Sorry - as to the plausibility of the CIA being a major source of some early Plame leaks, let the case be made - here is Bob Somerby offering Tenet or McLaughlin as possible sources; Digby offers some supporting thoughts; and Jeralynn Merritt does not laugh out loud.
Separately, yours truly convinced himself, for at least a day, that Tenet had been the source of the leak to Walter Pincus of the WaPo - see the Bonus Theory after the break. If that were true, the notion that Tenet (or McLaughlin) was also leaking to Novak becomes more plausible.
Walter Pincus describes his leak experience here. Although it is a bit of a stretch, read this with an open mind:
On July 12, 2003, an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s CIA-sponsored February 2002 trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction.
Set your imagination free - don't you want to re-write that as "the White House had not paid attention... because they believed..." Isn't there a certain third person quality coming through in this paragraph? Did the source really say anything like, "We ignored Wilson because we believed it was a boondoggle"? Or was it more like, "Those clowns at the White House didn't pay attention..."?
Possible? You're getting there...
And since we are making such great progress, let's tackle the next sentence:
I didn’t write about that information at that time because I did not believe it true that she had arranged his Niger trip.
Didn't believe it? Why not? Cooper and Novak believed their sources. It was CIA folks who disputed the INR version, which had Ms. Plame involved in tapping Wilson for the trip.
So maybe Pincus was told both the White House and CIA versions by someone at the CIA.
Which is a bit of a sidebar to the question of who told what to Libby, but there it is.
NOTE: Given the vague source attribution in Novak's original column, he may have heard different things from different folks, including the CIA:
Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.
Trouble in paradise - if the CIA did not believe that Wilson's wife was involved, how can Tenet be one of Novak's sources telling him that very thing?
Good point. How about, because early in the week, Tenet told Novak one story, but as the CIA poked around, Tenet learned a new version which he relayed to Pincus?
All will be revealed in time, maybe. Meanwhile, we remain convinced that CIA leaks may have been part of the story.