"Shallow Throat": Wounded, Cornered Animals
June 21, 2005
By Bernard Weiner, The
Mark Felt unmasked himself as "Deep Throat," I immediately tried
to contact our contemporary GOP mole, "Shallow Throat," inside the
Bush Administration, the one who had fed us numerous tips many times
before.* But I received no response from the former White House
official, currently at another government agency.
A few nights ago, we finally met again, in a Bethesda pub. Shallow
Throat was wearing a new wig - and, even in this dimly-lit location,
wraparound shades - and seemed more nervous than usual.
"Sorry I couldn't get back to you more quickly, Bernie," said
ST, "but I had to wait until the Deep Throat frenzy cooled a bit
at work. You saw how right-wing pundits attacked Felt as a 'traitor'
and said he'd been 'disloyal' to the President. I figured I'd better
to keep my head down in this paranoid, vicious Bush administration
- one that makes Nixon's felonies seem like Boy Scout capers."
"So why are you here now?" I asked. "Clearly, something must be
on your mind."
"I'm willing to take the chance because I want your liberal Democrat
and moderate Republican friends to know that though the Bush higher-ups
are running around like crazed rats in a cage right now, they are
prepared to pull out all the stops. You guys better get ready."
"How about speaking plain English?" I said. "Just tell me what's
going on, without all the ambiguous phraseology."
BEWARE OF WOUNDED, CORNERED BEASTS
Shallow Throat took a big breath. "The real world is crashing
in on them and the only way they know how to respond is threatening
and bullying again, and unleashing big events to divert the public's
and media's focus.
"They know their old way isn't working anymore - the recent polls
have been absolutely horrific for them, and they're going to get
worse - but they don't know what to do to turn their fortunes around.
They are psychologically and ideologically incapable of admitting
that they might have made strategic errors, and Bush believes himself
God's representative on earth, so not much room for self-doubt and
change there. They've painted themselves into their own self-destructive
"In short, the Bushies are vulnerable - that's what I'm trying
to tell you! Go get 'em! But beware: cornered, wounded animals are
"Where do we 'get' them? How?" I shot back.
"Go for their weaknesses, obviously, but also take a lesson from
Karl Rove: Go for their strengths as well. I'll get to how in a
minute, but let's look at their weaknesses first.
"Where are they falling most quickly in the polls? Social Security.
The Iraq disaster. The lies that led us into that war, which the
Downing Street memos verify. Their overreaching in the Terry Schiavo
family situation, and the whole political thrust of the fundamentalists.
The sluggish economy and poor jobs-growth. Oil prices. The outrageous
cost of health care. And so on.
"Their perceived strengths: 'The War on Terror.' National security.
'Moral values.' Their fundamentalist base. Bush's 'you-know-where-I-stand'
attitude of manly strength. Their control of Congress. And so on."
"OK," I replied, "we all know that. What should we do?"
THE NECESSITY OF CONNECTING THE DOTS
Shallow Throat took a long slug of Dos XX. "For starters, don't
forget always to connect the two lists. Demonstrate how, for example,
in Iraq and the Islamic world in general, Bush's war/torture policies
make Americans less safe rather than more safe, more a target for
attack by terrorists. Certainly they make our soldiers less safe
in Iraq and maybe Syria next. Iraq is, and Syria would be, a war
for no good reason except to help neo-con ideologues, most of whom
studiously avoided having to go fight in any U.S. battle, experiment
with their ivory-tower theories of changing the Middle East by bayonet
"Another example: given the fluctuations of the economy, and the
ups and downs of the Stock Market, most people want the certainty
offered by Social Security; Bush is still peddling his plans that
would, over time, decimate and then eviscerate Social Security.
Don't back off; keep highlighting his reckless approach, and tie
that in to what his 'you-know-where-I-stand' mantra really means
these days: that he's stubborn as a mule and will do even more damage
to the middle-class and American society in general unless he is
forced to change courses."
"Earlier, you mentioned the Downing Street Memos," I said. "Should
we liberals and our moderate conservative friends focus on getting
the DSM facts out there?"
"You guys are missing the point," said Shallow Throat. "Rove has
conditioned the public to accept anything the Administration does,
even if it violates the Constitution and international law, as long
as it seems to be protecting America from another terrorist attack.
Invading and occupying Iraq? Torture of Muslims in our name? A majority
of Americans seem willing to accept all that for their supposed
FOLLOW THE COVERUP
"Follow the coverup. The Administration has broken laws and good-faith
with the American people and gone outside the Constitution in concealing
aspects of the war, and the torture protocols, time and time again.
That's where they are vulnerable. Locate evidence of those illegalities,
in the DSM and domestic sources, and how they've been covered up;
reveal and repeat those to the American people. For example, at
least six months before Bush received authorization from Congress
to make war on Iraq, he was already making war on Iraq; further,
the U.S. never received a final vote from the U.N. Security Council
to authorize war. There were some reports at the time that major
bombing of Iraq was going on before Congress gave Bush authority
to wage war, but now the British memos verify that very fact in
top-secret government documents, and that the British knew such
bombing was illegal. Use those facts, and others revealed in the
U.K. memos. And so on.
"In other words, you can use the DSM to help document the illegalities
and as proof that what you've been saying about the lies and deceptions
is true; but remember to follow the coverup, and to connect anything
discovered to how such illegalities, and lack of realistic thinking,
endanger our national security, and our trust in our government.
