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Was Bob Woodward a Target in the Leak Conspiracy?

Reported by Janie - November 18, 2005

Disclaimer: This is an editorial, meant to incite discussion on the recent revelation of celebrated journalist, Bob Woodward's, role in Traitorgate.

The news of Bob Woodward's involvement in the CIA leak scandal has been splashed across the front pages of newspapers across the country this week. This latest development has led to violent speculation from both sides on whether or not this revelation exonerates Scooter Libby. What no one has delved into however, is WHY Bob Woodward was apparently the first journalist given the information about Plame, and why exactly he "hunkered down", and attempted to downplay the importance of the investigation for the past two years.

Let's look at the first question: Why was Bob Woodward the first journalist to be given the information about Valerie Plame? The answer is glaringly simple: Karl Rove.

Karl Rove, king of retribution, has one hero that he has modeled his entire career around: Richard Nixon. He fell in love with Nixon at 9 years old, and "lost his first political battle" to a young neighbor girl that who's family were Kennedy supporters. At the height of the Watergate scandal, which were incited by award-winning investigative reporting done, in-part, by one Bob Woodward, Rove was devastated as he watched his hero disgraced and subsequently forced to resign the Presidency.

If it is true that Karl Rove and other administration officials were involved in a conspiracy to out Valerie Plame, as political retribution for a report written by her husband disputing intelligence used to justify the Iraqi invasion, these officials would have to had discussed which reporters would be the most advantageous to use. With a political bone to pick, Rove may very-well have decided to bring down the exact man that brought down his hero, Nixon. Especially if the journalist shows integrity and refuses to give up their source, as Bob Woodward displayed in keeping the name Mark Felt secret from the public for over 30 years.

At the time Woodward was given the information, he was often in the White House researching the push to war for his now released book "Plan of Attack". He had access to many high-up officials and if Rove still resented Woodward's involvement in Watergate, he certainly would have resented his presence in the White House. Especially since many of the claims about why America went to war in Iraq have since been debunked, there must have been a palpable sense of fear within the White House walls that such a renowned journalist was on the case.

With all of these perceived slights, Woodward would have been the perfect candidate to leak the information to, and then demand an inquiry into who leaked the name of a CIA agent to him, knowing full well Woodward would never name names. But Woodward once again became a thorn in Rove's side when he refused to take the bait.

In order to continue the campaign to discredit Joe Wilson's Niger claims, it became necessary to leak Plame's name en masse and see who would take the bait.

Being as politically savvy as he is, Woodward could have wisely decided to sit on the story, knowing full well this was a campaign to discredit him. Remember Dan Rather? There are still many questions surrounding the memos that he used in the story on Bush’s military service. However, Dan Rather was another journalist that this administration had a political axe to grind with. During Bush 41’s Presidency, Rather went up against him to bring out the Iran-Contra story, and even humiliated him on television in an on-air confrontation. Bush 41 refused to give Rather another interview, and Bush 43 followed-suit.

What Woodward didn't count on was that Rove still wanted the Plame story out there, and not until a month later in Bob Novak's July 13th column did that become clear.

But why then, did Woodward refuse to tell anyone this story, including his own paper? And more importantly, why did he attempt to downplay the investigation on numerous occasions as a Sunday morning talk-show pundit?

The answer to this is fairly simple. As the investigation dragged on for two years, Woodward watched as his fellow journalists were held in jail on contempt charges for not revealing their sources to a grand jury, with Woodward even defending Matt Cooper and the compromised Judy Miller. After spending 30 years keeping the name of a source secret, and being a champion for the rights of the press, it would have been career and legacy ending, if he were forced to give up the name of his latest source in the CIA leak investigation.

While the investigation is still on-going and these recent developments of Woodward's involvement have just been brought to light, it is an important question to ask why Woodward was the first reporter to receive the information, and whether or not Woodward himself was a target of the supposed conspiracy.

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