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Friday, September 30, 2005

It's Miller Time!

Within moments after the announcement that Judith Miller had been released from jail and was going to testify tomorrow before the TraitorGate grand jury, the NYT posted a lengthy article by David Johnston and Doug Jehl regarding the events leading up to her liberty.

In the article, they confirm that as Jeralyn Merritt has long speculated, Scooter Libby was Miller's source (or at least one of them). It has been known that Miller met with Libby on July 8, 2003, and spoke with him a week later. They then go on to claim that Miller had never been satisfied by the fact that the waiver Libby gave her was not coerced, but that Libby finally assured her personally that everything was okay, and Miller now feels good about talking about it.

What a load of crap. Who do I look like, Curveball?

Two Washington Post reporters (Glenn Kessler and Walter Pincus) testified last year under a waiver of confidentiality granted by Libby. So did Time's Matt Cooper. Libby says he granted the same waiver to Miller more than a year ago. And yet St. Judy, the Martyr of Times Square, decided to squat in jail for 85 days, and only then talk to Libby on the phone to confirm that the waiver was "freely given." And now, thanks of that one phone call, she's ready to spill her guts to the grand jury? Does this make sense?
No, it doesn't. Something's rotten, and the writers of the story seem to know it and hint at the fact that this is merely the latest chapter in Miller's running line of First Amendment bullshit:
Ms. Miller said she believed the agreement between her lawyers and Mr. Fitzgerald "satisfies my obligation as a reporter to keep faith with my sources."
Yeah, we see your big quotation marks, boys. But here's the part that on the surface really bugs:
Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said that Mr. Fitzgerald had assured Ms. Miller's lawyer that "he intended to limit his grand jury interrogation so that it would not implicate other sources of hers."
Now, Keller is a walking dirtbag who -- according to the article -- still refuses to say whether Miller was working on a Plame story for the NYT at all, which if she was not would entitle her to lay about as much claim to First Amendment protection in the matter as I would have for failing to bag my dog shit in the park. But there is no reason to doubt that he's telling the truth here, which means that if Miller did have other sources -- say, John Bolton -- she doesn't have to testify about them.

That's an ouch at first glance.

But here is what we know about the sequence of events:

1. Early August, Bolton visits Judy in jail.

2. Late August, Judy's lawyers start playing Lets Make a Deal. She now has Robert Bennett negotiating for her (which explains why dithering Floyd Abrams could tell Reuters two weeks ago that he had never spoken with Fitzgerald's office). Bennet begins discussions with Libby's attorney Joseph Tate in some weird kabuki designed to provide cover for Saint Judith's much-vaunted "principles" (*cough* *cough*).

3. Two weeks ago, Judy obtains a "satisfactory waiver."

4. Somewhere in here, Judy cuts a deal with Fitzgerald that limits her testimony to Libby. He probably gets some sort of signed statement from her before letting her hit the streets and run into, say, Karl Rove. At the same time, Bennett says they have agreed to turn over "edited versions of notes taken by Ms. Miller about her conversations with Mr. Libby."

5. Fitzgerald now has two corroborating sources (one presumably being Matt Cooper, who testified in August 2004 that he spoke with Libby) attributing their information to the ill-suited-for-life-in-the-pen-with-a-nickname-like-that Scooter.

Jehl and Johnston indicate that sources within the Times "urged Ms. Miller to testify," by saying that executives of the Times refused to identify who those sources were. Emptywheel speculates that with Fitzgerald leaning on the Times and the Times going soft and getting ready to turn over their materials just like Time Magazine did, it would've been enough to convict Judy on conspiracy charges had she not agreed to testify.

Much more plausible.

In her musings regarding the Libby/Miller connection, Jeralyn has always speculated that Libby's involvement may lead straight back to WHIG -- the White House Iraq Group -- that Libby was a part of (it also included Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, James R. Wilkinson and Nicholas Calio). I've written before that Fitzgerald has reportedly subpoenaed notes and records from WHIG, and Jeralyn thinks this is why Judy's testimony could be so damning to more than just Libby:
I think the issue is, did Libby tell Miller about a meeting he was at with Dick Cheney - or other members of the White House Iraq Group - at which a plan to discredit Joseph Wilson using his wife's CIA status was hatched? It's seeming more and more likely.
And Fitzgerald probably has more than anybody knows. An angry George Tenet has reportedly been "cooperating" with the investigation. And Fitzgerald may, as emptywheel suggests, already have Bolton and not need Miller to get there. There has been ample evidence that the 1600 crew has turned into every man for himself these days, and being the inveterate bunch of serial liars that they are the possibility that a good prosecutor can pry apart the network of coverups woven by this bunch of corrupt fuckheads is still, to my mind, a pretty strong one.

If he can just get 'em taking aim at each other -- my oh my, wouldn't the show be on.

See ya in the morning, this is getting good.

Update: Wapo: "One lawyer said it could become clear as early as next week whether Fitzgerald plans to indict anyone or has negotiated a plea bargain."

Update II: Digby: "Do you think that Fitzgerald was impressed with Judy's "principles" or her desire for a super-special-in-person-blood-oath waiver from Scooter? Right. He didn't do this for meaningless testimony or just for fun. He got something important."

(graphics love to Billmon)