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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Woodward Says His Plame Source Not Libby - Yahoo! News

Vice President Cheney's former top aide, indicted last month on perjury and obstruction charges, reviewed documents Wednesday at a federal courthouse.

Accompanied by his legal team, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby walked into the courthouse without the crutches that he'd been using during a court appearance two weeks ago when he pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the CIA leak investigation.

Libby's visit to the courthouse came hours after The Washington Post reported that at least one senior Bush administration official — who was not identified — told editor Bob Woodward about CIA operative Valerie Plame about a month before her identity was publicly exposed.

The newspaper reported that Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of Plame's identity, that the official talked to him about Plame in mid-June 2003. Woodward and editors at the Post refused to identify the official to reporters other than to say it was not Libby.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Karl Rove's legal team, said Rove was not the official who talked to Woodward. Rove is a top deputy to President Bush and was referred to, but not by name, in Libby's indictment, as having discussed Plame's identity with reporters.

Libby was indicted last month on one charge of obstruction of justice and two counts each of false statement and perjury in connection with Fitzgerald's investigation.

Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had criticized U.S. intelligence efforts before the Iraq war. On June 23, Libby told New York Times reporter Judith Miller that Wilson's wife might work at the CIA. Robert Novak, in a column published July 14, identified Plame, as a CIA operative.

Woodward's testimony in a two-hour deposition Monday would mean that another White House official told a reporter about Plame before Libby revealed her identity to Miller. A spokesman for White House adviser Karl Rove told the Post that Rove did not discuss Plame with Woodward.

William Jeffress Jr., one of Libby's lawyers, told the Post that Woodward's testimony raises questions about his client's indictment. "Will Mr. Fitzgerald now say he was wrong to say on TV that Scooter Libby was the first official to give this information to a reporter?" Jeffress said.

Woodward, famous for his investigation with Carl Bernstein of the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration, is now assistant managing editor of the Post. In October, he was dismissive of the outing of Plame, telling CNN's Larry King that the damage from her exposure was "quite minimal."

On Wednesday, Woodward apologized for not telling his boss, Washington Post's executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., about his being among the journalists who were told about Plame's identity, even as the investigation morphed into a national scandal.

Woodward held back the information because he wanted to protect his sources and because he was worried about being subpoenaed in the inquiry, according to the newspaper's Web site.

"I hunkered down. I'm in the habit of keeping secrets," Woodward said. "I didn't want anything out there that was going to get me subpoenaed."

Meanwhile, The Associated Press on Wednesday joined other news organizations in asking U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to deny a court motion by Fitzgerald for a blanket protective order keeping all pretrial evidence in Libby's case out of public view.

The special prosecutor is seeking a court order that would prohibit Libby and his legal team from publicly disclosing "all materials produced by the government."

The Raw Story | National Security Adviser was Woodward's source, attorneys say

Filed by Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold

National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was the senior administration official who told Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA officer, attorneys close to the investigation and intelligence officials tell RAW STORY.

Testifying under oath Monday to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Woodward recounted a casual conversation he had with Hadley, these sources say. Hadley did not return a call seeking comment.

Woodward said he was told that it was “no big deal” that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate the veracity of the Bush Administration’s claims that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. According to the attorneys, he said Hadley dismissed the trip by saying his wife, a covert CIA officer who worked on WMD issues, had recommended him.

At the time, Hadley was working under then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

“We think that Mr. Woodward was going to write a story about it, but discussed it with some other people within the Bush Administration and was told that it wasn’t anything big,” one attorney told RAW STORY.

Woodward did not return a call for this article. He did not identify his source in an article in today’s Washington Post, instead dubbing him a “senior administration official.” The veteran Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter made his name investigating the Watergate burglary which eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Woodward got access to classified information

In his most recent book, Bush at War, Woodward says he was given access to classified minutes of National Security Council meetings. Both Rice and Hadley were major players in these meetings.

President Bush sat for lengthy interviews for his book, often speaking about classified information, Woodward later said. The Post editor added that he was surprised by Bush’s frankness.

"Certainly Richard Nixon would not have allowed reporters to question him like that,” he said. “Bush's father wouldn't allow it. Clinton wouldn't allow it.”

