Mark Felt

Mark Felt

In 1970, when I was serving as a lieutenant in the US Navy and assigned to Admiral Thomas H Moorer, the chief of naval operations, I sometimes acted as a courier, taking documents to the White House. One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room. It could be a long wait for the right person to come out and sign for the material, and after I had been waiting for a while a tall man with perfectly combed grey hair came in and sat down near me. His suit was dark, his shirt white and his necktie subdued. He was probably 25 to 30 years older than me and was carrying what looked like a file case or briefcase. He was very distinguished looking and had a studied air of confidence, the posture and calm of someone used to giving orders and having them obeyed instantly.

I could tell he was watching the situation very carefully. There was nothing overbearing in his attentiveness, but his eyes were darting about in a kind of gentlemanly surveillance. After several minutes, I introduced myself. "Lieutenant Bob Woodward," I said, carefully appending a deferential "sir".

"Mark Felt," he said.

I began telling him about myself, that this was my last year in the navy and I was bringing documents from Admiral Moorer's office. Felt was in no hurry to explain anything about himself or why he was there.

This was a time in my life of considerable anxiety about my future. I had graduated in 1965 from Yale, where I had a naval scholarship that required that I go into the navy after getting my degree. After four years of service, I had been involuntarily extended an additional year because of the Vietnam war.

During that year in Washington, I expended a great deal of energy trying to find things or people who were interesting. I had a college classmate who was going to clerk for Chief Justice Warren E Burger, and I made an effort to develop a friendship with that classmate. To quell my angst and sense of drift, I was taking graduate courses at George Washington University.

When I mentioned the graduate work to Felt, he perked up immediately, saying he had gone to night law school at GW in the 1930s before joining - and this is the first time he mentioned it - the FBI. While in law school, he said, he had worked full time for his home-state senator from Idaho. I said that I had been doing some volunteer work at the office of my congressman, John Erlenborn, a Republican from the district in Wheaton, Illinois, where I had been raised.

Felt and I were like two passengers sitting next to each other on a long airline flight with nowhere to go and nothing really to do but resign ourselves to the dead time. He showed no interest in striking up a long conversation, but I was intent on it. I finally extracted from him the information that he was an assistant director of the FBI in charge of the inspection division, an important post under director J Edgar Hoover. That meant he led teams of agents who went around to FBI field offices to make sure they were adhering to procedures and carrying out Hoover's orders. I later learned that this was called the "goon squad".

I peppered Felt with questions about his job and his world. As I think back on this accidental but crucial encounter - one of the most important in my life - I see that my patter probably verged on the adolescent. Since he wasn't saying much about himself, I turned it into a career-counselling session. I was deferential, but I must have seemed very needy. He was friendly, and his interest in me seemed paternal. Still, the most vivid impression I have is that of his distant but formal manner. I asked Felt for his phone number, and he gave me the direct line to his office.

When I warned Mardian that my days with the FBI were numbered, he assured me that Hoover wouldn't force me out. "He wouldn't dare," Mardian said. I disagreed, and when I told him I suspected that Hoover would misuse the logs when I was gone, he grew concerned. "I don't have the authority to make this kind of decision," he told me, "but I'll talk to people who do." A few days later, Mardian told me that "on presidential request" and "on the authority of the attorney general" he would personally take possession of the logs and correspondence. In May 1973, I learned that after our first meeting Mardian had flown to San Clemente to discuss the future whereabouts of the logs with President Nixon. Mardian kept something else from me too: he never mentioned that the logs would not be kept in his office, as I assumed, but in the White House. In all fairness to Mardian, whose intelligence and ability I still respect, I don't think that the logs were moved to the White House to obstruct justice, but to maintain security. When I turned in my inventory before leaving the FBI for the last time, I listed the logs and told Mark Felt that I had left them in Mardian's possession.

I was supposed to be jealous of Gray for having received the appointment as Acting Director instead of myself. They felt that my high position in the FBI gave me access to all the Watergate information and that I was releasing it to Woodward and Bernstein in an effort to discredit Gray so that he would be removed and I would have another chance at the job. Then there were those frequent instances when I had been much less than cooperative in responding to requests from the White House which I felt were improper. I suppose the White House staff had me tagged as an insubordinate. It is true I would like to have been appointed FBI director... but I never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or anyone else!

Much of the information that Deep Throat knew was known by many people. While it is impossible to know who might have whispered secrets to whom, thus broadening the circle of knowledge, working logically two particular bits of information that were given to Woodward by his friend easily point to Al Haig.

On March 5, 1973, Time magazine broke a story that the White House had wiretapped newsmen and White House aides in an effort to track down leaks. The White House denied the story was true, although it was true. Time had cracked this case, but they could not learn from their sources in the FBI and Justice Department who had been bugged. The records of the taps had been removed by Bill Sullivan, and passed by Bob Mardian to the White House. When the Time story broke, the records were in John Ehrlichman's safe.

When Woodward met with his friend in late February, shortly before Pat Gray's confirmation hearings, Deep Throat was able to tell Bob that Gray had been aware of these wiretaps and that the work was done by an "out-of-channels vigilante squad." This last piece of information could have been a deliberate effort to mislead Woodward, since it was not true. Deep Throat also gave Woodward the names of two people who had been tapped: "Hedrick Smith and Neil Sheehan of The New York Times." It is the revelation of these names that is the extraordinary information.

I found it interesting that, first, Deep Throat could state flatly that Gray knew about the taps, when he was also saying this was not an FBI operation, and when the Watergate special prosecutor would be unable to prove that Gray knew after an intense investigation with the full resources of the FBI, Justice Department, and several years of digging. Second, the only people who knew the names of those who had been tapped at the time the information was given to Woodward were Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell, Bob Mardian, a very small group in the FBI, Bill Sullivan, Mark Felt, and the man who gave the FBI the names - Al Haig.

When you add to this the scarcely known secret that was given to Woodward about the "deliberate erasures" on the court-subpoenaed tape, Haig passes another test that uniquely qualifies him as the most likely person to have been Woodward's friend.

John Simkin's analysis is as good as any I've seen. The problem, however, isn't so much a question of ascertaining the identity of "Deep Throat," as it is of identifying Woodward's most important source. That Deep Throat was a composite and, as Adrian Havill has suggested, a "literary device," we may take for granted. (As I recall, Throat figured only incidentally in the first draft of All the President's Men. This changed when Woodward's editor, Alice Mayhew, realized the book needed a bit more excitement, and so urged Woodward to play up the role of man he met in the garage, the one with the sexy name. And so he did.

In the end, however, "Deep Throat" is whoever Woodward says he is, so long as it's someone with whom Woodward actually spoke. And if Woodward says Felt is Throat, then I guess Felt will have to carry that tag into the grave. But the really important questions - who was Woodward's most important source and why has he kept that person's identity secret for so long - are swept under the rug by Woodward's designation of Felt as Throat. Indeed, I think it's fair to say that Woodward is using Mark Felt ( the Deep Throat persona) in the same way that a magician uses misdirection to conceal what's actually going on.

The truth is, Woodward had many sources. Felt was one. Bobby Inman was another. And so on and on. His most important source, however, was undoubtedly the man identified in a CIA document entitled "Memorandum for the Record by Martin Lukoskie." At the time it was written, Mr. Lukoskie was an employee of the CIA's Central Cover Staff. The subject-line of his memo reads: "Meeting with Robert Foster Bennett and his Comments Concerning E. Howard Hunt, Douglas Caddy and the Watergate Five Incident." Lukoskie notes that the meeting with Bennett took place on July 10, 1972 in the Hot Shop (sic) Cafeteria in Washington.

Lukoskie was the CIA's liaison to the Robert R. Mullen Company, which had for years provided commercial cover for CIA officers around the world. (The firm's most important client was the Howard Hughes organization - which DNC Chairman Larry O'Brien had represented prior to Robert Maheu's ouster.)

Bennett was the Mullen Company's president, and Howard Hunt was one of its key employees. Lukoskie, then, was Bennett's case officer. And in his memo, the CIA officer reports Bennett's assertion that "when E. Howard Hunt was connected with the (Watergate) incident, reporters from the Washington Post and he (Bennett) thought the Washington Star tried to establish a "Seven Days in May" scenario with the Agency attempting to establish control over both the Republican and Democratic Parties so as to be able to take over the country. Mr. Bennett said he was able to convince them that course (sic) was nonsense." That the reporters were Woodward and Bernstein seems likely, since Lukoskie goes on to report that "Mr. Bennett...has now established a back door entry to the Edward Bennett Williams law firm which is representing the Democratic Party in its suit for damages resulting from the Watergate incident;. Bennett is prepared to go this route to kill off any revelation by Ed Williams of Agency association with the Mullen firm if such a development seems likely." (The Lukoskie memo is reprinted in the Appendix to Secret Agenda.)

Nine months after this memo was written, Lukoskie's boss at the CIA, Eric Eisenstadt, wrote a memo of his own. Entitled "Memorandum for the Deputy Director for Plans," the memo reported that "Bennett said...that he has been feeding stories to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post with the understanding that there be no attribution... Woodward is suitably grateful for the fine stories and by-lines which he gets and protects Bennett (and the Mullen Company)." In the same memo, Eisenstadt reports that Bennett spent hours persuading a Newsweek reporter that the Mullen Company "was not involved with the Watergate Affair." The memo goes on to report that Bennett helped to convince reporters for the Washington Star, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times that the CIA had not "instigated the Watergate affair." If I may quote myself and Secret Agenda: "As an example of Bennett's 'achievements,' Eisenstadt cited Bennett's inspiration of a Newsweek article entitled 'Whispers about Colson' and a Washington Post story about Hunt's investigation of Senator Edward Kennedy."

Clearly, Robert Bennett was a key source - and, quite possibly, Woodward's most important source. Whether he was Deep Throat or not is, in the end, for Woodward to say. But it seems to me that if Woodward's most important source was, in fact, shilling for the CIA - was, in fact, a CIA agent hell-bent on manipulating the Watergate story - then the Washington Post reporter had good reason to keep the identity of that source secret for as long as he could.. Because, of course, if this was indeed the case, then Woodward was less a hero of investigative journalism than a stooge for Langley. And if I am right about that, then pinning the Deep Throat label on the addled Mark Felt was no more than a cynical attempt to end the on-going speculation about Deep Throat's identity - which threatened to bring Woodward's reputation crashing down around him.

Breaking a silence of 30 years, former FBI official W. Mark Felt stepped forward Tuesday as "Deep Throat," the secret Washington Post source who helped bring down President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Within hours, the newspaper confirmed his assertion.

"It's the last secret" of the story, said Benjamin C. Bradlee, the newspaper's top editor at the time the riveting political drama played out three decades ago.

The revelation tumbled out in stages during the day - first when a lawyer quoted Felt in a magazine article as having said he was the source; then when the former FBI man's family issued a statement hailing him as a "great American hero." Within hours, the newspaper confirmed Felt's assertion, ending one of the most enduring mysteries in American politics and journalism.

"I'm the guy they used to call "Deep Throat,' " Felt, the former No. 2 official at the FBI, was quoted as saying in Vanity Fair.

He kept his secret even from his family for almost three decades before his declaration.

Felt, now 91, lives in Santa Rosa, Calif., and is said to be in poor mental and physical health because of a stroke. His family did not immediately make him available for comment, asking the media to respect his privacy "in view of his age and health."

A grandson, Nick Jones, read a statement. "The family believes that my grandfather, Mark Felt Sr., is a great American hero who went well above and beyond the call of duty at much risk to himself to save his country from a horrible injustice," it said.

In a statement issued later, Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein said, "W. Mark Felt was "Deep Throat' and helped us immeasurably in our Watergate coverage. However, as the record shows, many other sources and officials assisted us and other reporters for the hundreds of stories that were written in the Washington Post about Watergate."

Among other things, "Deep Throat" urged the reporters to follow the money trail - from the financing of burglars who broke into Democratic National Committee offices to the financing of Nixon's re-election campaign. The reporters and Bradlee had kept the identity of "Deep Throat" secret at his request, saying his name would be revealed upon his death. But then Felt revealed it himself.

Even the existence of "Deep Throat," nicknamed for an X-rated movie of the early 1970s, was kept secret for a time. Woodward and Bernstein revealed their reporting had been aided by a Nixon administration source in their best-selling book "All the President's Men."

A hit movie starring Robert Redford as Woodward, Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein and Hal Holbrook as "Deep Throat" was made in 1976. In the film, Holbrook's shadowy, cigarette-smoking character met Redford in dark parking garages and provided clues about the scandal.

The source's identity had sparked endless speculation. Nixon chief of staff Alexander M. Haig Jr., acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray III, White House Counsel John W. Dean III and his deputy, Fred Fielding, and former Nixon deputy counsel John Sears were among those mentioned.

Felt himself was mentioned several times over the years as a candidate for "Deep Throat," but he regularly denied that he was.

"I would have done better," Felt told the Hartford Courant in 1999. "I would have been more effective. "Deep Throat' didn't exactly bring the White House crashing down, did he?"

Felt had hopes that he would be the next FBI director, but Nixon instead appointed Gray, an administration insider who was an assistant attorney general.

The Vanity Fair article, by California lawyer John D. O'Connor, described Felt as conflicted over his role in the Watergate revelations and over whether he should publicly reveal who he was.

A Nixon associate who wound up behind bars, G. Gordon Liddy, said he did not consider Felt a hero for going to the Post reporters.

"If he were interested in performing his duty, he would have gone to the grand jury with his information," Liddy, who was finance counsel at Nixon's reelection committee and helped direct the break-in, said on CNN.

According to the article, Felt once told his son, Mark Jr., that he did not believe being the Post's key confidential source on Watergate "was anything to be proud of.... You (should) not leak information to anyone."

Felt was convicted in the 1970s for authorizing illegal break-ins at homes of people associated with the radical Weather Underground. He was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Somewhat to my astonishment, Felt was an admirer of Hoover. He appreciated his orderliness and the way he ran the bureau with rigid procedures and an iron fist. Felt said he appreciated that Hoover arrived at the office at 6.30 each morning and everyone knew what was expected. The Nixon White House was another matter, Felt said. The political pressures were immense without being specific. I believe he called it "corrupt" and sinister. Hoover, Felt and the old guard were the wall that protected the FBI, he said.

At the time, pre-Watergate, there was little or no public knowledge of the acrimony between the Nixon White House and Hoover's FBI. The Watergate investigations later revealed that in 1970, a young White House aide, Tom Charles Huston, had come up with a plan to authorise the CIA, the FBI and military intelligence units to intensify electronic surveillance of "domestic security threats", authorise illegal opening of mail and lift the restrictions on surreptitious entries or break-ins to gather intelligence.

Huston warned in a top-secret memo that the plan was "clearly illegal". Nixon initially approved the plan anyway. Hoover strenuously objected, because eavesdropping, opening mail and breaking into the homes and offices of domestic security threats were basically the FBI bailiwick and the bureau didn't want competition. Four days later, Nixon rescinded the Huston plan.

During this period, Felt had to stop efforts by others in the bureau to "identify every member of every hippie commune" in the Los Angeles area, or to open a file on every member of Students for a Democratic Society. None of this surfaced directly in our discussions, but clearly he was a man under pressure, and the threat to the integrity and independence of the bureau was real and seemed uppermost in his mind.

On July 1 1971 - about a year before Hoover's death and the Watergate break-in - Hoover promoted Felt to number-three official in the FBI. Though Hoover's sidekick, Clyde Tolson, was technically the number-two official, Tolson was ill and did not come to work many days, meaning he had no operational control of the bureau. Thus, my friend became the day-to-day manager of all FBI matters, as long as he kept Hoover and Tolson informed, or sought Hoover's approval on policy matters.

In August, a year after my failed tryout, Rosenfeld hired me. I started at the Post the next month.

Though I was busy in my new job, I kept Felt on my call list and checked in with him. He was relatively free with me but insisted that he, the FBI and the justice department be kept out of anything I might use indirectly or pass on to others. He was stern and strict about those rules with a booming, insistent voice. I promised, and he said that it was essential that I be careful. The only way to ensure that was to tell no one that we knew each other or talked or that I knew someone in the FBI or justice department. No one.

