Somebody somewhere is leaking faster than a Louisiana levee.
Today the NY Sun was leaked a bombshell letter by Special Council Patrick J. Fitzgerald (PDF) to Joseph Tate, Scooter Libby's lawyer, dated September 12, 2005.
It's really the first glimpse we've had as to how Fitzgerald is playing the players in this case, and it's fascinating. Several things immediately jump out:
In closing, let me be clear that I cannot, and am not, seeking to compel a communication from either Ms. Miller or Mr. Libby or their respective counsel, nor do I wish to be copied on any such correspondence or to participate in any such conversation.Therefore, my hunch was right. Fitzgerald would not have had the Libby/Miller letter that appeared in Saturday's NYT article by David Johnston and Doug Jehl until it was leaked.
I wish to make certain that you understand that if Mr. Libby maintains that his waiver is valid and he wishes to communicate that fact either through you or directly to Ms. Miller or her counsel (without discussing the substance of what her testimony might be), I would not view such communication as obstruction.Okay. In Libby's letter, he seems to be doing expressly that:
...I had voluntarily waived the confidentiality of discussions, if any, we may have had related to the Wilson-Plame matter.Libby is telling Judy what she can safely say. In direct contravention to what Fitzgerald communicated was acceptable without being coercive. This totally strengthens any case Fitzgerald may have already had against Libby.
Because, as I am sure will not be news to you, the public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me, or knew about her before our call.
If you can find a way to testify about discussions we had, if any, that relate to the Wilson-Plame matter, I remain today just as interested as I was a year ago.
[emphasis mine throughout]
Whoever had access to this letter also had access to Libby's letter. Whoever leaked the Libby/Judy letter was trying to fuck Libby. Further, whoever leaked this letter was trying to make sure it is publicly known that Libby is fucked.
The letter must've come from Tate's office -- as I've speculated the other leaked letters did. Fitzgerald was the only other party who would have had this particular letter, and his silence throughout -- which has provoked this Treasure of the Sierra Madre-like activity between the TraitorGate players -- means he most certainly did not leak this. And Tate is not trying to stab his own client. But WTF is up in his firm?
Reddhedd read the letter over too, and what jumped out at her was the fact that Libby's waiver on January 5, 2004 was presented to him by the FBI, and not by White House personnel. What Fitzgerald seems to be saying is that any claim by Libby to Miller that his waiver was coerced by his employer was therefore bullshit.
He also seems to be saying that he was aware there was a conversation between Tate and every other person Libby has touched in this mess, where Tate reasurred folks at the WaPo and NBC that Scooter had voluntarily given the waivers. If as (Judy Miller's attorney) Floyd Abrams was maintaining, Tate was telling him Libby's waiver to Judy was coerced, Fitzgerald was going to be looking at ol' Scooter's role in this awfully hard.
It's a delightful peek into the thumb screws Fitzgerald has applied to the whole ugly, brutal pack from the start, and also to watch him document the entire thing for the future benefit of a judge. As Reddhedd notes, "He's completely anal; this is totally the kind of prosecutor I love."
I spoke to Anthony Bouza yesterday, one of Fitzgerald's friends from college, who is an attorney here in Los Angeles. Bouza went to law school (and lived for three years) with James Comey and John Goggins, one of Fitzgerald's classmates in high school. It was Goggins who introduced Comey to Fitzgerald in the first place. (And for those late to the story, or struggling to keep up, Comey was the #2 at the Justice Department who finally went to Ashcroft and told him he had to recuse himself from the Plame case, and then appointed Fitzgerald to the Special Counsel job. He finally got sick of the Gonzo show and recently left for Lockheed-Martin.)
Bouza testified to the power of Fitzgerald's integrity and his toughness ("Pat's not the guy I would want coming after me"), but also noted that even in a world of very smart people at Amherst, Fitzgerald was considered extremely clever. He cited as evidence of this that Fitzgerald's tack of getting reporters to go to their sources to release them from confidentiality was his own innovation, and had not been done before. I got the feeling that this novel approach was something his lawyer friends were particularly impressed by. The thrust of the letter -- basically, "you don't have to release Judy Miller, but if you don't, I'm gonna assume she's in jail because you want her to be, dickhead" -- bears this out.
Okay, I added the dickhead. But you get the idea.
One final note. And I apologize for this in advance, so in light of how my post this morning grossed everybody out, I'm giving warning that the following thought is not pretty.
Fitzgerald's letter indicates that the July 8, 2003 meeting between Miller and Libby took place at the St. Regis Hotel. Now, I'm sure there are many fine restaurants at the St. Regis Hotel. But the fact that the tone of Scooter's letter was much more familiar than your pure reporter/source communique would ordinarily be ("Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work---and life"), combined with the NY Metro's account of Judy's history of working her way through the Washington establishment on her back, means that more people than just gutter-minded me will have to ask -- WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY DOING MEETING AT THE ST. REGIS HOTEL?
And that's the "eeeewwww" factor for the day.
(via Talk Left)
Update: More of a shameless plug, really. My story Judy/Times story is up on Yahoo. It's already got a 4.5 out of 5 score, so if you're feeling charitable, please vote for it. If not, well, go have a beer.