Hadley served as Deputy National Security Advisor during the first term of the Bush presidency under then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who is now under indictment in Fitzgerald’s case for obstruction of justice and perjury, along with Rice and Hadley, were members of the National Security Council and of the White House Iraq Group, which was tasked with selling the war in Iraq to the public.

In March 2003, the White House Iraq Group began doing a work-up on Joseph Wilson. Hadley was present at some of these meetings.

Hadley has previously drawn fire for a meeting in September 2002 with the head of Italian intelligence Nicollo Pollari, who was implicated in pushing bogus claims that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. Hadley denies they discussed uranium.

“Nobody participating in that meeting or asked about that meeting has any recollection of a discussion of natural uranium, or any recollection of any documents being passed,” he told reporters earlier this month.

Pollari had been trying to provide the CIA with evidence that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, citing the now debunked documents. The CIA had previously rebuffed his claims, asserting they were unfounded.

Prior to the Iraq Niger claims, a strange meeting in late 2001 whose purpose is unknown links a former Iran Contra figure and Iranian arms dealer with Michael Ledeen, then an alleged consultant to the Under-Secretary of Defense, Douglas Feith. Feith informs Hadley (Hadley later claims that Ghorbanifar was not involved).

CIA director George Tenet later intervenes, and Hadley asks Ledeen to end the meetings. The agency believed Ghorbanifar was a serial liar and barred its officers from engaging him; the meetings continue regardless.

Timeline of events

On Jan. 28, 2003, Bush claimed that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium from Africa in his State of the Union address. It is the very claim that Hadley had seen from Pollari and the very claim that the CIA rejected.

Two days later, the Washington Post reports that Hadley is acting as liaison between the White House and the Senate Intelligence Committee in helping to “sift through intelligence with the help of the CIA, and trying to determine what can be released without damaging the agency’s ability to gather similar information.”

In March 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discredits these documents as forgeries. It is also in March that the US begins combat operations in Iraq.

According to sources, Woodward’s meeting with Hadley occurs in mid-June of 2003, around the same time that Libby begins to meet with New York Times’ Judith Miller, who has since left the paper.

In early July, Wilson writes his New York Times op-ed, entitled “What I did not find in Niger.” The White House responds on two fronts, according to an article published at the time in the Washington Post.

“Behind the scenes, the White House responded with twin attacks: one on Wilson and the other on the CIA, which it wanted to take the blame for allowing the 16 words [on uranium] to have remained in Bush's speech. As part of this effort, then-national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley spoke with Tenet during the week about clearing up CIA responsibility for the 16 words, even though both knew the agency did not believe Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

A former senior CIA official said yesterday that Tenet's statement was drafted within the agency and was shown only to Hadley on July 10 to get White House input. Only a few minor changes were accepted before it was released on July 11, this former official said. He took issue with a New York Times report last week that said Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, had a role in Tenet's statement.”
Several days later, columnist Robert Novak outs Valerie Plame as a CIA operative.

On July 22, Hadley takes full responsibility for the Niger claims in the President’s State of the Union, even though Tenet had already done so on July 11.

The same day, Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, calls Hadley to testify in closed door hearings.

“The chairman of a key congressional committee says he will look closely at new evidence that aides in the White House mishandled communications from the CIA casting doubts on information used by President George Bush to support his case for military action in Iraq,” Voice of America reported.

Roberts has yet to complete the second stage of his investigation into prewar intelligence.

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."

village voice > news > Woodward's Dis

Watergate-era hero reporter on plamegate story? He can put it down.

by Sydney H. Schanberg
November 15th, 2005 11:51 AM

Bob Woodward rightly became a beacon in the journalism world for the groundbreaking shoe-leather reporting he and Carl Bernstein did on the Watergate scandal in 1972 for The Washington Post. Since then he has become known for his books gleaned from rarely given interviews with presidents and other powerful people in Washington's high places. He appears often on television talk shows, giving inside looks at major stories as well as orotund comments on the practice of good journalism.

On October 27, Woodward appeared on CNN's Larry King Live and pronounced that the current Plamegate scandal in the White House was really much ado about nothing.

