Michael Isikoff’s new book, co-authored with David Corn, has some tantalizing new details on the role of Richard Armitage in the Plame leak:
In the early morning of Oct. 1, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell received an urgent phone call from his No. 2 at the State Department. Richard Armitage was clearly agitated. As recounted in a new book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, Armitage had been at home reading the newspaper and had come across a column by journalist Robert Novak. Months earlier, Novak had caused a huge stir when he revealed that Valerie Plame, wife of Iraq-war critic Joseph Wilson, was a CIA officer. Ever since, Washington had been trying to find out who leaked the information to Novak. The columnist himself had kept quiet. But now, in a second column, Novak provided a tantalizing clue: his primary source, he wrote, was a “senior administration official” who was “not a partisan gunslinger.” Armitage was shaken. After reading the column, he knew immediately who the leaker was. On the phone with Powell that morning, Armitage was “in deep distress,” says a source directly familiar with the conversation who asked not to be identified because of legal sensitivities. “I’m sure he’s talking about me.”
Not everyone is buying Armitage’s version of events, and I’m not sure I do either. “I’d start with the odd claim that Armitage didn’t realize his apparently crucial role until reading Novak’s October 1, 2003 column.” Swopa says.