But Wilson was caught off guard when around July 9 he received a phone call from Robert Novak, who, according to Wilson, said he'd been told by a C.I.A. source that Wilson's wife worked for the agency. "Can you confirm or deny?" Wilson recalls Novak as saying. "I need another source."
From his OWN book:
Chapter 17: A Strange Encounter with Robert Novak
by Ambassador Joseph Wilson
Late on Tuesday afternoon, July 8, six days before Robert Novak's article about Valerie and me, a friend showed up at my office with a strange and disturbing tale. He had been walking down Pennsylvania Avenue toward my office near the White House when he came upon Novak, who, my friend assumed, was en route to the George Washington University auditorium for the daily taping of CNN's Crossfire. He asked Novak if he could walk a block or two with him, as they were headed in the same direction; Novak acquiesced. Striking up a conversation, my friend, without revealing that he knew me, asked Novak about the uranium controversy. It was a minor problem, Novak replied, and opined that the administration should have dealt with it weeks before. My friend then asked Novak what he thought about me, and Novak answered: "Wilson's an asshole. The CIA sent him. His wife, Valerie, works for the CIA. She's a weapons of mass destruction specialist. She sent him." At that point, my friend and Novak went their separate ways. My friend headed straight for my office a couple of blocks away.
Once he related this unsettling story to me, I asked him to immediately write down the details of the conversation and afterwards ushered him out of my office. Next, I contacted the head of the news division at CNN, Eason Jordan, Novak's titular boss, whom I had known for a number of years. It took several calls, but I finally tracked him down on his cell phone. I related to him the details of my friend's encounter with Novak and pointed out that whatever my wife might or might not be, it was the height of irresponsibility for Novak to share such information with an absolute stranger on a Washington street. I asked him to speak to Novak for me, but he demurred he said he did not know him very welland suggested that I speak to Novak myself. I arranged for him to have Novak call me and hung up.
Novak called the next morning, but I was out, and then so was he. We did not connect until the following day, July 10. He listened quietly as I repeated to him my friend's account of their conversation. I told him I couldn't imagine what had possessed him to blurt out to a complete stranger what he had thought he knew about my wife.
Novak apologized, and then asked if I would confirm what he had heard from a CIA source: that my wife worked at the Agency. I told him that I didn't answer questions about my wife. I told him that my story was not about my wife or even about me; it was about sixteen words in the State of the Union address.