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October 15, 2005


from the non-Judy version:

Telling another witness about grand jury testimony is lawful as long as it is not an attempt to influence the other witness's testimony.

"Judy believed Libby was afraid of her testimony," Mr. Keller said, noting that he did not know the basis for the fear. "She thought Libby had reason to be afraid of her testimony."

Ms. Miller and the paper decided at that point not to pursue additional negotiations with Mr. Tate.

The two sides did not talk for a year.

I'm halfway through my second read; this doesn't make judy or libby look particularly good, but that's hardly surprising.

I thought Sulzberger's comment bizarre: "If Ms. Miller testifies, it may be immeasurably harder in the future to persuade a frightened government employee to talk about malfeasance in high places."

So Scooter Libby was a "frightened government employee" who was bravely trying to bring to light malfeasance by...who? Valarie Plame Wilson? I thought Wilson was the whistleblower in this case, not Scooter Libby.

Those Times people have a whole bunch of collective loose screws.

Addendum: Should be "I thought *Joe* Wilson was the whistleblower in this case..."

Here is the coverrup in all its glory. Four "could not recalls" in four paragraphs from Miller's first-person account


"...I said I couldn't be certain whether I had known Ms. Plame's identity before this meeting, and I had no clear memory of the context of our conversation that resulted in this notation...

Mr. Fitzgerald asked me whether Mr. Libby had mentioned nepotism. I said no. And as I told the grand jury, I did not recall - and my interview notes do not show - that Mr. Libby suggested that Ms. Plame had helped arrange her husband's trip to Niger. My notes do suggest that our conversation about Ms. Plame was brief.

"...Mr. Fitzgerald asked me about another entry in my notebook, where I had written the words "Valerie Flame," clearly a reference to Ms. Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald wanted to know whether the entry was based on my conversations with Mr. Libby. I said I didn't think so. I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall..."

Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I could recall discussing the Wilson-Plame connection with other sources. I said I had, though I could not recall any by name or: when those conversations occurred...."


The car has its hand on the wheel? Must be a clue, but that's even more arcane than the Aspens turning in clusters.

Wait. Aspens. Turning. Cars. The Dodge Aspen ... a Carter Era oil-shock compact. Who is still driving these out West, and where? Not rust-bucket territory. Someplace dry year-round. "West". Western U.S.? Western alliance? Western Hemisphere? "Turning". Hmmm ... on a closed track? "In clusters". Give me a minute ...

Eureka! I've got it! I'VE GOT IT!!!

But what does Niger yellowcake have to do with the Mexican Demolition Derby circuit??? Give me another minute here ...

A Whole Lotta Whitewash. . . But Will It Stick?

Ok, Judy has a conveniently sloppy memory on the most key points. She has even less credibility now than she did a few hours ago.

She seems to be walking a tightrope: trying to save her skin while protecting Libby and her First Amerdment Martyr myth as much as possible.

In PR terms, both Judy and the Times have deployed a classic "modified limited hangout."

Judy has given Fitgerald some pieces, and it seems to be enough to hang Libby if PF can establish with any clarity that Libby had had previous access to the infamous State Department memo identifying Plame/Wilson. This may be all PF wanted, and if all he needed was to confirm that Libby had discussed Plame/Wilson with Judy and thereby violated the Espionage Act, then Judy gave him up (notice how Judy's testimony seems tailored to elide an IIPA charge). But Judy's article is an attempt to communicate directly to Libby and to the administration that she tried to put the best spin on all this that she could, losing her memory when she felt like she could get away with doing so.

I also agree that Judy has not been forthcoming about all her previous work with Libby, including the perhaps the aluminum tubes and other stories, and she has signaled to Libby that she managed to hold that stuff back as best she could, perhaps with success.

