‘With­out honor’

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

On Dec. 4, when we called on John “Jack” McDer­mott, who su­per­vised the Water­gate in­ves­ti­ga­tion as spe­cial agent in charge (SAC) of the FBI’s Wash­ing­ton Field Of­fice, he was await­ing a sched­uled visit from a Hol­ly­wood screen­writer.

The big ques­tion now is whether Hol­ly­wood will lis­ten.

“Tom Hanks has al­ready paid Mark Felt’s fam­ily for the rights to write the screen­play on ‘Deep Throat,’ and I can only sur­mise that they will only be will­ing to pro­ceed with this if Hanks were plan­ning on pro­ject­ing Felt in a heroic man­ner. You don’t make too many films about the devil,” Mr. McDer­mott tells Inside the Belt­way.

“Our aim is to see if we can in­ject some de­gree of per­spec­tive in this thing,” he says. “So I plan to ac­com­mo­date them by mak­ing my­self avail­able for the sole pur­pose to get the proper slant on this thing — pro­jected in a way con­sis­tent with ac­cu­racy. You try to save what you can — keep this from be­com­ing his­toric re­vi­sion­ism.”

Mr. McDer­mott makes no se­cret of his dis­dain for for­mer FBI Deputy Di­rec­tor W. Mark Felt, who af­ter decades of se­crecy has con­ceded to be­ing “Deep Throat.” The re­tired SAC has charged that Mr. Felt’s re­peated leaks to the press not only com­pro­mised the Water­gate probe, but placed wit­nesses in jeop­ardy.

“[A]ll other ar­gu­ments seek­ing to jus­tify Felt’s ac­tions are trash,” says Mr. McDer­mott, hand­ing this col­umn on Dec. 4 a three-page, un­pub­lished sum­mary he has writ­ten sur­round­ing Mr. Felt’s se­cret role in Water­gate.

“Felt was the bureau’s Bene­dict Arnold,” Mr. McDer­mott opines. “Hav­ing been en­trusted with the high­est lev­els of mil­i­tary com­mand by [Gen. Ge­orge] Wash­ing­ton and his staff, Arnold be­trayed his oath, his coun­try and his fel­low cit­i­zen-sol­diers to pur­sue his own am­bi­tions. Felt did no less to the bureau and his fel­low agents.

“Let’s not fool our­selves,” he says. “The bureau’s rep­u­ta­tion for faith­ful­ness and un­selfish de­vo­tion to duty has been se­ri­ously di­min­ished by this foul episode.”

Mr. McDer­mott ac­knowl­edges hav­ing “long ad­mired most of Tom Hanks’ work prod­uct,” how­ever, the re­tired SAC is con­cerned that the Hol­ly­wood ac­tor and di­rec­tor is “sold” on a be­lief that “Deep Throat” is a cham­pion of truth that oth­er­wise would have been sup­pressed, rather than a cow­ardly bush­whacker, dis­loyal to his fel­low agents and his oath of of­fice.”

He con­cludes that “some have called Felt a hero; but he­roes don’t lurk in the shad­ows for 33 years. [. . .] The man is with­out honor.”

Mr. McDer­mott re­tired in Septem­ber 1979 as the FBI’s deputy as­so­ci­ate di­rec­tor.

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