L. Patrick Gray

L. Patrick Gray

L Patrick Gray, the son of a railway official, was born in St. Louis on 18th July, 1916. He was educated at Rice College in Houston, Texas before winning a scholarship to the US naval academy at Annapolis.

During the Second World War Gray was a submarine commander. At the end of the conflict the United States Navy sent Gray to study law at George Washington University. It was while in Washington Gray became a close friend of Richard Nixon, who had also been a naval officer in the Pacific.

Gray served in the Korean War, but in 1960 he retired to work for Nixon, then vice president and about to run for the presidency. Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy and Gray became a lawyer in Connecticut.

When Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey in 1968, he appointed Gray as assistant to the cabinet secretary for health, education and welfare. He also served as his deputy attorney general.

J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the FBI, died on 2nd May, 1972. Rather than appoint an insider such as Mark Felt, Nixon gave the job to Gray. One of his first decisions was to relaxed the FBI's formal dress codes and to allow women to join the force.

A month after taking office the Watergate break-in took place. Soon afterwards Nixon ordered Gray to interfere in the FBI investigation of the burglary.

During congressional confirmation hearings in March 1973, Gray admitted that he had passed files from the FBI's Watergate investigation to White House counsel John Dean. Gray was forced to resign on 27th April, 1973, after the disclosure that he destroyed papers from the White House safe of E. Howard Hunt, the former CIA agent who had organized the Watergate break-in. However he was never indicted for any Watergate-related crimes.

After he left the FBI, Gray returned to private law practice in New London and Groton, Connecticut. In 1978 Gray was indicted for conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of Americans by authorizing illegal break-ins and wire taps of people connected to suspected domestic bombers. This related to the investigation of the terrorist group, the Weather Underground. The charges were dropped, but Gray had to sell his house and his shares to pay the lawyers' bills. His assistant, Mark Felt, was convicted in 1980 of the same charges.

Watergate: the Secret Story, a documentary by CBS News and The Washington Post, concluded Gray was Deep Throat. However, Gray rejected this allegation.

L Patrick Gray died from pancreatic cancer at Lyme, New Hampshire, on 5th July, 2005.

Primary Sources

(1) John Woestendiek, The Seattle Times (1st June, 2005)

Esquire had it wrong; Atlantic Monthly had it right.

Leonard Garment's book missed the mark; Ronald Kessler's was on the money.

William Gaines' college journalism class flunked the test; Chase Culeman-Beckman's high-school history paper, although he didn't get an "A" when he turned it in six years ago, should have put him at the head of the class.

A 30-year national guessing game is over: W. Mark Felt, former associate director of the FBI, has revealed to Vanity Fair magazine that he was Deep Throat, the anonymous source who leaked information to The Washington Post about President Nixon's Watergate cover-up.

The Post confirmed on its Web site yesterday that Felt indeed was Deep Throat.

Thus ends one of the nation's longest-running modern-day mysteries.

Felt, it turns out, is the final answer — and not too many had it right. One can rightfully expect in weeks ahead some apologies from those who guessed wrong, and a few "I-told-you-so's" from those who nailed it, including Culeman-Beckman.

Born well after Watergate, Culeman-Beckman was only 8 years old when, he says, Jacob Bernstein, a son of Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, revealed Deep Throat's identity to him during playtime at summer day camp in 1988.

Except for telling his mom, Culeman-Beckman would keep the secret for nearly 10 years — until spilling the beans in a high-school research paper.

In a 1999 Hartford Courant article about Culeman-Beckman's disclosure (which was printed in The Seattle Times), Felt denied he was Deep Throat. Bernstein said neither he nor reporting partner Bob Woodward had ever told their wives, children or anyone else Deep Throat's identity.

In fact, the two men had agreed not to divulge his identity until after his death. They took pains to exclude any documents identifying him when they sold their Watergate papers two years ago to the University of Texas. And neither, initially, would confirm yesterday that Felt was Deep Throat. By late afternoon, though, Woodward, Bernstein and former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee said in an article posted on the paper's Web site that Felt was the anonymous source.

Since Woodward and Bernstein's best-selling book, "All the President's Men," disclosed the existence of Deep Throat, speculation has been rampant, and entire books have been written about his identity.

Some, including the authors of "Silent Coup: The Removal of a President," suspected Alexander Haig, chief of staff under Nixon. Some suspected Nixon adviser David Gergen, whom Esquire magazine in 1976 picked as the No. 1 candidate for Deep Throat.

"Watergate: the Secret Story," a documentary by CBS News and The Washington Post, concluded it was acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray.

Leonard Garment, Nixon's special counsel and author of "In Search of Deep Throat: The Greatest Political Mystery of Our Time," opted for fellow presidential lawyer John Sears.

Fred Fielding, deputy White House counsel to John Dean, was the choice of both Watergate conspirator H.R. Haldeman in his book, "The Ends of Power," and William Gaines' journalism classes at the University of Illinois, which spent four years investigating Deep Throat's identity.

A relative handful of guessers had it right.

Felt was seen as the most likely suspect in "The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI," a book by Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter; in "Deep Throat: An Institutional Analysis," a 1992 Atlantic Monthly article by James Mann, a former colleague of Woodward's at the Post; and in articles in Washingtonian magazine by its editor, Jack Limpert.

