Pat Buchanan

"De mortuis nil nisi bonum."

Of the dead, nothing but good.

So said Dean Acheson of Sen. Joe McCarthy on his death in 1957. "Tailgunner Joe" had bedeviled the secretary of state for his lassitude toward communist penetration of State in President Truman's time.

But the passing of Mark Felt, associate director of the FBI in the later Nixon years, lately exposed as "Deep Throat," the source for the Woodward-Bernstein stories, calls forth some rebuttal to the tributes lavished upon Felt as the honest lawman who saved our republic.

When the Watergate break-in was traced to the Committee to Reelect the President, Felt was put in charge of the FBI investigation. Almost immediately, he began to leak to Woodward.

Felt, it is said, was justified, as the White House was interfering with his investigation. False.

This is a moral cloak belatedly cast over more base motives.

The truth: Felt was a bitter man. Having risen through the ranks under J. Edgar Hoover, whose black-bag jobs he had overseen, Felt expected to be rewarded by being named director on Hoover's death. Nixon had passed him over for an outsider, L. Patrick Grey.

By secretly colluding with the Post, Felt was ingratiating himself with an establishment that loathed Nixon, even as he exacted revenge for having being denied by Nixon the post he had coveted.

Had Nixon or aides restricted Felt, the Post would have had an explosive story. But the Post never charged the White House with interfering with the FBI investigation that summer or fall, because it was not interfering.

What Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ran with were such shockers as that Nixon's men had hired a trickster to ape the Democrats' Dick Tuck, and said trickster had sent dozens of pizzas to a Muskie rally.

The FBI had ferreted out the Artful Dodger, and the Post led with the atrocity. "FBI Finds Nixon Aides Sabotaged Democrats," screamed the four-column headline at the top of page one.

Indeed, if what Felt did was honorable, why did he lie and deny it repeatedly when asked if he was leaking to the Post? Why did he lie in his memoir in 1979, when, well into retirement, he emphatically denied he was Deep Throat? Was Felt so noble he could save our republic, yet refuse, to the point of lying in his memoirs, to take any credit?

Answer: Felt knew what he did was dishonorable, corrupt -- and unnecessary. For honest FBI agents were steadily making progress toward proving that higher-ups at CREEP were involved in aiding those caught in the Watergate break-in.


Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Pat Buchanan's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.
 
©Creators Syndicate