Novak Explains

We’ve said little or nothing about the “scandal” du jour, the alleged unveiling of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife as an employee of the CIA. The whole thing started with a Robert Novak column last July, in which he innocently recorded that an administration official told him that Wilson’s appointment by the CIA to the Niger assignment had been made at the suggestion of Wilson’s wife, who is an employee of the agency. The recent publicity with its fevered charges against the “White House” is largely the result of efforts by Mr. Wilson, a rabid liberal who has written for Nation magazine and currently a donor to John Kerry’s campaign.
Novak attempts to clear the air, saying:
“To protect my own integrity and credibility, I would like to stress three points. First, I did not receive a planned leak. Second, the CIA never warned me that the disclosure of Wilson’s wife working at the agency would endanger her or anybody else. Third, it was not much of a secret.”
There is a story lurking here somewhere. The question that originally puzzled Novak, why the CIA would choose a left-leaning Clintonista for the sensitive Niger investigation, remains unanswered. The CIA is a notoriously liberal organization, and it may well be that Wilson’s wife suggested her husband’s appointment to a fellow liberal in the Agency, for the express purpose of assuring that the resulting report would be unhelpful to the administration. Given the pitiful nature of Wilson’s “investigation” into the allegation that Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium in Africa–an allegation that is almost certainly true, as we have previously argued–this scenario is by no means implausible. In the current climate, however, Novak’s question is likely to remain unanswered.
BIG TRUNK adds: Clifford May thoughtfully meditates on some of the truly interesting questions underlying this affair in an exchange with Spencer Ackerman on the New Republic Web site: “White House leaks.”

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