Felt was suspected by the White House, according to the Nixon tapes:

Nixon: "Well, if they've got a leak down at the FBI, why the hell can't Gray tell us what the hell is left? You know what I mean? ... "

Haldeman: "We know what's left, and we know who leaked it."

Nixon: "Somebody in the FBI?"

Haldeman: "Yes, sir. Mark Felt. ... If we move on him, he'll go out and unload everything. He knows everything that's to be known in the FBI. He has access to absolutely everything. ... "

Nixon: "What would you do with Felt? You know what I'd do with him, the bastard? Well that's all I want to hear about it."

Haldeman: "I think he wants to be in the top spot."

Nixon: "That's a hell of a way for him to get to the top."

Felt, in his own memoir, "The FBI Pyramid: Inside the FBI," denied being Deep Throat and said he met with Woodward only once.

The name meant nothing to Culeman-Beckman when he heard it in 1988. Now a graduate student at Cornell University, he could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"I'm 100 percent sure that Deep Throat was Mark Felt," he quoted Bernstein's son as saying. "He's someone in the FBI." He told The Hartford Courant that the boy attributed the information to his father.

After the article, Bernstein, Jacob and his mother, writer and movie director Nora Ephron, all denied that Bernstein had told anyone the identity of "Deep Throat."

To Culeman-Beckman, turnabout was fair play.

"They've been cute about it long enough," Culeman-Beckman said then. "I just think if it's fair of them to dethrone a president, for all intents and purposes, and not tell anyone their source, I don't see why it's not fair for a person like myself to come forward. ... Let the cards fall where they may. There's a chance this could be the answer to one of the greatest political mysteries of our time."

Curiously enough, it was.

(2) Geodfrey Hodgson, L. Patrick Gray, The Guardian (9th July, 2005)

A Nixon loyalist who was made director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation the day after J Edgar Hoover died, he was too straight and naive to survive in the shark pool that was President Nixon's Washington.

Left, as a Nixon aide put it, to "hang slowly, slowly twisting in the wind", he was ordered to "deep six" - destroy - FBI files of the investigation into Watergate and did so. The White House fed him fake files alleging that the Kennedy administration had been complicit in the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. All the while Gray's deputy, W Mark Felt, resentful that he was not made Hoover's successor, was secretly meeting Bob Woodward of the Washington Post in an underground parking garage across the Potomac river, to give him a lead on what the FBI knew.

Last month Gray revealed his resentment about his deputy's betrayal. In a television interview, Gray said he felt "deep inner hurt" when he learned that Felt was Deep Throat, the name that Woodward and co-author Carl Bernstein gave to their informant. Felt, taxed by Gray, had denied it. Gray said he "made the gravest mistake of my 88 years" in working for Nixon. He never spoke to the president after Watergate, and when Nixon sent copies of his various books, he always returned them.

Gray was widely charged with failing to understand the gravity of Watergate, but he did warn Nixon that "people on your staff are trying to mortally wound you". He had never realised that Nixon himself had ordered the cover-up to frustrate Gray's investigation. At the end of his life he did say that his situation was "a madman's horror".

His son, Ed, responded angrily to media reports that his father was one of the guilty men of Watergate. But Gray's lawyer had admitted that his client "peeked" at the contents of two envelopes before burning them. According to evidence at the Watergate hearings, the envelopes contained copies of a fake State Department cable implicating President Kennedy in the assassination of Diem and a dossier with bogus information about Senator Ted Kennedy. Ed Gray seems to have established that his father did not throw the envelopes into the Potomac, but burned them instead.

(3) The Seattle Times (7th July, 2005)

Mr. Gray's tumultuous 11 months at the FBI began weeks before the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex. His government career froze after his revelation during congressional confirmation hearings in March 1973 that he had passed files from the FBI's Watergate investigation to White House counsel John Dean.

White House officials were so enraged that Mr. Gray revealed their roles that domestic-policy adviser John Ehrlichman suggested to President Nixon that rather than withdraw Mr. Gray's nomination as FBI chief, he should be left to "twist slowly, slowly in the wind."

Mr. Gray was forced to resign April 27, 1973, after the disclosure that he destroyed papers from the White House safe of E. Howard Hunt, the former CIA operative who organized the Watergate break-in. Ehrlichman and Dean ordered the papers' destruction.

"He was taken advantage of by John Dean and John Ehrlichman," said his son Edward Emmet Gray of Lyme, N.H. "Those two criminals set him up."

(4) USA Today (8th July, 2005)

Gray was never indicted for any Watergate-related misdeeds, but descriptions of him as a Nixon loyalist who helped thwart the investigation and as someone the White House thought could be pushed around dogged him in the years following the scandal. He vigorously disputed the depiction.

Gray resigned amid allegations he had destroyed documents in the scandal. During a confirmation hearing, he disclosed that he had handed over FBI files to the Nixon White House.

That disclosure provoked Nixon domestic policy adviser John D. Ehrlichman to utter his famous phrase that Gray would be left to "twist slowly, slowly in the wind."

In the ABC interview, Gray defended his cooperation with the White House. He said he burned files from the safe of E. Howard Hunt, a member of the White House "plumbers," in his home fireplace because he had been ordered to do so and the files were unrelated to Watergate.