• Will Judith Miller Talk?

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    Memo
    To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
    From: Jude Wanniski
    Re: Update on Plame Affair

    The only reason the Valeria Plame affair remains a big story is
    the small possibility that when U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald
    and the federal grand jury take action, any day now, it may reach
    into the Oval Office. That is, one or more indictments of government
    officials may lead to hard information that President Bush knew
    the Niger yellowcake story was pure propaganda, which helped him
    justify war with Iraq, when he used it in his 2003 State of the
    Union speech for that purpose.

    Fitzgerald has been keeping his cards close to his vest, but sources
    close to the story tell me they think the chances the story will
    touch the President are no more than 2 out of 10. Chances it may
    touch the Vice President have just increased because it has been
    learned that Scooter Libby, Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, met with
    Judy Miller of the NYTimes on July 8, 2003, two days after
    Joe Wilson published his column in the NYTimes. Miller is
    now in jail for refusing to testify on that conversation. In his
    column, Wilson charged the administration knew several months before
    that Bush address that the assertion Saddam was seeking to reconstitute
    his nuclear weapons program was a hoax, built around forged documents
    that the CIA knew had been forged prior to their use by the President.
    Mr. Bush at least altered his speech to the nation by saying it
    was the British who supplied to intelligence that Iraq was trying
    to buy nuclear material in Africa.

    Murray Wass of the American
    Prospect
    , reported on the meeting of Libby and Judith Miller
    in the liberal periodical's online edition yesterday. It was the
    first time I'd learned of the meeting. It was also the first time
    I'd learned that Miller does not have a personal waiver of confidentiality
    from Libby — of the kind that Time magazine's Matt Cooper
    got from Karl Rove, the President's closest political confidante.
    In the Wass report, he writes:

    In response to questions for this article, Catherine J. Mathis,
    a spokesperson for the Times, said, “We don’t have any
    comment regarding Ms. Miller’s whereabouts on July 8, 2003.” She
    also added, “Ms. Miller has not received a waiver that she believes
    to be freely given.” It is also unclear whether Miller would testify
    to Fitzgerald’s grand jury even if she were to receive such a
    personalized waiver from Libby. Her attorney, Floyd Abrams, said
    in an interview: “Judith Miller is in jail and at continued jeopardy.
    … I have no comment about what she might do in circumstances
    that do not now exist.”

    But numerous people involved in the case said in interviews for
    this story that a personalized waiver for Miller by Libby could
    potentially pave the way for Miller’s release. Miller’s testimony,
    in turn, might be crucial to a determination as to whether anyone
    might be criminally charged, and even to a potential end to the
    criminal investigation. At least two attorneys representing private
    clients who are embroiled in the Plame probe also privately questioned
    whether or not President Bush had encouraged Libby to provide
    a personalized waiver for Miller in an effort to obtain her cooperation.

    Wass also suggests
    the reason for Fitzgerald's delay in asking the grand jury for an
    indictment is that there are loose ends he must tie up by getting
    Judith Miller to testify, inferring that the President has to ask
    Scooter Libby to give her the personal waiver the Times indicates
    may be the chief barrier.

    It does seem unlikely to me that it is the chief barrier, for Fitzgerald
    could have gotten what he needed from Libby when Libby testified
    before the grand jury. It is more likely that Miller prefers jail
    to telling how she originally decided to take an interest in the
    Plame story. We can reasonably be assured that Miller got her information
    about Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame from Ahmed Chalabi, the
    Iraqi who provided most of the false information to the U.S. government
    about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Chalabi, now deputy
    prime minister in the Iraqi interim government, has been part of
    the neo-con network for decades, from the days he and Paul Wolfowitz
    were fellow students at the University of Chicago. A WorldNetDaily.com
    report of July 23, 2003, by Paul Sperry, mentioned her friendship
    with Laurie Mylroie, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
    who has also been doing the bidding of the neo-cons in promoting
    the Iraq war.

    In
    1990, Mylroie co-authored with Judith Miller another Iraq book
    called “Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf.” Miller is
    the New York Times reporter who broke, with another reporter,
    the blockbuster story last September that Hussein was trying to
    import aluminum tubing to restart a nuclear weapons program. The
    claim, which she attributed to unnamed Bush administration “hard-liners”
    and Iraqi defectors, was touted by Cheney and National Security
    Adviser Condoleezza Rice the day it appeared. But it’s now under
    serious dispute.

    Miller, who is close to Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith,
    another noted neocon, also broke the now widely discredited story
    that two trailers found in Iraq were disguised mobile bioweapons
    labs. It was recently revealed that the source of several of Miller’s
    Iraq stories was Ahmed Chalabi an Iraqi defector favored by the
    administration to replace Hussein, and one with whom Miller has
    had a 10-year relationship. U.S. intelligence officials tell WorldNetDaily
    the vast majority of the information Chalabi has provided on Hussein’s
    regime has proved to be unreliable or false. The CIA and FBI no
    longer rely on him as a source, they say.
    The surmise
    on antiwar internet websites has been that after Wilson wrote the
    Times piece, the White House decided there had to be damage
    control, and one piece of the story put out was that Wilson was
    not credible because he was a Democrat who had been sent to Niger
    by his wife, a CIA functionary involved in tracking WMD. Judith
    Miller might well have learned of the u201Cstoryu201D from Chalabi, who
    had been feeding her propaganda on Iraq for years that she had been
    dutifully reporting for the NYT. She could not report on
    this Chalabi u201Ctipu201D without verification, so she asked for the July
    8 meeting with Scooter Libby in the Veep's office. In that meeting,
    Libby would confirm the tip from Chalabi.

    Why didn't Miller write the story? Speculation is either she never
    intended to write about it, or that she knew it would endanger her
    career if she did, given where it might lead. The suspicions have
    reached a point where the American Society of Journalists and Authors,
    which had given her its Conscience in Media award for her willingness
    to go to jail to protect her sources, reversed
    itself
    . As reported in Editor & Publisher, the Society
    based its decision to withdraw the award u201Con its opinion that her
    entire career, and even her current actions in the Plame/CIA leak
    case, cast doubt on her credentials for this award.u201D

    We should see what comes out of the two-year inquiry by Fitzgerald
    within weeks, I'd imagine, and it should involve at least one indictment
    for all the time and money spent on the effort. More importantly,
    an indictment or two would stir the national press corps into another
    hunt for answers. If the war were going well, little of this would
    matter, but the war is not going well and does not look like things
    will improve.

    August
    8, 2005

    Jude
    Wanniski [send him mail]
    runs the financial/political advisory service Wanniski.com.

    Jude
    Wanniski Archives

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