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Mark Felt Obituary

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The case of Mark Felt has been discussed in the Watergate section many times. The only real link with the JFK assassination is the way the media continue to fool the general public about an important event. Every obituary I have read over the last 24 hours accepts the view that Felt was Deep Throat. Although it is true that Felt obviously supplied the Washington Post with information about the Watergate, there is no way that he could have given them the details that was needed to remove Nixon. Here is a summary of the evidence concerning Felt as Deep Throat.

On 19th October, 1972, White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman told Nixon a secret source had identified Felt as someone who was leaking information about Watergate to the press. Nixon considered sacking Felt but Haldeman urged caution: "He knows everything that's to be known in the FBI. He has access to absolutely everything... If we move on him, he’ll go out and unload everything."

Nixon knew that Felt had complained bitterly to L. Patrick Gray when he had stopped Charles Nuzum, the FBI agent in charge of the Watergate investigation, from interviewing Ken Dahlberg and Manual Ogarrio. Gray claimed that it was Vernon Walters, deputy director of the CIA, who was applying pressure on the FBI not to interview these two men. It was claimed that these interviews would “imperial a CIA operation”. The truth of the situation was that Walters and Gray were both being pressurized by Nixon not to carry out a full investigation into Watergate. Both Gray and Walters were Nixon appointees and had been long time political associates of the president.

Felt, on the other hand had as a young man been active in the Democratic Party and had worked closely with James Pope, the senator from Idaho in the 1930s. This is interesting story in itself as Pope lost his seat after discovering details of corruption concerning arms dealings during the First World War.

Several writers have suggested that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. This includes Ronald Kessler (The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI), James Mann (Atlantic Monthly) and Jack Limpert (Washingtonian). The first person to provide any real evidence that Felt was Deep Throat was Chase Culeman-Beckman. The 17 year old exposed Felt in high-school history paper in 1999. He revealed how as a 8 year old he was told Deep Throat’s identity by Jacob Bernstein, the son of Carl Bernstein. Culeman-Beckman's history teacher was not impressed and did not even give the essay an 'A' grade.

The reason why Felt has so far been rejected as a serious Deep Throat candidate concerns the information he was giving to Woodward. Some of it did include evidence acquired from the FBI investigation. As associate director, it was Felt's responsibility to compile all the information that came from all FBI agents before it was sent to L. Patrick Gray.

However, most of the important information that Deep Throat revealed did not come from the FBI. Instead it came from the CIA and the White House. How did Felt get hold of this information?

For example, one of the most important pieces of information Deep Throat gave Woodward was that Nixon’s was tapping his conversations at the White House. Woodward leaked this information to a staff member of Sam Ervin Committee. He in turn told Sam Dash and as a result Alexander P. Butterfield was questioned about the tapes. Only a very small number of people knew about the existence of these tapes. If Felt knew about these tapes he had his own Deep Throat. I suspect that was William Sullivan, his former colleague at the FBI who was working for the White House during this period (Nixon employed him in this role after he was sacked by Hoover).

Felt, who leaked information to Time Magazine about what became known as the “Kissinger taps”, later admitted that he got this information from Sullivan (one of the first things that Sullivan had done when he was appointed by Nixon was to transfer the wiretap logs to the White House). Sullivan was playing a double-game. He provided information to Nixon about the CIA role in the assassination of JFK. It was this information that Nixon tried to use to control Helms. However, Sullivan, like Felt, was a pro-Kennedy Democrat. I imagine they combined forces to bring down Nixon. I suspect they also had help from Richard Ober of the CIA in carrying out this task.

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See also this post from Jim Hougan:

On 3rd July, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while breaking into the Democratic Party campaign offices in an apartment block called Watergate. It appeared that the men had been to wiretap the conversations of Larry O'Brien, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein, two journalists employed by the Washington Post, began working on the story. On 19th June, Woodward telephoned a man who he called "an old friend" for information about the burglars. This man, who Woodward claims was a high-ranking federal employee, was willing to help Woodward as long as he was never named as a source. Later, Howard Simons, the managing editor of the newspaper, gave him the nickname "Deep Throat".

During their first telephone conversation with Bob Woodward Deep Throat insisted on certain conditions. According to All the President's Men: "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. Woodward had also agreed never to quote the man, even as an anonymous source. Their discussions would be only to confirm information that had been obtained elsewhere and to add some perspective."

