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Could 'Deep Throat' Do it Today?

By Ed O'Keefe

The death of W. Mark Felt Sr., a.k.a. "Deep Throat," marks the end of an era in American journalism and closes the book on another chapter of the Watergate scandal. Felt's service to the federal government spanned 33 years, first at the Federal Trade Commission, then with the FBI. The Post's obituary notes he was a "master of bureaucratic infighting and misdirection," traits that served him well as he shielded his identity from the world until a 2005 Vanity Fair article revealed his role in uncovering the scandal.

Felt's death made The Eye wonder if his risky relationship with Bob Woodward and his ability to keep his connection to The Post's coverage secret for so long would be possible in today's bureaucratic environment?

"I still believe this is possible today," said Bill Buzenberg, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. "The stakes will always be extremely high, but depending on the circumstances, another Deep Throat could come forward to help protect the national interest despite the highest personal risk."

"Absolutely," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). "Deep Throat was deeply off-the-record and his very existence was not publicly revealed until after Nixon resigned."

"PEER work with many Deep Throats whose agency heads do not (hopefully) have any idea how information about agency secrets is getting out," he added. (Do any of them want to talk to The Eye?!)

Both Buzenberg and Ruch noted that any future Deep Throat-like sources will need the protection and dedication of solid news organizations.

"Clearly, being a whistleblower at such a senior level takes tremendous courage," Buzenberg said. "It also requires an exceptional news organization willing to protect the identity of its source no matter what legal battles it faces, including the threat or reality of prison."

"The declining economic straits of newspapers makes it less likely that a paper would stay on a story for months in the face of financial and legal threats, such as those posed by the Nixon White House," Ruch said.

What do YOU think? Vote in the poll below and leave your extended thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 19, 2008; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Oversight, Workplace Issues  
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Comments

The Bushies along with FOX and Fools,The Stephanopoulos clowns have done everything to discredit the writings of several books. Your Government Failed You, by Richard A. Clarke. The War Within, by Bob Woodward.
We do not require a Deep Throat, we already have two,mentioned above.
If the print media and the talking heads on TV had the gut's to expose the facts presented in the those two books,all hell would break loose

Posted by: scac1 | December 19, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, no. There are many, many good people today who are sacrificing everything to do what is right for the American public across all the agencies that are mandated to serve public safety, but no one is interested. No one wants to hear that his vacation flight might not get him there safely, that the toys she bought for her children might have toxic components, or that protecting us from terrorists need not require the total destruction of our Constitution. We can have our values, we can be the people we like to think we are, but it will require hard work, sacrifice even here at home, and a selflessness we haven't been willing to face in a very long time.

Posted by: mbruno002 | December 26, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

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