Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was not the senior Bush administration official who told Washington Post editor Bob Woodward that White House critic Joseph Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA, a Rice aide said Saturday.
“Secretary Rice wasn’t Woodward’s source,” Rice senior adviser Jim Wilkinson said.
Rice was President Bush’s White House national security adviser in June 2003, when Woodward says a highly placed official told him of Valerie Plame’s CIA connection. Woodward has said the source was someone other than I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff and the only person indicted in a federal probe of the leak case.
Rice took over from Colin Powell as the nation’s top diplomat in January. She is traveling with Bush in Asia this week, as is her successor as national security adviser, Stephen Hadley.
Hadley won’t say if he was Woodward’s source. But Hadley volunteered on Friday that some administration officials say he’s not the leaker.
Hadley was asked at a news briefing in Busan, Korea, whether he was Woodward’s source.
Referring to news accounts about the case, Hadley said with a smile, “I’ve also seen press reports from White House officials saying that I am not one of his sources.” He said he would not comment further because the CIA leak case remains under investigation.
Leaving the room, Hadley was asked if his answer amounted to a yes or a no. “It is what it is,” he said.
Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor who has been investigating the leak of the CIA operative’s identity, is continuing his probe and will present additional evidence to another grand jury, according to court papers filed Friday.
He declined to comment when asked whether his investigation was ramping back up after Libby’s Oct. 28 indictment on perjury and obstruction charges. The term has expired for the grand jury that indicted Libby.
For nearly two years, Fitzgerald has been looking into whether top Bush aides leaked the classified information about Plame’s covert CIA status and identity to reporters.
The investigation appeared to have cooled after charges were announced against Libby, who has pleaded innocent. But earlier this week, the Washington Post’s Woodward disclosed that he had learned the CIA operative’s identity from a top Bush administration official before another journalist had published Plame’s name.
The revelations from Woodward, who shared this information under oath with Fitzgerald on Monday, contradict Fitzgerald’s earlier portrayal of Libby as the first government official to leak Plame’s identity to reporters.
Woodward, in a sworn deposition, said a senior administration official told him in mid-June 2003 that Wilson’s wife worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction.
Plame’s identity was revealed in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak, eight days after her husband, a former U.S. ambassador, accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
Libby, 55, was charged with lying to FBI agents and a grand jury about how he learned about Plame’s identity and her work at the CIA and when he subsequently shared that information with reporters.
A former Pentagon official, Douglas Feith, said he never spoke to Woodward about Wilson, his wife or anything related. Feith, once the undersecretary of defense for policy, has helped shape strategies to stem the spread of weapons technology, devise the U.S. response to terrorism and frame the Bush administration’s global peace initiative.
In another development, a person familiar with the federal investigation said that Vice President Dick Cheney is not the unidentified source who told Woodward about Plame’s CIA status.
The vice president did not talk with Woodward on the day in question, did not provide the information that’s been reported in Woodward’s notes and has not had any conversations over the past several weeks about any release for allowing Woodward to testify, said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the federal probe is still under way.