[Marxism] ARTICLE: Plame case: Meeting between Judith Miller and Scooter Libby - Aug 6, 2005.

Ralph Johansen michele at maui.net
Sun Aug 7 02:53:31 MDT 2005


    The Meeting <http://www.prospect.org/web/view-web.ww?id=10077>
Scooter Libby and Judy Miller met on July 8, 2003, two days after Joe 
Wilson published his column. And Patrick Fitzgerald is very interested.

By Murray Waas 
<http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?name=View+Author&section=root&id=679>
Web Exclusive: 08.06.05

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I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick 
Cheney, has told federal investigators that he met with /New York Times/ 
reporter Judith Miller on July 8, 2003, and discussed CIA operative 
Valerie Plame, according to legal sources familiar with Libby's account.

The meeting between Libby and Miller has been a central focus of the 
investigation by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald as to whether 
any Bush administration official broke the law by unmasking Plame's 
identity or relied on classified information to discredit former 
Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, according to sources close to the case as 
well as documents filed in federal court by Fitzgerald.

The meeting took place in Washington, D.C., six days before columnist 
Robert Novak wrote his now-infamous column unmasking Plame as a "CIA 
operative." Although little noticed at the time, Novak's column would 
cause the appointment of a special prosecutor, ultimately place in 
potential legal jeopardy senior advisers to the president of the United 
States, and lead to the jailing of a /New York Times/ reporter.

The meeting between Libby and Miller also occurred during a week of 
intense activity by Libby and White House deputy chief of staff Karl 
Rove aimed at discrediting Plame's husband, Wilson, who on July 6, 2003, 
had gone public in a /New York Times/ opinion piece with allegations 
that the Bush administration was misrepresenting intelligence 
information to make the case to go to war with Iraq.

Miller was jailed in July -- two years to the day after Wilson’s /Times/ 
op-ed appeared -- for civil contempt of court after she refused to 
answer questions posed to her by Fitzgerald’s grand jury regarding her 
contacts discussing Plame with Libby and other Bush administration 
officials. Ironically, even though she never wrote a story about Plame, 
she has so far been the only person jailed in the case.

The new disclosure that Miller and Libby met on July 8, 2003, raises 
questions regarding claims by President Bush that he and everyone in his 
administration have done everything possible to assist Fitzgerald's 
grand-jury probe. Sources close to the investigation, and private 
attorneys representing clients embroiled in the federal probe, said that 
*Libby's failure to produce a personal waiver may have played a 
significant role in Miller’s decision not to testify about her 
conversations with Libby, including the one on July 8, 2003. *

Libby signed a more generalized waiver during the early course of the 
investigation granting journalists the right to testify about their 
conversations with him if they wished to do so. At least two reporters 
-- Walter Pincus of /The Washington Post/ and Tim Russert of NBC -- have 
testified about their conversations with Libby.

*But Miller has said she would not consider providing any information to 
investigators about conversations with Libby or anyone else without a 
more specific, or personal, waiver. Bill Keller, the executive editor of 
/The New York Times/, has previously said Miller had not been granted 
"any kind of a waiver … that she finds persuasive or believes was freely 
given." *

Libby has never offered to provide such a personalized waiver for 
Miller, according to three legal sources with first-hand knowledge of 
the matter. Joseph A. Tate, an attorney for Libby, declined to comment 
for this story.

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*.

In a memorandum distributed to White House staff members shortly after 
the investigation became known, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who 
at the time was White House counsel, wrote, "The president has directed 
full cooperation with this investigation." Bush himself said: "[I]f 
there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And 
if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of."

Congressman Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and a member of the House 
Intelligence Committee, while sidestepping the specifics as to whether 
Bush should order Libby to provide a personalized waiver for Miller, 
said in an interview Friday evening: "I would say the president has the 
power to help us get to the bottom of this matter. And we in Congress 
want to do this not so much for what has happened but to prevent such a 
thing from happening again."

Just how crucial Miller's testimony -- most notably her meeting with 
Libby -- might be to concluding Fitzgerald's investigation is best 
underscored in part by a filing in federal court last March that his 
investigation had been "for all practical purposes complete" as long as 
six months earlier, except for the potential testimony of Miller and 
/Time/ magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper.