About 9.45am on May 2 1972, Felt was in his office at the FBI when an assistant director came to report that Hoover had died. Felt was stunned. For practical purposes, he was next in line to take over the bureau. Yet Felt was soon to be visited with immense disappointment. Nixon nominated L Patrick Gray III to be acting director. Gray was a Nixon loyalist going back years. He had resigned from the navy in 1960 to work for candidate Nixon during the presidential contest that Nixon lost to John F Kennedy.

As best I could tell, Felt was crushed, but he put on a good face. "Had I been wiser, I would have retired," Felt wrote.

On May 15, less than two weeks after Hoover's death, a lone gunman shot Alabama Governor George C Wallace, then campaigning for president, at a shopping centre. The wounds were serious, but Wallace survived. Wallace had a strong following in the deep South, an increasing source of Nixon's support. Wallace's spoiler candidacy four years earlier in 1968 could have cost Nixon the election that year, and Nixon monitored Wallace's every move closely as the 1972 presidential contest continued.

That evening, Nixon called Felt - not Gray, who was out of town - at home for an update. It was the first time Felt had spoken directly with Nixon. Felt reported that Arthur H Bremer, the would-be assassin, was in custody but in the hospital because he had been roughed up and given a few bruises by those who subdued and captured him after he shot Wallace.

"Well, it's too bad they didn't really rough up the son of a bitch!" Nixon told Felt.

Felt was offended that the president would make such a remark. Nixon was so agitated, attaching such urgency to the shooting, that he said he wanted full updates every 30 minutes from Felt on any new information that was being discovered in the investigation of Bremer.

In the following days I called Felt several times and he very carefully gave me leads as we tried to find out more about Bremer. It turned out that he had stalked some of the other candidates, and I went to New York to pick up the trail. This led to several front-page stories about Bremer's travels, completing a portrait of a madman not singling out Wallace but rather looking for any presidential candidate to shoot. On May 18, I did a page-one article that said, "High federal officials who have reviewed investigative reports on the Wallace shooting said yesterday that there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Bremer was a hired killer."

It was rather brazen of me. Though I was technically protecting my source and talked to others besides Felt, I did not do a good job of concealing where the information was coming from. Felt chastised me mildly. But the story that Bremer acted alone was a story that both the White House and the FBI wanted out.

A month later, on Saturday June 17, the FBI night supervisor called Felt at home. Five men in business suits, pockets stuffed with $100 bills, and carrying eavesdropping and photographic equipment, had been arrested inside the Democrats' national headquarters at the Watergate office building at about 2.30am.

By 8.30am, Felt was in his office at the FBI, seeking more details. About the same time, the Post's city editor woke me at home and asked me to come in to cover an unusual burglary.

The first paragraph of the front-page story that ran the next day in the Post read: "Five men, one of whom said he is a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, were arrested at 2.30am yesterday in what authorities described as an elaborate plot to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee here." The next day, Carl Bernstein and I wrote our first article together, identifying one of the burglars, James W McCord Jr, as the salaried security coordinator for Nixon's reelection committee. On Monday, I went to work on E Howard Hunt, whose phone number had been found in the address books of two of the burglars with the small notations "W House" and "WH" by his name.

This was the moment when a source or friend in the investigative agencies of government is invaluable. I called Felt at the FBI, reaching him through his secretary. It would be our first talk about Watergate. He reminded me how he disliked phone calls at the office but said the Watergate burglary case was going to "heat up" for reasons he could not explain. He then hung up abruptly.

I was tentatively assigned to write the next day's Watergate bugging story, but I was not sure I had anything. Carl had the day off. I picked up the phone and dialled 456-1414 - the White House - and asked for Howard Hunt. There was no answer, but the operator helpfully said he might be in the office of Charles W Colson, Nixon's special counsel. Colson's secretary said Hunt was not there but might be at a PR firm where he worked as a writer. I called and reached Hunt and asked why his name was in the address book of two of the Watergate burglars.

"Good God!" Hunt shouted before slamming down the phone. I called the president of the PR firm, Robert F Bennett, who is now a Republican US senator from Utah. "I guess it's no secret that Howard was with the CIA," Bennett said blandly.

It had been a secret to me, and a CIA spokesman confirmed that Hunt had been with the agency from 1949 to 1970. I called Felt again at the FBI. Colson, White House, CIA, I said. What did I have? Anyone could have someone's name in an address book. Felt sounded nervous. He said - off the record, meaning I could not use the information - that Hunt was a prime suspect in the burglary at the Watergate for many reasons beyond the address books. So reporting the connections forcefully would not be unfair.

In July, Carl went to Miami, home of four of the burglars, on the money trail, and he ingeniously tracked down a local prosecutor and his chief investigator, who had copies of $89,000 in Mexican cheques and a $25,000 cheque that had gone into the account of Bernard L Barker, one of the burglars. We were able to establish that the $25,000 cheque had been campaign money that had been given to Maurice H Stans, Nixon's chief fundraiser, on a Florida golf course. The August 1 story on this was the first to tie Nixon campaign money directly to Watergate.

I tried to call Felt, but he wouldn't take the call. I tried his home and had no better luck. So one night I showed up at his Fairfax home. It was a plain-vanilla, perfectly kept suburban house. His manner made me nervous. He said no more phone calls, no more visits to his home, nothing in the open. I did not know then that in Felt's earliest days in the FBI, during the second world war, he was assigned to work on the general desk of the espionage section. Felt learned a great deal about German spying in the job, and after the war spent time keeping suspected Soviet agents under surveillance. So at his home in Virginia that summer, Felt said that if we were to talk it would have to be face to face, where no one could observe us.

I said anything would be fine with me.

We would need a preplanned notification system - a change in the environment that no one else would notice or attach any meaning to. I didn't know what he was talking about.

If you keep the drapes in your apartment closed, open them and that could signal me, he said. I could check each day or have them checked, and if they were open we could meet that night at a designated place. I liked to let the light in at times, I explained.

We needed another signal, he said, indicating that he could check my apartment regularly. He never explained how he could do this. Feeling under some pressure, I said that I had a red cloth flag - the kind used as a warning on long truck loads - that a girlfriend had found on the street. She had stuck it in an empty flowerpot on my apartment balcony. Felt and I agreed that I would move the flowerpot with the flag, which usually was in the front near the railing, to the rear of the balcony if I urgently needed a meeting. This would have to be important and rare, he said sternly. The signal, he said, would mean we would meet that same night at about 2am on the bottom level of an underground garage just over the Key Bridge in Rosslyn.

Felt said I would have to follow strict countersurveillance techniques. How did I get out of my apartment?

I walked out, down the hall, and took the elevator.

Which takes you to the lobby? he asked.

Yes.

Did I have back stairs to my apartment house?

Yes.

Use them when you are heading for a meeting. Do they open into an alley?

Yes.

Take the alley. Don't use your own car. Take a taxi to several blocks from a hotel where there are cabs after midnight, get dropped off and then walk to get a second cab to Rosslyn. Don't get dropped off directly at the parking garage. Walk the last several blocks. If you are being followed, don't go down to the garage. I'll understand if you don't show. The key was taking the necessary time - one to two hours to get there. Be patient, serene. Trust the pre-arrangements. There was no fallback meeting place or time. If we both didn't show, there would be no meeting.

Felt said that if he had something for me, he could get me a message. He quizzed me about my daily routine, what came to my apartment, the mailbox, etc. The Post was delivered outside my apartment door. I did have a subscription to the New York Times. A number of people in my apartment building near Dupont Circle got the Times. The copies were left in the lobby with the apartment number. Mine was 617, and it was written clearly on the outside of each paper. Felt said if there was something important he could get to my New York Times - how, I never knew. Page 20 would be circled, and the hands of a clock in the lower part of the page would be drawn to indicate the time of the meeting that night, probably 2am, in the same parking garage.

The relationship was a compact of trust; nothing about it was to be discussed or shared with anyone, he said.

How he could have made a daily observation of my balcony is still a mystery to me. At the time, before the era of intensive security, the back of the building was not enclosed, so anyone could have driven in to observe my balcony. In addition, my balcony and the back of the apartment complex faced on to a courtyard that was shared with other buildings. My balcony could have been seen from dozens of apartments or offices, as best I can tell.

Esquire had it wrong; Atlantic Monthly had it right.

Leonard Garment's book missed the mark; Ronald Kessler's was on the money.

William Gaines' college journalism class flunked the test; Chase Culeman-Beckman's high-school history paper, although he didn't get an "A" when he turned it in six years ago, should have put him at the head of the class.

A 30-year national guessing game is over: W. Mark Felt, former associate director of the FBI, has revealed to Vanity Fair magazine that he was Deep Throat, the anonymous source who leaked information to The Washington Post about President Nixon's Watergate cover-up.

The Post confirmed on its Web site yesterday that Felt indeed was Deep Throat.

Thus ends one of the nation's longest-running modern-day mysteries.

Felt, it turns out, is the final answer — and not too many had it right. One can rightfully expect in weeks ahead some apologies from those who guessed wrong, and a few "I-told-you-so's" from those who nailed it, including Culeman-Beckman.

Born well after Watergate, Culeman-Beckman was only 8 years old when, he says, Jacob Bernstein, a son of Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, revealed Deep Throat's identity to him during playtime at summer day camp in 1988.

Except for telling his mom, Culeman-Beckman would keep the secret for nearly 10 years — until spilling the beans in a high-school research paper.

In a 1999 Hartford Courant article about Culeman-Beckman's disclosure (which was printed in The Seattle Times), Felt denied he was Deep Throat. Bernstein said neither he nor reporting partner Bob Woodward had ever told their wives, children or anyone else Deep Throat's identity.

In fact, the two men had agreed not to divulge his identity until after his death. They took pains to exclude any documents identifying him when they sold their Watergate papers two years ago to the University of Texas. And neither, initially, would confirm yesterday that Felt was Deep Throat. By late afternoon, though, Woodward, Bernstein and former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee said in an article posted on the paper's Web site that Felt was the anonymous source.

Since Woodward and Bernstein's best-selling book, "All the President's Men," disclosed the existence of Deep Throat, speculation has been rampant, and entire books have been written about his identity.

Some, including the authors of "Silent Coup: The Removal of a President," suspected Alexander Haig, chief of staff under Nixon. Some suspected Nixon adviser David Gergen, whom Esquire magazine in 1976 picked as the No. 1 candidate for Deep Throat.

"Watergate: the Secret Story," a documentary by CBS News and The Washington Post, concluded it was acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray.

Leonard Garment, Nixon's special counsel and author of "In Search of Deep Throat: The Greatest Political Mystery of Our Time," opted for fellow presidential lawyer John Sears.

Fred Fielding, deputy White House counsel to John Dean, was the choice of both Watergate conspirator H.R. Haldeman in his book, "The Ends of Power," and William Gaines' journalism classes at the University of Illinois, which spent four years investigating Deep Throat's identity.

A relative handful of guessers had it right.

Felt was seen as the most likely suspect in "The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI," a book by Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter; in "Deep Throat: An Institutional Analysis," a 1992 Atlantic Monthly article by James Mann, a former colleague of Woodward's at the Post; and in articles in Washingtonian magazine by its editor, Jack Limpert.

Felt was suspected by the White House, according to the Nixon tapes:

Nixon: "Well, if they've got a leak down at the FBI, why the hell can't Gray tell us what the hell is left? You know what I mean? ... "

Haldeman: "We know what's left, and we know who leaked it."

Nixon: "Somebody in the FBI?"

Haldeman: "Yes, sir. Mark Felt. ... If we move on him, he'll go out and unload everything. He knows everything that's to be known in the FBI. He has access to absolutely everything. "

Nixon: "What would you do with Felt? You know what I'd do with him, the bastard? Well that's all I want to hear about it."

Haldeman: "I think he wants to be in the top spot."

Nixon: "That's a hell of a way for him to get to the top."

Felt, in his own memoir, "The FBI Pyramid: Inside the FBI," denied being Deep Throat and said he met with Woodward only once.

The name meant nothing to Culeman-Beckman when he heard it in 1988. Now a graduate student at Cornell University, he could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"I'm 100 percent sure that Deep Throat was Mark Felt," he quoted Bernstein's son as saying. "He's someone in the FBI." He told The Hartford Courant that the boy attributed the information to his father.

After the article, Bernstein, Jacob and his mother, writer and movie director Nora Ephron, all denied that Bernstein had told anyone the identity of "Deep Throat."

To Culeman-Beckman, turnabout was fair play.

"They've been cute about it long enough," Culeman-Beckman said then. "I just think if it's fair of them to dethrone a president, for all intents and purposes, and not tell anyone their source, I don't see why it's not fair for a person like myself to come forward. Let the cards fall where they may. There's a chance this could be the answer to one of the greatest political mysteries of our time."

Curiously enough, it was.

History professor Joan Hoff of Montana State University, an expert on the Watergate scandal, finds it interesting that Bob Woodward is claiming that he had a close relationship with former FBI official Mark Felt, now identified as Deep Throat, when Felt suffers from serious health problems, including dementia, and can’t deny it. “It’s just like when he said he interviewed (former CIA director Bill) Casey when Casey was comatose,” she says.

Len Colodny, co-author of Silent Coup, about the “removal” of President Nixon, finds the identification of Mark Felt as Deep Throat to be rather remarkable: “A Deep Throat who can’t talk.”

The fact is, as AIM founder Reed Irvine documented, Woodward has been known to make things up. Woodward’s Casey “interview” is a case in point. As Reed noted, “In his 1987 book, Veil, Woodward claimed he had interviewed William J. Casey, the CIA director, after Casey had brain surgery and could not speak intelligibly. Woodward didn’t know that, and he made up an interview in which Casey is supposed to have spoken 19 intelligible words. It was clear that this was a falsification not only because of Casey’s condition, but because his hospital room was guarded and Woodward was never admitted to it.”

Hoff believes the identification of Deep Throat is part of “an orchestrated publicity stunt on the part of the Post and Woodward” because Woodward plans to publish his own book on Felt. “Lo and behold,” says Hoff, “Felt’s family decides he’s Deep Throat and Felt can’t say whether he is or not, and we get the big story.”

In fact, despite his serious health problems, Felt can still utter a few words. He was captured on film outside his home yesterday saying that he enjoyed the publicity and that, “I’ll arrange to write a book or something, and collect all the money I can.” A New York Times account indicates that members of the Felt family have been envious of the money that will be made from the Deep Throat disclosures and that they were trying to pursue their own book deal independent of Woodward after he rebuffed their pleas for a collaborative effort.

Felt seems to have been a source of some kind for Woodward. But was he the source known as Deep Throat? Hoff isn’t the only one who has some doubts.

Colodny says that what is known about Felt “doesn’t match what Woodward wrote in his book. He describes Deep Throat as someone he had known for a long time and had many discussions about power in Washington and so on. There’s not a shred of evidence that Felt is that person.”

In the June 2 Post, Woodward describes for the first time the details of his “friendship” with Felt. They are said to have met accidentally when Woodward, then a young Navy Lieutenant, was delivering Navy documents to the White House in 1970. Hoff points out that Felt, because of his severe memory problems, can’t deny any of this and the account “is based only and exclusively on Woodward’s word.”

But there are other reasons to doubt that Felt is Deep Throat.

Colodny and Hoff point to the claim in the Woodward/Bernstein book, All the President’s Men, that Deep Throat provided the Post reporters exclusive information about the “deliberate erasures,” as “Throat” told Woodward in November of 1973, on the White House tapes. “There’s no reason to believe that Felt had access to that information because it was closely held in the White House,” says Colodny, “and Felt had left the FBI in April - six months earlier.”

Hoff agrees. “It’s conceivable that as the second in command at the FBI, the deputy director, he could have gotten information from somebody about this,” she said. “But I don’t think he gave them this information. I think it was somebody in the White House. At that point, the White House was so embattled over the tapes and the possible subpoena (of them), there were only 3 or 4 people who had access to those tapes.”

