The Brutus Side

June 7, 2010
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My mother always thought it all went wrong the day my father joined the FBI, on January 26, 1942. He was just 29, a fairly young age to be corrupted. When you’re 29, my mother said, it’s hard to resist the illusions people push toward you. Sitting in a fancy, upholstered, million-dollar chair in your bosses office, sipping wine and smoking cigars, it’s hard to remember that you have 2 kids and a wife waiting for you back home, that you believe in any sort of god save for the all-powerful FBI Director. It wasn’t my father’s fault, she insisted; it was the system that got to him. He had been a perfectly nice man before he joined the FBI. Maybe she was right, but the fact remained that the only father I knew was the FBI one, Federal Bureau Agent Mark Felt, shrewd, cynical, and hell-bent on success.
When I was born, my mother, my brother Mark, and I were living in a imposing-looking house on the far edge of Kansas City, Missouri, as close to FBI offices as we could get. I guess you could say that, technically, my father lived there too, but it was more honest to say that he was living solely at his office, and visiting our house some rare nights when he felt need to sleep and was in town -not often. That year, 1958, he was promoted to Special Agent, so I saw less of him from the beginning than the rest of my family. We didn’t stay in Missouri, or really any place -except for that devil’s nest Washington D.C. -for long. That was fine with all of us, particularly mother. But before my mother could cross herself twice and ask the priest for his blessing, the FBI called us back to Washington. I was seven years old, and I only wish I had been old enough to protect myself from the sly Washington cats interested in a high-ranking FBI official’s daughter. As it was, it took a few friendships gone sour and events that left a bitter taste in my mouth for me to get the fact that in Washington, only the ruthless survived.
Father quickly climbed up higher and higher in the FBI. Once Patrick Gray became the director of the FBI my father was declared Assistant Director. From that point on, never ceasing were his complaints that Gray, who spent the majority of his time as director out of the headquarters, piled all the work on father while he just enjoyed the status. It was May of 1972, and I had grown up ; I was a 14 year old now. Back in those days, President Nixon was waging his reelection campaign. The country loved Nixon- everybody except Father. I had been taught from an early age to hate him. That’s why, along with surprise, I was just a little bit satisfied and just a little bit suspicious when the news broke about Watergate. Five robbers armed with government-level technology had broken into the Democratic National Committee’s offices in the Watergate Complex, and eager reporters quickly found that the robbers had strong links to Nixon’s reelection committee, Committee to Re-elect the President , or what my dad and Nixon’s opponents liked to call CREEP. Father saw every ounce of information the FBI gathered about Watergate before the report went to Gray, and for the initial few days surrounding it, we didn’t see a hair of him. Washington was in panic, that stage before open uproar when everybody is shocked, confused, and scrambling every which way for any small amount of knowledge. It was 2 weeks after the scandal broke that I heard my father on the phone, one of the rare times he was home.
“Well of course I do, Bob, but this is dangerous. Haldeman suspects it’s someone in the FBI and won’t stop at anything to find out who.” My breath caught, and I felt tingles of excitement down to my toes. I knew I shouldn’t be eavesdropping, but this conversation seemed far too interesting too ignore. “Yes, I saw your signal, but I was with another agent at the time.” My father sighed, and I struggled to hear what came next as he lowered his voice. “Tell Carl I’ll have it by noon. Gray locked the report away, but I can give you most of it. And remember to put out the flowerpot next time.” He started speaking in a whisper, and I caught the words “The Post” and “covert” before quietly slipping away.
That night, I racked my brain for any answers to the mysterious conversation my father had been having. I knew of only one Bob; Bob Woodward, father’s friend and our occasional dinner guest. For some reason, the name lit a bulb in my head. I got up from my bed and tip-toed down the stairs, praying that no one would hear. Downstairs, I saw a half-empty coffee cup and the empty spot on the carpet where my father’s shoes had sat that evening- he had gone back to the office, in the dead of night. I went to our living room and carefully knelt on the floor in front of father’s bookshelf, a magnificent thing that took up half the room. The small cabinet squeaked as I wrenched it open. Out fell a jumble of newspapers. I quickly shuffled through them, looking for the one I needed. Finally I saw it- The Washington Post, Date June 20, 1972. The front page was completely filled by the giant, sprawling letters ‘INSIDE WHITE HOUSE SOURCE REVEALS NEW INFORMATION ABOUT WATERGATE CASE!’ and its accompanying text. I skimmed the article, taking in the gist. They crowned the inside white house source ‘Deep Throat’, and talked about possible connection of Watergate to Nixon. I knew all that; the country was abuzz with news of Deep Throat. Everybody had their own theory as to who he was and how he knew so much and even if he was. I was looking for the author name. Finally, I saw them near the end- ‘article by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’. My brain felt like it had been hit with a cinderblock, and I was in the process of passing out. Bob. Carl. The ‘inside white house source’- what did all this mean? And what did it have to do with my father? I wasn’t sure at the moment, but I had a lurking suspicion I would soon find out.





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