Were a figure like "Deep Throat" to emerge today, he would be ignored. It's an irony lost on talking heads and scribes who've been waxing nostalgic for the good old days of Watergate ever since Mark Felt stepped from the shadows. Not only would mainstream media shun such an anonymous source of information, the terrible truth is that we don't need a spy—which Felt was, by definition—to tell us our leaders are engaging in high crimes and misdemeanors.
The story's been broken. Crimes worse than those that caused president Richard Nixon to resign are being committed now in the full light of day. Nixon was busted from the presidency for covering up a two-bit burglary. George W. Bush and those surrounding him took America to war and undermined the Geneva Accords. The result has been more than 110,000 deaths, including about 2,000 Americans, counting civilians—the deliberate torture of innocents, and more. Such crimes continue in full public view.
Yet instead of facing impeachments, jail terms and busted careers, our leaders dress themselves in ribbons and medals and strut boldly upon the stage of history, immune to justice and bent on more mayhem—space weapons, new nukes, more environmental degradation and worse, emboldened by an apparent immunity from blame.
Anyone who bothers to read White House memos, Red Cross and Amnesty International reports, international news, and summaries of our own military investigations, knows the following:
* Less than a month ago, a memo summarizing minutes of a British government meeting was leaked to the British media and it's damning. It reveals that in 2002, Sir Richard Dearlove, then head of British intelligence, met in Washington with Bush officials, and then returned to England and flatly told Tony Blair that not only had the President of the United States decided military action in Iraq was inevitable but that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." The memo bolsters what anti-terrorist expert Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and others had already told the world—that President Bush, Vice-president Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided long before the "shock and awe" campaign of 2003 to invade Iraq. It also bolsters the suggestions by many others that our leaders used the events of Sept. 11, 2001 as a modern day Pearl Harbor to promote the policy.
* After Sept. 11, 2001, our president, vice-president, secretary of defense, our present attorney-general and others changed America from a country that officially does not engage in torture to one that does. Legally forbidden practices have occurred across a broad front, including prisons and holding cells in Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, and other countries. Airplanes have stood ready to fly the victims there, and at least dozens of deaths have resulted among a population of mostly innocent people. The Red Cross has estimated that up to 90 percent of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were rounded up “by mistake,” including old women and children.
* High administration officials leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame after her husband contradicted Bush's case for war. Conservative columnist Bob Novak admitted he got Plame's name from “two top administration officials.”
I say all that to say this. Maybe a 21st century “Deep Throat” could tell us even more damning secrets, for instance, just what our leaders knew before 9/11, but we know enough already to bring down a president if we really care about redressing high crimes and misdemeanors.
In the 1970s, Mark Felt, formerly “Deep Throat,” helped show the public how money from a Florida bank wound up in burglars' pockets. By tracing that money to its source, reporters broke the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat's work was done. Then came the public trials, punishment and expiation. Normally that's how society redeems itself. Not today. The case against Bush has been blown open. Deep Throat's work is done, so to speak. It's the follow-through that's lacking. Why?
Unlike Nixon, George W. Bush's Republican Party controls all three branches of government. The administration punishes and rewards and otherwise manipulates the national media. The public, stunned into subservience by the 9/11 attacks and bowing to patriotic fever, has largely become party to a cover up—see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. The consequences of this sad turn may not be known until the death knell sounds for our way of life, if not our world.