Thank Jeebus for public libraries, where you can get propaganda written by conservative writers without putting any incremental money in their pocket. Yesterday I exchanged Hayes for Novak. While the Novak book has clearly been vetted more closely than Novak's blabber-fest last year, I'm just on page 6 and already Novak has a big problem. Here's how Novak describes his potty-mouthed encounter with Joe Wilson's friend:
The man then goaded me with the criticism that I was soft on Bush, and argued that Ambassador Wilson "really had nailed the president on Meet the Press." He then asked what I thought of Wilson. "I think he's an asshole," I said, using the same inelegant description that had crossed my mind when I saw him lecturing in the NBC green room two days earlier. The man responded that Wilson had gone to Africa on a CIA mission and discovered intelligence that the president ignored. I blurted out the information I had just learned, telling him Wilson was no intelligence expert but had been sent on the mission to Niger by his wife, who worked on counterproliferation at the CIA. (6)
Poor little Novak got goaded into swearing...
This version is important because it differs from what Wilson's friend reported--to Wilson at least.
"Wilson's an asshole. The CIA sent him. His wife, Valerie, works for the CIA. She's a weapons of mass destruction specialist. She sent him."
But if, in fact, Novak told Wilson's friend that Plame worked in counterproliferation and the friend testified accordingly, then Novak would have to explain where he learned that from. Novak claims Armitage told him that Plame worked in counterproliferation:
Why would the CIA send Joseph Wilson, not an expert in nuclear proliferation and with no intelligence experience, on the mission to Niger? "Well," Armitage replied, "you know his wife works at CIA, and she suggested that he be sent to Niger." "His wife works at CIA?" I asked. "Yeah, in counterproliferation."
So if we were to go by Novak's story alone, the fact that Novak told Wilson's friend that Plame worked in counterproliferation would be no problem. Armitage told Novak and then Novak told Wilson's friend. Just like DC is supposed to work.
Only that's not how Armitage testified.
Novak and Armitage agree on several important facts, such as the time, date and place of the meeting during which the conversation took place, and the fact that Wilson’s wife and employment by the CIA was disclosed to Novak by Armitage in response to a question by Novak as to why the CIA had sent Wilson on the trip. Their testimony diverges as to whether Armitage provided the first name of Ms. Plame, though both agree the last name, “Plame” was not provided. Novak recalls being told by Armitage that Wilson’s wife worked in the area of weapons of mass destruction --[redacted] Armitage does not recall discussing the area in which Wilson’s wife worked. Novak and Armitage give differing accounts of other materials not germane to the instant motion. [my emphasis]
Note, the redaction in this passage is all the more interesting considering there's a discrepancy about the Wilson friend discussion--since it comments on Novak's claim to have learned of Plame's role at CPD from Armitage. It may well relate to Wilson's friend. In any case, it includes a somewhat lengthy redacted footnote as well.
Also note that Novak's version of the conversation with the friend does not, now, include reference to Valerie's first name.
Now, given the fact that Armitage was actively forgetting--at the time Fitzgerald wrote this--that he had also leaked Plame's identity to Bob Woodward, I might be inclined to believe Novak on this one. Except that the subject of who told Novak that Plame worked in CPD has been one of Novak's most inconsistent claims. As I laid out last year, Novak has changed his story about who told him about CPD
five--no, make that six now--times.
Novak wrote this column, clearly, to insist that Armitage told him that Plame worked in Counter-Proliferation, probably because if Armitage didn't say that, then either someone else did, or Novak was high when he used the word "operative." Novak makes this claim twice:
First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he "thought" might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson.
He had told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband's mission.
But Novak has been utterly inconsistent in his story about what Armitage said. Here's what he said in his original column:
Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.
Note, the only attribution he gives to the CPD identification is to the CIA [update--and as pollyusa notes below, they don't clearly say Plame is a CPD employee]. He changed his story the first time when he switched his attribution that Fall, when he blamed Armitage:
During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife.
He didn't make any claims as to how Armitage described Plame when he first started speaking this summer.
Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission
But then he changed that story when Bret Hume interviewed him, now describing what Armitage said as something which would be either WINPAC or CPD.
His wife worked in the office of nuclear nonproliferation in the CIA, and she suggested he go.
In short, Novak's version of what Armitage said to him has taken 5 different forms since he first published this leak in July 2003.
- CIA labels Plame as Counter-Proliferation (CPD)
- Armitage labels Plame as CPD
- Armitage doesn't say anything about CPD
- Armitage labels Plame as Nuclear Non-Proliferation (not CPD)
- Armitage labels Plame as CPD
Clearly, Novak is none too sure who told him Plame was CPD. Though he seems to know he needs to blame it on Armitage. Because if he doesn't, it makes it clear that someone was talking to him about Plame working at CPD before he spoke to Armitage.