The first information that Deep Throat gave Woodward on 19th June was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation considered that E. Howard Hunt, a former member of the Central Intelligence Agency, was a major suspect in the case.

At first Woodward and Deep Throat communicated via telephone. However, by October, 1973, Deep Throat had become very worried that he would be identified as Woodward's main source and insisted that they had their meetings at about 2:00 am. in a pre-designated underground parking garage. Deep Throat even refused to use the phone to set up the meetings. It was agreed that if Woodward wanted a meeting he would place a flower pot with the red flag on the balcony of his apartment. On one occasion (25th February, 1973) the men met in a Washington bar.

As Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein explained in All the President's Men: "If Deep Throat wanted a meeting-which was rare-there was a different procedure. Each morning, Woodward would check page 20 of his New York Times, delivered to his apartment house before 7:00 am. If a meeting was requested, the page number would be circled and the hands of a clock indicating the time of the rendezvous would appear in a lower corner of the page."

According to Woodward's book, All the President's Men, he had at least fifteen conversations with Deep Throat while investigating the Watergate scandal. This included communications on 19th June (2 phone calls); 16th September, 1972 (phone call); 8th October, 1972 (phone call); 9th October, 1972 (garage meeting); 21st October, 1972 (garage meeting), 27th October, 1972 (garage meeting), late December, 1972 (undisclosed), 25th January, 1973 (garage meeting); 25th February, 1973 (meeting in bar); 16th April, 1973 (phone call); 16th May, 1973 (garage meeting) and a meeting during the first week of November, 1973.

In his book, Lost Honor, John Dean made a list of 30 possible candidates: White House Staff (Stephen Bull, Alexander P. Butterfield, Kenneth Clawson, Charles Colson, Leonard Garment, David Gergen, Alexander Haig, Richard Moore and Jonathan Rose); FBI (Thomas E. Bishop, Charles Bowles, Mark Felt, L. Patrick Gray and David Kinley), Justice Department (Carl Belcher, Richard Burke, John Keeney, Laurence McWhorter, Henry Peterson and Harold Shapiro); Secret Service (Lilburn Boggs, Charles Bretz, Roger Schwalm, Alfred Wong and Raymond Zumwalt).

In his memoirs, The Ends of Power, H. R. Haldeman, came to the conclusion that Deep Throat was John Dean's assistant, Fred F. Fielding. This view is supported by William Gaines, head of the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois. As he points out "my students over 12 semesters poured over FBI reports, congressional testimony, White House documents in the National Archives and autobiographies of Watergate figures". Eventually, like Haldeman, they became convinced that Fielding was Deep Throat.

The authors of Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, claimed that the culprit was Alexander Haig, the man who replaced Haldeman as chief of staff in the Nixon administration. Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) and John Dean (Lost Honor) also argued that Haig was probably Deep Throat. However, Haig was not in Washington during Woodward's meeting with Deep Throat on 9th October, 1972. The other problem with Haig concerns motivation. Was it really in his interests to bring down Richard Nixon? According to Leon Jaworski, Haig did everything he could, including lying about what was on the tapes, in order to protect Nixon from impeachment.

Mark Riebling, the author of Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11 points out that Bob Woodward described Deep Throat as having an aggregate of information flowing in and out of many stations" and "perhaps the only person in the government in a position to possibly understand the whole scheme, and not be a potential conspirator himself". Riebling goes on to argue that this indicates that Deep Throat was a senior official in the Central Intelligence Agency. He points out that Woodward virtually confirmed that his source was from the CIA: "As you know, I'm not going to discuss the identity of Deep Throat or any other of my confidential sources who are still alive. But let me just say that the suggestion that we were being used by the intelligence community was of concern to us at the time and afterward."

Riebling suggests three possible CIA suspects: William Colby, Cord Meyer and Richard Helms. He finally opts for Meyer arguing that like Deep Throat he was a chain-smoker and heavy drinker. Riebling also suggests that Meyer met Woodward while working as a Washington briefer in naval intelligence. The problem with this theory is that Meyer was transferred to London during the summer of 1973 and could not have made the meeting with Woodward in November of that year.

Deborah Davis, the author of Katharine the Great, also believes that Deep Throat was a senior official of the CIA. Her candidate is Richard Ober, the head of Operation Chaos. Ober was given an office in the White House and worked closely with Richard Nixon, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman during this period. Davis later told me that her source was a senior figure at the CIA (I had suggested to her that the source might have been Carl Bernstein).

