United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has taken himself off a possible list of persons who may have been the source of the leak to The Washington Post's reporter Bob Woodward, involving the identity of an undercover operative of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Rumsfeld said he never spoke to Woodward about either administration critic Joseph Wilson or his wife Valerie Plame, who worked for the CIA. He, however, said that at the direction of President George W Bush, he did speak to Woodward while the reporter was working on book projects.
"So I did. But I did it on the basis that there would be a transcript and it would be public," Rumsfeld remarked in an interview. "And both of the times that I've met with him, the transcript's there. It's public. You can go read it. And you won't find anything like that in it."
Woodward's revelation last week that he knew the name of Plame a month before a reporter came to know from the then Vice President's Chief of Staff, I Lewis "Scooter" Libby has set off a fresh round of speculation in a town that revels in the game of who may be that 'senior administration official'.
On Saturday, a spokesman for the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said that she was not Woodward's source. At the time in 2003, Rice was the President's National Security Advisor and her successor at the White House, Stephen Hadley, has said that he is not the source either.
According to a media report, investigations have shown that the Vice-President Dick Cheney was not Woodward's source on the status of Plame in the CIA.