Adrian Havill

Adrian Havill

Adrian Havill was born in Bournemouth, England, in 1946. After being educated in Canada and the United States he served for four years as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.

In 1962 Havill began writing for the U.S. News & World Report. Later he owned and operated an advertising and public relations firm in Washington (1970-1980).

Books by Havill include The Last Mogul: The Unauthorized Biography of Jack Kent Cooke (1992), Deep Truth: The Lives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1993), Man of Steel: the Career and Courage of Christopher Reeve (1996), The Mother, the Son and the Socialite (1999), While Innocents Slept (2000), The Spy Who Stayed Out in the Cold: The Secret Life of FBI Double Agent Robert Hanssen (2001) and Born Evil: A True Story of Cannibalism and Serial Murder (2001).

Primary Sources

(1) Adrian Havill, Deep Truth: The Lives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1993)

In mid-September 1972, seven men were indicted for the Watergate break-in. To the original five who had been arrested inside the Democratic headquarters, G. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt were added. After reporting the story for the Post, Bob wrote in the duo's 1974 book, All the President's Men, he "broke the rule" and telephoned his source in the government known as Deep Throat.' The source told him that the go-ahead to give funding for the break-in had come from officials who were above CREEP employees.

Bob's "rule," of course, was the now-legendary signaling ritual made famous to everyone who read the book or watched the movie of All the President's Men. If Bob wanted to talk with his source, he would pull a flowerpot, into which a red flag was stuck, back to the rear of his sixth-floor apartment balcony. If the source wished to meet with Bob, he would mark page twenty of his New York Times with a hand-drawn clock before it was delivered. Bob would then meet the source by taking two cabs to be sure that he wasn't followed and then rendezvous in an underground garage late at night.

This does strain credulity! We are asked to believe the skulking around, taking two cabs, meeting in man-made subterranean caverns, and after all this are told Bob would cavalierly break the rules on a whim by telephoning to read him a story he had just written. This author has been on every floor of 1718 P Street, N.W.-Bob's former apartment building-and has been inside Bob's sixth-floor apartment and has stood in the courtyard several times. He found the following discrepancies between Bob's account in All the President's Men and what was physically possible.

Bob's apartment, number 617, faced into an inner sunken courtyard, a small area that, stepped off, is approximately one hundred feet in length and thirty feet in width. Bob's unit was the second one in from the alley, yet its balcony couldn't be viewed from there-one needs to get deep into the courtyard in order to just see part of it. The balcony floor is a single slice of concrete with an opaque divider set in the middle to separate another apartment's share of the same cement slab. Bob's half was the innermost one.

In order to have a chance of spotting a flowerpot, one would have to walk far into the courtyard and crane one's head sharply up to see the sixth floor. The flowerpot would then have had to be pulled against the rear and all the way to one side, up against the metal railing. Otherwise it couldn't have been seen on the balcony from any angle inside the courtyard. So if one made it into the courtyard and if the flowerpot were at the outside angle of the balcony, it could be seen, but one wouldn't have gotten away with such an action more than a few times. There were eighty apartments that looked down into the tiny courtyard, and anyone staring up to an apartment and daily lurking around in the enclosure would have been observed and likely reported after more than one visit. If Deep Throat had checked daily, as Bob said on page 72 of All the President's Men he would have been noticed within weeks.' The author knows from firsthand experience. The few times he came to the building and looked up to the sixth floor, a resident came out, leaned over the railing, and engaged him in friendly, sometimes suspicious, conversation. This was during the daylight hours. The author didn't have the nerve to try it at night.

To get to the courtyard one had to pass through two locked doors and within view of the reception desk. The building was heavily secured. But there was another way to view Bob's apartment in 1972, and that was by entering from the alley, walking fifty-six steps and then looking up. This was an even steeper angle, yet was more accessible. It was much harder to see anything on Bob's balcony floor from that angle, and again a daily intruder would have been on display to eighty apartments. For "a source in the executive branch," as Bob described him (page 71), to attempt either gambit on a regular basis would have been an unacceptable risk, given the many alternatives. The flowerpot adventure was the stuff of spy novels as the reader shall soon see.

In a June 17, 1992, twentieth-anniversary story in the Washington Post on Watergate, Bob said he couldn't remember his apartment number. Then he misled Karlyn Barker, the Post reporter, by saying, "606 or 608 or 612, something like that."' In APM, Bob vaguely described it as a "sixth-floor apartment" (page 72) even though he had long moved out by the time the book was released. On the other hand, he described a single visit to Martha Mitchell (page 93) precisely as "room 710, Marriott Suite." By giving equalnumbered digits to Karlyn Barker, Bob placed each unit on the outside of the building and in a location able to be easily seen without ever entering the premises. But the even-numbered red herring was simply that, a false clue. The author acquired documents handwritten by Bob Woodward updating his resume in 1972. He had clearly written "Apt. 617" on those papers. That Bob-a master recordkeeper-would somehow forget the number of an apartment in which he lived for several years and where such historic events took place is surprising.

Bob said he never knew how the New York Times got marked. Fewer than ten residents usually subscribed to the paper. Thus, the Times was not delivered to his door, but left at the reception desk, unmarked and stacked with several others in the lobby. In 1972, the front door was locked at night for security reasons. This author also doesn't know how Bob's paper could have been "marked with a clock." Other parts of APM fail to add up. Bob said he once had to walk for "fifteen blocks" (page 195) to meet with his source because he couldn't find a cab. But Bob knew that three of Washington's largest and most prominent hotels-the Mayflower, the Capital Hilton and the Madison-were all within six blocks of his apartment. All normally have taxis lined up in front twenty-four hours a day. Each had an all-night doorman available to summon or whistle a cab.