Leonard Garment, Nixon's special counsel, later wrote the book, In Search of Deep Throat (2002). Garment came to the conclusion that Deep Throat was fellow presidential lawyer John Sears.

James Mann, a former colleague of Woodward's at the Washington Post, argued in an article in the Atlantic Monthly that was published in 1992 that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. This view was supported by Ronald Kessler (The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI). Nora Ephron, the former wife of Carl Bernstein, has been claiming for several years that Felt was Deep Throat.

Bob Woodward promised Deep Throat that he would never reveal the man's position with the government, nor would he ever quote him, even anonymously, in his articles. Woodward also promised not to tell anyone else the identity of his source. Woodward did not keep these promises. He gave the name of Deep Throat to both Ben Bradlee and Carl Bernstein. He also quoted him in his book, All the President's Men.

The best way to identify Deep Throat is to take a close look at what he told Bob Woodward. The initial information suggested that his source was someone involved in the FBI investigation of the Watergate break-in. However, Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) argues that Deep Throat was unlikely to have been a member of the agency. He points out that Deep Throat did not tell Woodward about the role played by Alfred Baldwin in the Watergate break-in. This was first revealed by a press conference held by the Democratic Party in September.

Hougan suggests that the only reason Deep Throat did not pass this important information to Woodward was that he did not know about it. If that is the case Deep Throat was not from the FBI (L. Patrick Gray or Mark Felt). Nor could he have been one of Nixon's aides who all knew about Baldwin's key role in the break-in (John Dean, H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Charles Colson, John N. Mitchell, Jeb Magruder, Egil Krogh and Frederick LaRue).

Another clue to the identity of Deep Throat comes from Barry Sussman, Woodward's editor at Washington Post. In his book, The Great Cover-Up, Sussman claims that Woodward first made use of Deep Throat when writing about how Arthur Bremer attempted to kill George Wallace on 15th May, 1972. This suggests that his informant was working in a senior position in the FBI.

In April, 1982, John Dean met Bob Woodward at a conference being held at the University of Massachusetts. Although Woodward refused to identify Deep Throat it was possible for Dean to work out that he was someone working in the White House.

According to Woodward it was Deep Throat who first suggested that Alexander P. Butterfield could be an important figure in the investigation. In May, 1973, Woodward told a member of the Senate Watergate Committee (undoubtedly his friend, Scott Armstrong) that Butterfield should be interviewed.

On 25th June, 1973, John Dean testified that at a meeting with Richard Nixon on 15th April, the president had remarked that he had probably been foolish to have discussed his attempts to get clemency for E. Howard Hunt with Charles Colson. Dean concluded from this that Nixon's office might be bugged. On Friday, 13th July, Butterfield appeared before the committee and was asked about if he knew whether Nixon was recording meetings he was having in the White House. Butterfield reluctantly admitted details of the tape system which monitored Nixon's conversations.

In Lost Honor John Dean concludes that it was Deep Throat had told Woodward about Nixon's taping system that had been installed by Alexander P. Butterfield. This was the best-kept secret in the White House with only a few people knowing about its existence.

In the first week of November, 1973, Deep Throat told Woodward that there were "gaps" in Nixon's tapes. He hinted that these gaps were the result of deliberate erasures. On 8th November, Woodward and Bernstein published an article in the Washington Post that said that according to their source the "conservation on some of the tapes appears to have been erased". It was later claimed by Jim Hougan (Secret Agenda) and John Dean (Lost Honor) that only a very small group of people could have known about these gaps at this time. According to Fred Emery (Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon), the only Richard Nixon, Rose Mary Woods, Alexander Haig and Stephen Bull knew about this erased tape before it was made public on 20th November.

In his book Deep Truth: The Lives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1993) Adrian Havill argues that Deep Throat was a dramatic devise used by Woodward. Havill visited the place where Woodward lived during the Watergate investigation. He discovered that the balcony where he placed the flower pot with a red flag faced an interior courtyard. Havill argues in his book that the only way Deep Throat could see the flag was "to walk into the center of the complex, with eighty units viewing you, crane your neck and look up to the sixth floor". Havill argues that Deep Throat would have been highly unlikely to have exposed himself if this way.

Nor was Havill impressed with the way Deep Throat communicated to Woodward when he wanted a meeting with the journalist. According to “All the President's Men” Deep Throat drew a clock on page 20 of his New York Times. Havill discovered that the papers were not delivered to each door, but left stacked and unmarked in a common reception area. Havill argues that there is no way Deep Throat could have known which paper Woodward would end up with each morning.

