Wednesday, June 08, 2005

FBI Agents Betrayed

I asked a friend and former excellent military officer with a background in the law enforcement arena what he thought of the Deep Throat revelations. I think he hits on one point missed by most columnists when he considers the participation of FBI agents and how they must feel at their betrayal by Felt.

I guess the first reaction of most Americans was to applaud this guy and his actions, and I was no exception. Then, I started to think, why would a law enforcement officer feel it was necessary to go to the media? Did Felt have some sort of affection for the young reporter and want to make the reporter look good, or did Felt figure the Nixon Administration was permeated with corruption? Whatever his true reasons were, they were unjustifiable from my point of view. It should be noted Felt was a registered Democrat during those years.

I have several avenues open to me to ensure that a crime is addressed by the courts and the people, none of which include passing info to a reporter. Sure, Felt would have encountered resistance from L. Patrick Gray, but he still could have ensured the information was passed to the Department of Justice, or even a Congressional Committee. If Felt thought that answering Woodward's questions was "doing his duty", then I suppose he had no idea what his duty was. Sometimes in civilian branches of the government, individuals reach the lofty perch of executive management so fast they have no recollection of the short time they actually spent working in the trenches. In the FBI, knowledge of how the investigative process (and "due process")works is merely vital.

One other thing that occurred to me, and wasn't mentioned anywhere in news reports as far as I saw or heard, was that the guidance that Felt gave Woodward was fully based on reports generated by FBI agents out on the street conducting interviews. There was no other way he could have come by the information. If the agents conducting investigations that were later passed to Woodward were advised of such, I'm sure they would feel cheated and deceived, even just for Felt claiming credit as some kind of super-sleuth.

I have no doubt that Felt even had agents checking for Woodward's signal for a meeting (the flower pot on the balcony) without their knowledge.