Mark Felt, 'Deep Throat' from Watergate scandal, dies

  • Article by: LAURA NORTON , New York Times
  • Updated: December 19, 2008 - 12:03 AM

An FBI official during the 1972 crisis that eventually brought down the Nixon presidency, he kept his identity secret for more than 30 years.

Mark Felt, the FBI official who as the anonymous journalistic source "Deep Throat" helped bring down President Richard Nixon, died Thursday at his home in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 95.

Felt suffered from congestive heart failure, but the immediate cause of death was not known.

In 2005, more than 30 years after his whistle-blowing helped topple a presidency, Felt held a news conference on the front steps of his Santa Rosa home. Felt, then 91, revealed that he was "Deep Throat," the anonymous source who in 1972 leaked information to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon's resignation in 1974.

Felt's role, but not his identity, was depicted in a 1974 book titled "All the President's Men" by Woodward and Bernstein and in a film of the same title released in 1976. His role was explored in detail in Woodward's 2005 book, "The Secret Man," and in Felt's 2006 autobiography, "A G-Man's Life."

As associate FBI director, Felt was one of the first to learn about the 1972 burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex and to realize its connection to Nixon's reelection campaign.

Days after the break-in, Nixon and White House staff talked about putting pressure on the FBI to slow down the investigation. Fearing that the investigation would be sabotaged and justice subverted, Felt began giving information to Woodward, whom he had known for several years.

According to the Washington Post, counterintelligence tricks that Felt learned during World War II became part of his relationship with the Post reporters: A flowerpot on Woodward's balcony would indicate that the reporter required a meeting, while a clock face inked on the reporter's daily New York Times would reveal the time Felt would be waiting in an underground parking garage.

Although his name was frequently raised as the suspected source, Felt denied for more than 30 years that he was the person who met Woodward and Bernstein in underground parking garages to provide clues to Watergate. His own family learned of his role only in 2002.

Felt, who was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, in 1913 resigned from the FBI in 1973. In 1976, he was indicted with another FBI official, Edward Miller, for authorizing illegal searches of the homes of relatives and friends of Weather Underground members.

Felt took responsibility for ordering the break-ins, saying he knew they were outside the law but felt they were in the best interest of the country.

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