By Bob Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 30, 2005 7:56 PM
The identity of Deep Throat, the Washington Post's key Watergate source, was almost revealed nearly three decades ago, according to Bob Woodward's new book on his relationship with W. Mark Felt.
In "The Secret Man," to be published next week by Simon & Schuster, Woodward writes that he learned in 1976 from then-assistant attorney general Stanley Pottinger that Felt, who had been the number two man at the FBI, had given himself away while testifying before a grand jury. Asked "Were you Deep Throat," Felt initially said "No," but his manner alerted Pottinger to the probability that he was lying.
"The Secret Man" contains no major revelations. Deep Throat's identity was revealed in a Vanity Fair article a month ago, and Woodward has already written the story of how Felt became his famous secret source for the Washington Post. But the book adds numerous revealing details to the well-known story.
In those grand jury proceedings, Woodward writes, Pottinger quietly reminded Felt that he was under oath. He then offered to withdraw the question as irrelevant to the subject of investigation, which was illegal break-ins conducted by the FBI in pursuit of antiwar radicals from the Weather Underground. Pottinger told Woodward, who didn't confirm his conclusion, that he would keep it to himself.
"To his eternal credit," Woodward writes, he did just that.
Woodward also reveals for the first time the address of the famous Virginia parking garage where most of his meetings with Deep Throat were conducted: 1401 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn. The garage entrance he used is now 1820 North Nash Street.
"The Secret Man" includes a chapter written by Woodward's Watergate reporting partner, Carl Bernstein. In it, Bernstein recounts a conversation the two reporters deliberately excluded from their 1974 book, "All the President's Men."
In the fall of 1972, Bernstein writes, as he and Woodward were about to write the first story pointing to former Attorney General John Mitchell's involvement in the scandal, he realized that President Richard M. Nixon was likely to be impeached. Woodward "looked at me for a second or two in the strangest way," Bernstein writes, then said, "Jesus, I think you're right."
The two then agreed that they should never use the word "impeachment" in the newsroom, because Post editors "might think we had an agenda or that our reporting was overreaching or even that we had gone around the bend."