The Times account is odd: it reads more like an apologia for the hard position management and editors found themselves in as they bravely tried to stand by principle while (regrettably) letting Judy drive the car. My favorite is Abramson's ambiguous expression of regret, saying she regrets "everything" about the paper's handling of these matters, which could be taken to mean she regrets being caught in the vice of management's (cough, Pinch, cough) cowardice, of the bad editorial decision making, or that so many people simply misunderstood her good intentions and difficult position.

The Times is clearly cutting Judy loose. They damn her with faint praise, disagree with her on whether she recommended a story, and paint her as a rogue elephant who unfortunately was given (note the passive voice) too free a hand.

I see no real effort to take responsibility for its wider role in perverting the truth and betraying the trust of its readers in all this. They buried stories, obfuscated, let ownership interfere with reporting to cover the paper's legal ass, etc. I see no real expression of remorse or taking of responsibility among Keller, Pinch or Abramson. Expect an exodus of reportorial talent from the Times.

All parties here are trying to dodge the issues. Notice that Judy gives no explanation for offering her June notes when Fitzy had originally asked for July stuff. She is hiding a whole lot, just skating over those issues hoping no one will notice. It's still not clear to me at all what prompted the resurfacing of those notes.

If the Times hoped to put this thing behind it with this story, it will be sadly mistaken.

Now, if Judy really is in the clear, it's not because she has been guiltless, but because Fitzy feels she is a smaller fish who has given him enough to get the bigger fish, and whose continuing testimony will be useful to that effort.

And we still don't know what else Fitzy knows, or who else has been feeding him, from the CIA or wherever.

Very interesting.

By God, Judy's right! Libby didn't reveal her identity! He said Valerie Flame! Richard Cohen is right! Go home, Fitz!

Editor and Publisher reaction:



This just in: United States returns reparations payments to Germany! Search begins for the elusive Adolf Hilter!

Deliberately deceptive sourcing: Libby a "former Hill staffer", rather than a "senior administration official". A hundred thousand of one, a couple dozen of the other. And did Libby's informational stature as a source for that story proceed from his work on the Hill? Or his connections as SAO?

A journalistic misdemeanor in the best case ... and NYT/Miller's ain't the best case.


Spelled with two "o"s.

Anyone think Ben Bradlee would have handled this the same way? I don't think so.

Oh, yeah. Loved that one, Ron. Do you think Judy would have sourced him as a former Cub Scout if he asked her to?

God I despise Judy Miller.

That is all.

Where did the name "Flame" come up in her notes if not in the section pertaining to the Libby meeting? Maybe in a section regarding a meeting with Bolton? Wonder if that part is partially redacted by Judy...

Hey, look! There's little erase-y marks on this "F" in "Flame." What the...?

This is after she met with him at the St Regis? And he has to identify himself to her, even though she's looking at him, because he's wearing a cowboy hat?

What -- was he wearing a Lone Ranger mask, too, Kemosabbe?

What is Judy trying to tell us about her work habits? She doesn't flip to a fresh page and write the date and name whenever she starts to take notes from a source? Come on -- I don't care how organized you're not, that is probably the most ingrained habit of any working reporter. If it had come from someone else, or was just a note to herself about something she'd overheard, it wouldn't be with her Scooter Libby notes.

And she can't remember or recognize the VP's Chief of Staff after she's met with him in person in a hotel? What kind of observational skills does she have, anyway? It's true that there are some folks who never forget a face and some who have lesser memories, but when your entire living is based on having inside access to top government sources, it boggles the mind that she expects us to believe "I had no idea who he was," whether or not he was in jeans and a cowboy hat.

recall that firedoglake was emptywheel's suggestion to visit in her absence.

I have no idea why Fitz is letting Judy go, maybe perjury is difficult to prove. Some quotes and my thoughts:

"My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A." --Judy Miller

This makes clear that Libby's and Rove's claim that they had never heard about Wilson and his wife until after the NYT OpEd was BS.

