Watergate Mystery Man unmasked

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From the Washington Post history in the making. I read the book and one of my favourite DVDs is the Redford and Hoffman version of All the Presidents Men. Now the undercover source central to it all is unmasked. Washington Post Confirms Felt Was ‘Deep Throat’
Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee Reveal Former FBI Official as Secret Watergate Source
By William Branigin and David Von Drehle
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 31, 2005; 6:33 PM

The Washington Post today confirmed that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was “Deep Throat,” the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s and contributed to the resignation of president Richard M. Nixon.

The confirmation came from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, and their former top editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee. The three spoke after Felt’s family and Vanity Fair magazine identified the 91-year-old Felt, now a retiree in California, as the long-anonymous source who provided crucial guidance for some of the newspaper’s groundbreaking Watergate stories.

The Vanity Fair story said Felt had admitted his “historic, anonymous role” following years of denial.

In a statement today, Woodward and 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.”

Felt’s guidance to Woodward — provided on “deep background” in secret meetings — helped keep public attention focused on the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington’s Watergate office and apartment complex, and on a subsequent cover-up effort. This ultimately led to a congressional investigation that revealed the role of Nixon and a number of his top aides. Under threat of impeachment, Nixon resigned in 1974.

Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee had kept the identity of “Deep Throat” secret at the source’s request, saying his name would be revealed upon his death. “We’ve kept that secret because we keep our word,” Woodward said.

But with the Vanity Fair article and the family’s statement, the three decided today to break their silence.

Bradlee said today, “The thing that stuns me is that the goddamn secret has lasted this long.” He was the Post’s executive editor during Watergate and now is a vice president of the newspaper.

Woodward agreed to confirm his source’s identity despite skepticism that the former FBI official was competent to decide to change the ground rules of their secret relationship. Felt has been in declining health since suffering a stroke in 2001.

Woodward, now a Post assistant managing editor, said he is writing an article for Thursday’s newspaper that will provide a personal account of his and Bernstein’s experience in covering Watergate. Bernstein left the Post in 1976 and is now a freelance writer.

Woodward said Felt helped The Post at a time of tense relations between the White House and much of the FBI hierarchy. He said the Watergate break-in came shortly after the death of legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Felt’s mentor, and that Felt and other bureau officials wanted to see an FBI veteran promoted to succeed Hoover.

Felt himself had hopes that he would be the next FBI director, but Nixon instead appointed an administration insider, assistant attorney general L. Patrick Gray, to the post.

radlee, in an interview this afternoon, said that knowing that “Deep Throat” was a high-ranking FBI official helped him feel confident about the information that the paper was publishing about Watergate. He said that he knew the “positional identity” of “Deep Throat” as the Post was breaking its Watergate stories and that he learned his name within a couple of weeks after Nixon’s resignation.

“The number-two guy at the FBI, that was a pretty good source,” he said.

“I knew the paper was on the right track,” Bradlee said. The “quality of the source” and the soundness of his guidance made him sure of that, he said.

“We made only one mistake . . . and that had nothing to do with ‘Deep Throat,’ ” Bradlee said, referring to an error in reporting grand jury testimony.

Bradlee said that over the years, “it was interesting to watch people flounder around with odd choices” about the identity of “Deep Throat,” a nickname borrowed from the title of a pornographic film. Although he knew the source’s identity, Bradlee said, “I’ve never met Felt. I wouldn’t know him if I fell on him.”

In a family statement released today, Felt’s grandson, Nick Jones, said, “The family believes 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.” The statement added, “We all sincerely hope the country will see him this way as well.”

Jones said in the statement, “My grandfather is pleased he is being honored for his role as ‘Deep Throat’ with his friend Bob Woodward. As he recently told my mother, ‘I guess people used to think “Deep Throat” was a criminal, but now they think he was a hero.'”

In a subsequent appearance before reporters outside their Santa Rosa, Calif., home, Felt’s daughter, Joan Felt, and her son Nick said the family, including Mark Felt, feels relieved now that the secret is out.

“We’re so proud of him, not only for his role in history . . . but for the person he is,” Joan Felt said of her father. She said he is aware that Woodward has confirmed he was “Deep Throat” and is pleased about the disclosure. She said Felt “always remembers Bob very fondly.”

“We’re all relieved,” Joan Felt said. She said her father is “in good health” and “says he’s going to live to be a centenarian.” Asked how he is feeling today, she said, “He’s happy. He’s grinning from ear to ear.”

“He’s always lived with honor,” Joan Felt said. “He’s a great patriot.”

The Vanity Fair article, by California attorney John D. O’Connor, described Felt as conflicted over his role in the Watergate revelations and over whether he should publicly reveal that he was the anonymous source whose identity has been a closely guarded secret for more than three decades.

“On several occasions he confided to me, ‘I’m the guy they used to call “Deep Throat,” ‘ ” O’Connor wrote. The author wrote that Felt “still has qualms about his actions, but he also knows that historic events compelled him to behave as he did: standing up to an executive branch intent on obstructing his agency’s pursuit of the truth.”

The article concluded, “Felt, having long harbored the ambivalent emotions of pride and self-reproach, has lived for more than 30 years in a prison of his own making, a prison built upon his strong moral principles and his unwavering loyalty to country and cause. But now, buoyed by his family’s revelations and support, he need feel imprisoned no longer.”