KING: We're back with Bob Woodward, author of "The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat." President Bush said a while back that if there was a leaker in the Judith Miller matter, he will be fired. What if it was Karl Rove?
WOODWARD: You know, I wouldn't jump to any conclusions on that at this point. I think that Rove obviously was talking about this. I have not seen any evidence that he really disclosed the identity of this CIA undercover operative who was married to Joe Wilson, who was the ambassador, former ambassador that they sent on this mission to look for some evidence that maybe Saddam was getting uranium from an African country. So you know, we'll have to let this play itself out.
What's interesting in this "Newsweek," Michael Isikoff had the e- mail that Matt Cooper of "Time" magazine had sent his bureau chief, I guess, in Washington -- this is before the story is published by Bob Novak -- and in the e-mail, Cooper says that he's talked to Rove, and that this is -- what did he -- he called it a "double super secret background source."
KING: You ever heard that before?
WOODWARD: Boy, that's a first. It sounds like Buck Rogers' decoder ring to a certain extent, double super secret background. Which meant, don't disclose. I've got a confidential source here who's giving me some guidance. That happens all the time, not just in Washington, but in journalism.
KING: But the president did say he would fire, if it was connected with this case, whoever it was.
WOODWARD: Well, if it was connected with the illegal part of it. I mean, just talking about her and Joe Wilson, not having the knowledge that -- I think not too many people had the knowledge that she was an undercover operative or had once been one. At the time, she was -- you know, she -- her identity was protected, but she was working in headquarters, as an analyst. So, there's no -- in this case, there's no harm to national security. And her life certainly was not in danger, as best I can tell.
KING: Yeah. But it certainly focuses more attention on your book about the ultimate inside source.
Two questions that people ask the most in connection with the Judith Miller case, is one, she didn't write one word.
WOODWARD: I know.
KING: She's in jail. Robert Novak wrote the words and nothing's happened to him. Explain those dichotomies.
WOODWARD: Well, I suspect, I don't know, but if you look at this, that Novak got his sources to come forward to the prosecutor and say, yes, we told this to Novak, but we did not know she was an undercover person at all, and that Novak has written that he used the word "operative" because that's something he frequently uses to describe any kind of ward-heeler or politician. So in a sense, part of this disclosure might have been an accident, if you accept Novak at his word, and I would unless there's contrary evidence on this.
But the idea of having a kind of dragnet for all reporters who apparently showed up on phone logs or something like that, and, you know, suppose you had heard about this, Larry, and talking to somebody at lunch, and your name was in a phone record and then they called you before the grand jury. What do you do in a case like that?
KING: Are reporters -- and when "Time" magazine turned over the papers, their editor said, "we're not above the law." When it comes down it to, this is what the law said, we comply. Are you above the law?
WOODWARD: No. Clearly, we're not above the law. But frequently, people disobey the law. And when you do so, you have to be willing to accept the consequences. And in this case, the consequences, I guess, are a four-month jail sentence, and Judy Miller's willing to do that, to stand on this principle of trust. You know, I...
KING: You said you would have done it, too?
WOODWARD: I would have done it, too. And in fact, you know, maybe I shouldn't say this, but I will ...
KING: Go ahead.
WOODWARD: ... because it came to mind. If the judge would permit it, I would go serve some of her jail time, because I think the principle is that important, and it should be underscored. It's not a casual idea that we have confidential sources. It is absolutely vital. And I'll bet there are all kinds of reporters out there, if we could divvy up this four-month jail sentence -- I suspect the judge would not permit that, but if he would, I'll be first in line. It's that important to our business.
And this book and Watergate demonstrated, the daily reporting in any newspaper or on CNN illustrates that. And what are you going to do? Are you going to interview all of the public relations people, all of the spokespeople, and that's it? No one else can talk? Imagine, you know, the varnished pablum that would come out.
Okay, enough for now.