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Sweet Column: Novak breaks silence.


Bob Novak, in today's column, breaks his silence about his pivotal role in the CIA leak case.

It's a "tell-almost."

Washington has been waiting for this column from my Chicago Sun-Times colleague, known for his gumshoe reporting, for years.

Finally, crucial gaps in the timeline are filled in. Yes, Novak did testify before a grand jury. No, he did not name his primary source.

Questions linger

Novak answers some questions. Some remain.

The leak investigation was triggered by Novak's July 14, 2003, column. He revealed what had been classified information -- that a woman named Valerie Plame was a CIA officer. Novak's column came after Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly questioned the Bush administration's decision to wage war against Iraq.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald -- the Chicago-based U.S. attorney picked by former Attorney General John Ashcroft to lead the leak probe -- forced journalists Matt Cooper, Tim Russert and Judy Miller to testify before a grand jury. They all publicly discussed their testimony.

Miller, the former New York Times reporter, talked to the grand jury after sitting in an Alexandria, Va., cell for 85 days. Cooper, then with Time magazine, testified, after being threatened with jail, that White House adviser Karl Rove told him about Plame working for the CIA.

The plight of Miller and Cooper ignited an ongoing national debate about press freedoms, government secrecy in this post-9/11 era and the need for a federal shield law for reporters, a matter pending in Congress.

The probe yielded the Oct. 28 indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter'' Libby, who was Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, on obstruction of justice, false statement and perjury charges. He awaits trial.

Until today's column, Novak declined to say if he appeared before a grand jury. Novak reveals he testified before a grand jury on Feb. 25, 2004. By then, Fitzgerald, without information from Novak, knew the names of his sources. Novak reveals that Fitzgerald had the names as early as Jan. 12, 2004 -- more than a year before Miller was imprisoned in July 2005.

For some time, it has been known that Rove and CIA public information officer Bill Harlow talked to Novak for his Plame column, all secondary sources.

Plame name found in 'Who's Who'

Novak does not reveal the name of his primary source. However, he volunteers that he used the name of Rove, Harlow and this key source in answering questions.

Surprisingly -- and this will be grist for commentators in the days to come -- Novak said he was not pressed to name his primary source in four encounters with federal authorities, including two face-to-face sessions with Fitzgerald in Washington.

Novak comes out with several other long-awaited details. He writes that he differed with Rove's lawyer about the "form'' of Novak's conversation with Rove -- but he does not challenge the substance. He does not elaborate.

Novak provides a basic lesson in journalism in today's column: Do the obvious. No secret source was needed to figure out the identity of Wilson's wife. He writes that he got Plame's name from Wilson's entry in "Who's Who in America."

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Bob Novak, along with his three conspirtors should be sitting in jail for outing a CIA agent. To me, what they did is no different then shouting fire in a crowded theater.

He has proven hemself to be nothing but a lackey for the current administration by publishing Ms Plame's name to in some way put her husband in his place, you know, show him who's boss.

He is a disgrace to journalism by his on going behavior since then, and through his column today...

Plame was nothing more than a mid level janitor, her husband was a political hack at the CIA, we do not need political hacks at the CIA. He lied about Nigeria because he is a political hack. Turnabout is fairplay and there lives were NEVER in danger. But their lies endangered others BIGTIME. Joe Wilson is a physcopath that needs counseling BIG TIME. Lynn quit sensoring the board so only left wing nuts, can post again. Is Rham proof reading this blog again?

what i don't understand is WHY DID BOB NOVAK THINK IT WAS HIS DUTY TO OUT VALERIE PLAME. IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. No one has ever outed a CIA AGENT in a newspaper column before. Why did LIBBY go to jail? This doesn't make sense.

Sent you comments direct to your e-mail address. Didn't know about this blog. Would've sent them here.

I rarely read Novak's column because it's two minutes of my life I'll never get back. Neither do I bother to waste space commenting on him in my own column in THE LONE STAR ICONOCLAST. Bob's nothing but a pompous blowhard, a shill for the illegal Rovian Regime that controls our government and has gotten our Nation into such dire straits. However, as a journalist from time to time I make an exception and give him a shot.

Today's "coming out" did not surprise me one whit. As usual, he rambled on and on about how righteous and smart Bob Novak is, then told us nothing. Did anyone really expect Novak to exhibit the intestinal fortitude it takes for a real man to 'fess up? (Lest we forget the way he threw a hissy fit and stormed off the CNN set when confronted with the truth by Jon Stewart.)

But then, there's nary a true man among the White House Evildoers and their Gang of Cronies who could be mistaken for a real man -- Condi included.

Novak is a vile, unpatriotic cur who could have stopped the damage of the revelation by not seeing it into print. Instead, he sold out an operative of our government - one who, whatever her designation - and to call her a "mid-level janitor" is imbecillic - was paid for by our tax dollars. It was the agency that classified her identity and Rove and other traitors, following their own hybristic, unpatriotic lights, that overturned it. Novak is despicably sanctimonious in this column when he should be contrite. IN other times in America, he, Rove and the unnamed "other" would have been tarred, feathered and run out of Washington on a rail. In this age, the least the Sun-Times can do is drop the column of unpatriotic hack conspicuously lacking in integrity.

For the record, Judicial Watch, the public interest group that fights government corruption, released a declassified “Secret/NOFORN��? State Department intelligence analysis cable, dated March 4, 2002, from the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Office of Analysis for Africa. The analysis, entitled, “Niger-Iraq: Sale of Niger Uranium to Iraq Unlikely,��? was part of a larger analysis document for the week of February 25 – March 3, 2002, approximately ten months prior to President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address, where he claimed Iraqi leadership attempted to obtain uranium from Niger, and one year before the war in Iraq was initiated.

The possibility that a corrupt, former President of Niger – Bare Mainassara – may have negotiated with Iraq is discussed in the analysis, but discounted since his presidential guard killed him in April 1999 during a coup. The analysis also points out that President Tandja – the current president – is very aware that the financing of Niger’s day-to-day government operations and its development aid are entirely dependent of foreign assistance. The analysis states that an Iraqi pay-off of $50 to $100 million would not make up for what would be lost if foreign aid donations stopped.

The analysis states: “Niger probably is not planning to sell uranium to Iraq, in part because France controls the uranium industry in Niger and would take action to block the sale . . . ,��? and, “. . . there are French managers and engineers at every point in the mining, milling and transportation process.��?

Finally, the analysis describes the extreme difficulty of “secretly��? transporting 500 tons of “off-the-books��? uranium on 25 “hard-to-conceal��? 10-ton tractor trailers across 1,000 miles from land-locked Niger to the sea, crossing at least one foreign border.

Let's see the current administration's philosophy, flag-burning unpatriotic and something that should be outlawed, outing CIA agents investigating WMD and telling them the truth they don't want to hear, unpatriotic. If you want Haliburton to make a ton of money, you need to invade Iraq. Of course now the country's human and financial capital is spent so we're low for real threats from Iran and North Korea, but the Iraq war is already money in the bank for Haliburton. Big oil is having their brightest days in a lifetime of sunshine. People will fall for the administrations distractions on protecting them against flag-burning and gay people. Just keeping on selling our bonds to China to finance the enrichment of Haliburton.

Hey Ralph,

What you seem to be forgetting is that we never did find any WMDs.

Isn't that what Joe Wilson was trying to tell us?

One day history will record this incident as just one more example of how this corrupt, lawless group of fanatics hijacked democracy in America...we liberals are not willing to kill to shove our political philosophy down people's throats, the right wing zealots in Texas we chalk it up to "whatever it takes" even if it means violating the law....or as Texans are fond of saying: We don't need no stinking laws.....

"Is Rham proof reading this blog again?"

"there lives were NEVER in danger."

"Lynn quit sensoring"

you could use your own editor there, bud.

Would like to thank this reporter for her unbiased coverage of this story. It is a lot different than some of the other reports which seem to be biased and written so as to inflame readers.

thanks again.

Ralph your bilnd or not hearing. Libby has been charged with not telling the truth in this case. Ms.Plame was working as an odercover terrorist analyst for the CIA. Rove still has to testify in that case. The Vice President will be called. Thats the facts here wake up pal or read a newspaper even your Fox News has been telling you that part.By leaking her name they put people life's on the line overseas

Some of you people who posted comments must not have read the entire article. The last line reads "[Novak] writes that he got Plame's name from Wilson's entry in "Who's Who in America." So she's a secret CIA opperative??? You can't out someone who's already been outed. If anyone's to blame for her no-longer-secret status, it's her husband who included her info in Who's who.

Did you get all of the GOP talking points in there, Ralph?

I can not improve on Ralph Furley's earlier comments as they reflect reality.

I comment as an Independent with NO loyalties to either the lying (D)'s or the dumbed down (R)'s.

"Plame was nothing more than a mid level janitor, her husband was a political hack at the CIA, we do not need political hacks at the CIA. He lied about Nigeria because he is a political hack.

Turnabout is fairplay and there lives were NEVER in danger. But their lies endangered others BIGTIME. Joe Wilson is a physcopath that needs counseling BIG TIME."

My further thoughts are, what Wilson "needs" and for sure deserves, starts with a "c" but is not counseling. It is conviction and time in the federal pen but with the current leadership in the U.S., he will probably accompany Jimmy-peanut-brained-Carter to another loser country where they can both, again, poorly represent this once great and Godly country of my birth, the U.S.A.

Bob Novak remains my personal #1 source for reliable, current news reporting. He is trustworthy, reliable, and what he writes (it is called old fashioned journalism) is actually what is!

Chef Mike,

Novak said he declined to answer when questioning touched on matters beyond the CIA leak case, but did not say he wasn't pressed to name his primary source. In fact, he says he answered Fitzgerald's questions using the name of his primary source.

Mr. Furley sounds like a typical righty, blathering unsubstantiated claims. Who's the psychopath???

Hey Ralph, if Plame was a "mid level janitor" why didn't most of her friends or nieghbors know about her position? And the true psychopaths are Bush and Cheney! I'm pretty sure BushCo has enddangered and killed far more people than Joe Wilson ever could have in a life time!

Hello, fellow commentors.

You've been bantering about the silly Right-wing talking points posted by "Ralph Furley."

Has it not dawned on any of you that "Ralph Furley" was the character played by Don Knotts on "Three's Company?"

Once again, a brave Bush-backer hides behind a phony facade.

"Out Of The Blue"

It is very helpful when an idiot misspells simple words in the first line of a comment. I know not to read any further. Thank you Frank M. Stich, if that's REALLY how your name is spelled.

"Oh what a wicked web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

Novak is unwilling to reveal who the traitor is in the White House and is as complicit as his "source" in this treasonous act. He's a coward who is hiding behind the first amendment. Where's the personal responsibility in disclosing a NOC and destroying a US Government Overseas Operation and exposure of NOC's that were tracking WMD's foreign sale of weapons, design, and procurement? Is this the new patriotism? Blood and treason are on your hands Mr. Novak.

The Bush administration has infected many people with their policy of lies, deceit, and cover-up. Even reporters like Novak. I'm glad I'm not like Ralph. I can sleep at night knowing I didn't vote them into office. How about that Ralph, do you sleep well or are you up all night wondering who hates us because of Bush and who will attack us next?

To Mr. Messer -
It's quite one thing to be named in "Who's Who" and quite something else to have your occupation cited and your cover blown in a newpaper article. The entry in "Who's Who" *did not* identify Ms. Plame as a covert CIA agent; the cowardly Novak did that in his column. It would serve this country well if its citizens and voters actually read or listened and clearly understood what they read or heard, especially from politicians. (It would be good, too, if the press of this country would supply the unadulterated truth.) It is only business of people like the execrable Rove and the odious Novak to obfuscate and make the truth fuzzy for their own purposes. Apparently that's why the latter threw in the meaningless factoid at the end of the column today. Let's not be taken in by political hacks and charlatans like Novak, please.

No they did find over 500 WMD's in Iraq numbnuts. It happened over 3 weeks ago. They never came out with it over a year ago, because only left wing nutwacks would think they didn't.Wilson was a drunk stooge who told everyone what he and his wife did on the cocktail surcuit. The CIA should be non partisian, hacks like Plame and Wilson should be kicked out for vagrency. Also prosecuted for lying to the FBI. Wilson is the LOWEST form of life there is. WMD's mustard gas shell, cerian shells were found, with you left wing talking points.Gotto lie to win ,huh? Thats the only way. Nutty-er we got attack by wacko islamofascist who Clinton had Bin Laden on a silver platter from Sudan and turned him down. These islamofascists will kil all of us we are safer now, unlike that coward Clinton. Cut and ran in Somailia look at it now! How do you sleep at night knowing you made us unsafe in the 90's? Coward liers.You peope are Daley voting sheep, while he steals your tax money you keep voting for him,MORONS! Look at your County Board! SHEEP! You have your moronic royalty here!Todd Stroger, LOL!

Novak shows that he still a GOP hack and is still protecting a treasonous scumbag in the Bush Adminstration... Was Cheney his primary source?

Novak pats himself on the back for not outing his primary source...but does not apologize for outing a CIA agent whose identity newspaper colleagues of Novak have traditionally kept secret.
Novak ought to be ashamed of himself and is fortunate that the Special Prosecutor has declined to prosecute him for outing the one and for keeping secret the other.

this idiot is still working for a legitimate paper ... i might need some later this evening ... i had a spicy burrito for lunch.

