Bob Woodward

I’ve distrusted him for years now, ever since I read his obviously made-up story of an interview with William Casey right before he died. And then there’s the way he always gets himself in the limelight just as he has a new book coming out. Today’s news could be the nail in his coffin. The story of his newly discovered role in Plamegate is being blogged to death everywhere so I won’t reiterate it. Suffice it to say he is shilling for the Bush administration and he can never be trusted again.

Let’s not forget that Woodward has been accused of lying, sensationalizing and witholding news many times in the past.

Woodward’s dual role as newspaper journalist and book author has opened him up to occasional criticism for sitting on information for publication in a book, rather than presenting it sooner when it might affect the events at hand. In The Commanders (1991), for instance, he indicated that Colin Powell had opposed Operation Desert Storm, yet Woodward did not publish this fact before Congress voted on a war resolution, when it may have made a difference. And in Veil he indicates William Casey personally knew of arms sales to the contras but he did not reveal this until after the Congressional investigation.

Woodward has also been accused of exaggeration and fabrication by other journalists, most notably regarding Deep Throat, his famous Watergate informant. Before he was revealed to be top FBI official W. Mark Felt, some contended that Deep Throat was a composite character based on more than one Watergate source. Martin Dardis, the chief investigator for the Dade County State Attorney who in 1972 discovered that the money found on the Watergate burglars came from the Committee to Re-elect the President, has complained the book and movie misrepresented him. Woodward was also criticized for his deathbed interview with the now-deceased former CIA Director William J. Casey. Critics have said that Woodward’s interview with Casey simply could not have taken place as written in the book Veil, and that he fabricated the scene. And an investigation by the New York Review of Books found that Woodward fabricated a sensational story about Justice Brennan in The Brethren, among other issues.

What Woodward did is inexcusable, right up there with Judy Miller – sucking up to and protecting at all costs their “sources” at the expense of the readers they’re supposed to be serving. To borrow a phrase from Kos, “Screw them.”

The Discussion: 23 Comments

First the NYT and now the WaPo. In the pocket of the Bush administration. Court stenographers. In other words, LIARS. And it hurts to see this happen. It hurts more when you realize that Judy Miller and Bob Woodward are laughing their asses of on their way to the bank. They will not suffer for what they’ve done, because they know how to play the big game. It’s a truly sickening nightmare. Who knows what’s coming next?

November 17, 2005 @ 1:36 am | Comment

And his writing style is painfully dull too.

November 17, 2005 @ 1:43 am | Comment

I depend on American media so much for news about China, but who the hell can I depend on for news about America?

The best thing I read recently was the thorough ass-grilling Scott McClellan got from reporters over whether or not Dick Cheney was seeking an exemption for the CIA from the McCain anti-torture amendment (McClellan refused to admit it, and ended up looking like a complete clown).

That gave me hope, and hope is what I need after all these Downing Street memo-type press failures.

November 17, 2005 @ 3:06 am | Comment

So, are you implying that Woodward lied to a federal grand jury?

Not likely.

Are you implying that reporters have an obligation to voluntarily out their cofidential sources even without being indicted or questioned?

Say good bye to investigative journalism.

Or are you just pissed off because Fitzgerald’s case is now circling the toilet bowl?

November 17, 2005 @ 9:01 am | Comment

Conrad, you old curmudgeon, absolutely wrong. Of course he didn’t lie to the grand jury – he’s way too shrewd to do that. But he”lied” to his colleagues by not revealing what he knew about the leak. This won’t affect Fitz one bit.

November 17, 2005 @ 3:52 pm | Comment

Fitz’s statement was that Libby was the first “known” administration leaker, I believe. Not that he was necessarily the first.

Besides, Libby is up for obstruction of justice and perjury – I can’t see how Woodward’s “revelation” changes anything.

Latest rumor is that Cheney was Woodward’s source.

November 17, 2005 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t expect you to understand Lisa.

First, the indictment was based on the presumption that Libbly was the first governemnt official to disclose Plame’s identity. That turns out to be false. When a material fact relied upon in an indictment is discovered to be false, under mandatory Justice Department guidlines, the prosecutor himself has a duty to evaluate whether the indictment should be dismissed. So, fitzgerald is now, or soon will be, making such an evaluation.

Second, missing a key fact like this prior to indicting makes the investigation look bungling, which will most certainly be brought out at any trial. Having conducted a number of internal investigations, there is nothing more embarrassing than finding you missed an important fact after issuing a report. Sometimes there’s a valid excuse, but it always looks bad.

Third, the fact that journalists knew before Libby said anything and that Woodward, and Pincus and Russert and Libby all seem to have honest but conflicting recollections make it much more plausible that either Libby is telling the truth and Russert is mistaken or that Libby suffered from an honest memory lapse. It certainly creates more than reasonable doubt that the is consciously lying. A first year law student could create reasonable doubt out of these facts.

Fourth, given Libby’s suddenly stronger defence, it is much less likely he will enter a plea agreement to provide information about others (assuming he has such information to provide).

