After all, some people who out the identity of CIA agents are actually celebrated as heroes. Compare and contrast the Novak post mortem with The Nation Magazine's eulogy of Philip Agee, CIA turncoat and KGB agent:
We mourn the passing of Philip Agee, the courageous former CIA officer who, in his 1975 book Inside the Company: CIA Diary, exposed the agency's subversion of democracy and its practices of torture and murder, naming hundreds of officers, agents and companies involved with the crimes. Agee was motivated, he said, by the CIA's support for "the worst imaginable horrors" in Latin America. Agee paid a high price for his courage. Perhaps the best way to remember Agee is to support others who find the courage to expose criminal misconduct by their own governmentsAgee's high price was spending the last 30 years of his life living in relative comfort in Cuba running a travel agency when he should have gotten a bullet in the back of his head.
But like most things with the left, its all about politics in the end.
Something that really caught my eye in John Nichol’s obituary was this line.
Some of us also recall--and have a hard time forgiving--Novak's role in what Saul Landau correctly described as the "organized right wing attack" on the memory of murdered Chilean diplomat and dissident Orlando Letelier.Nichols is referring to a mostly forgotten incident where Novak used his contacts and his column to take the “meme of the day” and turn it completely on its head.
Orlando Letelier was former Chilean diplomat who spent his time lobbying against Pinochet’s government after the coup in 1973. He was a minor celebrity among the leftwing glitterati/literati activist community when he was working out of the Washington DC based Institute for Policy Studies in the mid 70’s until his car was blown up, an assassination that was most likely organized in Chile.
While Letelier’s liberal allies were busy crucifying the Chilean government and the CIA (they must have been involved after all) over this peaceful souls death, Robert Novak and Rowland Evans were leaked the contents of Letelier’s briefcase recovered by the FBI during the course of its investigation into the murder. The contents, not surprisingly, showed that Letelier was part of a coordinated effort to manipulate and coordinate liberals in the United States (where have we heard that before) to lobby against the Chilean government and return a more Soviet friendly government back to Santiago. This coordination, not surprisingly, was being spearheaded by East Block intelligence agencies and its proxies in Cuba, who also not surprisingly were subsidizing Letelier work with cash remittances from the Cuban government. He also had contact information for dozens of suspected and known East Block and Cuban intelligence agents.
Novak didn’t sit idly by with this, went to press with it and was stymied and attacked every step of the way. Only the Washington Post printed his articles, with other outlets (most notably the NY Times) either ignoring it completely or posting attack pieces on Novak.
And this was the sin that Nichols and his pals were referring to: using ones talent and access to sources to spoil a perfectly good narrative about a left wing icon.
We lost a good journalist.