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Mark Felt's New Book: "A G-Man's Life"

Douglas Caddy

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Next month, May 2006, will see the release of "A G-Man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat,' and the

Struggle for Honor in Washington". The book's authors are Mark Felt, John D. O'Connor and W. Mark Felt.

Amazon.com is accepting pre-publication orders for the book.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Deep Throat's Other Secret

Watergate Source's New Book Reveals His Wife Committed Suicide

By Lynne Duke

Washington Post

Saturday, April 22, 2006

W. Mark Felt, who for nearly 33 years denied that he was Deep Throat, also held a tragic secret from his family: It was suicide, not a heart attack, that felled his wife after years of strain from Felt's FBI career and ensuing legal troubles.

In his new book, "A G-Man's Life: The FBI, 'Deep Throat' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington," Felt reveals for the first time that Audrey Robinson Felt, his wife of 46 years, shot herself in 1984 with his .38 service revolver after a long emotional and physical decline.

Co-authored with John O'Connor, the lawyer whose Vanity Fair article last year revealed Felt as Deep Throat, the book also reveals Felt's discomfort with the famous moniker given him by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story and brought down President Richard Nixon.

And the book tells of Felt's deep anger at what he believed was Woodward's violation of their source-reporter relationship. Felt did not want to be described in any way in print, but Woodward both described him and called him "Deep Throat" in 1974 in "All the President's Men."

"Mark has never seen himself as a chatterbox who gave up secrets," writes O'Connor in a lengthy introduction.

"If this book does nothing else, let it destroy that caricature. Deep Throat was a journalistic joke; the name never described Mark Felt. After Woodward revealed that he had a senior source in the executive branch, thereby breaking his agreement with Mark Felt, and after the journalist identified his confidant as 'Deep Throat,' the retired FBI man was furious -- slamming down the phone when Woodward called for his reaction" to the 1974 book.

In "The Secret Man," Woodward's 2005 book on Felt's outing as Deep Throat, Woodward also describes Felt's anger at "All the President's Men." Felt had wanted their agreement to be "inviolate," Woodward wrote. But Woodward wrote that he thought he had "some leeway" because Felt had not previously objected to Woodward's other published references to the secret source.

Though the Felt book appears well after Woodward's, it provides the unique perspective of "Watergate in the words of the person most responsible along with Woodward for exposing these massive crimes," O'Connor said in an interview.

Felt, now 92, suffers from dementia. He was hospitalized with a fever even as his book was about to go on sale.

He had been reluctant to publish a book on his secret identity. But his daughter, Joan Felt, convinced him by saying a book could potentially make enough money to pay off some of his grandsons' school bills.

Shortly after Felt publicly revealed his identity last year, he laughingly told the press staked out at his Santa Rosa, Calif., home that he planned to "write a book or something and get all the money I can."

The book is based on his 1979 memoir, "The FBI Pyramid From the Inside," as well as a manuscript he prepared in the 1980s with his son, W. Mark Felt Jr., -- before he publicly revealed himself as Deep Throat. It also is based on FBI memos, recollections and interviews conducted by his family.

O'Connor, a former U.S. attorney in San Francisco who now is in private practice there, adds to Felt's own writings and recollections. In an introduction and epilogue, O'Connor puts into context Felt's many secrets and how he kept them, against the backdrop of Watergate and the malfeasance for which Felt himself was responsible.

"In the FBI, agents learned to keep secrets and compartmentalize, and nobody built more compartments than Mark Felt," O'Connor writes. "He isolated his family life from his Bureau life, hid aspects of his personal life and aspects of his professional life, and of course walled off his secret identity from his public identity."

Scandal engulfed him and his family when, after Watergate, he was prosecuted for ordering "black bag jobs," or secret, warrantless break-ins that in 1972 and 1973 targeted friends and relatives of Weather Underground members. His wife could not bear the trial. She attended only its first day. Even after Felt's 1980 conviction and his subsequent pardon by President Ronald Reagan, her health and stability continued to decline.

She had endured years of stress: moving the two Felt children from city to city to keep up with their father's career, being estranged from her daughter, Joan, who lived a countercultural lifestyle under the sway of a Northern California guru. Alcohol also played a role in Audrey Felt's decline, the book says.

Upon finding his wife's body in the guest bath of their Washington-area apartment, Felt phoned his son.

But as he had done for most of his life as an FBI man and a secret source on Watergate, O'Connor writes, Felt "immediately compartmentalized the family tragedy. Sitting with his son at a table for hours, the father decreed that the suicide would be kept a strict secret, even from Joan. Mark did not want to burden the family or the family history with the record of the suicide. The cover story would be that Audrey died of a sudden heart attack."

Though Felt portrays the strain his wife suffered as an FBI wife, he ultimately blamed the government, O'Connor writes, "charging it with killing his wife."

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From "A G-Man's Life"


The FBI, Being "Deep Throat," and the Struggle for Honor in Washington.

By Mark Felt and John O'Connor.

