A former executive editor of the Washington Post was quoted in a magazine article published on Tuesday as saying that Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state, was likely the official who revealed the identity of the intelligence officer at the center of the CIA leak case to Bob Woodward, an editor and reporter for the Post.
Benjamin Bradlee, the Post editor who guided Woodward's Watergate reporting, is quoted in the article about the leak investigation in the April issue of Vanity Fair as saying, "That Armitage is the likely source is a fair assumption."
The assertion attributed to Bradlee added the weight of one of the country's best-known editors to months of speculation that Armitage could be Woodward's source.
Armitage has not commented on the matter. On Tuesday, he did not return a reporter's phone call.
In an interview, Bradlee said that he had been told about Woodward's source although he did not recall saying the exact words attributed to him by the Vanity Fair reporter.
Bradlee said that his information about Armitage was imprecise, although he said Armitage's identification as Woodward's source was "an inference that could be drawn."
In addition, Bradlee said Woodward had not told him the identity of the source.
"Woodward is not my source for any knowledge I have about the case," Bradlee said.
The question of who told Woodward about the intelligence officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, is one of the lingering mysteries of the CIA leak inquiry.
In an article last November, Woodward said he would not name his source, but he has written that the person who told him about Wilson was a former or current government official and longtime source who told him about her in an offhand manner at the end of a lengthy interview.
In part, Woodward's disclosure about his knowledge of Wilson was important because he said the interview with the source occurred in June 2003, which meant that he was the first reporter to learn of Wilson's identity, weeks before she was first named in a newspaper column by Robert Novak.
Woodward never wrote about the case, but in the article in November said he was disclosing the conversation because his source had decided to talk to the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, about it.