The investigation had become “stalled,” Fitzgerald asserted, almost 
entirely by the refusal of Miller and Cooper to testify. Declaring that 
“[t]he public's right to have this investigation concluded diligently 
should be delayed no further," Fitzgerald sought the jailing on civil 
contempt of court charges of both Miller and Cooper.

Facing civil penalties, /Time/ magazine abruptly reversed course and 
turned over its confidential notes to Fitzgerald, while Cooper testified 
to the federal grand jury about his conversations with Rove, Libby, and 
others regarding Plame and Wilson. In contrast, Miller refused to 
cooperate with prosecutors and was ordered to jail.

*More specifically, the importance prosecutors attach to learning what 
occurred during Miller's meeting with Libby is illustrated by a subpoena 
by Fitzgerald's grand jury of Miller on August 20, 2004, for "any and 
all documents (including notes, e-mails, or other documents) relating to 
any conversations, occurring on or about July 6, 2003 to on or about 
July 13, 2003, between Judith Miller and a government official whom she 
met in Washington D.C. on July 8, 2003, concerning Valerie Plame Wilson." *

Miller was also ordered to bring to the grand jury "*documents provided 
to Judith Miller by such government official on July 8, 2003."*

Details of the subpoena to Miller were first disclosed in a story in 
/Newsday/ by reporter Tom Brune.

In an affidavit prepared by Miller to respond to the request, Miller 
said she "did not receive any documents" from the person she met, but 
declined to say who the person was that she met on July 8.

In subsequent court papers filed in federal court by attorneys for 
Miller and /The New York Times/, the newspaper said that Miller "had no 
documents responsive" to Fitzgerald's request of any documents given to 
her on July 8, 2003.

*But Miller's affidavit and other court filings by the /Times/ -- and 
the narrow language contained therein -- did not say whether Miller 
might have read or reviewed any documents that might have brought to the 
July 8, 2003, meeting. *

And an attorney in private practice who once worked closely with 
Fitzgerald while both men were federal prosecutors said that the 
specific nature of Fitzgerald’s request was a "good indication that 
[Fitzgerald] has specific information ... or perhaps even a witness who 
saw, or had other information" that Libby "might have brought documents 
to the meeting with Miller."

In her affidavit, Miller also asserted: "I have never written an article 
about Valerie Plame or Joe Wilson. I did however contemplate writing one 
or more articles in July 2003, about issues related to Ambassador 
Wilson's op-ed piece. In preparation for those articles, I spoke and/or 
met with several potential sources. One or more of those potential 
sources insisted as a precondition to providing information to me, that 
I agree to maintain the confidentiality of their identity."

The Libby-Miller meeting and the publication of Novak's column unmasking 
Valerie Plame as a CIA "operative" came during an intensive period of 
time while senior White House officials were scrambling to discredit her 
husband, former Ambassador Wilson, who was then asserting that the Bush 
administration had relied on faulty intelligence to bolster its case to 
go to war with Iraq.

Wilson had only recently led a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger to 
investigate claims that Saddam Hussein was covertly attempting to buy 
enriched uranium from the African nation to build a nuclear weapon. 
Wilson reported back that the allegations were most likely the result of 
a hoax.

But President Bush had still cited the Niger allegations during his 2003 
State of the Union address as evidence that Hussein had an aggressive 
program to develop weapons of mass destruction.

When Wilson sought out White House officials believing they did not know 
all the facts, he was rebuffed. He then went public with his criticism 
of the Bush administration. It was then that senior administration 
officials began their campaign to discredit Wilson to counter his 
criticisms of them.

Rove and Libby, and to a lesser extent then-deputy National Security 
Council (NSC) adviser Stephen J. Hadley (who is currently Bush's NSC 
adviser), directed these efforts. Both Rove and Libby discussed with 
Novak, Cooper, and other journalists the fact that Wilson's wife worked 
for the CIA, and that she was responsible for sending him to Niger, in 
an effort to discredit him.

The manner by which Rove and Libby learned of Plame's employment as a 
CIA employee before they shared that information with journalists is 
central to whether any federal criminal laws regarding classified 
information were violated. Rove and Libby have reportedly claimed that 
they learned of the information from journalists.

But investigators have focused on whether Rove or Libby rather first 
learned about Plame's CIA employment and her possible role in 
recommending that her husband be sent to Niger from a classified State 
Department memo circulated to senior Bush administration officials in 
the days just prior to their conversations with journalists.

