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Deep Throat revealed.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Some mysteries are better left unsolved, and the fertile imaginings of humankind are sometimes better left unfettered. The construction of the great pyramids, the voracity of the Bermuda Triangle, the true identity of William Shakespeare - the power of such mysteries flows from the deep currents of uncertainty that run through them.

So it is with the mystery of "Deep Throat," the source who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the Nixon administration's involvement in Watergate. Since the early 1970s, the identity of the Post's background source remained the best-kept and most compelling secret in American politics and journalism.

Now comes W. Mark Felt, the former No. 2 man at the FBI, who has the mystery-bashing audacity to reveal himself as Deep Throat, the chain-smoking, whisky-drinking source whose leaks helped lead to President Nixon's resignation on Aug. 9, 1974.

Until Felt revealed his Watergate role, Deep Throat's identity was known only to four people on this planet: Woodward and Bernstein, former Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee and, of course, Deep Throat himself.

The Post announced Tuesday that Felt was indeed Deep Throat. But even lacking such confirmation, Felt's confession had the ring of truth. Historians have puzzled over parallels between the Post's Watergate coverage and the FBI's own investigation. Some rightly theorized that an FBI official might have been motivated to reveal the White House's cover-up in order to shield the agency from criticism and block interference from the White House.

Many regarded L. Patrick Gray, whom Nixon appointed as acting FBI director in 1972 after J. Edgar Hoover's death, as a prime suspect. Some also wondered about Gray's top subordinates, including Felt, who was one of the few top FBI officials known to have taken reporters' phone calls.

The list of suspects extended well beyond the FBI. They included National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, CIA Director William Colby, Deputy White House Counsel Fred Fielding, White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler, Nixon speech writer Pat Buchanan and White House counsel John Dean. Some even argued that Deep Throat was a composite of several different sources.

As the agent who oversaw the FBI's probe into the events surrounding the burglary at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters, Felt had full access to the information needed to keep Woodward and Bernstein on Nixon's heels.

Yet as recently as six years ago, Felt adamantly denied that he was the mystery man who met with Woodward in a parking garage and seedy bars. "I would have done better," he told a newspaper reporter. "I would have been more effective. Deep Throat didn't exactly bring the White House crashing down, did he?"

In the end, that's exactly what Deep Throat helped bring about. And now, he has brought the last great mystery of Watergate crashing down, as well.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Editorials; Former FBI official was Post's mystery source
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:473
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