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Joe Wilson on the Bob Novak CYA Reputation Tour…


The Bob Novak CYA Reputation Renewal Tour continues.  Yesterday, Novak had an exclusive with those hard-hitting journalists Hannity and Colmes.  (Well, Colmes actually asked questions that went beyond the "that’s a great suit Bob, tell us where you had it tailored," anyway…Hannity, not so much.)  Crooks and Liars has Novak in all his ass-covering smarminess.

I got an e-mail from Joe Wilson a little while ago with his response to Novak, and let’s just say that Amb. Wilson is not at all pleased with the continuing saga of Novak failing to take any responsibility for acting as a political hatchet job tool-of-the-day. Thought you all would be interested in what Amb. Wilson had to say:

Robert Novak, some other commentators and the Administration continue to try to completely distort the role that Valerie Wilson played with respect to Ambassador Wilson’s trip to Niger. The facts are beyond dispute. The Office of the Vice President requested that the CIA investigate reports of alleged uranium purchases by Iraq from Niger. The CIA set up a meeting to respond to the Vice President’s inquiry. Another CIA official, not Valerie Wilson, suggested to Valerie Wilson’s supervisor that the Ambassador attend that meeting. That other CIA official made the recommendation because that official was familiar with the Ambassador’s vast experience in Niger and knew of a previous trip to Africa concerning uranium matters that had been undertaken by the Ambassador on behalf of the CIA in 1999. Valerie Wilson’s supervisor subsequently asked her to relay a request from him to the Ambassador that he would like the Ambassador to attend the meeting at the CIA. Valerie Wilson did not participate in the meeting.

I’m still waiting for someone to ask Bob Novak Swopa’s questions: "Who was the first person to tell him that Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA? Did he know this when he spoke to his supposed "primary source"?" 

Was Bob already fishing with a fully loaded line?  If so, who handed him the bait? 

Wouldn’t we all like to know that one…but we sure as hell didn’t get it from Hannity and Colmes last night, despite Alan Colmes asking some pretty good questions about the…erm…discrepancies in Novak’s various statements, interviews, and rantings.  Here’s a snippet of the interview (via C&L):

COLMES: Help me understand something, because you said in your piece today that you found out Valerie Plame’s name originally by reading a "Who’s Who." And you’re quoted in "Newsday" by Timothy Phelps and Knut Royce a while back as saying, "I didn’t dig it out. It was given to me," meaning her name. "They thought it was significant. They gave me the name, and I used it."

That sounds like contradictory statements.

NOVAK: Well, that was a misstatement. That was an interview I did on the telephone with "Newsday" shortly after it appeared. Some of the things that they said that quoted me that are not in quotes are paraphrases, and they’re incorrect, such as the whole idea that they planted this story with me. I never told that to the "Newsday" reporters.

But, as a matter of fact, let me assure you that neither my primary source gave — mentioned Valerie Plame’s name to me, nor did Karl Rove mention the name to me, nor did the CIA spokesman. They just talked about Joe Wilson’s wife. I got her name from "Who’s Who"…

COLMES: You said that Bill Harlow asked you not to go with this. Are there others who urged, "Don’t go with this story. Don’t print it. Don’t use the name. Don’t talk about Valerie Plame"? Why didn’t you listen to them, if that’s the case?

NOVAK: If I — Alan, if I adhered to — if I bowed to somebody who asked me not to write stories all the time who are in government, about half the columns I write would not be written, or a great number would not be written.

If he had said to me at any time that she was — that she was — her life was in danger, she was involved in undercover activities…

Well, isn’t that interesting.

Two things: (1) I sure hope to hell that Newsday recorded the conversation with Bob Novak. Because he just called them sloppy journalists and basically accused them of fabricating his quotes. If they have a tape, and a transcript of said tape, now would be the time to publish it. (And I mean the entire transcript, start to weaselly finish.)  (2) According to Bill Harlow, the conversation with Novak went something like this:

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson’s wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak’s call, he checked Plame’s status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame’s name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

So, let’s see, the spokesperson for the CIA checks out your journalistic call and gets back to you saying Valerie’s name is NOT to be used…and you blow it off because he doesn’t give you every detail of her covert status, her driver’s license number and do a tap dance to Mr. Bojangles while playing the tune on a kazoo? What, are you a journalistic moron (yeah, don’t bother to answer that…)? Harlow could not, under his SF-312 requirements, disclose any details because it was…wait for it…about covert status. (btw, see Emptywheel’s fantastic dissection of this WaPo Pincus article. Great read.)

That Novak could not understand the flat out "Hello, Bob.  Do not publish her name.  There are consequences involved." when speaking to someone at the C…I…freaking…A, well…words fail me.  Of course, when you are looking for a loophole that allows you to get the dirt out and never take responsibility for being the WHIG tool, you don’t exactly want to have listening comprehension at the top of your journalist kit bag, do you?

There is a reason that Novak is on a reputation rehabilitation tour — it’s because his reputation is in the crapper, and no one trusts him. 

Not his fellow journalists.  Not the political operatives who used to leak to him, especially now that everyone knows he spilled his guts early and often to Fitzgerald and the grand jury and the FBI. 

And FOX has a contract with this weasel and is pimping his rehab like there is no tomorrow because…wait for it…they can’t use him as a propaganda tool if everyone still thinks of him as a weaselly liar who would sell out anyone, including a covert CIA agent working on nuclear nonproliferation issues during a time when our nation is threatened by this very issue, if he was asked to do so — because Bob Novak has never, ever apologized to the Wilsons for being the tool by which the WHIG exacted its political revenge on Joe Wilson.

And I have news for Bob Novak, that’s going to be the first line of his obituary, no matter how much rehab PR he and his Murdoch masters try to spin out.  It’s too late for reputation rehab for Mr. Novak, I’m afraid.

Oh, and Murray Waas is likely off the Novak Christmas card list.  But I bet he’s not losing any sleep over it.  I know I’m not.

Steve Clemons has more.

UPDATEReader smass has a good question in the comments:

You know, I have a question here. From H&C:

NOVAK: If I — Alan, if I adhered to — if I bowed to somebody who asked me not to write stories all the time who are in government, about half the columns I write would not be written, or a great number would not be written.

So, then, Bob admits that he was asked not to run with that part of the story. Does this mean, then, that the right-wing is going to call for Bob to be prosecuted for treason? I mean, one of their arguments against the NYT is that they were asked not to run the story.

Maybe Novak falls under the WSJ exception: if someone from the Administration asks you to print national security information for any reason whatsoever, including CYA for Dick Cheney and his peeps, you are on base and can’t be tagged.  (Doesn’t that pretty much sum up the wingnut position in a nutshell?)

UPDATE #2Justin Rood at the Muck has even more on this, including all the ways in which Novak was inaccurate about Murray Waas.  Well worth a read.  (Hat tip to lotus for the find.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com