Dated June 10, 2003, the memo was written for Marc Grossman, then the 
undersecretary of state for political affairs. It mentioned Plame, her 
employment with the CIA, and her possible role in recommending her 
husband for the Niger mission because he had previously served in the 
region. The mention of Plame's CIA employment was classified "Secret" 
and was contained in the second paragraph of the three-page classified 
paper.

On July 6, 2003, Wilson published his /New York Times/ op-ed and 
appeared on /Meet the Press/. The following day, on July 7, the memo was 
sent to then-secretary of state Colin L. Powell and other senior Bush 
administration officials, who were scrambling to respond to the public 
criticism. At the time, Powell and other senior administration officials 
were on their way to Africa aboard Air Force One as members of the 
presidential entourage for a state visit to Africa.

Rove and Libby apparently were not on that trip, according to press 
accounts. But a subpoena during the earliest days of the Plame 
investigation demanded records related to any telephone phone calls to 
and from Air Force One from July 7 to July 12, during Bush's African visit.

On July 8, Novak and Rove first spoke about Plame, according to numerous 
press accounts. That was also the day that Libby and Miller met in 
Washington, D.C., to discuss Plame.

On July 9, then-CIA director George Tenet ordered aides to draft a 
statement that the Niger information that the President relied on "did 
not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for the 
presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was 
removed." Rove and Libby were reportedly involved in the drafting of 
that statement’s language.

Three days later, on July 11, Rove spoke about Plame to Cooper.

On the following day, July 12, an administration official -- apparently 
not Rove or Libby -- told /Washington Post/ reporter Walter Pincus that 
Wilson was sent to Niger on the recommendation of his wife. But Pincus 
has said that he did not publish a story because he “did not believe it 
true.”

Two days later, on July 14, Novak published his column disclosing 
Plame's employment with the CIA, describing her as an "agency operative" 
and alleging that she suggested her husband for the Niger mission.

According to Novak's account, it was he, not Rove, who first broached 
the issue of Plame's employment with the CIA; Rove at most simply said 
that he, too, had heard much the same information. Rove had provided a 
similar account to investigators.

On July 17, /Time/ magazine posted its own story online, which said: 
"[S]ome government officials have noted to /Time/ in interviews ... that 
Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the 
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have 
suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched to 
Niger."

Because the information in the classified State Department memo and what 
was reported in Novak's column and the /Time/ story were so strikingly 
similar, investigators have vigorously pursued whether Rove, Libby, and 
others learned of her CIA employment either from the memo, someone else 
in the administration, or other classified references to Plame 
circulating within the White House.

Fitzgerald's staff and grand jury have queried a slew of Bush 
administration officials as to who received and read the classified 
State memorandum; whether Rove or Libby learned that Plame was employed 
with the CIA either directly from the memorandum or from others who had 
read it; and whether any reporters had conversations regarding the 
matter with Rove and Libby.

Libby has reportedly told Fitzgerald that he first learned of Plame's 
identity from NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert. But Russert has 
told investigators that he never told Libby about Plame. Rove said that 
he first learned the information from his conversation with Robert Novak.

By saying that they learned the information from reporters, the stakes 
are dramatically raised for the two White House aides: If it turns out 
that it can be shown that they learned the information from a classified 
source, such as the State Department memo, they could be in legal 
jeopardy for disclosing classified information. And if they misled 
investigators or the federal grand jury on that question, that trouble 
could be compounded.

*The one person with some of the answers as to whether Libby is telling 
the truth very well may be Judith Miller. But she currently is 
incarcerated in an Alexandria jail. Lewis Libby appears to have the 
ability to ascertain Miller’s release by simply signing a specific, 
personal waiver that she disclose what she knows. *

*But Libby does not appear to be willing to do that. *

*And the president of the United States -- at whose pleasure Libby 
serves and who has vowed to do everything possible to get to the truth 
of the matter -- does not appear to be likely to direct Libby to grant 
such a waiver any time soon. *

/Murray Waas is an investigative reporter. He will be reporting further 
about the Plame grand jury on his blog, Whatever Already 
<http://whateveralready.blogspot.com/>./

Copyright © 2005 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: 
_Murray Waas, "The Meeting", The American Prospect Online, Aug 6, 2005_. 
This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for 
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