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Conservative Pundit Bob Novak Walks Off CNN Show

Bush Watch (Thursday, August 4, 2005) Controversial conservative political pundit Bob Novak said, "Well, I think that's bullshit. And I hate that. Just let it go." and walked off the set during the last 5 minutes of CNN's "Strategy Session" of "Inside Politics." While it appeard that Novak was responding to a point made by fellow guest James Carville, an outspoken political advisor to Bill Clinton and a critic of President Bush, the final statement by Ed Henry CNN's host of the show suggested otherwise.
After continuing the interview with Carville, Henry concluded the segment by saying, "I'm sorry as well that Bob Novak obviously left the set a little early. I had told him in advance that we were going to ask him about the CIA leak case. He was not here for me to be able to ask him about that. Hopefully we'll be able to ask him about that in the future." The reference was made to a Novak column that broke the story that Plame was an "agency[CIA] operative on weapons of mass destruction," and many wonder if Novak ever gave sworn testimony to the grand jury investigating the source of the leak and the possibility of a federal crime having been committed by the leak of such information.
Later, CNN furnished on its website a video of the Novak-Carville interchange, with Novak walking off the set, but failed to include Henry's final comments alluding to the fact that Novak was given advance warning that he would be questioned about the Plame case. CNN TRANSCRIPT


HENRY: And the "Strategy Session" continues on INSIDE POLITICS. Still here: James Carville and Robert Novak.

Katherine Harris made a name for her self during the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential race. She was then Florida's secretary of state. She went on to the House of Representatives.

Now she wants to move over to the United States Senate. Today she got the news that the speaker of the Florida House won't challenge her for the Republican nomination. In the meantime, Harris is blaming unnamed newspapers for tarnishing her image by doctoring her makeup with Photoshop. -- that computer program. Bob Novak, have you been investigating this make-up story?

NOVAK: No, but I've had the same experience that she did. A lot of my trouble in the world is that they've doctored my make-up and colorized me in a lot of newspapers on my picture. So, I sympathize with her.

HENRY: This is breaking news. I've haven't heard this.

CARVILLE: Breaking news. Who did it? What paper?

NOVAK: Well, I don't. I can't tell you.

CARVILLE: Yes. You know the two happiest people in America today about this decision, is Bill Nelson and Jay Leno. I mean --

HENRY: Bill Nelson the Democratic Senator.

CARVILLE: The Democratic Senator and Jay Leno. That -- I mean, they're going to go nuts over this. They're messing with my make-up, but you really don't know who it is. I mean, let's say this: She's going to be good for the humor circuit. She's going to be good for the speech circuit and she's good for a lot. And I think that Nelson -- I think, it's probably no secret that the White House wanted the speaker to run and I suspect that the Nelson people are, you know, feeling pretty good here today.

NOVAK: A couple of points here: The first place, don't be too sure she's going to lose. All the establishment's against her and I've seen these Republican -- anti-establishment candidates who do pretty well. Ronald Reagan, I guarantee you that the establishment wasn't for him. We just elected a senator from Oklahoma, Senator Tom Coburn, everybody in the establishment was against him. She might get elected -- So, wait. Just let me finish what I'm going to say, James. Please, I know you hate to hear me, but you have...

CARVILLE: He's got to show these right wingers that he's got backbone. Show them you're tough.

NOVAK: Well, I think that's bullshit. And I hate that. Just let it go.

(Novak leaves set.) HENRY: OK. James, what do you think though, seriously about this Senate race, James, that the -- that basically the Katherine Harris and Bill Nelson, if they do square off, what do you think -- what will that mean for Bill Nelson? He's considered an endangered incumbent....

HENRY: Thanks, James Carville. And I'm sorry as well that Bob Novak obviously left the set a little early. I had told him in advance that we were going to ask him about the CIA leak case. He was not here for me to be able to ask him about that. Hopefully we'll be able to ask him about that in the future.

