Update: Three things. First, I'm heading off to an undisclosed location for the next week, where I will have sporadic--and potentially non-existent--Internet access. Yeah, some pretty crummy timing, huh? But I'm sure Jane and ReddHedd will keep you up-to-date on the Plame Affair.
Second, it appears I was wrong in many of my speculations in this post. If we can believe Bennett (?), Judy didn't cop a plea, and was never in danger of perjury charges.
Miller was recently told by Fitzgerald that she is only a witness in the case, according to a source close to Miller.
"Judy has always been a witness in this case and nothing more," said Robert S. Bennett, Miller's attorney. "She is neither a subject nor a target of the investigation."
Which suggests it was shame or greed which kept Judy silent, not legal limitations. Well then, as I said below, make her squirm.
Finally, Arianna says the NYT story is on its way and it will be good. I have to say I'm more skeptical than she. I predict the NYT will frame the story very narrowly on the question of how Plame's identity got to Libby, rather than on the larger question of why and wherefore. As lambertstrether at DKos points out, there are some things the NYT simply doesn't want to print, for whatever reason.
Bet you never thought you'd see that headline next to my moniker, did you?
Everywhere in journalist-land, people have lost patience. Why won't the NYT speak? Why won't Judy speak? I'm not going to make any excuses for the former. But I will suggest that there may be a very good reason for the latter.
Observers base their impatience on Judy's release from contempt the other day.
From NYT Public Editor Byron Calame:
The lifting of the contempt order against Judith Miller of The New York Times in connection with the Valerie Wilson leak investigation leaves no reason for the paper to avoid providing a full explanation of the situation. Now.
From Farhad Manjoo:
On Wednesday afternoon, that justification vanished. Miller made her second appearance before the grand jury, and Hogan then lifted the contempt order.
The hold-up preventing the NYT from telling a full story, is Judy's apparent unwillingness to grant interviews.
Reached Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Miller declined to say whether she would be giving an interview to the Times.
Judy is equally unwilling to offer her own newspaper interviews.
“What Bill is talking about is not when we can write a story,” Mr. Landman said. “What he is talking about is when [Judy] can be expected to tell what happened.”
Perhaps she is especially unwilling to offer her newspaper an interview (she was happy to offer "Judy Fan" Lou Dobbs an interview, before the second set of notes myseriously reappeared).
There are three very likely reasons Judy may be so reticent. Some have speculated that she wants to keep the story secret until she publishes her book. I think that unlikely since she apparently has yet to sign her book deal.
It could be pure shame. Judy was quite comfortable in the First Amendment martyr role. As it is, there are people who question whether Judy really got an uncoerced waiver to testify the first time. Her testimony the second time is clearly testimony Libby did not waive her to give; his letter very specifically (likely intentionally) referred to their July conversations, not their June one. In addition, there's a distinct possibility that the limits Judy had received from Fitzgerald for her first testimony got invalidated when she discovered new notes. Specifically, there's an equally distinct possibility that Judy was asked about a second source during her recent testimony and that--for whatever reason--the martyr stance no longer looked so appealing. There's no good spin Judy can put on the facts if she indeed violated the principles she celebrated so boisterously in July.
And if Judy is silent out of shame, I say, make her squirm. When I see crap like Richard Cohen's recent column, I think some public humiliation might make journalists like Cohen rethink their defense of journalistic impunity.
Finally, though, there's also the possibility that Judy's legal entanglements have not ended. Sure, her contempt charge has been cleared. But why are we so quick to assume that means she's in the clear? Or let me put it this way. There is no way any journalist would expect Larry Franklin to tell about his little espionage ring in the Defense Department, not until he's done testifying.
Let me make this clear. I'm not excusing Judy for her shitty reporting, her posturing before she testified, her general bitchiness. If she broke the law in some way related to the Plame Affair, I will be thrilled if she pays for it. Reap what you sow and all that.
But if Fitzgerald has decided her continued testimony may be worth more than punishing her to the full extent of the law, then she's going to need to stay silent for some time yet. If she has decided a plea bargain is a preferable option than the alternatives, then she's not going to give the NYT an interview for a long time. And if Fitzgerald believes Judy's ongoing testimony would be valuable (if that's what's happening), the country would be better off if Judy remained silent, to the public.
Now, the NYT may be in the same situation as Judy--in continued legal jeopardy of some kind. Certainly, Barney Calame's explanation for why the NYT had put off telling their story suggests as much.
But they declined to fully respond to my fundamental questions because, they said, of the legal entanglements of Ms. Miller and the paper.
As I've said, the NYT has demonstratably lied about what Judy was doing during July 2003, at least in print. If they told the same lies to Fitzgerald that they told to NYT's readers, then they may very well have gotten entangled with the law (and for those keeping count of the compromised players in this affair enjoying publicity as journalism heros, Jill Abramson also has a speaking gig coming up). They avoided the contempt charge Time Magazine received based on the story they originally told Fitzgerald; if he discovered they weren't telling the truth when they avoided contempt, they would indeed be in some legal jeopardy.
But I think the NYT is out of legal danger now, at least if rumors of spats between Bill Keller and Judy Miller are to be believed. If Bill Keller is ready to publish a complete story but Judy isn't, then the NYT probably has a story that they can commit to--and tell publicly.
Judy Miller's and the NYT's interests largely diverged a good time ago, probably before Bill Keller even got the job. The difference is the NYT has finally realized that.