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November 05, 2005


Bravo, you have cut through the veils of deception. Of course, proving this is next to impossible, but clearly the NYT was complicit in a crime of national security.

As I've argued to the point of delirium . . . These are fevered times. Thanks for all the insights. Very impressive.


Re this quote from JM's article:
"Before the grand jury, Mr. Fitzgerald asked me questions about Mr. Cheney. He asked, for example, if Mr. Libby ever indicated whether Mr. Cheney had approved of his interviews with me or was aware of them. The answer was no."

It appears you interpreted this to mean "before she gave testimony" to the grand jury. Could "before the grand jury" mean "in front of" the grand jury?

Also, was she giving some kind of heads up to her good buddies at the WH of where PF was leading the grand jury? Was this her way of replying to the Aspen note, informing her sources (multiple) at the WH that PF had Tricky Dick The Sequel in his crosshairs?


Yeah, good point, you may be right.

One of the main reasons I read it as I did is because the next paragraph begins, "In my grand jury testimony," suggesting a contrast between "before" and "in." But yours us just as possible.

The other reference to CHeney is in the introduction. She says,

During my testimony on Sept. 30 and Oct. 12, the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, asked me whether Mr. Libby had shared classified information with me during our several encounters before Mr. Novak's article. He also asked whether I thought Mr. Libby had tried to shape my testimony through a letter he sent to me in jail last month. And Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether Mr. Cheney had known what his chief aide was doing and saying.

Which suggests your reading is correct.

And yeah, she absolutely was giving Libby a heads up with this article. Which is part of the reason her lawyers (see part one) didn't want her to write it. Plus, if someone from Judy's team shared her testimony with Tate so Tate could do selective leaking of his own (about the July 12 AF2 trip), they went pretty far out on a limb to make sure Libby knew what she said.

emptywheel --

Is your PhD in lit or a related field? I'm struck by the particular toolkit you're using, examining narrative voices.

I suspect, though, that there's another reason why Fitz stayed away from charging the underlying offenses - namely to keep Plame herself and her activities as much out of his case as possible. Why? Because that is a subject the CIA would much rather not talk about.

The CIA has two contradictory interests here. On the one hand, they want to enforce the principle that you don't burn agents. On the other hand, they want to minimize the damage and keep more from coming out than already has. I seem to recall past cases where espionage charges were dropped to avoid presenting highly classified evidence in open court.

So, for the CIA this is the best of both worlds - sanction the leakers without making it easier for foreign intel services to walk back the cat on Plame's activities.

-- Rick

I think this sentence -- which pithily summarizes what you have detailed rpeviously -- definitely nails it:
"I think in the end, Judy tried to give the testimony Libby wanted her to, within the limits dictated by the notes Fitzgerald was looking at."
I have a long post that I never got around to finishing endeavoring to do in essence what you have done here -- trace Libby's letter and other acts of apprarent witness-tampering, Judy's obfuscatory account of her testimony, and the limited uses of her testimony in the indictment in an effort to see exactly how far the obstruction actually worked.
Like you, I concluded that Libby's efforts at telegraphy were mostly successful. For instance, she makes it clear that she did not give testimony that Libby revealed Plame's name or covert status.
I agree that she tried to do what she can within the space allowed by her notes (which made certain things untenable, such as continuing to conceal the June meeting). Thus, she didn't drop the dime on Libby for naming Plame or expressly revealing her covert status because (I'm sure to Libby's delight), she didn't happen to write those things down. "My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr. Wilson's wife by name. Nor do they show that he described Valerie Wilson as a covert agent ...."
Like you and others, I was struck by the strangely detached narrative voice Judy uses in parts of the piece (although until your piece I hadn't really realized that there is in truth a cacophony of different narrative voices -- eaach unreliable in its own way, to be sure -- as to which you offer a helpful taxonomy. But I am most interested in the one she uses when dealing with some of the most uncomfortable (for Libby and thus for her) issues or parts of the notes. In these passages, Judy sounds not like the author of notes of critical converstaions concerning a hot, hot set issues, but more like an archaeologist who has just discovered some difficult-to-decipher fragments of ancient Sumerian poetry and is attempting to translate the obscure writings from a time and place that neither she nor her reader can hope to fully understand.
My explanation, and my only real effort here to advance the discussion, is this: After she got busted trying to conceal the June meeting and then coughed up the notes, she feigned an initial lack of recollection of the June meeting in particular (by "initial" I mean, before the dramatic moment when Fitz whacked her with his knowledge of the meeting and she, I'm sure, had to duck out to talk to Bennet -- as well as change her soiled drawers). I think Judy took this tack principally as a means of trying to avoid being nailed for perjury, but the strategy also had the happy (for her) side effect of allowing her to minimize the damage that her testimony would do to Scooter.
After (in Jane's felicitous word) the "bustado" moment, she coughed up the notes -- likely per Bennett's strenuous urging -- authenticated them, and testified as to their contents with *virtually* (an important qualifier here) no exegesis, just like she did in her piece (which is, to be sure, radically incomplete). This studied detachment from the notes was purely tactical. If she offered too much interpretation and context, she would have to either (a) rat out Dear Scooter by spilling the truth (unlikely in the extreme) or (b) venture definitive lies about what was or was not said (risky in the extreme) -- and in either case she would throughly undermine the already tenuous memory-loss defense that she is hoping will get her out a perjury or obstruction charge. Her (and Bennett's) gamble is that by giving Fitz the notes, authenticating them and testifying as to what the "notes indicate" happened, she will have co-operated enough to avoid being prosecuted herself. (I don't like her odds, however; as you point out, it is clear that Fitz -- for obvious reasons -- does not want to build a perjury case on the friable foundation of Miller's testimony. And if I were him, I'd still be plenty plenty pissed at her.)
The notable exceptions to the general lack of interpretation and context on the part of Judy are her efforts -- within the geneeral context of her feigned memory-loss and the limitations provided by the notes themselves -- to hew to the key defensive points that Libby telegraphed to her. So she doesn't testify definitively that Libby gave her the "Flame" name, but she doesn't definitively deny it either. She can't. She's boxed in by her own self-protective "I don't recall" strategy. (It's very hard to prove someone's lying when they say they don't remember things.) So, as Judy relates, she she told the grand jury that she didn't *believe* that Scooter gave her that name -- but mind you, she doesn't base this surmise on her memory; instead she carefully bases that statement on the structure of her notebook.
The one place where Judy does rather drop the dime on Libby though is (partially) with the love letter. In reference to what I think is the most damning portion of Scooter's letter from an obstruction standpoint (the infamous "the public report of every other reporter's testimony" line, which is sandwiched between statements about her testimony being helpful to him), she replies that she was "surprised" at that line because (oh, dear me), "it might be perceived as an effort by Mr. Libby to suggest that I, too, would say we had not discussed Ms. Plame's identity." She didn't really have to say that, but the fact that she did, I believe, cements the notion that when that letter hit Bennett's (and Folyd's) desk(s), they blew gaskets because it was such an obvious attempt at shaping the testimony that it was like Scooter and tate lobbing a hand grenade in their laps. Bennet and Abrams made damn sure that their client put as much distance as she could from that letter (although they apparently didn't get her to actually tell the truth).


