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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pincus: Woodward 'Asked Me to Keep Him Out' of Plame Reporting

By Joe Strupp

Published: November 16, 2005 12:45 PM ET

NEW YORK Walter Pincus, the longtime Washington Post reporter and one of several journalists who testified in the Valerie Plame case, said he believed as far back as 2003 that Bob Woodward had some involvement in the case but he did not pursue the information because Woodward asked him not to.

"He asked me to keep him out of the reporting and I agreed to do that," Pincus said today. His comments followed a Post story today about Woodward's testimony on Monday before special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, in which Woodward reportedly disclosed that a senior White House official told him about Plame's identity as a CIA operative a month before her identity was disclosed publicly.

In today's Post story, by reporters Jim VandeHei and Carol Leonnig, Woodward is quoted as saying he told Pincus that he knew about Plame's true identity as a CIA operative in 2003. Pincus said, in the same story, that he did not recall Woodward telling him that, but believed he might have confused the conversation with one they had in October 2003 after Pincus wrote a story about being called to testify.

"In October, I think he did come by after I had written about being called and said I wasn't the only one who would be called," Pincus said, adding that he believed Woodward was talking about himself, but did not press him on it. "Bob and I have an odd relationship because he is doing books and I am writing about the same subject."

Pincus said he did not believe Woodward had purposely lied about their conversation, saying, "I think he thought he told me something." Pincus declined to comment on the other revelation in today's story, namely that Woodward had waited until last month before revealing his conversation with the White House official to Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. "I don't talk about what other people do, other reporters," he said. "Everybody does in this business what they think is the right thing to do."

Pincus also declined to comment on what reaction there has been in the Post newsroom to Woodward's testimony. "I'm not listening," he said.

Woodward did not return calls seeking comment.

Pincus gave his deposition to Fitzgerald in September 2004, in which he spoke about a conversation with a source related to the Plame case, but has never disclosed the identity of the source.

When asked if Woodward's unusual arrangement with the paper, in which he often withholds information and source identities for use in his books, is a problem for the Post, Pincus defended Woodward and said the situation is often a help.

He cited as an example a story Pincus wrote in 2003 just before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which doubted the existence of weapons of mass destruction. "Bob helped to get it in the paper," Pincus said. "He had been hearing the same thing and actually wrote a couple of paragraphs that I adapted into the story."


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