"For example, yet another GOP heavy, Senator Chuck Hagel, like
U.S. military officers in Iraq, is incensed by Cheney's rosy-eyed
assertions that the insurgents there are in their "last throes."
Hagel said: "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse.
The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like
they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that
we're losing in Iraq."
"And you think," I said, "that the same approach - concentrating
on the illegalities and policies disconnected from reality - can
be used with regard to the Administration's policy of torture and
violations of the Constitution? And that the American people will
be upset by all these misbehaviors to the point of - what? Impeachment?"
"Look at the poll numbers, my friend," ST replied. "The American
public is fast giving up on the Iraq War, and want their young soldiers
back home. Keep feeding the public more facts about the deteriorating
situation there. As for what Bush & Co. are doing to the Constitution,
look at the successful House action taking a swipe at one section
of the Patriot Act. Bush & Co. wanted the whole act passed, as is,
and the GOP-led House refused to go along; the civil rights Right/Left
coalition held. In short, even Congress is beginning to sense the
Administration's vulnerability in this second term, and has challenged
Bush on everything from the Patriot Act to stem-cell research to
a veto threat on a highway bill.
"And they might even act on Bush's blatant grab for even more
power. Most Americans, for example, do not realize that Bush has
been given the legal instruments to rule as a dictator outside the
Constitution, and in some instances is doing so, asserting his right
to be "above the law." The legal boys in the Administration have
asserted that the President, when acting as "commander-in-chief"
in "wartime," can take whatever action he deems necessary, at home
or abroad. If the President orders it, it's ipso facto legal. Nixon
tried that during Watergate, and the Supreme Court shut him down
big-time. A year ago, the Supreme Court, in clear language, told
Bush that while a President has great leeway during "wartime," he
cannot go beyond certain Constitutional boundaries, but Bush just
continues to ignore their ruling, and finds new ways to do what
he wants to do. Hammer away on that issue!
"Similarly, the Administration told Congress the other day that
those suspected of being terrorists can be held, without charge,
'in perpetuity' at prisons not covered by any Constitutional, or
Geneva Convention, protections. How would we feel if a foreign government
held Americans 'in perpetuity' without ever charging them with any
GETTING TO THE TIPPING POINT
"Under Bush, America is turning into a police-state, including
U.S. citizens being disappeared into military prisons, without contact
with a lawyer to help them. This includes suspected terrorists moved
in and out of U.S. prisons as 'ghosts,' never registered, so that
the International Red Cross can make sure they aren't being maltreated.
How would we feel if foreign governments treated American prisoners
this way? Or if young American men and women were 'rendered' to
countries where they would be tortured in the extreme, which the
Bush Administration does to foreign prisoners it holds?
"Add all those, and more, together and, at some tipping point,
impeachment may suddenly have enough critical-mass momentum behind
it - perhaps when corporate execs and worried GOP legislators decide
that the guy they've supported all these years has to be cut loose
in order for GOP conservatives to continue to win elections, hold
power, and make money.
"But," I said, "how to build that critical mass, increase that
"Imitate Rove: he never stops being on the offensive. Have your
big hitters strike back at Bush & Co. recklessness and incompetence
every time they say or do something foolish or dangerous. Keep pointing
out with proof how they're destroying our freedoms domestically,
and that their military adventures abroad are endangering our vital
national interests, and how the two are connected.
"Show how their fealty to America's homegrown Taliban extremists
of the fundamentalist right is leading to a theocratic mentality
at the top - the Schiavo case, with the Bushies sticking their noses
into a highly personal family tragedy, shows how far they're willing
to go to legislate 'moral behavior' for everyone. Show how their
unholy alliances with large corporations, especially the pharmaceuticals
and HMOs, are strangling health care for the middle-class and poor,
and jacking up costs way beyond anything reasonable. Demonstrate
how, even though their forces already control most of the TV/radio
mass-media, they want PBS/NPR also in their fold - and how dangerous
it is to permit one party to control the organs of mass-communication.
'Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely'
and all that.
NOTHING CHANGES UNLESS VOTES ARE HONEST
"Finally, and then I've got to run: fair-minded citizens must
come to understand that unless the voting system in this country
is taken out of the hands of the GOP corporate giants who control
the software that counts the votes, we'll be living in a rigid one-party
state for a long, long time. The only way to save our democratic
republic is to use paper ballots, hand-counted; many modern countries
do it, France and Canada among them, and there's no good reason,
other than corruption and power-hunger, not to do it here. You could
build up all the winning impeachment momentum you in the runup to
the 2006 midterm election, but unless the votes are counted accurately
- and are transparently accepted as honest - you might as well stay
"So keep pushing back, keep putting their feet to the fire, keep
the intensity building. The pressure-cooker steam is building in
Bushville, and we can anticipate it will blow sometime in the near
future. The only danger is that it will blow all over everyone -
in the U.S., in Iraq, in Syria, wherever - and take us all down
with them. That's the challenge. Go get 'em!"
And with that, Shallow Throat slid out of the booth, and headed
out into the night, at a brisk pace. I took my tape-recorder and
headed back to my office, to type up these notes. I found myself
smiling while doing so.
Bernard Weiner, formerly a writer-editor with the San Francisco
Chronicle, has recorded a good
many imagined conversations with Shallow Throat*. A Ph.D. in
government & international relations, he has taught at numerous
universities, and currently co-edits The
Crisis Papers Archive