According to Lukoskie, Bennett "established a 'backdoor entry' to the

Edward Bennett Williams law firm which is representing the Democratic

Party (and the Washington Post...)" Bennett's job was to "kill off any

revelation" about the Mullen Company's relationship to the CIA. But he

was also responsible for dissuading reporters from the Washington Post

from pursuing a 'Seven Days in May' scenario" that would have

implicated the CIA in a conspiracy to "take over the country."

Perhaps Bennett ought to have had a word with Donald Stewart, as well.

The relationship between Bennett and the Post was later clarified by

Lukoskie's CIA boss, Eric Eisenstadt. In a memo to the Deputy Director

of Plans, Eisenstadt wrote that 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 he gets and protects Bennett (and the Mullen

Company)." (5)

Hunh! 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 canonize yet another celebrity.

Rather, it's a question of deciding whether or not the Post's coverage

was manipulated by a cabal of spooks who were working to destroy an

unpopular president.

This is, of course, a conspiratorial point of view. Most of the press

has embraced Mark Felt as the celebrity de jour and, toward that end,

the only motive they impute to his behavior is a love of country. And

that is what's likely to be taught in the schools.

More cynical observers, however, will point to the fact that FBI

Director Hoover died a few weeks before the Watergate break-ins, and

will suggest that his second-in-command, Mark Felt, went after the

Nixon Administration because he was disappointed at not being named to

take Hoover's place.

That's possible, of course, but even if Felt didn't get to be Director,

he got the next best thing. That is, he got the files. Within hours of

Hoover's death, Felt took charge of the Hoover's Official and

Confidential files---including one that was headed "Black-Bag Jobs."

The fate of other files in Hoover's executive suite, including the

Director's Personal and Confidential files and the so-called "Do Not

File" files, remains a mystery. (6)

Now that we know that Mark Felt is Deep Throat, it would be grand to

ask him about the Director's missing files, his view of Yeoman

Radford's spying, and his reasons for going to the press, rather than

to the Justice Department, with his concerns about Watergate. It's

clear, however, that his family has no intention of making the old man

available. He is, after all, 91-years-old and not entirely well.

My guess, however, is if asked about these issues, Throat would take a

more conspiratorial view of them than most. What makes me think so is

Woodward's account of a meeting he had with Throat, shortly before the

Watergate hearings began. According to Woodward, Throat---Felt---told

him:

Everyone's life is in danger

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

Who was responsible?

C-I-A (7)

Now, there's a story! Strange that it never appeared in the Post.

Jim Hougan is an investigative reporter and former Washington editor of

Harper's. His book Spooks was one of the first to expose the

privatization of the US spying agencies. In 1984, he published Secret

Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA (Random House).

Notes

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

p. xiv.

2. Ibid.

3. Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA

(Random House, New York, 1984), p. 75.

4. The memo was first published in the so-called "Nedzi Hearings" of

the House Armed Services Committee's "Inquiry into the Alleged

Involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Watergate and

Ellsberg Matters," which began May 11, 1973. See, also, Secret Agenda,

pages 329-31.

5. The memo is dated March 1, 1973.

6. For details, see Inquiry into The Destruction of Former FBI Director

J. Edgar Hoover's Files and FBI Record-keeping, Hearings before the

Government Information and Individual Rights Subcommittee of the House

Committee on Government Operations, 94th Congress, 1st session, Dec. 1,

1975.

7. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, all the President's Men (Simon and

Schuster, New York, 1974), p. 317.

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Indeed,

the first part is what were all thinking but couldn't put together on paper (re:felt not being our messiah). Interesting link with regards to Bennet.

perhaps either David or John could help me out on this.

In the biography of Hougan it says Jim Hougan is an investigative reporter and former Washington editor of

Harper's. His book Spooks was one of the first to expose the

privatization of the US spying agencies. In 1984, he published Secret

Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA (Random House).

Exactly what does it mean by privitization of spying agencies. am i to believe they are outsourcing intelligence? Bush never had any to outsource if you get my drift.

John

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I have often wondered what the far right thought about Nixon's abandoning Taiwan and embracing the PRC. Did they feel that RMN sold them out for his personal / political / historic gain?

Would these folks have wanted the USSRs preemptive strike against the PRC to continue?

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