Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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December 19, 2008

Watergate's "Deep Throat" has died at 95

San Francisco — W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who revealed himself as "Deep Throat" 30 years after he tipped off reporters to the Watergate scandal that toppled a president, has died. He was 95.

Felt died Thursday in Santa Rosa after suffering from congestive heart failure for several months, said family friend John D. O'Connor, who wrote the 2005 Vanity Fair article uncovering Felt's secret.

The shadowy central figure in one of the most gripping political dramas of the 20th century, Felt insisted his alter ego be kept secret when he leaked damaging information about President Richard Nixon and his aides to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

While some — including Nixon and his aides — speculated that Felt was the source who connected the White House to the June 1972 break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, he steadfastly denied the accusations until finally coming forward in May 2005.

"I'm the guy they used to call Deep Throat," Felt told O'Connor for the Vanity Fair article, creating a whirlwind of media attention.

Weakened by a stroke, the man who had kept his secret for decades wasn't doing much talking — he merely waved to the media from the front door of his daughter's Santa Rosa home.

Critics, including those who went to prison for the Watergate scandal, called him a traitor for betraying the commander in chief. Supporters hailed him as a hero for blowing the whistle on a corrupt administration trying to cover up attempts to sabotage opponents.

Felt grappled with his place in history, arguing with his children over whether to reveal his identity or to take his secret to the grave, O'Connor said. He agonized about what revealing his identity would do to his reputation. Would he be seen as a turncoat or a man of honor?

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