Wednesday, June 01, 2005

American Hero

W. Mark Felt
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
The famous Watergate journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein said they wouldn't reveal Deep Throat until he or she passed.

W. Mark Felt, the former second-in-command at the White House, would have been content dying without ever experiencing the acclaim and attention of being the world's most infamous anonymous source. In the end, this American hero at 91 was encouraged by his family, who thought, with his failing health, his cherished gift to the Republic should be finally recognized.

Mark Felt seemed to be the creation of a problematic anonymous source. In 1972, President Nixon passed him over for the #1 spot at the FBI to replace J. Edgar Hoover. Two years later, embittered by the snub and the dead end to his career he retired.

Felt had an axe to grind. Angered by Nixon's decision, he took what he know and slowly spoon-fed Woodward and Bernstein. Was he a snitch? Is it possible what he did was criminal? Sure, but his selfless character led him to act on behalf of his country.

It's quite ironic that Deep Throat was unmasked in the weeks following the Newsweek scandal and assuredly timed by these ideological heroes to combat the admistration incessant attacks on the media.

Mark Felt is undeniably one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century. America, today, needs many more Mark Felts. In a time of unprecedented secrecy in government can you imagine the criminal activities that are currently happenning in the Bush White House?

To this administration, the anonymous source has taken a full-brunt assault. They can easily paint it as a misused tool and shorthand for poor reporting. In fact, the clarity that Bush tries to extend to the Newsweek scandal is far more murky and because the media, in general, is staggering from too many blows, a retraction was issued but the end result was still the same.

Newsweek changed its story because the anonymous source pulled back from his statement that U.S. interrogators flushed the Koran down the toilet ('s Sidney Blumenthal reported that inmates at Guantanamo did not have flushing toilets, instead, had buckets that the Koran was inserted into). He didn't say he concocted the story or that it was false. It was followed by more reports of systematic abuse at Guantanamo Bay contained in hundreds of lawsuits by former detainees. Amnesty International followed with a report calling Guantanamo Bay "the gulag of our time".

The stark criminality of the Bush White House and sustained attacks on the media has upped the ante for people like Mark Felt and whistleblowers all over government and business. Hopefully those people will find encouragement in the deeds of Mark Felt, who quite possibly saved our nation from catastrophic damage during Watergate. Felt alerted us to the dictatorial president who overstepped his authority and broke criminal laws

We must dearly believe that the role of the media in America is the weapon of the people and is still, despite what Bush says, healthy and vibrant. Without the power of the pen we cannot enjoy freedom.