Novak: Wilson didn't strongly object to wife's name being revealed
Wilson: Novak 'going to hell for his lies'
Conservative columnist Robert Novak said he did not hear forceful objection from the husband of a then-undercover CIA agent before her name was printed in his infamous column that sparked a years-long legal battle over his sources.
He was not terribly exercised about it, Novak said, referring to Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose wife Valerie Plame Wilson was outed in his July 2003 column. Novak's comments to the Society of Professional Journalists convention were reported Monday in The Hill.
Wilson refuted that charge in an interview with RAW STORY Monday.
"I hope he's going to confession, because if not he's surely going to Hell for his lies," Wilson said.
Wilson, who had just published a column undercutting the Bush administrations claims about Iraq's weapons capabilities, asked Novak before the column appeared not to portray him simply as a war critic, the Hill reported. And Novak told the crowd that Wilson stressed that his wife went by his last name, rather than her maiden name (Novak's column reported her name as Valerie Plame).
"The question of my wife's last name never came up," Wilson said.
Rather, he says he asked Novak to stop telling people around Washington that his wife worked for the CIA.
"It is a compromise of my family's personal responsibility and safety ... not to mention treasonous," said Wilson, who did not confirm to Novak that Valerie Wilson was a CIA agent.
Novak slammed his critics for attacking his ethics, saying they really had a problem with his ideology. He said his case demonstrates the need for a federal shield law to protect journalists.
I was stunned by how little editorial support I received. I was under assault from editorial writers from across the country, Novak said. It is startling how little is known about this case by the people who are commenting on it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee last week approved a reporters' shield law, that would protect journalists from having to disclose the identities of confidential sources or hand over to authorities any records, documents or notes from confidential sources. The Washington Post reports that the new law would have a broad definition of who was covered that would include, reporters, columnists and bloggers but could exclude employees of news organizations owned by foreign governments, such as al-Jazeera or the BBC.
Novak defended his reporting Valerie Wilson's name, and said the disclosure was not part of a Bush administration effort to smear a prominent war critic. He also said it is "hypocritical" for his critics to support a shield law "that would have saved me from three years of confrontation."
To Wilson, Novak's "I'm a victim" defense is little more than a last resort aimed more at upping his book sales than setting the record straight.
"He's trying to flog his book," Wilson charged, "on my back and my wife's back."