After 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 rightwing pundits attacked Felt as a 'traitor' and said he'd been
'disloyal' to the President. I figured I'd better 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
"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
"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. In short, they've painted themselves into their own
"In short, the Bushies are vulnerable -- that's what I'm trying to tell
you! Go get 'em! But beware: cornered, wounded animals are extremely
"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?"
REMEMBER TO CONNECT 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 or Iran next. Iraq is, and Syria and Iran 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 and bombs.
"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 safety.
FOLLOW THE COVERUP
"Follow the coverup. Time and time again, the Administration has broken
laws and good-faith with the American people and gone outside the
Constitution in concealing both aspects of the war and the torture
protocols. 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. They didn't
want to hear much of this evidence three years ago, but they're ripe for
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
"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. 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&crew 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
"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. 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 shot 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
"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 crime?
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, preventing the
International Red Cross from making 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 currently 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
"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 want in the run-up to the 2006 midterm
election, but unless the votes are counted accurately -- and are
transparently accepted as honest -- you might as well stay home.
"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, in Iran, 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
Copyright 2005, by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, formerly a writer-editor with the San
Francisco Chronicle, has recorded a good many imagined conversations
with Shallow Throat* (www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm
). A Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at
numerous universities, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (