Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 11, 2006
POLITICS: Novak Shows A Little More

Via Drudge, Bob Novak has now come forward with a fuller - but not yet complete - account of his column on Valerie Plame. What's frustrating - in the purest sense of wanting all the facts out - is that he doesn't identify his main source or give a detailed account of his conversation with Karl Rove, who apparently was a confirming source for the information. Key quotes:

[O]n Jan. 12, [2004], 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.

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.

Note that this means that Fitzgerald had the names two and a half years ago; the rest of his investigation has been about figuring out who said what and when, and who knew what and when. And, of course, it confirms the role of the CIA's press office, which in retrospect was at least severely negligent if this was information at all worth protecting.

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. My primary source has not come forward to identify himself.

Bob, could ya tell us what your recollection is?

In my sworn testimony, I said what I have contended in my columns and on television: Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission was revealed to me in the middle of a long interview with an official who I have previously said was not a political gunslinger. After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part.

Following my interview with the primary source, I sought out the second administration official [Rove] and the CIA spokesman [Harlow] for confirmation. I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in "Who's Who in America."

More grist for the mill, but we're not yet all that close for any of the people involved to line up (1) what they said, (2) what they knew, and (3) what the truth was about Plame's status. Which is what matters. Also, note the very un-Clinton-Administration-like extent of the cooperation with Fitzgerald's investigation.

I still tentatively think there's much to recommend Tom Maguire's thesis that source #1 was Richard Armitage, a Powell deputy at the State Department who is pretty much the antithesis of a Cheney-supporting neocon and who is unlikely to have been taking marching orders from the White House or the Veep. The facts may yet bear out the conclusion that Rove said things he shouldn't have, but assuming Novak's account is accurate, there's not much evidence to support the claim that there was some sort of organized campaign to disclose Plame's status as a CIA analyst, nor any sign that anyone involved in the disclosure knew that she had ever been a covert agent. (That conclusion can be revisited if we ever do see evidence pointing in that direction, but it's still not there).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:19 PM | Politics 2006 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

"Also, note the very un-Clinton-Administration-like extent of the cooperation with Fitzgerald's investigation." This is very silly. Who cares what the difference is? I am always a little awestruck by your need to justify this administration in some fashion. Clinton was big problem if you care about the Constitution, Bush is a bigger problem. Why the knee-jerk and false dichotomy? It is intellectually dishonest. If a Met was this middling (and most people consider Bush much worse) you'd hammer him every chance.

Posted by: pete at July 12, 2006 7:01 AM

From what I can tell about the only things Novak tells us that we didn't already know are that he was interviewed 4 times, that he got Plame's name (not who she was) from Who's Who, and that he hasn't been given any sort of deal.


He's just milking it as far as I can see.

And yeah, its pretty much down to Armitage. If you think it through - and if you have some basic knowledge of the relationships and politics of the time - Armitage as leaker destroys the left's entire theory of the case.

Posted by: Dwilkers at July 12, 2006 8:01 AM

Pete, I'm still wondering about your reference to Bush being a bigger problem with the Constitution than Clinton. Bush has yet to violate federal law in any way that has been shown thus far. If Bill Clinton had been CEO of any major corporation in the country, he would ahve been fired on the spot.

Posted by: maddirishman at July 12, 2006 12:11 PM

This is just 2006. I have no idea how much of this the newly heavily right-wing Supreme Court found to actually be Constitutionally OK with them.

In January, Bush issued a signing statement to an anti-torture bill passed by Congress, claiming he had the right to ignore a law if he deemed it necessary. This violates Article I, Section 8, which states in part that Congress has the power "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers." This is the "Torture is Legal" thing. Oh, right, it's not but that's OK because we never did it anyway.

Next, the Bush administration fully admitted to having spied on domestic phone calls without obtaining a court's permission to do so. Not only does this violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law passed by Congress, it also violates the Fourth Amendment in the awesomest of ways: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." This is, of course, on-going and gets more troublesome (banking) by the minute but the new SC probably thinks its all peachy.

Then, Bush signed a Budget bill into law that had not been approved in the same form by the Senate and the House. Evidence indicates that top level aides and advisors knew of the discrepancy, and went ahead with the signing anyway violating the Presentment Clause (article I, section 7).

Bush issued another signing statement for the most recent version of the Patriot Act, saying that he was not bound to the rules set forth by Congress to protect civil liberties.

I didn't want to strain or take anymore time so this is just current events. I will take Clinton's transgressions against this admin's any day.

Posted by: jim at July 12, 2006 5:23 PM

Nice summary, Mr. Crank.

Most concise, out all the blog analysis.

Now, plz also shed some focus on what's going wrong with the Atlanta Braves?

Posted by: JJ at July 12, 2006 9:12 PM

Maybe you should rethink writing about politics on here

Posted by: Drew at July 12, 2006 11:52 PM
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