L. Patrick Gray, director of FBI during Watergate, dies
L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI who passed its investigative reports on the Watergate scandal to the White House, died yesterday...
By The Washington Post and The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI who passed its investigative reports on the Watergate scandal to the White House, died yesterday at his home in Atlantic Beach, Fla. He had pancreatic cancer and was 88.
Eleven days ago, Mr. Gray ended 32 years of silence about his role in Watergate. His trusted deputy director, W. Mark Felt, was revealed to be Deep Throat, the secret source of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.
"I could not have been more shocked and more disappointed in a man whom I had trusted," Mr. Gray said June 26 on ABC's "This Week." "... It was like I was hit with a tremendous sledgehammer."
Mr. Gray's tumultuous 11 months at the FBI began weeks before the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex. His government career froze after his revelation during congressional confirmation hearings in March 1973 that he had passed files from the FBI's Watergate investigation to White House counsel John Dean.
White House officials were so enraged that Mr. Gray revealed their roles that domestic-policy adviser John Ehrlichman suggested to President Nixon that rather than withdraw Mr. Gray's nomination as FBI chief, he should be left to "twist slowly, slowly in the wind."
Mr. Gray was forced to resign April 27, 1973, after the disclosure that he destroyed papers from the White House safe of E. Howard Hunt, the former CIA operative who organized the Watergate break-in. Ehrlichman and Dean ordered the papers' destruction.
"He was taken advantage of by John Dean and John Ehrlichman," said his son Edward Emmet Gray of Lyme, N.H. "Those two criminals set him up."
Mr. Gray, who had a 20-year career as a submariner and saw battle in two wars, reflected during the Senate Watergate hearings in August 1973: "In the service of my country, I withstood hours and hours of depth-charging, shelling, bombing, but I never expected to run into a Watergate in the service of a president of the United States. And I ran into a buzz saw, obviously."
He was never indicted for any Watergate-related crimes.
Louis Patrick Gray III was born July 18, 1916, in St. Louis. He left Rice University in Houston in 1936 to enter the U.S. Naval Academy. During his naval career, he served aboard submarines in World War II and the Korean War and earned a law degree from George Washington University.
When FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972, Nixon appointed Mr. Gray acting director. Within weeks, he relaxed the FBI's formal dress codes and strict weight requirements, welcomed women into the ranks and forced out some of Hoover's most trusted lieutenants. But not W. Mark Felt. In fact, Gray said last month, he resisted five separate demands from the White House to fire Felt.
Mr. Gray was compiling his files from Watergate when he died, and his son said the family plans to release a book.
Mr. Gray is survived by his wife and four sons.
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