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W. Mark Felt - Hero & Villain

From an article written by James Mann in The Atlantic Monthly published in May 1992, this interesting bit of insight and information about W. Mark Felt, now unmasked as 'Deep Throat':

W. Mark Felt, the FBI's deputy associate director, the No. 3 man in Hoover's hierarchy, wrote in a 1979 memoir, The FBI Pyramid:

It did not cross my mind that the President would appoint an outsider to replace Hoover. Had I known this, I would not have been hopeful about the future. There were many trained executives in the FBI who could have effectively handled the job of Director. My own record was good and I allowed myself to think I had an excellent chance.

And then this interesting turn of events in what turns out may have been Felt's involvement in a precursor to the current Patriot Act:

Irony is the lifeblood of history. And so, throughout the late 1970s L. Patrick Gray, who had been assigned by Richard Nixon to take political control of the FBI, and Mark Felt, who had fought to resist that control, found themselves joined together in a prolonged legal battle to fend off prosecution by the Justice Department for approving illegal break-ins at the homes of members of the Weathermen underground organization and their families and friends. The government eventually dropped charges against Gray. But in 1980 Felt and another of Hoover's top aides were convicted of conspiracy to violate civil rights. Soon after taking office President Ronald Reagan granted the two men a pardon, claiming that they had "acted on high principle to bring an end to the terrorism that was threatening our nation."

Here is President Reagan's statement from April 15, 1981, on the pardons of W. Mark Felt and co-defendant Edward S. Miller:

Statement on Granting Pardons to W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller

April 15, 1981

Pursuant to the grant of authority in article II, section 2 of the Constitution of the United States, I have granted full and unconditional 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.

W. Mark Felt was, at different times, both a hero and a villain to the left. While his motives were not necessarily idealogical, but were seemingly shaded because he was passed over at the FBI after Hoover's death by Nixon, he became a left-wing hero for helping destroy the Nixon Presidency, and a few years later become a became a villain to the left for going after the militant left-wing group of terrorists known as the Weather Underground using, what was to the left, some pretty heavy-handed tactics.

Posted by Rick | May 31, 2005 04:45 PM

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