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Special Report Roundtable - July 11

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

HUME: Bob Novak the, syndicated columnist and FOX News contributor who will be here tomorrow night to talk about the Valerie Plame case, has a column out it was set for syndication on Thursday but it's leaking all over the place. And here is part of what he says in that column about his testimony in Valerie Plame case.

"In my sworn testimony, I said what I have contended in my columns and on television: Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission was revealed to me in the middle of a long interview with an official which I previously said was not a political gunslinger. After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part.

Following my interview with the primary source, I sought out the second administration official and the CIA spokesman for confirmation. I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in `Who's Who in America.'"

Novak says in the column that when he testified before Patrick Fitzgerald, Patrick Fitzgerald had in hand waivers both from his primary source and from Karl Rove who was the secondary source and from CIA spokesman Bill Harlow who to confirmed to Bob Novak that indeed Valerie Plame was in fact CIA. All of this of course mattered because former Ambassador Joe Wilson went down to a Niger on a mission from the CIA And came back and said some very critical things about the Bush administration on Iraq and on its contentions about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. All of that, of course, from Bob Novak is relatively new since he has kept his own council since this whole investigation has started and enmeshed a lot of journalists, but not apparently him.

Some thought about this now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the "Weekly Standard"; Mort Kondracke executive editor of "Roll Call"' and Mara Liasson national political correspondent of National Public Radio. FOX news contributors all.

So what about this? What do we now know about Bob Novak and what he learned about Valerie Plame? That was what triggered the whole investigation was the Bob Novak column. What do we know about that now that we didn't know before?


MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": The mystery continues.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, we don't know his primary source but, what it appears from this column is that nobody outed Valerie Plame by name I mean, at least not to Robert Novak.

HUME: In other words, he got her name out of "Who's Who."

LIASSON: He heard that Joe Wilson's wife, nameless, was the one that instigated his trip and he went to a public record to find out what was his wife's name. Found it out and he confirmed with the CIA that she actually did work there. He got a secondary confirmation, maybe from Karl Rove...

HUME: Oh, I think it was from Karl Rove, yeah.

LIASSON: The secondary one, right, but not the primary one. So, it doesn't sound like anybody.


HUME: But we now know that Fitzgerald has known for quite a long time.

LIASSON: Yes, for quite a long time.

HUME: And he chose not to prosecute this person..

LIASSON: That's right.

HUME: .for reveal that.

LIASSON: But we don't know that this person actually revealed Valerie Plame's name, merely the fact that she.

HUME: Fine, but when you say somebody -- I mean, the guy's wife's name is...

LIASSON: Clearly, now maybe Fitzgerald was pursuing other people who might have disclosed her name we don't know. But in the Novak case it doesn't appear that anybody disclosed her name to him.

HUME: It's interesting to hear him say, is not, that the disclosure - - the guy who disclosed her role at the CIA said it was inadvertent. An inadvertent disclosure of information of that kind is not prosecutable, is it Mort?

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, Novak says its inadvertent, a sources says its inadvertent, we don't know hot source is. How do you know it was inadvertent? I mean, it may, in the course of a long interview, if somebody wanted to dump something on you, they might, you know, pretend that it was inadvertent knowing that you're a good reporter and you could pick up on it and run with it.


HUME: You think -- you know Bob.

KONDRACKE: I know Bob. You know. And he's a suburb reporter, one of the best ever, so, you know, I did (INAUDIBLE), but still, if somebody's going to leak and there was -- look, there was a consistent effort on the part of the administration to discredit Joe Wilson.

HUME: To discredit Joe Wilson or discredit his claims?

KONDRACKE: Well, all of it. Where did he get it? He was sent by his wife. His wife was a CIA agent, et cetera, et cetera. This was part of a political offense on the part of the administration to defend the Iraq policy.

HUME: Oh, so you are now asserting here, based on what you know.


HUME: .that this person.

KONDRACKE: I'm not saying that anybody necessarily did anything illegal.

HUME: No, no, no, Mort, you just said whatever was revealed to Novak was part of a political offensive.

KONDRACKE: There was a political offensive.

HUME: And I'm saying, I'm asking you how do you know that?

KONDRACKE: It -- look.

HUME: Fred, do you want to take a crack it?

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": There was not political offensive and I trust Bob Novak totally not just generally speaking, by the way. Look, what this shows is what Bob Novak was said publicly all along there was no leak. There was an inadvertent comment and he believes it was inadvertent, it was not leaked which he checked out with -- and which he checked out with other people and he wrote the column, he got the actual name, as Mara said from "Who's Who." This shows, I think, clearly that there was not a conspiracy to harm Joe Wilson at all by revealing his wife's name as a CIA agent.

Now we know there was an effort by the White House to rebut the column he'd written in the "New York Times" which, of course, turns out have been wrong on almost every point made by Joe Wilson. But there was no conspiracy to harm him, which, you know, he has claimed, to destroy him or something like that. Only to rebut his.

