The Final Word on Deep Throat (So Far)

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Aug. 9 1999 5:41 PM

The Final Word on Deep Throat (So Far)

(Continued from Page 1)

Chatterbox switched to the general topic of tension between the FBI and the White House at the time of J. Edgar Hoover's death, which occurred one month before the Watergate break-in (and, according to Mann, is why the FBI helped Woodward nail Nixon). "I don't think there was any serious tension," Felt said. Did he want the top job? "I certainly wouldn't have objected" to getting the No. 1 position, Felt said. Was he disappointed when he didn't get it? "I can't say that I was." Didn't the White House interfere with the FBI investigation of Watergate? "I don't have any recollection of any specifics like that," he said--perhaps displaying an old man's poor memory (the White House interference is now a matter of public record), or perhaps displaying a George Smiley-like implacability. (Felt is, after all, a former member of the G-man elite.)

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Well, what about Nixon's assertions on the White House tapes that Felt was leaking? What about Nixon's anti-Semitic comments about Felt? Felt said he wasn't aware of either. Chatterbox read Felt the exchange in which Nixon and H.R. Haldeman, his chief of staff, discussed their belief that Felt was leaking, and in which Nixon said, regarding Felt's high position at the FBI, "Christ, put a Jew in there?" (Click here, and scroll down to the boldface type, to read it.) Chatterbox asked Felt whether he'd like to comment.

"No." Felt indicated he was starting to lose his patience with Chatterbox:

In talking with you and in talking with various people on the press and so forth, it's really very annoying.

Let's just say you were Deep Throat. Would that really be so terrible?

It would be terrible. This would completely undermine the reputation that you might have as a loyal, logical employee of the FBI. It just wouldn't fit at all.

But a lot of people think Deep Throat is a hero for getting the truth out about Nixon and Watergate.

That's not my view at all. It would be contrary to my responsibility as a loyal employee of the FBI to leak information.

In other words, there is a potential reason, other than not being Deep Throat, that might impel Felt to say he wasn't Deep Throat: the perceived dishonor such a revelation might bring Felt as a "loyal employee of the FBI."

A Postscript: On Nov. 1, 1980, Richard Nixon, "after avoiding testifying in twenty other courtrooms over the last six years [writes Robert Sam Anson in Exile: The Unquiet Oblivion of Richard M. Nixon] was on the stand in a criminal case." The defendants were W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller, former chief of the FBI's intelligence division, accused of conspiring to violate the civil rights of members of the Weather Underground when they authorized warrantless break-ins of the radicals' homes (the Weatherfolk were suspected of planting bombs in public buildings) in 1972 and 1973.

Nixon thought Felt was Deep Throat. But Nixon was extremely eager to testify on Felt and Miller's behalf, even though he hadn't been subpoenaed. Having successfully and rather strenuously dodged prosecution himself, Nixon had volunteered to walk into a courtroom and testify to help someone he believed had triggered his own downfall. Felt and Miller's lawyers had turned Nixon down because they'd worried that Nixon's reputation would only hurt Felt and Miller with the largely black jury. The prosecution, however, "had been delighted to have him," Anson writes. So Nixon appeared as a prosecution witness. While Nixon took the oath, Black Panthers and former antiwar activists shouted, "Thief!" and "Liar!" called him a "war criminal," and were expelled by federal marshals from the courtroom. (This according to the third volume of Stephen Ambrose's Nixon biography, Nixon: Ruin and Recovery.)

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