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October 22, 2005


I think calling for Judy to be fired, suggesting explicitly that Judy has lied to both readers and editors, calling Abramson, Keller and mostly Sulzberger negligent in their willful ignorance of Judy's shenanigans--along with calling attention to the fact that the questions regarding whether Judy had a special clearance have not been answered--is probably all that Mr. Calame can do at the moment. He doesn't have the answers yet either. His tone strains at being civil, I thought.

Calame's article is certainly welcome. what matters, though, is Judy's firing, and Pinch's sacking. That's not up to Calame.

what's interesting is the slow turning against judy by the publishing industry.

I liked Rutten from the LA Times:

In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times titled "How Judith Miller Was Used," Tim Rutten writes that "the Washington press corps continues to be studded with useful idiots like Miller, who would whack their own grandmothers for a byline above the fold."

My pet speculation is that the MAIN reason the Times still refuses to come clean is that they fear for their jobs if they admit how much Sulzberger was involved in protecting Judy from having to face normal editorial oversight. But unable to admit that, none of their explanations of their actions vis a vis Judy makes any sense. What do you think?


If you have't already, you HAVE to read the New York Observer's just published magnum opus on Judith Miller. It's got tons of new inside info, like this for example:

In early May 2003—when Joseph Wilson began anonymously criticizing the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq’s nuclear threat by becoming a source for Nicholas Kristof’s Times Op-Ed column—Ms. Miller was being pulled back from Iraq after a fruitless search for Iraqi weapons and a feud between her and the paper’s Iraq bureau. Matters came to a head between Ms. Miller and the Baghdad staff on May 5, when Patrick Tyler, then the Baghdad bureau chief, confronted Ms. Miller about her plans to write a political piece on the de-Baathification process. On the overgrown lawn of the Baghdad Hunting Club where Ahmad Chalabi and the Defense Intelligence Agency had their offices, the two had a public argument, with Mr. Tyler telling Ms. Miller—an embedded correspondent with the military at the time—that she was forbidden to write political stories if she wasn’t officially working for the Baghdad bureau. “Either you are in my bureau or you are doing WMD,” Mr. Tyler wrote Ms. Miller the next day, in an e-mail copied to Mr. Raines and other top editors. “If the editors will not support me on this, I will kiss their feet, but I will leave this week.” It was Ms. Miller who left, returning to West 43rd Street shortly after the message reached New York.

Link: http://www.nyobserver.com/pageone_offtherec.asp

In August 2003 it appears that Judy was preparing her paper for the Aspen Institute Middle East Strategy Group conference entitled Countering WMD Proliferation After Iraq after which she went to Jackson Hole. See my analysis at http://blog.ltc.arizona.edu/beyondmes/

Frank Rich is, apparently, the very first NYT staffer to discuss WHIG, but then it was in an opinion piece last week. I wrote to Mr. Calame before he finally got around to discussing the Judy Miller/CIA leak fiasco and said I hoped he would shed some light on why the Times has ignored WHIG, but of course he didn't.

The Star-Tribune piece say. "For even though Miller was not deliberately fabricating stories in the manner of Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair and others . . "

How can this be said with any confidence? She had plenty of motivation to fabricate stories, given her legendary ambition and her little-discussed but apparent neocon leanings.

I'd be interested in his response (if any) to your points. I guess that's the idea of a public editor, is to follow-up on these questions internally. I'm wondering if he can, would, or does. It looks like his phone number is (212) 556-7652.


I think that's precisely what is going on.


Yeah, I printed that out last night. I'm still catching up on the NYT magnum opus. I think it's slightly inaccurate though. At least according to Howie Kurtz' contemporaneous account, John Burns was bureau chief at the time. Tyler is the journalist Judy pre-empted though, against Burns' instruction. But it still took them at least a week to recall Judy.

Here's my take on this, from July.

I did email him about my Abramson rant. I'm going to do a post on the management failures Calame et al are covering up--it's clear they weren't accidental. But I doubt he'll respond...

Fear of losing their jobs seems like such a wimpy excuse for Times reporters not stepping up sooner. I don't think it's possible to do a good job--any job--unless you're willing to lose it. Fitzgerald doesn't seem to operate out of fear of losing his job, and I would speculate he has less money than Dowd, et al, who waited until now to pile on.

~wheel, I emailed the former public editor Okrent a few times and he or the other guy in his office responded personally each time. I was pretty impressed actually. They seemed to take it as their obligation to actually look into every crackpot letter they received, including mine.

One time I emailed to complain about the selection of letters they printed on some topic -- basically they ran an absurd op-ed column (Dowd's actually, and I've never really liked her since. Wonkette in a suit.) and the next day ran a bunch of letters agreeing with it and like one or two disagreeing. I couldn't believe that (1) that many people agreed, or (2) that more people would bother to write a LTE saying "I agree" than an angry LTE saying "You're an idiot." (Who writes in to say "I agree"?!) Anyway, Okrent did write back personally, and said he checked with the letters editor and it did correspond roughly to the number they received on each side, and he basically didn't think it was worth his time to go through all the letters and count them for me so he was going to leave it at the letter editor's word.

