Soap Box:  Is Robert Novak a god?

July 12, 2006

In July of 2003, the conservative syndicated columnist Robert Novak pushed an article in which he published a CIA operative's identity (Valerie Plame). Under the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, knowingly disclosing the identity of an undercover intelligence agent is a federal crime. You can get 10 years lockup for it. Any intelligent, logical person would assume that Novak was up the creek without a paddle. Nope! He hasn't been charged with anything and it doesn't appear that he ever will. But the firestorm he created has engulfed other people involved in this story. Try to keep up, as this is a tangled web of deceit and revenge.

First off, Novak got his information from Karl Rove, the white house political adviser. President Bush directed Rove to leak the information as an attack on Joseph Wilson (the husband of Valarie Plame). Wilson had written a report critical of Bush's claims that Iraq was trying to use uranium from Niger to make nuclear bombs. Remember that Bush used this FALSE claim as a justification for attacking and occupying Iraq. So Bush sought revenge on Wilson and part of it was to expose his wife as a CIA agent, thus ending her undercover career. Will discuss the gravity of what Bush did a little later, but for now, did Rove get charged with any crimes? Nope! The web is even more tangled.

During the investigation of the crime (i.e. the publishing of the agent's identify), New York Times report Judith Miller was questioned because she had done some work on the initial story. When questioned about her sources, she refused to identify them. Bang!...she's charged with contempt of court and eventually spent 12 weeks in jail. Keep in mind that Miller NEVER actually wrote or published any articles on this story. Nevertheless, off to jail she went.

Turns out that at least one of her sources was another White House staff member, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Libby was Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Say what?! Seems that Cheney and Bush were really out to get Wilson, laws and CIA agents identities be damned! However, when Libby was questioned, investigators claimed that attempted a cover-up (I wonder at who's direction). He eventually resigned, and was charged with perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to investigators.

So there's the tangled mess and all the players. And it boggles the mind that the American people are not in an uproar over what has transpired, and why some of the players apparently seem immune to the long arm of the law. Let's take each player, one at a time, and address the main issue.

President Bush: he fabricated claims in order to attack Iraq. And stupid, gut-less congress gave him the authority to wage war. But the heart of the matter is that he leaked CLASSIFIED information, which included the naming of a CIA agent. Wouldn't that be about as close to treason as you can get without putting on the uniform of the other country? The man has no integrity and it makes me question the integrity of those that support him. What he did in this case was criminal.

Vice President Dick Cheney: same story as Bush. He was involved in leaking classified information and exposing a CIA agent. What he did was criminal.

Karl Rove: he leaked classified information, but at the direction of Bush and Cheney, who he could theoretically assume has the authorization to do so. However, exposing a CIA agent was criminal.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby: same as Rove.

Judith Miller: never published an article on the story and stood up to bullies by not naming her sources. She became a scapegoat.

Robert Novak: directly and knowingly exposed (publicly, in a news article) the identity of a CIA agent to help Bush attack someone that was critical of his policies. That is a crime. He should be charged under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. But he has come out squeaky clean. Is it because he is a conservative, doing the bidding of the Bush administration? Or maybe, just maybe, he's a god.

Jeff Polston

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