John Dean Sends Woodward a Letter

There is no way anyone who is remotely familiar with Fitzgerald’s history–or Dean’s attentiveness to the Plame Affair–would take this line from John Dean’s recent letter seriously:

I believe that you were selected with theexpectation that you would conduct the narrowest of investigations, andit seems you have done just that.

Fitzgerald is famous for diligently, patiently, meticulously grabbing hold of one tiny thread of a crime and with it shredding giant conspiracies. He doesn’t look narrowly.

But you might believe such a line was written to Bob Woodward, particularly if you had heard Bob Woodward utter these lines:

WOODWARD: But Michael’s point is exactly right. There is deep mysteryhere. It only grows with time and people are speculating and there are– there is so little that people really know.

Now there are acouple of things that I think are true. First of all this began not assomebody launching a smear campaign that it actually — when the storycomes out I’m quite confident we’re going to find out that it startedkind of as gossip, as chatter and that somebody learned that JoeWilson’s wife had worked at the CIA and helped him get this job goingto Niger to see if there was an Iraq/Niger uranium deal.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is the narrow to broad transition Dean is hinting at the switch from outing a spy to using a forgery to start a war?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Also, in the affidavit that Fitz just posted, he has indicated that his narrow focus on perjury – while putatively necessary because there is â€sand in his eyes†– may be intended to steer clear of having to deal extensively in classified information.

    Check this out……..idavit.pdf

    (Because it is far easier for the parties and the court to deal with declassified materials than to deal with classified information,we will be seeking a classification review wherever appropriate,though those reviews can be cumbersome.) Because the indictment in this case charges obstructionoffenses rather than substantive national security crimes,it is hoped that the case can be tried with a minimum ofissues concerning classified information needing to be resolved,and thus that the trial may be conducted in as public a manner as possible.

  3. Arthur says:


    What do you make of the Sunday Times report that Hadley was Woodward’s source? If so, Hadley surely failed to mention his conversation with Woodward to the grand jury and is now looking at a Fitzmas present. Here is the Sunday Times link:…..16,00.html

  4. emptywheel says:


    I’m not sure it’s reporting it’s own story. It seems like a repeat of some other stories out there, rather than original reporting.

    I think Hadley is a very likely X in this case. But no one has yet convinced me.

  5. michael72 says:

    I am old enough to remember the watergate hearings, and to have read woodward and bernstein’s reporting at the time, as well as remember dean too eventually helping to bring down nixon. I rather admired them back then. and to tell the truth I find it a bit sad to see what woodward has become, an access journalist who has been actively involved in covering up for this adminstration’s high crimes. and woodward’s earlier attacks on Fitz, well that’s just beyond the pale. who has turned out to be a junkyard dog of a journalist?

    hopefully dean’s recent letter will play well enough on woodward’s pride in his past, emptywheel, and perhaps woodward can turn out some real investigative journalism on the fall of the bushivites. but I rather doubt it…alas.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Woodward’s opinion that this was â€gossip†might have been an interesting perspective. But it wasn’t just an opinion, it was a cause celebre. On Larry King Live, he was acting like a litigator, interrupting others on the panel to make his points. He wasn’t just speculating, he was arguing a case.

    At the time, it struck me as odd. I’d like to think he had just done a stupid thing, or maybe an arrogant thing, but he sure sounded that night like he was part of the club with full ’talking point’ privledges – a ’made’ wise guy…

  7. Rayne says:

    Dean’s been fun to read, but if I were a prosecutor I might be more willing to listen to Gerald Lechliter’s comments (see…..leId=10625) and not to John Dean’s. Mr. Lechliter’s motivations don’t appear to be driven by ego or gain in any way since he is not a public figure.

    Were I to have Fitzgerald’s ear, I might ask the next question following Lechliter’s train of thought: why would the executive office fail to perform its obligations and enforce an Executive Order by way of an internal inquiry and disciplinary action?

  8. KM says:

    kant wrote:

    â€Also, in the affidavit that Fitz just posted, he has indicated that his narrow focus on perjury – while putatively necessary because there is â€sand in his eyes†– may be intended to steer clear of having to deal extensively in classified information.â€

    That can be read in at least two ways. In one reading, the last clause refers to Fitz’s general approach to the entire case. In another, it refers only to his tactical construction and pursuit of Libby’s indictment and to its strategic role in his broader case.

  9. Leslie Pool says:

    This is very fascinating however, like Dean I can’t help but wonder why Fitzgerald has not â€made any effort whatsoever to undertake any civil remedies dealing with this either intentional or grossly careless destruction of a government asset. As acting Attorney General for this matter, you have even more authority than did Special Counsels Roberts and Pomerene.â€

    Indeed, if statements Dean made, regarding Fitzgerald’s broad powers are true, I’d be much obliged if the special prosecutor would begin â€enforcing those contracts†in order to protect American democracy from the bullies and traitors in the Bush Administrations â€who have released national security information?†It’s not that I don’t admire Fitzgerald — I’d just feel a whole lot safer if he’d at least â€go to court and get an injunction to remove their security clearances.†Until Bush can be impeached, that’s about all this patriotic American can hope for.

