A Sermon Preached by Dr. John S. Waldrip
at Calvary Road Baptist Church, Monrovia, California
on Wednesday Evening, June 1, 2005

Romans 1.28-32

"W. Mark Felt, the No. 2 official at the FBI in the 1970s, admitted yesterday he is "Deep Throat" - the anonymous source who guided The Washington Post to the secrets of the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon. His ID was confirmed by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who had protected him for more than 30 years."

You will receive many mixed signals over the next days and weeks about the Watergate affair that resulted in President Nixon's resignation, and this man's role in the president's resignation. Some will protest this man's actions of 33 years ago, but most will laud him as a courageous hero who saved our country from the malevolent Richard Nixon.

As we look back on this time in our country's history three considerations should formulate your conclusions regarding this man's betrayal of his commander in chief; his role in the Watergate scandal and cover-up, the larger historical context in which the Watergate scandal and his actions are set, and the principles found in God's Word that bear upon the situation he found himself in.

I. First, Deep Throat's role in the Watergate Scandal and cover-up. 

Mark Felt was a protg of J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, "the longest-serving leader of an executive branch agency in the United States, having served under a record eight presidents, from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon." Hoover died on May 2, 1972 about six weeks before the Watergate scandal and Mark Felt "was bitterly disappointed . . . that [president] Nixon went outside the agency for a new chief." This may provide insight into Felt's motives for leaking information to Bob Woodward.

Another suspected motive of "Deep Throat" might have been his desire to "defend the nation from another kind of threat: to the institutional power, prerogatives and integrity of the F.B.I., which under Hoover had spent decades telling presidents what to do. Suddenly, veterans like Mr. Felt were being told what to do by the Nixon White House, and did not like it."

Keep in mind that years earlier Richard M. Nixon had offended the east coast liberals and Washington, DC Democrats by proving that one of their favorite people, Alger Hiss, was a communist agent. So, for more than twenty years every effort had been made to dig up dirt on Richard Nixon, but to no avail. He was clean as a whistle and could not be bribed or intimidated by anyone, whether they were in the Democratic Party or the FBI. Such had not been the case with John F. Kennedy and his Mafia girl friend or with Lyndon Johnson and his girl friends. Nixon took no bribes, had no girl friends, but was hated for his virulent anti-communism.

The summer of 1972 was a presidential election campaign summer, with Richard Nixon running against a Democratic candidate he would beat handily, George McGovern. On June 17th, five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters located in the Watergate Hotel and office complex in Washington, D. C. Keep in mind that there is no controversy concerning President Nixon's advance knowledge. He knew nothing in advance of the break-in.

During any presidential campaign the national committees of both the Republican and Democratic parties would not be the places where important decisions were made or important information was collected. Such decisions and information would be handled directly by the nominee's campaign committees, something Nixon would have known. Nixon would have known that any attempt to get information about the McGovern's campaign from the office of the Democratic National Committee was an exercise in futility. So, the break-in was either not authorized by or known of in advance by Nixon or was a break-in to find something no one has yet commented on in public.

It was only two days after the break-in, on June 19th, that Mark Felt, the number two man at the FBI, began leaking information to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward! Since he was a confidential source of information, Woodward and his partner, Carl Bernstein, referred to him in articles as "Deep Throat," the title of a pornographic movie in circulation at that time. Thus, Felt did not wait to find out what President Nixon was going to do concerning the break-in at the Watergate, but began leaking critical information to the press almost immediately based upon his opinion that the Nixon administration would not cooperate with the FBI investigation of the break-in.

Felt did express his concerns about the Nixon administration's unwillingness to cooperate with the Bureau's investigation to then director Gray. Whether those disputes between the FBI and the Whitehouse were about jurisdictional issues concerning Bureau's legal authority to investigate the president is not stated. At no time did Felt initiate personal contact with the president to express his concerns. Felt's immediate response was to leak information to the press.

The information Felt leaked led to the discovery of the Committee to Reelect the President's intelligence gathering operation, something every presidential campaign in recent years was involved in. But his information made it possible for the press to express shock and horror to the public, as though what they had unearthed was something never before done.

If I am not mistaken, Felt also leaked information that Oval Office conversations were tape recorded by President Nixon. It was conveniently overlooked by the press that taping conversations in the Oval Office of the president was something President Johnson had done for years, but it was Johnson who informed Nixon of the practice and urged him to continue it. Johnson was a Democrat, so his role in Oval Office tapings was never given much attention.

President Nixon's failure during the Watergate scandal was not in initiating the Watergate break-in, but in failing to deal with it properly after it occurred. What he should have done was fire those who participated in the break-in, fire those who authorized the break-in, and then distance himself from the escapade. Then entire matter would have been settled once and for all. Why did he not take such a rational and simple step as that? It takes a consideration of the larger context to understand Nixon's actions, even if you do not agree with them.

II. Next, the larger context in which Felt's and Nixon's actions are set. 

The first thing that must be remembered is that the Watergate break-in occurred during the Vietnam War.

