Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Judith Miller/Valerie Plame theory of immaculate conception: The cover story on today is a piece on Judith Miller by Joe Strupp, a careful and meticulous senior editor with Editor & Publisher. Linking to my recent story which first disclosed a July 8, 2003 meeting between Miller and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Strupp writes:

More prominently, a recent report that Miller met with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, less than a week before Robert Novak outed former CIA agent Valerie Plame in a 2003 column, has added to the speculation over what role Miller may have played in the leak of Plame's identity. The theory being peddled on the Huffington Post and elsewhere in the lefty blogosphere has Miller not on the receiving end of information from an administration leaker about Plame's identity, but as the one disseminating information about Plame to administration officials. This is just a theory, of course, with no known evidence supporting it. But it's fair to say that many Times staffers want Miller's role in the Plame affair clarified, and some of her Times colleagues are downright angry about what is known, and unknown, about her involvement.

Some long overdue comments on my part: Whatever one thinks of Judith Miller's reporting on Iraq and WMD, it is patently unfair for so many bloggers, Times colleagues (who while condeming her, BTW, who never speak for the record), and others to conclude without any evidence whatsoever that she was "not on the receiving end of information from an administration leaker", but rather "the one disseminating information about Plame to administration officials."

And if "some of her Times colleagues are downright angry about what is known, and unknown, about her involvement," as Strupp reports, it is hardly her fault. She has an obligation to protect a confidential source– one that she is keeping– and which quite likely is the only reason that we do not know as much as we would like to otherwise. But simply the fact that there are "unanswered questions" should not be cause to condemn a woman who is now spending her 44th night in jail.

It is obviously quite possible that as journalists and Bush administration officials spoke to one another in the days just prior to Robert Novak's now infamous column outing Valerie Plame that there was a "circular" flow of information, whereby information and rumors about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson flowed both ways.

But it is has also been virtually a universal talking point of both those under investigation and the RNC that nobody in the White House could have been guilty of leaking any classified information regarding Valerie Plame because the leakers, quite possibly-- if not likely– originally learned about Plame's work for the CIA from journalists in the first place.

Those on the left who despise Miller because of her WMD reporting, and want to think the very worst of her are playing right into the hands of those who actually leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, and are now covering up how that occurred.

But whatever we ultimately find happened here (and it is unclear that we ever will, despite the dogged efforts of Patrick Fitzgerald) somebody, somewhere in the U.S. government or the Bush administration had to have been the original source of information that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA.

The information had to originally have come from somewhere!

The baby Jesus may have been born of immaculate conception. The information leaked to Robert Novak and Matthew Cooper and others that Valerie Plame was employed by the CIA had a more earthly origin.

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