Joe Stephens had a fascinating piece in the Washington Post on Friday looking into the "previously secret FBI files" of the late conservative columnist Robert Novak:
Previously secret FBI files reveal that the bureau pursued his sources after reading columns by Novak and his writing partner, Rowland Evans, that were published in The Washington Post in 1983 and again in 1987. Agents also tried to identify the source of classified information that Novak divulged in 1983 on the television show "The McLaughlin Group."
Though agents conducted interviews, reviewed appointment calendars, requested polygraph tests and considered using an administrative subpoena to obtain phone records, they apparently were unable to confirm the identity of any of the sources.
The revelations are contained in 64 pages of files released Wednesday to The Washington Post in response to an open records request filed after Novak's death in August 2009, at the age of 78. By law, such files become public after the subject of the investigation dies.
As Stephens goes on to note, Novak would later play a central role in "publicly identifying Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA operative," leading to a federal investigation and the conviction of Lewis Scooter Libby -- an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney:
The files released this week contain no reference to Wilson's case.
From the August 18 broadcast of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:
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In his syndicated column, Robert Novak claimed that Gov. Sarah Palin "shares [Sen. John] McCain's loathing for earmarks, which are ingrained in the corruption-tainted politics of Alaska." But contrary to Novak's assertion that Palin has a "loathing for earmarks," she has repeatedly sought and requested hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks as governor of Alaska, and reportedly hired a D.C. lobbying firm to acquire tens of millions of dollars in earmarks while serving as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.
In his column, Robert Novak wrote, "[Sen. Barack] Obama, while asserting that 'nobody is pro-abortion,' has said that if his two daughters 'make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby,' " falsely suggesting that Obama was discussing abortion when he said that if his two daughters were to "make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." However, as video of the campaign event at which Obama made his comments shows, he was not referring to abortion but was instead referring to sex education.
Robert Novak asserted that "[a] closed-door caucus of House Democrats" had "instructed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call President Bush's bluff on extending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to continue eavesdropping on suspected foreign terrorists" and that "Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said there was no danger in letting the FISA legislation lapse temporarily." In fact, FISA did not lapse or expire; what expired was the Protect America Act (PAA), which amended FISA. Additionally, Novak falsely stated that "the Democratic leadership Wednesday brought up another bill simply extending FISA authority, this time for 21 days" and that most of the Democrats who voted against the bill "intuitively oppose any anti-terrorist proposal." In fact, the House voted on an extension to the PAA, not FISA, and most of the Democrats who voted against the extension have supported other bills to allow surveillance of suspected terrorists.
Citing a "Zogby poll that showed a big Obama lead in California," Robert D. Novak asserted that Sen. Barack Obama's defeat in the California presidential primary "raises the specter of the dreaded 'Bradley effect.' " But in explaining why his poll showing Obama leading in California by 13 points did not match the actual results, John Zogby wrote: "It appears that we underestimated Hispanic turnout and overestimated the importance of younger Hispanic voters. We also overestimated turnout among African-American voters."
While writing that Sen. Clinton said "she opposed the Levin amendment to the 2003 [sic] Iraq war resolution because it would 'subordinate' U.S. decision-making to the United Nations," Robert Novak falsely claimed that Clinton "made no such claim until her presidential campaign." In fact, the same day Clinton voted on Sen. Carl Levin's proposed amendment to the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, she gave a floor speech that included her reason for opposing a proposal that the United States "should only resort to force if and when the United Nations Security Council approves it."
Nationally syndicated columnist Robert Novak falsely asserted that former President Bill Clinton had "referred to [Sen. Barack] Obama's candidacy as 'a fairy tale.' " Clinton in fact described as the "biggest fairy tale" Obama's statements about his position on the Iraq war.
Discussing a recent campaign event during which Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's voice broke as she talked about why she is seeking the presidency, Robert Novak wrote that "only the naive can believe Clinton was not artfully playing for sympathy from her sisters." Novak's remarks echoed other media figures who characterized Clinton's emotional moment as "pretend" or not "genuine" or "calculated."
In a column discussing Karl Rove's resignation, Robert D. Novak asserted that "[a]lthough [special counsel Patrick] Fitzgerald knew from the start that not Rove but the politically nondescript Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was my primary source in identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA employee, the prosecutor came close to indicting Rove for perjury or obstruction of justice." However, Rove confirmed the information Armitage divulged, as Novak himself has admitted.
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