That means, apparently, that either Felt is not Deep Throat or that he had his own Deep Throat.

But if Felt did somehow have access to that information and provided it to Woodward, important questions are raised.

“The guy is deputy director of the FBI,” Colodny says. “Why is he not protecting the tapes? Why is he not arresting the people who are doing this? Why doesn’t he go to (Watergate Judge John) Sirica’s court, which is hearing this? He’s a sworn law enforcement officer. He knows there’s a crime being committed. But instead of doing something about it, he goes in a garage and talks to Woodward.”

Hoff makes the same basic point. “He is the top law enforcement officer in the country because there’s only an acting director (of the FBI) at that point,” says Hoff. “Why didn’t he go to Sirica or a grand jury and blow the story open?”

If Felt was concerned about the hostility between the FBI and President Nixon, Hoff counters, “This is the very story that he could have killed the Nixon Administration with. Why in God’s name would a top law enforcement officer meet in a garage with a rookie reporter and give him this information? It makes no sense.”

Hoff predicts that the story will rebound to the discredit of Woodward. It’s another flashy story, she concedes, “but I think they made a mistake in choosing Felt.”

Last February 4, when the University of Texas in Austin opened the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein Watergate papers (for which it had paid them $5 million), Hoff participated in a symposium with Woodward and suggested that he put Deep Throat on videotape. Hoff wrote that she told Woodward that “he should video tape that individual as soon as possible so the public could be sure of the authenticity of the man Woodward would ultimately reveal as Deep Throat when the person could not deny it.”

Of course, this should have been done years ago. The Felt family has affirmed the Deep Throat designation but it’s now clear that they had a financial interest in doing so as well. And the questions about the conspiracy behind the Watergate conspiracy will be shunted aside and will remain unanswered.

It was one of America's greatest mysteries: Who was the anonymous source who had leaked information about the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of US President Richard Nixon in 1974?

Mark Felt, a former deputy head of the FBI, has revealed that it was he who made the suggestion that led to the discovery of the link between the burglary at the Democratic National Committee HQ in Washington's Watergate complex in June 1972, and the financing of Nixon's reelection campaign.

For decades, the informant was known only as Deep Throat. He was the shadowy, chain-smoking character played by Hal Holbrook in the hit movie All the President's Men starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

Mr Felt, who was responsible for investigating the burglary, has figured prominently in the 30-year guessing game about Deep Throat's identity.

But he repeatedly denied that he was the source who met Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in underground car parks to provide clues to the scandal.

Mr Felt, now 91, lives in retirement in Santa Rosa, California. According to reports, he has lived for decades in the belief that he betrayed his FBI badge by disclosing government secrets.

On Tuesday, his lawyer John O'Connor told US media: "Mark felt that he was somehow a dishonourable guy, an FBI agent who was disloyal, who leaked when he shouldn't have leaked. He kept saying an FBI agent doesn't do this."

Mr Felt's family only learned of his secret three years ago and, according to Mr O'Connor, they talked to him and helped convince him that he "was a hero".

"After talking to him for two to three years, probably for the last six to nine months, he was really convinced he was a hero. He knows he did the right thing. He knows he had to breach his code of ethics to save the country."

Mr Felt's son, Mark Junior, told Vanity Fair in an article detailing the revelation: "He would not have done it if he didn't feel it was the only way to get around the corruption in the White House and Justice Department. He was tortured inside, but never would show it."

The former FBI man unmasked as "Deep Throat' probably won't be prosecuted for sharing information with reporters during the Watergate scandal, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales indicated Friday.

"It happened a long time ago," Gonzales said of W. Mark Felt's conduct 30 years ago, when he was the No. 2 man at the FBI. "The department has a lot of other priorities."

Gonzales declined to characterize Felt as either hero or villain.

"I will leave it to history to make that determination," he said, echoing comments by President Bush.

Felt, now 91, provided critical tips about criminal wrongdoing at the White House to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward during the Watergate scandal.

It is unclear whether he broke any laws, but some former members of the Nixon administration have said the information he revealed was confidential.

Last week, another one of those irresistible TV occasions came along when 91-year-old Mark Felt, who had been the No. 2 official at the FBI back in the early 1970s, acknowledged that he was the mysterious "Deep Throat" who systematically fed critical information to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward during that newspaper's lonely and courageous investigation of the events we now call Watergate. Felt was the greatest anonymous source we've ever seen.

Because it led to Richard Nixon's resignation as president, Watergate was the biggest political story of the 20th century in these United States. Given Deep Throat's critical role in helping a single newspaper unravel the sordid tale of corruption, intrigue and deceit that was leading inexorably to Nixon's impeachment, the tipster's identity was a compelling mystery.

As soon as the mystery was solved, the debate about the rectitude of the nation's most famous whistle-blower began. David Gergen, an aide to four presidents, stated his views on at least four different programs within hours of Felt's admission. Gergen, painfully reluctant to applaud Felt, was more moderate and responsible than most; others with similar ties to the Republican Party were downright snide about Felt and practically branded him a traitor.

The most offensive, I thought, was Chuck Colson, who found religion while serving a term in prison for misdeeds he committed while serving as the president's special counsel during the Watergate scandal. Now a man of God, he gave CNN's Aaron Brown no sign that the word "forgiveness" is part of his language. Mark Felt, he insisted, should have reported his misgivings to his superiors rather than spill the beans to the (ugh) press.

But look who Felt's superiors were: John Mitchell, the attorney general, and L. Patrick Gray III, the acting head of the FBI. We now know what Felt knew – that Mitchell was deeply involved in Watergate, at least the cover-up, which is what finally brought Nixon down. And Gray, a former assistant attorney general with no FBI experience, was loyal to the president who had appointed him to succeed the late J. Edgar Hoover, who was a greatly flawed character whom Nixon knew he could never control.

And of course we also know that Nixon himself was at the very center of the scandal. Colson apparently would have us believe Mitchell and Gray would have done something noble and good with Felt's reports. So, why can't we believe him?

The infamous Nixon tapes revealed that when the president was told that Felt might be the Post's source, he wondered aloud if Felt was a Catholic. No, he was told by his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, he's a Jew. And Nixon replied: "[Expletive], [the bureau] put a Jew in there?" And Haldeman responded "Well, that could explain it." Incidentally, Felt is not Jewish.

To many Americans, Felt was not the whistleblower who risked all to save US democracy but a self-serving rat who was just as big a danger to democracy as Nixon and his band of crooked advisers.

For these people, the Deep Throat epithet accurately conveys a sense of the political gutter they believe Felt occupies.

Not surprisingly, this debate has tended to be along party lines, with Democrats by and large embracing Felt as a courageous man of honour, the patron saint of whistleblowers.

Republicans, on the other hand, have targeted Felt's repeated breach of his oath of office, namely his release of confidential government information to Woodward and his failure to report his evidence of White House criminality to prosecutors.

Some, such as former Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan, have brutally dismissed Felt as a "traitor". Others, such as former Nixon chief counsel Charles Colson, have been more considered.

Colson said Felt's unique position in the intelligence community deprived him of the right to become a whistleblower.

"He had in his hands about the most sensitive portfolio in the US government and I think he abused it," Colson said this week.

"Do you want to live in a country where the deputy director of the FBI, who has access to the files of half the American people -- top-secret files -- feels free to give them out because he has a higher calling? To me, that's a pretty scary proposition."

Colson also pointed to the hypocrisy of Felt leaking when he was later convicted of organising the same kind of illegal Watergate-style burglaries against student radicals. In a strange twist, Nixon testified on Felt's behalf at his trial.

"I'm very sorry for Mark Felt," Colson said. "I liked him, I'm very sorry he leaves as Deep Throat. That's going to be on his tombstone and that is not a good legacy."

Former Nixon chief of staff Alexander Haig, one of those always high on the list of Deep Throat suspects, said a true man of honour caught in Felt's position would have resigned.

"If you see something that your conscience tells you you can't live with, then you resign and you take whatever action you can," Haig said this week.

"Sometimes you just resign. I've resigned from several presidencies for what I couldn't agree with. But you do resign. You don't have it both ways. You don't stay in a government position while you're leaking secrets to the outside newspapers."

In a taped phone conversation from May 12, 1973, Nixon told Haig that Felt was a "goddamn traitor" and told Haig to watch him carefully. Haig had told Nixon in 1973 that: "We've got to be careful as to when we cut his nuts off."

Gordon Liddy, the Nixon agent who was jailed for organising the 1972 break-in at the Democratic campaign headquarters in the Watergate building, said Felt's duty was to seek a grand jury indictment if he had evidence of White House criminality, a remark that earned a swift rebuke from Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post editor who backed Woodward and Bernstein.

"Liddy is a common crook," Bradlee said. "For these people to talk about the immorality of Deep Throat makes me laugh."

Of course the question of Felt's morality turns largely on his motivation for becoming Deep Throat in the first place. Was Felt, as a Post columnist Richard Cohen claimed this week, a man who "took seriously all that stuff about duty and loyalty and the American Way"?

Or was he just angry at being passed over by Nixon as head of the FBI after the death of J.Edgar Hoover and decided a revenge play in the media was the best way to get even?

Sadly, it seems the world will never hear from Felt on this critical point. At 91, and with a severe stroke behind him, he reportedly has no clear memory of the Watergate era, a factor likely to limit the cash value of his sudden celebrity.

Felt's last word on the subject came in 1999, on the 25th anniversary of Nixon's resignation, when he told a reporter that it would be "terrible" if someone in his position had been Deep Throat. "This would completely undermine the reputation that you might have as a loyal employee of the FBI," he said. "It just wouldn't fit at all."

This week, Felt, frail and almost clownish, was capable only of parroting the financial agenda of his family. "I'll arrange to write a book or something, and collect all the money I can," he told reporters outside his daughter's California home.

But that day publisher Judith Regan revealed that negotiations over a possible book deal had collapsed because of serious concerns that Felt was no longer of sound mind.

We were wrong. We had to accept we were wrong when on May 31, 2005, Bob Woodward, the famous Washington Post reporter, revealed that his super-secret source in the Watergate investigation of the Nixon Administration was Mark Felt, second in command at the FBI.

I had my class in investigative reporting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign make a systematic approach to finding the identity of that source who for more than 30 years was known only as Deep Throat.

My students over 12 semesters poured over FBI reports, congressional testimony, White House documents in the National Archives and autobiographies of Watergate figures. We started with the premise that everything Woodward wrote or spoke about Deep Throat was true to the best of his knowledge at the time. At the start, everyone was a suspect. Then we started narrowing the field.

We were aware of Mark Felt. There had been several claims that he was Deep Throat but we eliminated everyone in the FBI for several reasons.

It was known that Throat provided information from May 1972 until November 1973, according to Woodward and Carl Bernstein's book, All The President's Men. Felt had left the FBI in June 1973. At that time, the FBI was not directly involved in the Watergate investigation. It had been taken over by the staff of a special prosecutor.

In November 1973, according to the book, Throat told Woodward by phone that the Nixon tapes had gaps of a suspicious nature that could have been deliberate. When the students checked the newspaper reports of that week, they found that quotation from Throat to be attributed to a White House source. The FBI is an agency of the Justice Department, outside the gates of the White House.

A similar circumstance was found when students visited the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas that purchased Woodward and Bernstein's notes. Students located a report to Woodward from Throat that explained the transactions involved in checks from a Mexican bank that had gone into one of the Watergate burglar's bank account. When that was written about in the newspaper, the information was attributed to "one knowledgeable Republican source."

There were other seemingly more important reasons to feel that Throat was not harbored in the FBI. Information he gave Woodward did not always agree with FBI reports. One instance that stood out was that Throat had been quoted as telling Woodward: "You can safely say that 50 people worked for the White House and CRP (Nixon's re-election committee) to play games and sabotage and gather intelligence." It's all in the files, Deep Throat said; "Justice and the Bureau know about it."

The Post story of October 10, 1972, that resulted from the conversation, stated that "according to FBI reports, at least 50 undercover Nixon operatives traveled throughout the country." Students located an FBI report written the day the Post story was published that stated the FBI did not have such information in its files and furthermore it was not true.

Examination of Throat's words and the newspaper stories that resulted shows that much of the information was far removed from the FBI, and instead was White House insider information. An example in our study concerned the knowledge that John Ehrlichman, assistant to Nixon, told E. Howard Hunt, a leader of the Watergate burglars, to get out of town. John Dean, Nixon's chief counsel, testified that Ehrlichman gave that order and told Gordon Liddy, who passed the order to Hunt. Charles Colson, special counsel to Nixon, learned it from Dean and told Dean to rescind the order. But Liddy, Hunt and Colson wrote that they only knew it came from Dean and not from Ehrlichman, and Ehrlichman denied it. Dean said he never told anyone. The only other person believed to have knowledge of Dean's version was Fred Fielding, his chief deputy, who Colson said was present when he talked about it with Dean. We found no mention of the subject in any of the 16,000 pages of FBI reports we examined.

After the announcement that Throat was Felt, it was widely reported that Felt quit smoking in the 1940s. We did not know that because we only went into that much detail when we probed White House suspects. Unlike Felt, our choice for Deep Throat smoked and was in the White House during the entire time when Woodward was getting information from Throat.

While the facts in our online report have not been found to be in error, the big mistake that negates the study is that we came to the wrong conclusion. We were 100 percent sure that Fielding was Deep Throat, I had said publicly. We were that sure, but we were wrong. Only Woodward and Throat together can make that statement.

Fielding was the last man standing in the process of elimination and we then ticked off a list of Throat's facts and compared them with Fielding's knowledge. Fielding saw FBI reports that Dean was getting from L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI, and sat in on FBI interviews of White House staff members. He prepared White House staff people for investigator's interviews and in one instance got a full report on what the grand jury was asking.

Most surprising was that Fielding's name was left out of Woodward and Bernstein's stories, and we were able to show that they knew of his involvement.

Fielding at one time said he was out of the country when Deep Throat met with Woodward, but we learned that Woodward had not specifically stated the date of the meeting, and had seemingly written around it to obscure it.

Finally, we recounted a published report in which Fielding stated it was probably true that when he was very ill that he said he was Deep Throat.

Fielding would not be interviewed by us or any of the media concerning our report. He would only deny being Deep Throat. He was correct. He is not Deep Throat.

I immediately accepted that we were wrong when Woodward confirmed that the account in Vanity Fair magazine was true. The media response was overwhelming. My e-mail took about 200 messages the first day, and my voice mail filled to capacity. Some of it was ridicule and insults, but there were some comments of support. The most heartening response was from former students. They found Woodward's statement unbelievable, but I told them it had to be accepted. I was especially grateful to students who were on summer break but volunteered to come to my office and help handle the phone calls.

I promised in my media interviews that our next investigation would be of how we went wrong. We also will look at some of the questions that have arisen, such as did Felt work with other people or were there other independent sources who were as important as Throat.

Did we learn from the experience? We probably learned more from being wrong than if we were right.

He secretly guided Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward as he and his colleague Carl Bernstein pursued the story of the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate office buildings and later revelations of the Nixon administration's campaign of spying and sabotage against its perceived political enemies.

Felt insisted on remaining completely anonymous, or on "deep background." A Post editor dubbed him "Deep Throat," a bit of wordplay based on the title of a pornographic movie of the time. The source's existence, but not his identity, became known in Woodward and Bernstein's 1974 book, "All the President's Men," and in the subsequent movie version, in which actor Hal Holbrook played the charismatic but shadowy source.

Felt, a dashing figure with a full head of silver hair, an authoritative bearing and a reputation as a tough taskmaster, adamantly denied over the years he was Deep Throat, even though Nixon suspected him from the start.

"It was not I and it is not I," Felt told Washingtonian magazine in 1974. Five times, Nixon ordered Gray to fire Felt, but Gray, convinced by Felt's denials, never did.

Felt, a master of bureaucratic infighting and misdirection, seized upon a Post story that had not used him as a source. In a bold stroke, he denounced it in an internal memo and ordered an investigation into the leak. "Expedite," he commanded. The next day, in a notation on another memo that passed over his desk, he pointed to a prosecutor as the source of the leak.