So not like any action was taken or there was a tangible outcome, but it was nice to feel he'd actually checked on it. Same response on a couple other issues -- although sometimes just a note saying "we've received a lot of letters about this and are going to be addressing it in next week's column."

but if you raise specific issues, as you did here with Abramson, he ought to address them for you specifically. please let us know what he writes back (even if it's dismissive) -- it's nice to know how/if these guys function.


Good to have you back. Have you had a chance to take a look at the comments I made in the last post you made before you left re: the "Flame" name. Interested in your thoughts.

Reread your Plame leak magnum opus at dKos...

Some thoughts. Your feedback appreciated.

I wonder if the leak as we understand it now isn't really a matter of a "Plan B gone bad." It doesn't make sense that the top BushCo folks wouldn't understand the gravity of outing Plame themselves. They would first, I think, undertake a "Plan A" to undermine Wilson and/or his wife.

After all, they ALREADY had a mechanism in place (Hannah?<=> Wurmser?<=>Chalabi!) to feed Miller and others with information they themselves wanted to have published. Why wouldn't they attempt to use that mechanism first instead of getting themselves involved more visibly with reporters in the US?

I am struck by the seeming lonelines of Christopher Dickey in this matter. In a recent Newsweek online piece he all but tells us that Chalabi is his first choice as original leaker. But we're focused on Libby, Rove, Ari? (Interesting too: a close read of his piece, I think, makes it clear that he's not at all clear that the "Flame" spelling is a misspelling.}

So, what to make of this?

Perhaps 2 staged leak efforts at work. "Plan A" was to leak Plame's identify and undermine Wilson through sources more difficult to link to the White House. That effort was in motion when Wilson published his Times op-ed. The quick response of the White house to admit the SOTU 16 word error and take on the task of leaking themselves is evidence itself of how aware they were of the issue.

I'm wondering if the Wilson op-ed appearing in the Times (and they would have had a "heads up" that it was coming) didn't trigger the start of a not well thought through "Plan B".

So, when someone says Libby and Rove were leakers but there was still another leaker, the question to immediately ask is this: Are you talking about the "Plan A" leak effort or the "Plan B" leak?

I'm wondering if THAT wasn't the reason for Fitzgerald's subpoena for Judy being limited to July initially even when we now know that he knew about the June meeting: He didn't want the White House boys and girls to know that NOT ONLY was he on to their "Plan B" activities, he also knew some things about "Plan A".

I've looked a bit at the Chalabi home raid of May 2004. It's startling really to see how many players in various organizations were completely surprised by that event. I've read 10-15 news accounts of the raid and there are 10-15 different statement by officials as to WHO the folks were who did the raid. Clearly, an unexplained event. Any possibility the raiders were from Fitz? Raiders from Fitz (trying to get documents from Chalabi) certainly would support the existence a "Plan A" that didn't move fast enough.

I don't want to beat a dead horse. So, emptywheel, if you think that this "TreasonGate as a Plan B Gone Bad" theory is wrongheaded I'm happy to be done with it.

But another thing to consider...

The rumored flipping of Wurmser and Hannah is consistent with a Plan A/Plan B theory. The timing of the leak of the flip is also consistent with the theory: It occurs after the name "Flame" appearance in Judy's notebook and just before indictments. (See this that the name Flame was all Fitz needed from Judy.) It signals everyone that the WHOLE game is over... And not just the Plan B which involved domestic leaking... It involved leaking to a foreign power too. Time to make a deal.


I do need to go back and read your longer comments. I'm not quite caught up from having been gone.

I think your Plan A and Plan B makes some sense. But I would imagine it differently. That they first tried to leak through their most dependable outlet (Miller). Leaking to her, they wouldn't have to give any thought to how risky they were. She'd go to jail and even then maintain source security (she is still protecting a source, but I doubt it's Hannah and/or Wurmser). Also note, Judy's sources were almost always Senior Administration Officials, not Administration Officials. Meaning she probably got the leak from Libby, first and foremost. They may have tried to launder it otherwise, but I doubt they did to Judy.

And then Plan B is just what happens when 1) they don't have Judy (she can't publish the story), 2) a lot of reporters are responding to Wilson's op-ed, and 3) they're desparate for a way to reconquer the spin. So, they got sloppy.

Rainey has a an interesting background article today in the LA Times on Ms. Miller's context as a workmate, her living situation, and depicting the measurable access which she had to leadership monarchies and the like. I anticipated that branch of the NYT family would be the likeliest outlet for a first realistic vantage, following a comment in Mr. Keller's email a few days ago about the interegnum following the JBlair fiasco. Count me as a trusting individual who admires though rarely read the NY Times until the advent of the internet has shown once again it to be the premiere news source. Suppose you were Cheney and Rove's confidant peri-JBlair exodus; you might perceive a judoJournalism way to use the foremost mouthpiece of opposition reporting, through the instrumentality of giving partial tales or staged events to Ms. Miller. There is a give and take in reporting; golly, some journalists who interview a tongue-tied subject practically have to script the answers so the interviewee knows what to say on camera on the record. Even intellectual folks get nervous in those contexts. Post scripturally I will admit I read your visitor's topic page on the rodeo life aspect, nomme de web uzuzu or some such, cf. above; a wild ride that website is; it makes sense that it would take an AZ professor to access that wilde west spirit and get to the essence of the matter. Ride em cow-person.


