WASHINGTON -- Deep in Richard Nixon's White House files sit letters from a long-forgotten lobbying campaign to make Mark Felt head of the FBI. Instead, Felt became 'Deep Throat.'
The National Archives released more than 10,000 pages of documents from the Nixon presidency on Wednesday and among them are the urgings of past and present FBI agents and other interested citizens to appoint Felt, then the No. 2 FBI official and now a Santa Rosa resident, as director.
Associates described his "outstanding loyalty."
Nixon did not take the advice.
Ultimately, Felt's devastating leaks as the Washington Post's secret Watergate source helped undermine Nixon's presidency.
Nixon passed over career agents including Felt when he selected loyalist L. Patrick Gray as FBI chief after J. Edgar Hoover's death in 1972, just weeks before the Watergate break-in. Gray resigned the next year because of allegations he had destroyed Watergate documents.
Felt's supporters weighed in, with letters, telegrams and cards that have been in Nixon's White House files all these years.
"He has the integrity, the ability, the experience and the image to insure that our FBI will continue to deserve and maintain world esteem," Harold Child Jr., legal attache to the embassy in Japan and a 30-year FBI veteran, told Nixon in an April 1973 letter.
Efton Stanfield, a former FBI special agent who was then an executive of the electrical contractors association, asked Nixon in a telegram to turn to the career professional to replace Gray.
"Mr. Felt is a man of outstanding loyalty, character, reputation, habits," he said. The "fidelity, bravery, and integrity of Mr. Felt are unquestioned."
Nixon eventually chose William Ruckelshaus, who served at FBI only briefly.
Deep Throat's identity remained a mystery until Felt stepped forward in 2005 to acknowledge his clandestine role in bringing down Nixon.
Bob Woodward of the Washington Post said he first spoke with Felt about Watergate two days after the break-in.
Since Felt acknowledged his role, Gray has said Felt became Deep Throat out of personal revenge and "a desire to get rid of me."
In Felt's autobiography, "A G-Man's Life," he was motivated to become Deep Throat by loyalty and patriotism and not by any bitterness at being passed over to replace Hoover.
Attempts to reach Felt or his family Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Also in the Nixon files:
Memos about Elvis Presley's Dec. 21, 1970, visit with Nixon to offer his support for the administration's drug-fighting and other crime efforts. He presented Nixon with a commemorative World War II Colt 45 pistol, encased in a wooden chest.
Nixon and his close advisers in 1969 quietly fretted about Israel's nuclear weapons.
"The Israelis, who are one of the few peoples whose survival is genuinely threatened, are probably more likely than almost any other country to actually use their nuclear weapons," Henry Kissinger, the national security adviser, warned Nixon in a memo dated July 19, 1969.
Israel's nuclear arms program, which Israel never has acknowledged, was believed to have begun at least several years before.