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

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Woodward expresses regrets in CIA leak case - Yahoo! News

By Adam Entous

Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward on Monday expressed regret about some of his conduct in the CIA leak probe, and compared his pledge not to name his source to the promise he made to "Deep Throat" in the Watergate case.

Woodward, in an interview with CNN's Larry King, said he should not have voiced personal opinions about the criminal investigation on television and should have informed Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie sooner about his involvement.

One of the best-known investigative reporters in the United States, Woodward revealed last week that he had testified under oath to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that a senior Bush administration official told him in mid-June 2003 about CIA operative Valerie Plame's position at the agency.

Woodward said he spoke to his high-level source about Plame approximately a week to 10 days before New York Times reporter Judith Miller's June 23, 2003 meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Libby was charged last month with perjury and obstructing justice in the leak case, and Fitzgerald said at the time that Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter about Plame.

One of two Washington Post reporters famed for coverage of the 1970s Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon, Woodward has apologized to Downie for waiting more than two years to tell him about his involvement in the Plame case.

"I should have, as I have many, many times, taken him into my confidence. And I did not," Woodward said.

Woodward said Downie now knows the identity of his confidential source, and called it "fair game" for other reporters to try to figure out who the source is.

But he said he would not violate his promise of confidentiality, calling it "the vital lifeline" of his work as an investigative reporter. "I'm not going to go out and risk that," Woodward said.

"Hopefully, this isn't going to be 33 years until we find out exactly what happened," Woodward added, referring to former FBI man Mark Felt, who revealed he was "Deep Throat" earlier this year.

Woodward has come under fire from media experts and Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell for withholding what he knew about Plame from Downie and for making public statements dismissive of the investigation without disclosing his own involvement.

In a series of television and radio interviews before publicly disclosing his involvement, Woodward described the leak case as laughable and Fitzgerald's inquiry as "disgraceful."

Woodward said he should not have expressed his personal opinions about the investigation on television, adding "I think I was a little hyper and (had) a lot of pent-up frustrations."

Woodward stood by his earlier assessment that there was no "vast conspiracy to slime" Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson by outing his wife.

Woodward Explains Silence in Leak Case - Yahoo! News

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward dismissed claims that he should have revealed his role in the CIA leak case when he discussed the investigation on news interview shows.

Woodward said on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday night: "Every time somebody appears on your show talking about the news or giving some sort of analysis, there are going to be things that they can't talk about."

Woodward again acknowledged that he should have told his editor at the Post.

"I have a great relationship with Len Downie, the editor of the Post, and I was trying to avoid being subpoenaed," Woodward said. "And I should have, as I have many, many times, taken him into my confidence. And I did not."

The Post's ombudsman, Deborah Howell wrote in Sunday's editions that Woodward erred by publicly commenting on the case on King's show and on National Public Radio without mentioning that a top Bush administration official had told him the name of a covert CIA officer.

Howell wrote that Woodward had committed a "deeply serious sin ... the kind that can get even a very good reporter in the doghouse for a very long time."

"He has to operate under the rules that govern the rest of the staff — even if he's rich and famous," she wrote.

A special prosecutor conducted a two-year investigation of the leak of the name of the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, to reporters.

The probe has resulted in the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, 55, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on charges that he lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned about Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters.

Plame's identity was revealed in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium "yellowcake" in Niger.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald portrayed Libby as the first government official to have shared Plame's name and her work at the CIA. But the Post reported that Woodward, who achieved fame for his reporting on the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration, may have been the first reporter to learn about Plame in mid-June of 2003, before the Novak column ran.

"I don't like this," Woodward said Monday on CNN. "This is a mighty uncomfortable situation. ... And, yes, some people are unhappy and angry about my role, but, you know, you keep running into situations as a reporter. Where are you going to go?"

Woodward again questioned the importance of the case. "When it all comes out — and hopefully it will come out — people will see how casual and offhand this was," he told King.

"Remember, the investigation and the allegations that people have printed about this story is that there's some vast conspiracy to slime Joe Wilson and his wife, really attack him in an ugly way that is outside of the boundaries of political hardball," Woodward said.

"The evidence I had firsthand — a small piece of the puzzle, I acknowledge — is that that was not the case." - Woodward unveiled - Nov 21, 2005

By Viveca Novak and Nancy Gibbs

Bob Woodward became a legend at the Washington Post writing about what happens behind closed doors in the corridors of power. But last week the news was all about what happens behind closed doors at the Post. And rather than bringing clarity to the murky case of Who Leaked What to Whom about CIA operative Valerie Plame, the revelations about Woodward's role only added more complexity to both the case and the deepening debate over the rules star journalists get to play by.

Until now, the definitive account of the leak case was the one offered by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald last month when he announced the indictment of vice-presidential chief of staff I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. New York Times reporter Judith Miller told Fitzgerald's grand jury that Libby told her about Plame, the wife of Joseph Wilson, an outspoken critic of the Administration, as early as June 23, 2003. But last week Woodward introduced another mystery leaker who had identified the CIA connection of Wilson's wife even earlier, in mid-June. Woodward testified that while he didn't believe Plame ever came up in his talks with Libby, he had already heard about her CIA role from a "casual" conversation with another government official in the course of interviews for his book Plan of Attack, about the Administration's strategy leading up to the war. His source had called Wilson's wife a WMD "analyst," a designation that would not necessarily indicate her undercover status.

