So if Armitage behaved so dishonorably, why did Novak feel bound to continue to honor Armitage’s anonymity? Armitage is by far the bigger villain here — though not as big a villain as Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, but that’s another issue — but doesn’t Novak deserve criticism for not revealing Armitage’s identity when Libby and Rove were twisting in the wind and he, Novak, might have been able to help get them off the hook?
Novak seems to set great store by his commitment to maintain the confidentiality of his “sources,” but shouldn’t he have acted otherwise in this case? It looks as though Novak was more concerned with not scaring off the government leakers who are his bread and butter than he was with saving innocent men from disgrace, great expense and possible (actual in Libby’s case) prosecution. I don’t see how Novak’s position was different in principle from that of a psychiatrist who learns that one of his patients plans to commit a serious crime. In such a case the psychiatrist’s professional duty to maintain patient confidentiality is outweighed by the need to prevent great harm to others.
Of course there was no reason why Fitzgerald couldn’t have subpoenaed Novak long ago and asked him to reveal his source, as more than one blogger long ago pointed out. But was there any reason, besides professional self-interest, for Novak not to reveal that information on his own?
(cross posted at 26th Parallel)