- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 16, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Post editor Bob Woodward testified that a senior Bush administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame about a month before her identity was publicly exposed, The Post acknowledged yesterday.

Mr. Woodward told special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of her identity, that the official talked to him about Mrs. Plame in mid-June 2003, The Post said. Mr. Woodward and other editors at The Post refused to identify the official other than to say it was not I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

Mr. Libby was indicted last month on one charge of obstruction of justice and two counts each of false statements and perjury in connection with Mr. Fitzgerald’s investigation.

Mrs. Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, had criticized U.S. intelligence efforts before the Iraq war. On June 23, 2003, Mr. Libby told former New York Times reporter Judith Miller that Mr. Wilson’s wife might work at the CIA. Robert Novak, in a column published July 14, 2003, identified Mrs. Plame as a CIA operative.

Mr. Woodward’s testimony in a two-hour deposition Monday would mean that another White House official told a reporter about Mrs. Plame before Mr. Libby revealed her identity to Mrs. Miller. A spokesman for White House adviser Karl Rove told The Post that Mr. Rove did not discuss Mrs. Plame with Mr. Woodward.

William Jeffress Jr., one of Mr. Libby’s attorneys, told The Post that Mr. 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?” Mr. Jeffress said.

Mr. Woodward, whose investigation with Carl Bernstein of the Watergate scandal led to the resignation of President Nixon, is now an assistant managing editor at The Post.

In October, he was dismissive of the outing of Mrs. Plame, telling CNN’s Larry King that the damage from her exposure was “quite minimal.” He told an interviewer for National Public Radio during the summer: “When, I think, all of the facts come out in this case, it’s going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great.”

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