It seems that important people involved in either the FBI or in the Watergate Scandal in the 1970's (and slightly before) liked to use their first initial followed by their middle and family names, á la "J. Edgar Hoover," "G. Gordon Liddy," "L. Patrick Gray," and not to be outdone, "W. Mark Felt."
William Mark Felt, Sr., was born August 17, 1913. A former US FBI agent, Felt was most recently famous for revealing in May 2005, that he is the mysterious Watergate scandal informant for the Washington Post, dubbed by that newspaper's reporters as "Deep Throat."
During the Watergate scandal, while serving as Associate Director of the FBI, Felt provided Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with crucial inside leads on the landmark story that directly led to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon as 37th President of the United States.
Felt's identity as Woodward/Bernstein's informant was kept secret for 33 years. It has been one of the most discussed journalism mysteries in U.S. history, until Felt himself revealed it in a story published in Vanity Fair in its July 2005 issue. (The story itself was actually written by an attorney, John D. O'Connor, on Felt's behalf.)
Felt's reasons for suddenly going public are up for debate. His health at the time of the story's printing was not the best, and at the age of 91, it is likely that he and his family wanted to have closure and recognition for his life's most notable work. Some speculate that Felt leaked information in the first place because he was bitter about being passed over for the FBI's top position upon the death of J. Edgar Hoover. When Hoover died in May 1972, it was a man named L. Patrick Gray, and not Felt, who got the position of Director at the FBI.
Felt attended George Washington University Law School
, earning an LLB
('Bachelor of Laws' degree) in 1940
. He then worked for two Democratic U.S. senators
before joining the FBI in 1942
In 1964, Felt was named head of the FBI's Inspection Division (also called the "INSD"), which aims, according to an FBI press release, to "ensure compliance and facilitate the improvement of performance by providing independent, evaluative oversight of all FBI investigative and administrative operations" (FBI Press Room).
In 1965 he became an assistant director to J. Edgar Hoover. When he was passed over for the promotion to Director in May 1972, Felt stayed on with the Bureau only a short while longer, resigning in June 1973.
Everything2 editor's note: Mr Felt died on December 18, 2008 in Santa Rosa, California.
-National Public Radio progams, 31 May 2005.