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Journalists Testify That Libby Never Mentioned CIA Officer

Pincus's account conflicted with Fleischer's testimony last month. As a prosecution witness, Fleischer said he mentioned Plame only to two reporters -- John Dickerson, then of Time magazine, and David Gregory of NBC News -- during a July 2003 trip that President Bush took to Africa. Dickerson has said Fleischer never mentioned Plame to him.

A spokesman for Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald declined to comment on the conflicting testimony.

When Pincus gave a deposition to investigators during the federal probe of the CIA leak, he did not identify his source. He told jurors that he was naming Fleischer now because the former press secretary gave him permission to do so last week.

Woodward's testimony would make him the first journalist known to have been told about Plame by a Bush administration official. At the time of his interview with Armitage, Woodward said, he had learned through reporting that Wilson was the former ambassador who was sent to Africa by the CIA, and he was surprised Wilson's name had not yet surfaced publicly.

In a tape recording of the interview played for the jury, Armitage explains that the CIA took the Niger claim out of a presidential speech in October 2002 but it somehow found its way into Bush's State of the Union address months later. Woodward is heard asking about Wilson and how he happened to make the Niger trip. Some expletives in the conversation were redacted for the jury.

Armitage explains that "his wife works at the agency" on "WMD" issues.

"High enough that wife can say, 'Oh, yeah, hubby will go?' " Woodward asks.

Armitage responds that Wilson "knows Africa," and he ends the conversation with "How about that [expletive]?"

Novak said part of the reason he wrote about Wilson and his wife was that he found Wilson unpleasant and a "questionable choice" to look into the Niger claims after he met him while both were waiting to go onto a television interview program.

"He was saying that things had been done in a superior way in the National Security Council before in the Clinton administration," Novak recalled. "I thought it was sort of an obnoxious performance."

Defense attorney Theodore Wells Jr. pressed Novak to say that hundreds of reporters and others could have known what was going to appear in his July 14 column in the days preceding its publication, because the material was sent over the Associated Press wire on July 11 or July 12. Novak said he discussed the information about Wilson's wife with a close friend, conservative lobbyist Richard Hohlt, on July 11.

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