Categories
law & order the ancient past

Deep Throat / Not so deep after all

So as it turns out, Bob Wood­ward met Deep Throat in a White House wait­ing room. Of all the juke joints in all the world! Wood­ward was a lieu­tenant in the Navy and often deliv­ered doc­u­ments to the White House. Felt was there on FBI busi­ness, undoubt­ed­ly look­ing out for the best inter­ests of the nation. Woodward's account is amaz­ing. All these years, I thought Deep Throat was some kind of all-know­ing genius. Turns out he was a petu­lant admin­is­tra­tor who was bit­ter about being passed over at pro­mo­tion time. One must ask: Why the *hell* did his fam­i­ly think that this was a good idea?Woodward offers a glimpse at the kind of thing we'll prob­a­bly read once Felt pub­lish­es his own account. Too bad the cloak-and-dag­ger "pre­arrange­ments" sound so corny:

Take the alley. Don't use your own car. Take a taxi to sev­er­al blocks from a hotel where there are cabs after mid­night, get dropped off and then walk to get a sec­ond cab to Ross­lyn. Don't get dropped off direct­ly at the park­ing garage. Walk the last sev­er­al blocks. If you are being fol­lowed, don't go down to the garage. I'll under­stand if you don't show. All this was like a lec­ture. The key was tak­ing the nec­es­sary time — one to two hours to get there. Be patient, serene. Trust the pre­arrange­ments.

Wood­ward also revis­its some All the President's Men ter­ri­to­ry in describ­ing the ear­ly days of his Water­gate report­ing. Before Felt got involved, he and Bern­stein did some ele­men­tary leg­work that result­ed in a some­what hilar­i­ous rev­e­la­tion about the (ahem) depth of the scan­dal:

I was ten­ta­tive­ly assigned to write the next day's Water­gate bug­ging sto­ry, but I was not sure I had any­thing. Carl had the day off. I picked up the phone and dialed 456‑1414 — the White House — and asked for Howard Hunt. There was no answer, but the oper­a­tor help­ful­ly said he might be in the office of Charles W. Col­son, Nixon's spe­cial coun­sel. Colson's sec­re­tary said Hunt was not there this moment but might be at a pub­lic rela­tions firm where he worked as a writer. I called and reached Hunt and asked why his name was in the address book of two of the Water­gate burglars."Good God!" Hunt shout­ed before slam­ming down the phone. I called the pres­i­dent of the pub­lic rela­tions firm, Robert F. Ben­nett, who is now a Repub­li­can U.S. sen­a­tor from Utah. "I guess it's no secret that Howard was with the CIA," Ben­nett said bland­ly.

The most endur­ing lega­cy of Water­gate seems to be that polit­i­cal crimes are much bet­ter orches­trat­ed nowa­days. And, when sto­ries about them break, they tend to dis­ap­pear, cf. Karl Rove's smear cam­paign of John McCain, dis­cussed in the Atlantic Month­ly in the fall of 2004.