Mike and Ralph you seem to forgot something. "I will fire anyone in this case if I find out they leaked it"Bush

I'm watching you on Hardball now. You need to get a new picture. You look so much younger on TV than you column photo. I no this is silly, but you look so much better than your picture.

Novak's crime was in not speaking out about the disparate treatment Fitzgerald treated journalists to, and which he now obviously knew about. Novak is a coward and has the morality of pond scum his devotion to partisan causes. Go to hell Novak.

Fact: Mrs. Plame was a NOC working undercover to track WMD's. Specifically in the Middle East.

Fact:The "who's, who" entry identified her as Mr. Wilsons wife and did not mention any affiliation with the CIA. Mr. Novak found out Wilson's wife was CIA and indetified her with the "Who's, who" entry.

Fact: Mr. Wilson was a diplomat and not a CIA employee. Diplomats are State Dept. if I remember correctly.

Fact: Mrs. Plame and her "real" occupation were used as leverage to attempt to shut Mr. Wilson up and punish him for the editorial he wrote.

Fact: Any business or person with connections to Mrs. Plame in the past whether CIA or not are now suspect and or closed down.

Fact: the Bush admin. was told previous to the State of the Union by foreign and domestic intelligence that the "uranium" story carried no weight.

Fact:Ralph, and Chef Mike are tools of misinformation and propaganda. Whittingly or not there still Tools.

Buest Guess: Italy, specifically Italian Intelligenc under Berlisconni(sic) perpetrated the falsifying of the documents that suggested the uranium sale.

Wow! Some very vitriolic comments here. I am no fan of Bob Novak. I do think his printing Ms. Plame's identity was irresponsible and just as bad as the New York Time's left-wing printings. I do not think, however that Ms. Plame was ever put in danger. Nor, based on the entirety of what I have read on this subject, do I believe that any field operatives were ever put in danger. The same people that are in high dudgeon over this matter are the same ones that are screaming to the heavens about making the CIA transparent and putiing it under direct control of the judicial dept. or congress. I'm afraid that a weakened CIA is a paper lion. I don't claim to be a Dem. or a Rep., but it never ceases to amaze me how both groups walk in lockstep with their party's position on contentious matters as conveyed by the media. Bush's minions erred and if any of them do time, it will just about even the score with the Clinton administration which was even more corrupt. Novak's fifteen minutes are up. Clap him off the stage.

Lynn, are you kidding me?

"Novak provides a basic lesson in journalism in today's column: Do the obvious. No secret source was needed to figure out the identity of Wilson's wife. He writes that he got Plame's name from Wilson's entry in "Who's Who in America."

I don't think it was any secret who Wilson's wife was. That has to be the most disingenuous thing I've read in months. At least have the guts to tell an actual lie instead of your blithe insinuation.

Does it say in "Who's Who" that she was an undercover agent for the CIA? No?

I don't know why I expect better from a writer for a Murdoch tabloid, but you are the Washington Bureau Chief for God's sake.

Shame on you.

murdoch owned the paper only for a short time many, many years ago.


Ralph is as educated as BUSH about the world.
There is country called Niger, it is not Nigeria.

Arrogance and knowledge are too different things.
Some Americans would starve to death if they were born else where.
Their only attribute is their being american .
Even donkeys can survive well and live arrogant lives in this wealthy nation.

John what the heck . They are not even taken care of the troops when they come home. They are sending troops back to Iraq with mental problems If you would talk to us veterans clear of combat the way we are going will be longer then Vietnam. The only oversight at all on this war is the media. There is 26 billion missing in Iraq of taxpayers money. But President Bush sto anyone for looking for it with a signing statement. Brother wake up we are in trouble there. As to Novak his stories change like the winds in Chicago.

Dale , I was in the navy and the majority of the vets I talk too totally dissagree with you on everything. To me and my friends you are a welfare momma. We are sick of you portraying every vet as a foodstamp wanting welfare needing invalid like you, I won a purple heart in Nam so tell me again, what kind of wacko thinks he speaks for all vets when he speaks for the cooks and janitors in the service? tell me....

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on July 12, 2006 6:22 AM.

Bush: Wants ``line item'' veto power to strip ``earmarks'' from bills. Says it will cut pork. Fat chance? was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet Column: Durbin at Guantanamo/Rahm Emanuel vs Howard Dean is the next entry in this blog.

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