W. Mark Felt was the No. 2 man at the FBI on June 17, 1972, the day the Democratic National Headquarters was broken into at the Watergate hotel and office complex in Washington, D.C.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were reporters for the Washington Post. Soon the reporters would develop several key sources for the thrilling news stories that eventually led to President Nixon’s Aug. 9, 1974, resignation over the cover-up of the burglary.
One Woodward and Bernstein source became known as "Deep Throat" in their book and movie, "All the President’s Men." The reporters repeatedly have refused to reveal who Deep Throat was until the person is dead.
Loose FBI lips. Now W. Mark Felt, 91, of Santa Rosa, Calif., says he was Deep Throat, according to Vanity Fair magazine. It makes sense. The Watergate break-in happened just a month after FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover died (May 2 at age 77), so the FBI would have had looser lips without a solid new leader.
Felt’s revelation follows some whispers about him in 1999, when Bernstein’s son reportedly told friends at summer camp that Felt was the Watergate source. At that time, speculation rose that Felt spilled his guts on Watergate because Nixon overlooked him when he named L. Patrick Gray on May 3, 1972, to replace Hoover.
Some still doubt Deep Throat was one person. The source knew too much. Many have called for the release of Woodward and Bernstein’s first draft of "All the President’s Men," which doubters theorize gives a truer picture of how many people added up to Deep Throat.
Dramatic single source. That first draft allegedly has several people feeding Woodward and Bernstein information about the Watergate investigation, but theoretically Woodward and Bernstein’s book publisher and movie producer thought the revelations would be more dramatic if told by a single source.
Legend became history, and now the legendary Deep Throat -- or at least a major piece of Deep Throat -- is known.
By the way, we still don’t know who ordered the Watergate break-in or exactly why. It appears Nixon’s former Attorney General John Mitchell had something to do with it, and it appears the burglary was aimed at gathering political information to use against the Democrats in the 1972 presidential campaign.
The big mystery. Mitchell resigned July 1, 1972, as director of the Committee to Re-elect the President. He never explained why he quit. But it was then, just two weeks after the break-in, that we all knew Watergate wasn't just about some "third-rate burglary." On Feb. 21, 1975, Mitchell was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the Watergate case.
Mitchell signed a contract to write an autobiography for Simon and Schuster, but never wrote it. He died Nov. 9, 1988, and took Watergate's biggest secrets with him.
Even Deep Throat doesn’t know what Mitchell knew. Or does he?
“Battleground,” the Battle of the Bulge movie, was on TV today. It was the only film that ever disturbed my father. For a war movie, it seems almost quiet. But to veterans of the Bulge like my father, the distant sound of artillery was a much-too-realistic reminder that death was in the air.
(By the way, forget the film called “The Battle of the Bulge.” It has big stars, but it depicts American and German tanks running full speed at one another across sunny open fields. It was filmed in Spain. The real Bulge was fought on narrow roads, in the hills and forests of the Belgian Ardennes, and most of it was in cold, heavy snow.)
In “Battleground,” released in 1949, an officer tells his men:
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you you were ‘suckers for fighting fascism.’”
It’s notable a screenwriter felt it important to insert this line so soon after World War II, “the Good War.” The words recognized the sad fact some Americans still believed that fighting Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan was for nothing, that the Germans and Japanese were no threat, to continental America, at least, and that Hitler and Tojo really wanted to be our friends.
For what? The “Battleground” line is similar to an exchange in the movie “The Best Years of Our Lives,” which I’ve written about before. In “The Best Years of Our Lives,” released in 1946, a bitter old man tells Homer, a young sailor who had lost his hands in battle, “It’s terrible when you see a guy like you that had to sacrifice himself - and for what?”
“And for what?” says Homer, played by Harold Russell. “I don’t getcha, Mister.”
The bitter old man, played by Ray Teal, says the Germans and Japanese really had nothing against the United States, but America was deceived into war, “sold down the river … by a bunch of radicals in Washington.”
Homer: Look here, Mister, what are you sellin’ anyway?
Bitter old man: I’m not selling anything but plain, old-fashioned Americanism.
Homer: Some Americanism. So we’re a bunch of suckers, eh? So we shoulda been on the side of the Japs and Nazis, eh?
Bitter old man: Again, I say, just look at the facts.
Homer: I’ve seen a couple of facts. I’ve seen a ship go down and over 400 of my shipmates go with it. Were those guys suckers?
Bitter old man: That’s the unpleasant truth.
People like that bitter old man were called America Firsters or isolationists back in the 1930s, as Hitler and Tojo invaded nations and built concentration camps for the purpose of racial subjugation and mass murder. Most of the isolationists disappeared into the woodwork after Pearl Harbor in 1941, but significant numbers still complained that Germany never attacked us, and in spite of Germany’s own declaration of war on us, they continued to argue we should have left Hitler alone.
When the Soviet and U.S. armies found Hitler’s death camps, gas chambers and mass graves in 1945, the isolationist complaints dropped to a few bitter murmurs. An enlightened, moral theme eclipsed the cynicism and second-guessing.
The new theme, the quintessentially liberal theme, was “Never again.” It’s a good idea to remember on Memorial Day.