  10. al-Fubar says:

    kant hits on an important point – which I’m surprised wasn’t picked up on earlier, when all the usual suspects were bleating about â€no underlying crime.â€

    Holding a trial where key evidence is classified is problematical to say the least – I seem to recall cases where espionage charges were dropped rather than present classified evidence. The last thing the CIA wants to talk about is what exactly Valerie Plame was up to before she got burned.

    – Rick

  11. Thad Beier says:


    Thank you for your continued insight and almost absurd devotion to detail in untangling L’affaire Plame. I confess that occasionally I get lost in the various subplots and intrigues, but it’s always interesting.

    This article, though, is beautiful. While it’s certainly speculation, it’s such beautifully plausible speculation — I so want it to be absolutely true in every respect! Woodward is almost certainly irretrievably lost to the forces of the Republican kleptocracy, but if anything could bring him back it would be this appeal to his pride and reputation.

    Thanks again.

    Thad Beier

  12. SaltinWound says:

    Talk of Armitage is making me nervous. I believe what’s been written here about him being out of the country at the time of the leak. But what would be consistent with it being him is the sudden surge of White House denials–he’s an example of someone they wouldn’t mind exposing, making it worth breaking their self-imposed no comment during an investigation gag order. Armitage still wouldn’t be a big enough fish for Rove to have given up though, I’m hoping.

  13. John Lopresti says:

    Dean has an interesting perspective, though EW has a salubrious approach to the ambivalences in the syntaxes of his twice a month columns online. In the timeframe when EW was about to drive three days through aspens autumnal a Dean column coached Fitzgerald to shut down the entire investigation and not write a report, citing statutory smokescreens behind which such a truncation would be legitimate. Sometimes the tenor of the Dean material, though precision executive branch legal strategy, seems based on a time tested confidence the 18.5 minutes were erased, even though Dean has mused distractedly recently they might be ’out there’. Since that is history, at least as we know it now, we continue to the current time. The peculiar open letter to Fitzgerald seemed to do several things Dean has done in his writings on this case throughout, one of which seems to me to be a misdirection strategy, as if to supply diversionary cover to the administration, an instinct Dean honed and which persists; he is a complicated person. So I see him coaching both sides, partly based on teleologic intent as when he helped open up the Watergate investigation, yet somewhat couching terms to support the accused. I find his civil sanctions suggestion a perhaps imprudent skirmish in which if Fitzgerald were to become entwined much of the investigation’s other activities could be seized like a useless engine and hindered amid the political buzz. As one writer above mentioned, and Fitzgerald himself, I believe, proffered at the time of the October 28 closeout of the then Grand Jury, the next phase of the investigation indeed was largely to look at a lot of the material [EW had developed quite forcefully at this site] surrounding the ephemeral journalism in which Judy Miller engaged, and the underlying falsified documents for some of that reporting. Much of this is at other websites and has transitioned into statements in congress as well recently. Some European events recently have helped explain some of the false document authorship though incompletely to my review. Lastly was the Woodward revelation, which actually seems dated only a week before the Libby-to-Miller ’outing’, and even EW had parsed some Miller narrative about the June 23 date as perhaps something subsequent to the first discussion on the topic. An interesting babble of denials has echoed the Woodward comment as frantic attorneys rework their timeline chronology.

  14. Crab Nebula says:

    Phenomenal piece of work, emptywheel. Somebody needs to get you a 100k per year job writing at some national magazine or newspaper.

  15. kim says:

    I’d be surprised if Rove were privy to any conversation between Woodward and Armitage – and then used this with Fitzgerald in his defense (unless Woodward approached Rove with new info about Plame).

    It seems more likely to me that Rove would know about goings-on at the WH however, but even then how would he know details of Woodward’s conversation there?

    Maybe there really was a Grand Plame-outing Conspiracy?

    Lastly, any denial from Matalin about conversations with Woodward?

  16. kim says:

    I’ll add one other thing. Would it be fair to say that Woodward’s source was rather intimate with the Plame timeline, and that the source and Woodward kept mum for this reason?

    And how would the source, and Woodward, be familiar with the timeline? Is this a Grand Conspiracy mumuring again?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Lastly, any denial from Matalin about conversations with Woodward?

    Kim – could you elaborate on this? I haven’t seen anything new on Matalin for a while. How is she connected to the Woodward debacle?

  18. kim says:

    I really don’t have much in the way of elaboration, beyond the usual facts about Woodward and Matalin, just my initial reaction to the Plame story – which was that I could more easily see a woman, rather than a man, going after Plame in this way. Attacking Wilson’s wife because of his op-ed really is taking things beyond the pale.

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