- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

The Watergate affair

Lest anyone forget, the Watergate affair was not about a botched break-in of the Democratic National Committee. It was about Richard Nixon’s illegal assault on the Constitution. As it turned out, the disgraced former president tried to eviscerate the Fourth Amendment, among other things.

This nation owes a debt of gratitude to W. Mark Felt, the retired FBI official who, the public has just learned, was the mysterious “Deep Throat” — the source of critical information for reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (“Former FBI official reveals he was ‘Deep Throat,’ ” Page 1, Wednesday). If you ask me, a monument should be erected in Mr. Felt’s honor somewhere between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. His courage and wisdom helped preserve democracy for future generations. Let the fundraising begin.

DENNY FREIDENRICH

Laguna Beach, Calif.

Mark Felt was wise to keep his identity a secret. As we have seen over the past few years, people who choose to inform the public about a sitting president risk their careers and their reputation. Had Deep Throat gone through regular governmental channels to expose Watergate, the Nixon White House would have used the now familiar tactic of making the story about the accuser rather than the accusation.

BUCK RUTLEDGE

Knoxville, Tenn.

Former Nixon aides and other critics of Mark Felt are saying that one of the lowest things one can do in the world is to “rat” on your friends, which strikes me as a silly schoolyard comparison. You don’t tell the teacher that Jimmy used too many paper towels in the little boys’ room, but if others are involved in serious crimes and you know about it, that’s a different matter. Were John Gotti’s men who turned on him and testified against him “rats”?

Any whistleblower is, almost by definition, going to cause his peers to feel betrayed. If nothing else, they have cause to be embarrassed that he did something to uncover wrongdoing while they supported it with their complicity.

Still, that seems to be the big complaint against Mr. Felt — that he was disloyal to the FBI and/or to Richard Nixon. I don’t buy that definition of loyalty. At that point in time, the FBI was being compromised. J. Edgar Hoover, who was too feisty and independent for any president to control, had died, and his replacement was L. Patrick Gray, a virtual Nixon puppet who dealt with the Watergate scandal by keeping the White House briefed on the investigation and destroying potentially incriminating documents. Mr. Felt’s “sin” was not falling in line with an FBI that was moving in that direction.

I don’t know that I would call Mark Felt a “hero” — not without knowing more about his motives, but the rush by Nixon loyalists to tar his name is shameful. There was wrongdoing in that administration, and if everyone had bought into their warped definition of “loyalty,” it never would have been exposed. Maybe that’s why they’re so upset now.

WILLIAM C. STOSINE

Iowa City, Iowa

Not highlighted on cable shows after the revelation Tuesday that former FBI official W. Mark Felt was the legendary source Deep Throat is that Bob Woodward first announced that he was maintaining his firm position of 30 years that this source would not be revealed until after Deep Throat’s death. Several hours later, Mr. Woodward had second thoughts and admitted that Mr. Felt was his and partner Carl Bernstein’s source — which pretty well puts a damper on anticipated record sales of the book Mr. Woodward was patiently awaiting Deep Throat’s death to publish.

As an aside, it’s interesting that the Felt family gave the scoop to Vanity Fair rather than to the Washington Post. Perhaps, the fact that Carl Bernstein is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine might have been a factor.

W. H. SMITH

Palm Desert, Calif.

Richard M. Nixon’s abuse of power notwithstanding, he and his administration were no exception to a long history of presidential abuse of power, up to and including William Jefferson Clinton.

Assumed or denied power corrupts, or at least makes people do stupid things. W. Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat, was little more than a disgruntled employee who didn’t get the FBI director’s job he thought was his after the death of J. Edgar Hoover. So, in his mentor’s style, he authorized illegal searches of people’s homes and surreptitiously took down a president.

Mr. Felt is certainly a hero to anti-establishment revolutionaries, anti-Vietnam War radicals and the media revitalized by Watergate. However, he did not earn the status of a national hero. That title belongs exclusively to the men and women of the military who defend our freedom.

DANIEL B. JEFFS

Apple Valley, Calif.

A matter of human rights

The lead paragraph in the front-page article “Bush dismisses ‘absurd’ Amnesty report” (yesterday) told of the denial by President Bush that the United States is a human rights violator. The Amnesty International report went even further, using the word “gulag” to describe Bush administration actions.

If memory serves me well, when the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal broke, the coalition forces in charge of this prison proceeded to release 400 detainees a day for three weeks. If “gulag” is a system of rounding up and imprisoning innocent civilians, then aren’t these very actions prima facie evidence of a gulag and of human rights violations?

Only under intense political pressure at the time did the coalition forces ultimately decide to adhere to human rights principles and release these imprisoned and, in some cases, tortured “innocent” citizens. If this isn’t a case of a gulag and a case of human rights violations, I don’t know what is.

RICHARD ALTON CARTER

Political science student

Georgia State University

Atlanta

Asian Americans and affirmative action

“Asian TV roles criticized” (Culture, May 5), though a very small article, caught my eye. After reading about the scarcity of “quality prime-time television roles for Asian-American actors,” as reported in a study by the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, I couldn’t help but notice how true the statement is.

I think it is rather depressing that a mere 2.7 percent of “regular prime-time television characters” are Asian American.

The article quotes the group’s statement that there are prevalent stereotypes among the few roles and that those stereotypes are causing inherent tribulations. I am just curious why there is such a shortage of Asian American roles and why, when roles are available, the characters tend to be stock characters.

It is bothersome to see these predetermined roles get played over and over again. Regardless of whether the stereotyping is positive or negative, it would be nice to see an original character for a change.

Undoubtedly, Asian Americans should be given the opportunity to portray less-cliched characters.

ANGELA WU

Vienna


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