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Judy Miller’s Confession; wading through the rubbish for a grain of truth by Mike Whitney

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If you plan on reading Judy Miller’s long and circuitous apology in the New York Times Sunday edition, bring your hip-waiters. The obfuscating manure is knee-deep and bound to stymie even the most curious reader.

Miller’s a slippery customer, but a picture is slowly developing of someone who was deeply involved in White House maneuverings to discredit Joseph Wilson.

It’s clear now that Dick Cheney’s right-hand man, Scooter Libby provided Miller with the name of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame. Plame’s name appears at least twice in the notebook Miller used when she interviewed Libby although she pretends that she cannot remember whether or not he furnished the name.

It’s also clear that Libby tried to coerce Miller into silence by dispatching his lawyer, Joseph Tate, to tell Miller that she “was free to testify” but that Libby “had not told Ms. Miller the name or undercover status of Mr. Wilson's wife.” In other words, Libby lied to the Grand Jury and was signaling to Miller to shut up. If Miller told the truth Libby would go to jail and the administration would be exposed as plotting to disgrace Joseph Wilson.

Fortunately, Miller got tired of sitting in jail and decided to testify about what she knew. That’s when Libby sent an encrypted letter to her which stated that "the public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me." Again, Libby was sending a clear warning to Miller not to spill the beans.

Miller had a problem though, she had no way of knowing what the other reporters had said to the Grand Jury and she also had to weigh the possibilities of being indicted on perjury or obstruction charges. So she did what most people would do in her situation; she weaved through the questioning “denying and forgetting” as much as possible.

It is still not entirely clear how critical Miller is to the entire investigation, but her role could very well be the undoing of the Bush regime. In one telling comment, Millers notes that (2 days before Robert Novak’s article appeared in the Washington Post exposing CIA agent Valerie Plame) “I MIGHT HAVE CALLED OTHERS ABOUT MR WILSON’S WIFE”.

Really? Two days before Novak’s blockbuster article Miller was giving out Plames name?!?

So, maybe Miller was the ONLY reporter who got Plame’s name from Libby and spread it around to everyone else? That puts Miller at the very center of the Bush administration’s biggest nightmare. Miller already admitted that Libby had told her that Plame “worked at Winpac. Winpac stood for Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control, the name of a unit within the CIA that, among other things, analyses the spread of unconventional weapons.” (NY Times)

That’s kind of a strange thing to confide in a reporter if its not intended to start a “leak”. Remember, Miller never even wrote a story about anything she gleaned from these private interviews with Libby.

So, what was her role? Were they just friends having a casual converation? Or, was she a mule for the information that the White House wanted to disseminate about Wilson?

Libby also asked Miller to have the Times refer to him as a “former Hill staffer” rather than “a senior administration official” in stories written about Wilson. He obviously didn’t want it to seem like the administration was carrying out a personal vendetta against Wilson.

No problem. The administration makes a request and the New York Times carries it out forthwith. One hand washes the other.

The question remains; why the cover-up? Why would Libby even care what they call him if, as he claims, he wasn’t doing anything wrong?

The larger question is, however, where did Libby get Valerie Plame’s name? The only person who would have had access to classified CIA information like that would have been his boss, Dick Cheney.

Ah-ha!

Cheney presided over a secret group of administration hawks known as the White House Iraq Group (WHIG). Their mission was to promote the danger of Saddam’s WMD and discredit those who tried to mitigate the danger. The biggest part of their strategy was to exaggerate the threat of Saddam’s imaginary nuclear weapons program. The administration knew through their own polling data that the American people would support a preemptive war if it appeared as though Saddam actually had nuclear weapons. So, it was incumbent on them to make the case.

Wilson’s op-ed piece in the New York Times, challenged the administration’s conclusions about Niger yellow-cake uranium, and undermined the claims about Saddam’s nuclear capacity. So, Wilson had to be destroyed.

Miller, who had served as the conduit for most of the administration’s phony stories about biological weapons sites, mobile-weapons labs, and aluminum tubes for nukes; was the logical choice to start the smear campaign against Wilson. Her role was to spread the “classified information” to her sources in the media who would, in turn, discredit Wilson.

Libby has done his best to protect Cheney from being implicated, saying that the VP didn’t know anything about Wilson, but the claim is absurd. As Jason Leopold notes in Raw Story, “Cheney was present at several of the WHIG’s meetings. They say Cheney personally discussed with individuals in attendance at least two interviews in May and June of 2003 Wilson gave to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus, in which he claimed the administration “twisted” prewar intelligence and what the response from the administration should be.” (“Vice President’s Role in outing of CIA agent under Examination”, Jason Leopold)

Leopold’s article also points out the cozy relationship between the Miller and the members of WHIG prior to the Iraq war. After Miller had written her damning article about aluminum tubes in Iraq that could be used as centrifuges in nuclear weapons (a story that was later completely discredited); Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and Rice swung into high-gear, flooding the Sunday talk-shows and citing the story as proof that Saddam’s nukes would ultimately engulf America in a “mushroom cloud”.

The media’s disinformation-campaign must have been coordinated with Miller and key members of the Bush administration. The plan worked flawlessly. Clearly, both Miller and NY Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger were intimately involved in manufacturing the fraudulent evidence that dragged the nation to war. Neither has ever expressed any regret over the role they played.

Libby’s Caveat

Ironically, Libby’s cryptic comments to Miller in a letter that was sent to her while she was in jail may turn out to be the best summary of the ongoing investigation. He said, “Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

Yes, and if Libby goes down, so will Cheney, Rove, Card, Rumsfeld, Feith, Rice, and, perhaps, even Bush, because “their roots connect them”.

 

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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