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"Deep Throat" finally revealed

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.

The identity of the source has sparked endless speculation over the last three decades. Nixon chief of staff Alexander Haig, White House press aide Diane Sawyer, White House counsel John Dean and speechwriter Pat Buchanan were among those mentioned as possibilities.

Felt himself was mentioned several times over the years as a candidate for Deep Throat, but he regularly denied that he was the source.

"I would have done better," Felt told The Hartford Courant in 1999. "I would have been more effective. Deep Throat didn't exactly bring the White House crashing down, did he?"

Woodward, who had visited with Felt as recently as 1999, refused to confirm or deny, even to the man's family, that Felt was his source, and wondered whether Felt was mentally competent to decide whether to go public after all these years, the magazine reported.

Woodward and Bernstein were the first reporters to link the Nixon White House to the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington's Watergate complex.

Nixon, facing almost-certain impeachment for helping to cover up the break-in, resigned in August 1974. Forty government officials and members of Nixon's re-election committee were convicted on felony charges.

One of them was White House counsel John Dean, who served a sentence of only four months after becoming the chief informant for Watergate investigators.

Dean says the claim that Felt was Deep Throat raises many questions, as he does not believe Felt had access to either the White House or the Committee to Re-elect the President. Dean also says he doubts that Felt, who was in charge of day-to-day operations at the FBI, could have all by himself come up with the information that wound up in Woodward and Bernstein's stories.

In 2003, Woodward and Bernstein reached an agreement to keep their Watergate papers at the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, the pair said documents naming Deep Throat would be kept secure at an undisclosed location in Washington until the source's death.

Felt was convicted in the 1980 of authorizing illegal break-ins at homes of people associated with the radical group The Weather Underground. He was pardoned by President Reagan in 1981.