Thursday, July 28, 2005

Frogmarch watch: Novak's story starts to unravel 

What a shame. David Corn writes:

Once the Plame/
CIA leak became big (mainstream-media) news in September 2003--when word hit that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak, which had appeared in a Bob Novak column two months earlier--friends of the White House, including Novak, started saying that Valerie Wilson wasn't really under cover at the CIA and, thus, the disclosure of her employment at the CIA wasn't worth a federal case (or investigation).

White House allies asserted that while Valerie Wilson may have technically been a clandestine CIA official, in practice she wasn't. So all this bother over the leak was much ado about nothing.

Novak, for example, downplayed Valerie Wilson's covert status in an October 1, 2003 column, in which he vaguely described how he had originally learned of her connection to the CIA.

Should Novak be taken at his word on this point? Until now, the public only knew of his side of his conversation with the CIA. But The Washington Post published a piece on Wednesday that provides the CIA's version of this exchange. And it is significantly different from Novak's account. The paper reports,

[Bill] 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 [to Niger taken by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson] and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

So how many contradictions can you find? Novak indicated he had one substantive conversation with a CIA official about Valerie Wilson and he received no clear signal that revealing her name would cause any significant trouble. Harlow said there were two conversations and that in each one he warned Novak about using her name. (Harlow also said he told Novak that Valerie Wilson had not authorized her husband's trip. Remember, several Rove defenders have maintained that when Rove spoke to Time's Matt Cooper--and told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and had authorized his trip to Niger--he was merely trying to make sure that Cooper published an accurate account of what happened. Yet the CIA says she did not authorize this trip. Rove was feeding Cooper misleading information.)

Novak's claim that the CIA did not wave him off now stands contested. Will [Novak] run a correction?
(via WaPo)

Funny how all the carefully constructed Republican stories on TreasonGate keep falling apart, isn't it?

But the Republicans manufacture lies like Doritos: "Crunch all you want, we'll make more."

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