Beltway Beat: Deep Throat?

John McCaslin
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Posted: May 03, 2002 12:00 AM
If you haven't heard, former White House Counsel John Dean says he will reveal next month who he believes was Deep Throat, the anonymous Watergate informant to scribes Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post. The question now is whether Ronald Kessler, former investigative reporter for The Washington Post, who left the newspaper in 1985, will beat Dean to the punch. A New York Times best-selling author of 13 nonfiction books, Kessler told this column Wednesday that Deep Throat might well have been former FBI Assistant Director W. Mark Felt, one of two agents convicted for authorizing warrantless break-ins in 1972 and 1973 in search of fugitive members of the radical Weather Underground. In his new book to be published next week by St. Martin's Press, "The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI," Kessler writes: "Other (FBI) agents were convinced that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. "Lending some credence to that, in the summer of 1999, (Bob) Woodward showed up unexpectedly at the home of Felt's daughter, Joan, in Santa Rosa, Calif., north of San Francisco, and took him to lunch, Joan Felt, who was taking care of him at her home, told me. "She recalled that Woodward made his appearance just after a mini-controversy broke in the press late July 1999 about whether Bernstein had told his then-wife, Nora Ephron, that Felt was Deep Throat," writes Kessler. "Woodward had been interviewing former FBI officials for a book he was writing on Watergate. "However, now confused because of the effects of a stroke, Felt was in no shape to provide credible information. Joan said her father greeted Woodward like an old friend, and their mysterious meeting appeared to be more of a celebration than an interview, lending support to the notion that Felt was, in fact, Deep Throat. "'Woodward just showed up at the door and said he was in the area,' Joan Felt said. 'He came in a white limousine, which parked at a schoolyard about 10 blocks away. He walked to the house. He asked if it was OK to have a martini with my father at lunch, and I said it would be fine.'" As he has in the past, Felt denied to Kessler that he was Deep Throat. It should also be pointed out, however, that Felt could also not remember having lunch with Woodward in 1999, and even confused Woodward with a government lawyer. DECLASSIFYING NIXON On Monday (May 6), this column has learned, the National Archives and Records Administration will open 107,200 newly declassified document pages from the Nixon White House. The documents consist of Nixon's trip files (overseas travel, conversations and notes), Alexander Haig's chronological files, Haig's special files (surrounding the war in Southeast Asia), and National Security Council staff member Harold B. Saunders' Middle East negotiations files. CONTEST TIME "When is The Beltway Beat going to have another column contest?" wonders Phil, a reader from New York City. Well, Phil, since the November congressional elections are just around the corner and the campaigns are switching into high gear, why not a contest that pertains to our favorite pastime, politics? We invite readers to dust off those presidential history volumes, books of quotations and political almanacs. Or perhaps your all-time favorite political quotation is on the tip of your tongue. Either way, send us one (sorry, only one quote per reader) memorable political one or two-liner, along with the political leader or observer who uttered the famous words, as well as your name and address, to: John McCaslin, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; or better yet, e-mail: jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com. To help readers get into the spirit, here are a few political pronouncements culled from Ariel Books' "Politics": "I am the future." -- Dan Quayle "There is something about a Republican that you can only stand for just so long. On the other hand, there is something about a Democrat that you can't stand for quite that long." -- Will Rogers "The first law of politics: Never say anything in a national campaign that anyone might remember." -- Eugene McCarthy "I'm a fellow who likes small parties, and the Republican Party is about the size I like." -- Lyndon B. Johnson "Republicans sleep in twin beds - some even in separate rooms. That is why there are more Democrats." -- Will Stanton As for prizes, the two readers submitting the best quotes will receive the latest edition of political satirist Jim Wrenn's "Clinton Library Book," updating the librarian's original work to include Pardon My Funding with Funding for Pardons, Post-Presidency Adventures of Bill and Hillary, and updates on the official Clinton Library. COMING CONVULSION? The Beltway Beat has intercepted a telegram from the American consulate's office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - addressed to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice - identifying a "troubling streak of intolerance" that has emerged among certain Muslims in the Arab world, and warning of a possible "convulsion" of the Islamic faith. "The vast majority of Muslims are accepting of persons of different faiths," says the telegram, dated April 2002. "However, in the wake of September 11, many observers have remarked on the existence of a troubling streak of intolerance that colors Islam as it is practiced and preached in Saudi Arabia." The telegram notes that a radical brand of Islam called Wahhabism arose in the 18th century in the rural and historically poor part of Arabia known as Najd, and by the early 20th century had found fertile ground from Mecca and Medina to Mogadishu. "Today, zealots in and around the holy cities see themselves as continuing the Prophet Muhammad's struggle to uproot and destroy all vestiges of the polytheistic past," the U.S. leaders are told. "In so doing, they confirm early Islam's enmity toward the confessional comity that once characterized this region." "Try as they might," the unclassified dispatch states, the Islamic faith "cannot credibly characterize Wahhabism as a freak sectarian aberration. The Najdis' intolerant message succeeds because it remains unchallenged; no Muslim Luther has summoned the courage to nail his propositions to the door of the Kaaba" - referring to the Holy Kaaba, the most sacred structure in Islam. "There are those who express hope that Islam, drawing on centuries of experience of absorbing and ultimately de-fanging its radical fringe, can harness the Wahhabis' drive and apply it toward constructive purposes," the telegram continues. "However, it appears equally likely that the as-yet-unchecked spread of Saudi Arabia's state faith could precipitate a convulsion such as that which engulfed the West in the 16th century and subsequently was termed the Protestant Reformation. "Then, Christendom struggled to amend itself while parrying perceived Muslim predations. Five hundred years later, the tables are turned, and it is by no means clear whether Islam will accommodate itself to the emergence (of) a secular society or withdraw further into obscurantism and intolerance."