So why were there so many questionable cloak-and-dagger scenes in All the President's Men? Money. It was that simple. Carl had the idea to write a book and the two dutifully began their work on it.

"At first we were going to do it about the Watergate burglars," Bob said in a 1974 Los Angeles Times interview. "We had a chapter about Howard Hunt. Carl wrote one about the 1970 elections." The book that Bob and Carl originally intended to write also included chapters on G. Gordon Liddy and John Mitchell. It was about the men and women closest to Richard Nixon. According to Bob, the original title was simply Reporting Watergate.

What changed it all was a phone call from Robert Redford. He wanted to make a movie about Watergate. He had just finished making a political film titled The Candidate, and he had gotten into an argument with some Washington reporters about Watergate and whether or not Richard Nixon had been involved. Redford, who had met Nixon when he was thirteen-Redford was awarded a tennis trophy by him-had a low opinion of the president. Always political, Redford began following Bob and Carl's byline in the Post and became fascinated with the odd pairing. The coupling of the classic Ivy League WASP and the dead-end, dropout Jewish kid was, to Redford, as if Martin and Lewis had gone into journalism rather than comedy. He checked them out and was further impressed with the chemistry-Bob's iceberg-lettuce crispness and Carl's seething volatility. There was a movie to be made here, Redford told friends.

But he suggested to Bob Woodward the movie should be about two reporters and how they cracked the Watergate mystery. If that's how Redford wanted it, then that's how the book would be written. Redford was willing to pay $450,000, plus profit participation, for the privilege. For that, Bob and Carl could take poetic license.

(2) The Deceptions of All the President's Men, Probe Magazine V3 N2 (1995)

In his book Deep Truth, author Adrian Havill presents several events in All the President's Men that are, to put it generously, highly suspect. One example is the scene in which Woodward and Bernstein have made their first egregious mistake. They sourced Hugh Sloan's grand jury testimony for a story that Sloan had never told the Grand Jury, showing that Haldeman was one of the inner group at CREEP controlling the mysterious slush fund. In the book, the dejected Woodward and Bernstein walk home in the rain, beaten both physically and symbolically by the elements, with only newspapers over their head to keep them dry. Havill did some checking. It never rained that day. That might seem an inconsequential detail to some, but others will understand that it was a device created to bring drama. How many other "events" were merely fictional devices? Havill found several. For instance, at one point, Carl Bernstein is about to be subpoenaed by CREEP, and Ben Bradlee advised Carl to go hang out at a movie until after 5:00 p.m., then to call into the office. According to the book, Carl went to see Deep Throat, hence the reason for the name "Deep Throat" having been given to Woodward's secret source. But there was no Deep Throat playing anywhere in D.C. at that time. In fact, the theaters were being very cautious, having recently been raided by law enforcement authorities. Not one theater in town was showing Deep Throat....

One of the most astonishingly bald-faced inventions was the process by which Woodward and "Deep Throat" allegedly made contact when they needed to speak to one another. In the book, much is made of the spooky, clandestine meetings between "Deep Throat" and Woodward. When Woodward needed to ask "Deep Throat" something, he was to put a flower pot with a red flag in it on his sixth floor balcony, which, we are supposed to believe, this high level source checked daily. When "Deep Throat" wanted to speak to Woodward, a clock would supposedly be drawn in his copy of the New York Times designating the meeting time. But neither of these scenarios fits the reality of where Woodward lived. Woodward, who could remember the exact room number (710) where he met Martha Mitchell just once, evidently had trouble remembering the address at which he had lived. In an interview he once said it was "606 or 608 or 612, something like that." However, Havill found that Woodward's actual address was 617. This is important, because the balcony attached to 617 faced an interior courtyard. Havill poked around and found that the only way to view a flower pot on the balcony was to walk into the center of the complex, with eighty units viewing you, crane your neck and look up to the sixth floor. Even then, a pot would have been barely visible. There was an alley that ran behind the building that allowed a glimpse of the apartment and balcony, but at an equally difficult angle. And in both cases, we are to believe that this source, who strove hard to protect his identify, would walk up in plain view of the eighty apartments facing the inner courtyard or the alley on a daily basis, on the chance that there might be a sign from Woodward. When Havill tried to poke around, just to look at the place, residents of the building stopped him and inquired who he was and what he was looking for. Unless "Deep Throat" was well known to the residents of the building, his daily visits seem to preclude being able to keep his identity a secret.

As for the clock-in-the-paper, the New York Times papers were delivered not to each door, but left stacked and unmarked in a common reception area. There was no way "Deep Throat" could have known which paper Woodward would end up with each morning.

Havill, in fact, believes that "Deep Throat" is no more real than the movie episode or the rain, but rather, a dramatic device. It certainly worked well. And Woodward's and Bernstein's editor at Simon and Schuster, Alice Mayhew, urged them to "build up the Deep Throat character and make him interesting." While it is now clearly known that at least one of Woodward's informants was, in fact, Robert Bennett, the suggestions from Colodny and Gettlin in Silent Coup about Al Haig and Deborah Davis's suggestions in Katherine the Great about Richard Ober may not be contradictory. Other names that have been suggested have included Walter Sheridan (Jim Hougan in Spooks) and Bobby Ray Inman (also in Spooks). If Havill is correct and there is no "person" who was known as "Deep Throat", it is possible that any or all of the above were passing along information, explicitly not to be sourced or credited to them in any way, on deep background.