Coming up, Internet and free speech: can anonymous bloggers write anything and not worry about being sued? Our blog reporters return with the case of one blogger who's finding out.


Hardball with Chris Matthews' for July 21: RoveGate Timeline: What Did The White House Know And When Did It Know It? David Shuster
MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.
  We have new information tonight in the CIA leaks investigation.  MSNBC has confirmed that the grand jury has been examining a classified State Department memo that could be crucial to the case.  And this memo, requested by then Secretary of State Colin Powell in response to a column critical of the administration, was shared with Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary at the time, and has prompted testimony from multiple State Department officials.
  HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  A witness who testified at the grand jury and lawyers for other witnesses say the memo was written in July of 2003, identified Valerie Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame, as a CIA officer, and cited her in a paragraph marked S for sensitive.
  According to lawyers, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and undersecretaries, including John Bolton, gave testimony about this memo.  And a lawyer for one State Department official says his client testified that, as President Bush was flying to Africa on Air Force One two years ago, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer could be seen reading the document on board.
  The timing is significant, because the president's trip on July 7 was one day after Ambassador Joe Wilson's column was published criticizing the administration.  In other words, on July 6, Wilson's column comes out.  On July 7, the State Department memo about Wilson's wife is seen on Air Force One.  And, on July 8, Karl Rove had a conversation with columnist Robert Novak, but says it was Novak who told him about Valerie Plame, not the other way around.
  Rove also says he never saw the State Department memo until prosecutors showed it to him.  Six days later, on July 14, 2003, Novak published the now infamous column that publicly identified Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife, as a CIA operative.
  Grand jury witnesses say a call record kept by Ari Fleischer shows Novak placed a call to him during this period.  And lawyers for several witnesses say their clients were questioned by investigators about Fleischer's conversations.  Fleischer, however, did not have the power to be a decision-maker in the administration.  And White House observers point out, he wouldn't have likely taken it upon himself to disseminate the State Department memo.  In any case, Fleischer and his lawyer have declined to comment.
  As far as Karl Rove is concerned, a recent line of questioning about him suggests the grand jury may be pursuing issues related to possible inconsistencies.  For weeks, Karl Rove's lawyer has been saying the now deputy White House chief of staff testified his 2003 conversation with “TIME” magazine reporter Matt Cooper was about welfare reform and, only at the end of that discussion, did Rove talk about anything else.
  Matt Cooper recalls leaving Karl Rove a message about welfare reform.  But Cooper testified that, when he and Karl Rove spoke, Joe Wilson was the only topic of conversation.  Cooper says this contradiction with Rove, combined with his testimony that Rove told him about the Wilson's CIA wife, prompted a flurry of grand jury questions.  And Cooper told NBC's Tim Russert the grand jurors themselves played an active role.
MATT COOPER, “TIME”:  A lot of questions that I answered were posed by them, as opposed to the prosecutor.  I thought they were very involved.
SHUSTER:  Legal experts say that, if the grand jurors are convinced they were misled by Karl Rove, the president's adviser could face charges of perjury or obstruction of justice.  Karl Rove's lawyer says the contradiction with Cooper is innocent and can be chalked up to conflicting memories of a 2003 conversation.
  (on camera):  By all accounts, much about this investigation was known only to the prosecutors and grand jurors.  And they are sworn to secrecy.
  Witnesses and their lawyers, however, are under no legal obligation to stay silent.  And their accounts reveal that this investigation, at least in part, has focused on a classified State Department memo.  The question is, was this how the White House learned about Valerie Wilson?  And, if so, did anybody in the White House take information about Wilson that was marked secret and pass it along?
  I'm David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.

