The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A bit more on Bob Novak, from the Washington Post:
In a strange twist in the investigation, the grand jury -- acting on a tip from Wilson -- has questioned a person who approached Novak on Pennsylvania Avenue on July 8, 2003, six days before his column appeared in The Post and other publications, Wilson said in an interview. The person, whom Wilson declined to identify to The Post, asked Novak about the "yellow cake" uranium matter and then about Wilson, Wilson said. He first revealed that conversation in a book he wrote last year. In the book, he said that he tried to reach Novak on July 8, and that they finally connected on July 10. In that conversation, Wilson said that he did not confirm his wife worked for the CIA but that Novak told him he had obtained the information from a "CIA source."

Novak told the person that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA as a specialist in weapons of mass destruction and had arranged her husband's trip to Niger, Wilson said. Unknown to Novak, the person was a friend of Wilson and reported the conversation to him, Wilson said.

(snip)

[Bill] Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

In a column published Oct. 1, 2003, Novak wrote that the CIA official he spoke to "asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause 'difficulties' if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name."
Translation: Bob Novak knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote his column on Joe Wilson. Harlow couldn't out-and-out disclose Plame's status because, well, that would be illegal (and, coincidentally, that's precisely what Rove and company are in trouble for doing). Furthermore, the explanation provided by Novak in the October column is best viewed through the lens of the political sphere of the scandal. File it next to Rove attorney Bob Luskin's claim that Rove was simply "discouraging" Matt Cooper from writing "an inaccurate story". In other words, bullshit! Novak's own history of his use of the word "operative" flies in the face of his well-conjured explanation from October 03.

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