Last year, Major League Baseball players hit 5,451 home runs. In fact, beginning in 1998, the league has always hit more than 5,000 home runs a year.
So far this year, after all the hoopla about steroids, the players suddenly are on a pace to hit fewer than 5,000 home runs for the first time since the league expanded to 30 teams.
This year, each team is hitting an average of slightly less than 1 home run per game. (Each game is counted twice, one for the home team, one for visitor.) Last year, each team averaged out slightly more than 1 home run per game.
13.8 percent down. At this point, about 50 games into the season, baseball is 229 home runs, or 13.8 percent, behind last year’s pace. The players have hit 1,432 home runs. (And because these statistics prorate last year’s totals, it’s possible the cooler air of the early season will explain part of the home run lag.)
Can the sluggers catch up to the standard 5,000 home runs a year? Or have Congressman Tom Davis’s winter steroid hearings scared them straight into statistics hell?
Treaty opponents chanting ‘We won!’ gathered at Paris’ Place de la Bastille, a symbol of rebellion where angry crowds in 1789 stormed the Bastille prison and sparked the French Revolution. Cars blared their horns and ‘no’ campaigners thrust their arms into the air.
After all the us against them -- the liberators versus the loafers -- George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard won, and Jacques Chirac lost. It’s what Christopher Hitchens calls “the cunning of history.”
The Washington Post reports that, for four days in early May, Iraqi Arab Sunnis in the western Iraq town of Husaybah battled it out with the foreign al Qaida murderers led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Apparently, Zarqawi had ordered the assassination of a Sulaiman tribal sheik, the sheik was killed, and the Iraqi Sunnis got mad. The Sunnis and foreigners exchanged rifle fire and mortar rounds until the Sunnis had lost four men, and the boneheads had lost 11. Then the Sunnis tipped off U.S. forces, which bombed elements of the al Qaida unit.
The battle indicates that Sunni Arabs, once favored by Saddam Hussein, are no longer willing to let Zarqawi try to reverse Iraq’s plans for democracy. Liberty or death? They know which alternative Zarqawi offers.
Here is a summary of notes from an March 28, 2003, FBI interview with a detainee at Guantanamo. It’s from documents the ACLU obtained with a Freedom of Information request.
The detainee’s name has been deleted – that is, redacted. His complaint about his guard’s handling of a Quran was presented to higher level officers as a "serious issue."
Notes that "Detainee REDACTED stated that the treatment of the Koran continued to be the reason for his unwillingness to cooperate. REDACTED was asked how the mistreatment of the Koran had taken place. REDACTED stated that the issue continued to be based on what the detainees perceived as the use of the Koran as a weapon. It was taken from them and returned at will, with little consideration for the value which they placed in the book. REDACTED was asked if he had ever seen the Koran mistreated or intentionally mishandled. He had not. REDACTED was asked if he had ever seen the Koran thrown around, tossed on the ground or mistreated in any way. He had not . . . . REDACTED was informed that his case for the proper treatment of the Koran had been taken to higher levels and presented as a serious issue. The effort had been hurt, however, because it had been found that detainees were hiding things within the pages of the Koran. As a result, the guards were required to look through the Koran for their own safety. REDACTED was asked if he could assure camp officials that none of the detainees would ever hide any objects of any kind in their Korans. He stated he could not.
Back to abuses. This Quran "controversy" has devolved into farce. There have been real abuses at the Abu Ghraib, Kandahar, Guantanamo and other prisons. Detainees have been beaten or sexually humiliated. Some have been killed. Investigate these cases, punish the guilty, and tell us clearly what, if anything, has been done to prevent such abuses from happening again.
But get off the Quran thing. Al Qaida’s abuse of the Quran is as old as al Qaida. There is absolutely nothing a Guantanamo prison guard could do to defile that book any more.
Which U.S. law authorized the purchase of the Qurans for al Qaida prisoners in Guantanamo? And exactly why are we paying for them?
Aren’t these prisoners confined at Guantanamo precisely because they are alleged to have been inspired by a perverted interpretation of the Quran to kill non-Muslims? If this book motivates them to kill, why do we give them copies of the book?
And isn’t any law that would allow the purchase of Qurans – for anyone – an unconstitutional act "respecting the establishment of religion"? Where are the activists for separation of mosque and state?
With kid gloves. Guards at Guantanamo not only give Qurans to the detainees, they then give themselves – the guards – instructions on how not to "mishandle" each of these gift books. They may not even touch a detainee’s Quran without first slipping on a pair of clean gloves.
When a U.S. military helicopter crashes, there’s a good chance all aboard died. Both American soldiers on an OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance helicopter died Thursday (May 26) when their craft was shot down near Buhriz, Iraq.
The obvious reasons for helicopter fatalities are gravity and sudden compression as the machine hits the ground. I’m wondering, is there a way a helicopter can be re-engineered to include an interior cushion that might save pilots and passengers, at least in crashes from relatively low levels? Or is a helicopter dropping from even 100 feet moving so fast that survival is impossible?
Ejection seats. Beyond an interior system, how about ejection seats for helicopters? Apparently the Russians have developed ejection seats for their KA-50 and KA-52 attack helicopters. The main rotor blades jettison, and then the pilots escape.