Sunday, October 16, 2005

The "Perverted War"--Miller's testimony

Ok, now we're getting somewhere. Judith Miller has now published an accounting (note: not a full accounting) of her meetings with Scooter Libby in spring 2003. While I still find it incredible that she can't remember who told her that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA (and in WMD intel, no less), Miller does advance the story a little further. Key points:
  1. Miller contradicts Libby's insistence that he did not discuss Joe Wilson's wife with reporters: "When I was last before the grand jury, Mr. Fitzgerald posed a series of questions about a letter I received in jail last month from Mr. Libby. The letter, two pages long, encouraged me to testify. "Your reporting, and you, are missed," it begins. Mr. Fitzgerald asked me to read the final three paragraphs aloud to the grand jury. "The public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me," Mr. Libby wrote. The prosecutor asked my reaction to those words. I replied that this portion of the letter had surprised me because it might be perceived as an effort by Mr. Libby to suggest that I, too, would say we had not discussed Ms. Plame's identity. Yet my notes suggested that we had discussed her job."
  2. Miller recalls Libby's (and the administration's) paranoia about the CIA; Libby accused the CIA and State Dept. Intel ("INR") agencies of "selective leaking" to distance themselves from the WMD intel that persuaded the country to invade Iraq. Libby described this as a "perverted war."
There was definitely some opportunistic confusion regarding Miller's security clearance: Miller's clearance was famously 'upgraded' by the Dept. of Defense (by either Rumsfeld or Douglas Feith) while embedded with the MET Alpha unit, the military team that was in charge of finding WMD in Iraq. Libby may have believed that Miller was still cleared to view certain classified documents even after the embed-stint was over. ---OR---Miller herself may have let Libby believe that she was still cleared to read highly classified stuff. This is terribly significant! [click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

Possible stuff #1: It is believed that Joe Wilson's wife was only referred to by her maiden name (Plame) in a classified State. Dept/INR document. Prosecutor Fitzgerald has been very focused on the distribution of this document, as it was famously passed around Air Force One on Bush's trip to Africa (i.e. prior to Novak's column). Miller doesn't appear to remember whether she saw this particular document herself, but that seems very fishy to me. If Libby shared its contents with a reporter (or reporters), he could be in for a whole heap of hurt.

Possible stuff #2:
There were two versions of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's WMD program: one published by all 9 intel agencies, which included dissenting views from the State INR, Dept. of Energy and some elements of the CIA & a version that was produced by the "White House Iraq Group" (Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, Libby, Steve Hadley et al) & Rumsfeld/Cheney's shadow-intel group over at the Pentagon ("Office of Special Plans"). This second document was stripped of all dissenting views and even included (strongly disputed) ties to al Qaida. Guess which one Congress based their Oct 2002 vote on? Guess which one Miller begged Libby to see? Of course, post- non - finding- of- WMD, all of the dissenters from the original National Intel estimate (State, Energy, CIA) went nuts and obviously wanted to remind the country (or, rather, tell the country for the first time!) that they were never certain that Iraq had WMD. And thus began the "perverted war."
Update [11:51 PM Oct 15, 2005]: Howard Kurtz points out two possible journalistic conflicts in Miller's account. Raw Story is reporting that Judith Miller will be taking an "indefinite leave of absence" from the NY Times.

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