Category Archives: Mark Felt

Another Auld Lang Syne

In thinking about the year soon to pass, I can’t help think about some famous people who died that had some significance for me, such as Sir Edmund Hillary, who climbed Everest the year I was born, or Suzanne Pleshette, who appeared on a TV show ending screwed up b7y our local affiliate. An inordinate number of them were black musicians who passed in the latter part of the year. Isaac Hayes, who I wrote about in this piece last year; Miriam Makeba, Mother Africa; Odetta; the underappreciated Norman Whitfield, and of course, Levi Stubbs.
For Gordon and Tom the Mayor
Hey, if you have a chance, would you go to Dead or Alive and petition for the inclusion of Norman Whitfield and/or Odetta, please?

Then there were iconic characters such as Paul Newman and George Carlin, Tim Russert and Jim McKay. In an obit for McKay, it indicated that he made even the most “minor” of sports seem as important as the Olympics, and that’s why I appreciated him so.

A number of folks died this month I didn’t mention, such as Sammy Baugh, the first star quarterback of the NFL; Bettie Page, pin-up extraordinare; Mark Felt, who just didn’t look that much like Hal Holbrook who played Deep Throat in All the President’s Men; Majel Barrett, Gene Roddenberry’s widow, who played nurse Chapel in the original series as well as Deanna Troi’s mother in The Next Generation, and the voice of the Star Trek computer throughout the ST universe; Eartha Kitt, who sang rings around Madonna in her performance of Santa Baby, but who had a much more interesting bio than I had been aware of; possibly best known as a Catwoman in the old Batman series; and playwright Harold Pinter, whose death was sort of mentioned in the new movie Synecdoche, New York.

Mike Connell, the I.T. guru who help GWB steal the 2000 and 2004 election who went down in a plane crash.
Find out more about this case go here from December 18, 2008 forward.

A few of folks died too young for my comfort: Hayes (65); Gene Upshaw (63), Hall of Fame football player for the NFL Oakland Raiders and later Executive Director of the NFL Players Association; Bobby Murcer (62), the Oklahoman stuck following Oklahoman Mickey Mantle as Yankee centerfielder; Russert (58); Bernie Mac (50); and, of course, Heath Ledger (28).

I also recall someone you don’t know. Tom Siblo was a Socialist Worker’s organizer
on the campus of the State University College at New Paltz (NY) during the Vietnam war. Unusually for men at the time, he’d taken his wife’s name (as Siblo-Landsman)
and was permanently disabled because of a diabetic-related coronary condition. He was around my age.

I will remember.

There's a lozenge for that

W. Mark Felt? What a disappointment.

If you were of a certain age (and a certain political persuasion), you might have spent hours trying to figure out just who was Deep Throat, Bob Woodward’s secret source during the investigation of the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration. The existence of DT came out in Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s best-selling book “All The President’s Men.” In the hit movie based on the book, Hal Holbrook played the mysterious character.

Felt, who was second-in-command at the FBI in the early 1970s, was on the short list of most Watergate observers. According to a Vanity Fair article, Felt felt that disclosures about his past somehow dishonorable, but at the age of 91 found it desirable to clear the air, if only for his family’s sake. Conversely, his family believes he should receive praise for his role in exposing the Watergate scandal before he dies.
There were always a number of people suspected of being the background informant for the reporter: Assistant Attorney General Henry Peterson, deputy White House counsel Fred Fielding, White House press officer Diane Sawyer (yes, the one now on ABC News), Nixon press secretary Ron Zeigler, White House aide Steven Bull, speechwriters Ray Price and Pat Buchanan, White House counsel John Dean, FBI director L. Patrick Gray, Nixon advisor Alexander Haig, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and even former U.N. ambassador (and later president) George H. W. Bush.
I never believed it was Zeigler (too loyal), Buchanan (too verbose) or Dean (too obvious). Haig, Kissinger and Bush weren’t on my consideration list, either. Gray probably had the most to gain, being squeezed out of power by Nixon’s loyalists. My pick, though, was none of these. It was current Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who was Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The increased recent interest in Deep Throat, Woodward’s renewed promise to reveal the source only after DT’s death, and Rehnquist’s failing health obviously led me in the wrong direction. Glad I didn’t have money on it.

But pardon my political naiveté: I had no idea that there would be a debate 30 years after the fact over the propriety of the leaks – “Was it criminal?” I read recently. Clearly, Felt was a reluctant hero, but a hero nonetheless. What were his options? Tell Attorney General John Mitchell? A criminal. How about White House Chief of Staff H. R. “Bob” Haldeman? Also, a criminal. So the chief law enforcement person for the country, and the head political operative, not to mention their many minions, could not be trusted. And President Nixon himself? My favorite Watergate term: “unindicted co-conspirator.” I believe Mark Felt did the right thing, and I hope he lives out his remaining years in peace.