November 21, 2005

Woodward expresses some regrets in CIA leak case

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington Post journalist Bob
Woodward on Monday expressed regret about some of his conduct
in the CIA leak probe, and compared his pledge not to name his
source to the promise he made to "Deep Throat" in the Watergate

Woodward, in an interview with CNN's Larry King, said he
should not have voiced personal opinions about the criminal
investigation on television and should have informed Washington
Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie sooner about his

One of the best-known investigative reporters in the United
States, Woodward revealed last week that he had testified under
oath to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that a senior
Bush administration official told him in mid-June 2003 about
CIA operative Valerie Plame's position at the agency.

Woodward said he spoke to his high-level source about Plame
approximately a week to 10 days before New York Times reporter
Judith Miller's June 23, 2003 meeting with Vice President Dick
Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Libby was charged last month with perjury and obstructing
justice in the leak case, and Fitzgerald said at the time that
Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter
about Plame.

One of two Washington Post reporters famed for coverage of
the 1970s Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard
Nixon, Woodward has apologized to Downie for waiting more than
two years to tell him about his involvement in the Plame case.

"I should have, as I have many, many times, taken him into
my confidence. And I did not," Woodward said.

Woodward said Downie now knows the identity of his
confidential source, and called it "fair game" for other
reporters to try to figure out who the source is.

But he said he would not violate his promise of
confidentiality, calling it "the vital lifeline" of his work as
an investigative reporter. "I'm not going to go out and risk
that," Woodward said.

"Hopefully, this isn't going to be 33 years until we find
out exactly what happened," Woodward added, referring to former
FBI man Mark Felt, who revealed he was "Deep Throat" earlier
this year.

Woodward has come under fire from media experts and
Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell for withholding what
he knew about Plame from Downie and for making public
statements dismissive of the investigation without disclosing
his own involvement.

In a series of television and radio interviews before
publicly disclosing his involvement, Woodward described the
leak case as laughable and Fitzgerald's inquiry as

Woodward said he should not have expressed his personal
opinions about the investigation on television, adding "I think
I was a little hyper and (had) a lot of pent-up frustrations."

Woodward stood by his earlier assessment that there was no
"vast conspiracy to slime" Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson by
outing his wife.