Bob Novak Blasts Armitage, Wilsons Add Armitage to Lawsuit
Bob Novak has a new column today disputing Richard Armitage's version of the Valerie Plame leak.
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. Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column.
Novak writes that June, 2003 was the first time Armitage had sought him out. Before this, Armitage had rebuffed him:
A peculiar convergence had joined Armitage and me on the same historical path. During his quarter of a century in Washington, I had no contact with Armitage before our fateful interview. I tried to see him in the first 2 years of the Bush administration, but he rebuffed me -- summarily and with disdain, I thought.
Then, without explanation, in June 2003, Armitage's office said the deputy secretary would see me. This was two weeks before Joe Wilson surfaced himself as author of a 2002 report for the CIA debunking Iraqi interest in buying uranium in Africa.
I sat down with Armitage in his State Department office the afternoon of July 8 with tacit rather than explicit ground rules: deep background with nothing said attributed to Armitage or even an anonymous State Department official....
Late in my hourlong interview with Armitage. I asked why the CIA had sent Wilson -- lacking intelligence experience, nuclear policy or recent contact with Niger -- on the African mission. He told the Washington Post last week that his answer was: ''I don't know, but I think his wife worked out there.''
Neither of us took notes, and nobody else was present. But I recalled our conversation that week in writing a column, while Armitage reconstructed it months later for federal prosecutors. 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. As for his current implications that he never expected this to be published, he noted that the story of Mrs. Wilson's role fit the style of the old Evans-Novak column -- implying to me it continued reporting Washington inside information.
Novak asks, if Armitage did not mention Valerie Wilson's identity and employment, why did he, on October 1, offer his resignation out of fear that he might have been the leaker?
Novak also takes a shot at the left, and misses the point by a mile. He continues to believe that the disclosure that Armitage was the leaker clears the White House officials like Libby and Rove. It doesn't.
Fitzgerald is still investigating whether there was a concerted effort by the White House to impugn the Wilsons. Libby is charged with lying, not leaking. Since when do alleged perjurers get a pass because someone else came forward as the source of the information they lied about?
The Wilson's civil suit should shed more light on what really happened and why Rove and Libby called six reporters to spin the Wilson op-ed as a boondoggle. Today, they added Richard Armitage as a defendant.
CREW's executive director Melanie Sloan said today, "The addition of Armitage as a defendant in no way reduces the culpability of the three original defendants. Separate and apart from Armitage's actions, Libby, Rove and Cheney engaged in an intentional and malicious conspiracy to expose Mrs. Wilson's identity as a covert operative for the CIA in order to punish Mr. Wilson for his public statements about the President's justifications for the war against Iraq." Sloan continued, "this case was and remains about one issue -- the abuse of government power."
I couldn't agree more.
|< Altercation to Move to Media Matters | Operation Rescue Loses Tax-Exempt Status >|