NOVAK COMES OUT FROM HIDING….Robert Novak has a column today in which he defends himself against charges that he outed Valerie Plame’s name even though the CIA asked him not to:

I have previously said that I never would have written those sentences if Harlow, then-CIA Director George Tenet or anybody else from the agency had told me that Valerie Plame Wilson’s disclosure would endanger herself or anybody.

Fine. Whatever. Who cares?

Novak cares, of course, because it’s his reputation on the line. But for the rest of us, this is just misdirection. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not Novak was carrying water for the Bush administration. It doesn’t matter whether Joe Wilson is a brave public servant or a preening popinjay. It doesn’t matter what the motives of Karl Rove & Co. were.

All that matters is whether the White House knew ? or should have known ? that Valerie Plame was a covert agent, and whether or not they spoke about her CIA role to reporters. The rest of this stuff is interesting in a titillating, Jacko kind of way, but ultimately it’s just a diversion. Let’s not allow the wingers to distract us from the only point that really does matter.

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