Fifth, perjury must be a false statement about a material fact. Fitzgerald isn’t even alleging that revealing Plame’s identity was illegal and if, on top of that, Woodward’s testimony that he already knew and had told others, that the government did not consider it sensitive information and that Joe Wilson himself revealed his wife’s CIA identity, and there is a very colorable argument that the information was not material.

Sixth, the official who leaked to Woodward will be identified. Given Fitzgerald’s position so far, it is extremely unlikely that said official will be indicted for the leak since Fitzgerald doesn’t seem to think it’s a crime and Woodward testified that the official did not do it knowingly (i.e., with knowledge of Plame’s alleged covert status). If the original leaker is not charged with a crime, it will be harder to convince a jury that Libby, a subsequent leaker should be convicted (even of perjury).

Finally, It’s hard to see future indictments of Rove or Cheney in light of this revelation.

The bottom line is, Woodward’s revelation causes big difficulties for Fitzgerald. I don’t know if Libby lied to the grand jury or not. If he did he ought to be prosecuted and convicted. However, a conviction under these circumstances, while not impossible, just got a whole lot less likely. You can be sure that Libby’s lawyer is dancing a jig right now and there is much nashing of teeth in the special prosecutor’s office.

November 17, 2005 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

First, the indictment was based on the presumption that Libbly was the
first governemnt official to disclose Plame’s identity.

Wrong. And irrelevant even if it wasn’t wrong. Fitz never said Libby was the first, only that he was the first known leaker. There is a world of difference. Fitz is very careful with his words. And it doesn’t change the perjury charge a bit. I’ll bet money this won’t affect the Libby indictment in any way, shape or form.

November 17, 2005 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

Sorry Richard while you are right as a matter of fact, you are wrong as a matter of law.

Yes, the indictment was based upon the fact that, as far as Fitzgerald knew, Libby was the first leaker. The indictment says that the information stream is traceable back to Libby as its point of origin.

However, NOW Fitzgerald knows that Libby was NOT the first leaker. That is, absolutely and without question, a material fact. The very fact that the allegation regarding Libby as source appeared in the indictment and was disclosed at the press conference is strong evidence that it was material (since immaterial facts and allegations do not belong in indictments*). As such, Fitzgerald has an obligation under DOJ policy to reevaluate the indictment. He may decide to withdraw it. He may decide to amend it. He may decide to leave it as it is. However, he absolutely and positively must conduct the re-evaluation.

This is not a debatable point. It is what DOJ policy requires under the circumstances.

Furthermore, even if it were debatable, a smart prosecutor (which Fitzgerald is) would conduct the re-evaluation anyway. It’s much easier to explain that you re-evaluated and decided to proceed with the prosecution than to explain why you decided that no re-evaluation was even necessary.

November 17, 2005 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

Conrad, again, I say, what the fuck is your problem? I raise a point. You can disagree, you can debate – why do you have to insult me? Are you that insecure?

November 17, 2005 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

Several attorneys agree with me and Richard – here and here. Of course, they are liberal types and therefore not credible by definition.

November 17, 2005 @ 9:39 pm | Comment

No, I’m not insecure Lisa, I have just concluded, based upon extensive evidence, that you are an irredeemable idiot.

As for your “legal point”, you are wrong. Any lawyer who agrees with you is wrong. The Dept. of Justice itself has explicitly stated that new information, showing that a previous material prosecutorial ASSUMPTION was incorrect, is sufficient to require a re-evaluation of an indictment. See DOJ Memorandum dated 05-14-2001.

Let’s put this in very simple terms that even a none-too-bright layman can understand.

John is indicted for murder.

The indictment says that “John is the last person known to have been with the victim prior to her death.”

The prosecutor later discovers that Bob was with the victim after John.

The prosecutor didn’t say that John was the last person with her, just that John was the last person with her as far as the prosecuter then knew.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that the subsequent change in the prosecutor’s KNOWLEDGE is a material fact calling for a re-evaluation of the indictment.

Depending upon the strenght of the other evidence, the prosecuter may maintain or revise the indictment. He doesn’t have to withdraw it. But DOJ policy is absolutely clear that a re-evaluation is called for.

This protects the rights of the accused. Liberals are supposed to be concerned for the rights of the accused. or does that not apply when the accused is a no good scum-sucking Republican bastard?

November 18, 2005 @ 12:31 am | Comment

Conrad, seriously. You are incapable of engaging me on any kind of respectful level. I would be happy to hear what you have to say if you did. Go ahead, explain it to me. I don’t pretend to know everything. But do it with some basic decency and respect.

But you can’t seem to do that. Which makes me tend to think everything you say is bullshit. You don’t know how to treat other people decently, and your rigid, wrong-headed ideology reflects that.

November 18, 2005 @ 12:52 am | Comment

And Richard, if you’re reading this? I’d prefer that you didn’t censor Conrad’s comments. Let everyone see what kind of good-hearted, generous, courteous fellow he really is.

