John McCaslin

The Free Flow of Information Act was reintroduced in Congress this week to allow reporters the privilege of shielding confidential sources in federal court.

The House overwhelmingly passed the legislation in 2007, garnering 398 votes. Now Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, and more than 30 of his colleagues, including Rep. Rick Boucher, Virginia Democrat, are pushing hard to make the bill law.

"This is truly a bipartisan issue," Mr. Pence said. "It is a First Amendment issue."

Today, he said, the press "cannot make that assurance to sources, and we face the real danger that there may never be another 'Deep Throat.' "


Speaking of "Deep Throat," Rep. Lynn Woolsey, California Democrat, has just paid congressional respect to one of her more notorious late constituents, former FBI associate director William Mark Felt.

She calls the Watergate whistleblower, who died in December at age 95, a "singular American who helped our democracy triumph in one of our darkest moments ... that will forever ensure his place in history."

Three years ago, however, this columnist called on John "Jack" McDermott, who supervised the Watergate investigation as special agent in charge (SAC) of the FBI's Washington Field Office. At the time, the retired agent was awaiting a scheduled visit from a Hollywood screenwriter.

"[Actor and producer] Tom Hanks has already paid Mark Felt's family for the rights to write the screenplay on Deep Throat, and I can only surmise that they will only be willing to proceed with this if Hanks were planning on projecting Felt in a heroic manner," Mr. McDermott told me. "You don't make too many films about the devil."

"Our aim is to see if we can inject some degree of perspective in this thing," he continued. "So I plan to accommodate them by making myself available for the sole purpose ... consistent with accuracy."

Mr. McDermott, who retired as the FBI's deputy associate director, has made no secret of his disdain for Mr. Felt, who after decades of secrecy conceded to being Deep Throat. The retired SAC charged that his colleague's repeated leaks to the press not only compromised the Watergate probe, but placed witnesses in jeopardy.

"[A]ll other arguments seeking to justify Felt's actions are trash," said Mr. McDermott, who handed me a three-page summary he'd authored surrounding Mr. Felt's secret role in Watergate.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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