Friday, September 30, 2005

Judy's Jailbreak

Judy's Jailbreak

After spending 85 days in a federal detention center, New York Times reporter Judy Miller was freed yesterday "after agreeing to testify about her conversations" with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. She will appear before the grand jury investigating whether anyone in the Bush administration "illegally leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media." Her testimony may shed light on "whether officials were truthful in their testimony to investigators and the grand jury." Miller had previously refused to testify but changed her mind after Libby "assured her in a telephone call last week that a waiver he gave prosecutors authorizing them to question reporters about their conversations with him was not coerced." Miller's appearance "throws a damaging spotlight once again on a White House whose credibility has been undermined in the criminal probe into the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity."

WHITE HOUSE INSISTED LIBBY WASN'T INVOLVED: Judy Miller has been in jail for 12 weeks because of her refusal to discuss conversations with Scooter Libby relating to the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. Miller's ordeal casts serious doubt on the truthfulness of White House claims that Libby had no involvement in the leak. On October 10, 2003, McClellan was asked, "Earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?" McClellan responded that Libby and the others were "not involved in this." As it turns out, Rove also had extensive involvement in the leak.

NEWS MEDIA HASN'T LEARNED THEIR LESSON: The news media have been repeatedly and intentionally mislead by the administration and its supporters about the Plame leak. Still, they can't stop going back to the well. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post today cite an anonymous source who "who believes that [Libby's] statements show he did nothing wrong," and who claims, "Mr. Libby did not know her name or her position at the agency and therefore did not discuss these matters with Ms. Miller." Are these the same sources that said Libby wasn't involved at all? Despite public promises to provide an explanation whenever possible, neither paper says why the source requested anonymity.

THE PROBLEM WITH FAIR AND BALANCED: In a transparent effort to "balance" their reporting on the leak scandal, the New York Times notes that neither Rove nor Libby "is known to have mentioned Ms. Wilson by name or to have mentioned her status at the C.I.A." That's true, but irrelevant. First, under the law, the issue isn't whether someone mentioned her by name, but whether someone revealed her identity. Second, Ms. Wilson was working under non-official cover representing herself as energy consultant. If someone discloses she works at the CIA, even if there was no mention of her covert status, that blows her cover.

ACTION BY FITZGERALD EXPECTED SOON: The term of the grand jury investigating the case expires on October 28. That means special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to wrap up his investigation soon, possibly with the criminal indictment of one or more key players. Bush has also pledged to act. In July 2004, Bush answered "'yes' when asked if he would fire anyone in his administration who leaked Plame's name."