The man who revealed the identity of the Watergate probe's "Deep Throat" says W. Mark Felt has finally come to accept himself as a hero.
John D. O'Connor, who is Felt's lawyer, wrote the article in Vanity Fair magazine in which .
O'Connor tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith that Felt "knows now that he did the right thing" in acting as the secret source for The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they wrote the newspaper pieces that contributed to bringing down the Nixon White House.
"His family has been talking to him now for about three years. Over the last, I'd say, six to nine months, he's come to accept himself as a hero," O'Connor says.
Felt was the FBI's deputy director, its No. 2 man, at the time of the Watergate scandal.
O'Connor says he's speaking for the 91-year-old Felt because Felt "can't speak for himself" at this point. But Felt "knows very well what is happening now. That's one of the reasons we came forward now. Four months from now, a year from now, two weeks from now, God doesn't…promise us another day. …(Felt) can enjoy it. He's doesn't have much in the way of inhibitions. He's more or less in the present now. But he knows very well that he's 'Deep Throat.'"
Asked about speculation Felt is seeking or has firmed up a book deal, O'Connor brushed that notion aside: "The primary motivation here is heroic and permanent legacy. And right now, the family is ecstatic with the tasteful coverage and the reputability of Vanity Fair.
"Everyone believes the story so much so that, finally, Bob Woodward acceded to it. So that was the goal. Had we gone out and done this in a tabloid and gotten a lot of money, (Felt) would have been criticized as being a money-grubber."
"And now, the truth is coming out."
O'Connor says Felt "did not turn against his government. He was working for the government. He was trying to do his job as a government employee. He was sworn by law to uphold the law, to investigate crime wherever it led him, to do the right thing, not to obstruct justice. If he didn't, if he did obstruct his own investigation, he would be a conspirator like the other Watergate conspirators. He was not going to do that."
Felt acted as he did because he saw the immediate retribution taken against another FBI official who complained that the White House was obstructing the bureau's Watergate investigation, O'Connor points out to Smith. That official was transferred to the Midwest so fast his head was spinning, O'Connor explains.
O'Connor adds, "It's absurd to say, as Charles Colson has said, that Felt should have just gone to the president. …He might as well just have committed virtual hari-kari. That's how much good it was going to do."
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