Watergate mystery: Is Felt American hero?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2005

A 30-year-old secret was finally revealed Tuesday, an almost anti-climactic end to the mystery of who Watergate source Deep Throat was.

Former FBI official Mark Felt was on the lists of potential sources for years as people speculated who gave inside information to young Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for stories that ultimately brought down President Richard M. Nixon.

But it was more well-known names, like Alexander Haig or Diane Sawyer, who garnered more attention.

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Woodward and Bernstein had long said they would keep the secret until Deep Throat’s death &045; at his wishes &045; but Felt apparently changed his mind and came forward on his own this week, in an article to be published in Vanity Fair.

Younger Americans might not understand the need for such secrecy, but the Watergate scandal had a huge impact on politics and government.

Felt’s defiance &045; he risked not only his job but his agency &045; was a huge act of courage.

The Watergate scandal changed the way many people viewed politicians, and it spawned the independent counsel law and helped protect future whistleblowers.

Knowing who Deep Throat does not solve the entire puzzle. We can still speculate on Felt’s motive, at least until he speaks on the issue himself.

Perhaps now the mystery &045; or at least the debate &045; is whether Felt was a hero or traitor.

Two Nixon associates who spent time in jail &045; G. Gordon Liddy and Charles Colson &045; said they did not consider his act honorable, but many others have seen in the light of history that Deep Throat’s information helped protect the integrity of the presidency.

History will continue to evaluate Deep Throat &045; but now, at least, he has a name.