A few months ago it was finally revealed that Mark Felt, the Deep Throat of Watergate, forged the sword that destroyed Richard Nixon — not for some valid whistle—blowing reason, but to avenge Nixon's choice of an outside Director to succeed J. Edgar Hoover. Mark Felt simply felt frustrated in his career ambitions at the FBI, and Nixon paid the price.
But Deep Throat could not have leaked top secrets for months and months without the knowledge of other top FBI officials. They must have quietly supported his attempt to destroy the President. There is no question that Watergate exposed some genuine rot. But the fact is that a duly elected President was overthrown, with the critical help of the secret government. It was Mark Felt and the FBI who provided the means to destroy President Nixon. That set a precedent.
Today, there are stunning parallels between Deep Throat and Valerie Plame, aided by her publicity agent and husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV. The idea that national security is being protected is phony. As Joseph DiGenova, former US Attorney for New York, has repeatedly pointed out, "The Agency wanted this out." What we are seeing is a massive political assault on President George W. Bush, aided by a gush of highly selective and one—sided leaks coming from the top levels of the CIA.
The motivation: Power, careers, and leftist ideology. The means: getting a Special Prosecutor to indict the Bush White House for what the CIA has done for years, revealing sensitive secrets to the press. The sword: Valerie Plame and her husband.
Today's media assault has all the earmarks of a CIA disinformation operation, just the sort of thing Plame and her colleagues are professionally trained to conduct. While it has layers of deception and coverup, the pattern seems clear enough. Dozens of commentators have now identified the many lies told by Joe Wilson over the past two years, with the quiet backing of Plame and her CIA backers. Notice that the CIA could have exposed Wilson's fabrications at any time in the last two years. It did not, and by its deliberate silence has allowed those stories to flower into the partisan assault we see today.
As Howard Fineman wrote a few weeks ago, the now infamous outing of Valerie Plame isn't primarily an issue of law. It's about a lot of other things, like: the ongoing war between the CIA and the vice president's office. The spookocracy has a very personal itch to want to destroy George W. Bush and Dick Cheney: It is facing a purge to finally get rid of entire layers of incompetents and saboteurs, revealed by the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Congressman Curt Weldon, the Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has written:
The gross incompetence in the intelligence community over the last decade, combined with the current rebellion of intelligence community leaders, especially at the CIA, justifies a dismissal of present leaders in all agencies and across the entire intelligence community. The straightforward solution would be to fire everybody above the level of GS—15.
Well, today we have a new broom as Director of CIA, and the Old Guard is fighting for survival, just like Deep Throat at FBI. This is when the secret bureaucracy is the most dangerous.
So now look at the Watergate similarities. The motivation? Top—level careers, power and leftist ideology. The instrument? Leaks of confidential information from the top of a giant secret agency. The target? A president who is trying to purge the spooks. And the political opportunity? A political war about national security. Nixon earned the undying hatred of the Left for opposing Communism. Bush II has done the same for his War on Terror.
According to former CIA Assistant Director Admiral Bobby Inman, the CIA dropped a constant stream of damaging leaks against the Bush Administration throughout the 2004 election campaign. Those who did the leaking that were never even investigated, much less prosecuted. What is at stake therefore is far more important than a trivial White House story, based on a vague remark, in a city that consumes quantities of selective leaks for breakfast every day. What seems to be going on is a plot to undermine a duly elected president, using a high—level faction of the CIA, in collusion with the Left and the media.
If the Bush White House is badly damaged or destroyed, the consequences could be dangerous for the United States. A new President could copy Jimmy Carter: Pull the plug in Iraq, thereby allowing Iran, Syria, and their allied Islamic fascists to come to power throughout the Middle East. The Left would be on top again, just as the Democrats gained majorities in Congress and elected Jimmy Carter after the Watergate scandal. Hillary Clinton's long ambitions could well become reality, all by means of a single hyped scandal.
Nixon's downfall had devastating consequences: the chaotic downfall of Saigon, the Stalinization of Vietnam — including a new Gulag with tens of thousands of victims — and the genocide of a million Cambodians. Watergate nearly led to an ultimate American defeat in the Cold War. Many on the Left were fervently hoping for that. We would be living in a very different world today, had history swung the other way.
Nixon was followed by Gerald Ford, a badly weakened president, who was easily defeated by the disastrous Jimmy Carter. As president, Carter allowed the Shah of Iran to fall from power because he thought that Ayatollah Khomeini was much more democratic. We can see Carter's Folly today in the rise of an Islamofascist Iran, which will soon have its own nuclear weapons. It is Jimmy Carter, more than anyone, who is responsible for a new age of nuclear danger in the Middle East. But it all goes back to the coup d'etat against Nixon.
Thus Watergate has had disastrous ripple effects, even decades afterwards and across the world. If the Plame—Wilson affair succeeds in destroying this White House, the ripple effects would spread through our domestic politics and into the War on Terror, placing every person in this country at risk.
The Left has hyped a rogue CIA for decades. Hollywood has shown it in movie after movie. But now that it is happening, they are all for it; anything to destroy the enemy — a duly elected President — just as the Left still celebrates the Deep Throat conspiracy to overthrow Nixon. This is not a matter of principle for them, but of raw expediency.
Conservatives, however, have to take this spectacle more seriously. A politicized CIA is doing immense damage to our rights and freedoms. They intervened blatantly in the 2004 election, and they are undermining the war on terror.
Perhaps Richard Nixon should have been made to resign for abusing power. But Watergate was more than a tale of high—level corruption.
It also marked the rise to power of the monopoly media that has dominated the United States for the last thirty years. No event, other than Vietnam, has so shaped our world today. No doubt the first step of a resurgent Left in the United States would be to try to control talk radio and the internet, to regain its media monopoly. It could happen.
Just as the Watergate scandal set a much—needed limit to abuse of power by presidents, it is now time to draw a bright line in the sand against meddling by the secret government in domestic politics. Our future is on the line.
James Lewis is a frequent contributor.