Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bob Woodward Sent Questions

Another unexplained oddity from Bob Woodward's statement derived from his appearance on Monday before Patrick Fitzgerald for the Plame leak investigation:

I also testified that I had a conversation with a third person on June 23, 2003. The person was I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, and we talked on the phone. I told him I was sending to him an 18-page list of questions I wanted to ask Vice President Cheney. On page 5 of that list there was a question about ``yellowcake'' and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's weapons programs. I testified that I believed I had both the 18-page question list and the question list from the June 20 interview with the phrase ``Joe Wilson's wife'' on my desk during this discussion. I testified that I have no recollection that Wilson or his wife was discussed, and I have no notes of the conversation.

Woodward claims he sent Libby an "18-page list of questions I wanted to ask Vice President Cheney."

Later from Bob's statement:

"I testified that on June 27, 2003, I met with Libby at 5:10 p.m. in his office adjacent to the White House. I took the 18-page list of questions with the Page-5 reference to ``yellowcake'' to this interview and I believe I also had the other question list from June 20, which had the ``Joe Wilson's wife'' reference."

TPMCafe contributor Paul Lukasiak wrote Romenesko at Poynter Online about this sending of questions:

"Despite all the attention being paid to ethics questions regarding Bob Woodward's involvement in the Plame matter, his statement disclosing his testimony raises other significant journalistic ethics issues. Apparently, Woodward is in the habit of "pre-clearing" his questions for upper-level government officials with subordinates."


"It is certainly understandable that a reporter would be willing to disclose the general subject matter he wants to talk to a public official about. But sending a detailed list of specific questions you "want to ask" turns journalism into little more than political theatrics masquerading as reporting."

But putting aside the ethics question: what the hell happened to that 18-page list of questions?

On September 30, 2003 White House employees were ordered to comply with the grand jury request for all records related to the leak:

PLEASE READ: Important Message From Counsel's Office

We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee. The Department advised us that it will be sending a letter today instructing us to preserve all materials that might be relevant to its investigation. Its letter will provide more specific instructions on the materials in which it is interested, and we will communicate those instructions directly to you. In the meantime, you must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the Department's investigation. Any questions concerning this request should be directed to Associate Counsels Ted Ullyot or Raul Yanes in the Counsel to the President's office.

The President has directed full cooperation with this investigation.

Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President

What happened to the "18-page list of questions [Woodward] wanted to ask Vice President Cheney" that was sent to the Vice President's office?

That list presumably was viewed by Libby and Cheney, along with who-knows-whom-else.

Patrick Fitzgerald should have known about Bob Woodward's involvement by October of 2003.

The Vice President's office obstructed justice by not sending the "18-page list of questions [Woodward] wanted to ask Vice President Cheney" to the grand jury investigation of the Valerie Plame leak.

Patrick Fitzgerald might want to add a few more indictments to his feather cap.

(In case you missed the first article I wrote on Woodward which, among other things, shows that Woodward testifed using "typed notes" instead of the original notes - or tape recordings - and details the many similiarities to Judy Miller and The New York Times, here's the link: Bob Woodward is just like Judith Miller. Or go straight to my homepage).


More on this (and the "typed notes") is followed up in - the aptly named - More on Cheney and Woodward.


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