Judy Miller’s eagerly anticipated account of her grand jury testimony is published. Already there is enough commentary on the Blogosphere to fill a library.
And today there are new questions about whether Scooter Libby tried to keep Judy quiet. Pete Yost of the Associated Press writes today,
The dispute centers on year-ago conversations that the lawyer Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby had with one of Miller’s lawyers and on a letter from Libby to Miller last month regarding their talks in the summer of 2003 that touched on covert CIA officer Valerie Plame.
In urging her to cooperate with prosecutors, Libby wrote Miller while she was still in jail in September, “I believed a year ago, as now, that testimony by all will benefit all. … The public report of every other reporter’s testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame’s name or identity with me.”
One of Miller’s lawyers, Robert Bennett, was asked Sunday whether he thought Libby’s letter was an attempt to steer her prospective testimony.
“I wouldn’t say the answer to that is yes, but it was very troubling,” Bennett said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Our reaction when we got that letter, both Judy’s and mine, is that was a very stupid thing to put in a letter because it just complicated the situation,” Bennett said.
“It was a very foolish thing to put in a letter, as evidenced by the fact that you’re highlighting it here,” Bennett said. “It was a close call and she was troubled by it; no question about it.”
In today’s Times, Miller wrote that she’d been questioned on this point [emphasis added].
During my testimony on Sept. 30 and Oct. 12, the special counsel, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, asked me whether Mr. Libby had shared classified information with me during our several encounters before Mr. Novak’s article. He also asked whether I thought Mr. Libby had tried to shape my testimony through a letter he sent to me in jail. …
…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.
Mr. Fitzgerald also focused on the letter’s closing lines. “Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning,” Mr. Libby wrote. “They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.”
How did I interpret that? Mr. Fitzgerald asked.
In answer, I told the grand jury about my last encounter with Mr. Libby. It came in August 2003, shortly after I attended a conference on national security issues held in Aspen, Colo. After the conference, I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyo. At a rodeo one afternoon, a man in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses approached me. He asked me how the Aspen conference had gone. I had no idea who he was.
“Judy,” he said. “It’s Scooter Libby.”
That’s where Judy ends the article, btw. Very weird, if you ask me.
It seems to me Judy still has some ‘spainin’ to do; if not to Fitzgerald, then to the staff and readers of the New York Times. At Editor & Publisher, Greg Mitchell writes that the Times should fire Miller and apologize to its readers. Howard Kurtz writes at WaPo that the New York Times staff is upset and demoralized by the Judy Miller episode and doubt that the newspaper’s editors and executives are being, shall we say, transparent about what’s really going on. Be sure to read James Wolcott and Steve Gilliard, too.
Other commentaries of note:
Digby argues that the nature of the testimony must have caused Patrick Fitzgerald to at least consider the bogus WMD claims made by the Regime before the invasion.
Judy Hamsher at Firedoglake says Judy and Fitz must’ve played “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Arianna says it’s no clearer now exactly why Judy Miller went to jail.
John Aravosis at AMERICAblog writes that Libby undercut Bush.
Viveca Novak and Mike Allen write in Time that, if indicted, Karl Rove and other White House staff plan to either resign or take unpaid leave. This would apply to Scooter Libby as well. The article implies that this is Karl Rove’s plan, not President Bush’s plan, which seems odd. It’s as if they know the boss can’t make decisions; they have to be made for him.