WAS MARK FELT REALLY DEEP THROAT?
By Cliff Kincaid
History professor Joan Hoff of Montana State University, an expert on the Watergate scandal, finds it interesting that Bob Woodward is claiming that he had a close relationship with former FBI official Mark Felt, now identified as Deep Throat, when Felt suffers from serious health problems, including dementia, and can’t deny it. “It’s just like when he said he interviewed [former CIA director Bill] Casey when Casey was comatose,” she says.
Len Colodny, co-author of Silent Coup, about the “removal” of President Nixon, finds the identification of Mark Felt as Deep Throat to be rather remarkable: “A Deep Throat who can’t talk.”
The fact is, as AIM founder Reed Irvine documented, Woodward has been known to make things up. Woodward’s Casey “interview” is a case in point. As Reed noted, “In his 1987 book, Veil, Woodward claimed he had interviewed William J. Casey, the CIA director, after Casey had brain surgery and could not speak intelligibly. Woodward didn’t know that, and he made up an interview in which Casey is supposed to have spoken 19 intelligible words. It was clear that this was a falsification not only because of Casey’s condition, but because his hospital room was guarded and Woodward was never admitted to it.”
Hoff believes the identification of Deep Throat is part of “an orchestrated publicity stunt on the part of the Post and Woodward” because Woodward plans to publish his own book on Felt. “Lo and behold,” says Hoff, “Felt’s family decides he’s Deep Throat and Felt can’t say whether he is or not, and we get the big story.”
In fact, despite his serious health problems, Felt can still utter a few words. He was captured on film outside his home yesterday saying that he enjoyed the publicity and that, “I’ll arrange to write a book or something, and collect all the money I can.” A New York Times account indicates that members of the Felt family have been envious of the money that will be made from the Deep Throat disclosures and that they were trying to pursue their own book deal independent of Woodward after he rebuffed their pleas for a collaborative effort.
Felt seems to have been a source of some kind for Woodward. But was he the source known as Deep Throat? Hoff isn’t the only one who has some doubts.
Colodny says that what is known about Felt “doesn’t match what Woodward wrote in his book. He describes Deep Throat as someone he had known for a long time and had many discussions about power in Washington and so on. There’s not a shred of evidence that Felt is that person.”
In the June 2 Post, Woodward describes for the first time the details of his “friendship” with Felt. They are said to have met accidentally when Woodward, then a young Navy Lieutenant, was delivering Navy documents to the White House in 1970. Hoff points out that Felt, because of his severe memory problems, can’t deny any of this and the account “is based only and exclusively on Woodward’s word.”
But there are other reasons to doubt that Felt is Deep Throat.
Colodny and Hoff point to the claim in the Woodward/Bernstein book, All the President’s Men, that Deep Throat provided the Post reporters exclusive information about the “deliberate erasures,” as “Throat” told Woodward in November of 1973, on the White House tapes. “There’s no reason to believe that Felt had access to that information because it was closely held in the White House,” says Colodny, “and Felt had left the FBI in April—six months earlier.”
Hoff agrees. “It’s conceivable that as the second in command at the FBI, the deputy director, he could have gotten information from somebody about this,” she said. “But I don’t think he gave them this information. I think it was somebody in the White House. At that point, the White House was so embattled over the tapes and the possible subpoena [of them], there were only 3 or 4 people who had access to those tapes.”
That means, apparently, that either Felt is not Deep Throat or that he had his own Deep Throat.
But if Felt did somehow have access to that information and provided it to Woodward, important questions are raised.
“The guy is deputy director of the FBI,” Colodny says. “Why is he not protecting the tapes? Why is he not arresting the people who are doing this? Why doesn’t he go to [Watergate Judge John] Sirica’s court, which is hearing this? He’s a sworn law enforcement officer. He knows there’s a crime being committed. But instead of doing something about it, he goes in a garage and talks to Woodward.”
Hoff makes the same basic point. “He is the top law enforcement officer in the country because there’s only an acting director [of the FBI] at that point,” says Hoff. “Why didn’t he go to Sirica or a grand jury and blow the story open?”
If Felt was concerned about the hostility between the FBI and President Nixon, Hoff counters, “This is the very story that he could have killed the Nixon Administration with. Why in God’s name would a top law enforcement officer meet in a garage with a rookie reporter and give him this information? It makes no sense.”
Hoff predicts that the story will rebound to the discredit of Woodward. It’s another flashy story, she concedes, “but I think they made a mistake in choosing Felt.”
Last February 4, when the University of Texas in Austin opened the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein Watergate papers (for which it had paid them $5 million), Hoff participated in a symposium with Woodward and suggested that he put Deep Throat on videotape. Hoff wrote that she told Woodward that “he should video tape that individual as soon as possible so the public could be sure of the authenticity of the man Woodward would ultimately reveal as Deep Throat when the person could not deny it.”
course, this should have been done years ago. The Felt family has
affirmed the Deep Throat designation but it’s now clear that they
had a financial interest in doing so as well. And the questions about
the conspiracy behind the Watergate conspiracy will be shunted aside
and will remain unanswered.
© 2005 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights
Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues.
Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly
Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington
Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.