- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Felt was helped

by 3 FBI officials

At the height of the Watergate investigation more than three decades ago, three high-ranking FBI officials conspired with the agency’s deputy director to leak information about their probe to the press.

The revelation of that collaboration, by a retired FBI agent in recent conversations with the Times Union, casts W. Mark Felt — who admitted last week to being The Washington Post’s source known as “Deep Throat” — as the leader of a clandestine group that fought White House efforts to contain the sprawling investigation.

Paul V. Daly, 64, who joined the bureau in 1965, said last week that he learned in 1978 that Mr. Felt was Deep Throat and that he had not acted alone; at least three other FBI officials helped Mr. Felt secretly disclose information about the Watergate investigation to The Washington Post.

The FBI officials met regularly in their Washington offices to discuss what information they would reveal to fuel press interest. Their motive, Mr. Daly said, was to counteract the Nixon White House’s efforts to quash the FBI investigation of the Watergate burglary and related wrongdoing linked to the Oval Office.

“They wanted to protect the integrity of the FBI,” Mr. Daly said.

Mr. Daly identified the others — all deceased — as Richard Long, who was chief of the FBI’s white-collar crimes section during Watergate; Robert G. Kunkel, agent-in-charge of the Washington field office, which led the Watergate burglary investigation; and Charles Bates, who was assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division.

Ben Bradlee, editor of The Post during Watergate, said Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that it was “perfectly obvious” that Mr. Felt had help in his arrangements with Bob Woodward, reporter for The Post.

John W. Dean III, who was President Nixon’s White House counsel and went to prison for his role in Watergate, said he was not surprised by Mr. Daly’s disclosure.

“I have been saying, since … I learned that it was Felt’s identity, that he could not have acted alone,” Mr. Dean said in a telephone interview from his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. “He could not have done it alone. … Kunkel and Bates were highly suspect always. Pat Gray had a huge problem with them.”

L. Patrick Gray III, a longtime Nixon loyalist, had been named acting director of the FBI by Mr. Nixon. He was frustrated in attempts to determine how The Post and other newspapers learned information from the FBI’s Watergate investigation.

Mr. Daly said Mr. Long shared the story of Deep Throat during a meeting in 1978 in Washington, when they were discussing, among other things, the disclosure of documents and potential testimony in the pending prosecution of Mr. Felt, Mr. Gray and Edward S. Miller, who was an assistant director with the FBI’s intelligence division.

The three were accused of authorizing nine break-ins at the homes of friends and relatives of members of the Weather Underground, a violent radical group. Charges against Mr. Gray were later dropped. Mr. Miller and Mr. Felt were convicted, but subsequently pardoned by President Reagan in 1981.

When he met with Mr. Long in 1978, Mr. Daly was assigned to the FBI director’s office “assisting both the defense and prosecution in the trial of Ed Miller, Mark Felt and Patrick Gray,” he said last week. Mr. Daly and Mr. Long were huddled at FBI headquarters when their talks turned to Mr. Felt.

Mr. Daly said Mr. Long told him there might be a problem should Mr. Felt opt to testify at his trial: “Well, you know Felt was Deep Throat.”

Mr. Long then spelled out how he, Mr. Bates, Mr. Kunkel and others had funneled information to Mr. Felt that was then leaked to the press. Their private meetings usually took place at the end of the workday, after briefings from field agents and others who were investigating the five burglars arrested in 1972 while trying to break into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex.

Mr. Felt, who was the bureau’s second-in-command, would glean information from the others, and that was part of the reason FBI and White House efforts to find Deep Throat were thwarted. No one person could have known everything that Mr. Woodward and Carl Bernstein, reporters for The Post, were printing, Mr. Daly and others have said.

The reason for the leaks “was they were trying to find a way to prevent the White House and the external forces from containing the investigation,” Mr. Daly said. “They knew the White House … was being informed of the investigation through the acting director and John Dean.”

Some have speculated that Mr. Felt leaked the information because he was angry when Mr. Nixon passed him over for the FBI director’s job after the death of J. Edgar Hoover. But Mr. Daly disagreed.

“It was done, as I understood it, so that the investigation into Watergate wouldn’t be contained, so that the news media that were recipients of the leaks would create an atmosphere that would allow the investigation to go forward,” he said. “There was a sense that the White House was seeking to curtail the inquiry and make it very, very limited.”

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