November 18, 2005


Why Woodward's Source Came Clean: The famed Washington Post journalist describes the series of events that lead him and his source to Fitzgerald (VIVECA NOVAK, 11/18/05, TIME)

In an interview today, Woodward described the sequence of conversations with his source and Post executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr. that led to the latest twist in Fitzgerald’s investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of administration critic Wilson. [...]

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 [about Wilson's wife] 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 The source said yes, but only for purposes of discussing it with Fitzgerald, not for publication.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2005 5:34 PM

I used to think it was Powell. Given this news, Armitage seems more likely. He's essentially apolitical and has the requisite stones.

Posted by: ghostcat at November 18, 2005 5:55 PM

He's just Colin's bagman.

Posted by: oj at November 18, 2005 6:08 PM

The media would have given up Armitage or Ari Fleischer in a heart beat.

Only Powell would generate this much angst among the media. They'd all go to jail rather than expose him as their contact to the Bush White House.

Posted by: erp at November 18, 2005 6:09 PM

ghostcat and erp: that would fit with my long-term feeling about all this. It doesn't make sense that the media has been acting so protective of someone in the Bush administration, unless it was someone they liked. And there aren't many people who fit that description.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 18, 2005 6:14 PM

Not sure how this helps Scooter other than proving that reporters have bad memories and that Palme's employer was known.

Armitage was largely seen as an internal opponent of the Iraq invasion. But I am sure he is smart enough to see Joe Wilson as a clown and his junket to Niger as a joke.

Woodwards overall attitude about the thing is helpful given he's the guy all the little reporters want to be.

Posted by: JAB at November 18, 2005 6:18 PM

He didn't leak first. He didn't leak to the one guy you'd leak to if you wanted it out. Others knew. Others didn't recall details because so unimportant. Others didn't realize she might be covert....

Posted by: oj at November 18, 2005 6:22 PM

All the little reporters want to be stooges for the FBI?

Posted by: joe shropshire at November 18, 2005 6:22 PM

At first, I thought this was the 21st century equivalent of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. But if we have reporters falling on their swords to conceal a source, well then,it starts to get interesting....

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at November 18, 2005 6:30 PM

Little reporters want to be the big man who gets played by Robert Redford in the movie. They think Watergate was the high point in American history, not the low point.

Posted by: JAB at November 18, 2005 6:38 PM

Viveca isn't the Novak whose story is interesting...

Posted by: b at November 18, 2005 7:40 PM

JAB: It changes the story from Libby wanting to out Plame, being the first person to leak it and then lying about having heard it from Russert to Libby just being one of a number of people gossiping about it, having heard it from a reporter and just being mistaken about the reporter being Russert (if he was mistaken). Fitzgerald's theory has been that Libby must be lying (that is, it isn't just he said/he said between Libby and Russert) because it wasn't out before Libby leaked. If a bunch of people knew it, then that implication becomes (reasonably) doubtful.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 18, 2005 8:56 PM

Thanks for explaining. That makes sense if he claims he was confused by gossip. These guys must talk to over 100 people per day.

Posted by: JAB at November 18, 2005 9:06 PM

The fact that Woodward and Walter Pincus are in conflict about whether or not Pincus was told about Woodward's June conversation also helps Libby, in that it makes the faulty memory claim more plausable. If the Post's reporters can't remember who told what to whom, then Libby's contradictions with Russert over his timeline claims gain credibiility, at least to the point of being within reasonable doubt in a court trial.

Posted by: John at November 18, 2005 11:19 PM

Yep. This is delightful. The thing that made Watergate work was that there were only two reporters, Woodward and what's-his-name, and one informant. More than that and they can't keep their stories straight.

Posted by: joe shropshire at November 18, 2005 11:56 PM

I heard that Fitzgerald was calling another grand Jury. I assume he will have to indict Cheney to salvage his reputation.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 19, 2005 2:15 AM