The Secret Man

The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat

by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

Hardcover, 249 pages, Simon & Schuster, List Price: $23 | purchase

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Title
The Secret Man
Subtitle
The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat
Author
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

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Book Summary

Presents an examination of the author's long and complex relationship with the FBI official responsible for providing him with the details of the Watergate break-in, which ultimately resulted in the resignation of President Nixon.

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Excerpt: The Secret Man

The Secret Man

The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat


Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2005 Bob Woodward
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7432-8715-0

Chapter One

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.

All of this was a pleasant, long, well-documented reminder of names, events and emotions as I sifted through the Bureau memos, as best I could tell almost a complete set of internal memos and investigative files. The files and memos provided a kind of intimacy with what had been four intense years of my life, as Carl Bernstein and I covered the story for The Washington Post and wrote two books about Watergate: All the President's Men, published in 1974, which was about our newspaper's investigation; and The Final Days, published in 1976, which chronicled the collapse of the Nixon presidency.

At the time of my visit I was 48 years old, but I was not there for a trip down memory lane. I was not hunting for more information in the rich history of Watergate; not looking for new avenues, leads, surprises, contradictions, unrevealed crimes or hidden meaning, although the amazements of Watergate rarely ceased.

Instead, I was really there in further pursuit of Deep Throat ...

(Continues...)