Conservative commentator Robert Novak is back in the news. This time it is not for mowing down pedestrians in his sports car. Instead, Novak has refuted all of those defenders who insisted that he would never have intentionally blown the cover of a CIA operatives. In a new interview, Novak says that he would out CIA Valerie Plame again despite knowing that she was under cover. While he previously indicated that he should not have revealed her name, he now says that he would have knowingly blown her cover despite the violation of federal law and impact on national security. Why? Because of the bad things people have said about him.
It would seem hard to be a self-righteous voice for the hard right when you are dismissing national security laws and relishing the outing of an undercover agent. This is certainly not the repentant image of Novak when he was under criminal investigation and spinning his mean-spirited column as an unintentional disclosure. Where was this open and unrepentant stance when Novak was interviewed by prosecutors over the months of criminal investigation? Instead, Novak refused to speak with media and went into virtual seclusion until the investigators landed on Scooter Libby as the designated defendant in the scandal. It is like showing up ten years after a bar fight and proclaiming that you are ready to rumble now.
Here is Novak’s most recent position:
NOVAK: I’d go full speed ahead because of the hateful and beastly way in which my left-wing critics in the press and Congress tried to make a political affair out of it and tried to ruin me. My response now is this: The hell with you. They didn’t ruin me. I have my faith, my family, and a good life. A lot of people love me — or like me. So they failed. I would do the same thing over again because I don’t think I hurt Valerie Plame whatsoever.
Despite the fact that the disclosure triggered a criminal investigation and a public condemnation by the President as harmful to national security, Novak would do it again just for spite. He also does not care about statements from CIA officials that the outing of Plame hurt their efforts and made “it harder for other CIA officers to recruit sources.”
Where is the outrage from the right? Novak has always used mean-spirited crank using formula commentary to maintain his niche in the media. However, one would think that there would be some evidence of contempt or opposition after this interview. Instead, CNN and FOX have embraced him as a responsible voice from the right even after repeated cases of contradictions and on-air outbursts. As someone who has done classified work since the Reagan Administration, I find Novak’s position to be appalling. Novak’s peevish war against his critics appears to trump any national security laws or national security interest. I liked him better when he was clearing the streets of pedestrians in his black corvette.
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