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President Richard M. Nixon at a press conference releasing the transcripts of the White House tapes, April 29, 1974 (Nixon Presidential Materials Staff, National Archives and Records Administration)

The Deep Throat File

FBI Memos Detail Mark Felt's Involvement in
Efforts to Identify Secret Watergate Source

Posted - June 22, 2005

Related Posting
June 3, 2005
Nixon and the FBI
The White House Tapes
Related Links
"Watergate and the Two Lives of Mark Felt"
by Michael Dobbs
Washington Post
June 20, 2005
"How Deep Throat Fooled the FBI"
by David Corn and Jeff Goldberg
The Nation
June 13, 2005 (July 4, 2005 issue)

 

 

Washington D.C. June 22, 2005 - The senior FBI official now revealed as "Deep Throat" - the Watergate source for Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward - ordered his subordinates to "forcibly remind all agents of the need to be most circumspect in talking about this case with anyone outside the Bureau" according to declassified FBI documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Many of these documents - which were declassified in 1980 - have been cited in recent articles in The Nation magazine and the Washington Post.

The documents show that Mark Felt, as the FBI's number two man in 1972, had intimate access to files pertaining to the FBI's Watergate investigation, putting him in a position where he was both leaking crucial information to Woodward and overseeing an FBI probe into the source of these leaks.

The FBI cables and memoranda posted here today complement a set of Nixon White House tape recordings relating to Watergate, Mark Felt and the Deep Throat investigation compiled by the National Security Archive staff in previous weeks.


Documents
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Document 1: Memorandum, W. M. Felt to the Acting Director, "Subject: James Walter McCord, Jr., and Others, Burglary of Democratic Party National Headquarters, June 17, 1972, Interception of Communications," June 19, 1972 - File # 139-4089-1891

Two days after the Watergate break-in, Felt calls on FBI Acting Director L. Patrick Gray to conduct a "sweep of Democratic National Committee headquarters."

Document 2: FBI, Memorandum, W. Mark Felt to the Director, "Re: James Walter McCord, Jr. and Others, Burglary of Democratic Party National Headquarters, 6-17-72 Interception of Communications," June 21, 1972 - File # 139-4089-301

Felt again requests permission from Gray to "sweep" the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee headquarters "before someone else gets the idea."

Document 3: FBI, Memorandum, C. W. Bates to Mr. Felt, "Subject: James W. McCord, Jr., and Others, Burglary of Democratic Party National Headquarters, 6/17/72, Interception of Communications," June 22, 1972 - File # 139-4089-302

This memo transmits approval from Gray to offer to make an "electronic sweep" of Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Document 4: Memorandum, C. W. Bates to Mr. Bolz, "Subject: James W. McCord, Jr., and Others, Burglary of Democratic Party National Headquarters, 6/17/72, Interception of Communications," June 22, 1972 - File # 139-4089-756x

This minute-by-minute account of FBI activities in the immediate wake of the Watergate break-in notes a June 21, 1972, meeting between Felt, Gray and others in which all agreed that "the FBI's reputation was at stake, and that the investigation should be completely impartial, thorough and complete."

Document 5: Memorandum, W. M. Felt to Mr. Bates, "Subject: James Walter McCord, Jr.; et al., Burglary of Democratic Party National Headquarters, 6-17-72, Interception of Communications," September 11, 1972 - File # 139-4089-1153

Noting FBI information disclosed in a Washington Post story, Felt says in this memo that he told Robert Kunkel, agent-in-charge of the FBI's Washington field office, to "forcibly remind all agents of the need to be most circumspect in talking about this case with anyone outside the Bureau."

Document 6: Memorandum, C. Bolz to Mr. Bates, "Subject: James Walter McCord, Jr.; et al., Burglary of Democratic Party National Headquarters, 6/17/72, Interception of Communications," October 12, 1972 - File # 139-4089-1383

This memo comments on Washington Post reports that the FBI had tied the Watergate break-in to a political sabotage campaign directed by the White House and the Committee to Reelect the President. The document cites a meeting between Post reporter Carl Bernstein and Special Agent Angelo Lano of the FBI's Washington Field Office. Lano deflected Bernstein's attempts to interview him about the case, telling the reported that "his only purpose in meeting with Bernstein was he had promised to give a clue as to his source of his information." Bernstein replied that he had "a very high source" but would not identify the agency to which the source belonged. Upset about alleged bad information received from Lano, Bernstein later reported the meeting to an FBI superior.

Document 7: Cable, Washington Field Office to Acting Director, "James Walter McCord, Jr., etal; Burglary, Democratic National Committee Headquarters, Washington, D.C. June Seventeen Seventy Two," October 25, 1972 - File # 139-4089-1414

These two documents provide more details about the Bernstein-Lano meeting discussed in Document 5.

Document 8: Memorandum, W. M. Felt to Mr. Miller, "Subject: Watergate," February 14, 1973 - File # 139-4089-1939

In this memo Felt forwards an order from Gray requesting an investigation into a Washington Post article alleging that figures involved in the Watergate break-in "regularly reviewed information obtained from national security wiretaps while they worked at the White House."

Document 9: Memorandum, W. M. Felt to Mr. Gebhardt, "Subject: Watergate," February 21, 1973 - File # 139-4089-1935

Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate coverage in the Washington Post have "contained much fiction and half truths," according to this memo from Felt, but "have frequently set forth information which they attribute to Federal investigators, Department of Justice sources, and FBI sources." The reporters have been "playing games with the case agent in the Washington Field Office trying to trick him into giving bits of information," but "there is no question but that they have access to sources either in the FBI or in the Department of Justice."

On the request of Gray, Felt calls on agents to "expedite" an analysis of the Post article "to determine those portions which could have come from FBI sources and in such instances to set forth the persons having access to that particular bit of information."

Document 10: Memorandum, R. E. Long to Mr. Gebhardt, "Subject: Watergate," February 21, 1973 - File # 139-4089-1934

This document provides responses to the points raised in Felt's memo (Document 9).

Document 11: Memorandum, John J. McDermott to W. Mark Felt, "Subject: White House Sentry Duty," May 2, 1973 - File # 139-4089-2078

John McDermott of the FBI's Washington Field Office requests that custodial responsibility for White House documents sequestered as part of the investigation into the Watergate break-in be transferred from the FBI to the White House. "The Bureau," says McDermott, "has been placed in this untenable position for the purpose of 'putting on a show' and lending an aura of custodial integrity, which we in no way can assure."

Document 12: Memorandum, L. M. Walters to Mr. Felt, "Subject: Watergate," May 23, 1973 - File # 139-4089-2261x

This document, and the June 7, 1973, memo that follows, provides a detailed reconstruction of FBI activities in response to the Watergate break-in.

 

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