November 18, 2005 @ 12:59 am | Comment

Conrad, you are the iredeemable idiot. You’re my friend, but I have to request (again) that you tone it down and stop insulting those attempting to honestly engage with you. You don’t further your arguments one bit with such nasty invective, and it only make you look petty, defensive and a bit out of control. Come on, be a gentleman, no matter how much you disagree. Don’t be the bully who turns these comments to a playground brawl. Understand?

November 18, 2005 @ 1:02 am | Comment

It seems incredibly ironic how rapid the “swiftboating” of Woodward has been, don’t you think?

November 18, 2005 @ 2:31 am | Comment

I’ll give Conrad this much credit as a lawyer: The arguments he has raised here, ARE legitimate ways for a criminal defense lawyer to rack up lots of billable hours. He really has raised legitimate points – but not dispositive points – and he’s wrong about one essential matter:

The crux of the indictment is that Libby lied. And it really is that simple. You can dance around it all you want, but none of the more recently revealed details change the essence of the indictment: Libby lied.

AND, Conrad IS correct in saying that a “First Year law student” could find reasonable doubt here. Yes indeed, this IS how a First Year law student would argue! ๐Ÿ™‚ And that’s why it’s so weak. AND, “reasonable doubt” does not determine indictments.

ie, simply, we’re a long way from having to consider “reasonable doubt” about anything. That comes at the end of the trial.

And, finally, the nasty little secret about American law, is that most of it is far more simple, and far more based on common sense, than most lawyers pretend. If we ever let that secret get out, then we (or some of us) wouldn’t be able to crank up the billable hours and keep ripping off our clients.

Libby will be prosecuted, and probably convicted (unless he makes a deal) but not until his lawyers suck a lot of money out of his misfortunes and/or his crimes.

AND, finally: This is not a typical two-bit burglary case, not the run of the mill dime a dozen petty punk criminal case which gets processed in a matter of minutes in the smelly, urine-stained criminal courts of New York and Chicago etc. Oh no. No. Yeah, it’s typical for criminal defense lawyers (and very good ones) to dance around issues of “material facts” etc etc and get away with it, in those dime a dozen punk cases – because the criminal courts are overwhelmed and they process most cases in the most expedient ways….

….but this isn’t your typical punk burlgar case. And for every argument Conrad has raised here, I – or any other good lawyer, like Fitzgerald – can raise even stronger counter-arguments (which I can’t be bothered to raise here) – and that’s what will happen here.

The simple fact is that this isn’t a dime a dozen punk stick-up case. This one will be taken to the limit, without any expedient “processing” to make it go away.

November 18, 2005 @ 4:03 am | Comment

Swiftboating, Simon? That’s an old Wikipedia description, and I’ve had issues with him for years.

And Ivan, thanks for the superb comment. How did you learn so much about law? I’m impressed.

November 18, 2005 @ 5:21 am | Comment

Simon’s weasely comment is still bugging me. To “swiftobat” means to throw mud at a perceived enemy by looking for all kinds of irrelevant dirt, and when you don’t find it, you simply make it up. You create insane volumes of noise about Kerry’s alleged faking his war wounds and not deserving his purple hearts. You make a media spectacle, the way the talking heads did with Joseph Wilson, bending over backwards to make him into an ogrish compulsive liar. They did it with Sheehan who, while certainly a bit of an asshole, is not the “virulent antisemite” Charles Johnson claimed she was. That is swiftboating – fantastic lies that pull at the emotions and destroy someone. I have not seen anyone do this with Woodward and want to know where Simon is coming from. Or was it just a bit of mindless snark?

In fairness, I haven’t seen a massive effort to swiftboat Murtha yet. But I think they know that’s a dangerous game, considering his 37 years as a career Marine. Of course, Michelle Maglalang has already outdone herself, comparing him to rotting, stinking black mold. So typical.

November 18, 2005 @ 5:35 am | Comment

Richard, you asked me how I know so much about law?

The only response I can give to that, is to morph into Bugs Bunny and kiss you.

๐Ÿ™‚

November 18, 2005 @ 8:17 am | Comment

Ivan:

Please tell me you didn’t go to law school.

If you did, you really should demand a refund, because they clearly taught you bupkis.

November 18, 2005 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

So much for Conrad’s idiotic claims that Fitzgerald’s case is “in the toilet.”

The prosecutor in the CIA leak case said yesterday that he plans to present evidence to another federal grand jury, signaling a new and potentially significant turn in the investigation into the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Three weeks after indicting I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and declaring the investigation nearly complete, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald announced a new phase in the investigation after the disclosure this week that a senior administration official revealed Plame’s CIA connection to Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward in mid-June 2003.

Legal experts said Fitzgerald’s decision to call upon a new grand jury is all but certainly because he is considering additional criminal charges in the case.

Conrad, do you still think it’s all in the toilet? Can we place bets? Please?

November 19, 2005 @ 11:22 am | Comment

It’s beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas.

Or should I say, Happy Fitzgiving?

November 19, 2005 @ 5:18 pm | Comment

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