"I was impressed. My guy knew his stuff," Woodward wrote in "Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat" (2006). "The memo was an effective cover for him, the very best counterintelligence tradecraft. Not only had he initiated the leak inquiry, but Felt appeared to have discovered the leaker."

It wasn't until May 30, 2005, that Felt's family revealed his identity in an article for Vanity Fair magazine. The article, written by San Francisco lawyer John D. O'Connor, did not make clear why Felt, who was suffering from dementia, admitted his identity after more than 30 years. Woodward confirmed the revelation, and secret was finally out.


Forget Al Haig, David Gergen, L. Patrick Gray, Fred Fielding, Bush 41 . Deep Throat Was W. Mark Felt

On Tuesday May 31, 2005 the wires reported that former FBI official W. Mark Felt has admitted that he was Deep Throat, the famous Watergate source for Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. A story about his admission was published by Vanity Fair. Felt, who is 91 and in failing health, was second in command at the FBI during Watergate. Until now he has always denied being Deep Throat, the source who helped Woodward and Bernstein confirm leads and hunches in their search for the truth about the "White House horrors," as Attorney General John Mitchell referred to the various crimes and offenses that go by the name of Watergate. Bernstein at first refused to confirm Felt's identity, saying: "When the individual known as Deep Throat dies, we will reveal his identity, and explain at great length all of our dealings with that individual and context of that relationship." But he also declined to deny that Felt was telling the truth. And late in the afternoon of May 31st the Post confirmed that Felt was Deep Throat.

Assuming Mr. Felt is telling the truth--and that the Post is too (see Joan Hoff, Here We Go Again: Deep Throat Revealed?)--one of the great mysteries of the 20th century has finally been solved. Who among the experts was right in unraveling the identity of the elusive source? And who was wrong? Some answers.

Donald Ritchie, Associate historian of the United States Senate, accurately drew attention to Mr. Felt in Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps (Oxford University Press), which was published in March of this year:

Identifying Bob Woodward's source as having a connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests a motive for the leaker. The cover-up that eventually caused Nixon to resign the presidency had been aimed at keeping the FBI from conducting a full investigation of the Watergate burglary or from following the political money trail back to the White House. For months, Woodward's source helped generate news accounts that kept the investigation on track. The source seemed to know everything that the FBI had uncovered, but revealed nothing that cast the bureau in a poor light. Deep Throat, for instance, did not mention the former FBI agent Alfred Baldwin, who had monitored the wiretaps for the Watergate burglars. Baldwin had handled previous 'black bag' jobs that the bureau did not want disclosed. It was the Los Angeles Times not the Washington Post that eventually broke Baldwin's story. "Sometimes people accuse us of bringing down the president, which of course we didn't do and shouldn't have done," publisher Katharine Graham commented. "What the Post did . . . was to keep the story alive. (pp. 228-29) .

"I've always felt the leak is at the FBI," Nixon ruminated at Camp David on October 15. An attorney for the Washington Post had privately identified Mark Felt as the leaker, but the president could not take action because Felt knew "everything that's to be known in the FBI," and might go on network television to tell it. Instead, the White House sent word to Pat Gray not to place any further confidence in his deputy. Confronted with these suspicions, Felt protested, "Pat, I haven't leaked anything to anybody. They are wrong!" From that point on, Deep Throat refused to allow Woodward to use him as a source on any "Haldeman story." (p. 233)

Mr. Ritchie noted in an email to HNN that "There's an additional irony to the story that I didn't mention in the book. When Mark Felt and other FBI officials were later prosecuted for extralegal activities like those "black bag jobs," Richard Nixon gave him a character reference!"

Tim Noah, a journalist at Slate.com and author of the Chatterbox column, surmised in 1999 that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. He insisted that Felt's denial was irrelevant:

Reporter David Daley of the Hartford Courant has found W. Mark Felt, the former FBI associate director believed by the late Richard Nixon and various other people to have been Deep Throat. (See"Another Bulletin From the Deep Throat Desk,""Deep Throat Revealed [Again]," and"Deep Throat Revealed [One Last Time].") Knowing that Felt had denied being Deep Throat before, Chatterbox wondered aloud earlier this week whether Felt would still deny it. Daley did better than wonder: In a story published in Wednesday's Courant , Daley tracked the 85-year-old Felt down in California and asked him if he was Deep Throat."No, it's not me," Felt answered. "I would have done better. I would have been more effective. Deep Throat didn't exactly bring the White House crashing down, did he?"

Chatterbox doesn't know what to make of Felt's claim that Deep Throat was"ineffective," but will set that aside for now. Daley's story, which was picked up by the Associated Press and MSNBC, broke the news that a 19-year-old from Port Chester, N.Y., named Chase Culeman-Beckman claims to have been told by Carl Bernstein's son Jacob that Deep Throat was . Mark Felt. Culeman-Beckman says that 11 years ago he attended Hampton Day School Camp in Bridgehampton, Long Island with Carl Bernstein's sons, Jacob and Max, and that Jacob was the one who told him. According to Daley, Culeman-Beckman"said the young Bernstein told him the information came straight from his dad," who of course is one of the three people known to be party to the secret. (The other two are Bob Woodward and Ben Bradlee.)

Chatterbox, who is increasingly drawn to the hypothesis that Deep Throat was indeed Felt, finds much to like in this story.

Over at Salon.com's War Room blog Tim Grieve has given credit to:

Jack Limpert, who thought he'd discovered that Felt was"Deep Throat" way back in 1974 James Mann, who wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly in 1992 suggesting that Felt was it Ronald Kessler, who covered some of the same territory Vanity Fair covers today in his own book in 2002 and the editors of The Washingtonian, who have been saying for a few years now that they"still think it was Mark Felt."

In February former Nixon White House counsel John Dean reported in the Los Angeles Times that he had heard--from a source!--that Deep Throat was ill. That prompted speculation over at the blog run by Kevin Drum, Political Animal, that Mark Felt was Deep Throat, noting that the 91-year old former FBI official's health was in danger.

Among those who guessed wrong was:

  • Adrain Havill, a biographer of Woodward and Bernstein, who pointed the finger at . George Herbert Walker Bush. , a journalism professor at the University of Illinois, whose class concluded that Fred Fielding was Deep Throat. (At another time the professor argued that Pat Buchanan was Deep Throat.) , who settled on Connecticut Senator Lowell Weicker.
  • Leonard Garment, Nixon's lawyer, who himself was often considered a possible candidate, identified John W. Sears as Deep Throat. (Sears was former deputy special counsel to Nixon .) , who named David Gergen in an Esquire article.
  • Tom O'Malley, an assistant U.S. Attorney in the court where Watergate defendants were tried, alleged in an ebook that Deep Throat was Joseph Lowther, Administrative Assistant to Chief Judge John Sirica .

Then there was historian Stanley Kutler, a Watergate scholar, who opined at HNN that he didn't care who Deep Throat was: " The real story of Watergate is infinitely richer and more complex than the press-centric version."

Finally, there are the hold-outs like Jon Wiener, a professor of history at UC Irvine and a columnist for the Nation, who believe there was no Deep Throat:

Mark Felt now claims that he was Woodward and Bernstein&rsquos "Deep Throat," but that doesn't mean he's right. It&rsquos more likely he was one of several people who provided key information and who were turned into a composite figure for dramatic purposes by the authors. Strong evidence that Deep Throat was a composite can be found in the memoir written by Woodward and Bernstein's former literary agent, David Obst. His book, Too Good to Be Forgotten, reports that the first draft of All the President&rsquos Men didn't mention Deep Throat. The character was created as part of revising the original manuscript.

Where did the conception for the composite character come from? Stephen Ambrose reportedly said that the idea came from Woodward and Bernstein&rsquos editor, the famous Alice Mayhew. After reading the first draft, she suggested Woodward and Bernstein give the book a stronger plot by creating a single composite mystery character out of several sources. The source here, as Jonah Goldberg reminded readers in the National Review online earlier this spring, is Fox News media analyst Eric Burns, who said Ambrose, who died in 2002, had Mayhew as his editor as well, and got the story directly from her.


The Myth of Deep Throat

Mark Felt wasn’t out to protect American democracy and the rule of law he was out to get a promotion.

Max Holland is the author of Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat, which has just been published in paperback.

Columnists, talking heads and op-ed writers are holding open auditions for a role that presumably needs to be filled if we are ever going to get to the bottom of what seems fated to be dubbed, for better or worse, Russiagate: a new Deep Throat.

I get it. In the years since Watergate, the Washington Post’s famous golden source—later revealed to be former FBI No. 2 executive W. Mark Felt—has become practically synonymous with the ideal of the noble leaker. The original Deep Throat “was instrumental in thwarting the conspiracy and bringing [President Richard] Nixon down,” Harry Litman, a former deputy assistant attorney general, approvingly wrote in the Los Angeles Times in May. “Was it wrong for Deep Throat, as FBI official Mark Felt was then known, to guide the investigation?” Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan asked in June, in the midst of a column praising leaks and anonymous sources, and inviting more. New York magazine columnist Frank Rich has gone a step further and already announced his casting choice: James Comey is today’s Deep Throat.

The unarticulated presumption, which Sullivan, Litman and Rich are not alone in making, is that Felt—the FBI’s deputy director in June 1972, and subsequently the parking-garage interlocutor who steered Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to reportorial heights—was an honorable, selfless whistleblower intent on exposing the lawlessness rampant in the Nixon White House. Or, as David Remnick spelled out in the New Yorker—echoing Deep Throat’s original hagiographers, Woodward and Bernstein—Felt “believed that the Nixon administration was corrupt, paranoid and trying to infringe on the independence of the bureau.” The president and his top aides ran, Felt believed, “a criminal operation out of the White House, and [Felt] risked everything to guide” the Post reporters. A new biopic about Felt, starring Liam Neeson, is due out on September 29 and shows every sign of continuing to portray Deep Throat as a profound patriot and dedicated FBI lifer.

But here’s a heretical thought: Mark Felt was no hero. Getting rid of Nixon was the last thing Felt ever wanted to accomplish indeed, he was banking on Nixon’s continuation in office to achieve his one and only aim: to reach the top of the FBI pyramid and become director. Felt didn’t help the media for the good of the country, he used the media in service of his own ambition. Things just didn’t turn out anywhere close to the way he wanted.

Only recently, more than four decades after Nixon’s downfall, has it become possible to reconstruct Felt’s design and what really happened during those fateful six months following the Watergate break-in. Doing so requires burrowing through a great number of primary documents and government records against the backdrop of a vast secondary literature. Nixon’s surreptitious tape recordings rank first in importance, but only mark the starting point. One has to also research documents from the FBI’s vast Watergate investigation the bureau’s subsequent internal leak investigation records from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force documents from Felt’s own FBI file and lastly, two unintentionally rewarding books: Mark Felt’s original 1979 memoir, The FBI Pyramid, and the slightly reworked version published in 2006, A G-Man’s Life.

What you’ll end up with is the real story of Deep Throat. And you might be left with this realization: No matter what happens to Donald Trump—whether he’s absolved, exposed or neither—you should hope there’s nobody as duplicitous as Mark Felt manipulating our understanding of Russiagate.

On May 1, 1972, John Edgar Hoover was days away from marking his 48th year as FBI director, or, as one of his arch-critics labeled him, the “No. 1 Sacred Cow of American Politics.” The wily, 77-year-old bureaucrat was the closest thing to a cult of personality in the federal government that has ever existed not even an unprecedented, yearlong spate of bad publicity beginning in late 1970 had loosened his grip on the directorship. Sycophancy within the FBI was rife. Presidents and underlings came and went, but Hoover seemed invincible if not immortal, as inseparable from the law-enforcement empire he had built as the empire was unimaginable without him.

Yet behind the scenes, Hoover’s selfish refusal to step down when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 1964, and two presidents’ lack of gumption to force him out, had put into motion a fierce, no-holds-barred struggle within the FBI to succeed him. It bore a striking resemblance to what used to happen inside the Kremlin, once a doddering Soviet leader neared the end of his term. More than a few top FBI executives saw a potential director when they looked in the mirror during their morning shave. And Hoover’s unwillingness to let go had unleashed what the dean of Watergate historians, the late Stanley Kutler, noted as the “war of the FBI succession.”

The executive with the inside track during Nixon’s first years was William C. Sullivan, who carried the title assistant to the director. A mercurial, intense, secretive personality, Sullivan was regarded by Hoover for a time almost like a son. The standard measure for where subordinates stood with the stern and formal Hoover was his method of addressing them. If someone was “Miller” instead of “Mr. Miller,” that person had achieved a high level of familiarity. Hoover called Sullivan, who oversaw the bureau’s all-important counterintelligence and domestic security responsibilities, simply “Bill.”

Yet Sullivan had a character flaw that became fatal the closer he got to the top of the pyramid: He was impatient. When the Nixon administration soured on the aging Hoover—chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman acidly described the director as a “real character out of days of yore”—Sullivan saw an opening, encouraged by like-minded Justice Department officials. He began leaking derogatory information about Hoover to journalists considered sympathetic, including, most notably, Robert Novak, the reporting half of the Rowland Evans and Robert Novak syndicated column.

Hoover’s FBI leaked all the time, of course, to favored reporters. The bureau may not have invented the practice, but it had perfected the art. No federal agency rivaled the FBI in terms of the well-placed, exquisitely timed disclosure designed with an end in mind. Information is the currency of power in Washington, and leaking to the press was instrumental to the bureau’s unofficial clout, the reason the FBI engendered fear in many quarters beyond its actual brief. But until Sullivan came along, leaking had largely been controlled, sanctioned and institutional—that is, directed against the bureau’s perceived adversaries or to burnish the FBI’s image and reputation. Never had leaks been employed for personal gain at Hoover’s expense.

Hoover soon figured it out. He fired Sullivan for disloyalty, insolence and insubordination, but not before a confrontation that instantly became part of FBI lore. In October 1971, Sullivan returned from a leave to find the locks in his office changed. Sullivan exchanged harsh words with the FBI executive who had thought up that particular touch. When the executive called him a “Judas,” the perpetually rumpled, bantam-sized Sullivan promptly challenged his dapper, 6-foot-tall adversary, William Mark Felt, to a fistfight.

Following Sullivan’s hasty exit, Felt became the front-runner to replace Hoover, despite being widely disliked internally. His nickname inside the bureau was the “White Rat.” He had acquired that sobriquet during the six years he headed up the Inspection Division, Hoover’s instrument for enforcing discipline and meting out punishment. Felt’s martinet-like inspection tours, where he out-Hoovered Hoover to curry the director’s favor, had earned him the enmity of agents and agents-in-charge throughout the country. Felt’s inspection report after the infamous break-in at the Media, Pennsylvania, FBI office in March 1971 by antiwar activists was typical. Felt’s report absolved the “Seat of Government” (as FBI headquarters was immodestly called during Hoover’s reign) of all culpability, and made the Media agent-in-charge the scapegoat, as former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger wrote in her 2014 book, The Burglary. “We would probably not have pissed on [Felt] if he was on fire,” retired agent Robert P. Campbell recalled in a 2011 interview, reflecting the rank-and-file’s disdain.

Felt never enjoyed strong support within the Nixon administration either, unlike Sullivan. While “Crazy Billy” had worn his ambition to succeed Hoover on his sleeve, Felt was self-serving in an unattractive way. Though consumed with what he believed was his rightful inheritance, Felt often exhibited a false humility, perhaps out of fear that his ambition would become too obvious to Hoover. “If you wanted to ruin somebody’s career in the FBI,” a former agent later recalled, “all you had to do [was] leak it to somebody in the press that so-and-so [was] being groomed as Hoover’s successor.” The result was that Felt “did not interact with credibility” with his peers, recalled Donald Santarelli, then an associate attorney general at the Justice Department, in a 2011 interview.

