The Watergate files contain hundreds of internal FBI memos, requests for action, investigative summaries, and Teletypes to headquarters from field offices which had conducted hundreds of interviews. There were the first summaries of information on the five burglars arrested in the Democrats' Watergate office building headquarters: their names, their backgrounds, their CIA connections, and their contacts with E. Howard Hunt Jr., the former CIA operative and White House consultant, and G. Gordon Liddy, the former FBI agent. The files teemed with notes, routing slips and queries bearing initials from senior Bureau officials, dates and intelligence classifications.
The outline of the Watergate cover-up was so clear in retrospect. White House counsel John W. Dean III, who later confessed to leading the illegal obstruction of justice on behalf of President Richard Nixon, "stated all requests for investigation by FBI at White House must be cleared through him," according to a summary dated six days after the June 17, 1972, break-in.
A memo on October 10, 1972, addressed The Washington Post story that Carl Bernstein and I had written that day. It was probably our most important story; it reported that the Watergate break-in was not an isolated event but "stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage" run by the White House and President Nixon's reelection committee. The two-page memo stated that the FBI had learned that Donald H. Segretti, who headed the efforts to harass Democratic presidential candidates, had been hired by Dwight L. Chapin, the president's appointments secretary, and paid by Herbert W. Kalmbach, the president's personal lawyer. Because there was no direct connection to the Watergate bugging, the memo said, the FBI had not pursued the matter.
I smiled. Here were two of the reasons the Watergate cover-up had worked at first: Dean's effectiveness in squelching further inquiry; and the seeming utter lack of imagination on the part of the FBI.
All of this was a pleasant, long, well-documented reminder of names, events and emotions as I sifted through the Bureau memos, as best I could tell almost a complete set of internal memos and investigative files. The files and memos provided a kind of intimacy with what had been four intense years of my life, as Carl Bernstein and I covered the story for The Washington Post and wrote two books about Watergate: All the President's Men, published in 1974, which was about our newspaper's investigation; and The Final Days, published in 1976, which chronicled the collapse of the Nixon presidency.
At the time of my visit I was 48 years old, but I was not there for a trip down memory lane. I was not hunting for more information in the rich history of Watergate; not looking for new avenues, leads, surprises, contradictions, unrevealed crimes or hidden meaning, although the amazements of Watergate rarely ceased.
Instead, I was really there in further pursuit of Deep Throat ...
Excerpted from The Secret Man by Bob Woodward Copyright © 2005 by Bob Woodward. Excerpted by permission.
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