Isn’t Robert Novak just as despicable as his source?

Somebody told Robert Novak that Wilson’s wife was a CIA operative. This is a felony because it destroys the cover of the operative and it puts her and all her contacts in danger. It may even put lives at risk. The people who let this information out should be found and prosecuted. But what about Novak?

He wrote:
“Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. “

Isn’t Novak being a total a-hole and irresponsible journalist by publishing such information? Simply because you find out someone is a secret agent, is it your duty to reveal it to the world, destroy their career, and put people’s lives in jeopardy?
This is as stupid as a reporter broadcasting troop movements or even the movements of special ops forces.

My questions: Shouldn’t Novak be condemned for this? Can he be prosecuted for revealing the cover of a CIA operative?

This is probably headed to GD soon, but yeah, I would say so. Particularly as Novak is quoted as saying that his “source” didn’t tell him not to reveal the name, so Novak figured it was OK to do so. More likely, the “source” probably didn’t figure Novak was underhanded/crazy/dumb/partisan (delete as appropriate) enough to out a CIA operative’s name to the planet.

It’s interesting that Novak has gotten a free pass on this. They want to behead the person who leaked it to Novak, but Novak himself writes it to TEN MILLION PEOPLE and I haven’t heard anyone suggest he’s a scumbag for doing it.

Now, Novak cannot be prosecuted for this so far as I know, and I think that’s fine; I do not like the idea of laws preventing private citizens from saying things. But it was unethical and possibly immoral of him to spread information that could have brought Plame or her sources to harm.

You haven’t heard anyone suggest he’s a scumbag? Read GD or the Pit, then.

Novak may have shown abysmal judgment, but it wasn’t illegal for him to reveal the information (the law only applies to government officials, not journalists). He also said he didn’t realize she was undercover; just that she worked for the Company.

It was, of course, ax grinding to the nth degree.

The assumption I’ve seen is that the public doesn’t want to condemn an old man who might not be much longer for this world (I honestly think he’ll never recover from the death of his partner, Rowland Evans, a few years back), but they will condemn the government official with loose lips.

According to Novak, the CIA confirmed to him that Ms. Wilson worked for CIA, but didin’t tell him she’s undercover.

Novak claims more than 40 years as a journalist. He’s posted in Washington, DC. Novak’s innocent claim just doesn’t cut.

String him up.

(Disclaimer- journalism student here-)

Maybe he might also be getting a break because journalists aren’t supposed to be the ones left to decide if their information is suitable to pass on or not. Journalists don’t get restricted like the government does, as RealityChuck says.

That said, if things went down as they appear to have gone down, what he did was wrong and repulsive.

I personally have written on this board that he is a “scumbag newsman.” But then he has been that as long as I have known about him. Why do you think the source went to him when those others didn’t bite on his or her tidbit?

Unfortunately, in order to find out anything at all trustworthy about the actions of our political leaders it seems we have to allow news reporters to safeguard their sources, and that includes the Novaks. Sob.

He is a scumbag.

If you accept (as I do) that Civilization is fighting for its life against Religious Fundamentalism, then he is even worse.

Novak’s was a deliberate journalistic hit piece. But I’m guessing even he didn’t realize the damage he would cause. Read this snip from the Washington Post via MSNBC:

CIA leak also exposes agency front

Company name appears in public records for outed agent

By Walter Pincus and Mike AllenTHE WASHINGTON POST

Oct. 4 — The leak of a CIA operative’s name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

THE COMPANY’S IDENTITY, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore’s presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame’s employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA. Plame’s name was first published July 14 in a newspaper column by Robert D. Novak that quoted two senior administration officials. They were critical of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, for his handling of a CIA mission that undercut President Bush’s claim that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger for possible use in developing nuclear weapons…

I admire your idealism, but what you will soon learn outside your textbooks is that journalists often encounter information that they do not act on. Their willingness not to report something is a key way of gaining the trust needed to establish/maintain inside contacts. This is true of small towns and major cities.

Frankly, it’s a balancing act. When national security–or an American’s safety–is involved, an editor may decided not to print a story. The Washington Post, would it choose to, could probably come up with the names of dozens of American (or allied) “diplomats” who actually carry out intelligence functions.

That said, the tendency generally is to report.

Would you think Novak is an ok guy if he just revealed his source?
Come on, he could save us a lot of trouble and just point a finger at whomever told him.

I’m sure that’s true. But I didn’t say what he did was okay. What I was trying to say is that I think Novak is not getting attacked the like his source is because, like you say, reporters are generally expected to pass on information if they get it.