FBI officials (including Felt) join Acting Atty. Gen. Richard G. Kleindienst as honorary pallbearers following the casket of J. Edgar Hoover at the National Presbyterian church in Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1972. | AP

On the morning of May 2, 1972, Hoover’s lifeless body was discovered on the floor of his bedroom one hour after the ever-punctual director failed to come downstairs for his 7:30 a.m. breakfast. Later, mourners at the funeral home were stunned by what they saw in the casket. There in the coffin lay a small, gray-haired, frail-looking man. The mortician had washed Hoover’s hair and all the dye had come out—from his eyebrows too.

Felt was not surprised by the portrait of infirmity. For all intents and purposes he had been running the bureau for more than a year, confident that if he bided his time (unlike Sullivan), Nixon would inevitably turn to Hoover’s natural legatee.

Nixon’s surprise appointment of a dark-horse outsider, Assistant Attorney General L. Patrick Gray, to be acting director within hours stands as one of the most far-reaching personnel decisions ever taken by a president inadvertently. His attention consumed by the upcoming election, geopolitical strategy and the effort to withdraw U.S. ground troops from Vietnam, Nixon was anxious to avoid having Hoover’s FBI become an issue in 1972. For the first time, a director was going to have to win Senate confirmation, and Nixon was leery of giving Democrats on the Judiciary Committee the opportunity to work over a nominee in an election year, possibly even block his confirmation. The president considered the appointment equal to nominating a chief justice to the Supreme Court. Nixon wanted a vigorous man who would occupy the post long after his second term ended. Gray’s acting appointment was roundly criticized on the grounds that he was a Nixon crony. But he otherwise aroused little opposition because he was as colorless as his name.

Gray wasn’t promised the permanent appointment, only that he would be considered for the post if he did a creditable job. Yet the message behind Gray’s interim status—that Nixon was intent on bringing in someone from outside the bureau—was an unmistakable signal to several executives angling for the job, and they decided to retire. The ambitious Felt saw the acting designation, however, as a small opening. It still left six months in which to persuade Nixon to “see the light” by nominating an insider, as Felt wrote in his 1979 memoir.

Felt was acting the part of Gray’s indispensable top deputy, while simultaneously belittling the interim director behind his back, according to interviews I conducted with contemporary FBI officials, when the Watergate break-in serendipitously occurred on June 17, 1972. The burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex by Nixon campaign operatives presented Gray with a dilemma that Felt could easily exploit to his advantage. If Gray could not manage the FBI’s politically sensitive Watergate investigation to the White House’s satisfaction, he risked alienating the president and losing out on the nomination. Yet if Gray didn’t allow an unbridled investigation to run its full course, he might fail to win confirmation before what was sure to remain a Democrat-controlled Senate. Gray essentially resolved the dilemma by absenting himself as much as possible, while leaving supervision of the investigation in the hands of professional subordinates, most prominently, Felt.

Gray’s decision facilitated Felt’s recourse to that bureau specialty, the artful leak. As John Dean has confirmed in numerous interviews beginning in 2011, Felt knew that nothing was more likely to incite the White House against Gray, and prove he was Hoover’s unworthy successor, than stories in the press about the politically sensitive probe. As White House counsel and desk officer for the cover-up, Dean was the person most frequently tasked with conveying the president’s ire to Gray. Similarly, Democrats’ hackles would be raised by any stories suggesting that the FBI was conducting a lax or superficial investigation.

Felt acted quickly. On June 20, three days after the break-in, the Washington Post published a story headlined, “White House Consultant Tied to Bugging Figure.” The article, citing “Federal sources close to the investigation,” revealed that a one-time White House consultant named E. Howard Hunt, who was also a former CIA officer, had an as-yet undetermined connection to the five burglars nabbed red-handed at the Watergate office complex. Hunt, of course, would turn out to be the co-ringleader of the break-in, along with G. Gordon Liddy, the Nixon campaign’s finance counsel.

In his 2005 book about Felt, The Secret Man, Woodward described in detail how Felt provided the “critical and substantial buttress” for the scoop about Hunt. Although this investigative development would have become public inevitably, the fact that it happened so swiftly stunned a White House still grappling with how to respond to the break-in. The White House’s initial pose was to appear nonchalant and above the story, as captured in Ron Ziegler’s infamous, contemptuous observation that he would not be commenting on “a third-rate burglary attempt.” But the morning the article appeared, special counsel Charles Colson roared to the president—as captured on an Oval Office recording—“Pick up that God-damn Washington Post and see that guilt by association!” Colson had been responsible for hiring Hunt, and instantly, the administration became obsessed with how information known only to the police, Justice Department prosecutors and the FBI had come out. “Where the hell are all these leaks from our side coming from?” Nixon wondered aloud. The impulse to circle the wagons, rather than make a clean breast of the campaign’s culpability, took root.

Yet that kind of Watergate story was only half of Felt’s influence operation. Four days later, Felt managed to get fabled Time magazine reporter Sandy Smith interested in allegations that Gray had conferred with John Mitchell, the head of the president’s campaign, right after the break-in, and that Gray had been overheard boasting that the FBI’s investigation would be wrapped up in “24 to 48 hours”—the clear inference being that the probe would be a whitewash. Smith presented the allegations for comment to Gray, who vehemently denied both. Merely being asked such questions left him furious. He knew that a journalist of Smith’s caliber, who had access to the highest echelons in the bureau, would not be posing such questions unless the allegations came from someone Smith firmly believed was in a position to know. When the Time story actually appeared in print on June 26, the piece was thankfully “trimmed of its falsehoods,” Gray noted in a memo. Apparently, Smith had been unable to corroborate the allegations to his or his editors’ satisfaction—which was hardly surprising, since neither of them was true. The leak to Time came from Felt himself, as Deep Throat’s revised autobiography, published in 2006, acknowledged. Subsequent leaks to Smith would prove more successful.

In the four months that remained before the election, Felt continued to feed the Washington Post and Time tidbits—ranging from the connection between Watergate and the White House operatives known as “plumbers” to how campaign funds had been laundered through Mexico—although the weekly magazine never received the public acclaim the daily newspaper later did. Felt could leak with relative impunity because Watergate was not, and never became, a significant issue during the campaign, and therefore, presented no threat to the only presidential candidate who might appoint Felt director—Richard Nixon. George McGovern, the Democrats’ nominee, was a “jackal,” in Hoover’s parlance, anathema to every Hoover disciple and vice versa. The South Dakota senator had spent much of 1971 publicly lambasting the late director for various deficiencies, including alleged senility. Nixon, on the other hand, did discuss potentially appointing Felt to the position at one point, according to Oval Office tapes.

As Nixon’s confidence in Gray waned over the leaks, William Sullivan re-emerged as a potential rival after securing a top job in the Justice Department. That complicated Felt’s scheme greatly, for now he had to figure out how to damage Sullivan’s reputation too. He did so in leaks to Time’s Smith, whose discretion in such matters was legendary, in contrast to the untested Woodward. As in June, Felt was not above misleading Smith on occasion we also know from Woodward’s notes that Deep Throat told the cub reporter an enormous number of falsehoods (as John Dean was the first to point out), including during their famous clandestine rendezvous in an Arlington, Virginia, parking garage. But then Felt’s relationship to the truth was always casual at best. His goal was incitement, rather than protecting the presidency, the bureau, democracy or the rule of law from Nixon’s predations. Even the Post’s most celebrated Watergate story of October 10, 1972—the seminal or “centerpiece” story that alleged a “massive campaign of political spying and espionage”—prominently featured a lie uttered by Felt. Deep Throat falsely asserted to Woodward that a letter damaging to the campaign of Senator Edmund Muskie—considered the Democrats’ strongest candidate until he finished poorly in the New Hampshire primary—was “a White House operation,” concocted “inside the gates surrounding the White House.” What Woodstein represented in the Post as “hard evidence” of a political dirty trick was a fabrication, as an internal FBI inquiry and later, the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, determined.

Felt, at right with dark glasses, reacts to applause as he leaves U.S. District Court here on April 21, 1978, in Washington, D.C., after pleading innocent to charges of violating citizen's rights. | Bob Daugherty/AP

Felt never achieved his goal of becoming director, of course, except for the two-hour-and-50-minute interregnum that occurred between Gray’s sudden resignation in May (for having destroyed embarrassing documents unrelated to Watergate found in E. Howard Hunt’s White House safe) and the appointment of a new acting director—another outsider named William Ruckelshaus. Unbeknownst to Felt, Nixon had learned in October 1972 that Felt was leaking to Time’s Smith. The president’s impulse was to fire Felt immediately, but cooler heads at the White House explained that Felt knew too much to make such a move just before the election. His removal would have to wait until after November, when a new director could be ordered to clean out the pestilence in the FBI’s upper ranks.

As it turned out, Felt abruptly resigned from the bureau in May 1973 to avoid being investigated right then and there for leaking. It was a fate he didn’t entirely escape, because a yearlong internal investigation was launched a few months later anyway. Subsequently, the Inspection Division learned from Carol Tschudy, a bureau secretary for 17 years, that she was unable to recall how many calls transpired between a Washington Post reporter and her former boss, Felt. However, she said, “the frequency of Woodward’s calls seemed to depend upon various developments in the Watergate case.” Felt tried to make a go of consulting and the lecture circuit, and worked on his memoir after he retired from government service. In 1980, Felt made news when he was tried and convicted of ordering illegal FBI break-ins targeting the left-wing Weather Underground, a violent faction of domestic antiwar radicals. Nixon contributed to Felt’s defense fund and testified at his trial, and President Ronald Reagan later pardoned him.

Meanwhile, Deep Throat went down in history as a do-gooder who saved the rule of law and American democracy from a criminal president. This was largely thanks to the large dose of bunkum in Woodward and Bernstein’s initial 1974 description of their source in All the President’s Men, and greatly magnified by the depiction in the eponymous Hollywood movie. Deep Throat, they wrote, was “trying to protect the office [of the presidency].” It wasn’t until 2005 that Woodward admitted in his book about Felt, The Secret Man, that Felt “never really voiced pure, raw outrage to me about Watergate or what it represented” (which is not surprising, given Felt’s contemporaneous role in sanctioning illegal FBI break-ins).

It remains true that Felt’s information, regardless of his motive, helped keep Watergate in the news at a time when few Americans cared, and that was important. Stories in the Post, Time and elsewhere helped shield the three original federal prosecutors from political interference. And after they won convictions of all five burglars, plus Hunt and Liddy, in January 1973, the prospect of serious prison time finally broke the back of the coverup. One of the burglars, James McCord, alleged that perjury had been committed during the trial, precipitating a footrace to the prosecutors by Dean and deputy campaign director Jeb Magruder, which, in turn, unleashed a flood of revelations that eventually put the president himself at risk.

Primarily because the Post (most prominently) reported increments of the break-in story (but never the coverup, remember) before the burglars were actually tried, the fable took hold that the press “exposed” Watergate. This was a legend propagated by a media eager to bask in the Post’s reflected glory. The press was the decidedly junior partner to the legal machinery. For an authority on the subject, one need look no further than Sandy Smith, who broke as many significant stories about Watergate as anyone in the media. “There’s a myth that the press did all this, uncovered all the crimes,” he was quoted as saying in an official history of Time Inc. published in 1986. “It’s bunk. The press didn’t do it. People forget that the government was investigating all the time. In my material there was less than two percent that was truly original investigation. There was [a federal] investigation being carried out here.”

This fact, in all likelihood, is the reason Felt never came forward to claim the riches and acclaim that supposedly awaited Deep Throat. Indeed, he perpetually lied about being Deep Throat after the Washingtonian fingered him in June 1974 as the first prime suspect, just as All the President’s Men was being published. Felt had to fear his actions could not withstand close scrutiny. His motive would be exposed as base and self-serving, and he would be roundly condemned in the only fraternity that he knew and cared about, the society of current and former FBI executives and agents. When finally outed in Vanity Fair in 2005 by his family, who had understandably imbibed the fable, Felt was dehabilitated by dementia and the few remaining peers able to recognize Felt for who he was and what he did were drowned out by the wave of nostalgia for the legacy media.

Journalist Bob Woodward, center, is cheered and greeted by Joan Felt, left, and Carl Bernstein, right, after speaking at a memorial service for W. Mark Felt in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Jan. 16, 2009. | Eric Risberg/AP

Felt’s admission left Pat Gray reeling he likened it to being hit with a sledgehammer. Suffering from pancreatic cancer with only a few weeks to live, Gray summoned the strength to denounce publicly the man he considered, until that moment, his loyal and trustworthy executive officer. He had never grasped Felt’s treachery despite ample contemporaneous warnings. Now Gray belatedly realized that Felt had been a “formidable foe” primarily because he was such “a skilled liar.” The Vanity Fair story also stunned John J. McDermott, the special agent-in-charge of the Washington Field Office when it conducted the Watergate investigation. McDermott had long thought that the mysterious Deep Throat was actually a reporter’s invention and composite, meant to fuzz up the identities of several discrete White House sources. But once Felt claimed the mantle and Woodward confirmed it, McDermott immediately recognized that Felt had engaged in the same underhanded tactics as Sullivan. McDermott expressed “shock, dismay, and disgust” at Felt’s perfidy, and the bogus media-driven theory that Felt had a need “to expose information which otherwise would have been suppressed.” He defied anyone to prove that the FBI had failed to follow a single Watergate lead, concealed information from the Justice Department or did anything to warrant Felt’s behavior. “It’s embarrassing … for the bureau to be exposed as having had such people as Felt and Sullivan,” McDermott said in November 2010.

When the biopic comes out later this month, don’t be fooled. Felt betrayed the bureau, and more importantly, the investigative and legal machinery that is, more manifestly than ever, the last barrier between a government of laws and not of men or women.

There should be no pining for another Deep Throat. Leaks from bona fide whistleblowers are one thing. Leaks from a self-aggrandizing FBI executive in the know, even if good for a few headlines, are bad for the rule of law. Nor would it be helpful to have an FBI executive plying reporters with false stories, indifferent to what gets printed or broadcast so long as it harms his bureaucratic enemies. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is far too important for that.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Woodward kept handwritten notes his notes were typed.


‘Mark Felt’: Story of scandal’s Deep Throat a thriller thin on thrills

In the 1976 Watergate classic “All the President’s Men,” Hal Holbrook played Deep Throat — the man in the shadows feeding information to Woodward and Bernstein that was so explosive it led to the toppling of the Nixon presidency.

More than 40 years later, “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” tells the Watergate story from the point of view of that man in the shadows, shining the spotlight squarely on the straitlaced, career FBI man who, well, brought down the White House, as the title explains.

This is a Liam Neeson thriller with no gunplay, no exotic international locations, no crackling dialogue with Neeson explaining he has a very particular set of skills. Oh, he’s on the phone a lot, but it’s mostly to spill the beans to the press about the toxic river of crimes and cover-ups racing through the Nixon White House.

Sporting silver-gray hair and makeup with a pallor giving the impression he might be icy to the touch, Neeson gives a tightly controlled and quietly effective performance as Felt, the No. 2 man to J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI in the early 1970s.

Even by the standards of the FBI, Felt was considered to be an overly stiff, humorless company man. Even his fits of passion were the stuff of G-man movies. He was given to proclamations such as, “The god—- punks are running this country!”

When Hoover died in 1972, Felt and his fiercely supportive wife Audrey (Diane Lane) assumed it was finally Felt’s time to become the director of the FBI. After a lifetime of transfers and new assignments, moving from city to city and house to house a dozen times, all the sacrifice was about to pay off.

And then Nixon named L. Patrick Gray (Martin Csokas) to the job. Gray was a well-respected and decorated Naval officer with some experience in the Department of Justice, but to the FBI he was an outsider with no experience. Felt was crushed.

As “Mark Felt” frames things, Felt’s bitterness at having been passed over for the job was an important motivating factor in Felt’s decision to blow the whistle on the White House. To be sure, he was appalled by the corruption within the Nixon administration — but he was also royally ticked off about not getting the top job at the FBI.

Felt suspects Gray of being a mole for the White House. He becomes even more incensed when Gray brings in a slimy former FBI agent (Tom Sizemore) who did some of Hoover’s dirtiest dirty work over the years.

