Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Novak Strikes Back

Did you know that Robert Novak's nickname, once upon a time, was The Prince of Darkness? (I am not making that up.) He recently struck again, justifying his role in Plamegate. Read the article for yourself, in which he responds to then CIA spokesman Bill Harlow's account of their interaction. One paragraph floored me:

So, what was "wrong" with my column as Harlow claimed? There was nothing incorrect. He told the Post reporters he had "warned" me that if I "did write about it her name should not be revealed." That is meaningless. 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."

What... planet... is... he from? Does “don’t use her name” now mean, “feel free to identify her by other means, just don’t use her name?” I know lawyers who wouldn’t buy this one! Is this the sort of rationalization that allows him to sleep at night?

The details of Novak’s account have changed a few times. He offers a semi-apology for outing Plame, but none for his motivations. Perhaps he was driven by the thought of a scoop, but he was clearly unconcerned that the (misleading) information was fed to him by two senior Bush staffers. Novak was in such a mad rush to discredit Wilson, he even told a complete stranger on the street Plame’s status as a covert op! Professionally driven to chase what seemed like a hot lead? Possibly. Overly-eager, willing shill and partisan hack? Likely. His credibility is not exactly sterling, but his sense of morality is repugnant.

The best immediate retort to Novak I’ve yet seen (more are sure to follow) is from Valerie Plame’s CIA classmate, the now retired Larry Johnson, a Republican who’s been disgusted by this whole debacle. (His previous writings and interviews have been extremely illuminating on the whole covert status issue, and I'll link them if there's interest.)

Perhaps when all is said and done, Dark Prince Novak shall be vindicated. But I ain’t holding my breath.

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