Monday, October 24, 2005

Novak Gave Up Sources Early On to Avoid Fight

It has always been a bit of a mystery why Robert Novak, the only reporter who actually penned a column outing covered CIA agent Valerie Plame never became entangled with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in a dispute over revealing the "two high ranking administration officials" from whom he obtained his information. Other reporters were threatened with jail for contempt for refusing to reveal their sources for stories they never wrote until a court-ordered appeal to the Supreme Court was denied, and only then did they testify with the consent of their sources. New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent several months in jail for contempt until her source, Cheney Chief of Staff Scooter Libby gave her an unequivocal, written waiver. Novak, by comparison, went ahead and revealed Plame's identity even after being warned against it by a CIA public officer.

Today, the Washington Post removes a bit of this mystery when it attributes Novak's early cooperation with the prosecutor to the investigation's success. The Post said: "A critical early success for Fitzgerald was winning the cooperation of Robert D. Novak, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist who named Plame in a July 2003 story and attributed key information to "two senior administration officials." Legal sources said Novak avoided a fight and quietly helped the special counsel's inquiry, although neither the columnist nor his attorney have said so publicly."

There is a bit of irony in Novak, as a conservative-Pro Bush commentator, bearing responsibility for a scandal that may prove irreparably damaging to the administration, all because of Novak's zeal to aid the administration in discrediting Bush critic and husband of Plame, Ambassador Joe Wilson. He almost assuredly has ended the careers of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the Bush White House. Of course, a lot of folks on the left probably won't fault him for that. But given his distinctly pro-Bush sentiments, he may have a difficult time living with the consequences of his own actions.

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