Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Nixon White House files reveal Felt lobbying campaign


Deep in US president Richard Nixon's White House files sit letters from a long-forgotten lobbying campaign to make Mark Felt director of the FBI.

Instead of becoming the chief law enforcer of the US, however, Felt became "Deep Throat," whose secret liaisons with a reporter made Nixon the only US president to resign.

The National Archives released more than 10,000 documents from the Nixon presidency on Wednesday, and among them are the urgings of past and present FBI agents and other interested citizens to appoint Felt, then the No. 2 FBI official, as director. Associates described his "outstanding loyalty."

Nixon did not take the advice.

Ultimately, Felt's devastating leaks as the Washington Post's secret Watergate source helped undermine Nixon's presidency and forced his resignation after congressional leaders told him he had lost their trust.

The documents, also shedding light on foreign and national security policy from the Nixon years, show increasing urgency in US attempts to pacify the Middle East, alarm over Israel's apparent progress in developing nuclear weapons and a wish to "manipulate relations with Saudis" to help broker peace. US officials are also seen weighing whether to support a Kurdish rebellion in Iraq.

To combat the terrorist threat in the Middle East, the US must focus on "political dialogue," said a March 1973 directive echoed again in this week's Middle East summit.

Nixon, soon to be consumed by the Watergate investigation, passed over career agents including Felt when he selected loyalist Patrick Gray as FBI chief after the death of J. Edgar Hoover, the only director the FBI had had. He died in 1972, just weeks before the Watergate break-in. Gray resigned the next year because of allegations he had destroyed Watergate documents.

Felt's supporters weighed in, with letters, telegrams and cards that have been in Nixon's White House files all these years.

"He has the integrity, the ability, the experience and the image to insure that our FBI will continue to deserve and maintain world esteem," Harold Child Jr, legal attache to the US embassy in Japan and a 30-year FBI veteran, told Nixon in an April 1973 letter.

Efton Stanfield, a former FBI special agent who was then an executive of the electrical contractors' association, asked Nixon in a telegram to turn to the career professional to replace Gray.

"Mr. Felt is a man of outstanding loyalty, character, reputation, habits," he said. The "fidelity, bravery, and integrity of Mr. Felt are unquestioned."

Writing from the New York City borough of Brooklyn, Viena Neaville told Nixon that choosing Felt would be good for him because: "You would be spared the tremendous aggravation to which you are subjected by so many factions."

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