One of the big sticking points, in the severance negotiations between the NYT and Judy Miller, was Judy's demand that she get to answer her critics with one last op-ed in the NYT, published today in letter form.
I gotta say, she needn't have bothered.
The letter does little to refute Miller's critics. As Anonymous Liberal points out, Judy's claims she was protecting the First Amendment are clearly bogus. And Jane slaps down the rest of the farewell. The only paragraph I found remotely interesting was this one:
In a commencement speech I delivered at Barnard College in 2003, a year before that note was published, I asked whether the administration's prewar W.M.D. intelligence was merely wrong, or was it exaggerated or even falsified. I believed then, and still do, that the answer to bad information is more reporting. I regret that I was not permitted to pursue answers to the questions I raised at Barnard. Their lack of answers continues to erode confidence in both the press and the government.
Here's the commencement address in question. And here's the soul-searching passage Judy refers to:
I think there are other questions, too, that the Bush administration will now have to answer: Will the weapons hunters find the weapons of mass destruction programs that were cited repeatedly as the major justification for the invasion? Could inspectors have uncovered the dual use equipment that was hidden – sometimes in plain sight – throughout the country without a war? Were the concerns about anthrax clouds over our cities exaggerations? Were they justified by what we knew then, as opposed to what we know now? Was the intelligence that produced them politically distorted? Were those who wanted to go to war deceiving themselves about Saddam’s capabilities? Was the war really necessary, not just for Iraq, but to protect American national security?
When I return permanently home to the U.S., I will be among those trying to find answers to these questions – questions I wondered about so often in the field. Now I may have impressions, but they are only that.
Beyond the fact that Judy is still clearly parrotting the party line (dual use equipment hidden in plain sight? well maybe it was not hidden, did you ever think of that? anthrax clouds over our cities? was that our concern, or yours? and it's worse in the rest of the address, where Judy throws in Neoconish proclamations like "I am deeply disturbed that our country did not
deliver Iraq from that tyrant’s hands in 1991 when we
first had the chance." Hell, the whole thing is still a justification for war). I'm struck by Judy's claim--then and now--that she came back from Baghdad intent on finding out whether the warmongers were deceiving themselves about Saddam's capabilities. Beyond the obvious refrain (where is the concern about your own reporting, Judy, rather than just the exaggerations of others?), I find it remarkable that that Judy's first action--in an attempt to find out the truth about the war--was to go back to one of her primary sources, the guy who exaggerated and deceived in the first place--and ask him to retell the Administration's justification for war. Oh, and listen to him rail against one of the guys who was offering an explanation about why
Or let me put it this way. One of the first things Judy did when she got back to the US was stand in front of the graduating class at Barnard and declare she wanted to find out what went wrong. Then, in a meeting a month later, a source told her about a guy named Joe Wilson who was claiming he knew exactly what went wrong--the Administration had ignored all the evidence that refuted their claims. Rather than giving Joe Wilson a call to pursue this story, Judy returned to her original source two more times to let him deny this Joe Wilson guy's claims. This is reporting?
But the rest of the farewell? Eh. So if you're looking for fireworks from Judy's last farewell, you're going to be disappointed.
What is worth a gander, however, is the letter to MoDo Judy posted on her website.
Beyond revealing that Judy still doesn't get it--if you want to figure out what went wrong with the intelligence, you don't give one of your main sources three chances to throw sand in your eyes. You go to the guy the source is complaining about, who claims he can answer your questions.
Just to remind you, I never went to see Scooter Libby to hear character assassination against Joe Wilson. I was trying to get to the bottom of the intelligence failures that were very important to me because they had led to my publishing several incorrect stories based on that intelligence.
Judy's letter to MoDo provides much more specific details on two points relating to her case than she published in her own full explanation. Judy tries to explain why her memory is so damn bad.
Five, I have already addressed the “Valerie Flame” issue publicly in my answers to reporters at the Senate hearing on the shield law. And again, as I told Calame, “more than two years later, I cannot remember when or why I wrote that misspelled name in my notes. The name is free-floating, separated by two pages from the end of an interview with Mr. Libby and written in a different color ink from my Libby interviews. It is not embedded in any other interview. I spoke to dozens of people when I returned from Iraq about a wide variety of WMD topics that I did write about. I don’t know why you and Tina doubt my word, but you should know that I gave this account under oath as well.
She lies, of course, when she says, "about a wide variety of WMD topics that I did write about." As I've discussed to the point of boredom, there is almost nothing in her post-war reporting that appears in her articles (partly because there are so few postwar articles). In addition to her July 20 article, she co-wrote an article on Stephen Hatfill's involvement in prototyping mobile bioweapons labs for us, and a few articles on the purported mobile bioweapons labs (for the latter, Judy was the recipient of a doozy of a leak that was later the source of some consternation within the intelligence community). So if she lied about that, why believe the other details here? Well, I'll just register the claim that "Valerie Flame" shows up after the Libby notes and in a different color ink (was it red, so Judy would remember what the agreed on pseudonym was?). At least it gives us some guidance on the timing.
Also, Judy denies she was perjury trapped into revealing details about June 23.
It is true that the special prosecutor asked about whether I had had an earlier meeting with Mr. Libby in June. But as I testified, the discovery of the notebook was prompted by an entirely different matter the special prosecutor had raised. Once again, I found the notebook, which was not covered by the subpoena, as I was searching for additional notes on where I was when I conducted my July 12th interview with Libby. As I told Calame, “Under oath, I had promised the special counsel I would search for any additional notes I might have relevant to Mr. Libby and Plame/Wilson that would clarify whether the notes had been taken in a taxi in D.C. or at my home in Sag Harbor. On my first evening back at the Times while I was on the phone with my lawyer, Bob Bennett, I came upon the notebook as I was looking through a shopping bag filled with notebooks kept under my computer beneath my desk. I discovered that it contained an interview in June with Mr. Libby…I told Bob Bennett what I had found, and he immediately informed the special prosecutor.”
These details are a bit more intriguing. It suggests several things:
- If you believe Judy (?), Fitzgerald had reason to push Judy both for information about the June 23 meeting and for more notes ... for unrelated reasons. Which suggests (if you believe Judy), that Fitzgerald had reason to believe she had both.
- If you believe Judy (?), Fitzgerald apparently thought it important whether she learned particular details in the cab from NYC or in Sag Harbour. I imagine Fitzgerald thought it important to clarify the chronology of Libby's conversation with Dick on Air Force Two, Libby's first conversation with Judy, Libby's second conversation with Judy, and Libby's conversation with Cooper. Or maybe there are other events he's trying to fit into the chronology.
- Geez Louise. You mean to tell me these notes were in a shopping bag under Judy's desk at NYT all this time? They must have funny cleaning staff at NYT, because I can't count the number of times I've lost bags of stuff I've left under my various office desks.And you want me to believe that Judy would leave sensitive notes--notes that could sink the Vice President--just lying there, under her desk, while she was in prison for several months? You mean to tell me Judy left these notes out there in a shopping bag, with a newsroom full of curious journalists--people spending a good deal of time trying to figure out what the story is--who don't particularly care for Judy in the first place?
Or maybe Judy's just lying through her teeth.
Well, that's that then. Go read Judy's farewell if you want to be bored. Better yet, go read Judy's letter to MoDo. Or, if you want to be interested (rather than lulled to sleep by Judy's prattling about how she saved the First Amendment), go read some of the tell-all articles about Judy, appearing as if she just passed away.