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Woodward Was Told of Plame More Than Two Years Ago
Woodward is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author best known for exposing the Watergate scandal and keeping secret for 30 years the identity of his government source "Deep Throat."
"It was the first time in 35 years as a reporter that I have been asked to provide information to a grand jury," he said in the statement.
Downie said The Post waited until late yesterday to disclose Woodward's deposition in the case in hopes of persuading his sources to allow him to speak publicly. Woodward declined to elaborate on the statement he released to The Post late yesterday afternoon and publicly last night. He would not answer any questions, including those not governed by his confidentiality agreement with sources.
According to his statement, Woodward also testified about a third unnamed source. He told Fitzgerald that he does not recall discussing Plame with this person when they spoke on June 20, 2003.
It is unclear what prompted Woodward's original unnamed source to alert Fitzgerald to the mid-June 2003 mention of Plame to Woodward. Once he did, Fitzgerald sought Woodward's testimony, and three officials released him to testify about conversations he had with them. Downie, Woodward and a Post lawyer declined to discuss why the official may have stepped forward this month.
Downie defended the newspaper's decision not to release certain details about what triggered Woodward's deposition because "we can't do anything in any way to unravel the confidentiality agreements our reporters make."
Woodward never mentioned this contact -- which was at the center of a criminal investigation and a high-stakes First Amendment legal battle between the prosecutor and two news organizations -- to his supervisors until last month. Downie said in an interview yesterday that Woodward told him about the contact to alert him to a possible story. He declined to say whether he was upset that Woodward withheld the information from him.
Downie said he could not explain why Woodward said he provided a tip about Wilson's wife to Walter Pincus, a Post reporter writing about the subject, but did not pursue the matter when the CIA leak investigation began. He said Woodward has often worked under ground rules while doing research for his books that prevent him from naming sources or even using the information they provide until much later.
Woodward's statement said he testified: "I told Walter Pincus, a reporter at The Post, without naming my source, that I understood Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst."
Pincus said he does not recall Woodward telling him that. In an interview, Pincus said he cannot imagine he would have forgotten such a conversation around the same time he was writing about Wilson.
"Are you kidding?" Pincus said. "I certainly would have remembered that."
Pincus said Woodward may be confused about the timing and the exact nature of the conversation. He said he remembers Woodward making a vague mention to him in October 2003. That month, Pincus had written a story explaining how an administration source had contacted him about Wilson. He recalled Woodward telling him that Pincus was not the only person who had been contacted.
Pincus and fellow Post reporter Glenn Kessler have been questioned in the investigation.
Woodward, who is preparing a third book on the Bush administration, has called Fitzgerald "a junkyard-dog prosecutor" who turns over every rock looking for evidence. The night before Fitzgerald announced Libby's indictment, Woodward said he did not see evidence of criminal intent or of a major crime behind the leak.
"When the story comes out, I'm quite confident we're going to find out that it started kind of as gossip, as chatter," he told CNN's Larry King.
Woodward also said in interviews this summer and fall that the damage done by Plame's name being revealed in the media was "quite minimal."
"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," he told National Public Radio this summer.