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'Deep Throat' saw himself as 'Lone Ranger'

W. Mark Felt's new memoir explains why he became the main source for the Watergate investigation.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 15:48 IST

By Louise Chu

The man who revealed himself as the Watergate scandal's "Deep Throat," says in a new memoir that he saw himself as a "Lone Ranger" who could help derail a White House cover-up.

In the memoir, which hit U.S. bookshelves Monday, former FBI second-in-command W. Mark Felt explains what motivated him to become the key source for Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during the Watergate investigation.

Felt said he was upset by the slow pace of the FBI investigation into the Watergate break-in and believed the press could apply some much-needed pressure on the administration to cooperate. "From the start, it was clear that senior administration officials were up to their necks in this mess, and that they would stop at nothing to sabotage our investigation," Felt wrote in A G-Man's Life: The FBI, 'Deep Throat' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington.

 

Ex-FBI agent W. Mark Felt who, as "Deep Throat", was instrument in the downfall of the Nixon regime.

Co-written by family friend John O'Connor, who revealed Deep Throat's identity in a 2005 Vanity Fair magazine article, the book includes excerpts from Felt's 1979 memoir, The FBI Pyramid: From the Inside, and an unpublished memoir that Felt wrote in the mid-1980s.

Felt, now 92, was unable to offer much fresh insight in the book because of his age and weak memory, O'Connor wrote in his prologue. Felt suffered a stroke in 2001 and has been in declining health. The scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon began with a break-in and the attempted tapping of phones in the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate office building during the 1972 presidential campaign. It went on to include disclosures of spying by Nixon's henchmen and retaliation against the administration's perceived enemies.

Felt discusses his hesitation about working with Woodward. On one hand, he did not want the FBI to be blamed for allowing Nixon to get away with a crime; on the other, he feared criticism if he violated his loyalty to the agency.

O'Connor says in the introduction that Felt was angered when the reporters revealed they had a senior source in the executive branch that they were calling Deep Throat.

"Deep Throat was a journalistic joke; Mark Felt never accepted the name," O'Connor wrote.

Felt also dismisses speculation that he became Deep Throat because he was angry at being passed over as J. Edgar Hoover's successor and wanted to sabotage the new boss, L. Patrick Gray. "It is true that I would have welcomed an appointment as FBI director when Hoover died. It is not true that I was jealous of Gray," he wrote.

The book reveals that Felt's wife did not die of a heart attack in 1984, as he told people, but killed herself with his service revolver following years of depression. Audrey Felt's suicide, revealed in O'Connor's introduction, is never directly addressed by Felt himself.

While drawing few conclusions about his role in Watergate, Felt remained stalwart in his belief that the public needed to know the truth.

"People will debate for a long time whether I did the right thing by helping Woodward," he wrote. "The bottom line is that we did get the whole truth out, and isn't that what the FBI is supposed to do?"

First Published: Apr 25, 2006 15:48 IST