In May, 2005, John O'Connor, a lawyer working for Mark Felt, told Vanity Fair magazine that his client was Deep Throat. Shortly afterwards Bob Woodward confirmed that Felt had provided him with important information during the Watergate investigation. However, Carl Bernstein was quick to add that Felt was only one of several important sources.

However, there are serious problems with the idea that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. In his autobiography, The FBI Pyramid: Inside the FBI, Felt denied being Deep Throat and said he met with Woodward only once. 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."

Felt had not made the confession himself. In 2001 Felt suffered a stroke that robbed him of his memory. Before this happened Felt had told his daughter Joan that he was Deep Throat. She admits that the family have gone public in an attempt to obtain money. Joan Felt told journalists: "My son Nick is in law school and he'll owe $100,000 by the time he graduates. I am still a single mom, still supporting them (her children) to one degree or another."

Vanity Fair only paid the Felt family $10,000 (£5,500) but the whole project is linked to a $1m book deal. It is rumoured the book will be written by Bob Woodward. However, on 4th June, 2005, the publisher Judith Regan (HarperCollins) revealed that negotiations over a possible book deal had collapsed because of serious concerns that Felt was no longer of sound mind.

There are several major problems with Mark Felt being Deep Throat. Felt resigned from the FBI in June, 1973 and no longer had to worry about his career. Why did he not come forward with his information at this stage of the Watergate investigation? He would have been seen as a national hero and would no doubt have made a fortune from his memoirs.

In November, 1980, Felt was convicted of conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of Americans by authorising illegal break-ins and wire taps of people connected to suspected domestic bombers. Why did Felt not attempt to rebuild his public image by disclosing that he was Deep Throat?

If Felt had been Deep Throat why did he not tell Woodward about the role played by Alfred Baldwin in the Watergate break-in? The FBI knew about this within days of the break-in. Yet Woodward did not mention it in his articles until the story was revealed by a press conference held by the Democratic Party in September, 1972.

According to Woodward it was Deep Throat who first suggested that Alexander P. Butterfield could be an important figure in the investigation. In May, 1973, Woodward told a member of the Senate Watergate Committee that Butterfield should be interviewed. On Friday, 13th July, Butterfield appeared before the committee and was asked about if he knew whether Richard Nixon was recording meetings he was having in the White House. This was the best-kept secret in the White House with only a few people knowing about its existence. How could Felt have known about this system?

Felt left the FBI in June 1973. Yet according to “All the President's Men” Woodward continued to meet Deep Throat after this date. The most important of these meetings took place in the first week of November, 1973. At this meeting Deep Throat told Woodward that there were "gaps" in Nixon's tapes. He hinted that these gaps were the result of deliberate erasures. On 8th November, Woodward and Bernstein published an article in the Washington Post that said that according to their source the "conversation on some of the tapes appears to have been erased". It has been claimed by several writers that only a very small group of people could have known about these gaps at this time. How could Felt had known about this?

Maybe he did have meetings with Woodward in underground garages. However, if Felt was Deep Throat, he was getting information from someone working in the White House. He also had to get information from someone senior in the CIA. The most sensible explanation is that Deep Throat was more than one man. That is he represented several of Woodward's sources. If that is the case, I think Deep Throat was Mark Felt, William Sullivan, Richard Ober and Stephen Bull.

John'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;. Mr. 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* tht 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 entitle '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.

Postscript: After Watergate, Robert Bennett left the Mullen Company to become one of the wealthiest men in the United States Senate. A Mormon elder, he represents Utah.

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In 1979 Mark Felt decided to make some money by publishing an autobiography. "The FBI Pyramid: Inside the FBI" was co-written with Ralph de Toledano. He told Felt that the book would sell more copies if he admitted to being Deep Throat. Toledano later claimed: "Felt swore to me that he was not Deep Throat, that he had never leaked information to the Woodward-Bernstein team or anyone else. The book was published and bombed."

In "The FBI Pyramid: Inside the FBI" Felt wrote: "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!"

Ralph de Toledano was furious when it was announced that Felt was Deep Throat. De Toledano opened a lawsuit against Felt. In August 2007, a DC judge ordered the lawsuit, continued by De Toledano's sons, into arbitration.