I wasn't thinking of Wurmser and Hannah as the leakers to to Judy. I was thinking (like Christopher Dickey seems to be thinking) of Chalabi. Wurmser/Hannah are both said to have a close relationship with Chalabi and both rumored to have flipped. (The Bolton link to the Plame outing?)

It seems to me that Senior Administration officials must have understood there was a significant difference between setting Judy up with info from Chalabi about WMD and providing her with info about a CIA agent. So, I would think that the Plan A initial leaker to Judy would not have been someone so Senior. Only when it was absolutely necessary (to shift to Plan B) would they have wanted to get so involved themselves in the leak to reporters.

Take a look at this link for an analysis I did while you were away on the Valerie Plame name "Flame". The net of that analysis is that the behavior of Novak, Carville, and Fitzgerald tells us that the "Flame" name is significant.

The Plan A/Plan B theory, by the way, provides an explanation for the "Flame" name appearing in the same notebook that Judy's June conversation with Libby is written up in: The initial Plan A leaker provides the "Flame" name in some context and with some specific meaning and Judy is then following up with Libby to confirm and discuss. (Gotta' leave them reporters feelin' like they're a' doin' some real investigatin' work!)

I see in a comment in this thread that Judy was in Baghdad in May 2003. I assume she met with Chalabi. The work up on Wilson had begun in March, Wilson says, so there would have been plenty of time before she left Baghdad to get "filled in" on whatever info the workup called for her to be given as part of Plan A.

There are a couple other thoughts on this but my tin foil hat needs adjustment. More later if you think the above makes sense and is worth exploring further.

If y'all are hinting that Chalabi was the original source of the leak, doesn't that lously beg the question of how he knew?

...er, loudly; not lously.



You wrote:

"If y'all are hinting that Chalabi was the original source of the leak, doesn't that loudly beg the question of how he knew?"

Yes. Then the question is precisely the one you ask. That's why I mentioned that Wurmser and Hannah are said to have ties with Chalabi and have worked for Bolton and Cheney's office.

Interestingly, just this last week, the week before indictments are likely to appear, both Wurmser and Hannah are rumored to have flipped. Might that leak about their flipping have taken place to signal all participants that the WHOLE game was over? Not just the Plan B leak triggered by Wilson's NYT op-ed but the original Plan A leak also?

I've got more interesting bits and pieces to say about this that explains a couple of otherwise inexplicable important episodes in the Iraq story. But I'd like to get more feedback from emptywheel and others before I reveal how really over the edge my thinking has traveled.


I don't buy it.

You leak to Judy directly, and the whole thing has coverage under First Amendment privilege (presumably). You leak to Chalabi, and you can torture him to find out his source.

we've only recently come across this site (via google) and particularly emptywheel -- who we find lucid, thorough, compelling.

but in the case of abramson, emptywheel may be slightly off the mark.

it sounds implausible and would certainly try a cynic's patience, but even at the times, editors can be honestly mistaken, credulous, deceived or intimidated into regrettable and/or untenable positions, especially when a certain publisher is perceived as a certain reporter's confidante. benefactor. protector.

blair/raines was a notorious though less consequential example of patronage unrequited. but miller/sulzberger is the penultimate narrative of patronage RUN AMOK, of misplaced trust that also contributed to an unnecessary war.

current news media, particularly television, is infested with warlocks and witches of mass deception, our gender-neutral response to modo's "women of mass destruction." however, miller thrived as the times post-9/11 uber-witch for one and only one reason.

pinch started his career in the family business at the washington bureau roughtly coincident to miller's start at the same (about a year following miller). miller, with better academic pedigree and the street smarts of a hustler qua loan shark, apparently befriended pinch (drinking buddy and more?) while somehow earning the latter's seemingly eternal gratitude and dependence. the nature of this ostensibly fraternal bond proved enduring enough to ensure mutual ascendance up the times ladder.

that's why it's a mistake -- in our opinion -- to fixate on editorial mismanagement or accommodation as the prime reason for miller's ability to wreak what she wrought. at least one times staffer (anonymously) fingered sulzberger as the real host-culprit for ebola judy [ http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9787693/site/newsweek/ ]. when your publisher literally acts as miller's escort/bodyguard -- as sulzberger did when miller emerged from prison -- it's not too difficult to imagine the limits of raines', keller's, abramson's authority or autonomy to investigate, much less arrest the infection.

that pinch too was ultimately used & discarded by miller in service to her needs -- a prize-winning author fiercely protecting the credibility of her prize-winning book ("germs") using paper & employer to develop sequels and future works -- only amplifies the tragedy of invested though undeserved trust. if keller admits the times placed employee loyalty above the trust of its readers, then sulzberger risked the family empire on one scheming, perhaps blackmailing sister, as only the borgias or the medicis might appreciate such siblings.

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