NOTES ON DEEP THROAT. My
favorite candidate was always Al Haig. There have been reports over
the years that Haig did much to keep things on an even keel while
Richard Nixon was going through his final freakout. According to one
account whose origins I have long since forgotten, Haig even went so
far as to make the top military officials promise to check with him
before carrying out a Nixonian order to stage a coup against
So yesterday's revelation that Deep
Throat was actually Mark Felt, the number-two official at the FBI,
was anticlimactic. For one thing, it had long been rumored to be
Felt. For another, I knew nothing about him until I read
Vanity Fair article
(PDF) yesterday afternoon. The buzz factor for Felt was pretty
I was in high school when Watergate
played out. Nixon's resignation came just before I began college. For
liberals right around my age, Nixon gave us what George W. Bush gives
the right today: moral certainty. We were absolutely, utterly
convinced that Nixon was the most evil person ever to occupy the
presidency. Today, Nixon's actual public policies look positively
enlightened compared to those of Bush, but there's still little
question that Nixon's evil streak was unsurpassed. How did you like
mutterings about the Jews
that were reported yesterday? Kind of sends a chill up your spine,
The most repulsive performances I
saw yesterday were turned in by the Kennedy School's David Gergen,
who served many presidents, including Nixon, and Chuck Colson, the
Watergate figure who's best known for having found God while he was
in prison. On CNN's NewsNight, they
both denounced Felt for
having gone to the media rather than to his superiors at the FBI and
the Justice Department. Colson didn't surprise me; Gergen did. I
guess it was a good illustration of the limits of a timid bureaucrat
in a moment of crisis. Mark Felt, whatever else he was, was no timid
Yesterday afternoon, Wendell
Woodman, a freelance political columnist based at the State House, in
Boston, blasted out an e-mail containing a column he wrote in 1995 in
which he speculated that Felt was Deep Throat. The column was
preceded by an introductory note stating that Woodman had actually
fingered Felt as far back as the early 1970s.
Here is the column - and you've got
to love the Florida voting-fraud angle. Some things never change.
I've fixed a few spellings of names.
Sawyer was not "Deep Throat," as Rabbi Baruch Korff, an old
confidante of President Nixon, suggested Monday for the amusement
Diane may be
Deep Flattered. But "Deep Throat" was Mark Felt.
Press attributed the rabbi's guess to the fact that Diane was an
assistant to White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler in 1972. AP
promptly added Diane into the sauce with former FBI director L.
Patrick Gray and then-National Security deputy Alexander Haig as
Woodward of the Washington Post and "All The President's Men"
insists the source who helped him and fellow reporter Carl
Bernstein break the Watergate story was a guy.
That would be
Miami television stations projected the results of the September,
1970 primary elections in Florida's Dade County "down to the last
digit" as soon as the polls closed, Henry Petersen, who headed the
U.S. Justice Department's Criminal Division, was instructed to
begin an investigation.
and into 1972, the Nixon White House - notably Attorney General
John Mitchell and Nixon aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman -
received regular briefings. Richard Nixon, who was sure that vote
fraud in Illinois and Texas had cost him the presidency in 1960,
was a fanatic on the subject and in 1972 ordered Petersen to
accelerate the probe.
As soon as FBI
Director J. Edgar Hoover died on May 2, 1972, a 27-year-old
Justice Department employee named Craig C. Donsanto signed
Petersen's name to a "courtesy" letter telling Democratic
Congressman Claude Pepper of Miami that all hell was about to
break loose. Pepper learned that Democratic National Committee
offices based at the Watergate ostensibly were in cahoots with a
California computing firm anxious to corner the market on the new
computer voting industry and that Dade County had been a guinea
assistance in his career, Pepper prevailed on Donsanto to stamp a
"National Security" embargo on the FBI file. That file is still
classified. But two Miami reporters, Kenneth and James Collier,
managed to obtain copies of it - at about the time Bob Graham was
elected Governor of Florida in 1978.
One of the three
TV stations implicated in the 1970 fraud case was WPLG-TV of
Miami, an affiliate of the Washington Post and Newsweek, and the
property of Post owner Katharine Graham, who is Bob Graham's
brother-in-law. The call letters WPLG were a tribute to her late
husband, Philip L. Graham.
burglars (from Miami, you will recall) did not break into the
Watergate to tap a telephone. It doesn't take six people to do
that. They were looking for evidence of vote fraud and
Donsanto's counterfeit letter to Pepper, the offices were
germ-free. They didn't even leave milk and cookies for the six
Thanks to a
grateful Claude Pepper, Craig Donsanto quickly became chief of the
Justice Department's Public Integrity Section and, by 1984, was
Special Prosecutor in the Voting Fraud Section, responsible for
all federal voting fraud cases in the United States. Gives you a
warm feeling, right?
Petersen's case was derailed by the treachery in his office, those
who were party to those matters viewed the Watergate debacle as a
race between Nixon and the Post to see which would nail the other
New to his job
as Acting Director of the FBI at the time of the burglary, L.
Patrick Gray was forced to rely on the judgment and expertise of
the man who had been J. Edgar Hoover's aide and confidante - Mark
As a junior
departmental attorney whose new Godfather was Claude Pepper,
Donsanto scored more career points for himself at Justice by
feeding everything he had on the case to Mark Felt.
The currency of
choice is Washington is information, favors.
Felt did feed some of that to Gray, but certainly Gray would not
have passed it along to the Post from his tenuous role as "Acting"
director of the FBI. That identifies the crafty Mark Felt as "Deep
Throat." That conclusion is not a stretch (indeed, it's
unavoidable) once we rid ourselves of the nursery rhyme about six
burglars trying to tap a telephone.
When in 1982 the
Colliers invited Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob
Woodward to view a six-hour videotape of voting fraud in Dade
County and inquired "what Katharine Graham knew and when she knew
it?" Woodward replied, "Don't start a war with me on
As late as 1983,
the State Attorney for Dade County, a lady named Janet Reno (ring
a bell?) was urging the Governor of Florida to name a special
prosecutor to press the so-called Votescam case. But the Governor,
a future U.S. Senator named Bob Graham (ring a bell?) refused her
expecting a challenge from Gov. Graham for her U.S. Senate seat in
1986, Republican Sen. Paula Hawkins sponsored an order to create a
special select Senate committee on voting abuse, and prevailed on
then-Attorney General William Smith and two of his deputies to
view the video.
under lock-and-key, at least in Florida.
source on a private Oval Office conversation between President
Clinton and a member of his cabinet (related in his book, "The
Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House") will be revealed 74 years
from now, he promises. In another book, "Veil", he related a 1986
deathbed confession of CIA Director William J. Casey about
Iran-Contra thusly: "I believed."
Why a comatose
patient fresh from a craniotomy would pass that along to the man
who brought down Nixon just because he snuck by a committee of CIA
security men at Georgetown Hospital is curious. If he was hoping
that Woodward would pass it along to the Roman Catholic Church, he
got his wish. It's on page 507.
As to the other
matter, "Deep Throat" was Mark Felt.
Woodman wasn't the
only one to guess correctly - as others have noted, the
on Felt as the likely
candidate as far back as 1974. But this is impressive