We get brief glimpses of Felt meeting in the shadows with Bob Woodward (Julian Morris), but much more time is devoted to Felt feeding information to Time magazine’s Sandy Smith (Bruce Greenwood) in broad daylight. Felt starts spilling the beans and Smith’s eyes widen as he takes out his notebook and starts scribbling away.

“Mark Felt” has the trappings of a taut thriller, but still, there’s something slow-footed about much of the proceedings. Once in a while we get a scene that pops, as when a couple dozen FBI agents gather in a room and try to suss out who’s leaking details of the Watergate investigation to the press. But it seems as if even the filmmakers know they have to spice up the story, so there’s a substantial subplot about Felt’s home life.

Audrey’s drinking goes well beyond social imbibing on the D.C. cocktail circuit. She’s a deeply unhappy woman who confesses to Mark she never really connected with their daughter Joan in the manner of most mothers.

As for the teenage Joan, she’s been missing for more than a year and might have joined the terrorist Weather Underground — the very organization Felt was targeting. (Felt was eventually found guilty of ordering illegal break-ins of the homes of suspected Weather Underground members and their relatives.) The Watergate conspiracy storyline takes a back seat to the family melodrama, with Felt using his FBI resources to track down and reunite with Joan. It’s all competently executed, but we’re a long way from the whole “Man Who Brought Down the White House” story when Mark is slogging through a muddy commune in search of his daughter.

Writer-director Peter Landesman shades “Mark Felt” in shadowy tones that accurately reflect the tenor of the story and the times. In fact, “Mark Felt” is so pinpoint-accurate in laying out the timeline of this particularly story, we almost never think about any parallels to the real-world potential scandals simmering in and around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in present day. This is a paint-by-numbers procedural that expects the audience to know the history of Watergate, hits the ground running—but then feels more like a steady jog through the past than a fast-paced thriller.

★★1⁄2

Sony Pictures Classics presents a film written and directed by Peter Landesman. Rated PG-13 (for some language). Running time: 120 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.


July 1, 1971: Felt Becomes #3 FBI Official

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover promotes W. Mark Felt to be the #3 official in the bureau. Though Hoover’s longtime assistant and confidante Clyde Tolson is putatively the #2 man at the bureau, Tolson is seriously ill and does not often come to work, so Felt essentially becomes the FBI’s deputy director, in charge of day-to-day operations. Felt has access to virtually every piece of information the FBI possesses. Felt will become the celebrated “Deep Throat,” Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s inside source for the Watergate investigations (see May 31, 2005). [Woodward, 2005, pp. 35]


FBI’s No. 2 Was ‘Deep Throat’: Mark Felt Ends 30-Year Mystery of The Post’s Watergate Source

Deep Throat, the secret source whose insider guidance was vital to The Washington Post’s groundbreaking coverage of the Watergate scandal, was a pillar of the FBI named W. Mark Felt, The Post confirmed yesterday.

As the bureau’s second- and third-ranking official during a period when the FBI was battling for its independence against the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, Felt had the means and the motive to help uncover the web of internal spies, secret surveillance, dirty tricks and coverups that led to Nixon’s unprecedented resignation on Aug. 9, 1974, and to prison sentences for some of Nixon’s highest-ranking aides.

Felt’s identity as Washington’s most celebrated secret source had been an object of speculation for more than 30 years until yesterday, when his role was revealed by his family in a Vanity Fair magazine article. Even Nixon was caught on tape speculating that Felt was “an informer” as early as February 1973, at a time when Deep Throat was supplying confirmation and context for some of The Post’s most explosive Watergate stories.

But Felt’s repeated denials, and the stalwart silence of the reporters he aided -- Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein -- kept the cloak of mystery drawn up around Deep Throat. In place of a name and a face, the source acquired a magic and a mystique.

He was the romantic truth teller half hidden in the shadows of a Washington area parking garage. This image was rendered indelibly by the dramatic best-selling memoir Woodward and Bernstein published in 1974, “All the President’s Men.” Two years later, in a blockbuster movie of the same name, actor Hal Holbrook breathed whispery urgency into the suspenseful late-night encounters between Woodward and his source.

For many Americans under 40, this is the most potent distillation of the complicated brew that was Watergate. Students who lack the time or interest to follow each element of the scandal’s slow unraveling in comprehensive history books can quickly digest the vivid relationship of a nervous elder guiding a relentless reporter.

As dramatic as those portrayals were, they hewed closely to the truth, Woodward said.

“Mark Felt at that time was a dashing gray-haired figure,” Woodward recalled, and his experience as an anti-Nazi spy hunter early in his career at the FBI had endowed him with a whole bag of counterintelligence tricks. Felt dreamed up the signal by which Woodward would summon him to a meeting (a flowerpot innocuously displayed on the reporter’s balcony) and also hatched the countersign by which Felt could contact Woodward (a clock face inked on Page 20 of Woodward’s daily New York Times).

“He knew he was taking a monumental risk,” said Woodward, now an assistant managing editor of The Post whose catalogue of prizewinning and best-selling work has been built on the sort of confidential relationships he maintained with Deep Throat.

Felt also knew, by firsthand experience, that Nixon’s administration was willing to use wiretaps and break-ins to hunt down leakers, so no amount of caution was too great in his mind. Woodward rode multiple taxis, sometimes in the wrong direction, and often walked long distances to reach the middle-of-the-night meetings.

For once, real life was as rich as the Hollywood imagination. But yesterday Woodward and Bernstein expressed a concern that the Deep Throat story has, over the years, come to obscure the many other elements that went into exposing the Watergate story: other sources, other investigators, high-impact Senate hearings, a shocking trove of secret White House tape recordings and the decisive intervention of a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court.

By tethering the myth to a real and imperfect human being, Americans may be able to get a clearer picture of Watergate in the future, they said. “Felt’s role in all this can be overstated,” said Bernstein, who went on after Watergate to a career of books, magazine articles and television investigations. “When we wrote the book, we didn’t think his role would achieve such mythical dimensions. You see there that Felt/Deep Throat largely confirmed information we had already gotten from other sources.”

The identification is also likely to encourage new arguments about the essential meaning of Watergate, which has been construed by partisans and historians as the fruit of Vietnam, of Nixon’s obsession with the Kennedy family, of the president’s mental instability, and as a press coup, a congressional uprising and more. Felt’s role places the fact of a disgruntled FBI front and center.

Felt, 91 and enfeebled by a stroke, lives in California, his memory dimmed. For decades, Woodward, Bernstein and Benjamin C. Bradlee, The Post’s executive editor during the Watergate coverage, maintained that they would not disclose his identity until after his death. “We’ve kept that secret because we keep our word,” Woodward said.

The secrecy held through some amazing twists of fate. In 1980, Felt and another senior FBI veteran were convicted of conspiring nearly a decade earlier to violate the civil rights of domestic dissidents in the Weather Underground movement President Ronald Reagan then issued a pardon.

Woodward had prepared for Felt’s eventual death by writing a short book about a relationship he describes as intense and sometimes troubling. His longtime publisher, Simon & Schuster, is rushing the volume to press -- but the careful unveiling of the information did not proceed as Woodward or The Post had envisioned.

Yesterday morning, Vanity Fair released an article by a California lawyer named John D. O’Connor, who was enlisted by Felt’s daughter, Joan Felt, to help coax her father into admitting his role in history. O’Connor’s article quoted a number of Felt’s friends and family members saying that he had shared his secret with them, and it went on to say that Felt told the author -- under the shield of attorney-client privilege -- “I’m the guy they used to call Deep Throat.”

O’Connor wrote that he was released from his obligation of secrecy by Mark and Joan Felt. He also reported that the Felts were not paid for cooperating with the Vanity Fair article, though they do hope the revelation will “make at least enough money to pay some bills,” as Joan Felt is quoted in the magazine.

Woodward and others at The Post were caught by surprise. Woodward had known that family members were considering going public in fact, they had talked repeatedly with Woodward about the possibility of jointly writing a book to reveal the news. An e-mail from Felt’s daughter over the Memorial Day weekend continued to hold out the idea that Woodward and Felt would disclose the secret together.

Throughout those contacts, Woodward was dogged by reservations about Felt’s mental condition, he said yesterday, wondering whether the source was competent to undo the long-standing pledge of anonymity that bound them.

Caught flatfooted by Vanity Fair’s announcement, Woodward and Bernstein initially issued a terse statement reaffirming their promise to keep the secret until Deep Throat died. But the Vanity Fair article was enough to bring the current executive editor of The Post, Leonard Downie Jr., back to Washington from a corporate retreat in Maryland. After he consulted with Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee, “the newspaper decided that the newspaper had been released from its obligation by Mark Felt’s family and by his lawyer, through the publication of this piece,” Downie said. “They revealed him as the source. We confirmed it.”

Downie praised Woodward’s willingness to abide by his pledge even while the Felt family was exploring “what many people would view as a scoop.”

“This demonstrates clearly the lengths to which Bob and this newspaper will go to protect sources and a confidential relationship,” Downie said.

Bradlee said he was amazed that the mystery had lasted through the decades. “What would you think the odds were that this town could keep that secret for this long?” he said.

It wasn’t for lack of sleuths. “Who was Deep Throat?” has been among the most compelling questions of modern American history, dissected in books, in films, on the Internet, and in thousands of articles and hundreds of television programs. Virtually every figure in the Nixon administration, from Henry A. Kissinger to Patrick J. Buchanan to Diane Sawyer, has been nominated for the role -- sometimes by other Nixon veterans. Former White House counsel John W. Dean III, who tried to cover up Watergate on Nixon’s instructions and then gave crucial testimony about the scheme, was a frequent contributor to the speculation, as was another Nixon lawyer, Leonard Garment.

Recently, an investigative-reporting class at the University of Illinois compiled what professor Bill Gaines believed to be a definitive case that Deep Throat was the deputy White House counsel, Fred F. Fielding. Those findings were publicized around the world. Perhaps the most insightful argument was mustered in the Atlantic magazine by journalist James Mann in 1992. “He could well have been Mark Felt,” Mann wrote cautiously in a piece that laid bare the institutional reasons why FBI loyalists came to fear and resent Nixon’s presidency.

Felt fended off the searchlight each time it swung in his direction. “I never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or to anyone else!” he wrote in his 1979 memoir, “The FBI Pyramid.”

“It would be contrary to my responsibility as a loyal employee of the FBI to leak information,” he told journalist Timothy Noah six years ago.

In an article being prepared for tomorrow’s Washington Post, Woodward will detail the “accident of history” that connected a young reporter fresh from the suburbs to a man whom many FBI agents considered the best choice to succeed the legendary J. Edgar Hoover as director of the bureau. Woodward and Felt met by chance, he said, but their friendship quickly became a source of information for the reporter. On May 15, 1972, presidential candidate George Wallace was shot and severely wounded by Arthur H. Bremer, in a parking lot in Laurel.

Eager to break news on a local story of major national importance, Woodward contacted Felt for information on the FBI’s investigation. Unlike many in the bureau, Felt was known to talk with reporters, and he provided Woodward with a series of front-page nuggets -- though not with his name attached.

By coincidence, the Bremer case came two weeks after the death of Hoover, an epochal moment for the FBI, which had never been led by anyone else. Felt wanted the job, he later wrote. He also wanted his beloved bureau to maintain its independence. And so his motivations were complex when Woodward called a month later seeking clues to the strange case of a burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex. Again, the young reporter had a metro angle on a national story, because the five alleged burglars were arraigned before a local judge.

Wounded that he was passed over for the top job, furious at Nixon’s choice of an outsider, Assistant Attorney General L. Patrick Gray III, as acting FBI director, and determined that the White House not be allowed to steer and stall the bureau’s Watergate investigation, Mark Felt slipped into the role that would forever alter his life.

He makes his first appearance as a literary figure in Chapter 4 of “All the President’s Men.”

“Woodward had a source in the Executive Branch who had access to information at [Nixon’s campaign committee] as well as at the White House,” Bernstein and Woodward wrote. “His identity was unknown to anyone else. He could be contacted only on very important occasions. Woodward had promised he would never identify him or his position to anyone.”

Felt established extremely strict initial ground rules: He could never be quoted -- even as an anonymous source -- and he would not provide information. He would “confirm information that had been obtained elsewhere and . . . add some perspective,” in the words of the book.

At first, the two men spoke by telephone. But Watergate was, after all, a case that began with a telephone wiretap. Felt had been summoned at least once to the White House, before Watergate, to discuss the use of telephone surveillance against administration leakers. He soon concluded that his own phones -- and the reporters’ -- might be tapped. That’s when he developed the system of coded signals and parking-garage encounters.

The relationship immediately bore fruit. On June 19, 1972, two days after the botched break-in, Felt assured Woodward that The Post could safely make a connection between burglars and a former CIA agent linked to the White House, E. Howard Hunt. Three months later, Felt again provided key context and reassurance, telling Woodward that a story tying Nixon’s campaign committee to the break-in could be “much stronger” than the first draft, and still be on solid ground.

One of the most important encounters between Woodward and his source came a month later, on Oct. 8, 1972. In four months the scandal had grown in its reach yet faded in its seeming importance. Nixon was sailing to what would be a landslide reelection, and his opponent, Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), was having no luck making a campaign issue of Watergate.

In the wee hours in a deserted garage, Felt laid out a much broader view of the scandal than Woodward and Bernstein had yet imagined.

From the book: Woodward “arrived at the garage at 1:30 a.m.

“Deep Throat was already there, smoking a cigarette. . . .

“On evenings such as these, Deep Throat had talked about how politics had infiltrated every corner of government -- a strong-arm takeover of the agencies by the Nixon White House. . . . He had once called it the ‘switchblade mentality’ -- and had referred to the willingness of the president’s men to fight dirty and for keeps. . . .

“The Nixon White House worried him. ‘They are underhanded and unknowable,’ he had said numerous times. He also distrusted the press. ‘I don’t like newspapers,’ he had said flatly.”

As Felt talked through the night -- of his love for gossip and his competing his desire for exactitude, of the danger Nixon posed to the government and The Post specifically -- he urged Woodward to follow the case to the top: to Nixon’s former attorney general, John N. Mitchell to Nixon’s inner brace of aides, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and John H. Ehrlichman and even to Nixon himself.

“Only the president and Mitchell know” everything, he hinted.

That meeting and others gave senior Post editors the confidence they needed to stick with the story through withering fire from the administration and its defenders.

Later that month, at what Bradlee called “the low point” of the saga, Woodward and Bernstein misunderstood a key detail of a major story linking Haldeman to the financing of Watergate and other dirty tricks. When Nixon’s defenders -- and other media outlets -- pounced on The Post’s mistake, Felt provided both a scolding to Woodward that he must be more careful and the encouragement that the reporters were still on the right track.

“He gave us encouragement,” Bernstein said yesterday.

“And he gave Ben comfort,” Woodward added, although Bradlee knew only Felt’s status as a top FBI official. The editor did not learn Felt’s name until after The Post had won the Pulitzer Prize for its Watergate coverage and Nixon had resigned.

Woodward’s source became such a key part of the discussions among the Post brass that then-Managing Editor Howard Simons decided he needed a nickname. “Deep Throat” was a blend of the rules of engagement Felt had with Woodward -- “deep background” -- and the title of a notorious pornographic movie.

When the book and then the movie were released, Woodward said, Felt was shocked to have his place in history tagged with such a tawdry title.


Contents

Deep Throat was first introduced to the public in the February 1974 book All the President's Men by The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. According to the authors, Deep Throat was a key source of information behind a series of articles that introduced the misdeeds of the Nixon administration to the general public. The scandal eventually led to the resignation of President Nixon, as well as to prison terms for White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, G. Gordon Liddy, Egil Krogh, White House Counsel Charles Colson, former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell, former White House Counsel John Dean, and presidential adviser John Ehrlichman. The film based on the book was released two years later having been nominated for eight Academy Awards, it won four.

