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Novak, Armitage dispute Plame leak

Sept. 14, 2006 at 10:26 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Washington columnist Robert Novak says the primary source in his column exposing CIA agent Valerie Plame is misrepresenting their conversation.

Novak said Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state under Colin Powell, did not casually mention Plame at their July 8, 2003, meeting, The Washington Post reported Thursday. Novak said Armitage actively linked Plame to a CIA-sponsored trip to Niger taken by her husband, Joseph Wilson, and even suggested it as a subject for his column.

Novak's original column touched off an investigation into the leak that resulted in Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, being charged with lying to investigators.

"Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he 'thought' might be so," Novak wrote in a column Thursday. "Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson."

However, Armitage said in reply to Novak's column that the revelation of Plame's identity was accidental and that Novak had described it as "offhand" in an earlier column.

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