The mystery ends

Friday, June 3, 2005

The revelation, after three decades of ironclad secrecy, of the identity of Deep Throat has set the nation abuzz -- at least that part of the nation old enough to remember the Watergate years, the investigations of the highest levels of government and, finally, the resignation and pardon of then-president Richard M. Nixon.

Deep Throat was a major source of information about the FBI's investigation of the burglary by Republican operatives of Democratic offices in the Watergate office building as the 1972 presidential campaign was heating up.

Mark Felt, the No. 2 man at the FBI and someone who may have had revenge on his mind after being passed over by Nixon to replace J. Edgar Hoover as the FBI boss, identified himself this week as being Deep Throat, a revelation that most everyone expected would come, after Deep Throat's death, from the Washington Post reporters who have basked in the journalistic, book-writing and movie-making fame that resulted from their Deep Throat-based reporting.

Instead, Felt and his family decided it was time to share some of that attention -- and, it seems, some of the monetary rewards as well.

Instead of breaking the news in the Post, Felt chose to make the announcement in Vanity Fair after the magazine paid top dollar for the scoop. Felt also is considering a book deal of his own.

Many Americans who weathered the Watergate era consider Deep Throat to be a hero for providing information that exposed the underbelly of presidential intrigue.

Others, however, question Felt's violation of federal laws regarding information relating to ongoing investigations, and they also recall his subsequent conviction for authorizing an illegal FBI investigation into another matter -- one that involved breaking into an organization's offices without proper authorization -- and his pardon by president Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of Felt's admission are the dozens of other prominent figures in the Washington, D.C., political orbit who had been suspected of providing information to the two Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

They now can take some satisfaction in knowing their denials will finally be believed.

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