UPDATE: Robert Novak Breaks Silence About Plame Case

By: E&P Staff

Robert Novak will make two appearances on Fox News on Wednesday, as his latest column finally reveals a major part of the story he has kept hidden since outing CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Novak said for the first time that he cooperated with the investigation into who leaked the identity of Plame.

His decision to talk publicly came after he was notified a month ago by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald that prosecutors would not seek criminal charges against one of Novak’s sources, White House political aide Karl Rove.

Fitzgerald “has informed my attorneys that, after two and one-half years, his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to me has been concluded,” Novak said in a statement. He promised details of his cooperation in a column Wednesday in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post spoke with Novak on Tuesday, and then reported: “Novak said he and Rove had differing recollections of what happened when he asked about Plame.” Novak recalls Rove saying, “Oh, you know that, too?” Rove, according to his spokesman Mark Corallo, has said he responded, “I’ve heard that, too.”

Referring to Plame, Novak told Kurtz: “I certainly wouldn’t have used her name if anyone had indicated she might be in danger.” And looking at the whole case: “It’s obviously caused me a lot of trouble. If I had it to do all over again, would I have done it? It’s a hard question to answer.”

The latest news was first reported on the Drudge Report site, which posted part of the purported column (which had not yet been released in full). The conservative Human Events site posted the entire column — and then mysteriously pulled back all but the first two paragraphs, after several other sites, including Huffington Post, had commented on the whole thing. The column opened:

“Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has informed my attorneys that, after two and one-half years, his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to me has been concluded. That frees me to reveal my role in the federal inquiry that, at the request of Fitzgerald, I have kept secret.

“I have cooperated in the investigation while trying to protect journalistic privileges under the First Amendment and shield sources who have not revealed themselves. I have been subpoenaed by and testified to a federal grand jury. Published reports that I took the Fifth Amendment, made a plea bargain with the prosecutors or was a prosecutorial target were all untrue.”

Other sections of the column:

“When Fitzgerald arrived, he had a third waiver in hand — from Bill Harlow, the CIA public information officer who was my CIA source for the column confirming Mrs. Wilson’s identity. I answered questions using the names of Rove, Harlow and my primary source….

“I have revealed Rove’s name because his attorney has divulged the substance of our conversation, though in a form different from my recollection. I have revealed Harlow’s name because he has publicly disclosed his version of our conversation, which also differs from my recollection.”

The AP reported: “Contacted Tuesday night, Harlow declined to comment. But a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the matter denied that Harlow had been a confirming source for Novak on the story. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Harlow repeatedly tried to talk Novak out of running the information about Plame and that Harlow’s efforts did not in any way constitute confirming Plame’s CIA identity.”

Novak will reportedly appear with Brit Hume at 6 p.m. ET and with Hannity and Colmes later.

Drudge had earlier quoted from other parts of the Novak column: “I learned Valerie Plame’s name from Joe Wilson’s entry in ‘Who’s Who in America’… My primary source has not come forward to identify himself… Bill Harlow, the CIA public information officer who was my CIA source for the column confirming Mrs. Wilson’s identity…. I answered questions using the names of Rove, Harlow and my primary source.”

Yet another site, RawStory.com, had reprinted another portion of the column:

“I was interrogated at the Swidler Berlin offices Oct. 7, 2003, by an FBI inspector and two agents. I had not identified my sources to my attorneys, and I told them I would not reveal them to the FBI. I did disclose how Valerie Wilson’s role was reported to me, but the FBI did not press me to disclose my sources.

“On Dec. 30, 2003, the Justice Department named Fitzgerald as special prosecutor. An appointment was made for Fitzgerald to interview me at Swidler Berlin on Jan. 14, 2004. The problem facing me was that the special prosecutor had obtained signed waivers from every official who might have given me information about Wilson’s wife.

“That created a dilemma. I did not believe blanket waivers in any way relieved me of my journalistic responsibility to protect a source. Hamilton told me that I was sure to lose a case in the courts at great expense. Nevertheless, I still felt I could not reveal their names.

“However, on Jan. 12, two days before my meeting with Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor informed Hamilton that he would be bringing to the Swidler Berlin offices only two waivers. One was by my principal source in the Valerie Wilson column, a source whose name has not yet been revealed. The other was by presidential adviser Karl Rove, whom I interpret as confirming my primary source’s information. In other words, the special prosecutor knew the names of my sources.”

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