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The book I co-wrote with Michael Isikoff, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq
War, has set off a dispute between conservative columnist Bob
Novak and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
The book–which recounts the behind-the-scenes battles that went on
within the CIA, the State Department, Congress and the White House over
the administration’s case for war before and after the Iraq
invasion–discloses that Armitage was the original source for the Novak
column of July 14, 2003, which outed Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA
“operative on weapons of mass destruction.” (The book also reveals that
Valerie Wilson was operations chief for the clandestine Joint Task Force
on Iraq and oversaw espionage operations aimed at gathering intelligence
on Saddam Hussein’s supposed WMDs.) Following the book’s release,
Armitage publicly confessed and apologized to Valerie Wilson and her
husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson. He said that the leak had been
an inadvertent slip, an act of gossip that came during an interview with
Novak about Colin Powell and the State Department. Armitage claimed he
had merely told Novak–in an off-the-cuff fashion–“I think his wife
works out there,” meaning the CIA.
In a column published on Wednesday, Novak accuses Armitage of not telling the
truth. The former No. 2 at the State Department, Novak insists,
“obscured what he really did.” Novak writes:
First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on
something he had heard and that he “thought” might be so. Rather, he
identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said
flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former
Amb. Joseph Wilson.
Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as
he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my