W. Mark Felt, otherwise known as "Deep Throat," who leaked key information to The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal, has died.
For more than 30 years, the identity of "Deep Throat" remained a mystery. Felt was finally identified in a 2005 article in Vanity Fair magazine. But in 1992, on the 20th anniversary of Watergate, former Washington Post reporter Jim Mann wrote an article in The Atlantic Monthly that pointed to Felt as the likely source.
During the Nixon administration, Felt was the associate director of the FBI, second in command, and he remained at the top of the organization after J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972.
After the break-in at Democratic Party headquarters later that year, and amid suspicions of other political activities that might be illegal, Felt started leaking information.
Mann tells Steve Inskeep that Felt was worried about both the Nixon administration and the FBI, and there was a "clash" between them.
"He resented the efforts by the Nixon administration to establish political control of the FBI, and he had his own aspirations," says Mann, now the author in residence at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies in Washington.
"He would like to have been the head of the organization. In addition, he thought he was protecting the organization, the FBI, from political interference. He saw himself, I think, as the embodiment of the FBI as a permanent institution that was beyond politics."
Felt was "an ordinary guy who, for a mix of motives — some of them noble and some of them not — decided to play in a Washington game and in the process helped get the information out about a huge scandal," Mann says.
Felt died of congestive heart failure Thursday in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 95.