Now that Judith Miller has been sprung – and reportedly about to cash in big time for her difficult time in jail, let's revisit those "Two Tense Weeks in July." When I posted this extended timeline a few weeks ago, it produced some perplexity. So, open up the timeline in another window and compare and contrast as we take another trip down memory lane in July, 2003.
Well, the reports on what Miller has told Patrick Fitzgerald helps fill in some more of the dots of this interesting intergovernmental/international/judicial flap. The Washington Post says:
Libby had a second conversation with Miller on July 12 or July 13, the source said, in which he said he had learned that Wilson's wife had a role in sending him on the trip and that she worked for the CIA. Libby never knew Plame's name or that she was a covert operative, the source said.
This is interesting, because if we go back to our timeline tracking the furious developments that were going on in both the U.S. and the U.K., we note that July 12, 2003, was the one of the two days not really accounted for in previous news stories. In between the first and second times Miller and Libby spoke, the following things occurred:
- On July 9, in the UK, Blair's government has orchestrated the outing of scientist David Kelly as the source of BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's explosive report that the Blair government "sexed-up" its Iraq intelligence dossier. In the U.S., Robert Novak talks with Karl Rove (Wilson's op-ed had appeared three days before).
- On July 11, George Tenet releases a statement asserting that the "16 words" about yellowcake uranium shouldn't have been in the president's State of the Union address. The same day, Karl Rove talks to Matt Cooper about, among other things, Joseph Wilson and his wife.
Which makes The Post's conclusion somewhat odd. In the original story posted on the Web, Friday, September 30, the paper's final paragraph reads:
"Miller's role had been one of the great mysteries in the leak probe. It is unclear why she emerged as a central figure in the probe despite not writing a story about the case."
In the full story in Saturday's paper, that passage is no longer there. Instead, there is the less speculative: "Miller never wrote an article on the matter."
Yet, even editing out the earlier passage, the question hangs in the air: Why was Miller behind bars for three months concerning sources to a story which that she never wrote about?
The answer is obvious: Judith Miller emerged as a central figure because she MADE herself a central figure and, arguably, BECAUSE she didn't "writ[e] a story about the case." This is the Judith Miller who, four days later, wrote words of encouragement to British scientist David Kelly: "David, I heard from another member of your fan club that things went well for you today. Hope it's true, J."
These don't seem like the words of a disinterested journalist. These are the words of someone who has some sort of interest in how a witness performs in a parliamentary hearing.
How is it that – two years later and after Judith Miller has spent 90 days in jail for refusing to cooperate with a criminal investigation – not one media organization has deemed it important to wonder: Who is the other "member of [Kelly's] fan club"? Is it Scooter Libby? Is it John Bolton (who visited Miller in jail and we know was questioned by the State Department Inspector General the same day Kelly's body was found)? Is it someone else? If it is indeed an American, exactly what is that person's interest in a British Parliamentary inquiry?
Judith Miller is the missing link between two different investigations. She's not a mere reporter. How do we know? Because, she has "reported" none of this.
Despite these multiple conversations with Libby, Miller never wrote about Joseph Wilson.
Despite the fact that she revealed the content of her e-mail to her Times editors – and one of her colleagues wrote about her receiving the "dark actors" e-mail – she never was inclined to pursue what drove a major source of hers to suicide.
Despite the fact that both Wilson and Kelly were critical actors in twin transatlantic challenges to the integrity of government assertions in the run-up to the Iraq War, Miller never offered even an analysis of what was occurring – even though it is clear that she was in close contact with individuals close to both controversies.
Despite the fact, that the challenges were about validity of intelligence related to weapons of mass destruction – journalistic turf that she had made her own in The New York Times.
And Miller wrote nothing about this in the days following either the Wilson op-ed (published in her own newspaper) or the suicide of an individual with whom her e-mail indicates she shares a familial intimacy that goes beyond the usual reporter-source relationship ("Hope it's true, J.")
Isn't this peculiar?
And, again: WHO is the "member of [David Kelly's] fan club" in a position to tell Judy Miller that "things went well for" him in his testimony on July 16th?
Upon which side of the Atlantic was that person?
The question is, will the true story ever come out?
If what Miller says is true in terms of the concession that Patrick Fitzgerald made to get Miller's testimony, the answer may be – probably not.
According to the transcript of her press conference after being released, Miller states:
Once I got a personal voluntary waiver [from my source], my lawyer...approached the special counsel to see if my grand jury testimony could be limited to the communications with the source from whom I had received that personal and voluntary waiver. The special counsel agreed to this, and that was very important to me...
...I know what my conscience would allow. And I was -- I stood fast to that.
Well isn't that interesting? Given that we know that her source (Lewis Libby) had essentially given her a full waiver a year before, the only thing that was different was that Fitzgerald finally allowed Miller to dictate the scope of the investigation! Wow!
A Washington observer with a keen sense of history told me, "That's like when Woodward and Bernstein expected Hugh Sloan, Treasurer for CREEP and former Halderman aide, to name names to the initial Watergate grand jury but he didn't. "Woodstein" were stunned and pissed off at Sloan until they learned the initial prosecutor never dreamed to inquire about anything beyond the the seven burglars."
If Fitzgerald made this major concession to Miller, he may have made it impossible to get a clear picture as to the full motives of the White House with respect to Joseph Wilson.
If that interest extended across the Atlantic into the BBC/Blair contretemps (and given Miller's role in both of them, that is not too wide a leap), Miller may have succeeded in shutting down that particular avenue.
NEXT: A deeper reading of the parallel challenges to the transatlantic "official stories."