WASHINGTON -- Syndicated columnist Robert Novak acknowledged yesterday for the first time that he identified three confidential administration sources during testimony in the CIA leak investigation. He said he did so because they had granted him legal waivers to testify and because special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald already knew of their role.
In a column to be published today, Novak said he told Fitzgerald in early 2004 that White House senior adviser Karl Rove and then-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow had confirmed for him, at his request, information about CIA operative Valerie Plame. Novak said he also told Fitzgerald about another senior administration official who originally provided him with the information about Plame, and whose identity he says he cannot reveal even now.
``I'm still constrained as a reporter," Novak said in an interview. ``It was not on the record, and he has never revealed himself as being the source, and until he does I don't feel I should."
In the column, he wrote: ``I have cooperated in the investigation while trying to protect journalistic privileges under the First Amendment and shield sources who have not revealed themselves . . . I have promised to discuss my role in the investigation when permitted by the prosecution, and I do so now."
Novak triggered the investigation with a July 2003 column reporting that Plame had suggested sending her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, to Niger to investigate whether Saddam Hussein was trying to obtain nuclear material from that country.