Robert Novak is publishing the details of his involvement in the entire Plame incident. Richard Armitage was Novak's only source for Plame's name. And it appears to have been just an aside by Armitage. Not only was no crime committed, but Joe Wilson comes out looking even worse than he already looks.
It's not often that a political book hyped as a "tell-all" actually delivers the dirt, but that's certainly not the story in Robert Novak's fast-paced bio The Prince of Darkness, 50 Years Reporting in Washington . Let's get right to the point: Did the administration leak former CIA officer Valerie Plame's name to him to punish her hubby, Joe Wilson, who had blasted the president's claim that Iraq was shopping for uranium in Niger? Nope. He says that it was just an afterthought from his source, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. In fact, it wasn't even a leak. Armitage was just asking a question about Wilson, whom Novak met two days before, July 6, 2003, in the Meet the Press green room. According to an advance copy of Prince provided to Whispers, Novak entered the normally quiet green room only to see Joe Wilson (whom he didn't know) boasting about his fact-finding mission to Niger, where he found no evidence that Saddam Hussein was hunting for uranium like the president claimed about in his State of the Union address.
"He kept saying, 'We did this' and 'We did that.' The 'we,' I soon surmised, consisted of the National Security Council staff in the departed Clinton administration. He was making clear that 'we' handled affairs better than 'they'–the Bush NSC–did now. In view of what followed, I hope I can be excused for the vulgarism that crossed my mind: 'What an asshole!' "
(I'm letting that particular violation of my own policy here in because it is key to the entire passage.) And the whole incident started because Joe Wilson was more than willing to lie in an effort to get the Bush administration. Fitzgerald knew – almost from the very start of his investigation that Armitage was Novak's source, yet he continued – even though he knew that no crime had been committed.