Here are some of his words: "First of all, this began not as somebody launching a smear campaign. . . . When the story comes out, I'm quite confident we're going to find out that it started kind of as gossip, as chatter, and that somebody learned that Joe Wilson's wife had worked at the CIA and helped him get this job going to Niger to see if there was an Iraq-Niger uranium deal.

"And there's a lot of innocent actions in all of this. . . . Well, this is a junkyard dog prosecutor and he goes everywhere and asks every question and turns over rocks, and rocks under rocks, and so forth. . . . I think it's quite possible, though probably unlikely, that he will say, you know, there was no malice or criminal intent at the start of this. Some people kind of had convenient memories before the grand jury.

"Technically they might be able to be charged with perjury. But I don't see an underlying crime here, and the absence of the underlying crime may cause somebody who is a really thoughtful prosecutor to say, you know maybe this is not one to go to the court with."

Is this the same Bob Woodward whose Watergate scoops were dismissed by Richard Nixon's press secretary, the late Ron Ziegler, as piddling stories about a "third-rate burglary"? Doesn't Woodward remember the reaction by many in the White House press corps, who initially sneered at the story and brushed it off as the fevered product of two lowly cityside reporters covering crime and the courts—which is what Woodward and Bernstein were at the time?

I wish I were wrong, but to me Woodward sounds as if he has come a long way from those shoe-leather days—and maybe on a path that does not become him. He sounds, I think, like those detractors in 1972, as they pooh-poohed the scandal that unraveled the Nixon presidency— the scandal that Woodward and Bernstein doggedly uncovered.

The day after that Larry King show, the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, picked by George W. Bush's own Department of Justice, handed up a grand jury indictment of I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, for perjury, false statements, and obstruction.

Fitzgerald—who in his televised press conference came across as a very thoughtful prosecutor—stressed that there was nothing technical about these charges. They were serious crimes, he said. He also said his investigation into the White House doings was continuing.

It is clear that Fitzgerald does not share Woodward's view that this scandal grew out of idle chitchat and wasn't really a campaign to "out" a CIA operative and punish her husband for challenging the president's weapons-of-mass-destruction rationale for going to war against Iraq.

I wonder what Woodward's newsroom colleagues at The Washington Post think of his put-down of this investigation, especially the reporters—Dana Priest, Walter Pincus, Barton Gellman, Jim VandeHei, and others—who have been doing such an impressive job of digging deep and informing the public about the White House machinations and the larger Iraq story. I doubt they're throwing him any parties.

To write his books, Woodward needs special access to major people in the White House and the key cabinet departments. He is presently working on what he says may be a multivolume treatment of Bush's second term. He had access to the president himself for his book on the first term. But with this scandal still unfolding, lots of government biggies have suddenly zipped their lips. This has complicated Woodward's work. Perhaps that explains, in part, his reluctance to mouth any full-blown criticism of Bush administration missteps.

Also, the indicted Libby has reportedly been a source for Woodward in the past. Critics in the press have suggested that Woodward is too close to some of his sources to provide readers with an undiluted picture of their activities.

His remarks about the Fitzgerald investigation convey the attitude of a sometime insider reluctant to offend—and that is hardly a definition of what a serious, independent reporter is supposed to be. It's a far piece from Watergate.

Woodward Had Recently Denied He Had 'Bombshell' and Downplayed Plame Probe

By E&P Staff

Published: November 16, 2005 12:45 AM ET

NEW YORK Bob Woodward and The Washington Post revealed late Tuesday that he had testified before the federal grand jury probing the Plame/leak scandal on Monday, saying that he, indeed, had talked to an unnamed official about the CIA operative in June 2003, among other revelations (see Bob Woodward Now Embroiled in Plame Scandal). This came as a surprise to most, including his editor, Leonard Downie Jr., particularly since Woodward had downplayed the scandal in numerous TV appearances.

He has called Patrick J. Fitzgerald a "junkyard dog prosecutor" and said in interviews this year that the damage done by Plame's name being revealed in the media was "quite minimal." He told NPR this past summer, "When I think all of the facts come out in this case, it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great."

Here are excerpts from his recent appearance on Larry King's CNN show, with Mike Isikoff of Newsweek, just before the Libby indictments came down. The date was Oct. 27, 2005. Woodward also revealed there, "I'm trying to do a book on the Bush second term."


