The Corner

Novak Takes On McClellan

I reviewed Scott McClellan’s book What Happened for NRO today, and among the book’s many problems, in my characteristically delicate fashion I said the first chapter “reads like his literary agent forced him at gunpoint to down a bottle of tequila and then summarize the Wikipedia article on the Valerie Plame affair as uncritically as possible.”

Bob Novak’s column today also takes issue with his version of events in the Plame/Wilson scandal and pinpoints the problem:

In claiming he was misled about the Plame affair, McClellan mentions Armitage only twice. Armitage being the leaker undermines the Democratic theory, now accepted by McClellan, that Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and political adviser Karl Rove aimed to delegitimize Wilson as a war critic. McClellan’s handling of the leak by itself leads former colleagues to suggest he could not have written this book by himself.

On page 173, McClellan first mentions my Plame leak, but he does not identify Armitage as the leaker until page 306 of the 323-page book — then only in passing. Armitage, anti-war and anti-Cheney, cannot fit the conspiracy theory that McClellan now buys into. When Armitage after two years publicly admitted he was my source, the life went out of Wilson’s campaign. In “What Happened,” McClellan dwells on Rove’s alleged deceptions as if the real leaker were still unknown.

I now realize I was being too generous to McClellan. The Wikipedia article on the Plame affair at least mentions Armitage in the second paragraph.


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Illegal leaks of classified information should be treated as a serious offense. But they would be easier to prevent if less information were classified.