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Professor, students identify 'Deep Throat'

April 23, 2003 at 9:56 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) -- For a journalism class at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign the identity of "Deep Throat" is no longer a mystery.

After four years of work, involving more than 60 students over eight semesters, professor Bill Gaines said Tuesday they've identified the anonymous source who helped two Washington Post reporters expose the Watergate scandal.

At a news conference at the Watergate Hotel, Gaines and two students from his spring 2002 class, Thomas Rybarczyk and Kelly Soderlund, identified Fred Fielding as "Deep Throat."

Fielding, a lawyer, was first assistant to John Dean, chief counsel to President Richard Nixon, at a time of the Watergate break-in in 1972.

"Everything that we have, we show there's a document," Gaines said. Unlike many previous speculations on the source's identity, "it's not interpretation, it's not guesswork," he said.

Fielding fits all the personal characteristics of "Deep Throat," as described by Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, through their newspaper stories, their book "All the President's Men" and the movie of the same title.

Fielding did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment by United Press International.

But Gaines and his students also can prove that Fielding was one of very few people who knew about several "important, closely held revelations" at the time when "Deep Throat" was passing them on to Woodward, he said.

With other pieces of information, the students can't prove that Fielding knew, but can show he had access to the information and therefore could have known.

"There's very little that we do not connect with him," Gaines said, and nothing that shows Fielding couldn't have known everything that "Deep Throat."

"He was in a position to observe the cover-up without being accused of taking part in the conspiracy himself," Gaines said.

Among his positions since the Nixon administration, Fielding was the chief counsel to President Ronald Reagan for five years, served as a member of the Bush-Cheney transition team, and currently is a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks.

He is "among the most respected minds in government," Gaines said.

Gaines, who won two Pulitzer Prizes as an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, said the project began in 1999 as a classroom exercise in investigative journalism. He also said the mystique of "Deep Throat" would motivate students and get them interested in history.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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