Who Was Bob Woodward’s Source?

WHO WAS BOB WOODWARD’S SOURCE?….A group of New York Times reporters is trying to figure out who Bob Woodward’s source was:

A senior administration official said that neither President Bush himself, nor his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., nor his counselor, Dan Bartlett, was Mr. Woodward’s source. So did spokesmen for former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, former C.I.A. Director George J. Tenet and his deputy John E. McLaughlin.

….Vice President Cheney did not join the parade of denials. A spokeswoman said he would have no comment on an ongoing investigation. Several other officials could not be reached for comment.

….Only a small group of officials ? at the White House, the State Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency ? are believed to have known by early June 2003 about Ms. Wilson’s ties to the C.I.A. They included Secretary Powell, Mr. Tenet, Mr. McLaughlin, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Libby; Marc Grossman, then the under secretary of state for political affairs; Carl Ford, then the head of the State Department’s intelligence bureau; and Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state.

OK, let’s check off each member of this “small group” of officials:

  • Powell ? denied

  • Tenet ? denied

  • McLaughlin ? denied

  • Cheney ? declined to comment

  • Libby ? Woodward says he’s not the source

  • Grossman ? not reached for comment

  • Ford ? not reached for comment

  • Armitage ? not reached for comment

It’s not clear to me that this is actually an exhaustive list ? where are Fleitz and Wurmser and Hannah? ? but Todd Purdum, David Johnston and Douglas Jehl certainly seem to be implying that they have reason to believe Woodward’s source has to be on this list.

So: either Dick Cheney or else someone in the State Department. And no one in the State Department really seems to be a likely candidate to stick his neck out on Libby’s behalf at this late date.

In other words, they think it’s Cheney, but they can’t just say so. Hmmm.

POSTSCRIPT: Tom Maguire suggests that even if Cheney’s the leaker, he didn’t do anything wrong:

I strongly suspect that Cheney would not be guilty of anything ? the Vice President may have an implicit authority to declassify information….

Now that’s an intriguing variation on the White House’s apparent belief that Congress has no right to limit the president’s actions in any way during wartime. After all, Cheney’s only a heartbeat away!

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