Former WaPo exec. editor Ben Bradlee: Woodward’s source may be Armitage

The speculation over the ‘leaker’ of Valerie Plame’s name continues, this time with former Washington Post executive editor Bill Bradlee saying it’s a “fair assumption” that former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage was Bob Woodward’s source on Valerie Plame:

Vanity Fair is reporting that former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee says it is reasonable to assume former State Department official Richard L. Armitage is likely the source who revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name to Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward.

In an article to be published in the magazine today, Bradlee is quoted as saying: “That Armitage is the likely source is a fair assumption.” Armitage was deputy secretary of state in President Bush’s first term.

In an interview yesterday, Bradlee said he does know the identity of Woodward’s source and does not recall making that precise statement to a Vanity Fair reporter. He said he has no interest in unmasking the official who first told Woodward about Plame in June 2003.

“I don’t think I said it,” Bradlee said. “I know who his source is, and I don’t want to get into it. . . . I have not told a soul who it is.”

The identity of Woodward’s source emerged as one of the big mysteries of the CIA case after he disclosed last year that a government official with no ax to grind had told him about Plame, an undercover operative, a month before her name was revealed by columnist Robert D. Novak. Since then, guessing Woodward’s source has been a Washington parlor game.

Back in November, Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff from Newsweek speculated much the same. Reposting from that article with emphasis added by me:

So who is Novak’s source—and Woodward’s source—and why will his identity take the wind out of the brewing storm? One by one last week, a parade of current and former senior officials, including the CIA’s George Tenet and national-security adviser Stephen Hadley, denied being the source. A conspicuous exception was former deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage, whose office would only say, “We’re not commenting.” He was one of a handful of top officials who had access to the information. He is an old source and friend of Woodward’s, and he fits Novak’s description of his source as “not a partisan gunslinger.” Woodward has indicated that he knows the identity of Novak’s source, which further suggests his source and Novak’s were one and the same.

If Armitage was the original leaker, that undercuts the argument that outing Plame was a plot by the hard-liners in the veep’s office to “out” Plame. Armitage was, if anything, a foe of the neocons who did not want to go to war in Iraq. He had no motive to discredit Wilson. On “Larry King Live” last month, Woodward was dismissive of the special prosecutor’s investigation, suggesting that the original leak was not the result of a “smear campaign” but rather a “kind of gossip, as chatter … I don’t see an underlying crime here.”

As always, the go-to-guys for analysis and perspective on the latest in the pLamegate ‘controversy’ are Tom Maguire and AJ Strata. Captain Ed and Macsmind each give their .02 as well.

The usual suspects will still keep pushing this issue as though it is a scandal, but almost weekly now we get more information that suggests that this was, as have so many of the ‘scandals’ that have been alleged under this adminstration, mostly sound and fury, signifying … well, you know the rest.

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