Bush, Rumsfeld Comment on Deep Throat

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President Bush said on Wednesday the disclosure that the former No. 2 official at the FBI was Watergate’s “Deep Throat” source caught him by surprise and he’s anxious to learn more details about his relationship with the news media.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a Nixon appointee at the time of Watergate — and has been tough on Pentagon leakers — said he was not in a “judgmental mood” today.

“It’s hard for me to judge” whether former deputy FBI Director Mark Felt provided a valuable public service or acted improperly, Bush told reporters.

“I’m learning more about the situation,” he said.

Felt’s revelation that he was the source for The Washington Post’s reporting that helped to bring down the presidency of Richard Nixon in the early 1970s “caught me by surprise,” Bush said. “It’s a brand new story for a lot of us who have been wondering for a long time who he was.”

“For those of us who grew up — got out of college in the late ’60s — the Watergate story was a relevant story. And a lot of us have always wondered who Deep Throat might have been. And the mystery was solved yesterday,” said Bush, 58. “It’s a brand new story.”

“I’m looking forward to reading about it, reading about his relationship with the news media,” Bush said.

Meanwhile, Rumsfeld offered a few thoughts today on the identification of “Deep Throat” — very few.

In the past, some Watergate watchers had speculated that Rumsfeld himself might have been The Washington Post’s source.

He tried to duck commenting on Mark Felt’s admission by saying he was ambassador to NATO at the time and was out of the country. Rumsfeld went on to say that it’s important to expose wrongdoing. But, he says it’s a different question about whether to notify the authorities or a newspaper.

Rumsfeld has been known to deal with leaks at the Pentagon with an iron fist. Asked about his muted response today, Rumsfeld replied: “I’m not in a judgmental mood.”

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