Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday post during the a.m. talkies

The New York Times has finally answered the call from the MSM and Howard Kurtz.

Janny Scott contributed to this article but did not get a byline. Some excerpts:


In a notebook belonging to Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, amid notations about Iraq and nuclear weapons, appear two small words: "Valerie Flame."


Whether Ms. Miller's testimony will prove valuable to the prosecution remains unclear, as do its ramifications for press freedom. Yet an examination of Ms. Miller's decision not to testify, and then to do so, offers fresh information about her role in the investigation and how The New York Times turned her case into a cause.


"I told her there was unease, discomfort, unhappiness over some of the coverage," said Roger Cohen, who was the foreign editor at the time. "There was concern that she'd been convinced in an unwarranted way, a way that was not holding up, of the possible existence of W.M.D."


Mr. Wilson had already become known among Washington insiders as a fierce Bush critic. He would go public the next month, accusing the White House in an opinion article in The Times of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

But Mr. Libby was already defending Vice President Dick Cheney, saying his boss knew nothing about Mr. Wilson or his findings. Ms. Miller said her notes leave open the possibility that Mr. Libby told her Mr. Wilson's wife might work at the agency.


That raised a potential conflict for Ms. Miller. Did the references in her notes to "Valerie Flame" and "Victoria Wilson" suggest that she would have to contradict Mr. Libby's account of their conversations? Ms. Miller said in an interview that she concluded that Mr. Tate was sending her a message that Mr. Libby did not want her to testify.

According to Ms. Miller, this was what Mr. Abrams told her about his conversation with Mr. Tate: "He was pressing about what you would say. When I wouldn't give him an assurance that you would exonerate Libby, if you were to cooperate, he then immediately gave me this, 'Don't go there, or, we don't want you there.' "

Mr. Abrams said: "On more than one occasion, Mr. Tate asked me for a recitation of what Ms. Miller would say. I did not provide one."

In an e-mail message Friday, Mr. Tate called Ms. Miller's interpretation "outrageous."

"I never once suggested that she should not testify," Mr. Tate wrote. "It was just the opposite. I told Mr. Abrams that the waiver was voluntary."


In a folksy, conversational two-page letter dated Sept. 15, Mr. Libby assured Ms. Miller that he had wanted her to testify about their conversations all along. "I believed a year ago, as now, that testimony by all will benefit all," he wrote. And he noted 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."

What exactly was he trying to say by that?

Judith Miller's account.


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