Novak Details Early Conversation With Joe Wilson on Wife's Job Title

Ambassador Joe Wilson had no major objection to his wife Valerie Plame's identity being revealed in a news article about Wilson's trip to Africa on an Iraq weapons of mass destruction hunt, columnist Robert Novak told an assembly of journalists on Saturday.

Novak, the man responsible for the story that led to former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby going to jail, said Wilson was more concerned with his image in the story than the status of his wife's job at the CIA.

“He was not terribly exercised about it,” Novak said of their discussion about his wife's identity, The Hill newspaper reports.

Click here to read The Hill article about Robert Novak and Joe Wilson.

In fact, Novak told the Society of Professional Journalists that Wilson was more interested in not being portrayed as simply an opponent of the Iraq war. He also said that Wilson told him his wife goes by her married name.

Novak said he didn't expect his report to lead to an investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who Novak claims knew all along that the source of Plame's identity original came from then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

“It was an off-hand remark to a question I asked in an interview I requested,” Novak said. “This was not a conspiracy in the federal government to go after Valerie Plame Wilson.”

Novak also said he was forced to pay his legal fees, which totaled $160,000. His home newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times, contributed $30,000. But most of all, Novak said he was shocked by the attacks against him for reporting a perfectly legitimate story.

“I was stunned by how little editorial support I received. I was under assault from editorial writers from across the country,” Novak said. “It is startling how little is known about this case by the people who are commenting on it.”