Bob Woodward of the Washington Post said in testimony he delivered to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald last week that a senior administration official had revealed to him the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in the most recent development of the investigation.
Woodward, made famous by his coverage of the Watergate criminal investigations, said that an official had casually told him in June 2003 that Plame worked for the CIA as an analyst of weapons of mass destruction.
He said in his testimony that his senior official source had told him that “Wilson’s wife” was involved with the CIA.
Woodward did not believe the information to be classified, according to a released statement.
The disclosure of Woodward’s testimony came two weeks after Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, was indicted on five counts for releasing classified information about Plame’s identity to various journalists and lying to investigators about his involvement in the leaks.
Woodward was asked to testify after the unnamed official came forward and told Fitzgerald of the conversation he had with Woodward.
Woodward is a Washington Post investigative reporter, Pulitzer Prize winner, and an author who is famous for exposing the Watergate scandal with fellow journalist Carl Bernstein and for concealing his source for the story, ‘Deep Throat’, for 30 years.
The Washington Post and Woodward refused to disclose the name of the official who leaked to him the information concerning Plame’s identity.
“We can’t do anything in any way to unravel the confidentiality agreements our reporters make,” Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said in a statement.
Woodward did not admit to Downie that he had been approached with Plame’s name until last month.
He also revealed in his testimony that he did not discuss Plame’s identity with Libby in his interview with him on June 27, 2003.
Woodward’s claims that his source revealed Plame’s identity in early June and that Libby was not his original source place doubt on Fitzgerald’s assertion that Libby was the first to leak Plame’s name, referring to Libby’s meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller on June 23, 2003 in which Libby discussed Plame’s CIA position with her.
Woodward’s unnamed source has yet to be revealed.
Senior officials Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Stephen Hadley have publicly denied releasing the classified information to Woodward.
The Washington Post’s ombudsman Deborah Howell has publicly criticized Woodward’s failure to disclose the information to Downie, calling it a “deeply serious sin.”
“He has to operate under the rules that govern the rest of the staff,” said Howell. “The Post needs to exercise more oversight.”
Howell called Woodward a “master of the anonymous source.”
Woodward has called his decision to withhold information from Downie, a mistake.
“I should have done – as I have many, many times – taken [Downie] into my confidence,” he said in an interview on Larry King Live, “and I did not”.
Woodward told King he could not reveal his source.
“To get what’s at the bottom of the barrel, you have to establish relationships of confidentiality with people at all levels of government,” Woodward said. “You have to establish relationships of trust.”