The ‘Deep Throat’ Pretenders

After more than 30 years, the biggest political mystery of the 20th century has been solved.

Bob Woodward, through his newspaper, The Washington Post, confirmed Tuesday that W. Mark Felt, the number two man at the FBI during the early 1970s, was Deep Throat, the celebrated source who provided information that led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon.

He wasn’t the only suspect. Here are some other on the hit parade:

Chief Justice William Rehnquist

Rehnquist was a late arrival to the list of possibilities, cited because of his bout with throat cancer _ Deep Throat was said to be ailing at the time. He was a smoker, a member of the military _ characteristics noted by Woodward _ a Republican political operative and an assistant attorney general during the early years of the Nixon administration who, possibly, was aware of some of the more distasteful White House dealings.

But Rehnquist left the Justice Department before Watergate, joining the high court in January 1972. And he didn’t recuse himself when the high court was asked to determine whether Nixon had to release the tapes of Oval Office conversations.

Leonard Garment

Always suspected of being an undercover liberal, Garment struck up a friendship with Nixon before he became president and served as a special consultant on domestic policy at the White House starting in 1969. He became White House counsel at the time the presidency began to unravel. Garment actually wrote about Deep Throat several years ago, fingering John Sears, a Nixon campaign worker. But Woodward himself broke his silence to reject that suggestion.

Fred Fielding

Serving as deputy White House counsel under John Dean, Fielding was known to smoke Marlboros and take a drink of scotch every now and again _ fitting Woodward’s description. He also was certainly in on conversations regarding Watergate as a result of his position. A University of Illinois journalism class, collecting all available information and driving it through a computer, identified Fielding as Deep Throat. Haldeman, in his book about his White House experiences, also pointed at Fielding.

L. Patrick Gray

A Justice Department official during the early years of the administration, Gray was selected by Nixon to serve as acting FBI director in 1972 upon the death of J. Edgar Hoover. Watergate broke a little more than a month later. A documentary co-produced by CBS News and The Washington Post in 1992, “Watergate: The Secret Story,” identified Gray as the prime suspect, noting that he fits the description of Deep Throat provided by Woodward and Bernstein and was the only one of the possible suspects who could have met with Woodward on several of the pertinent dates. Gray and Woodward lived four blocks from one another during the course of events.

(Reach Bill Straub at straubb(at)