[News] Mark Felt, Constitution-shredder

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 9 12:28:40 EDT 2005

June 08, 2005


DEEP THROAT'S CRIMES: Mark Felt, Constitution-shredder

The following is an expanded version of an article I wrote for this week's 
issue of the <http://www.laweekly.com/ink/05/29/news-ireland.php>L.A. Weekly:

  After Mark Felt (photo left) outed himself as the legendary “Deep Throat” 
in the Watergate case last week, there was a media rush to canonize the 
FBI’s former Number Two man, and politicians proposed he be given the 
Presidential Medal of Freedom. But in all this gush to make Felt a hero, 
there has been little or no mention of Felt’s prime role in COINTELPRO -- 
the most gigantic domestic political spying and disruption operation ever 
in American history, illegally conducted by the FBI.
Felt, in fact, was indicted and convicted in federal court in 1980 of 
directing nine illegal break-ins, aimed at domestic political 
targets,  when he was boss of the COINTELPRO operation. Felt thus became 
the highest ranking FBI official to be convicted of criminal charges 
since J. Edgar Hoover (photo right, with Nixon) became head of the Bureau 
in 1924. (He was later pardoned by Ronald Reagan.) And in the early ‘70s, 
Felt appeared repeatedly on national TV (on shows like “Meet the Press”) 
trying to whip up a climate of security hysteria that this country didn’t 
see until post-9/11, by painting the anti-Vietnam war left as agents of 
foreign powers.

Here’s what the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations 
with respect to Intelligence Activities (headed by 
 Sen. Frank Church of Idaho-- photo left -- and known to historians as the 
Church Committee) said about COINTELPRO in its final report in 1976, after 
an extensive, headline-making, three-year investigation:

"Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society 
even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but 
COINTELPRO went far beyond that...the Bureau conducted a sophisticated 
vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First 
Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing 
the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would 
protect the national security and deter violence.” (The Church Committee’s 
14 reports, the most extensive official review of intelligence activities 
ever made public, are available online in their entirety by 
here ) The FBI compiled dossiers on over 500,000 Americans during the 
course of COINTELPRO.

“There’s a great deal of irony in the fact that Felt -- at the very time he 
was meeting Bob Woodward in those parking garages to confide information 
about the Watergate break-in and other illegal spying by the Nixon 
administration -- was again and again directing exactly the same sort of 
thing against groups on the left the FBI didn’t like--illegal activities 
that Felt continued to order even after Richard Nixon was in deep trouble 
because of Watergate,” the historian Athan Theoharis -- whose many books 
include “Chasing Spies: How the FBI Failed in Counterintelligence but 
Promoted the Politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War Years,” and "The FBI 
and American Democracy: A Brief Critical History" -- told me this week. 
(Morover, Theoharis says, the FBI had a history of leaking on presidents 
and pols: it leaked information on Truman in the 1948 campaign -- for which 
its agents wrote Republican campaign literature, spread slurs that Adlai 
 Stevenson (photo left) was a homosexual when he ran for president in 1952 
-- and delivered a dossier to the Nixon White house concerning the alleged 
homosexual proclivities of certain solons Nixon didn’t like.)

The FBI’s targets in its COINTELPRO operation included: the Communist 
Party-USA, especially its black members and groups; the Socialist Workers 
Party, a Trotskyist group; black nationalist organizations such as the 
Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam; New Left groups such as 
Students for a Democratic Society; Youth Against War and Fascism; the 
Progressive Labor party; the National Committee to Abolish the House 
UnAmerican Activities Committee, and other anti-HUAC coalitions; the Puerto 
Rican Independence Movement; anti-Vietnam war groups, especially those on 
campuses; and various media, ranging from the Liberation News Service to 
the New York Post (then the most liberal newspaper in the country.)

The COINTELPRO breakins of which Felt was convicted were ostensibly aimed 
at the Weather Underground, a new left splinter group which had engaged in 
bombings and jailbreaks. But so scattershot were the blunderbuss COINTELPRO 
illegalities that they often hit people who had not the remotest connection 
with the 
 Weathermen. One of the victims of Felt-directed break-ins was Juan 
Gonzalez (photo right), now a columnist for the New York Daily News, and 
co-host--with Amy Goodman--of the radio and TV news show “Democracy Now!” 
On his radio show last week, Gonzalez said:

