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Friends lobbied for 'Deep Throat' to head FBI


Douglas Caddy
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Friends lobbied for 'Deep Throat' to head FBI while he was leaking Watergate secrets

11/29/2007

Filed by Nick Juliano

www.rawstory.com

http://rawstory.com//printstory.php?story=8419

Newly released papers from Richard Nixon's White House files show the now-disgraced former president was urged to appoint Mark Felt -- the man who years later would be revealed as Deep Throat -- as the head of the FBI.

The National Security Archives released more than 10,000 pages of Nixon documents this week, including letters, postcards and telegrams that were sent as part of a lobbying campaign to see Felt, then the Bureau's No. 2 official, become FBI director after J. Edgar Hoover's death, according to the Associated Press.

"He has the integrity, the ability, the experience and the image to insure that our FBI will continue to deserve and maintain world esteem," Harold L. Child Jr., legal attache to the embassy in Japan and a 30-year FBI veteran, told Nixon in an April 1973 letter.

That very same month, Felt called reporter Bob Woodward in the Washington Post newsroom to pass along a tip about then-FBI Director L. Patrick Gray, a Nixon loyalist who replaced Hoover. Gray resigned that month after it was revealed that he destroyed documents related to the Watergate investigation. Woodward recounts the phone call in his book The Secret Man, which documented his relationship with his secret source.

About 9:30 p.m. [on April 26, 1973] my phone at the Post rang. "Give me a number to call you on," Mark Felt said. I gave him a basic city desk line and picked it up myself when the call came in. "you've heard the Gray story?" Felt said. "Well, it's true."

Felt was confirming early speculation about Gray's pending resignation. Over the previous 10 months, Felt, who was at the time in the No. 2 position at the FBI, had passed along scores of tips to Woodward, helping the young reporter and his colleague Carl Bernstein expose the massive corruption within the Nixon White House that became known as Watergate.

It was not until 2005 that Felt unmasked himself as Deep Throat, although Nixon's secret tape recordings revealed that White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman suspected Felt was Woodward's leaker as early as October 1972.

Felt expected to replace Hoover upon his death earlier that year -- before the Watergate hotel break-in -- but Nixon, whose administration already was engaged in myriad political treacheries, decided against the career FBI officer in favor of loyal Gray.

"As best I could tell Felt was crushed but he put on a good face," writes Woodward, who first met Felt years earlier while still in the Navy.

Woodward first used Felt as a source for an article he wrote about the assassination attempt aimed at George Wallace, but it was June 19, 1972 that the pair first spoke about the story that would launch Woodward's career. Two days after the Watergate break-in, Felt warned that the case was going to "heat up" and abruptly ended their telephone conversations, according to Woodward's account.

Over the following weeks and months, Felt continued to pass along tidbits of information and guide the young reporter in his efforts to expose the corruption within Nixon's White House and presidential campaigns. The two would often meet in the dead of night in an abandoned parking garage, scenes memorably portrayed by Hal Holbrook and Robert Redford in the film adaptation of All the President's Men.

Felt's role in exposing Watergate remained a secret to virtually everyone aside from Woodward, Bernstein and the Post editors.

Within the FBI Felt was well renowned for his years of service and tenacity -- qualities that apparently didn't interest a president trying to shield himself from investigations led by that very agency.

"Mr. Felt is a man of outstanding loyalty, character, reputation, habits," wrote Efton A. Stanfield in a telegram to Nixon. The "fidelity, bravery, and integrity of Mr. Felt are unquestioned."

Felt himself was the lead agent in a telegram sent to the White House by a group of agents asking that a highly qualified professional be nominated. The police chief in Kodiak, Alaska, made the case for Felt, and so did ordinary citizens. Writing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Viena K. Neaville told Nixon that choosing Felt would be good for him because, "You would be spared the tremendous aggravation to which you are subjected by so many factions."

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