Begun by President Kennedy before his assassination and dramatically escalated by president Johnson, Nixon's prosecution of the war to a successful conclusion greatly divided the nation. What people do not remember, because of the erroneous propaganda of the American news media outlets, is that the United States won the Vietnam War! That's right.

Remember the great Tet offensive in 1968? Reported as a terrible defeat of American forces, it was a battle that almost broke the backs of the Viet Cong, so overwhelming was the American victory. But it was reported back home as a defeat. Here is a small portion of an in depth study of the media's misrepresentations during the Tet offensive:

Misconception: The offensive was a victory for Hanoi. The press corps, it is now clear, was stunned by the initial Tet attacks, many of which occurred in Saigon. When the allies met some initial reverses, the press reacted by emphasizing the enemy's successes. As the weeks wore on and military intelligence clearly indicated defeat for the insurgents, the press still interpreted the offensive as a "psychological victory" for the Vietcong/North Vietnamese Army, who "held the initiative," "decide who lives and who dies... which planes land and which ones don't," who were unconcerned with losses, and could "take and hold any area they chose." There was little objective analysis of the many enemy failures or of the severe toll that allied counterblows exacted from the enemy."

The same kind of thing happened when the United States won the Vietnam War. Consider this brief summation of the end of the Vietnam War, taking place as the Watergate scandal escalated:

On 15 January 1973, citing progress in peace negotiations, President Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam which was later followed by a unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords were later signed on 27 January 1973 which officially ended US involvement in the Vietnam conflict. This won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for Kissinger and North Vietnam's Prime Minister Le Duc Tho while fighting continued, leading songwriter Tom Lehrer to declare that irony had died. However, five days before the peace accords were signed, Lyndon Johnson, whose presidency was marred by the war in Vietnam, died.

The first American prisoners of war were released on February 11 and all US soldiers were ordered to leave by March 29. In a break with history, soldiers returning from the Vietnam War were generally not treated as heroes, and soldiers were sometimes even condemned for their participation in the war.

The peace agreement did not last.

Nixon had promised South Vietnam that he would provide military support to them in the event of a crumbling military situation. Nixon was fighting for his political life in the growing Watergate scandal at the time.

Next, consider that the Watergate scandal occurred at the height of the Cold War.

Yes, Nixon and his foreign policy advisor Henry Kissinger had instituted a policy of dtente with the Soviet Union and eastern bloc countries. But tensions were still high.

Both the Soviet Union and the United States were serious and deadly adversaries. Communism seemed to be on the march in southeast Asia and Africa. Cuba was a Soviet satellite.

Nixon's entire political career was focused on the USA's adversary in the cold war. It is impossible to conceive of Richard Nixon apart from his career as a cold warrior. Thus, there can be no doubt that the cold war demanded and received a great deal of his attention throughout his presidency.

Third, consider the Yom Kippur War: I will read just a few paragraphs to give you the gist of what was happening in the Middle east during the Watergate crisis one year after the break-in:

". . . on 6 October 1973 at 2:00 p.m. (Cairo time), Egyptian and Syrian forces launched coordinated attacks on Israeli forces in the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Known variously as the October War or the Yom Kippur War, this conflict lasted until late October when Washington and Moscow, working through the United Nations, forced a cease-fire on the warring parties. The October war had a fundamental impact on international relations not only by testing the durability of U.S.-Soviet dtente but also by compelling the United States to put the Arab-Israeli conflict on the top of its foreign policy agenda. The threat of regional instability, energy crises, and superpower confrontation, made a U.S. hands-on role in the region inescapable. Since the fall of 1973, Washington has played a central role in the protracted, if checkered, effort to address the conflicting security and territorial objectives of Arabs and Israelis."

"The ongoing Watergate crisis and the financial scandal that brought down Vice President Spiro Agnew intersected with the October War. Agnew's resignation and the need to appoint a new vice president distracted Nixon. So did the constitutional battle with Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, whose firings--"the Saturday Night Massacre"--coincided with Kissinger's trip to Moscow. While Nixon's political prestige was collapsing, Kissinger's was growing even more. With Nixon embattled, Henry Kissinger emerged as the key U.S. decisionmaker during the October War."

Fourth, consider the resignation of Vice President Agnew. No need to spend much time on this, except to note that along with the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Yom Kippur War, President Nixon was severely distracted. Watergate distracted him from these more pressing national security issues, and these pressing national security issues distracted him from giving to Watergate the attention it deserved. How many pressing issues can a president properly attend to?

III. Finally, what principles bear upon Mark Felt's actions during Watergate. 

I think Romans 1.28-32 bears looking at:

28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

There are several sins that I believe describe Mr. Mark Felt's behavior during Watergate: covetousness, deceit, whisperers, without understanding, covenantbreakers.

He was covetous in that he admittedly wanted the appointment as director the FBI, expected to be appointed director of the FBI, and was bitterly disappointed when he was not appointed director of the FBI.

He was deceitful in his lies, denying that he was leaking classified information to the press, sneaking around in the dark to undermine the presidency of the United States so that he might strengthen the FBI.

He was a whisperer. What comment needs to be made about this sin? Rather than do the manly thing of confronting the director of the FBI and possibly confronting the president of the United States, he does the cowardly thing and now wants to be treated like a hero.