KING: We're in Washington where things are hopping and we're going to follow up again tomorrow night. We're going to lead this round with Bob Woodward as we turn to tomorrow.

But, Michael Isikoff whispered to me during the break that he has a key question he'd like to ask Mr. Woodward, so I don't know what this is about.

ISIKOFF: No, look, this is the biggest mystery in Washington, has been really for two years and now as we come down to the deadline of tomorrow the city is awash with rumors. There's a new one every 15 minutes and nobody really knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Nobody knows what Fitzgerald's got.

I talked to a source at the White House late this afternoon who told me that Bob is going to have a bombshell in tomorrow's paper identifying the Mr. X source who is behind the whole thing. So, I don't know, maybe this is Bob's opportunity.

KING: Come clean.

WOODWARD: I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker. I'm sorry. In fact, I mean this tells you something about the atmosphere here. I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best New York Timesreporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell....

But Michael's point is exactly right. There is deep mystery here. It only grows with time and people are speculating and there are -- there is so little that people really know.

Now there are a couple of things that I think are true. First of all this began not as somebody launching a smear campaign that it actually -- when the story comes out I'm quite confident we're going to find out that it started kind of as gossip, as chatter and that somebody learned that Joe Wilson's wife had worked at the CIA and helped him get this job going to Niger to see if there was an Iraq/Niger uranium deal....

I don't see an underlying crime here and the absence of the underlying crime may cause somebody who is a really thoughtful prosecutor to say, you know, maybe this is not one to go to the court with.

KING: You're saying this is a maybe.

WOODWARD: A maybe, only a maybe....

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.

Ex-intelligence officials rap Rove - The Boston Globe

Write Bush, urge him to suspend security clearance
By Warren P. Strobel, Knight Ridder Newspapers | November 16, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Sixteen former CIA and military intelligence officials yesterday urged President Bush to suspend the security clearance of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, following revelations that he played a role in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

''We are asking that you immediately suspend the clearances of all White House personnel who spoke to reporters about [Wilson's] affiliation with the CIA. They have mishandled classified information and no longer deserve the level of trust required to have access to this nation's secrets," the former officials, some of whom were covert operatives, wrote to Bush.

Rove, who spoke to at least two journalists about the issue, hasn't been charged with wrongdoing in the case, but is believed to still be under investigation.

Last month, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald indicted I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, on charges of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice.

The White House declined to comment on the letter yesterday evening, saying it involves an ongoing legal matter. Scott McClellan, White House spokesman, was asked last week about Rove's security clearance. ''I'm just not going to talk about an ongoing investigation," McClellan said then.

Many of the former officials who signed the letter to Bush are frequent critics of his administration's handling of intelligence. At least three were Wilson's classmates in training at the CIA.

They also urged Bush to make clear that he wouldn't pardon anyone who is convicted in the outing of Wilson. She apparently was targeted because her husband, retired ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticized the administration's justification for going to war in Iraq.

''If you take these steps you will be sending a clear message that your first priority is the nation's security, rather than your aides' well-being," they wrote.

Rove, believed to be identified as ''Official A," in the Libby indictment, spoke with columnist Robert Novak in July 2003 about the fact that Wilson's wife was a CIA employee. Novak revealed Plame Wilson's identity in a July 14, 2003, column.

Earlier this month, four Democratic congressmen wrote to the White House about Rove's clearance. They noted that a presidential order on awarding security clearances states that disqualifications could include ''questionable judgment" and ''allegations or admissions of criminal conduct, regardless of whether the person was formally charged."

Journalists Said to Figure in Strategy in Leak Case - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 - Lawyers for I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former White House official indicted on perjury charges, plan to seek testimony from journalists beyond those cited in the indictment and will probably challenge government agreements limiting their grand jury testimony, people involved in the case said Tuesday.

"That's clearly going to be part of the strategy - to get access to all the relevant records and determine what did the media really know," said a lawyer close to the defense who spoke on condition of anonymity.

At Mr. Libby's arraignment this month, his lawyers alluded to using a First Amendment defense in fighting the charges, but they have declined to say what that strategy might entail.

In interviews, lawyers close to the case made clear that the defense team plans to pursue aggressively access to reporters' notes beyond the material cited in the indictment and plans to go to the trial judge, Reggie B. Walton of United States District Court, to compel disclosure as one of their first steps.

