Friday, November 18, 2005


Much navel gazing since Wednesday, when we last opined about Bob Woodward's bombshell that he'd testified under oath in the CIA leak scandal. This isn't a clone of the Judith Miller case, but its rumble could shake the Washington Post in the same way Miller rattled the New York Times.

Same way? Hell. Woodward's disclosure could bring down the House of Graham, especially if Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald keeps the heat on. Woodward isn't helping his case any by continuing to lip off about what really happened.

Latest example: Time magazine answers one burning question -- why did Woodward's secret source spill his/her guts?
In the final weeks before the grand jury indicted vice presidential aide I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby on Oct. 28 for perjury and obstruction of justice, Woodward says he was asked by [Post Editor Len] Downie to help report on the status of the probe. In the course of his reporting, Woodward says, "I learned something more" about the disclosure of Plame's identity, which prompted him to admit to Downie for the first time that he had been told of Plame’s CIA job by a senior administration official in mid June 2003.

In his press conference announcing Libby’s indictment, Fitzgerald noted that, "Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson." Woodward realized, given that the indictment stated Libby disclosed the information to New York Times reporter Miller on June 23, that Libby was not the first official to talk about Wilson's wife to a reporter. Woodward himself had received the information earlier.

According to Woodward, that triggered a call to his source. "I said it was clear to me that the source had told me in mid-June," says Woodward, "and this person could check his or her records and see that it was mid-June. My source said he or she had no alternative but to go to the prosecutor.
I said, 'If you do, am I released?'", referring to the confidentiality agreement between the two. The source said yes, but only for purposes of discussing it with Fitzgerald, not for publication.
Woodward as little fact-checker, calling back his source to remind him/her of their conversation that had escaped the prosecutor's spotlight? Doesn't that seem a bit beneath the man who brought down Nixon?

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