Charles Colson has sharply criticized Mark Felt, the former No. 2 official at the FBI, for leaking classified material to The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal. Colson was special counsel to President Nixon and served a prison term for leaking FBI files. Colson became a committed Christian during the scandal and later founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry to prisoners and their families. Stan Guthrie, Christianity Today's senior associate news editor, interviewed Colson, a CT columnist, about his comments about Felt, as well as his new book, with Harold Fickett, The Good Life.
On CNN and the Today Show and elsewhere you've said that Mark Felt's actions as "Deep Throat" were not honorable. Why?
Because he was basically leaking FBI files, which ironically is what I went to prison for. He was handing out FBI files, which are held in the greatest secrecy, in a clandestine operation with Woodward and Bernstein. That's the most secure thing in the United States government, because the FBI, for goodness sakes, has files on half of the American people. And if they indiscriminately pass this out, for whatever they deem to be a worthy purpose, you've broken down the whole system.
I gave one FBI file on Daniel Ellsberg to a newspaper reporter. So I don't think it's honorable to do what Felt did. I think he had an honorable solution, which he chose not to use.
You basically believe he should have just gone to the President and then, if necessary, held a press conference.
What he could have done is gone first to the director of the FBI and say, "There's criminal activity going on in the White House, and these guys are obstructing justice." If the director of the FBI wouldn't go with him to the President, then if Mark Felt had called ...