He was without understanding. Did the man forget that the United States was at war in Vietnam? Did he forget that the United States was in the middle of the cold war with the Soviet Union? Yet he does the dishonorable thing, weakens the presidency, and is likely the cause for both the Yom Kippur War and the loss of Vietnam after the war had been won as Congress refused to support Vietnam financially so they could maintain their position against the communists. Obviously, this man had a terrible sense of proportion. This is worse than sacking General Patton during World War Two for slapping a private, thereby sidelining a general whose wisdom saved thousands of lives because he unwisely slaps a guy. Felt is obviously without understanding.

Finally, he is a covenant breaker. Did he not take an oath to protect and defend the constitution? And does not the FBI work for the president? The presidency is a constitutional office, while the FBI is a branch of the justice department that, at that time in our nation's history, had no clearly legislated authority to investigate the president. So, by being loyal to the FBI and afraid of a strong president with proven leadership and diplomatic skills who was leading our country through the hazardous waters of two hot wars, one cold war, and threatened anarchy in our own country, he fueled the first coup d'tat in American history, where a legitimately elected president was hounded from office.

And what about the principle of submission to proper authority structure found in the Bible? Had this man no responsibility to function within the legally defined chain of command? Had he no responsibility to support the president until it was proven that the president was complicit in illegal acts that threatened our national sovereignty? Forty eight hours seems a rather short amount of time to abandon a sitting president in favor of a newspaper man. Who was "Deep Throat" undermining when he sabotaged Nixon's presidency? Let me remind you who Richard M. Nixon was.

Born in California in 1913, Nixon had a brilliant record at Whittier College and Duke University Law School before beginning the practice of law. In 1940, he married Patricia Ryan; they had two daughters, Patricia (Tricia) and Julie. During World War II, Nixon served as a Navy lieutenant commander in the Pacific. As an attorney it is not hard to imagine him rather easily obtaining a pass from military service during world war two, but he did not. He put his country first.

Next, consider his actions during his first run for the presidency, when he was clearly cheated out of a win by then Chicago mayor Richard Daley and then Texas senator Lyndon B. Johnson. He obviously could have won in a legal challenge and a recount, and was urged to do so by outgoing President Eisenhower. But he decided against it because he did not think it was good for the country. He put his country's interests first.

So, what is this man named Felt doing undermining a president who was one of the most brilliant diplomats in history (he opened China to the west), acknowledged as one of the smartest of all presidents, who was as thoroughly prepared to be president as any of our nation's leaders, and who was dealing with the threat of civil unrest in the United States, the Vietnam War in the far east, what ended up being a war in the middle east, and a cold war everywhere else?

Had Mark Felt no obligation to assume that Nixon might have known things as president he did not know as an assistant director of the FBI, that the president was dealing with issues beyond his own comprehension, and that had Nixon been approached as a a patriot who was concerned about the welfare of the country he might have gotten a fair hearing?


Please do not misunderstand me. I do not think Richard M. Nixon was a Christian. But he was our president, he is shown in Romans 13.4 to have been a minister of God to me for good, and his betrayer gave our president's and our nation's enemies the ammunition to unseat him.

What sense does it make to remove a duly elected president because he mishandled the stupidity of some functionaries four levels below him? And what did Watergate cost our nation and the world as a result of Felt's nefarious deeds?

Consider the Vietnam War, which had been won and whose victory desperately needed maintenance. Vietnam was given up, as the Democrats did everything they could to oppose everything Nixon was for, even the war that their two presidents had begun and escalated. We won the Vietnam War and lost the peace because of Watergate.

Consider the Yom Kippur War launched against Israel. Would Syria, Jordan and Egypt have attacked if they had not perceived the president of the United States fighting for his political life, with his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, deeply distracted by Watergate? Would the Soviet Union have advised them to proceed with the attack against Israel had Nixon not been fighting for his political life? We do not know for sure, but it is unlikely.

Consider the aftermath of Nixon's resignation. After he was hounded from office, his successor President Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter, who was the disastrous president who gave up the Panama Canal, which is the most strategically important piece of real estate in the entire world, and is now administered by a communist Chinese company.

What would have happened had President Reagan have been elected four years sooner, but for Watergate? Would the Soviet Union have invaded Afghanistan with Reagan as president instead of Carter as president? I think not.

One unanswered question before we conclude, that I think I know the answer to: Why did Mark Felt choose to leak information to a reporter instead of taking his concerns about White House interference with the FBI to Congress? My opinion? He was not interested in justice. He wanted to bring the president down.

We can only guess what would have happened had Felt done what former Nixon aid Chuck Colson said he should have done, go to the president and insist that he deal with the problem in the right way or he was doing to go public with it. We will never know because Felt did not choose to do right, but chose to do wrong, to the great and everlasting hurt to our country.

By sneaking around in the darkness to betray his commander in chief thirty three years ago, and by being silent for all these years since then, W. Mark Felt has shown us that he knows he is no hero. He is a traitor who has finally admitted his guilt, talked into it by his daughter so the family can cash in on her father's actions while he is still alive.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."