In Washington, D.C., where little stays secret for long, the identity of Deep Throat -- the mysterious source who helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break open the Watergate scandal in 1972 -- remained hidden for 33 years. Now, Woodward tells the story of his long, complex relationship with W. Mark Felt, the enigmatic former No. 2 man in the Federal Bureau of Investigation who helped end the presidency of Richard Nixon.
The Secret Man chronicles the story in intimate detail, from Woodward's first, chance encounter with Felt in the Nixon White House, to their covert, middle-of-the-night meetings in an underground parking garage, to the aftermath of Watergate and decades beyond, until Felt finally stepped forward at age 91 to unmask himself as Deep Throat.
The Secret Man reveals the struggles of a patriotic career FBI man, an admirer of J. Edgar Hoover, the Bureau's legendary director. After Hoover's death, Mark Felt found himself in the cross fire of one of Washington's historic contests, as Nixon and his men tried to dominate the Bureau and cover up the crimes of the administration. This book illuminates the ongoing clash between temporary political power and the permanent bureaucracy of government. Woodward explores Felt's conflicts and motives as he became Deep Throat, not only secretly confirming Woodward and Bernstein's findings from dozens of other sources, but giving a sense of the staggering sweep of Nixon's criminal abuses.
In this volume, part memoir, part morality tale, part political and journalistic history, Woodward provides context and detail about The Washington Post's expose of Watergate. He examines his later, tense relationship with Felt, when the FBI man stood charged with authorizing FBI burglaries. (Not knowing Felt's secret role in the demise of his own presidency, Nixon testified at Felt's trial, and Ronald Reagan later pardoned him.) Woodward lays bare his own personal struggles as he tries to define his relationship, his obligations, and his gratitude to this extraordinary confidential source.
The Secret Man is an intense, 33-year journey, providing a one-of-a-kind study of trust, deception, pressures, alliances, doubts and a lifetime of secrets. Woodward has spent more than three decades asking himself why Mark Felt became Deep Throat. Now the world can see what happened and why, bringing to a close one of the last chapters of Watergate.
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Simon & Schuster
June 11, 2006
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Excerpt from The Secret Man by Bob Woodward
IN FEBRUARY 1992, AS THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF the Watergate break-in approached, I went to the fortress-like J. Edgar Hoover FBI headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. An imposing cement structure with large dark windows, the Hoover building sits appropriately about midway between the White House and the Capitol. It is as if Hoover, the founding director and the embodiment of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, is still present in Washington, D.C., playing off presidents against the Congress. I navigated the labyrinth of security and finally made my way to the documents room. I had come to examine some of the FBI's investigative Watergate files that had been opened to the public. Private cubicles are available in the classy, law-firm atmosphere, well lit, all done in high-quality wood paneling well above the standard government issue. The room is quiet. I was offered blue-lined paper to take notes.
The Watergate files contain hundreds of internal FBI memos, requests for action, investigative summaries, and Teletypes to headquarters from field offices which had conducted hundreds of interviews. There were the first summaries of information on the five burglars arrested in the Democrats' Watergate office building headquarters: their names, their backgrounds, their CIA connections, and their contacts with E. Howard Hunt Jr., the former CIA operative and White House consultant, and G. Gordon Liddy, the former FBI agent. The files teemed with notes, routing slips and queries bearing initials from senior Bureau officials, dates and intelligence classifications.
The outline of the Watergate cover-up was so clear in retrospect. White House counsel John W. Dean III, who later confessed to leading the illegal obstruction of justice on behalf of President Richard Nixon, "stated all requests for investigation by FBI at White House must be cleared through him," according to a summary dated six days after the June 17, 1972, break-in.
A memo on October 10, 1972, addressed The Washington Post story that Carl Bernstein and I had written that day. It was probably our most important story; it reported that the Watergate break-in was not an isolated event but "stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage" run by the White House and President Nixon's reelection committee. The two-page memo stated that the FBI had learned that Donald H. Segretti, who headed the efforts to harass Democratic presidential candidates, had been hired by Dwight L. Chapin, the president's appointments secretary, and paid by Herbert W. Kalmbach, the president's personal lawyer. Because there was no direct connection to the Watergate bugging, the memo said, the FBI had not pursued the matter.
I smiled. Here were two of the reasons the Watergate cover-up had worked at first: Dean's effectiveness in squelching further inquiry; and the seeming utter lack of imagination on the part of the FBI.