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Novak and the Plame Name

The New York Times has an unilluminating article today on Robert Novak's disclosure yesterday that Valerie Plame's name could have been (but not that it was) obtained from Who's Who.

But, as Tom Maguire and Josh Marshall point out, (and TalkLeft discussed here)AP reporters Phelps and Royce wrote on July 21, 2003,

Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."

Is Novak going to now say they are lying or mistaken - like he claimed yesterday about Bill Harlow? That might be futile since as I noted here, the Chicago Tribune on March 5, 2004, in reporting on the subpoenas issued by Fitgerald's grand jury, included this:

The third subpoena [by Fitzgerald] repeats an informal Justice Department document request to the White House last fall seeking records about staff contacts with Novak and two Newsday reporters, Knut Royce and Timothy Phelps, who reported July 22 that Plame was a covert agent and Novak had blown her cover.

Update: Arianna has an update of blogger coverage here.

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  • Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#1)
    by Richard Aubrey on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:50 PM EST
    If the name could have been found in a publicly-available book, it hardly matters whether Novak found it out some other way. If the name was in the book, it was OUT and that invalidates practically any claim of criminal activity on anybody's part.

    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#2)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:50 PM EST
    Her name wasn't the secret part. Read Novak's original article and you'll understand. Anyway, I know this is futile since you're being deliberately dense, but it seems rather odd how Novak would refer to her by her maiden name rather than the one she used in public, doesn't it? Surely you must admit he was trying to accomplish something.

    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#3)
    by Richard Aubrey on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM EST
    Hiding by using your maiden name, or your married name, or the two in different circumstances doesn't impress me as sturdy tradecraft. If the CIA wants to say that's how they handle spooks who are undercover, they ought to go ahead and say so. Somehow, I don't think they will. Novak may have been trying to do something or other. He's made a living out of writing things that impress enough people for more than forty years. He isn't a suspect in the outing, is he? Whatever he was trying to do--show how smart he is by connecting dots or something--it's other guys in trouble. So this is kind of irrelevant except for the notion that a spy's name in a "Who's Who" is kind of laughable.

    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#4)
    by nolo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM EST
    So, what you're saying is unless Valerie Plame went by "Agent 99" or some other such "code" name, the CIA was f**king up?

    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM EST
    It's all disingenuous prattle from Novak. He lies with the greatest of ease, like a man covered with sleaze. As TL mentions, Josh Marshall points out Novak had a different story when questioned shortly after July 14 article outing Plame. Perhaps Novak is being so defensive about the extra damage he did by using her maiden name is because he wants to distance himself from the second version fo the secret memo, disbursed aboard the July 7 Air force one damage control trip to Africa one day after Wilson's NYT op-ed. In other words Novak is saying I could have of gotten her maiden name it from Who's Who, I did not have to speak to anyone aboard the plane, or anyone who was called from the plane. Those people on the plane were not my source, I heard it from people who heard it from reporters. The only difference between the June 10 memo and the July 6 memo was the name change from Wilson to her maiden name Plame.

    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM EST
    nono- thanks for your link....memory lane...I had forgotten all about Fang-alias Agent K 13.

    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM EST
    Let's play the Plame Name Game (with apologies to Shirley Ellis) Come on everybody! I say now let's play a game I betcha I can make a rhyme out of anybody's name " : rove, rove fo rove, fe fie fo cove, Bonana fanna fo rove Fee fy fo frove TRAITOR!

    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#8)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM EST
    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#9)
    by Richard Aubrey on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM EST
    Nolo. Not exactly. But, if your comment is followed out, it would be legit to note publicly that so-and-so works for the CIA, but not that they are undercover. That could be a matter of the hide-in-plain-sight technique, as in "who could be that stupid", but most nations we have to worry about have the resources to chase the stupids, too. So having it publicly known, as in available to anybody who either looks for it, or stumbles across it while looking for something else is probably both bad tradecraft for spies, and would invalidate any claim that the person was known to be undercover (how's that supposed to work?) or that the CIA was taking active steps to maintain the cover.

    Re: Novak and the Plame Name (none / 0) (#10)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:51 PM EST
    nolo writes:
    So, what you're saying is unless Valerie Plame went by "Agent 99" or some other such "code" name, the CIA was f**king up?
    Yep, that's about it. This whole thing smells of political agenda and nepotism. Before it is over several people will discover the difference between "famous" and "infamous."