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If anyone is interested in the subject of Mark Felt I would suggest they take a look at this thread:


W. Mark Felt, Watergate Deep Throat, Dies at 95


The New York Times

December 19, 2008

W. Mark Felt, who was the No. 2 official at the F.B.I. when he helped bring down President Richard M. Nixon by resisting the Watergate cover-up and becoming Deep Throat, the most famous anonymous source in American history, died Thursday. He was 95 and lived in Santa Rosa, Calif.

His death was confirmed by Rob Jones, his grandson.

In 2005, Mr. Felt revealed that he was the one who had secretly supplied Bob Woodward of The Washington Post with crucial leads in the Watergate affair in the early 1970s. His decision to unmask himself, in an article in Vanity Fair, ended a guessing game that had gone on for more than 30 years.

The disclosure even surprised Mr. Woodward and his partner on the Watergate story, Carl Bernstein. They had kept their promise not to reveal his identity until after his death. Indeed, Mr. Woodward was so scrupulous about shielding Mr. Felt that he did not introduce him to Mr. Bernstein until this year, 36 years after they cracked the scandal. The three met for two hours one afternoon last month in Santa Rosa, where Mr. Felt had retired. The reporters likened it to a family reunion.

Mr. Felt played a dual role in the fall of Nixon. As a secret informant, he kept the story alive in the press. As associate director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he fought the president’s efforts to obstruct the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Watergate break-in.

Without Mr. Felt, there might not have been a Watergate — shorthand for the revealed abuses of presidential powers in the Nixon White House, including illegal wiretapping, burglaries and money laundering. Americans might never have seen a president as a criminal conspirator, or reporters as cultural heroes, or anonymous sources like Mr. Felt as a necessary if undesired tool in the pursuit of truth.

Like Nixon, Mr. Felt authorized illegal break-ins in the name of national security and then received the absolution of a presidential pardon. Their lives were intertwined in ways only they and a few others knew.

Nixon cursed his name when he learned early on that Mr. Felt was providing aid to the enemy in the wars of Watergate. The conversation was recorded in the Oval Office and later made public.

“We know what’s leaked, and we know who leaked it,” Nixon’s chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, told the president on Oct. 19, 1972, four months after a team of washed-up Central Intelligence Agency personnel hired by the White House was caught trying to wiretap the Democratic Party’s national offices at the Watergate complex.

“Somebody in the F.B.I.?” Nixon asked.

“Yes, sir,” Mr. Haldeman replied. Who? the president asked. “Mark Felt,” Mr. Haldeman said. “Now why the hell would he do that?” the president asked in a wounded tone.

No one, including Mr. Felt, ever answered that question in full. Mr. Felt later said he believed that the president had been misusing the F.B.I. for political advantage. He knew that Nixon wanted the Watergate affair to vanish. He knew that the White House had ordered the C.I.A. to tell the bureau, on grounds of national security, to stand down in its felony investigation of the June 1972 break-in. He saw that order as an effort to obstruct justice, and he rejected it. That resistance led indirectly to Nixon’s resignation.

Mr. Felt had expected to be named to succeed J. Edgar Hoover, who had run the bureau for 48 years and died in May 1972. The president instead chose a politically loyal Justice Department official, L. Patrick Gray III, who later followed orders from the White House to destroy documents in the case.

The choice infuriated Mr. Felt. He later wrote that the president “wanted a politician in J. Edgar Hoover’s position who would convert the bureau into an adjunct of the White House machine.”

Hoover had sworn off break-ins without warrants — “black bag jobs,” he called them — in 1966, after carrying them out at the F.B.I. for four decades. The Nixon White House hired its own operatives to steal information, plant eavesdropping equipment and hunt down the sources of leaks. The Watergate break-in took place six weeks after Hoover died.

While Watergate was seething, Mr. Felt authorized nine illegal break-ins at the homes of friends and relatives of members of the Weather Underground, a violent left-wing splinter group. The people he chose as targets had committed no crimes. The F.B.I. had no search warrants. He later said he ordered the break-ins because national security required it.

In a criminal trial, Mr. Felt was convicted in November 1980 of conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of Americans. Nixon, who had denounced him in private for leaking Watergate secrets, testified on his behalf. Called by the prosecution, he told the jury that presidents and by extension their officers had an inherent right to conduct illegal searches in the name of national security.

“As Deep Throat, Felt helped establish the principle that our highest government officials are subject to the Constitution and the laws of the land,” the prosecutor, John W. Nields, wrote in The Washington Post in 2005. “Yet when it came to the Weather Underground bag jobs, he seems not to have been aware that this same principle applied to him.”

