- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

“Deep Throat” has at last come forward. Arguably the most notorious informant in recent history is former FBI official W. Mark Felt, and it’s been confirmed by The Washington Post.

Mr. Felt was second-in-command at the FBI during Watergate, and is now 91 years of age. In stepping forward, he not only destroys his reputation, but he takes a chunk out of the reputation of the agency that supported him and his family in a comfortable lifestyle for so many years.

Had Mr. Felt used the lawful route to voice his concerns about the Nixon administration he might be remembered with a modicum of respect, if not admiration. Some in the Nixon administration were misusing their powers but not because they were feathering their own nests like Mr. Felt was. For their sins they got lengthy trials and prison sentences. Mr. Felt broke numerous federal laws, but received immunity from prosecution by hiding behind the skirts of two reporters at The Washington Post. They made their careers, and he made a clean getaway.

Mr. Felt’s whistleblowing didn’t cost him the respect of his peers. He was not censored by his agency. He didn’t lose his job.

An informant for The Post, Mr. Felt avoided cross-examination. He appeared before no grand jury, gave no oath to congressional committees as legitimate whistleblowers often do, nor was he questioned or attacked by political opposition. No one in authority had a chance to examine his motives or credibility. No other media could interview Mr. Felt to look for inconsistencies, or probe critical data. No federal jury ever weighed his evidence.

In fact, Mr. Felt’s information was second- and third-hand. He was not collecting testimony through the examination of witnesses. He performed no search, made no arrests. He had read report summaries given to him by FBI agents who were doing the real work.

Agents briefing Mr. Felt then must wonder today about the real reasons why he asked his questions. How many of his inquiries were based on his promise to a newspaper to keep the information flowing? His subordinates and his boss, the acting FBI Director, believed Mr. Felt was working for the FBI and that’s why they gave him highly secret information. But Mr. Felt was serving two masters.

Why did The Post believe Mr. Felt? Was it because he was an FBI agent? Contrast that with how The Post treated me, a 26-year veteran of the FBI when I came forward with political allegations against then-President Clinton. They attacked me in many articles, writing that I could not possibly be telling the truth. They accused me of using second- and third-hand information when in fact I worked in the White House day after day for five years.

When Mr. Felt came to them with second- and third-hand information about a Republican president, they were not so surgical in their approach to the truth. And consider, Bob Woodward added to his own questionable legacy by getting in-depth interviews with a CIA director who was diagnosed to be in a deep coma.

Remarkably, Mr. Woodward sleepwalked through eight years of Bill and Hillary Clinton. There he was, sitting on the second biggest story of his career — the emerging impeachment of Bill Clinton — and he didn’t act. Travelgate, FBI Filegate, missing Rose law firm documents found in Hillary’s residence, the conviction of Webb Hubble, Vince Foster’s mysterious death, the endless parade of White House bimbos … all seemed to add up to nothing in the eyes of Mr. Woodward and his colleagues at The Post.

When it came to Mr. Clinton, The Post always seemed late to the party.

You can be a whistleblower in this town and survive. But we are a nation of laws, and there is a path for whistleblowers approved by Congress and the courts, and encouraged by the White House. In the event a whistleblower thinks he has important information that should be revealed for the good of the nation, he can do it and in fact, has an absolute obligation to come forward.

Mr. Felt broke the law, and if he had been caught he probably would have been indicted and convicted. His actions were not in service to his agency, or to the citizens who paid his salary and now support his retirement. His actions were in service to himself.

Gary Aldrich is a 30-year veteran of the FBI and author of “Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House.” He now is president and founder of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty.

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