NOVAK-GATE V: END OF STORY?
Steven Taylor has a report that, if true, pretty much ends this one:
According to a radio report I just heard, Novak said on Crossfire today that he did not get the Plame info from a leak, but from an interview, and that when he called the CIA to confirm that she worked for them, they confirmed that fact–which would be strange if she was indeed some covert operative.
Ogged has a similar Novak quote from Drudge:
‘Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson’s report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing. As a professional journalist with 46 years experience in Washington I do not reveal confidential sources. When I called the CIA in July to confirm Mrs. Wilson’s involvement in the mission for her husband — he is a former Clinton administration official — they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else. According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives’…
Aside from simple clerical personnel, I don’t even know who CIA employs that’s neither an analyst nor an operative nor a supervisor. Still, Ogged thinks this amounts to a confession:
Nobody called him to leak it, rather, it was divulged during a call either initiated by Novak or made by the leaker for (ostensibly) another purpose. And that is completely irrelevant. What Novak’s statement does is confirm that a “senior administration official” is the leaker and that another “senior administration official” confirmed that the original leaker had given true information. Further, Novak also confirms that the CIA asked him not to use Plame’s name, but, apparently, didn’t phrase it strongly enough for Novak to take it seriously. Further yet, the apparently mitigating list at the end of Novak’s statement, “not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives,” pointedly does not say whether she was associated with undercover operations in a way that could compromise those operations should her name become public.
In other words, Robert Novak just confirmed that two senior administration officials committed a crime.
I don’t know what the law is on this, but publishing a name that one got through non-classified sources of someone who works for the CIA in a non-covert capacity is almost certainly not a crime.
This still doesn’t let the Administration off the hook, though. If they were “outing” someone who didn’t wish to be a public person simply to punish her husband for embarrasing them politically, it’s still problematic. Probably not impeachable, but certainly not admirable.