Woodward Says His Plame Source Not Libby
WASHINGTON - Vice President Cheney's former top aide, indicted last month on perjury and obstruction charges, reviewed documents Wednesday at a federal courthouse.
Accompanied by his legal team, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby walked into the courthouse without the crutches that he'd been using during a court appearance two weeks ago when he pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the CIA leak investigation.
Libby's visit to the courthouse came hours The Washington Post reported that at least one senior Bush administration official ? who was not identified ? told editor Bob Woodward about CIA operative Valerie Plame about a month before her identity was publicly exposed.
The newspaper reported that Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of Plame's identity, that the official talked to him about Plame in mid-June 2003. Woodward and editors at the Post refused to identify the official to reporters other than to say it was not Libby.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Karl Rove's legal team, said Rove was not the official who talked to Woodward. Rove is a top deputy to President Bush and was referred to, but not by name, in Libby's indictment, as having discussed Plame's identity with reporters.
Libby was indicted last month on one charge of obstruction of justice and two counts each of false statement and perjury in connection with Fitzgerald's investigation.
Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had criticized U.S. intelligence efforts before the Iraq war. On June 23, Libby told New York Times reporter Judith Miller that Wilson's wife might work at the CIA. Robert Novak, in a column published July 14, identified Plame, as a CIA operative.
Woodward's testimony in a two-hour deposition Monday would mean that another White House official told a reporter about Plame before Libby revealed her identity to Miller. A spokesman for White House adviser Karl Rove told the Post that Rove did not discuss Plame with Woodward.
William Jeffress Jr., one of Libby's lawyers, told the Post that Woodward's testimony raises questions about his client's indictment. "Will Mr. Fitzgerald now say he was wrong to say on TV that Scooter Libby was the first official to give this information to a reporter?" Jeffress said.
Woodward, famous for his investigation with Carl Bernstein of the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration, is now assistant managing editor of the Post. In October, he was dismissive of the outing of Plame, telling CNN's Larry King that the damage from her exposure was "quite minimal."
On Wednesday, Woodward apologized for not telling his boss, Washington Post's executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., about his being among the journalists who were told about Plame's identity, even as the investigation morphed into a national scandal.
Woodward held back the information because he wanted to protect his sources and because he was worried about being subpoenaed in the inquiry, according to the newspaper's Web site.
"I hunkered down. I'm in the habit of keeping secrets," Woodward said. "I didn't want anything out there that was going to get me subpoenaed."
Meanwhile, The Associated Press on Wednesday joined other news organizations in asking U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to deny a court motion by Fitzgerald for a blanket protective order keeping all pretrial evidence in Libby's case out of public view.
The special prosecutor is seeking a court order that would prohibit Libby and his legal team from publicly disclosing "all materials produced by the government."
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