Woodward Expresses Regrets in CIA Leak Case
By Adam Entous
WASHINGTON — 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 case.
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 involvement.
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 “disgraceful.”
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.