Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has informed my attorneys that, after two and one-half years, his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to me has been concluded. That frees me to reveal my role in the federal inquiry that, at the request of Fitzgerald, I have kept secret.

I have cooperated in the investigation while trying to protect journalistic privileges under the First Amendment and shield sources who have not revealed themselves. I have been subpoenaed by and testified to a federal grand jury. Published reports that I took the Fifth Amendment, made a plea bargain with the prosecutors or was a prosecutorial target were all untrue.

For nearly the entire time of his investigation, Fitzgerald knew -- independent of me -- the identity of the sources I used in my column of July 14, 2003. A federal investigation was triggered when I reported that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was employed by the CIA and helped initiate his 2002 mission to Niger. That Fitzgerald did not indict any of these sources may indicate his conclusion that none of them violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

Some journalists have badgered me to disclose my role in the case, even demanding I reveal my sources -- identified in the column as two senior Bush administration officials and an unspecified CIA source. I have promised to discuss my role in the investigation when permitted by the prosecution, and I do so now.

The news broke Sept. 26, 2003, that the Justice Department was investigating the CIA leak case. I contacted my longtime attorney, Lester Hyman, who brought his partner at Swidler Berlin, James Hamilton, into the case. Hamilton urged me not to comment publicly on the case, and I have followed that advice for the most part.

The FBI soon asked to interview me, prompting my first major decision. My attorneys advised me that I had no certain constitutional basis to refuse cooperation if subpoenaed by a grand jury. To do so would make me subject to imprisonment and inevitably result in court decisions that would diminish press freedom, all at heavy personal legal costs.

I was interrogated at the Swidler Berlin offices Oct. 7, 2003, by an FBI inspector and two agents. I had not identified my sources to my attorneys, and I told them I would not reveal them to the FBI. I did disclose how Valerie Wilson's role was reported to me, but the FBI did not press me to disclose my sources.


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.
 

 
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