ROVEGATE BREAKING NEWS: Conflicting Stories, Dan Froomkin
New reports today indicate that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald is zeroing in on conflicting stories officials and reporters have provided his grand jury, lending credence to the theory that he may be considering obstruction of justice or perjury charges against top White House officials.
• White House chief political strategist Karl Rove reportedly told the grand jury that he first learned of Valerie Plame's identity from columnist Robert Novak -- but Novak's version of the story is that Rove already knew about her when the two spoke. • Rove didn't mention his conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper to investigators at first and then said it was primarily about welfare reform. But Cooper has testified that the topic of welfare reform didn't came up. • Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby apparently told prosecutors he first heard about Plame from NBC's Tim Russert, but Russert has testified that he neither offered nor received information about Plame in his conversation with Libby. • And former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer apparently told prosecutors that he never saw a classified State Department memo that disclosed Plame's identity, but another former official reportedly saw him perusing it on Air Force One. [see Rovegate Update below] WP, Friday, July 22, 1:22 pm

Ongoing: Members of the Bush Administration who apparently read a "secret" memo from the the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), "secret" implying, according to CIA officials, that information in the memo about CIA officer "Valerie Wilson," the wife of Joe Wilson, was "classfied" and that her identity was "covert": the unnamed INR analyist who wrote the memo, Director of INR Carl W. Ford, Jr., Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. "The memo was delivered to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on July 7, 2003, as he headed to Africa for a trip with President Bush aboard Air Force One. Several other administration officials were on the trip to Africa, including senior adviser Dan Bartlett, then-White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and others....It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret." WP, July 21, '05

Opinion: When Daddy Bush Fired Rove Over Novak "Leaks," Ron Suskind (2003)
William Kristol, among the most respected of the conservative commentators—a man embraced by the Right but still on dinner-party guest lists for the center and Left—is untouchable. He is willing to speak...."I believe Karl [Rove] is Bush. They’re not separate, each of them freestanding, with distinct agendas, as some people say. Karl thinks X. Bush thinks X....There is criticism of Karl from the friends of the former President Bush who don’t approve of the way the current President Bush is doing his job in every case." Kristol notes that "the kid is what he is, and he’s different from the father, some differences that I feel good about," but that gray men around "41" who don’t approve of "43" have trouble criticizing the son to the father "and ascribe everything to Karl’s malign influence." In that, Rove is at the center of the most portentous father-son conversation of modern times. Sources close to the former president say Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak about dissatisfaction with campaign fundraising chief and Bush loyalist Robert Mosbacher Jr. It was smoked out, and he was summarily ousted."

Opinion: Rove-Plame Scandal Leading to Deeper White House Horrors? Bernard Weiner
It would appear that this scandal goes way beyond Karl Rove and who said what to whom when about Ms. Plame. It certainly is true, though, that turning over that slimy Rove-Plame rock was the way into the larger issues upon which Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald and his grand jury apparently are focusing....
What's being covered up in the Plame/Rove case seems to revolve around the Bush Administration's orchestrated, and perhaps illegal, propaganda campaign to justify its invasion of Iraq. Valerie Plame and her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- who wrote the op-ed in the New York Times that got this whole thing going -- are just the tips of very large icebergs, and one of those icebergs has a name: the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which we'll examine below.

Verse: An Odd Turn In The Criminal Justice System, Calvin Trillin
So Judy Miller's in the joint
A four-month sentence to complete
The prosecutor made his point,
And yet Karl Rove's still on the street.

Big Bush Lies: Rove, Cooper, Wilson, GOP Lies, And Media Whores, ed. by Jerry Politex


Joe Wilson wrote in a NYT op-ed July 6, 2003:
In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

After consulting with the State Department's African Affairs Bureau (and through it with Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, the United States ambassador to Niger), I agreed to make the trip. The mission I undertook was discreet but by no means secret. While the C.I.A. paid my expenses (my time was offered pro bono), I made it abundantly clear to everyone I met that I was acting on behalf of the United States government....

