by Larry C. Johnson (bio below)
How is it that one of the most revered investigative reporters of our generation is such a dunce when it comes to outing a CIA officer? If you had a chance to watch Woodward’s “dazzling” performance on Larry King Live this past Thursday, you would have been treated to the spectacle of incurious Bob dismissing the leaking of a CIA officer’s identity as gossip run amuck. Nothing more, nothing less. Yep, nothing to report here, move along.
Yet, for those more in touch with the inner workings of Washington, Woodward’s vain attempt to downplay this matter sure smacks of someone trying to protect his sources. In a recent Washington Post puff piece on Lewis “Scooter” Libby we are told that Scooter:
attends the weekly gathering of Bush’s top economic advisers and — according to Bob Woodward’s book “Plan of Attack,” about the Bush administration’s run-up to the Iraq war — was one of two non-principals who attended National Security Council meetings with the president after Sept. 11, 2001 (the other was Condoleezza Rice’s then-deputy, Stephen Hadley).
Isn’t that special? Is it possible that Scooter has been a source that helped Bob Woodward get his inside scoops?
Nah, I am sure it is a coincidence. A few years back our intrepid investigative reporter Bob Woodward was on the cutting edge of information about the Clinton Administration and China. In the spring of 1998 Bob broke the story that China was trying to influence the U.S. election through carefully placed campaign contributions. Don Lambro of the Washington Times said:
The disclosure is a big breakthrough in the 18-month-old investigation, because for the first time someone has shown a paper trail of illegal campaign money from China to the United States that was intended to influence our elections. This was the story that Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward first broke and that Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson dug into before he was forced to end his hearings in December because of a one-year deadline that recalcitrant Democrats had demanded.
So, which now infamous chief of staff to a Vice President was working as a counsel to a Hill committee that happened to be investigating this story? Gee, does Scooter Libby sound familiar?
With that background let us consider some of Bob’s “investigatory” insight into the outing of a clandestine CIA officer. Here’s a doozy:
WOODWARD: . . .Now there are a couple of things that I think are true. First of all this began not as somebody launching a smear campaign that it actually — when the story comes out I’m quite confident we’re going to find out that it started kind of as gossip, as chatter and that somebody learned that Joe Wilson’s wife had worked at the CIA and helped him get this job going to Niger to see if there was an Iraq/Niger uranium deal.
And, there’s a lot of innocent actions in all of this but what has happened this prosecutor, I mean I used to call Mike Isikoff when he worked at the “Washington Post” the junkyard dog. Well this is a junkyard dog prosecutor and he goes everywhere and asks every question and turns over rocks and rocks under rocks and so forth.
Let’s see. Curious Bob is no longer curious. Nope. Nothing to report here. In fact, his remarks parrot Republican talking points. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.
Of course, maybe Bob just is not paying attention to what is going on at the Washington Post or has abidicated his duty to break news in the paper. While on the Larry King show this week, Woodward announced:
They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson’s wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn’t have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger of any kind and there was just some embarrassment.
Great news Bob, except there was this other little headline in Saturday’s Washington Post:
CIA Yet to Assess Harm From Plame’s Exposure
So, either you had real news and didn’t share it with your reporters or you are just making this up? I personally suspect the latter. I have spoken to some people who are in a position to know. There has been damage. My source, however, declined to share classified information.
Let’s face it. It is a sickening sight when a man who got his start in Washington as a take-no-prisoners investigative journalist has decided to join the prisoners and excuse their conduct as they destroy national security assets and lie, bald face lie, to the American people. Heck of a job, Bobby!
Larry C. Johnson is CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm that helps corporations and governments manage threats posed by terrorism and money laundering. Mr. Johnson, who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism (as a Deputy Director), is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management. Mr. Johnson has analyzed terrorist incidents for a variety of media including the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, ABC’s Nightline, NBC’s Today Show, the New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. Mr. Johnson has authored several articles for publications, including Security Management Magazine, the New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. He has lectured on terrorism and aviation security around the world. Further bio details.