News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ben Bradlee Defends Woodward's Actions in Plame Case

By Joe Strupp

Published: November 16, 2005 11:35 AM ET

NEW YORK Former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee today defended Bob Woodward, who revealed in a story Wednesday that he waited more than two years before disclosing to current Post editors a conversation he had in 2003 with a White House official about CIA Agent Valerie Plame.

"I don't see anything wrong with that," said Bradlee, who ran the Post during the turbulent Watergate coverage that made Woodward famous. "He doesn't have to disclose every goddamn thing he knows."

He also revealed that Woodward had shown him a copy of the story on Tuesday before it was published. And he explained: "Woodward never has 'no involvement' because he is who he is."

Bradlee, who retired in 1991, but still maintains an office at the paper, made his comments following a story in today's Post about Woodward's recent testimony before special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The story revealed that Woodward testified Monday in a two-hour deposition before Fitzgerald, in which he disclosed that "a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed." The story also revealed, however, that Woodward did not disclose this conversation to Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., until last month.

"People are surprised that they didn't know this information sooner," a Post newsroom staffer told E&P today. The person also said Woodward's failure to reveal the conversation earlier is the result of his unusual relationship with the paper, as an assistant managing editor who spends most of his time writing books.

"There is this constant tension in the newsroom about Woodward's role and that he does reporting for his books and has agreements with sources to use information for his books," the staffer said.

Woodward did not return a call seeking comment this morning. Downie also could not be reached.

Bradlee, however, said it should not surprise people that Woodward had such a conversation about Plame with a White House official. "He's got his finger in a lot of pies," he said, adding, "Woodward never has 'no involvement' because he is who he is. He's always poking around the White House because he's always writing a book about the White House. So it doesn't surprise me that he knows a lot about that."

Bradlee also said Woodward had showed him the story about his testimony yesterday. "I felt it was interesting. He wanted me to read it and I read it," Bradlee said. "He was showing it to the lawyers in the next office and he showed it to me."

Glenn Kessler, another Post reporter who testified in the Plame case in 2004 about a conversation he had with White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, said those seeking to pounce on Woodward for his action should be careful. "People shouldn't jump to any kind of conclusions. From my own experience in this matter, you don't know the whole story unless you are right in the middle of it and have all of the facts in front of you," he said.


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