Man Without Qualities

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Mickey Kaus and Tom Maguire interestingly ask if Judith Miller may have been a source for the White House information regarding Valerie Plame.

Is it possible that Judith ran into Valerie in connection with some weapons of mass destruction item (the two women's common interest), as Messrs. Kaus and Maguire suggest, that Judith thereby gained Valerie's confidence - and Valerie is Judith's "source" about her husband's trip? Of course, Valerie presumably had no interest in discrediting her husband's story, but she may not have been aware that her husband's investigation was as flawed, shoddy and likely fraudulent as it turned out to be. The Wilson report was reportedly construed by a majority of CIA analysts as evidence of the opposite of what Wilson was arguing it supported. Could Valerie have disagreed - and brought her minority view to her by then trusted buddy, Judith? That is: Could Valerie have been attempting to advance the substance of her husband's investigation, disclosing her own role in the process? As things turned out, Wilson's report was unsalvagable, as Judith may have determined - perhaps a conversation with one of the "majority" analysts was enough to disabuse her. Such a determination by Judith would perhaps ironically leave Valerie's role in her husband's original selection as the only really newsworthy item in Judith's possession (at least after giving effect to the Times' political agenda, as noted below).

Valerie being Judith's source might explain why Judith isn't cooperating with the special prosecutor now, even though all the White House people have signed waivers - and it is clear that they will sign more specific waivers, if asked. But has Valerie signed any waiver? Has anyone asked her to? I doubt it - and I have seen no report suggesting she has signed one. The Times argument that waivers aren't sufficiently "voluntary" even when signed by big, well-represented players is absurd: The Times says waivers given by government officials under "pressure" are not enough, but then calls for those same officials to be held "accountable" for their action taken in the constantly-pressured course of their officials duties. Could any reasonable person state the Times' argument without laughing at it? Obviously, high officials sign up for "pressure" and are expected on all counts to deal with it and accept its consequences - as TIME and Matt Cooper, for example, eventually acknowledged.

Valerie being Judith's source might also help explain why Judith never published anything, if one posits the Times' was uninterested in discrediting Joe Wilson. Matt Cooper published - but he transformed his story mostly into a slam on his White House "sources" (as Byron York points out). That option would not have been open to Judith if Valerie was her source.

Just a thought. Just speculation.

If these thoughts and speculations are near the mark, wouldn't it follow that the New York Times has probably known from or near the beginning that Ms. Plame was not a covert agent under the federal non-disclosure law and/or that Ms. Miller was ultimately the person responsible for public disclosure of her "covert" role? And if that's correct, wouldn't it also follow that the Times has long known that disclosure of her identity was therefore not a crime committed by anyone in the White House, and that the Times knew all that even as the Times was running many editorials pretending the opposite?

Of course, once Ms. Miller faced actual jail time, even the Times belatedly "discovered" the unlikelihood that any crime had been committed in the disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity (possible obstruction of the investigation is another matter). That obviously disingenuous change of heart and legal analysis already indicates that the Times has almost certainly been misrepresenting its thinking and knowledge in this matter for a very long time.

Isn't it time for the special prosecutor to call Times management before the grand jury to ask about such things? Isn't it time that the Times itself - as a public corporation - was asked a few direct questions and told to deliver a few of its own documents and e-mails, as TIME was?

And, if in fact the Times knew that its many editorials on the Plame matter were reeking of the disingenuousness suggested above, wouldn't the Times quite appropriately suffer far more than CBS News did as a result of Rathergate? - and take much of the mainstream media with it into whatever oblivion the Times would then descend?

Just a thought. Just speculation.

UPDATE: There are those who argue that Bob Novak did not "out" Ms. Plame after all, with the real culprits being David Corn and her husband. But would Mr. Wilson do such a thing without Mrs. Wilson's consent? And if he or she has admitted any such thing to the grand jury, why would the special prosecutor still be so interested in Matt Cooper and Judith Miller?

If Joe Wilson is the culprit (with or without his wife's involvement), it would make sense that he is now saying that "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity." [UPDATE: During the early afternoon of July 15, 2005, the Associated Press issued a corrected version of the article noting Wilson's clarification that "his wife lost her ability to be a covert agent because of the leak, not that she had stopped working for the CIA beforehand." In light of Mr. Wilson's clarification, it appears that if he did "out" his own wife, and she was a covert agent (which now appears to be unlikely), he is guilty of a federal felony.] Otherwise, he would be guilty of a federal felony. If he or she has been asked whether either of them was the source of the "leak," and misled the prosecutor or grand jury, that would be enough to support a "Martha Stewart" obstruction or perjury case.

Of course, in the same interview in which he admitted his wife was not a "clandestine officer" on the day of Novak's column, Mr. Wilson also refused to comment on her prior status - which, of course, is highly material to the question of whether someone in or outside of the Bush administration violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. But Mr. Wilson had already written extensively about her pre-Novak era in his book in terms not consistent with her having been a covert agent for many years. Whatever else he's doing, Mr. Wilson is clearly playing a highly disingenuous and misleading game.

FURTHER UPDATE: The Times is even being ridiculed by its own columnist, John Tierney, who weighs in with a terrific column:

So far Karl Rove appears guilty of telling reporters something he had heard, that Valerie Wilson, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, worked for the C.I.A. But because of several exceptions in the 1982 law forbidding disclosure of a covert operative's identity, virtually no one thinks anymore that he violated it. The law doesn't seem to apply to Ms. Wilson because she apparently hadn't been posted abroad during the five previous years. .... Karl Rove's version of events now looks less like a smear and more like the truth: Mr. Wilson's investigation, far from being requested and then suppressed by a White House afraid of its contents, was a low-level report of not much interest to anyone outside the Wilson household. .... For now, though, it looks as if this scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it. ....


Yes, "Nadagate" says it all. As noted above, there is reason to suspect that Ms. Miller and the Times knew all of what Mr. Tierney describes long before anyone else did. Yet the Times - apparently with the direct involvement of Mr. Sulzberger - has been hammering on this story in editorials and tendentious reporting as if that paper had no notion whatsoever of what the facts were.

What did the Timespeople know and when did they know it? That is the increasingly obvious central question in this matter. And this question is also worth considering: What, if anything, has the Times (especially Mr. Sulzberger) done to obstruct the special prosecutor's conduct of an investigation the Times demanded - quite possibly while knowing through Judith Miller from the beginning that no crime had been committed? As Mr. Tierney correctly notes: Well, there's always the chance that the prosecutor will turn up evidence of perjury or obstruction of justice during the investigation, which would just prove once again that the easiest way to uncover corruption in Washington is to create it yourself by investigating nonexistent crimes.

Yes, indeed. And it's his own employer who may have invented those nonexistent crimes, repeatedly demanded an investigation in bad faith ... and then obstructed that investigation by pressuring Ms. Miller not to comply with her subpoena.

Many things remain uncertain in this matter, but one aspect seems to emerge with more and more clarity from the mists:

The mainstream media and the New York Times are very likley to take a very nasty hit when all of the facts come to light. The whole mess could be as bad for the Times as Rathergate was for CBS News.

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