One of the bigger items being tossed around in the excitement of Deep Throat finally unmasking himself as W. Mark Felt, former #2 man of the FBI, is discussion of his motives, and how they bear upon his actions.
In one of Tom Clancy’s later novels (I think it was “Red Rabbit,” but I’m not sure), he sits in on a CIA training class. They are discussing the motivations behind people who betray confidences, and tosses out the acronym MICE.
Money: They say every man has his price. People get into financial troubles, or simply want more than they can afford. For the right amount, they can be persuaded to literally “sell out” the secrets they have been trusted with.
Ideology: Sometimes people find themselves sympathetic to the other side than the government or other group they belong to. To aid those whom they believe in, they will pass along information that is detrimental to their own organization.
Conscience: A person might find themselves repelled by the conduct or beliefs of those they previously believed in. They will take actions that they would normally find repugnant to expose or defeat what they see as greater offenses.
Ego: The person feels slighted or betrayed in some way. The betrayal is rationalized as “payback” of some kind.
Clancy also says that there are very, very few “pure” cases, and most betrayers are driven by at least two of these motivations to various degrees.
In Felt’s case, it seems that he was a Conscience/Ego leaker. He could rationalize his own authorizing illegal break-ins against domestic terrorists like the Weather Underground as “serving the greater good,” but the Watergate break-ins were done for the crassest of reasons — simple political gain. Further, by being passed over for the directorship of the FBI in favor of someone with no law-enforcement experience, Felt could also rationalize he was trying to prevent the further politization of the Bureau.
In my own opinion, Felt did a wrong thing to prevent a greater wrong. And he certainly wasn’t in it for the money — he kept his mouth shut for 30 years, while those who committed much worse deeds made heaps of money with their books and speaking tours and the like.
The fact that Pat Buchanan is in high dudgeon and nearly frothing at the mouth over Felt’s “betrayal” is simply icing on the cake.