Before I left Niger, I briefed the ambassador on my findings, which were consistent with her own. I also shared my conclusions with members of her staff. In early March, I arrived in Washington and promptly provided a detailed briefing to the C.I.A. I later shared my conclusions with the State Department African Affairs Bureau. There was nothing secret or earth-shattering in my report, just as there was nothing secret about my trip.... Those are the facts surrounding my efforts. The vice president's office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government.

Joe Wilson-Andrea Mitchell "Meet the Press" Interview July 6, 2003 (This, with his NY Times op-ed, was Wilson's public debut as something other than an anonymous source:
MS. MITCHELL: But, in fact, many officials, including the president, the vice president, Donald Rumsfeld, were referring to the Niger issue as though it were fact, as though it were true and they were told by the CIA, this information was passed on in the national intelligence estimate, I’ve been told, with a caveat from the State Department that it was highly dubious based on your trip but that that caveat was buried in a footnote, in the appendix. So was the White House misled? Were they not properly briefed on the fact that you had the previous February been there and that it wasn’t true?
AMB. WILSON: No. No. In actual fact, in my judgment, I have not seen the estimate either, but there were reports based upon my trip that were submitted to the appropriate officials. The question was asked of the CIA by the office of the vice president. The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked and that response was based upon my trip out there.
MS. MITCHELL: So they knew months and months before they passed on these allegations that, in fact, that particular charge was not true. Do you think, based on all of this, that the intelligence was hyped?
AMB. WILSON: My judgment on this is that if they were referring to Niger when they were referring to uranium sales from Africa to Iraq, that information was erroneous and that they knew about it well ahead of both the publication of the British White Paper and the president’s State of the Union address.


from The Daily Howler, Friday, July 15, 2005:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (7/15/05): At the same time, Mr. Rove and other administration officials had a legitimate interest in rebutting Mr. Wilson's inflated claims—including the notion that he had been dispatched to Niger at Mr. Cheney's behest. It's in that context, judging from Mr. Cooper's e-mail, that Mr. Rove appears to have brought up Ms. Plame's role.

[GOP Party Chairman] MEHLMAN (7/15/05): Well, I think what was going on was that Karl Rove was in fact saying the facts. And the facts were that the vice president had nothing to do with Joe Wilson being sent to Niger. And what Karl was doing was simply trying to discourage a reporter from writing a false story based on a false premise. And that`s what he did. That is what he said he did. That is what the report from this past weekend indicate he did.

And the fact that folks are using that information to say someone ought to lose their job or be charged with a crime is remarkable, outrageous and it`s a partisan smear.

MATTHEWS: Fair enough.

“Fair enough?” No, Cheney didn’t send Wilson to Niger, but no one has ever refuted what Wilson said he was told—that Cheney’s questions about Niger led a particular CIA office to arrange his trip to Niger. Mehlman accused Wilson of misstating a basic fact about Cheney—then seemed to misstate himself. But Matthews failed to challenge or clarify. To Matthews, Mehlman didn’t seem “witchy.” As usual, he had his feet in the air.

But then, in his trip around the cable dial, Mehlman has met with little resistance. Here’s how the exchange had gone on Wolf Blitzer Reports one day earlier:
MEHLMAN (7/12/05): Looking at those e-mails, what I saw is Karl Rove discouraging Matthew Cooper from writing a story that was, in fact, false. Karl was right; Joe Wilson was wrong. The story wag false. It was based on a false premise, and, of course, the conclusion was false. So—

BLITZER: When you say the story was false, is there any evidence Niger was sending uranium, enriched uranium to Iraq?

MEHLMAN: What Joe Wilson alleged was that the vice president, then he said the CIA director, sent him to Niger. He then alleged that he wrote a report which positively proved that, in fact, that wasn't occurring and that the vice president sat on the report. “Then he said the CIA director?” Did Wilson ever say that Tenet sent him to Niger? We don’t think we’ve ever heard that one. But don’t worry—Wolf didn’t ask.

