Nixon aides blame 'Deep Throat' for betrayal
WASHINGTON - Aides to the late president Richard Nixon have said that former
FBI deputy director Mark Felt, unmasked as the anonymous Watergate source known
as "Deep Throat," had breached professional ethics by leaking
"Deep Throat," named after an emblematic porn film of the time, helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein draw connections between the break-in and the White House, eventually leading to Nixon's resignation under threat of impeachment.
Forty Nixon aides were indicted as a result of the break-in in which burglars planted listening devices to spy on the Democrats during an election campaign.
Felt revealed Tuesday that he had secretly fed to Washington Post reporters information about crimes committed by members of the presidential entourage, who spun an intricate web of illegal political espionage and vendettas against those perceived to be Nixon's enemies.
Liddy suggested that Felt had been also aware of information that was damaging to the Democrats but chose to keep that silent about it, indicating he was driven by partisan politics.
Garment said the question was "when government persons, having private, secret, confidential information, are justified to become the whistle-blower and defy or ignore their sworn obligation to maintain security and go to the press with it."
Chuck Colson, the head of White House communications in 1972, Felt could have helped America avoid a wrenching political crisis, the ripple effect of which was felt in the country for decades, if he had gone through proper channels.
"Mark Felt could have stopped Watergate," said Colson, who served time in jail and is now an evangelical Christian broadcaster. "He was in a position of that kind of influence. Instead, he goes out and basically undermines the administration."
Former Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan, in an appearance on MSNBC television, bluntly said Felt was a "traitor."
But David Gergen, another ex-Nixon aide and one-time Deep Throat suspect, was reserved, saying he was "relieved" he was no longer under suspicion.
Felt's disclosure was hailed by leading US dalies Wednesday as a prime example of how anonymous sources can keep government abuse in check.
"Had Felt remained quiet, Nixon might have succeeded in one of the most serious abuses of power ever attempted by an American president," said the Washington Post.
The New York Times wondered if a Watergate scandal today would similarly come to light.
"Now, at a time when reporters' right to keep sources secret is under so much attack, it's worth asking whether Deep Throat would have shared his secrets" if he had not been confident the Post reporters would keep the secret.