"As I told the grand jury, I recalled Mr. Libby's frustration and anger about what he called 'selective leaking' by the C.I.A. and other agencies to distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments. The selective leaks trying to shift blame to the White House, he told me, were part of a 'perverted war' over the war in Iraq."

Libby criticizing the CIA's "selective leaking" is like a pile of manure complaining about the smell of ass. And it was the Iraq War that was "perverted", not the CIA's attempts to stop an invasion that was based on Bush Administration lies, deceit and incompetence.

"Equally central to my decision was Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor. He had declined to confine his questioning to the subject of Mr. Libby. This meant I would have been unable to protect other confidential sources who had provided information - unrelated to Mr. Wilson or his wife - for articles published in The Times. Last month, Mr. Fitzgerald agreed to limit his questioning."

Who are you protecting Judy? I'd take 10 to 1 that you're protecting . . . the WHIGS and yourself. The principle at work here is the save-your-ass principle disguised as "protecting my sources."

"I testified in Washington twice - most recently last Wednesday after finding a notebook in my office at The Times that contained my first interview with Mr. Libby."

Conveniently forgetting that Fitz called Judy in on Tuesday to ask her why she forgot the June conversations with Libby.

I think she makes everyone seem more guilty of something. (So many "I don't recall")

Anyone else find it odd that Judy Miller ended her article the way she did? The whole thing with Aspen.

"...after finding a notebook in my office at The Times that contained my first interview with Mr. Libby."

I thought it had been established the "found" notebook was at her home; that nobody in the Times D.C. office has seen her since she left the slammer. Anybody?

Could somebody explain why Miller spent 85 days in jail to protect a source whose name she doesn't remember?

Aha! The mysterious absence of emptywheel. "This car had her hand on the wheel ...". On the WHEEL! Oh, no! The WHIG's have run emptywheel off the road in some cougar-infested wilderness!

I think a) Miller is a bitch, b) both she and Libby are lying, c) she's covering up something bigger, and d) the Times is past it's prime:


Very. Creepy. I had assumed Libby's aspen metaphor was intended to remind Miller she would go down if he did. Now I'm looking at the context supplied by Miller:

She bumped into Libby(give me a freakin break - Scooter goes to rodeos?) after leaving Aspen, where national security was the topic, and even though she doesn't know him well enough to recognize him, he knows her well enough to ask, "How was the conference"?

First, I hope the good guys at Langley are busy verifying whether or not Libby was in Jackson Hole at said time. Second, are we really to believe Libby & Miller were newly acquainted? Did Libby have to wear a red carnation to the St. Regis meeting? Third, I now think Libby intended Judy to interpret his aspen reference to mean, "if I go down the whole defense department goes down."

Let's begin with Douglas Feith and the OSP, shall we?

Miss Laura,

I could tell you, but then I'd have to forget to kill you.

Or something like that.

"*Before* the grand jury, Mr. Fitzgerald asked me questions about Mr. Cheney."
did anyone find this phrasing odd? does she mean 'in front of the GJ...', or 'prior to the GJ'?

is it possible that fitz was asking her about cheney in their private session?

Baseline Google Read: 243 hits for "Valerie Flame". Anyone taking odds on what the number will be tomorrow?

I've got a long post at Needlenose that tries to connect Miller's narrative into an overall theory of how the Plame leak(s) to Robert Novak happened -- in part by trying to decipher the missing parts of all the conversations Miller gives us only one side of.

It also includes this bonus witticism (that I hope no one has beaten me to):

"Here's definitive proof that Valerie Plame was a covert agent -- just mentioning her name has the mystifying property of making both parties forget everything about the conversation."

Thanks, Swopa. great contributions from Needlenose throughout.

I was sooooooo afraid the Times would actually tell us something and end all our speculating. Not. Why did they even bother?

I'd love to see sauqatak win a job on the copy desk so s/he can insert boldface subheads in future Times stories along the lines of this gem:

Libby criticizing the CIA's "selective leaking" is like a pile of manure complaining about the smell of ass.

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