Novak and Armitage

NOVAK AND ARMITAGE….Robert Novak slips the shiv into Richard Armitage today. In his first column about the Plame affair since Armitage was outed as his original source, he notes that he had never once met Armitage before the Plame pushback started: “I tried to see him in the first 2 years of the Bush administration, but he rebuffed me ? summarily and with disdain, I thought. Then, without explanation, in June 2003, Armitage?s office said the deputy secretary would see me.”

And what happened during that interview? Here is Novak’s recollection:

First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he ??thought?? might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson.

Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column.

….As for his current implications that he never expected this to be published, he noted that the story of Mrs. Wilson?s role fit the style of the old Evans-Novak column ? implying to me it continued reporting Washington inside information.

Very peculiar, no? After 25 years in Washington, Armitage calls Novak out of the blue and gives him an interview. He provides specific information about Valerie Plame. He clearly suggests that this would be good fodder for a column. Then, when the column appears (he now says), he was unsure he was Novak’s source and thus didn’t come forward and fess up. Novak notes acidly just how implausible this is, but then fails to ask the obvious followup question: So why did Armitage talk to him in the first place?

Questions, always more questions…..