Nonetheless, that made Woodward the first known journalist to be told Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. But he said nothing then or in the months that followed as Fitzgerald launched his investigation and all Washington was consumed by a debate over spies and secrets and sources. Woodward kept what he knew secret even from Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. But as the case heated up this fall and Woodward joined in the reporting, "I learned something more" about the leak, he told TIME, which prompted him to finally tell Downie of his 2003 conversation.

When Fitzgerald said Libby was the first known Administration official to reveal Plame's name to a reporter, Woodward called his source, he says, and noted the timing of their conversation. "My source then said he or she had no alternative but to go to the prosecutor," he says. "I said, 'If you do, am I released [from our confidentiality agreement]?'" According to Woodward, the source said yes, but only to talk to Fitzgerald about the conversation, not to reveal the source's name publicly. Woodward has refused to say publicly who the source is but notes that "the process of my reporting was the catalyst for the source to go to the prosecutor and for me to be called by Fitzgerald." Woodward also told TIME that he had gone to his source twice before -- once in 2004 and the second time earlier this year -- and asked to be released from his pledge, but that the source had declined.

The core of Fitzgerald's case -- that Libby made false statements that impeded the investigation -- remains untouched by the Woodward news. But the surrounding weather certainly shifted, as Libby's lawyers called the news a "bombshell" that supported Libby's claim that Plame's identity was common knowledge among reporters. Whatever the impact on Libby, the trouble for Woodward was clear. He seemed to be trapped between his loyalty to the Post and its readers and his parallel franchise, writing best-selling books drawn from sources deep inside the Administration whose identities he promises to protect. He apologized to colleagues for not revealing sooner his role in a leak investigation he had publicly dismissed as "disgraceful." Asked by TV's Larry King the night before the indictment about rumors that Woodward actually knew who the leaker was, he didn't dodge the suggestion but flatly denied it. "I wish I did have a bombshell," he said. "I don't even have a firecracker." He described the leak as "gossip and chatter" that would be of interest only to "a junkyard-dog prosecutor" like Fitzgerald.

After their meeting last week, he had only praise for Fitzgerald, to whom Woodward turned over his calendar from that period and an 18-page list of questions for his book that he had shared with Libby, in which all the queries were blacked out except two related to Plame. During his time with the prosecutor, Woodward said, he found Fitzgerald "incredibly sensitive to what we do. He didn't infringe on my other reporting, which frankly surprised me."

Challenged on his public statements as well as his private conduct, Woodward explained that he had "hunkered down" out of fear of being subpoenaed at a time when reporters like Miller and TIME's Matthew Cooper were being jailed or threatened with jail unless they revealed their sources. Elsewhere in the newsroom, Post colleagues were none too happy. On an internal chat board, columnist Jonathan Yardley argued that "this is the logical and perhaps inevitable outcome when an institution permits an individual to become larger than the institution itself."

It was a rough week all around. The White House confronted another twist that could only prolong a politically damaging case. Fitzgerald confirmed that he would be presenting evidence to a new grand jury. Other possible targets had to be worried that there is still an aggressive investigation going on with the possibility of further indictments to come. And Fitzgerald, a tireless prosecutor with a reputation for thoroughness, had to wonder, after two years and millions of dollars and countless hours of hunting, what else is out there that he missed.

Wilson, at NU, asks newspaper to probe reporter's role in leak - The Boston Globe

By Paysha Stockton, Globe Correspondent | November 22, 2005

Joseph C. Wilson IV, husband of Valerie Plame Wilson, called on The Washington Post last night to investigate the conduct of Bob Woodward, the investigative reporter, in the leaking of Plame Wilson's name to the news media.

Woodward admitted last week that a Bush administration official had disclosed Plame Wilson's identity to him more than two years ago. He did not alert his editors or officials investigating the leak to columnist Robert Novak, as well as to Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times who left after the turmoil.

''I think it would be useful for The Washington Post to do an inquiry, like The New York Times," Wilson said at Northeastern University's Blackman Auditorium. He was referring to the investigation that led to Miller's resignation this month.

Wilson, a former ambassador and diplomat, spoke to several hundred Northeastern students before signing copies of his book about the leak of his wife's name.

He did not call strenuously for Woodward to disclose his sources, ''though I certainly would like him to," he said in an interview before the lecture.

I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, has been indicted on charges of lying about leaking Plame Wilson's name to Novak. He also faces charges of perjury, obstructing justice, and making false statements, after testifying that he had learned about Plame Wilson's position from Tim Russert, the NBC analyst. Libby, who resigned after his indictment, has pleaded not guilty.

While Woodward has refused to name his source, he testified in front of the special counsel, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, for more than two hours on Nov. 14. There, he admitted that a senior Bush official had disclosed Plame Wilson's identity to him in mid-June of 2003, almost a month before Novak wrote about her.

Wilson said Bush administration officials had disclosed his wife's identity to punish him for an article he wrote for The New York Times, published in July 2003. In the article, he said Iraq had not bought uranium for weapons from Niger.

He and his wife reacted differently to the leak, he said. Initially, he cursed and ranted privately about the disclosure.

''Valerie, on the other hand, said she felt like she had been kicked in the stomach," Wilson said. But she moved quickly to salvage what operations and relationships she could, he said.

Wilson said he hopes the orders to ruin his wife's career did not come from the top.

''I would hope it stops there," he said of Libby's indictment. ''I take no pleasure in this whatsoever. I don't particularly want this to be a constitutional crisis."