The identity of this official is shrouded in secrecy. In fact, his name, government status, and the substance of his conversation with Woodward about the undercover officer are under a protective seal in US District Court for the District of Columbia.
But Woodward tape-recorded the interview he had with "official one." Woodward gave a copy of the tape and a transcript to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
Woodward emerged as central figure in the leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson in November. For the better part of two years, Woodward had publicly discounted the importance of the Plame Wilson leak and had referred to Fitzgerald as a "junkyard dog" prosecutor in interviews during the course of the investigation. He then revealed in November that he had been told about Plame Wilson's CIA employment in June 2003 - before any other journalist.
White House officials who are sympathetic to Libby say "official one" is former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. But numerous senior officials at the State Department, the CIA, and the National Security Council have said that "official one" is National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Hadley had been a source of information for Woodward when he wrote Plan of Attack, according to the book's footnotes.
Hadley was also a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which was formed in August 2002 by Andrew Card, President Bush's chief of staff, to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. WHIG operated out of Cheney's office. The group has become wrapped up in Fitzgerald's investigation. The special prosecutor last year subpoenaed the WHIG's emails and other documents.
One thing is for sure, neither Hadley nor Armitage are commenting, not even to issue a denial. Last week, Armitage's assistant at his lobbying firm, Armitage International, said last week that Armitage would comment on the "rumors" once Fitzgerald completed his investigation. Hadley's spokesman would not confirm or deny anything related to the National Security Adviser's involvement in the leak.
It does appear, however, that Libby's defense team is actively trying to shift the blame for the leak onto other parts of the government, including the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Council. They have engaged in a game of semantics, saying that when Libby testified that he heard about Plame Wilson from reporters his testimony wasn't limited to a specific reporter.
With Woodward's tape-recorded interview now in the hands of the special counsel, the attorneys representing I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff who is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury and FBI investigators about his role in the Plame Wilson leak, have zeroed in on three words "official one" apparently uttered during his conversation with Woodward: "Everyone knows it."
But one of the attorneys on Libby's defense team wasn't supposed to mention the existence of the tape-recorded interview in open court because it may cause the unknown government official to come under intense media scrutiny.
"Your Honor, there is one thing that I neglected to mention and again this is subject to filings that have been made under seal but there is, in fact, a transcript of a tape recording that involves official one," Libby's attorney William Jeffress said during the two and a half hour hearing.
Libby's attorneys argued that those three words refer to reporters, meaning that it was common knowledge among journalists that Plame Wilson was employed by the CIA, even though her status was classified.
Fitzgerald disagreed with the interpretation.