“I can testify, having been a member of the Young Lords back in those days 
that the numerous break-ins that occurred in the homes of Young Lord 
members, including my own, back in 1972, clearly were political break-ins 
and that people -- that the things that were stolen had nothing to do with 
valuable goods of a drug dealer, but were clearly break-ins looking for 
material and information, and I remember back in 1972, when I was arrested 
by 13 F.B.I. agents for violating the selective service laws at the time 
and refusing to serve in Vietnam, I was questioned for about eight hours at 
F.B.I. headquarters before I was arraigned, and virtually all of the 
questions that the F.B.I. agents asked me were notabout the Young Lords, 
not about the selective service, but were: When was the last time you saw 
Bernadine Dohrn? When was the last time that you saw Robbie Roth? When was 
the last time you saw Mark Rudd? They were obsessed with finding the 
Weathermen and being able to break a group that they saw sending a bad 
signal of white progressive Americans and radical 
   uniting with the Black and Latino liberation struggles at the 
[Felt] authorized some break-ins of my apartments.” You can read the 
entire transcript of this show by 

The FBI stopped at nothing in its efforts to disrupt and destroy left 
groups and activists, including the use of agents provocateurs who engaged 
in arson, bombings, and attempted murder. Noam Chomsky 
<http://www.publiceye.org/liberty/Feds/ci-chomsky.html>wrote about one such 
agent provocateur several years ago in Public Eye magazine:

“A former student of mine, also active in the peace movement, was teaching 
at San Diego State College in 1971. According to a report submitted to the 
church Committee by the ACLU, the FBI provided defamatory information about 
him to the college administration (and also gained access to confidential 
college records). Three public hearings were held under college auspices. 
He was exonerated each time, then summarily dismissed by the chancellor of 
the California state college system, Glenn Dumke, one of the numerous 
examples of the treachery of the universities in those years. During this 
period the same student was the target of an assassination attempt by a 
secret terrorist army organized, funded, armed and directed by the FBI, 
which concealed evidence of the crime and prevented 
 prosecution of the FBI agent in charge and the FBI infiltrator who led 
this organization in its rampage of fire-bombing, shooting, and general 
violence and terror aimed at the left, all with the full knowledge and 
cooperation of the Bureau. In this case, the intended victim of the FBI 
assassination attempt escaped injury, though a young woman was seriously 

amnesia is sadly rampant in this country, but one other reason that the 
media may have made little or no mention of Felt’s COINTELPRO crimes is 
that a huge number of media outlets were themselves complicit in 
COINTELPRO, which had an extensive disinformation campaign aimed at 
newspapers and television. Journalists promised not to reveal that the FBI 
had suggested stories or provided information for them, and some reporters 
went further and actually volunteered to help the Bureau, writing articles 
designed to damage a specific FBI-targeted individual, event, or group. 
Media outlets with reporters cooperating in COINTELPRO, according to 
Church Committee report, included: the Associated Press; U.S. News & World 
Report; the Hearst and Newhouse newspaper chains; the New York Daily News, 
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune, and the Los 
Angeles Herald Examiner; as well as KTTV in Los Angeles and 11 other local 
TV stations; and many more.

  Even Bob Woodward (left), in his long, June 2 Washington Post article 
Mark Felt Became ‘Deep 
never mentioned Felt’s COINTELPRO convictions at all, or the other 
Felt-directed FBI crimes for which he was never prosecuted. As to Deep 
Throat’s motivations, the National Security Archive last Friday released 
transcripts of some Nixon White House tapes on the FBI -- including on 
which Nixon declares he wants a “house cleaning” at the FBI, which one can 
deduce included Felt -- who, in his 1979 Memoir, “The FBI Pyramid from the 
Inside,” wrote that he thought he stood an “excellent chance” of being 
named the Bureau’s director until Nixon passed over him. On another tape, 
Nixon -- who’d just been told by Al Hag that Felt had leaked material to 
the New York Times -- says of Felt, “He's a bad guy, you see." And he also 
said of Felt, ""I don't want him. I can't have him" as Bureau director. 
Both these conversations were BEFORE Watergate. Disgusted by not getting 
the top FBI job, Felt resigned from the Bureau in June of 1973.

I’m perfectly prepared to acknowledge that Deep Throat’s confirmations and 
occasional “look in this direction” guidance put some spine into Ben 
Bradlee, giving him reassurance that Woodstein were on the right track and 
that the story should be pursued (as Bradlee admitted to Ted Koppel on 
“Nightline” last week). But to make a hero out of Felt -- the serial 
Constitution-shredder and convicted criminal -- for his self-serving, 
parking garage torpedoes aimed at a president who didn’t like him, strikes 
me as a chapter in the book of laughter and forgetting.

Posted by Doug Ireland at 02:34 PM | 

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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