THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT WATERGATE. Russell Baker in his review of ENEMIES: A HISTORY OF THE FBI by Tim Weiner in the New York Review of Books (August 16) asks “Is everyone aware….?” and then gives a number of facts about Watergate. Mark Felt (“Deep Throat”) “was working systematically with a group of top FBI agents to engineer Nixon’s fall.” Nixon knew that Mark Felt was Deep Throat “within 10 days after Felt’s first leak appeared in The Washington Post.” There is evidence that Felt became a leaker because he had been passed over by Nixon. One agent involved said: “Felt was the one that would have been the Director’s [Hoover’s] first pick. But the Director died. And Mark Felt should have moved up right there and then. And that’s what got him into the act.” The White House tapes record a discussion between Nixon and Haldeman about what to do about Felt. Haldeman points out that Felt knew so much that they couldn’t afford to fire him.
My answer to Baker’s question “Is everyone aware….?” is that I have followed Watergate pretty closely, and I was not aware of any of this—that Mark Felt was part of an institutional effort at the FBI to bring down President Nixon, that there is evidence from oral histories that the FBI people involved were motivated by revenge, and that Nixon knew early on about the FBI efforts. It would make for a very dramatic narrative.