[Marxism] ARTICLE: Plame case: Meeting between Judith Miller and Scooter Libby - Aug 6, 2005.
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
Web Exclusive: 08.06.05
<http://www.prospect.org/web/printfriendly-view.ww?id=10077> | Email
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the
author. Direct questions about permissions to permissions at prospect.org
<mailto:permissions at prospect.org>.
More information about the Marxism