Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 12, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

WHAT DID ROBERT NOVAK KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?....Writing in The American Prospect today, Murray Waas adds an interesting tidbit to the ongoing saga of Valerie Plame. He says that a pair of sources he's talked to dispute Robert Novak's claim that he believed Plame was just a desk analyst and revealing her name wouldn't cause any harm:

Two government officials have told the FBI that conservative columnist Robert Novak was asked specifically not to publish the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in his now-famous July 14 newspaper column. The two officials told investigators they warned Novak that by naming Plame he might potentially jeopardize her ability to engage in covert work, stymie ongoing intelligence operations, and jeopardize sensitive overseas sources.

....One of the sources also asserted that the credibility of the administration officials who spoke to the FBI is enhanced by the fact that the officials made their statement to the federal law enforcement authorities. If the officials were found to be lying to the FBI, they could be potentially prosecuted for making false statements to federal investigators the sources pointed out.

...."When [Novak] says that he was not told that he was 'endangering' someone, that statement might be technically true," this source says. "Nobody directly told him that she was going to be physically hurt. But that was implicit in that he was told what she did for a living."

"At best, he is parsing words," said the other official. "At worst, he is lying to his readers and the public. Journalists should not lie, I would think."

This is interesting by itself, but taken as a whole the article also confirms a deeper subtext that we've also learned from other stories recently: the FBI investigation is dead serious, it's casting a surprisingly wide net, and it's making a lot of progress.

And since one of the sources is a "current administration official" it also makes clear that there's at least one current Bush official who's pretty unhappy with the whole Plame situation and is speaking to the press about it. I wonder if it's the same person that the Washington Post quoted all the way back in September in the story that first broke Plame into the big time?

If not, does that mean there are at least two disgruntled Bushies?

Kevin Drum 2:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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