A reprise of our earlier thoughts, from the Table Pounding Finish - superficially, the Harlow/Novak dispute looks like an insoluble "he said/he said" problem. However, this sort of debacle - a nationally syndicated columnist ignores a clear warning from the CIA press office and outs a covert agent - does not happen every day, or even every decade.
In any proper bureaucracy, a miscommunication of this magnitude would have produced a mountain of memos. Since (per Wilson's book, "The Politics of Truth") his wife had been warned on July 8 that Novak was pursuing this story, she or her superior should have written a CYA memo to the press office warning them to deal with this with vigor and commitment. The press office should have made plans to contact Novak's editor and/or publisher if Novak was unwilling to cooperate.
The press office also should have conducted an after-the-fact review, generating poetic What Went Wrong, and How We Can Improve memos. And there should be a memo explaining their evident failure to contact Novak's editors - I say "evident" based on the comments of Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the WaPo, and Steve Huntley, editorial page editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, as reported by Howard Kurtz in Sept 2003.
Presumably, Fitzgerald has gathered all this material, if it exists. However, a reporter might want to verify with Harlow that such a memo-blizzard actually occurred, or let him regale us with an explanation of why it did not.
Novak also reminds us of an earlier puzzle:
There never was any question of me talking about Mrs. Wilson "authorizing." I was told she "suggested" the mission, and that is what I asked Harlow. His denial was contradicted in July 2004 by a unanimous Senate Intelligence Committee report. The report said Wilson's wife "suggested his name for the trip."
Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip."
Well, it seems to be accepted that Rove was Novak's second source, and didn't say much beyond "I heard that, too". However, it is interesting that Novak's first source had it right. When time permits, I want to stare at the stories about the INR memo and see how that memo is reported to have characterized her involvement. Here is the WSJ, Oct 2003; Times, July 16; the WaPo, July 16; the WSJ, July 19; and the WaPo, July 21 (The Sign of the 'S'). For starters.
MORE: After some preliminary staring, I will say, "Inconclusive, but..." - the memo is based on the notes of the INR chap at the famous meeting described in the Senate Subcommittee on Intelligence report. Even the aggressive Senators did not infer that Ms. Plame "authorized" the trip, and it appears, from the Oct 2003 description of the memo, that the INR analyst did not think she had. My guess - the INR memo had her "suggesting", not "authorizing" the trip, and Novak's first source was familiar (directly or indirectly) with the memo.
And Rove? Maybe Cooper or Rove conflated two ideas - "Cheney did not authorize Wilson's trip, his wife suggested it and the CIA approved it" - became condensed by Rove or Cooper to "she authorized it".
Rove notwithstanding, Cooper was closer to the truth in his TIME article, saying that "These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched Niger to investigate...". Poor Karl - no one believes him.