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Inside Politics

Who is Mark Felt?

'Deep Throat' reveals identity after more than 30 years

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Richard Milhous Nixon
Bob Woodward

(CNN) -- It turns out legendary Watergate source "Deep Throat" is a 91-year-old retiree living in Santa Rosa, California.

W. Mark Felt was the No. 2 official at the FBI when he anonymously assisted Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward with many of their stories about the cover-up by the Nixon White House following the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Their stories and others sparked a congressional investigation that eventually led to President Nixon's resignation in August 1974. The Post won a Pulitzer Prize for its Watergate coverage.

But the question remained for more than 30 years: Who was Deep Throat?

Woodward described Deep Throat as one individual, not a composite, who held an extremely sensitive position in the executive branch and liked cigarettes and Scotch.

Before the source was dubbed "Deep Throat" by a Post editor, Woodward referred to him as an "old friend."

Felt gave Woodward information on "deep background" and met him often in D.C. parking garages. The name was a combination of the phrase and a popular porn movie by the same name.

The source's existence was not revealed by Bernstein and Woodward until they wrote their 1974 best seller, "All the President's Men," which was turned into a movie two years later. Deep Throat was portrayed by Hal Holbrook.

Felt, who retired from the FBI in 1973 at the height of the Watergate scandal, was always suspected by some to be Woodward's secret source who encouraged the young reporter to "follow the money."

White House tapes from 1972 recorded Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman as telling the president that most of the leaks were coming from Felt.

Who is Mark Felt?

After joining the FBI in 1942, he began his 32-year career in the Houston, Texas, field office.

It was in the 1960s that he moved to the bureau's Washington headquarters, where he became a favorite of controversial and legendary Director J. Edgar Hoover.

By the time Hoover died in 1972, Felt had risen to the No. 2 spot and was poised to be named the bureau's director.

But he was passed over in favor of L. Patrick Gray, a Republican insider. When William Ruckelshaus replaced Gray as acting director, Felt retired.

In 1979's "The FBI Pyramid: From the Inside," Felt denied he was Deep Throat, but he acknowledged he and his allies had been simmering over the Watergate break-in and cover-up.

Historians say Felt possessed the motive to leak his information to the Post.

In an ironic twist, Felt was indicted in 1978 for approving break-ins of homes belonging to members of the radical group Weather Underground who were suspected of plotting terrorist bombings.

He was convicted and later pardoned by President Reagan in 1981 before slipping into obscurity for the next quarter century.

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