Novak Speaks Out on Plame Case, Hits CIA Spokesman

By: E&P Staff

Columnist Robert Novak has remained more or less mum on the Plame case since writing the now famous CIA leak column in July 2003. In his column today, however, he says that a recent statement by a former CIA spokesman is “so patently incorrect and so abuses my integrity as a journalist” that he feels he must attempt to rebut it.

In a front-page story in last Wednesday’s Washington Post, Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei quoted ex-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow claiming that he told Novak before he wrote the fateful column that Plame (Mrs. Joseph Wilson) “had not authorized” her husband’s mission to Africa and that “the story Novak had related to him was wrong.”

Novak writes today: “The truth is otherwise….There never was any question of me talking about Mrs. Wilson ‘authorizing.’ I was told she ‘suggested’ the mission, and that is what I asked Harlow. His denial was contradicted in July 2004 by a unanimous Senate Intelligence Committee report. The report said Wilson’s wife ‘suggested his name for the trip.'”

But what about the more vital point of Harlow declaring that he had told Novak not to reveal the agent’s name? Novak provides a debatable point of logic. “That is meaningless,” he writes. “Once it was determined that Wilson’s wife suggested the mission, she could be identified as ‘Valerie Plame’ by reading her husband’s entry in ‘Who’s Who in America.’

“Harlow said to the Post that he did not tell me Mrs. Wilson ‘was undercover because that was classified.’ What he did say was, as I reported in a previous column, she probably never again would be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause ‘difficulties.’

“I have previously said that I never would have written those sentences if Harlow, then-CIA Director George Tenet or anybody else from the agency had told me that Valerie Plame Wilson’s disclosure would endanger herself or anybody.”

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