Thursday, June 02, 2005

Felt and Woodward set up Deep Throat

Wow, what a story! What. a. story!. I love to read Bob Woodward. He might be writing 100% hooey, but I still love it. In today's Washington Post, the best kept secret of the century (that we know of), that of the famous or infamous Deep Throat, is explained by the reporter recipient of Deep Throat's largesse. The spooky stuff:
We would need a preplanned notification system -- a change in the environment that no one else would notice or attach any meaning to. I didn't know what he was talking about.

If you keep the drapes in your apartment closed, open them and that could signal me, he said. I could check each day or have them checked, and if they were open we could meet that night at a designated place. I liked to let the light in at times, I explained.

We needed another signal, he said, indicating that he could check my apartment regularly. He never explained how he could do this.

Feeling under some pressure, I said that I had a red cloth flag, less than a foot square -- the kind used as warnings on long truck loads -- that a girlfriend had found on the street. She had stuck it in an empty flowerpot on my apartment balcony.

Felt and I agreed that I would move the flowerpot with the flag, which usually was in the front near the railing, to the rear of the balcony if I urgently needed a meeting. This would have to be important and rare, he said sternly. The signal, he said, would mean we would meet that same night about 2 a.m. on the bottom level of an underground garage just over the Key Bridge in Rosslyn.

Felt said I would have to follow strict countersurveillance techniques. How did I get out of my apartment?

I walked out, down the hall, and took the elevator.

Which takes you to the lobby? he asked.

Yes.

Did I have back stairs to my apartment house?

Yes.

Use them when you are heading for a meeting. Do they open into an alley?

Yes.

Take the alley. Don't use your own car. Take a taxi to several blocks from a hotel where there are cabs after midnight, get dropped off and then walk to get a second cab to Rosslyn. Don't get dropped off directly at the parking garage. Walk the last several blocks. If you are being followed, don't go down to the garage. I'll understand if you don't show. All this was like a lecture. The key was taking the necessary time -- one to two hours to get there. Be patient, serene. Trust the prearrangements. There was no fallback meeting place or time. If we both didn't show, there would be no meeting.

Felt said that if he had something for me, he could get me a message. He quizzed me about my daily routine, what came to my apartment, the mailbox, etc. The Post was delivered outside my apartment door. I did have a subscription to the New York Times. A number of people in my apartment building near Dupont Circle got the Times. The copies were left in the lobby with the apartment number. Mine was No. 617, and it was written clearly on the outside of each paper in marker pen. Felt said if there was something important he could get to my New York Times -- how, I never knew. Page 20 would be circled, and the hands of a clock in the lower part of the page would be drawn to indicate the time of the meeting that night, probably 2 a.m., in the same Rosslyn parking garage.

The relationship was a compact of trust; nothing about it was to be discussed or shared with anyone, he said.

How he could have made a daily observation of my balcony is still a mystery to me. At the time, before the era of intensive security, the back of the building was not enclosed, so anyone could have driven in the back alley to observe my balcony. In addition, my balcony and the back of the apartment complex faced onto a courtyard or back area that was shared with a number of other apartment or office buildings in the area. My balcony could have been seen from dozens of apartments or offices, as best I can tell.

A number of embassies were located in the area. The Iraqi Embassy was down the street, and I thought it possible that the FBI had surveillance or listening posts nearby. Could Felt have had the counterintelligence agents regularly report on the status of my flag and flowerpot? That seems highly unlikely, if not impossible."""Aha! The Iraqis were involved, even back then. Safire is right! Or not."""And the former World War II spy hunter liked the game. I suspect in his mind I was his agent. He beat it into my head: secrecy at all cost, no loose talk, no talk about him at all, no indication to anyone that such a secret source existed."""Woodward details some possible motives behind Mark Felt's actions as Deep Throat."""Felt believed he was protecting the bureau by finding a way, clandestine as it was, to push some of the information from the FBI interviews and files out to the public, to help build public and political pressure to make Nixon and his people answerable. He had nothing but contempt for the Nixon White House and their efforts to manipulate the bureau for political reasons.

More likely, we concluded, "Deep Throat was trying to protect the office, to effect a change in its conduct before all was lost."
I voted for Nixon, twice. I had and stiil have great respect for what he accomplished in China. But what those people did was wrong, it was illegal, it was against the law. So I harbor no ill feelings toward Deep Throat or any of the other sources that Woodward, Bernstein, Bradlee and others used to expose the whole sordid affair. And those who were punished, in one way or another, got what they deserved. And you have to hand it to Woodward and Bernstein. They have kept this secret, up to and including the gigantic scoop that they handed to Vanity Fair, because they gave the man their word.
He beat it into my head: secrecy at all cost, no loose talk, no talk about him at all, no indication to anyone that such a secret source existed.
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2 comments:

GoddessAradia said...

Amazing! Very well written! Is this from a book? Article? I would love to read more if there are valid resources!

Mark in Mexico said...

Click on the link "what a story". It's Bob Woodward writing in WaPo.