Who IS Woodward anyway? Untangling the skein of his intelligence connections

Image result for bob woodwardI have always been somewhat suspicious about Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame. Recent events, from his obsequious books about the Bush White House to his latest revelations regarding the CIA leak scandal regarding Valerie Plame, are presented by many as if there is something inexplicable in the deterioration of this otherwise laudable character. But I wonder if he ever completely deserved the accolades he got for being a reporter who stumbled across the Watergate story (with Carl Bernstein), and then pursuing it doggedly to its bitter end.Everyone remembers the Robert Redford portrayal in the movie “All the President’s Men.” But we really learn very little about Bob Woodward there, and there is much that is interesting. Very interesting. Only a little research shows that Woodward, in the early 1970s, was not your average cub reporter. My suspicions began when I learned that his previous occupation was in Naval Intelligence. How many Vietnam era members of Naval Intelligence — a lieutenant, even — suddenly changed careers and went into journalism, getting hired at the Washington Post, no less?

According to Wikipedia’s article on Bob Woodward, he is now 62 years old, the son of a judge, who attended Yale on a Naval ROTC scholarship. He spent five years as a Naval communications officer, although Wikipedia leaves out that he was working for Naval Intelligence (something Woodward has openly written about), and was assigned to Admiral Thomas Moorer. then chief of naval operations.

Admiral Moorer, by the way, soon became the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff during the Watergate years, leaving his office only two months before Nixon resigned. — Given that Woodward personally knew the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Watergate makes him already more than a typical reporter.

The further career of Adm. Moorer is of more than ancillary interest: according to George Bush: An Unauthorized Biography, by Tarpley and Chaikin, Adm. Moorer later went on to be a member of one of William Casey’s “October Surprise” teams at the end of the Carter presidency, monitoring “the Carter White House, the Washington bureaucracy, and diplomatic and intelligence posts overseas.”

In 2000, Adm. Moorer, who is now deceased, wrote an article supporting George W. Bush for President. A few snippets from Woodward’s old boss:

The election of George W. Bush is of vital importance to the security of the United States….Under the Clinton-Gore administration, we the American people have witnessed the most serious erosion of our culture….

On matters of national security and America’s military preparedness, Bush’s views mirror my own.

I have served under every president from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon. I met with George W. Bush and endorsed him during the Republican primaries. I am confident this man will not be merely a capable president, but will do a fine job. [The article goes on to make a long rant against putting women on submarines and combat ships.]

Now, any decent Daily Kos reader will figure I’ve made too much of this Admiral Moorer connection by this point. But there’s one other aspect of Moorer’s career that I believe is very important. Watergate was, as Woodward put it in his Felt article, a “many-headed monster”. One of its lesser known but significant scandals is known as the Radford-Moorer Affair. I’ll give you the a quote from a major James Rosen/Atlantic Monthly article from April 2002. It describes a major intelligence operation by the military against the civilian leadership of the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Its significance is rarely mentioned in histories of the period.

Yeoman Charles E. Radford, a young Navy stenographer who had been working with Kissinger and his staff, had confessed to a Department of Defense interrogator that for more than a year he had been passing thousands of top-secret Nixon-Kissinger documents to his superiors at the Pentagon. Radford had obtained the documents by systematically rifling through burn bags, interoffice envelopes, and even the briefcases of Kissinger and Kissinger’s then-deputy, Brigadier General Alexander Haig. According to Radford, his supervisors — first Rear Admiral Rembrandt C. Robinson and then Rear Admiral Robert O. Welander — had routinely passed the ill-gotten documents to Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and sometimes to Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the chief of naval operations. It was, in short, an unprecedented case of espionage that pitted the nation’s top military commanders against their civilian commander in chief during wartime. [Emphases mine.]

I wonder what Woodward has to say about this scandal? He is reported by some to have worked in the code office of Naval Intelligence, and been a briefer to Alexander Haig. — By this point, I think Woodward’s connection to the secret world begins to call for greater clarification. Here’s Woodward’s description of how he met Mark Felt.

One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room…..After several minutes, I introduced myself. “Lieutenant Bob Woodward,” I said, carefully appending a deferential “sir.””Mark Felt,” he said.

I began telling him about myself, that this was my last year in the Navy and I was bringing documents from Adm. Moorer’s office…. [Note: would someone carrying such documents really tell a stranger, even someone in another branch of gov’t, what he was carrying?? I never worked in DC, so maybe others know. — JK]

Intrigued, then read on…

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