Don't swallow the Deep Throat hype!
W. Mark Felt is undoubtedly a nice grandfather, but he was a key FBI bureaucrat during the illegal COINTELPRO operations and later authorized illegal break ins of dissident's homes and political left movement offices. The claim that he only authorized covert break-ins (Black Bag jobs) of persons directly connected to the Weather Underground as part of legitimate foreign intelligence matters is a rewriting of history rejected by the the government officials who indicted, prosecuted, and convicted Felt of illegal activity.
According to Nat Hentoff, writing in the Village Voice in 1981:
"W. Mark Felt has publicly admitted that he approved an FBI black-bag job at the Arab Information Center in Dallas in the fall of 1972 in an effort to find clues as to possible Palestinian terrorists in the United States." (James Q. Wilson, "Buggings, Break-Ins & the FBI," Commentary, Vol. 65, June 1978, No. 6).
"Mark Felt (born August 17, 1913, in Twin Falls, Idaho; BA University of Idaho, LLB George Washington University) had gone to work for the FBI in 1942. He served at FBI headquarters here for several years and then at a number of posts such as New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Kansas City. In 1962 he returned to FBI headquarters and in 1964 was named head of the FBI's Inspection Division. In 1965 he became an assistant directer to J. Edgar Hoover. When Hoover died in May 1972, L. Patrick Gray took over as FBI director and Felt was named associate director—the number-two job in the bureau. Felt stayed until June 1973, when he parted company with acting FBI Director William Ruckelshaus." (Jack Limpert, Washingtonian Magazine, August 1974).
Felt was thus a high-ranking FBI official during most of the illegal FBI COINTELPRO operations.
The Final Report of the Congressional "Church" Committee:
"COINTELPRO began in 1956, in part because of frustration with Supreme Court rulings limiting the Government's power to proceed overtly against dissident groups; it ended in 1971 with the threat of public exposure."
"Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that...the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propogation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence."Cite
For more details on COINTELPRO:
According to Brian Glick, COINTELPRO used a broad array of methods, including:
1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
--Brian Glick, War at Home (South End Press).
From First Principles, National Security and Civil Liberties, (Center for National Security Studies), Vol. 6, No. 3, December 1980 p. 11:
FELT & MILLER. Former FBI officials W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller were found guilty on November 6 of conspiring to violate the civil rights of friends and relatives of Weather Underground fugitives by approving FBI break-ins to search their homes in 197273. The verdict marks the first time high ranking intelligence officials have been convicted for violating individual rights, and attorneys for Felt and Miller said the verdict will be appealed. The officials argued that former acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray had authorized the breakins. Despite testimony that Gray had given general approval for break-ins and had specifically approved several break-ins against Al Fatah, no evidence was introduced showing that Gray had specifically authorized the Weather Underground break-ins. Felt did mention that in 1972 Gray had authorized a program of conducting break-ins for another agency, which he did not name, and another former FBI official referred to a domestic operation with foreign connections which he was under instructions from Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti not to discuss.
In instructions to the jury, Judge William B. Bryant accepted the theory, advanced by the government, that a warrant is required for break-ins except in foreign intelligence investigations when approved on a case by case basis by the President or Attorney General. Five former Attorneys General testified that they had not approved warrantless breakins while in office, although several said they believed the President can delegate the authority to do so directly to the Director of the FBI. This belief was also expressed by former President Richard Nixon, who said that when approved by the President "for a good cause . . . what would otherwise be unlawful or illegal becomes legal."( WP, 10/ 10/80, p. A25; WP, 10/ 16/80, p. A13; WS, 10/ 16, 80, p. 138; NYT, 10/22,'80, p. A27; NYT, 10,,23/80, p. A24; NYT, 10/29,,80, p. A17; WP, 10/30/ 80, p. AI; N YT, I030,,80, p. A17; NYT 10131 / 80, p. A19; NYT, 11/7/80, p. A1).
Statement of Ronald Reagan:
Statement on Granting Pardons to W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller
During their long careers, Mark Felt and Edward Miller served the Federal Bureau of Investigation and our nation with great distinction. To punish them further -- after 3 years of criminal prosecution proceedings -- would not serve the ends of justice.
Their convictions in the U.S. District Court, on appeal at the time I signed the pardons, grew out of their good-faith belief that their actions were necessary to preserve the security interests of our country. The record demonstrates that they acted not with criminal intent, but in the belief that they had grants of authority reaching to the highest levels of government.
America was at war in 1972, and Messrs. Felt and Miller followed procedures they believed essential to keep the Director of the FBI, the Attorney General, and the President of the United States advised of the activities of hostile foreign powers and their collaborators in this country. They have never denied their actions, but, in fact, came forward to acknowledge them publicly in order to relieve their subordinate agents from criminal actions.
Four years ago, thousands of draft evaders and others who violated the Selective Service laws were unconditionally pardoned by my predecessor. America was generous to those who refused to serve their country in the Vietnam war. We can be no less generous to two men who acted on high principle to bring an end to the terrorism that was threatening our nation.
Felt became a hero to the political Right in the U.S. and to hardling intelligence agency officials and agents. See, for example, this article in the John Birch Society's New American.
For further reading:
William Norman Grigg, "Respectable" Terrorists," Vol. 17, No. 24, New American, November 19, 2001.
The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI "raised more than $1 million to pay for their defense." (Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 16, 1980)
The Security and Intelligence Fund raised tens of thosands of dollars for the defense of Felt and Miller. (Public Eye, v. 4, n. 1&2, 1983).
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