BUSAN, South Korea – National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley won't say if he was the source who told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward that Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. But Hadley volunteered on Friday that some administration officials say he's not the leaker.
Accompanying President Bush at a summit here, Hadley was asked at a news briefing whether he was Woodward's source.
Referring to news accounts about the case, Hadley said with a smile, "I've also seen press reports from White House officials saying that I am not one of his sources." He said he would not comment further because the CIA leak case remains under investigation.
Leaving the room, Hadley was asked if his answer amounted to a yes or a no. "It is what it is," he said.
Controversy surrounding the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity showed no signs of abating Thursday, dashing any hopes White House officials had that the investigation was nearing an end.
A group of former intelligence officers urged Bush not to pardon anyone convicted of leaking Plame's name to reporters and to pull security clearances of any White House officials implicated in the investigation.
Plame's husband went on the airwaves urging The Washington Post to conduct an inquiry into why Woodward kept his editor in the dark about an interview 17 months ago with a senior administration official about Plame's identity and her work at the CIA, a conversation a month before another journalist published her name.
Woodward, in a sworn deposition Monday, said a senior administration official told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame, worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction.
Plame's identity was revealed in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak, eight days after her husband, a former U.S. ambassador, accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
In another development, a person familiar with the federal investigation said that Vice President Dick Cheney is not the unidentified source who told Woodward about Plame's CIA status.
The vice president did not talk with Woodward on the day in question, did not provide the information that's been reported in Woodward's notes and has not had any conversations over the past several weeks about any release for allowing Woodward to testify, said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the federal probe is still under way.
The Woodward revelations renewed attention on the investigation into who was responsible for leaking Plame's name, an inquiry that had appeared to be winding down after last month's indictment of former Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
"Obviously, the White House thought they were through with this investigation," said Steven Reich, a senior associate counsel to President Clinton. "It appears now that that information came out earlier than anyone previously thought and it potentially could have come from a source no one previously knew about."
Libby, 55, Cheney's former chief of staff, was charged with lying to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned about Plame's identity and her work at the CIA and when he subsequently shared that information with reporters.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, in announcing the charges three weeks ago, portrayed Libby as the government official who first revealed Plame's name to reporters. At a news conference in Chicago Thursday, Fitzgerald ducked questions about how Woodward's assertion, that he got it first and from someone other than Libby, would affect the investigation.
After Fitzgerald was tipped by Woodward's source that they had discussed Plame in June 2003, Woodward met with the prosecutor and on Monday recounted their conversation. His account, but not the source's name, was reported in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post, renewing speculation about who leaked Plame's name and how high in the administration his source resides.
"The Libby case was always going to cause heartburn for the White House," said Washington defense lawyer E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., a former federal prosecutor. "But not like this."
Barcella said the White House could've tried managing news as the Libby case moved through hearings and toward trial on a predictable schedule.
"That's the legal realm," Barcella said. But the Woodward revelations put the investigation back in "the political realm," he said. "And that can have a daily impact" with sustained media coverage.