Ann Coulter wrote on July 17, 2005:
Clown Wilson thrust himself on the nation in July 2003 when he wrote an op-ed for The New York Times claiming Bush had lied in his State of the Union address....Wilson implied he had been sent to Niger by Vice President Dick Cheney. Among copious other references to Cheney in the op-ed, Wilson said that CIA "officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story" that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy uranium from Niger, "so they could provide a response to the vice president's office."

Soon Clown Wilson was going around claiming: "The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked, and that response was based upon my trip out there." [see Wilson-Mitchell interview italics above]...So liberals were allowed to puff up Wilson's "report" by claiming Wilson was sent "by the CIA." But — in the traditional liberal definition of "criminal" — Republicans were not allowed to respond by pointing out Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife, not by the CIA and certainly not by Dick Cheney.

White House War Strategy: If there's no uranium, hit Wilson in the cranium.

Big Bush Lies: Bush Reneges On Leak Promise, Reuters
President Bush on Monday vowed to fire anyone found by a federal probe to have acted illegally in the exposure of a CIA agent, in a shift from a broader pledge to dismiss leakers in the case... Asked on June 10, 2004, whether he stood by his earlier pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked the officer's name, Bush replied: "Yes." On Monday, he added the qualifier that it would have to be demonstrated that a crime was committed.

Quotes: Big Bush Lies About Rove, Jerry Politex
• "If there's a leak in my administration, I want to know who it is." --George W. Bush
• "The White House has flatly rejected as "ridiculous" and "just not true" suggestions that the source in question was Karl Rove..." --Globe and Mail
• "There's been nothing, absolutely nothing, brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement, and that includes the vice president's office, as well,...if anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration." --Bush Press Sec. Scott McCellan
• "McClellan said Rove "wasn't involved" in any disclosure of the operative's name. "The president knows he wasn't involved. . . . It's simply not true." --Washington Post
• "In early October 2003, NEWSWEEK reported that immediately after Novak's column appeared in July, Rove called MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews and told him that Wilson's wife was "fair game." But White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters at the time that any suggestion that Rove had played a role in outing Plame was "totally ridiculous."" --MSNBC
• "White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame's role at the CIA before she was identified as a covert agent in a newspaper column two years ago, but Rove's lawyer said yesterday that his client did not identify her by name." --Washington Post
• "I didn't know her name, and I didn't leak her name." --Karl Rove
• "Federal law prohibits intentionally disclosing "any information identifying" a covert operative. So Rove broke the law, right? Unless he insists he didn't know she was a covert CIA agent. But how did he know Wilson's wife [last name, Plame] even worked for the CIA? After all, she was undercover." --Ward Harkavy
• "So, Rove's defense now hangs on one word—he "never knowingly disclosed classified information." Does that mean Rove simply didn't know Valerie Plame was a covert agent? Or does it just mean that Rove did not know that the CIA was "taking affirmative measures" to hide her identity? --Lawrence O'Donnell
• Getting Off Scott Free: AP Presents McClellan's Past Quotes on Rove and Plame --to July 11, 2005
• "Nearly two years after stating that any administration official found to have been involved in leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer would be fired, and assuring that Karl Rove and other senior aides to President Bush had nothing to do with the disclosure, the White House on Monday refused to answer any questions about new evidence of Mr. Rove's role in the matter." --Washington Post
• "The real Rove scandal...If you can't shoot the messenger, take aim at his wife. That clearly was the intent of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove in leaking to a reporter that former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent. To try to conceal the fact that the president had lied to the American public about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, Rove attempted to destroy the credibility of two national security veterans and send an intimidating message to any other government officials preparing to publicly tell the truth. Rove's lawyer now says that Rove didn't break the law against naming covert agents because he didn't know Plame's name and therefore couldn't have revealed it. Perhaps he can use such a technicality in court, but in the meantime he should resign immediately — or be fired by the president — for leaking classified information, trying to smear Wilson and possibly endangering Plame's life." --Robert Scheer, LAT

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