STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The man known as Deep Throat has died. He secretly provided key information during the Watergate scandal to the Washington Post. His real name was Mark Felt, and for more than 30 years, his identity remained a mystery. He was finally identified in an article in Vanity Fair Magazine in 2005. Way back in 1992, on the 20th anniversary of Watergate, a former Washington Post reporter named Jim Mann wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly. He pointed to Mark Felt as the likely source, and Jim Mann is on the line with us now. Welcome to the program. Mr. JAMES MANN (Author-in-Residence, Foreign Policy Institute, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University): Good to be with you.
INSKEEP: Who was Mark Felt?
Mr. MANN: Mark Felt was a senior official of the FBI. He was the associate director of the FBI. He was the career official who remained at the top of the organization after J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972.
INSKEEP: Now, we should emphasize, when you say career official, this means not a political appointee. This is a guy who devoted his life to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. MANN: Exactly.
INSKEEP: And what motivated him to start leaking information after there was this break-in during President Nixon's administration in 1972, this break-in at Democratic Party headquarters, and suspicions of other political activities, that might be illegal?
Mr. MANN: Well, he already had a relationship with Bob Woodward. One of the things that was going on with Mark Felt was that he resented the efforts by the Nixon administration to establish political control of the FBI. And he had his own aspirations; 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.
INSKEEP: So, you have this mixture of motives; you had a guy who wanted to succeed the legendary J. Edgar Hoover, when he died, and did not get an opportunity to, and you also had a guy that was worried about his institution as much or more than he was worried about the Nixon administration, or whoever was elected to head the government.
Mr. MANN: Yeah, it was really - he was worried about both the Nixon administration and his institution, and really, there was a clash between them.
INSKEEP: Has the government changed much from these days, when there was this power struggle over the control of the agency between the Nixon White House and the people in it?
Mr. MANN: Well, if you want to be optimistic, you could say there is no institution around now that's as independent and powerful as the FBI is. You want to be a little more pessimistic, as I am, you would say that the press is weaker as an institution; there are fewer reporters in Washington. Who would Deep Throat go to now?
INSKEEP: You know, I wonder, because of the way that we're discussing this, whether you think of Mark Felt as a hero - Deep Throat, the man who exposed a corrupt White House - or if you think of him as something more sinister, a bureaucratic player who is looking after himself.
Mr. MANN: Well, sinister is too much for me. But he was a bureaucratic operator. He 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.
INSKEEP: That's Jim Mann, author-in-residence at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies in Washington. Mark Felt, the man identified as Deep Throat, died of congestive heart failure yesterday in Santa Rosa, California, at the age of 95. You can revisit the Watergate scandal and read about the major players at npr.org.
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