Seven months after the conviction, President Ronald Reagan pardoned Mr. Felt. Then 67, Mr. Felt celebrated the decision as one of great symbolic value. “This is going to be the biggest shot in the arm for the intelligence community for a long time,” he said. After the pardon, Nixon sent him a congratulatory bottle of Champagne.

Mr. Felt then disappeared from public view for a quarter of a century, denying unequivocally, time and again, that he had been Deep Throat. It was a lie he told to serve what he believed to be a higher truth.

William Mark Felt was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, on Aug. 17, 1913. After graduating from the University of Idaho, he was drawn to public service in Washington and went to work for Senator James P. Pope, a Democrat.

In 1938, he married his college sweetheart, Audrey Robinson, in Washington. They were wed by the chaplain of the House of Representatives. She died in 1984. The couple had a daughter, Joan, and a son, Mark. They and four grandsons survive Mr. Felt.

Days before Pearl Harbor, after earning a law degree in night classes at George Washington University, Mr. Felt applied to the F.B.I. and joined it in January 1942. He spent most of World War II hunting German spies.

After stints in Seattle, New Orleans and Los Angeles, Hoover named him special agent in charge of the Salt Lake City and Kansas City offices in the late 1950s. Rising to high positions at the headquarters in the 1960s, he oversaw the training of F.B.I. agents and conducted internal investigations as chief of the inspection division.

In early 1970, while waiting in an anteroom of the West Wing of the White House, Mr. Felt chanced to meet a Navy lieutenant delivering classified messages to the National Security Council staff. The young man in dress blues was Bob Woodward. By his own description fiercely ambitious and in need of adult guidance, Mr. Woodward tried to wring career counseling from his elder. He left the White House with the number to Mr. Felt’s direct line at the F.B.I.

On July 1, 1971, Hoover promoted Mr. Felt to deputy associate director, the third in command at the headquarters, beneath Hoover’s right-hand man and longtime companion, Clyde A. Tolson. With both of his superiors in poor health, Mr. Felt increasingly took effective command of the daily work of the F.B.I. When Mr. Hoover died and Mr. Tolson retired, he saw his path to power cleared.

But Nixon denied him, and he seethed with frustrated ambition in the summer of 1972.

One evening that summer, a few weeks after the Watergate break-in, Mr. Woodward, then a neophyte newspaperman, knocked on Mr. Felt’s door in pursuit of the story. Mr. Felt decided to co-operate with him and set up an elaborate system of espionage techniques for clandestine meetings with Mr. Woodward.

If Mr. Woodward needed to talk, he would move a flowerpot planted with a red flag on the balcony of his apartment on P Street in Washington. If Mr. Felt had a message, Mr. Woodward’s home-delivered New York Times would arrive with an inked circle on Page 20. Mr. Woodward would leave his apartment by the back alley that night and take one taxi to a downtown hotel, then a second to an underground parking garage in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va.

Within weeks, Mr. Felt steered The Post to a story establishing that the Watergate break-in was part of “a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage” directed by the White House. For the next eight months, he did his best to keep the newspaper on the trail, largely by providing, on “deep background,” anonymous confirmation of facts reporters had gathered from others. The Post’s managing editor, Howard Simons, gave him his famous pseudonym, taken from the pornographic movie then in vogue.

By June 1973, Mr. Felt was forced out of the F.B.I. Soon he came under investigation by some of the same agents he had supervised, suspected of leaking information not to The Post but to The New York Times. He spent much of the mid-1970s testifying in secret to Congress about abuses of power at the F.B.I. Millions of Americans knew him only as a shadowy figure in the 1976 movie made from the Watergate saga, “All the President’s Men,” which made “Woodward and Bernstein” legends of American journalism. In the movie, Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) gives Mr. Woodward (Robert Redford) probably the most famous bit of free advice in the history of investigative journalism. It was a three-word road map to the heart of the matter: “Follow the money.”

Mr. Felt never said it. It was part of the myth that surrounded Deep Throat.

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I have added three YouTube films on Mark Felt as Deep Throat on:


The most interesting of the three is this interview with John Dean. It raises some very interesting questions. He rightly points out that Felt could not have provided Woodward and Bernstein with the information about the tapes. However, I disagree with Dean when he says it is not important to discover what the motive was for Deep Throat to get Nixon removed from Watergate.

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