Got the chance to read Judy Miller's personal account in the Times yesterday afternoon.
By now you've no doubt heard the major pieces of the story, especially the "I don't remember who told me" and Judy's almost-as-bizarre-as-the-original explanation of Scooter's appreciation of aspens. I didn't read it for news; I was looking for a couple of other things.
It's an odd, disjointed account, with frequent references to "what my notes indicate" or "as I testified". Judy's shaky memory and her strangely inadequate note taking make several appearances. She remarks on the fact that she was not allowed to take notes of her testimony (!). She insists, again, that Scooter was her only source, the one she went to jail to protect.
What I was reading for was this: was there any explanation for her returning to testify last week? The answer is no, just a brief mention of returning "after finding a notebook". That discovery, and the subsequent testimony, are central to the question of post-Big House Judy. Did she fail to tell Fitzgerald about the June 2003 meeting with Libby, the one that took place before Wilson's Op-Ed piece appeared, during her testimony on Friday? (This was the meeting which was mentioned in a Times piece this summer and later denied on the corrections page.) If anything, the sudden discovery of the notebook after her initial testimony is even less believable than the 'I don't remember the source of the Valerie Flame notation'. Fitzgerald must have had that June meeting in his pocket (from WH logs?), and Miller didn't cop to it the first time around. And Fitzgerald told Bennett his client was a perjurer and she could either cough up the notes and testify honestly or find out what life is like inside an actual prison.
So, frankly, I'm not buyin' the loss of memory story. Judy's second round of testimony occurred with serious legal threats hanging over her. Somebody got slicked here, and if you think it's Fitzgerald I've got a bridge you might be interested in.
Miller's tale sounds an awful lot like a George W. Bush news conference. She pushes an awful lot of buttons she goes out of her way to reach. "Mr. Fitzgerald told the grand jury that I was testifying as a witness and not as a subject or target of his inquiry" she says, immediately after mentioning her Wednesday appearance. But she could very well have been a target; the idea that reporters cannot be prosecuted for trafficking in classified information belongs with the idea that Fitzgerald's investigation is bound by the limitations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. It isn't, and they can be. If Fitzgerald announced that on her second day of testimony, it came in the form of a quid pro quo.
Another thing I found curious about the story, though not surprising--there's nothing surprising about journalistic ethics in this country anymore--was her straightforward acceptance of the role of stovepipe. She freely grants Scooter the changing of his cover from "senior administration official" to "former Hill staffer" because she figures the White House doesn't want to be seen as attacking Wilson. But why that should be so doesn't seem to enter the equation. In fact Why makes no appearance in her tale. Why, if there was "selective leaking" coming from the CIA, wouldn't the White House confront it head on, in public, on the record? Why should the President of the United States fear a single Op-Ed piece? Why doesn't Miller ever ask Why? Because she'd been part of the effort to cook the intelligence all along, and by June 2003 it was in ruins. There are no doubt other, maybe bigger reasons, as well. But that's enough.