Novak: Rove Was A CIA Leak Source

Karl Rove, left, and Robert Novak are pictured together at a party marking the 40th anniversary of Novak's newspaper column at the Army Navy Club in Washington, D.C. in this June 2003 file photo. (AP Photo/Lauren Shay)
AP Photo/Lauren Shay
Now that Karl Rove won't be indicted, now that the president won't fire him, now that it really doesn't matter anymore, more details of the Valerie Plame leak investigation trickle out.

In his latest syndicated column released Wednesday, columnist Robert Novak revealed his side of the story in the Plame affair, saying Rove was a confirming source for Novak's story outing the CIA officer, underscoring Rove's role in a leak President Bush once promised to punish.

The columnist said he learned of Plame's CIA employment from a source he still refuses to publicly identify, and then confirmed with Rove and then-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, whose roles in talking to Novak have been previously reported.

Novak said for the first time that prosecutors looking into the leaks already knew his sources when he voluntarily agreed to disclose them. As the New York Times reports, Novak does not disclose his primary source, however, saying this official has not come forward publicly.

"I'm still constrained as a reporter," Novak told the Washington Post. "It was not on the record, and he has never revealed himself as being the source, and until he does I don't feel I should."

Public Eye's Vaughn Ververs On the Novak Revelations
Novak comes late to the Plame game, long after several other reporters talked publicly about the involvement of Rove and of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, in leaking the CIA identity of the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Novak says he kept his mouth shut so long because prosecutors asked him to.

A month ago, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said he didn't anticipate seeking charges against Rove. Novak wrote that, more recently, Fitzgerald told his lawyer that after 2 1/2 years his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to Novak has been concluded, freeing him to talk now.

Triggering the criminal investigation that resulted in Libby being charged with perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI, Novak revealed Plame's CIA employment on July 14, 2003, eight days after her husband went on the attack against the Bush administration.

Initially refusing to identify his sources to the FBI, Novak knew that Fitzgerald had obtained signed waivers from every official who might have provided Novak information about Plame. Despite that, Novak was prepared to resist. He says in his column that he did not believe blanket waivers "in any way relieved me of my journalistic responsibility to protect a source."

But he says he relented in early 2004 when it became clear that Fitzgerald "knew the names of my sources." Novak was then subpoenaed, he said, and testified to the grand jury three weeks later.

In his column, Novak writes: "In my sworn testimony, I said what I have contended in my columns and on television: Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission was revealed to me in the middle of a long interview with an official who I have previously said was not a political gunslinger. After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part."