Wilson wants leak culprit 'frog-marched'
Novak: Government must keep its own secrets
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Retired career diplomat Joseph Wilson said Sunday that he would to love to see whoever blew the cover on his wife as a CIA operative "frog-marched out of the White House."
Wilson also said that he and his wife are concerned about their personal security because of the leak.
"There have been a number of other people who've come out and suggested that perhaps this does make her a target," he told CBS' "Face the Nation." "We, of course, as a consequence of that, have begun to rethink our own security posture."
But Robert Novak, the syndicated columnist who disclosed her identity, said he has no regrets.
"It is up to the government to keep the government's secrets," Novak said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The Bush administration faces a criminal investigation into the leak, which occurred when Novak named Wilson's wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, in a July 14 column about her husband. (Full story)
Novak was writing about Wilson's trip to Niger for the CIA in 2002 to investigate a British intelligence report that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium from the African country.
Wilson, who was director of African affairs at the National Security Council late in the Clinton administration, had disclosed the trip in a New York Times op-ed article the week before.
Wilson wrote that he told the CIA he could find no evidence to prove the Iraq-Niger connection nearly a year before President Bush referred to it in his 2003 State of the Union speech as part of the rationale for war with Iraq. (Full story)
Wilson's revelations helped fuel allegations that the administration had exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq before the war. The White House later backed off the assertion.
Wilson, who was acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and later was ambassador to Gabon, said on "Meet the Press" that he believed the leak was meant "to discourage others from coming forward."
He said other reporters have told him that White House political adviser Karl Rove told them his wife was "fair game."
Wilson said he believes the leak came from White House officials. White House officials deny the accusations, saying they are cooperating with a Justice Department probe into the matter. (Full story)
Several congressional Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to handle the case. (Full story)
Whoever released the name, Wilson said, "potentially engaged in outing a national security asset.
"If that was determined to have been a crime, I would love to see them frog-marched out of the White House," he said.
Novak said he would not have named Plame, whose duties involve information on weapons of mass destruction, if he had been told that identifying her would have jeopardized her life.
"There was never a question of her life being in danger," Novak said. "That is either because these people didn't think her life was in danger, or they thought it and were not competent in conveying it to me."
Republican allies of the White House have tried to portray Wilson as a Democratic partisan bent on undermining the Bush administration.
Wilson contributed to the 2000 Bush campaign but also gave money to 2004 Democratic contender John Kerry. Asked if he considered himself a Democrat, he said, "I certainly am now."
"I believe this administration has betrayed the vision -- the foreign policy vision -- offered by George Bush in his speech at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, when he was a candidate," he said.
In that 1999 address, the then-Texas governor promised "a distinctly American internationalism" that pledged "humility" and "modesty" and to maintain U.S. alliances "by contact and trust."
The Bush administration's international policy "is the antithesis of everything he campaigned on in the run-up to the first election," Wilson said.
Novak said Plame's name "came up almost offhandedly" while he was asking why Wilson was dispatched to investigate the Niger uranium allegation.
Novak said he should not have identified her as an "operative," a word he said he also applies to "hack politicians," and said he had been told she was an analyst rather than someone working under unofficial cover.
But he said he would write the same story again.
"Being a columnist or a reporter for this many years is sort of like never having to say you're sorry," he said.
"But I regret one thing: I used the word 'operative' foolishly. I didn't know she was an operative, I didn't mean she was an operative. The rest I don't regret."