"Deep Throat" finally revealed

W. Mark Felt appears on CBS' "Face The Nation" in Washington, Sunday, Aug.30, 1976. In a just-published Vanity Fair article, the former FBI official claims he was "Deep Throat," the long-anonymous source who leaked secrets about President Nixon's Watergate coverup to The Washington Post. AP Photo

Ending one of Washington's favorite parlor games and eliciting a huge sigh of relief from the many wrongly suspected "Deep Throats," the Washington Post said Tuesday that a former FBI official, W. Mark Felt, was the confidential source who provided the newspaper information that led to President Nixon's impeachment investigation and eventual resignation.

The announcement comes after a Tuesday article in Vanity Fair magazine by Felt's attorney revealed his infamous identity as Deep Throat.

"I'm the guy they used to call Deep Throat," he was quoted as telling lawyer John D. O'Connor, author of the magazine article.

After getting confirmation from the two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as well as the paper's then-managing editor, the Post made its announcement on its Web site. Earlier, Felt, 91 and living in California, talked to a lawyer who wrote the magazine article for Vanity Fair.

But until Tuesday, Felt had publicly denied being the Post's infamous secret source, the man Woodward and Bernstein would meet in the parking garage for tidbits of information, reports CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

"No, no, I am not Deep Throat and the only thing I can say is that I wouldn't be ashamed to be," Felt said in 1979.

However, taped conversations between Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, indicate the White House may have known that Felt was the informant.

Felt, the second-in-command at the FBI in the early 1970s, kept his secret even from his family for almost three decades before confiding he was the Post reporters' source on the Watergate scandal, according to a Vanity Fair article published Tuesday.

"The No. 2 guy from the FBI, that was a pretty good source," said Ben Bradlee, who had been the key editor at the Post in the Watergate era.

"I knew the paper was on the right track" in its investigative stories, Bradlee said, citing the "quality of the source."

Felt, who lives in Santa Rosa, is said to be in poor mental and physical health because of a stroke. His family did not immediately make him available for comment, asking the news media to respect his privacy "in view of his age and health."

Now, he wants "his honor back," O'Connor told CBS Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts.

Woodward, fellow reporter Bernstein, and Bradlee, their former boss at the Post, had long maintained they would never go public with the identity of Deep Throat until after his death. But with the family's confirmation, they decided collectively to go public.

"The family believes that 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," a family statement read by grandson Nick Jones said. "We all sincerely hope the country will see him this way as well."

But, as Andrews reports, Felt actually spent years feeling ashamed, Vanity Fair's report says. He was old school FBI, and hated when agents leaked to the press. That's why, the family says, he needed convincing.

According to the article, Felt once told his son, Mark Jr., that he did not believe being Deep Throat "was anything to be proud of. ... You (should) not leak information to anyone."

His family members thought otherwise, and persuaded him to talk about his role in the Watergate scandal, saying he deserves to receive accolades before his death. His daughter, Joan, argued that he could "make enough money to pay some bills, like the debt I've run up for the children's education."

As the decades-old secret was released, CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that some other Watergate-era officials breathed sighs of relief.

"I'm relieved that I'm no longer on this list of 'most wanted' for Deep Throat," David Gergen, a Nixon speechwriter, said.

The existence of Deep Throat, nicknamed for an X-rated movie of the early 1970s, was revealed in Woodward and Bernstein's best-selling book "All the President's Men."

CBS' Dan Rather says Felt had a huge hand in exposing the Watergate scandal and, hence, bringing down the Nixon White House.

A hit movie starring Robert Redford as Woodward, Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein and Hal Holbrook as Deep Throat was made in 1976. In the film, Holbrook's shadowy, cigarette-smoking character would meet Redford in dark parking garages and provide clues about the scandal.

The movie portrayed the cloak-and-dagger methods that Woodward and Deep Throat were said to have employed. When Woodward wanted a meeting, he would position an empty flowerpot containing a red flag on his apartment balcony. When Deep Throat wanted to meet, the hands of a clock would appear written inside Woodward's New York Times.

  • Brian Dakss

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