Yeah, it was kind of lit, journalism, politics, in a couple of different languages. But I did my share of narrative analysis, yeah.


Interesting points. When I first read this letter--quickly--my first impression was that Judy decided to trade support for an obstruction charge (the "I was surprised" comment you point out) for suport for a conspiracy charge that would reach back to Dick. Also, note that she truncates the quote from Libby's letter to leave out the "or already knew of her identity." Not sure why she did that, though.

Fabulous as always EW.

I just want to note a question I have about Miller's sources.

The first from WAAS. Murray Waas has had different sources than any of the other reporters. Waas heard from his source that Miller talked to others in the administration about Plame. My guess is that someone other than Libby testified that they spoke to Miller. Waas has reported acurately on the testimony so far.

Miller had spent 85 days in jail for contempt of court for refusing to testify before the grand jury about her conversations with Libby and other Bush administration officials regarding Plame.

And this from a 6/05 LATimes story.Sorry about the link, this is the only place hosting the story I can find. This looks like Miller remembers more about her other sources than she admits. Has Fleitz been a Miller source previously?

Miller would not ask her sources to waive their anonymity. She said intelligence officials might feel coerced into admitting they had talked to a reporter.


Well, she admits here that she had talked to other sources, right? I don't doubt that. I just have no idea how to figure out who they were. I'd be inclined to believe it was Bolton (and maybe then Fleitz) rather than Fleitz alone. After all, Judy is so swell she can order the VP's top deputy to research her story for her. She'd expect her leaks from the Under Secretary of State, rather than his Chief of Staff.

Also, they seemed to be trying to spin stories about Wilson's previous trips--his 1999 trip (about which we know little--he went under cover of a private business trip, I think, but the CIA did ask him to check something out), as well as his 2002 trip. So Judy may have talked to someone about that.

But yeah, I agree absolutely. She talked with several more people about this. Don't know who is witness to that, though. And I do wonder how Fitz can be so positive that Libby was the first to leak this to someone outside of the WH, to Judy.


One more word on Fleitz. I'm not sure if you happened to see this story from Raw Story, in it they claim that Fleitz is the CIA official who told Libby about Plame. I'm not sure how reliable they are, but this story seems very specific so who knows.

The attorneys also said that Frederick Fleitz, Bolton's chief of staff and concurrently a senior CIA Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control official, supplied Bolton with Plame's identity. Bolton, they added, passed this to his aide, Wurmser, who in turn supplied the information to Hannah.

Upon receiving this information, Libby asked Bolton for a report on Wilson's trip to Niger, which Wilson presented orally to the CIA upon his return. Fleitz was one of a handful of officials who was in a position to know Plame's maiden name, the sources said.

Fleitz is named in the indictment as an unnamed CIA senior officer, they added.

Note the report mentioned is not the INR memo, it is Wilson's report after his trip to Niger.

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