On this day in 1913, the Associate Director of the FBI Mark Felt was born. Normally, that wouldn’t mean that much. But Felt is very important because he was “Deep Throat” — the whistleblower who was the source of much information to Woodward and Bernstein in the Watergate investigation.
I talked about this to some extent last year, but it bears repeating: Felt wasn’t lily white in the matter. He most definitely had an ax to grind against the Nixon White House. There’s nothing wrong with that. That is usually the way it is with whistleblowers. But at the time, whistleblowers are always treated as though any motives they might have make their revelations invalid.
We are seeing that today with Edward Snowden. And it is shameful. If it had been revealed in the early 1970s that Felt was a major source of information, all the establishment types would have said, “He’s just pissed off that he didn’t get the FBI directorship.” Well, today it is true that Snowden is an anarchist who would love to see the national security state dismantled. What I don’t understand is how that makes his revelations any less true or important.
I was interested to see that John Kiriakou (as lily white a whistleblower as you will find) gave Snowden the advice “DO NOT, under any circumstances, cooperate with the FBI.” Regardless, whistleblowers are critically important to the functioning of a democracy. But don’t expect the establishment to ever see that in real time. Like Bob Schieffer, the establishment will always be around to look back forty years and say, “Thank you whistleblower!”
Happy birthday Mark Felt!