Entries Tagged 'Politics' ↓

Deep Throat is former FBI deputy director

The identity of Deep Throat has been the biggest journalistic secret of the last thirty years.

It has finally come out who the mysterious Deep Throat informant of the Watergate scandal is. Apparently, those who know DT’s real identity — Bernstein, Woodward and their editor at The Washington Post Ben Bradlee — swore never to reveal it during DT’s lifetime. (Apparently, Mr. Bradlee did not even reveal the name to the late Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Post.)

While the revelation is front-page news in The N ew York Times , The Washington Post and other papers today, the publication that uncovered the secret is Vanity Fair. The details are in the July issue and on its website.

Mr. Throat is none other than the number two man at the FBI at the time, W. Mark Felt. Just a month before the break-in, he was passed over by President Nixon to replace the lifelong head of the agency, J. Edgar Hoover. (The agency was started back in 1908, but Hoover became its chief in 1924 and remained in that capacity until his death in 1972.) It is said Mr Hoover had so much dirt on prominent politicians, including presidents, that as he got up in years, they were afraid to replace him.

So there must have been some bitterness on Mr. Felt’s part that he was passed over for the key position. President Nixon chose L. Patrick Gray, one of Nixon’s loyal supporters.

After the break-in, political dynamite arrived daily on Mr. Felt’s desk: he had 1, 500 pages of reports of the FBI investigation of Watergate, the investigation that Nixon wanted to use the CIA to stop, on bogus claims of national security. So Felt had both the weapon and the motive to bring President Nixon down in flames. And he did so by tipping Watergate secrets to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

Mr Felt, now 91, has confirmed the story. Even more persuasively, Bob Woodward confirmed it on
The Washington Post
website. (Apparently six years ago, Woodward visited Mr. Felt possibly as a gesture of goodwill to the aging “ultimate insider,” who helped launched Woodward’s career. Significantly, Woodward cautiously parked his limo some distance from the house, as Woodward had no clear connection to the retired FBI official. Woodward was not reporting upon any FBI matters at the time.)

Even highly-placed Washingtonians were as in the dark as the public about the real Deep Throat. In fact, one of Nixon’s attorneys Leonard Garment published a book in 2000 In Search of Deep Throat. In that book, he hypothesized incorrectly that DT was John Sears, a young Republican party political strategist 1n 1972.

Some insiders guessed the truth, according to The Washington Post. James Mann, a reporter with Woodward, wrote an Atlantic Monthly article in 1992 that named Felt as a likely candidate. Read that article: it is almost clairvoyant in its accuracy. Mann portrays Felt and other FBI long-timers as fighting Nixon’s efforts to muzzle the FBI or to use it for his own political purposes. (For example, the President’s counsel, John Dean, had been put in place to observe crucial FBI interviews in the developing Watergatre investigation.)

Times review of bombshell book

The New York Times has given a surprisingly positive, and un-nuanced, review to the controversial book Freakonomics.

The new book is a rather meandering series of essays which attempt to apply the dismal science to everyday life in unusual (and nonmonetary) ways. Moreover, the book has been sent free to some bloggers (not me) to get the marketing buzz going.

Unfortunately, it is so controversial that at least one blogger has spent his time tearing down the book’s arguments.

Freaknomics claims that the legalization of abortion has 1) reduced unwanted children. 2) These children as they grow up commit a disproportionately high number of crimes. Therefore 3) legalized abortion is the main reason for the lower crime rate that started in the early 1990’s.

It analyzes other topics as well: cheating by Sumo wrestlers and Chicago school teachers, the prevalence of certain given names among different ethnic groups, and the appeal of crack dealing as a career among inner city youth. The topics seem certain to upset one group or another, even many different groups for different reasons.

My ability to summarize these arguments in a blog is lacking tonight. The topics and the conclusions reached are incendiary, and I prefer to stay out of the fire these discussions will ignite.

Backroom politics celebrated

I have been watching a documentary made years ago about the Clinton-Bush campaign. It’s The War Room, and it takes place in the nerve center for the Clinton campaign.

After all this time, it looks even smarter than it must have when it first hit the movie screens. The first topic to be shown is the Gennifer Flowers scandal — a foreshadowing of the Monica nightmare many years later that so tainted Clinton and his presidency. (Even the filmmakers Pennebaker and Hegedus are surprised how many things they got right. They filmed Carville “who looked like somebody’s drunken uncle”* just because he was so interesting (and outspoken) without realizing at first that he was the number one man running Clinton’s campaign.)

You get an upclose view of the backroom pols fighting to win the White House. The stars of the movie are James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, as they are put to the fire over by the latest stories in the newspaper. (Stephanopoulos, of course, later became Clinton’s first press secretary.)

Whichever way you voted or however you feel about Mr. Bill, this is an eye opening film about the political process in America.

For more edetails, see Sephanopoulos book All Too Human.

* This is a direct quote from D.A. Pennebaker.

Elephants destroy Washington?

Moveon.org, the vitriolic anti-Bush political group, has issued a new call to arms. It’s a TV spot — first aired yesterday — where rogue elephants destroy the White House, both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court.

It’s about as creepy as an animated commercial can get and certainly a lot scarier than anything Disney has done.

Supposedly, “radical Republicans” — to use the commercial’s phrase — are attempting to pack the courts with more extremist judges.

Some Republicans are trying to eliminate the right to filibuster on judicial nominees. As the rules are now, 60 votes in the Senate are needed to end a filibuster. If the rules are changed, a simple majority, 51 votes, will be needed to confirm a nomination.

Filbustering — unlimited legislative debate — is used by a minority to prevent an issue from being voting upon by the entire Senate. Historically, both the House and Senate had have the privilege of unlimited debate, but over the years, the House has put rules in place curtailing it. It has remained in the Senate, though the votes needed by law to end a filibuster have been reduced from 66 to 60.

Bob Dole in The New York Times has some thoughts on the filibuster rule, and the need for a speedy up or down vote on current judcial nominees. (He favors a yay or nay vote, after adequate debate.)

Given the likelihood that there will be some U.S. Supreme Court vacancies in the next few years, a bad judical confirmation can last a lifetime — the judge’s lifetime.

See the :30 spot fueling this debate at AdAge.com.

It was created by Zimmerman & Markman, political consultants, of Santa Monica and produced by FlickerLab in New York.* I guess that makes it a bi-coastal attack on the President.

*By the way, FlickerLab produced the spot in only 44 hours!