This revelation didn’t receive a lot of notice, but the lawyer for Judith Miller told reporters yesterday that he asked Patrick Fitzgerald for essentially the same deal a year ago that sprang Miller from prison last week. This seems to indicate that Fitzgerald really wanted testimony from Miller on another matter and later on settled for testimony about Scooter Libby instead:
Floyd Abrams, the attorney for New York Times reporter Judith Miller, said Sunday he had tried a year ago to reach an agreement with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald concerning Miller’s testimony about the leak of a covert CIA officer’s identity. …
Appearing Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Abrams said: “I tried to get a deal a year ago. I spoke to Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, and he did not agree at that time to something that he later did agree to, which was to limit the scope of the questions he would ask, so as to assure that the only source he would effectively be asking about was Mr. Libby.”
The Times reported that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President
Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was Miller’s source. In a statement Thursday, Miller said, “My source has now voluntarily and personally released me from my promise of confidentiality regarding our conversations.” She appeared before the grand jury Friday.
Miller held out, Abrams said Sunday, in part because “she has other sources and was very concerned about the possibility of having to reveal those sources, or going back to jail because of them.” Before she finally testified, Fitzgerald promised to limit his questioning to the Libby contacts regarding Plame.
This changes the context of the new agreement in a couple of subtle ways. First, the jailing of Miller never had anything to do with Libby or his statements to Miller. According to Abrams, the grand jury could have heard that testimony from Miller at any time as long as Fitzgerald agreed to only ask about Libby. Fitzgerald refused, which seems to clearly indicate that his investigative thrust didn’t include Libby as a potential target. If so, it means that Fitzgerald’s belated acceptance of this limitation acknowledges that he lost the battle with Miller and wanted to wrap up her situation before the grand jury mandate expired later this month.
It also exposes the PR last week from the New York Times as yet another bit of grandstanding flackery. The Times made it appear that Libby kept Miller in jail by refusing to issue an unequivocal and clear release for Miller’s testimony. Libby responded by letter and phone to point out all the waivers he had issued (and Power Line has the original waivers that clearly show he wanted Miller to testify). Despite the Times’ assertions from last week and their overall self-congratulation over the protection of journalistic sources — especially in comparison to Time Magazine’s cooperation with Fitzgerald — this shows that the Gray Lady had no problem coughing up sources of a certain (Republican) kind, as opposed to others that might have less political conflict with its editorial board.
Does this indicate that Fitzgerald has given up on any indictments in the Plame controversy? Possibly. However, the main effect applies to Miller and the New York Times, both of which demonstrate a large measure of hypocrisy in their public statements this week.