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Novak discusses role in CIA Plame leak case investigation

Published: Tuesday July 11, 2006

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Columnist Robert Novak is "breaking his silence" about his role in the investigation of the outing of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, the Website Drudge Report broke early Tuesday evening.

"Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has informed my attorneys that, after two and one-half years, his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to me has been concluded," writes Novak in his latest column "My Leak Testimony."

"That frees me to reveal my role in the federal inquiry that, at the request of Fitzgerald, I have kept secret," Novak continues.

The "primary source" for his July 10, 2003 article "Mission To Niger" won't "come forward to identify himself," but Novak does reveal that in his testimony he spoke of President George W. Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

"I answered questions using the names of Rove, Harlow and my primary source," writes Novak.

"I have revealed Rove's name because his attorney has divulged the substance of our conversation, though in a form different from my recollection," Novak writes.

"Novak said he and Rove had differing recollections of what happened when he asked about Plame," writes Howard Kurz for the Washington Post.

"Novak recalls Rove saying, 'Oh, you know that, too?'" writes Kurtz. "Rove, according to Corallo, has said he responded, 'I've heard that, too.'"

Rove's spokeman said there wasn't "much of a difference" between what Rove and Novak testified.

A spokesman for Rove's legal team, Mark Corallo, said that Rove did not even know Plame's name at the time he spoke with Novak, that the columnist called Rove, not the other way around, and that Rove simply said he had heard the same information that Novak passed along to him regarding Plame," Pete Yost reported for the Associated Press.

According to the Drudge Report, Novak will be making two appearances on the FOX News Channel tomorrow evening to talk about his role in the probe, on "Special Report with Brit Hume" and "Hannity & Colmes."

Excerpts from Novak's column:


I was interrogated at the Swidler Berlin offices Oct. 7, 2003, by an FBI inspector and two agents. I had not identified my sources to my attorneys, and I told them I would not reveal them to the FBI. I did disclose how Valerie Wilson's role was reported to me, but the FBI did not press me to disclose my sources.

On Dec. 30, 2003, the Justice Department named Fitzgerald as special prosecutor. An appointment was made for Fitzgerald to interview me at Swidler Berlin on Jan. 14, 2004. The problem facing me was that the special prosecutor had obtained signed waivers from every official who might have given me information about Wilson's wife.

That created a dilemma. I did not believe blanket waivers in any way relieved me of my journalistic responsibility to protect a source. Hamilton told me that I was sure to lose a case in the courts at great expense. Nevertheless, I still felt I could not reveal their names.

However, on Jan. 12, two days before my meeting with Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor informed Hamilton that he would be bringing to the Swidler Berlin offices only two waivers. One was by my principal source in the Valerie Wilson column, a source whose name has not yet been revealed. The other was by presidential adviser Karl Rove, whom I interpret as confirming my primary source's information. In other words, the special prosecutor knew the names of my sources.