Mark Felt - better known as the anonymous source Deep Throat - died yesterday at the age of 95. The deputy director of the FBI in the early 1970s, Felt secretly led Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to the information that eventually toppled the lawless presidency of Richard Nixon.
Felt was hardly a liberal: He had supported several violations of civil liberties perpetrated by the FBI during the 1960s-1970s. Nevertheless, Nixon’s full-scale assault against the Constitution and the rule of law during Watergate compelled Felt to put his country first and talk to the press about what he knew, albeit anonymously.
Today, we are nearing the end of another presidency that has engaged in a full scale assault against the Constitution and the rule of law. But unlike a generation ago, the current president’s allies in Congress put partisanship above patriotism and prevented genuine investigations of the administration.
Mark Felt’s death reminds me of another key difference between the era of Watergate and today: Back then, because someone talked, those in power were held accountable. Today, we are still waiting for people to talk – to tell us what they know and to provide us with the documents shedding light on illegal domestic spying, the outsourcing of torture, the illegal sabotage of Democratic GOTV efforts in 2002, the suppression of voting rights, the politicization of the Department of Justice, Bush’s unlawful signing statements, the arrests of peaceful anti-administration protesters … the list goes on.
The outrages committed by George Bush, Dick Cheney, and others did not happen in a vacuum. Their illegal policies were carried out by public employees scattered across the government, from the highest levels on down. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people who know where the bodies are buried.
For the sake of our country, it is time for them to talk.