John Dean, Deep Throat, and the FBI.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
June 17 2002 6:55 PM

John Dean Says Deep Throat Was Not a G-Man

But mostly fails to persuade Chatterbox.

(Continued from Page 1)

Chatterbox's counterargument: This could just as easily show either that Deep Throat didn't know everything the FBI knew or that Deep Throat didn't tell Woodward everything he knew.

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Dean and Gaines list several additional examples of things that "only" the White House knew. In every instance, it's quite possible to imagine that somebody in the White House was blabbing to somebody at the FBI.

The most challenging bit of evidence against the FBI theory is Dean's and Gaines' observation that in a Nov. 8, 1973, story, Woodward and Carl Bernstein quoted Deep Throat (identified as such not in the piece, but in a reference to that piece in All the President's Men) and that the story clearly identified Deep Throat as one of several "White House sources." This is a definite problem for the G-man theory. It's possible, though, that the article misidentified Deep Throat's place of employment, either inadvertently in the heat of meeting a deadline or as deliberate misdirection.

[Update, June 18: Another bit of evidence running counter to Chatterbox's theory that Deep Throat was a G-man—one that Dean and Gaines seem to have overlooked—is flagged by Darrel M. West, a political scientist at Brown, on his Web site. West notes that in a 1989 Playboy interview with J. Anthony Lukas, Woodward said "it's untrue" that Deep Throat was a member of the intelligence community, as many have alleged. Here is the complete exchange:

Lukas: Do you resent the implication by some critics that your sources on Watergate—among them the fabled Deep Throat—may have been people in the intelligence community? 

Woodward: I resent it because it's untrue. As you know, I'm not going to discuss the identity of Deep Throat or any other of my confidential sources who are still alive. But let me just say that this suggestion that we were being used by the intelligence community was of concern to us at the time and afterward. When somebody first wrote the article saying about me, "Wait a minute; this is somebody in an intelligence agency who doesn't like Nixon and is trying to get him out," I took that seriously.

The CIA is an agency with professional covert manipulators who try to alter events by deceiving people and directing them, running them like an intelligence agent. I have revisited this question of disinformation—I'd rather not go into how it was done
—but I've satisfied myself and others that that was not the case.

This, combined with the 1973 Post story cited above by Dean and Gaines, does harm James Mann's case that Deep Throat worked for the FBI, which Chatterbox previously considered air-tight. But it does not destroy Mann's case. From the context, it appears likely that when Lukas asked Woodward about "the intelligence community," Woodward thought Lukas was talking about the CIA (even though Lukas, an experienced Watergate reporter himself, almost certainly meant the FBI). Prior to Sept. 11, people tended to refer to the FBI not as an "intelligence" agency so much as a crime-fighting agency. "Intelligence" tended to refer to foreign intelligence. That may explain why Woodward, in answering Lukas' question, mentioned the CIA by name, but not the FBI. The only firm conclusion we can draw from the Playboy interview is that Deep Throat was not (according to Woodward) a CIA agent.]

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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