November 16, 2005 in Nation/World

Editor testifies in leak case

Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig Washington Post

WASHINGTON – Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.

In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released Tuesday.

Fitzgerald interviewed Woodward about the previously undisclosed conversation after the official alerted the prosecutor to it on Nov. 3 – one week after Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was indicted in the investigation.

Citing a confidentiality agreement in which the source freed Woodward to testify but would not allow him to discuss their conversations publicly, Woodward and Post editors refused to disclose the official’s name or provide crucial details about the testimony.

Woodward said he also testified that he met with Libby on June 27, 2003, and discussed Iraq policy as part of his research for a book on President Bush’s march to war. He said he does not believe Libby said anything about Plame.

Woodward’s testimony appears to change key elements in the chronology Fitzgerald laid out in his investigation and announced when indicting Libby three weeks ago. It would make the unnamed official – not Libby – the first government employee to disclose Plame’s CIA employment to a reporter. It would also make Woodward the first reporter known to have learned about Plame from a government source.

The testimony, however, does not appear to shed new light on whether Libby is guilty of lying and obstructing justice in the nearly two-year-old probe or provide new insight into the role of senior Bush adviser Karl Rove, who remains under investigation.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said that Rove is not the unnamed official who told Woodward about Plame and that he did not discuss Plame with Woodward.

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