Howard Simons was the managing editor of the Post during Watergate. He dubbed the secret informant "Deep Throat", alluding to both the deep background status of his information and the widely publicized 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat. [1] For more than 30 years, Deep Throat's identity was one of the biggest mysteries of American politics and journalism and the source of much public curiosity and speculation. Woodward and Bernstein insisted that they would not reveal his identity until he died or consented to reveal it. J. Anthony Lukas speculated that Deep Throat was W. Mark Felt in his book Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years (1976), based on three New York Times Sunday Magazine articles, but he was widely criticized. According to an article in Slate on April 28, 2003, Woodward had denied that Deep Throat was part of the "intelligence community" in a 1989 Playboy interview with Lukas. [2]

On May 31, 2005, Vanity Fair revealed that Felt was Deep Throat in an article on its website by John D. O'Connor, an attorney acting on Felt's behalf. Felt reportedly said, "I'm the guy they used to call Deep Throat." After the Vanity Fair story broke, Woodward, Bernstein, and Benjamin C. Bradlee, the Post ' s executive editor during Watergate, confirmed Felt's identity as Deep Throat. [3] L. Patrick Gray, former acting Director of the FBI and Felt's overseer, disputed Felt's claim in his book In Nixon's Web, co-written with his son Ed. Gray and others have argued that Deep Throat was a compilation of sources characterized as one person to improve sales of the book and movie. Woodward and Bernstein, however, defended Felt's claims and detailed their relationship with him in Woodward's book The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat.

On June 17, 1972, police arrested five men inside the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C. In their possession were $2,300 (equivalent to $14,200 today), plastic gloves to hide fingerprints, burglary tools, a walkie-talkie and radio scanner capable of listening to police frequencies, cameras with 40 rolls of film, tear gas guns, multiple electronic devices which they intended to plant in the Democratic Committee offices, and notebooks containing the telephone number of White House official E. Howard Hunt. One of the men was James W. McCord Jr. [4] a former Central Intelligence Agency employee and a security man for Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President, popularly known as "CREEP".

Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward pursued the story for two years. The scandal eventually implicated many members of Nixon's White House, culminating in Nixon becoming the first United States president to resign. Woodward and Bernstein wrote in All the President's Men that key information in their investigation had come from an anonymous informant whom they dubbed "Deep Throat".

Methods of communication Edit

Woodward, in All the President's Men, first mentions "Deep Throat" on page 71. Earlier in the book, he reports calling "an old friend and sometimes source who worked for the federal government and did not like to be called at his office". Later, he describes him as "a source in the Executive Branch who had access to information at CRP as well as at the White House". The book also calls him "an incurable gossip" and states "in a unique position to observe the Executive Branch", and as a man "whose fight had been worn out in too many battles".

Woodward claimed that he would signal to "Deep Throat" that he desired a meeting by moving a flowerpot with a red flag on the balcony of his apartment. When "Deep Throat" wanted a meeting, he would make special marks on page 20 of Woodward's copy of The New York Times he would circle the page number and draw clock hands to indicate the hour. They often met "on the bottom level of an underground garage just over the Key Bridge in Rosslyn", at 2:00 a.m. The garage is located at 1401 Wilson Boulevard and has a historical marker that was erected in 2011. In 2014, the garage was scheduled to be demolished, though the county decided to save the historical marker, and the landowner promised to design a memorial commemorating the Watergate scandal. [5] As of 2017 [update] , the garage had not been demolished. [6]

Many were skeptical of these cloak and dagger methods. Adrian Havill investigated these claims for his 1993 biography of Woodward and Bernstein and found them to be factually impossible. He noted that Woodward's apartment 617 at 1718 P Street, Northwest, in Washington faced an interior courtyard and was not visible from the street. Havill said that anyone regularly checking the balcony, as "Deep Throat" was said to have done daily, would have been spotted. Havill also said that copies of The New York Times were not delivered to individual apartments but delivered in an unaddressed stack to the building's reception desk. There would have been no way to know which copy was intended for Woodward. Woodward, however, has stated that in the early 1970s the interior courtyard was an alleyway and had not yet been bricked off and that his balcony was visible from street level to passing pedestrians. It was also visible, Woodward conjectured, to anyone from the FBI in surveillance of nearby embassies. Also revealed was the fact that Woodward's copy of The New York Times had his apartment number indicated on it. Former neighbor Herman Knippenberg stated that Woodward would sometimes come to his door looking for his marked copy of the Times, claiming, "I like to have it in mint condition and I like to have my own copy." [7]

Further, while Woodward stressed these precautions in his book, he also admits to having called "Deep Throat" on the telephone at his home. Felt's wife recalls answering Woodward's telephone calls for Felt. [8]

Controversy over motives Edit

In public statements following the disclosure of his identity, Felt's family called him an "American hero", stating that he leaked information about the Watergate scandal to The Washington Post for moral and patriotic reasons. Other commentators, however, have speculated that Felt may have had more personal reasons for leaking information to Woodward.

In his book The Secret Man, Woodward describes Felt as a loyalist to and admirer of J. Edgar Hoover. After Hoover's death, Felt became angry and disgusted when L. Patrick Gray, a career naval officer and lawyer from the Civil Division of the Department of Justice had no law enforcement experience and was appointed as Director of the FBI over Felt, a 30-year veteran of the FBI. Felt was particularly unhappy with Gray's management style at the FBI, which was markedly different from Hoover's. Felt aided Woodward and Bernstein because he knew Woodward personally, having met him years before when Woodward was in the navy. Over the course of their acquaintance, Woodward would often call Felt for advice. Instead of seeking out prosecutors at the Justice Department, or the House Judiciary Committee charged with investigating presidential wrongdoing, Felt was methodically solicited by Woodward to guide their investigation while keeping his own identity and involvement safely concealed.

Some conservatives who worked for Nixon, such as Pat Buchanan and G. Gordon Liddy, castigated Felt and asserted their belief that Nixon was unfairly hounded from office, [9] often claiming it a "witch hunt". [10]

Speculation within the White House Edit

Although Deep Throat's identity was unconfirmed for over 30 years, there were suspicions that Felt was indeed the reporters' mysterious source long before the public acknowledgment in 2005. In Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat, Max Holland reports that Felt leaked information to The Washington Post and Time. While the Post reporters did not reveal their source, Time correspondent Sandy Smith told Time ' s lawyer, Roswell Gilpatric, a partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. [11] Gilpatric then passed the information to Henry E. Peterson, the Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Criminal Justice. In turn, Peterson revealed the information to White House Counsel John W. Dean, [12] who finally reported it to President Richard Nixon. [11]

Nixon did not publicly acknowledge learning Deep Throat's identity. Nixon claimed that if he had done so, Felt would have publicly revealed information that would damage the FBI, as well as other powerful people and institutions. In the "smoking gun" tape, Nixon's chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, stated that Felt "knows everything there is to know in the FBI." [13] Haldeman implied that Nixon's motives for not outing Felt were not entirely altruistic, especially because Nixon himself may have been damaged by Felt's revelations.

Speculation in the press and the public Edit

It had previously been revealed publicly that Deep Throat was definitely a man. [ citation needed ] Using this and other widespread clues, real or perceived, some members of the press and the public came to suspect Felt of being Deep Throat. For instance, George V. Higgins wrote in 1975: "Mark Felt knows more reporters than most reporters do, and there are some who think he had a Washington Post alias borrowed from a dirty movie." [14] However, Woodward and Bernstein were tight-lipped concerning their informant's identity. Carl Bernstein did not even share Deep Throat's identity with his immediate family, including his wife, writer Nora Ephron. On NBC's Today Show on June 2, 2005, he said "I was never dumb enough to tell her. which was very smart because I would have told the whole world by now." [ This quote needs a citation ] Ephron became obsessed with figuring out the secret of Deep Throat's identity and eventually correctly concluded that he was Mark Felt. [15]

In 1999, a 19-year-old college freshman, Chase Culeman-Beckman, claimed that Bernstein's son, Jacob, told her Mark Felt was Deep Throat. According to Culeman-Beckman, Jacob Bernstein had said that he was, "100 percent sure that Deep Throat was Mark Felt. He's someone in the FBI." [16] Jacob reportedly made this claim approximately 11 years prior, when he and Culeman-Beckman were classmates. Ephron explained that Jacob overheard her "speculations" Carl Bernstein himself also immediately stepped forward to reject the claim, as he and Woodward did for many others. [16] James Mann, who had worked at the Post at the time of Watergate scandal and was close to the investigation, brought a great deal of evidence together in a 1992 article in The Atlantic Monthly. [17] Mann recalled that before the Watergate scandal, Woodward had made references to a high-placed source he had in the FBI. Mann argued that the information that Deep Throat gave Woodward could only have come from FBI files. Felt was also embittered at having been passed over for director of the FBI and believed that the FBI, in general, was hostile to the Nixon administration. In previous unrelated articles, Woodward made clear he had a highly placed source at the FBI, and there is some evidence he was friends with Felt. [18]

Woodward kept in close touch with Felt over the years, even showing up unexpectedly at the house where he was staying with his daughter, Joan, in Santa Rosa, California in 1999 after Felt's dementia began. Some suspected at that time that Woodward might have asked Felt to reveal his identity, though Felt, when asked directly by others, had consistently denied being Deep Throat. In 2002, Timothy Noah called Felt "the best guess going about the identity of Deep Throat". [19] In 1976, Assistant Attorney General John Stanley Pottinger had convened a grand jury to investigate a series of potentially illegal break-ins Felt authorized against various dissident groups. Felt was testifying before the jury when a juror asked him, out of the blue, "Were you Deep Throat?" [20] Pottinger reports that Felt, "went white with fear". [20] Pottinger explained to Felt that he was under oath and would have to answer truthfully. However, since Pottinger felt the question was outside the purview of the investigation, he offered to withdraw it if Felt wished.

According to author Ronald Kessler's book The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI, Felt's daughter Joan, who was caring for her father, told Kessler in an interview for his book in August 2001 that back in the summer of 1999, Woodward showed up unexpectedly at their Santa Rosa home and took Felt to lunch. [21] Joan told Kessler that she recalled her father greeting Woodward like an old friend. Their meeting appeared to be more of a celebration than an interview. "Woodward just showed up at the door and said he was in the area," Joan Felt was quoted as saying in Kessler's book, which was published in 2002. "He came in a white limousine, which parked at a schoolyard about ten blocks away. He walked to the house. He asked if it was okay to have a martini with my father at lunch, and I said it would be fine." [21]

Kessler said in his book that while Felt denied to him that he was Deep Throat, the measures Woodward took to conceal his meeting with Felt lent "credence" to the notion that Felt was Deep Throat. Woodward confirmed that Felt was Deep Throat in 2005. "There are plenty of people claiming they knew Deep Throat was actually former FBI man Mark Felt . " the New York Post reported. "On May 3, 2002, PAGE SIX reported that Ronald Kessler, author of The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI, says that all the evidence points to former top FBI official W. Mark Felt." [22]

In February 2005, Nixon's former White House Counsel, news columnist John Dean, reported that Woodward had recently informed Bradlee that "Deep Throat" was ailing and Bradlee had written Deep Throat's obituary. Both Woodward and the then-current editor of The Washington Post, Leonard Downie, denied these claims. Felt was a suspect for Deep Throat, especially after the mysterious meeting that occurred between Woodward and Felt in the summer of 1999. But others had received more attention over the years, such as Pat Buchanan, Henry Kissinger, then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist, General Alexander Haig, and, before "Deep Throat" was confirmed a man, Diane Sawyer.

Felt's confirmation of his identity Edit

On May 31, 2005, Vanity Fair reported that Felt, then aged 91, claimed to be the man once known as "Deep Throat". [23] Later that day, Woodward, Bernstein, and Bradlee released a statement through The Washington Post confirming that the story was true. On June 2, 2005, The Washington Post ran a lengthy front-page column by Woodward in which he detailed his friendship with Felt in the years before Watergate. [24] Woodward wrote that he first met Felt by chance in 1970 when Woodward was a Navy lieutenant in his mid-20s. Woodward was dispatched to deliver a package to the White House's West Wing. Felt arrived soon after for a separate appointment and sat next to Woodward in the waiting room. Woodward struck up a conversation and eventually learned of Felt's position in the upper echelon of the FBI. Woodward, who was about to exit the Navy at the time and was unsure about his future direction in life, became determined to use Felt as a mentor and career advisor. Therefore, he asked for Felt's phone number and kept in touch with him.

After deciding to try a career as a reporter, Woodward eventually joined The Washington Post in August 1971. Felt, who had long had a dim view of the Nixon administration, began passing pieces of information to Woodward, although he insisted that Woodward keep the FBI and Justice Department out of anything he wrote based on the information. The first time Woodward used information from Felt in a Washington Post story was in mid-May 1972, a month before the Watergate burglary, when Woodward was reporting on Arthur Bremer, who had attempted to assassinate presidential candidate George C. Wallace. Nixon had put Felt in charge of investigating the would-be assassin. A month later, just days after the Watergate break-in, Woodward called Felt at his office, which marked the first time Woodward spoke with Felt about Watergate.

Commenting on Felt's motivations for serving as Deep Throat, Woodward wrote, "Felt believed he was protecting the bureau by finding a way, clandestine as it was, to push some of the information from the FBI interviews and files out to the public, to help build public and political pressure to make Nixon and his people answerable. He had nothing but contempt for the Nixon White House and their efforts to manipulate the Bureau for political reasons." [24]

In 1980, Felt himself was convicted of ordering illegal break-ins at the homes of Weathermen suspects and their families. Richard Nixon testified on his behalf. President Ronald Reagan pardoned Felt and the conviction was subsequently expunged from the record.

Prior to Felt's revelation and Woodward's confirmation, part of the reason historians and other scholars had so much difficulty in identifying the real Deep Throat is that no single person seemed to truly fit the character described in All the President's Men. This had caused some scholars and commentators to come to the conclusion that Deep Throat could not possibly be a single person, and must be a composite of several sources. Woodward and Bernstein consistently denied the theory. [25]

From a literary business perspective, this theory was further supported by David Obst, the agent who originally marketed the draft for All the President's Men, who stated that the initial typescript of the book contained absolutely no reference to Deep Throat. [25] Obst believed that Deep Throat was invented by Woodward and Bernstein for dramatic purposes. [25] It also led to speculation that the authors played at condensing history in the same way Hollywood scriptwriters do. [25]

Ed Gray, the son of L. Patrick Gray III, stated in In Nixon's Web: A Year in the Crosshairs of Watergate that his examination of Woodward's interview notes pertaining to Deep Throat at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin provided "convincing evidence that 'Deep Throat' was indeed a fabrication". [26] According to Gray, the file contained notes regarding four interviews that were attributed to either Felt, "X", or "my friend", and a fifth interview dated March 24, 1973, that was unattributed. [26] He said he discovered that he had already seen the paper in 2006 after Woodward released interview files with people who were not Deep Throat. [26] Gray wrote that he contacted Stephen Mielke, the archivist who oversees the Woodward-Bernstein collection at the University of Texas, who said that a carbon copy of the paper contained a note in Woodward's handwriting attributing the interview to Donald Santarelli, an official with the Department of Justice during the Watergate era. [26] Gray wrote that he contacted Santarelli who confirmed that the March 24 meeting was with him. [26] Other interview notes attributed to "X" were interpreted by Gray as containing content that could not have been known by Felt. [26]

Regarding Gray's allegations, Woodward wrote that the March 24 notes were obviously not from an interview with Felt because Felt is referred to by name twice in quotes from the source and that he never stated or wrote that he met with Deep Throat on that date. [27] According to Woodward, Mielke said the page was likely misfiled under Felt due to a lack of source. [27]

Fred Fielding Edit

Another leading candidate was White House Associate Counsel Fred F. Fielding. In April 2003 Fielding was presented as a potential candidate as a result of a detailed review of source material by William Gaines and his journalism students, as part of a class at the University of Illinois journalism school. [28] [29] Fielding was the assistant to John Dean and as such had access to the files relating to the affair. Gaines believed that statements by Woodward ruled out Deep Throat's being in the FBI and that Deep Throat often had information before the FBI did. H. R. Haldeman himself suspected Fielding as being Deep Throat.

