Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Is Joe WIlson Really Robert Novak's Source?

Dean Esmay, preceded by his wife, posts that Robert Novak identified the Plame leaker as none other than her husband Joe Wilson. After reading the links, I thought I was missing something. I read on until I got to Novak’s column.

I have to disagree with Dean, Rosemary, and her source Protein Wisdom. Not only does Novak not identify his primary source, but he gives hints that point directly away from Wilson. Key points:

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. (Emphasis added)

Following my interview with the primary source, I sought out the second administration official and the CIA spokesman for confirmation.

I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in Who's Who in America.

The first example clearly points away from Wilson. If he had become anything in the wake of Novak’s 2003 column it is a “political gunslinger.” TV, newspapers, and a book deal made him a poster boy of the George Bush is the devil branch of the Democrat Left and was extolled and preened over for months as such. You can argue that this doesn’t apply to Wilson because Novak is using a tremendous amount of nuance, but that really is splitting hairs in an otherwise straight forward column.

In the second example we get to the issue of “two administration officials.” If you remember the story as it was developing, these 2 were always presumed to be Rove and Libby. Novak distinctly separates the CIA source from administration sources. If Rove was the second source, the primary source was also and “administration official.” Wilson had stopped working for the US Government as an employee in 1998. The 1999 trip, if one wants to classify him as an “administration official” in that case was over 4 years prior to the 2003 column. Therefore, if the primary source is the second administration source, Wilson cannot be the source.

Here is where people are really getting into trouble. There seem to be only two ways to go with this statement, Novak was told “my wife” or Novak was told “his wife” by the primary source. Some have clearly bought into the “my wife” and that leads Novak to lookup his primary source’s profile in Who’s Who. However, “his wife” also can lead straight to the Who’s Who entry.

Given all the other indicators in the column, “his wife” is a far more logical conclusion.