Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thursday 17 November 2005

Under Fire, Woodward Offers Reason He Didn't Write Plame Story

Not Comfortable With Public Meetings; Didn't Have High-Level Secret FBI Source

Following his disclosure that a source told him about Valerie Plame two-years ago, and that he recently testified before Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the Grand Jury investigating the CIA Leak, Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward, and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, has come under a barrage of fire, including from his own newspaper and colleagues, and is seeking to set the record straight.

In a written statement published yesterday, Woodward said that he told Post colleague Walter Pincus, a reporter, without naming his source, and that he was told Plame's name and status while "confidential background interviews for my 2004 book "Plan of Attack" about the lead up to the Iraq war, ongoing reporting for The Washington Post and research for a book on Bush's second term to be published in 2006.

Woodward also indicated he didn’t step forward with the information, or tell Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. until last month because he didn't want to be subpoenaed.

Throughout the investigation by Fitzgerald, and leading up to the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Woodward spoke often on the case, saying it "wouldn't amount to much", that it was "laughable" and calling Fitzgerald a "junkyard dog prosecutor".

In a brief press conference today, Woodward sought to clarify his remarks and explain his position.

First, Woodward indicate he is still not free to name his source.

"My source is a source, I can't give any name to my source. I only have permission to call my source a source. And that holds until my source dies, then I can, if I choose, name my source. If I die before my source dies, my source cannot name themselves. The identity of the source dies with me - unless we agree, at some future point, that I name my source, or my source names themselves"

Having, with his colleague, Carl Bernstein, investigated and wrote the story of Watergate, the scandal the brought down President Nixon and his administration, Woodward said he "wasn't comfortable" writing about the Plame affair.

'I didn't have a good feel for it," stated Woodward. "I also didn't have a secret, high-level, FBI source that could give me leads, and that I could confirm leads with."

Woodward is referring to Mark Felt, former Assistant Director of the FBI and infamous "Deepthroat" informant from the Watergate story.

"This was a CIA matter and I don't have any close contacts there."

Woodward also indicated that his source wasn't "very clandestine"

"We would meet in the source's office, or have coffee at a Starbucks. They even wanted to talk over lunches and dinners, at public cafes and restaurants"

"At one point," said Woodward, "I suggested a 1AM meeting, at a location in Northern Virginia and my source looked at me like I was crazy … Said that they went to bed by 9:30PM."

Woodward says he even reached out to Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, to see if he had "any paperwork on Plame or the CIA that he could leak to me."

"There was no money to follow, no break-ins," said Woodward. "It was, pretty much, just your straight, run-of-the-mill, leak-and-smear campaign"

Woodward is attempting to stem the criticism, that he is a "White House Stenographer" or crony.

In stating the he told his colleague, Walter Pincus, about being told about Plame, Pinucs says he "doesn't recall Woodward telling him that". As Pincus has been writing about the Plame matter, and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Pincus says "he cannot imagine he would have forgotten such a conversation."

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

Woodward said he "doubts" he would start writing about the Plame case now.

"There's likely still a lot to come out on this," admitted Woodward, "but I think that most of the Pulitzer work has already been done, so I don't see what would be in it for me."

At a press conference this morning, Donald Trump explained his firing of Martha Stewart, as "the Big Donald told me to do it and you don't say no to the Big Donald"

No comments: