By Tom Hayden
I am distracted from the trials of Judith Miller and Matt Cooper because of the larger shadow of Robert Novak, whose apparent immunity from prosecution is unexplainable. Is Novak the protected asset of one of our intelligence agencies?
It may be that his musings over the past 45 years merely parallels the inner world of the intelligence community, but his present protected status is eerie.
He's not really a journalist, nor is he a party liner. But over the years there has been a pattern.
I remember in the civil rights movement when he wrote 1963 columns alleging infiltration of the movement by "far left" elements (as recalled in his own recollections, May 15, 2003). Who were his sources?
Then during the anti-Vietnam movement, he and partner Rowland Evans were the first to write that Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had drawn up a secret and sinister plan to "sabotage the war effort" by draft refusal, a "calculated effort to illegally undermine" the Johnson Administration. On cue, Senator Stennis of Mississippi rose on the floor the next day to ask the government to "jerk this movement up by the roots and grind it to bits." (Oct. 14, 1965 column, Herald Tribune).
And so on, over the years. The Washington Post accused him of leaking for Richard Perle in 2003. ("Novak Leak Has Familiar Sound", Oct. 7, 2003). Last year Novak announced that his son was director of marketing for Regnery, publishers of the Swift Boat veterans' book which Novak was touting on the air. According to a biographic source, he is a converted Catholic and member of the secret organization Opus Dei. (google wikipedia, see Walsh, The Secret World of Opus Dei for evidence of funding and connections between the CIA and Opus Dei in Latin America).
Such evidence is enough to indicate that Novak enjoys the company and perhaps is a fellow traveller of intelligence agency sources he's interviewed over the years. But it is well-known that the CIA and FBI have paid covert media "assets" over the years. Novak's recent bizarre silence, and his enjoyment of immunity despite being the source of Bush Administration leaks against Valerie Plame, point more clearly than ever to a special relationship which compromises his ethics as a journalist.
Perhaps protecting their own, the media has done little to investigate Novak. It should begin now. Will anyone try to out Robert Novak, or would that reveal too much?