Saturday, October 15, 2005

Valerie Flame? F-that!

I call B.S. on that NY Times account of Judy Miller's role in the Plame scandal. The "Queen of All Iraq," Judy Miller, claims that she can't recall how Joe Wilson's wife made it into her reporter's notebook ('cept it was spelled "Flame" instead of "Plame"). She pleaded amnesia to the spec. prosecutor, Fitzgerald, and has ostensibly been cleared of any contempt-of-court charges. She is now free to "tell all" but--so far--it looks like a whole lotta nothing. Miller claims that the "Flame" source was not Scooter Libby but somebody else--whom she can't recall.

I will give the actual authors of the Times article (Don van Natta jr., Adam Liptak and Clifford J. Levy) some teeny-tiny credit: they finally come forward with what has long been suspected. Judy is a crap reporter and difficult to control. Her bogus, Chalabi & Curveball-filled accounts of weapons that didn't exist are a blight on the paper. They don't say that as such, but it comes through loud & clear, anyway [click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]:

"Inside the newsroom, she was a divisive figure. A few colleagues refused to work with her." [...] "Douglas Frantz, who succeeded Mr. Engelberg as investigative editor, recalled that Ms. Miller once called herself "Miss Run Amok." "I said, 'What does that mean?' " said Mr. Frantz, who was recently appointed managing editor at The Los Angeles Times. "And she said, 'I can do whatever I want.' " [...] "In two interviews, Ms. Miller generally would not discuss her interactions with editors, elaborate on the written account of her grand jury testimony or allow reporters to review her notes." [...] "While criticism of Ms. Miller's Iraq coverage mounted, Mr. Keller waited until May 26, 2004 to publish an editors' note that criticized some of the paper's coverage of the run-up to the war. The note said the paper's articles on unconventional weapons were credulous. It did not name any reporters and said the failures were institutional. Five of the six articles called into question were written or co-written by Ms. Miller."

So what exactly happened between Libby & Miller in June 2003, ~3 wks before Robert Novak reported on the leaked CIA operative's name?

"On June 23, 2003, Ms. Miller visited Mr. Libby at the Old Executive Office Building in Washington. Mr. Libby was the vice president's top aide and had played an important role in shaping the argument for going to war in Iraq. He was "a good-faith source who was usually straight with me," Ms. Miller said in an interview. Her assignment was to write an article about the failure to find unconventional weapons in Iraq. She said Mr. Libby wanted to talk about a diplomat's fact-finding trip in 2002 to the African nation of Niger to determine whether Iraq sought uranium there [Joe Wilson, wife of Valerie Plame-Wilson]."
[...] "Mr. Libby was already defending Vice President Dick Cheney, saying his boss knew nothing about Mr. Wilson or his findings. Ms. Miller said her notes leave open the possibility that Mr. Libby told her Mr. Wilson's wife might work at the agency. On July 8, two days after Mr. Wilson's article appeared in The Times, the reporter and her source met again, for breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel, near the White House. The notebook Ms. Miller used that day includes the reference to "Valerie Flame." But she said the name did not appear in the same portion of her notebook as the interview notes from Mr. Libby. During the breakfast, Mr. Libby provided a detail about Ms. Wilson, saying that she worked in a C.I.A. unit known as Winpac; the name stands for weapons intelligence, nonproliferation and arms control."

And yet Miller never wrote about Joe Wilson's CIA-operative wife in the Times. Why not? Judy claims that she was waved-off of the story by an un-named editor at the paper:

"Ms. Miller said in an interview that she "made a strong recommendation to my editor" that a story be pursued. "I was told no," she said. She would not identify the editor. Ms. Abramson, the Washington bureau chief at the time, said Ms. Miller never made any such recommendation."

This whole thing stinks. I was gonna add a bunch of links to other Plame articles but none of them really advance the story. I'm just as snookered as the next guy. Why wasn't Libby's waiver good enough for Miller before she went to jail? Who are Miller's other sources? Why did they meet well before Wilson ever wrote his op-ed, "What I didn't find in Africa"? Why does everyone keep saying that Rove & Libby could be cleared because they didn't give out the name of Joe Wilson's wife--the man only has one wife! The mystery wasn't that he was married to a nice blond lady; it was that the blond lady was a CIA operative!

God, I hope some of these people go to jail. You know in your gut that Rove and Libby are guilty but it goes much deeper than that. Here's the 3-second water cooler version: "It's the uranium, Stupid!" Who wanted to spread the fantasy-uranium-in-Iraq story at all costs? There's your guilty party. Better book them a big room.

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