Illustrated. 319 pp. PublicAffairs. $26.95.

Reviewed by John Dean

May 7, 2006

The New York Times Book Review

MARK FELT'S book "A G-Man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat,' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington" was assembled by a California lawyer, John O'Connor. Assisted by the Felt family, O'Connor first resolved the mystery of Deep Throat's identity in an article for Vanity Fair last year. Unfortunately, the book they have now produced adds absolutely nothing to our understanding about Felt's role as Bob Woodward's source during Watergate.

All we know about Deep Throat is what Woodward has told us, and he reports in "The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat" that given Felt's current dementia (he's 92), unless he had "some secret record he had kept or had told to someone unknown," "the answers to the main questions" are "unavailable." Woodward cannot explain, for example, how Felt observed the flowerpot on Woodward's apartment balcony, indicating he wanted to meet; or how Felt marked home-delivered copies of Woodward's New York Times, indicating that Felt wanted to meet with him. Nor can he answer "the all-important question of his motive." "A G-Man's Life" suggests that Felt never kept such a record or confided such information.

If one compares what Felt supposedly told Woodward, as set forth in "All the President's Men," with the historical record — as I once did on a long flight (the results can be seen at writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20050603.appendix.html) — almost half of Felt's reported information is wrong. Obviously, only Felt himself could explain why he got so much wrong, but he is no longer able to do so.

O'Connor writes in the introduction that because Felt's memory has "faded," he has combined two earlier writings by Felt: his 1979 memoir, "The FBI Pyramid: From the Inside," and "a subsequent manuscript." Felt was under indictment for authorizing illegal break-ins of friends and relatives of Weather Underground members when he wrote "The FBI Pyramid." (The copyright page suggests that Felt wrote it with the conservative writer Ralph de Toledano, who must be a bit peeved that Felt lied to him about being Deep Throat.)

After Felt's conviction and subsequent pardon by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, O'Connor says, Felt prepared a manuscript in which he "recounted happier times as a counterspy and crime-busting G-man (including stories that had been left out of his published book)." In this vaguely described later material, O'Connor writes, Felt "edged closer to his Deep Throat identity." O'Connor used these two works to construct a chronicle of "the events and influences that helped shape Felt's hidden identity, from his days tracking Nazi and Soviet spies to his battles against the Kansas City mob to his role as protector of Hoover's ideals at the F.B.I."

Years ago, as a Throat sleuth, I purchased a copy of "The FBI Pyramid" in a used-book store for $1. Today, "The FBI Pyramid" sells online for up to $1,100 or so — because it is so rare, not because of anything valuable it contains. In his review for this publication, David Wise said that practically the only thing he had learned from the book about the F.B.I. was that its director, J. Edgar Hoover, mainlined vitamins: "Every morning, Valerie Stewart, the chief nurse of the F.B.I. Health Service, gave him an injection of multiple vitamins." If the "subsequent manuscript" has added anything important to "The FBI Pyramid," it escaped this reader's attention.

"A G-Man's Life," like "The FBI Pyramid," views the Federal Bureau of Investigation through rose-colored glasses. Felt virtually ignores the F.B.I. that was described in the 1976 reports of the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities (better known as the Church committee after its chairman, Senator Frank Church), and he completely ignores the bureau that was more recently found to have let several men serve 30 years in prison for a murder it knew one of its informants had committed. If Felt's account were even close to accurate, some Republicans and Democrats would not be pursuing legislation to remove Hoover's name from the F.B.I. headquarters building. As Laurence Silberman, a senior federal judge, has nicely summed it up, "it is as if the Defense Department were named for Aaron Burr."

The Watergate narrative in "A G-Man's Life" (a slightly expanded version of the one in "The FBI Pyramid") suggests why Deep Throat provided so much bad information to Woodward. Felt's account is given to speculation, not hard evidence. His Watergate material is riddled with errors, some minor, others major. For instance, Felt seems unaware that the White House followed the F.B.I.'s Watergate investigation through Henry Petersen, chief of the criminal division, not through the acting director, L. Patrick Gray. Felt, who was passed over for the director's job, claims that in the period after Gray's departure from the F.B.I., he "knew that as long as John Dean and John Ehrlichman were in the White House," he "would have less chance of receiving the appointment than the man in the moon." But Ehrlichman and I were out of the White House at that time.

At one point he even claims that Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, "had certainly been briefed" on the fact that he had been wiretapped at the White House's behest, an absurd assertion. O'Connor's addendum to Felt's Watergate material adds only conjecture to speculation about Felt's motives as Deep Throat; he addresses what Felt "could" have done, and shows a remarkable ability to enter the mind and memory of a man who is unable to do so himself.

With genuine disappointment, I must report that "A G-Man's Life" is weak biography or autobiography (for it is a bit of both), but it is even worse history. To borrow old Watergate vernacular, it isn't even a good "modified limited hangout."


John W. Dean is a former Nixon White House counsel. His seventh nonfiction book, "Conservatives Without Conscience," will be published in July.

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