Tonight on MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews revealed that Bob Novak’s “confirming” source for Valerie Plame’s undercover CIA identity was former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow. Watch it:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Bob Novak’s going to go on television tomorrow and give away one of the sources in the infamous Valerie Plame leak story. It’s going to be Bill Harlow, the spokesman for the CIA all those years. He’s going to identify him as one of his sources, apparently the other source is still maintaining his deep background sourcing role here. … Bob Novak’s office has just now confirmed to Hardball that his confirming source — that’s the one that said, “So you heard,” and backed up the initial source — in learning about Valerie Plame’s identity with the CIA, her undercover identity, was Bill Harlow, the former CIA Public Information Officer. Bill Harlow himself hasn’t commented so far.
Recall, Bill Harlow was the former CIA spokesman who repeatedly urged Novak that he was not to use Plame’s identity. From the Washington Post, 7/27/05:
Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson’s wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.
Harlow said that after Novak’s call, he checked Plame’s status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame’s name should not be used.
There has always been tension between Harlow’s and Novak’s accounts. Novak has claimed that while Harlow asked him not to publish the name, Harlow “never suggested to [Novak] that Wilson’s wife or anybody else would be endangered.” (But Novak did acknowledge Harlow told him that Plame’s outing would cause “difficulties.”) Novak wrote, “If he had, I would not have used her name.”