LIASSON: Now wait a minute. To rebut his -- but part of rebutting his claims were to discredit him by suggesting that the only reason he went there was because his wife arranged some junket for him and that's not just rebutting his claims, that's also undermining his credibility.

BARNES: That's not what Bob Novak says. Bob Novak says something quite different from that.

HUME: Well, let me just say -- Mort, you still think that this may have been part of this effort to undermine Wilson's credibility at a minimum. But, if it were, why is this official not being prosecuted?

KONDRACKE: Well, we don't know that here -- Bill Harlow, the CIA Spokesman confirms to Novak that she is an agent. Therefore, it looks as though this is not a deep, dark secret; in other words, it's not.


LIASSON: .the Justice Department. The CIA is the one who brought the original complaint.


HUME: Is it fair to say based on what we know now that this is an investigation that never needed to happen?


KONDRACKE: Well, yeah I guess so. I mean the...

HUME: Well anyway, Bob Novak will be here tomorrow night. We'll take all these issues up with him.

BARNES: No leak. No conspiracy.

HUME: When we come back with our panel we will talk about what's going on in Afghanistan where the defense secretary was today. That's next.



DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The people who are determined to spread violent extremism around the world are people who are determined. They do not like to see country like Afghanistan become a successful democracy and they would like to do everything they can to stop it. And they're not going to succeed.


HUME: The secretary of defense was in Afghanistan when he spoke those words where the run of news lately has given us all to believe that the whole situation there is headed in the wrong direction that the Taliban are resurgent and that violence is up in all kinds of places and the Karzai government is teetering on the brink. There may be some statistics that could be marshaled to argue against that. But what about this idea? There you see numbers that have been reported today in our sister publication of the "New York Post," 2006, 44 coalition soldiers killed, 100 Afghanistan civilians, 1,000 insurgents. Those are rough numbers. It doesn't sound like it's going too badly. What about it?

KONDRACKE: The woman who wrote that story in the "New York Post" says that the Taliban is hardly a factor anymore in Iraq and that it's that the violence is all being perpetrated by drug gangs. Now, that's not what Hamid Karzai says and he says that violence -- that violence on the part of the Taliban is up and he's blaming it partly on Pakistan for letting the terrorists in and also on the weakness of the police force. Now, my suspicion is that the Taliban is resurgent and it's using drug money to finance itself and it's also -- it's a combination of both. And there is - - there apparently is violence up because General Eikenberry says that, too...

HUME: How -- how dire is the situation? If at all.

KONDRACKE: No, do -- it's a question -- then it's a question of do you believe the mainstream media which saying that it's serious and Karzai is saying that violence is increasing so I regard it as serious.

LIASSON: Look, you know, you don't know if Afghanistan is on the verge of collapse. The point is it's not going as well as the United States had hoped it would this many years after our dislodging of the Taliban and even Donald Rumsfeld said on his trip that the Taliban is using the drug trade to finance terrorism and what we hear about Hamid Karzai, as well attention as he is, is that he has control over a very small part of the country, that not unlike Iraq there are warlords control most of it outside of the capital. It's not -- I don't necessarily think it's falling apart completely, but it's certainly isn't where the United States wanted it to be.

BARNES: This story is what I call a hardy perennial of the mainstream media. We've heard it before. I remember talking to a reporter two to three years ago who come back after years -- after.

HUME: Tour of duty over there.

BARNES: After nine months -- a year's tour a duty said it was about to collapse. It was terrible, Karzai only ruled a part of the country and then the warlords. We've known this for a long time. Afghanistan has never been effectively ruled by one person or one government in human history. It's very tribal. The warlords control a lot of it. We have known this for a number of years. Karzai and the U.S. made a deal with the warlords because they were going to be the ones in command in a good chunk of Afghanistan. So, I think Karzai, who naturally talks about how terrible it is because -- and he was quite upfront about the fact that he wants more money sent over there and more stuff done so he has a vested interest in that. As far as I can see, Afghanistan is about where it was two or three years ago.

HUME: Not getting better then?

BARNES: Well, well, no, the drug trade has picked up and -- which is mainly in one province, but this is what -- I mean Afghanistan is going to continue to be what Afghanistan is.

HUME: Well, -- does that mean that it's headed back toward where the Taliban ruled the place?

BARNES: No, no, I don't think it is. But it -- what you don't want it to get to a situation where they can provide, again, a safe haven for terrorists as they did for al-Qaeda. I don't think there's any chance of that.


KONDRACKE: Well, look.

BARNES: Not with 23,000 American troops there.

KONDRACKE: OK, and, you know, NATO is moving in, that's a good sign, if they fight, that this is an internationally cooperative enterprise. The problem is is that the donors who were supposed to help Karzai out with a lot of money have not come through, so their roads aren't built. There have been a lot of schools built in certain places but they can't wipe out the poppy crop, et cetera. So, you know, it's going to be an eternally mixed picture as long as we're there. But if NATO and the United States ever pulled out, god knows what would happen to the place.

HUME: You heard it here first. Afghanistan is in no immediate danger of turning into Switzerland.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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