Defense lawyers plan to seek notes not only from the three reporters cited in the indictment - Tim Russert of NBC News, Matt Cooper of Time Magazine and Judith Miller, formerly of The New York Times - but also from other journalists who have been tied to the case.

Chief among those is Robert D. Novak, who first disclosed in a column in July 2003 that Valerie Plame worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Ms. Plame, also known as Valerie Wilson, is married to Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who became a vocal critic of the Bush administration's use of intelligence on Iraq's weapons capability after he was sent to Niger to investigate reports that Iraq had sought to buy uranium there.

Mr. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted last month on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecutors said he misled a grand jury and investigators about his conversations with journalists about Ms. Wilson.

With critical issues of journalistic confidentiality at stake, lawyers and news media analysts said, the issue of Mr. Libby's access to reporters will probably end up before the appellate court, just as the battle over Ms. Miller's confidentiality agreement did earlier this year.

Ms. Miller spent 85 days in jail after she initially refused a federal judge's order to disclose her source, who turned out to be Mr. Libby.

The prospect of another legal battle over access to reporters' records "could be worse for the media" than the Miller showdown, said Lucy Dalglish, head of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "You now have a situation where you have a government investigation hung completely on testimony from journalists, with journalists turned into witnesses, and that is a scary notion."

Ms. Dalglish said that unlike the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who was restricted partly by Justice Department regulations on subpoenaing reporters' notes, Mr. Libby's defense team will not be bound by those same rules.

"This is a very unsettling case, and it could take years in the courts to resolve," she said.

Mr. Fitzgerald, in securing the cooperation and testimony of some journalists, agreed to limit the scope of his questioning to conversations with certain sources and topics.

But the defense is likely to challenge the limited nature of those interrogations and seek to explore a range of other topics about the reporters' dealings with White House officials, the substances of their conversations and the offers of confidentiality offered to sources, the people involved in the case said.

Lawyers for Mr. Libby have been meeting in recent days to discuss strategy, but they are not known to have contacted any news media officials to seek access to notes or other material in the case.

Lawyers for both the Justice Department and Mr. Libby have acknowledged that First Amendment issues in the case, combined with the time-consuming process of reviewing classified information related to the charges, could cause delays.

The next hearing is set for February, but lawyers say a trial is unlikely until midyear - just as the Bush administration will be gearing up for midterm Congressional elections.

Lawyers for both Mr. Fitzgerald and the defense team declined to discuss strategies.

While some in Washington have speculated that Mr. Libby might be willing to consider a plea bargain as a way of removing a political cloud from the White House, his recent hiring of a number of top trial lawyers - including Theodore V. Wells Jr. and William Jeffress Jr. - signaled that he planned to go to trial.

Woodward Was Told of Plame More Than Two Years Ago

By Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 16, 2005; A01

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case 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.

In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.

Fitzgerald interviewed Woodward about the previously undisclosed conversation after the official alerted the prosecutor to it on Nov. 3 -- one week after Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted in the investigation.

Citing a confidentiality agreement in which the source freed Woodward to testify but would not allow him to discuss their conversations publicly, Woodward and Post editors refused to disclose the official's name or provide crucial details about the testimony. Woodward did not share the information with Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. until last month, and the only Post reporter whom Woodward said he remembers telling in the summer of 2003 does not recall the conversation taking place.

Woodward said he also testified that he met with Libby on June 27, 2003, and discussed Iraq policy as part of his research for a book on President Bush's march to war. He said he does not believe Libby said anything about Plame.

He also told Fitzgerald that it is possible he asked Libby about Plame or her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. He based that testimony on an 18-page list of questions he planned to ask Libby in an interview that included the phrases "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson's wife." Woodward said in his statement, however, that "I had no recollection" of mentioning the pair to Libby. He also said that his original government source did not mention Plame by name, referring to her only as "Wilson's wife."

Woodward's testimony appears to change key elements in the chronology Fitzgerald laid out in his investigation and announced when indicting Libby three weeks ago. It would make the unnamed official -- not Libby -- the first government employee to disclose Plame's CIA employment to a reporter. It would also make Woodward, who has been publicly critical of the investigation, the first reporter known to have learned about Plame from a government source.