Dean had been one of the most dedicated hunters of Deep Throat. Both he and Leonard Garment dismissed Fielding as a possibility, reporting that he had been cleared by Woodward in 1980 when Fielding was applying for an important position in the Reagan administration. However, this assertion, which comes from Fielding, has not been corroborated.

One reason that many experts believed that Deep Throat was Fielding and not Felt was due to Woodward's apparent denial in an interview that "Deep Throat" worked in the intelligence community:

LUKAS: Do you resent the implication by some critics that your sources on Watergate – among them the fabled Deep Throat – may have been people in the intelligence community? WOODWARD: I resent it because it's untrue. [30]

Other credible candidates Edit

Any candidate who died before the Felt admission ceased to fit Woodward's criteria at that time since Woodward had stated that he was free to reveal Deep Throat's identity once the person had died.


Michael Dobbs: Watergate and the Two Lives of Mark Felt

The Watergate scandal had reached a peak, and President Richard M. Nixon was furious about press leaks. His suspicions focused on the number two man at the FBI, W. Mark Felt, a 31-year bureau veteran. He ordered his aides to "confront" the presumed traitor.

Another man may have panicked. Over the previous six months, Felt had been meeting secretly with Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, helping him and fellow Post reporter Carl Bernstein with a series of sensational scoops about the abuse of presidential power. But the former World War II spymaster had an exquisite sense of how to play the bureaucratic game.

In a Feb. 21, 1973, FBI memo, Felt denounced the Post stories as an amalgam of "fiction and half truths," combined with some genuine information from "sources either in the FBI or the Department of Justice." To deflect attention from himself, he ordered an investigation into the latest leak.

Recently identified as the secret Watergate source known as "Deep Throat," Felt is the last and most mysterious of a colorful cast of characters who have captured the national imagination. Now 91, and in shaky health, the former FBI man joins a pantheon of Watergate figures ranging from H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and G. Gordon Liddy to John J. Sirica and Archibald Cox.

Unlike many of the heroes and villains of the Watergate saga, Felt defies easy pigeonholing. Admirers, beginning with his family, have presented him as a courageous whistle-blower. Detractors depict him as driven by overreaching personal ambition. Neither description captures the bravura, almost reckless, performance of a man leading two very different lives.

By day, Felt was the loyal, super-efficient government executive, ordering leak investigations and writing obsequious notes to acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray. By night, in 2 a.m. meetings with Woodward in an underground parking garage, he fulminated against the dirty tricks of the Nixon White House and worried about threats to the U.S. Constitution.

A review of tens of thousands of pages of declassified White House and FBI documents, and interviews with more than two dozen people who had dealings with Felt, reveal an exceptionally complicated personality. It is impossible to disentangle Felt's sense of outrage over what was happening to the country from his own desire to scramble to the top of "the FBI Pyramid," a phrase he later used as the title of a little-noticed autobiography.

As a protege and ardent supporter of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI's legendary first director, Felt was determined to perpetuate Hoover's vision of the bureau as an almost autonomous institution, feared by criminals and politicians alike. In nighttime conversations with Woodward, and later in his own book, he made clear that he resented attempts by Nixon and his acolytes to turn the world's premier law enforcement agency into "an adjunct of the White House."

In some ways, Felt comes across as that archetypal Washington figure, the master manipulator more concerned with bureaucratic turf than constitutional principle. At the same time that he was blowing the whistle on Nixon for illegal break-ins, he was authorizing similar "black-bag jobs" against left-wing radicals, according to evidence presented at his 1980 conspiracy trial.

Declassified documents and White House tapes show that Nixon aides initially saw Felt as "our boy," but became suspicious after hearing through the bureaucratic grapevine that he was leaking information to Woodward and other reporters. Nixon ordered his aides to "set traps" for Felt, but held back from moving against him for fear that the FBI man would "go out and unload everything."

Felt is as "cool as a cucumber," marveled White House counsel John W. Dean III, in a Feb. 27, 1973, conversation with the president in the Oval Office. Felt was eventually forced to resign from the FBI in June 1973 on suspicion of leaking a story about illegal wiretaps to the New York Times.


How Mark Felt Became Deep Throat And Bob Woodward Made History

The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward reveals how meeting an older man led to a friendship that morphed into a mentorship &mdash and how eventually this chance encounter gave him the most important solid anonymous source in journalism history.

This is a fascinating piece for several reasons: (a)it underlines the role of fate (b)it underlines the importance of keeping in touch with interesting people (c)it’s a nice footnote because, as we all know, in the end Vanity Fair and not Bob Woodward broke the last Watergate “scoop,” a supreme irony.

It must be read in full to appreciate it. But here are some highlights:

In 1970, when I was serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and assigned to Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the chief of naval operations, I sometimes acted as a courier, taking documents to the White House.

One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room. It could be a long wait for the right person to come out and sign for the material, sometimes an hour or more, and after I had been waiting for a while a tall man with perfectly combed gray hair came in and sat down near me. His suit was dark, his shirt white and his necktie subdued. He was probably 25 to 30 years older than I and was carrying what looked like a file case or briefcase. He was very distinguished-looking and had a studied air of confidence, the posture and calm of someone used to giving orders and having them obeyed instantly.

I could tell he was watching the situation very carefully. There was nothing overbearing in his attentiveness, but his eyes were darting about in a kind of gentlemanly surveillance. After several minutes, I introduced myself. “Lieutenant Bob Woodward,” I said, carefully appending a deferential “sir.”

“Mark Felt,” he said.

And so a friendship began. But Woodward was one of those smart young people who knew that developing a network of older people for advice and guidance can help ensure a sounder future:

I believe I encountered him only one more time at the White House. But I had set the hook. He was going to be one of the people I consulted in depth about my future, which now loomed more ominously as the date of my discharge from the Navy approached. At some point I called him, first at the FBI and then at his home in Virginia. I was a little desperate, and I’m sure I poured out my heart. I had applied to several law schools for that fall, but, at 27, I wondered if I could really stand spending three years in law school before starting real work.

Felt seemed sympathetic to the lost-soul quality of my questions. He said that after he had his law degree his first job had been with the Federal Trade Commission. His first assignment was to determine whether toilet paper with the brand name Red Cross was at an unfair competitive advantage because people thought it was endorsed or approved by the American Red Cross. The FTC was a classic federal bureaucracy &mdash slow and leaden &mdash and he hated it. Within a year he had applied to the FBI and been accepted. Law school opened the most doors, he seemed to be saying, but don’t get caught in your own equivalent of a toilet-paper investigation.

He then details his first two week tryout at the Post, which was less than stellar. Even here he was in touch with Felt. Felt became a mentor. One time Woodward even drove out to meet him and his wife. This was SMART networking.

Another fascinating section deals with what he picked up about Felt: despite what Pat Buchannan and Chuck Colson are contending Felt was A PATRIOT who was concerned about a shift he saw within the American government, in what was going on behind the scenes with the Nixon administration. Again, read the details but here’s a key part:

At the time, pre-Watergate, there was little or no public knowledge of the vast pushing, shoving and outright acrimony between the Nixon White House and Hoover’s FBI. The Watergate investigations later revealed that in 1970 a young White House aide named Tom Charles Huston had come up with a plan to authorize the CIA, the FBI and military intelligence units to intensify electronic surveillance of “domestic security threats,” authorize illegal opening of mail, and lift the restrictions on surreptitious entries or break-ins to gather intelligence.

Huston warned in a top-secret memo that the plan was “clearly illegal.” Nixon initially approved the plan anyway. Hoover strenuously objected, because eavesdropping, opening mail and breaking into homes and offices of domestic security threats were basically the FBI bailiwick and the bureau didn’t want competition. Four days later, Nixon rescinded the Huston plan.

Felt, a much more learned man than most realized, later wrote that he considered Huston “a kind of White House gauleiter over the intelligence community.” The word “gauleiter” is not in most dictionaries, but in the four-inch-thick Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language it is defined as “the leader or chief official of a political district under Nazi control.”

There is little doubt Felt thought the Nixon team were Nazis. During this period, he had to stop efforts by others in the bureau to “identify every member of every hippie commune” in the Los Angeles area, for example, or to open a file on every member of Students for a Democratic Society.

None of this surfaced directly in our discussions, but clearly he was a man under pressure, and the threat to the integrity and independence of the bureau was real and seemed uppermost in his mind.

Felt also provided him with advance info about what the FBI knew about Vice President Spiro Agnew, who later resigned. And with tidbits about Nixon’s concern and anger over Arthur Bremer, the man who shot and crippled Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

Woodward’s actual details of the Watergate saga aren’t that new except he confirms that Felt was upset that Nixon didn’t pick from within the FBI to replace J. Edgar Hoover. Felt would have been the logical choice.

Yet, nothing in Woodward’s account confirms the abuse being heaped on Felt by talk show hosts and former Nixon cronies who are now grasping at everything they can to try and claim he was just a disgruntled employee: in fact, this account confirms that the man was extremely concerned over the course his government was taking and the ability to do something about it from within the government:

It was only later after Nixon resigned that I began to wonder why Felt had talked when doing so carried substantial risks for him and the FBI. Had he been exposed early on, Felt would have been no hero. Technically, it was illegal to talk about grand jury information or FBI files &mdash or it could have been made to look illegal.

Felt believed he was protecting the bureau by finding a way, clandestine as it was, to push some of the information from the FBI interviews and files out to the public, to help build public and political pressure to make Nixon and his people answerable. He had nothing but contempt for the Nixon White House and their efforts to manipulate the bureau for political reasons. The young eager-beaver patrol of White House underlings, best exemplified by John W. Dean III, was odious to him.

His reverence for Hoover and strict bureau procedure made Gray’s appointment as director all the more shocking. Felt obviously concluded he was Hoover’s logical successor.

And the former World War II spy hunter liked the game. I suspect in his mind I was his agent. He beat it into my head: secrecy at all cost, no loose talk, no talk about him at all, no indication to anyone that such a secret source existed.

In our book “All the President’s Men,” Carl and I described how we had speculated about Deep Throat and his piecemeal approach to providing information. Maybe it was to minimize his risk. Or because one or two big stories, no matter how devastating, could be blunted by the White House. Maybe it was simply to make the game more interesting. More likely, we concluded, “Deep Throat was trying to protect the office, to effect a change in its conduct before all was lost.”

Each time I raised the question with Felt, he had the same answer: “I have to do this my way.”

And so you have it: a story of journalism for the ages &mdash but also a story of mentoring for the ages.

Yes, Woodward and Bernstein were skillful reporters. But Woodward’s careful and caring cultivation of a wiser older man changed his life &mdash and the nation’s.

In the end, we would be willing to bet, history is going to judge Felt to have been a hero and Buchanan and Colson’s claims that he was somehow a traitor or just an angry employee will merely merit a footnote.

BUT THERE ARE OTHER VOICES ON THIS ISSUE THAT MAY OR MAY NOT AGREE. HERE IS A CROSS-SECTION:

–Blogs for Bush’s Mark Noonan:”We here at Blogs for Bush are diligently looking for a story we care less about than the Felt/Deep Throat thing….when we find said story, we’ll be pleased to have one more thing to pay no attention to..”
—Garrett Graff has a concise, neat roundup. Our favorite comment of his refers to Bob “Overkill” Novak:”Robert “Prince of Darkness” Novak goes after Felt, generally accusing him of all manner of crimes. Frankly, we think it’s unfair to charge Felt with aiding and abetting John Wilkes Booth.”
—Homocon blasts Felt in a long analysis. Here’s a key section of its conclusion 4 U:

The whole thing is sordid &mdash not just Nixon’s involvement with the wiretapping and the subsequent attempts at cover-up, but also the FBI’s pathological quest for independence of any executive oversight, as well as the mainstream media’s desire to pound its chest over the kill, any kill, who cares who it is, what it is or how the carcass reached the plate. Because, really, doesn’t all this just go to show that the media is only terrific at reporting stories that are entirely handed to them on a silver platter….

—Gary Farber:”But it’s undeniably interesting, if somewhat unverifiable (where’s the second source!?)”
—Taegan Gooddard:”In an amazing, must-read piece in the Washington Post, Bob Woodward explains how he met Mark Felt, who later became Deep Throat. However, USA Today re-reads All the President’s Men and notes that “some things in the book, as well as other statements by Woodward over the years, led researchers to conclude that Deep Throat had been someone else or was a composite of several characters.”
—Bull Moose has a GREAT POST that must be read IN FULL on this issue. Here is just part:

The Moose notes the emergence of the Nixon Big House Vets for Deceit.

With the revelation of the identity of Deep Throat, the Nixon Felon Brigade is out in force. The Nixon Big House Vets for Deceit are attempting to replicate the success of the Swift Boat Vets. Instead of Kerry, their target is Mark Felt.

Forget about the trashing of the constitution- Felt’s “betrayal” must be punished! Upright law and order types like Liddy and Colson are now lecturing us on ethics. Talk about defining deviancy down! Chuck – what would Jesus do – keep his trap shut to defend criminality? The Tricky Dick Vets are ably assisted by their Communications Director and Gauleiter Pat Buchanan who is taking a much deserved break from his efforts to discredit the Allies’ decision to fight the Nazis.

Yes, the right has learned much since the Old Man went down in 󈨎. Never defend, always attack…. (READ THE REST YOURSELF)


‘Mark Felt’ fails to breathe life into Deep Throat

For a movie with “Mark Felt” in its title, writer-director Peter Landesman’s (“Concussion”) historical drama rarely allows viewers to get to know Watergate whistleblower Mark Felt.

Presumably to avoid confusion with the pornographic film that helped give him his nickname, the story of the Watergate whistleblower known for decades as Deep Throat is instead saddled with the tongue-tiring title “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.”

Felt (Liam Neeson) loves the FBI. After 30 years of service and 13 transfers, the agency’s second-highest ranking member is as married to his job as he is to his wife, Audrey (Diane Lane). But when his investigation into the Watergate break-in is stymied at every turn, Felt turns into Popeye: He’s had all he can stands, and he can’t stands no more.

Despite his adoration of the FBI and all that it stands for, Felt begins giving confidential information to The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward (Julian Morris) and Time magazine’s Sandy Smith (Bruce Greenwood) simply so they can put enough pressure on the attorney general to allow the probe to proceed.

“No one can stop the driving force of an FBI investigation,” Felt says. “Not even the FBI.”

I don’t want to say “Mark Felt” traffics in similarities with the current administration … but “Mark Felt” absolutely traffics in similarities with the current administration.

Looking out a window at protesters, John Ehrlichman (Wayne Pere), President Nixon’s assistant for domestic affairs, wonders aloud, “Why aren’t we arresting anybody?” “Because,” Felt has to tell him, “that isn’t a crime.”

White House counsel John Dean (Michael C. Hall) attempts to rein in the probe, only for Felt to have to remind him, sternly, that the White House has no authority over the FBI.

And after Felt has been using Woodward and Smith for a while, L. Patrick Gray (Marton Csokas), Nixon’s handpicked outsider chosen to lead the FBI after the death of J. Edgar Hoover, fumes, “These leaks are driving the White House crazy!”

Watching Felt stand up to his bosses, disregard repeated orders to conclude the investigation and verbally beat down members of the Nixon White House, it seems unfathomable that no one ever connected him to the man known as Deep Throat.

Still, for a movie with “Mark Felt” in its title, writer-director Peter Landesman’s (“Concussion”) historical drama rarely allows viewers to get to know Mark Felt. Neeson’s performance is subtle, the pacing is lethargic and the result is more like listening to a great actor read a term paper about Felt’s involvement with Watergate.

The only attempt to present Felt outside the scope of the investigation is a subplot involving his missing daughter. But given Neeson’s resume as of late, you half expect this to lead to Felt kicking in the door of the Oval Office and shouting, “Give me back my daughter” before engaging in a shootout with ol’ Tricky Dick.

Preposterous? Sure. But at least it would have lent a sense of urgency to this ponderous history lesson in which little is learned.


Watch the video: Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House Trailer #1 2017. Movieclips Trailers