Friday 22 February 2019

The deep state: Did the FBI bring down Nixon?

'The Washington Post created a morality play about an out-of-control government brought to heel by two young, enterprising journalists and a courageous newspaper. That simply wasn’t what happened. Instead, it was about the FBI using The Washington Post to leak information to destroy the president, and The Washington Post willingly serving as the conduit for that information while withholding an essential dimension of the story by concealing Deep Throat’s identity.'

These are the words of George Friedman, founder and CEO of respected American private intelligence site Stratfor and author of 
The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

It's an interesting allegation, as we discovered this week that the FBI and American Justice Department officials discussed whether to remove Donald Trump from office using the 25th Amendment on the ground that he was incapable of discharging his duties. 

The political struggles between FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and President John F.Kennedy were, of course, also hugely important and very murky.

1 comment:

  1. Hoover and Nixon appeared to be the best of friends and allies
    in the anticommunist cause. Viewed from the standpoint of institutional
    politics, though, they had long been on opposite sides of some the most
    fundamental questions of governance. Hoover believed in the administrative
    state—in the power of independent bureaucrats, divorced from politics, to
    serve the public good. Nixon, by contrast, was someone who hated
    the bureaucracy and believed that loyalty and voter control offered
    the best hope for effective government. For more than two decades,
    personal friendship and ideological sympathy papered over those differences.
    After Nixon’s election as president, that tenuous compromise fell apart. When
    Hoover died in May, 1972, he left behind an executive team led by Felt that
    was primed to question and resist the Nixon administration’s initiatives.

    Watergate might best be viewed, especially in its earliest phases, as a struggle
    between the president and a bureaucracy that he could not control.
    In that struggle, neither side looked entirely as one might expect. Hoover
    often played the civil libertarian, arguing against a concentration of power in
    the executive even as the FBI conducted its own covert operations. Nixon
    himself appeared less like an imperial president than like an extraordinarily
    weak one, struggling to hold on to power and to force federal agencies to
    accede to his will. One of the most striking aspects of his relationship with
    the FBI is how seldom Nixon had the upper hand. At nearly every point
    where Nixon and Hoover found themselves in conflict, Nixon lost dramatically,
    the elected official giving way to the wishes and desires of the autonomous
    bureaucrat. Nixon’s founding of the Plumbers intelligence unit, often
    cited as the ultimate example of presidential hubris and overreach, grew in
    part out of frustration with his inability to control the FBI.

    Even today, Watergate remains known primarily as a high
    point of investigative journalism, one of the few
    triumphal moments of a 1970s liberalism in decline. As it turns out,
    the most mythologized of the Watergate actors was a conservative
    intelligence officer who had far more in common with Richard Nixon
    than with his liberal enemies. Felt cooperated with Woodward not to
    preserve the American constitution or to limit the imperial presidency
    but to protect the legacy of J. Edgar Hoover.

    Ultimately, the discontent and public outrage unleashed by Watergate
    helped to change the FBI much as it transformed the relationship between the
    president and Congress, and the public’s attitude toward the state as a whole.
    By 1975, Hoover’s autonomous bureaucracy, like the imperial presidency, was in
    freefall, a casualty of congressional committees determined to rein in executive
    power. In that sense, the story of Watergate, like so many great historical dramas,
    is a tale of unintended consequences. In the effort to preserve the Bureau’s
    autonomy and save its reputation, Hoover and Felt helped to destroy them.

    Beverly Gage
    Deep Throat, Watergate, and the Bureaucratic Politics of the FBI