News National On This Day: The identity of Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat’ revealed
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On This Day: The identity of Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat’ revealed

Former FBI agent Mark Felt was the ‘Deep Throat’ informant during the Watergate scandal. Photo: Getty
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For more than 30 years, the identity of an informant at the centre of America’s biggest political scandal had remained a mystery.

That is, until he finally outed himself on this day in 2005.

At age 91, William Mark Felt Sr revealed to Vanity Fair magazine that he was the anonymous source known as “Deep Throat” – a key player in the famous Watergate scandal that brought down US President Richard Nixon.

With the encouragement of his daughter, Joan, Mark Felt outed himself as “Deep Throat” in 2005. Photo: Getty

In the early 1970s, when Mr Nixon was president, Mr Felt was working as associate director of the FBI.

During that time, he had grown suspicious of Mr Nixon and developed a relationship with Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Then on June 17, 1972, police arrested five men inside the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Complex in Washington DC.

In their possession were $US2300 (about $US14,200 today), bugging devices, and tools for committing burglary, like plastic gloves to hide fingerprints and a walkie-talkie.

It was later revealed the burglars had intended to plant the bugging devices and steal documents in the Democratic Committee offices as part of a secret campaign to get Mr Nixon re-elected.

Mr Woodward and Mr Bernstein pursued the story for two years, sourcing top-secret information from an anonymous informant whom they dubbed “Deep Throat”.

Bob Woodward (left) and Carl Bernstein, investigating the Watergate case at their desk in the Washington Post in 1973. Photo: Getty

The story goes that when Mr Woodward wanted to talk to Mr Felt, he would move a plant pot with a little red flag in it to a different spot on his balcony.

When Mr Felt had something to say, Mr Woodward’s New York Times would be delivered in the morning with a circle in pen on an inside page.

He would have to go by a roundabout route, using more than one taxi, to a car park on the south side of the Potomac.

After publishing details of the scandal, Americans were justifiably outraged and devastated to find out their president was committing crimes to get himself re-elected.

Many members of Mr Nixon’s White House were implicated in the fallout, and Mr Nixon became the first US president to resign on August 9, 1974.

Though some people including Mr Nixon suspected Mr Felt was the elusive “Deep Throat”, it had generally remained a secret for 30 years until shortly before his death.