Why is Robert Novak not under fire right now?


I didn’t post this question so we could argue about how hateful Robert Novak is or about confidentiality or anything of the sort. It’s simply my understanding that Novak wrote the original article that outed Valeria Plame and that our judicial system is throwing other journalists in jail for the thing. With this whole Plame issue being as ubiquitous as it now is, I was hoping someone could clarify why Novak has remained under the radar in this whole affair.

In a related note, can anyone give me a cite for the quote the NY Times referenced on Monday regarding this issue. I quote their front page article here:

“Another reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, avoided jail when his company yielded a demand to turn over his notes on the matter. Mr. Novak, meanwhile, has appeared to be under no threat of jail, for reasons that are not clear. He has said he will be able to clear things up one day.”

I await the flood of knowhow.

Well, if you watch the Daily Show, he has been under fire. I can’t really say about the real news outlets, but Jon Stewart has been calling him a douchebag all along.

I was thinking of something more…substantial…than a witty, verbal assault. Like, say, the threat of jail-time, which everyone else seems to be threatened with.

He’s not under fire because he’s (apparently) cooperating with the grand jury.

Ahh, so he’s a canary. I have one of those ominous feelings about this whole fiasco.

Ominous feeling … like maybe Joe Wilson who is a proven liar is the one who the Special Counsel may be after.

The WSJ had an interesting Editorial today.

WSJ editorial? There’s an objective resource. (typed with a tone of sarcasm).

klsdad- Please tell us what Joe Wilson has lied about. Is it as bad as Karl Roves repeated lies over the last 2 years about having nothing to do with the Valerie Plame outing?

Are you implying that Joe Wilson outed his own wife, or are you just flinging out a red herring? This issue isn’t whether Joe Wilson or Dick Cheney or Karl Rove lied. The issue is who outed Plame.

Yeah, what **Punoqllads ** said. Novak has not been cited for contempt becuase he allegedly has been cooperating with the grand jury investigation. Cooper and Miller (reporters from Time magazine and the NY Times, respectively) have not. That is the issue which the US Supreme Court recently addressed.

Most people I talk to presume that Novak broke the law by reporting that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative. IANAL, but I don’t see how you can make that case. The applicable law – The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 – makes it a crime for someone with “authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent” to intentionally disclose that information to someone without such authorization. It seems to me that the person at risk of prosecution is going to be Karl Rove, or whoever made the disclosures to Novak et al in the first place.

This brings up an interesting question. What if Novak’s source didn’t explicitly tell Novak that Plame was a CIA agent? What if the source said just enough that Novak could make an educated guess that she was an agent? Then it would have been the insiders who confirmed her identity who had actually broken the law, while Novak’s source could have theoretically not crossed the boundary of the law. Of course, this is straining at gnats in a manner that could be called – well – Clintonesque.

That, my good friends, I cannot believe.

I have heard speculation that Rove may try to avoid prosecution on a technicality; to wit, that he has no legal authorization to this information, and therefore did not break this law. Talk about splitting hairs. :rolleyes:

It sounds (from the reference to the WSJ article) that the Rove supporters are readying the time-honored defense of smearing the victim. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

There is a current thread in Great Debates that may address some of these issues.

what our esteemed guest is regurgitating is the current Freeper/hate radio spin of the day that Joe Wilson “lied” when he said his wife did not help him get his job. Never mind that it’s a completely irrelevant and utterly trivial point of contention. The goal is to create a distraction. If we’re talking about Joe Wilson’s “credibility” (which is not of any relevance to whether Carl Rove outed his wife, neither is it a crime even if he wasn’t publicly honest about how he got his job…not that I’m willing to grant that point) then we’re not talking about Carl Rove’s criminal malfeasance and we’re not talking about the President’s prior assurances that Rove was not involved and that the real culprit[s] would be fired.

As to the OP, I would concur in the consensus that Novak probably did his best imitation an American Idol contestant.

The law (which I linked to above) says (bolding mine):

In my opinion, a source who did what you suggest would be in violation of the law.

Further to the issue of whether Novak or his fellow reporters could be charged under this statute, I note that Section 422, paragraph b, appears to deal with this matter specifically. It says that after someone has disclosed the identity of a covert agent, others who repeat that disclosure cannot be charged with violating this law or with conspiracy.

It seems to me that the issue here is that if you have authorized access to government secrets, you can’t share that info with a reporter (or six reporters, allegedly.) If you are the reporter who receives the secrets, there’s no law to prevent you from publishing that info. The Supreme Court addressed this issue in 1971 in NY Times v U.S., the case involving Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.

With that, it appears the factual question has been answered. Those wishing to debate the matter are invited to avail themselves of the Great Debate forum.

moderator GQ