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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Judith Miller: Tipping Off Terrorists for Fun or Profit?

It seems that Patrick Fitzgerald and Judith Miller have danced before. Marshall:
Fitzgerald had quite aggressively investigated another Bush White House leak in late 2001 and early 2002.  Fitzgerald had been investigating three Islamic charities accused of supporting terrorism -- the Holy Land Foundation, the Global Relief Foundation, and the Benevolence International Foundation.  But just before his investigators could swoop in with warrants, two of the charities in question got wind of what was coming and, apparently, were able to destroy a good deal of evidence.

What tipped them off were calls from two reporters at the New York Times who'd been leaked information about the investigation by folks at the White House.

One of those two reporters was Judy Miller.
Fitzgerald may be aware of a pattern of behavior regarding Judith Miller and her relationship to the White House that has made him entirely skeptical when she hides behind the skirts of the First Amendment. And although I'm with Kevin Drum and Skippy in my general discomfort about jailing journalists for not revealing their sources (whether there is privilege or not -- the potential to frighten legitimate leakers is very real), Fitzgerald may well have excellent reasons that nobody is aware of to presume Miller is simply covering her own ass and trying to fob herself off as a heroine of the free press in the process.

With so much riding on Fitzgerald, it's always made me nervous that he was the man appointed by Ashcroft's No. 2 in the Justice Department. But he appears to have pursued the whole case aggressively from the start, and the scope of the inquiry may be quite a bit larger than I was aware of, as Fitzgerald's attempts to secure Miller's 2001 telephone records at the NYT were, in fact, related to her involvement with these Islamic charities.

From the NYT:
The case began in late 2001, when federal agents were investigating two Islamic foundations for alleged ties to terrorists. On Dec. 3, 2001, Times reporter Judith Miller telephoned officials with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Texas-based charity accused of being a front for Palestinian terrorists, and asked for a comment about what she said was the government's probable crackdown on the group.

U.S. officials said this conversation and Miller's article on the subject in the Times on Dec. 4 increased the likelihood that the foundation destroyed or hid records before a hastily organized raid by agents that day. (my emphasis)
Several of the charities have ties to the Bush-beloved Saudis and have subsequently been indicted for supporting terrorist organizations, so there is ample reason to believe Unka Karl might well want to put the kibosh on that investigation, too.

I don't know if Miller is just a dupe or a willing tool, but she has an uncanny knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I am sleeping well these days with the hope that Fitzgerald's investigation will keep expanding and one day include, say, the Downing Street memos.

Whaddaya think, Patrick Fitzgerald's looking kind of handsome for a Republican, huh?

Update: I've been calling Fitzgerald a Republican but I guess he's not, he's registered as a nothing. Good article in the WaPo on him, he mostly just sounds like a complete unrelenting bulldog.