The testimony, however, does not appear to shed new light on whether Libby is guilty of lying and obstructing justice in the nearly two-year-old probe or provide new insight into the role of senior Bush adviser Karl Rove, who remains under investigation.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said that Rove is not the unnamed official who told Woodward about Plame and that he did not discuss Plame with Woodward.

William Jeffress Jr., one of Libby's lawyers, said yesterday that Woodward's testimony undermines Fitzgerald's public claims about his client and raises questions about what else the prosecutor may not know. Libby has said he learned Plame's identity from NBC journalist Tim Russert.

"If what Woodward says is so, will Mr. Fitzgerald now say he was wrong to say on TV that Scooter Libby was the first official to give this information to a reporter?" Jeffress said last night. "The second question I would have is: Why did Mr. Fitzgerald indict Mr. Libby before fully investigating what other reporters knew about Wilson's wife?"

Fitzgerald has spent nearly two years investigating whether senior Bush administration officials illegally leaked classified information -- Plame's identity as a CIA operative -- to reporters to discredit allegations made by Wilson. Plame's name was revealed in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak, eight days after Wilson publicly accused the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the Iraq war.

Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment yesterday.

Woodward is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author best known for exposing the Watergate scandal and keeping secret for 30 years the identity of his government source "Deep Throat."

"It was the first time in 35 years as a reporter that I have been asked to provide information to a grand jury," he said in the statement.

Downie said The Post waited until late yesterday to disclose Woodward's deposition in the case in hopes of persuading his sources to allow him to speak publicly. Woodward declined to elaborate on the statement he released to The Post late yesterday afternoon and publicly last night. He would not answer any questions, including those not governed by his confidentiality agreement with sources.

According to his statement, Woodward also testified about a third unnamed source. He told Fitzgerald that he does not recall discussing Plame with this person when they spoke on June 20, 2003.

It is unclear what prompted Woodward's original unnamed source to alert Fitzgerald to the mid-June 2003 mention of Plame to Woodward. Once he did, Fitzgerald sought Woodward's testimony, and three officials released him to testify about conversations he had with them. Downie, Woodward and a Post lawyer declined to discuss why the official may have stepped forward this month.

Downie defended the newspaper's decision not to release certain details about what triggered Woodward's deposition because "we can't do anything in any way to unravel the confidentiality agreements our reporters make."

Woodward never mentioned this contact -- which was at the center of a criminal investigation and a high-stakes First Amendment legal battle between the prosecutor and two news organizations -- to his supervisors until last month. Downie said in an interview yesterday that Woodward told him about the contact to alert him to a possible story. He declined to say whether he was upset that Woodward withheld the information from him.

Downie said he could not explain why Woodward provided a tip about Wilson's wife to Walter Pincus, a Post reporter writing about the subject, but did not pursue the matter when the CIA leak investigation began. He said Woodward has often worked under ground rules while doing research for his books that prevent him from naming sources or even using the information they provide until much later.

Woodward's statement said he testified: "I told Walter Pincus, a reporter at The Post, without naming my source, that I understood Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst."

Pincus said he does not recall Woodward telling him that. In an interview, Pincus said he cannot imagine he would have forgotten such a conversation around the same time he was writing about Wilson.

"Are you kidding?" Pincus said. "I certainly would have remembered that."

Pincus said Woodward may be confused about the timing and the exact nature of the conversation. He said he remembers Woodward making a vague mention to him in October 2003. That month, Pincus had written a story explaining how an administration source had contacted him about Wilson. He recalled Woodward telling him that Pincus was not the only person who had been contacted.

Woodward, who is preparing a third book on the Bush administration, has called Fitzgerald "a junkyard-dog prosecutor" who turns over every rock looking for evidence. The night before Fitzgerald announced Libby's indictment, Woodward said he did not see evidence of criminal intent or of a substantial crime behind the leak.

"When the story comes out, I'm quite confident we're going to find out that it started kind of as gossip, as chatter," he told CNN's Larry King.

Woodward also said in interviews this summer and fall that the damage done by Plame's name being revealed in the media was "quite minimal."

"When I think all of the facts come out in this case, it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great," he told National Public Radio this summer.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company