Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Judy and Scooter - and Dick

Plamegate is rapidly turning into a liberal parlor game, a new version of Clue ("it was Rove in the White House with a telephone"). The latest revelation is that Judith Miller actually met with Scooter Libby on July 8, before the Novak column appeared (this is one of a series of scoops on this matter from Murray Waas; also see the TalkLeft analysis). This is interesting in and of itself, and also interesting that it is only coming out now (actually, all the parts of it came out a while ago, and it is just now being assembled as a story). Why would Miller have to go see Libby? Couldn't Libby have talked to Miller on the phone? The first thought is that Libby had to show something to Miller, but if the only issue in question was the status of Wilson's wife, it is difficult to see why this couldn't have been discussed by phone. Did Libby really need to show Miller the State Department memo that had been circulating in the White House, or could he have just told her about it? Miller denies that she was given a document.

What if the meeting with Libby was a ruse to allow Cheney to 'drop in' on the meeting, and convey what he wanted Miller to know? After all, Libby works for Cheney, with a handy office. While Libby could have talked to Miller on the phone, the VP probably feels himself too high and mighty for such calls, and would insist on people coming to see him. An official meeting with Cheney puts Cheney on the books, but if he accidentally-on-purpose dropped in on a meeting with Libby nobody but Miller and Libby would be aware of it. It was Cheney who was personally embarrassed by Wilson's post-war revelations, and this kind of nasty retaliation fits Cheney to a tee. If Miller was at Libby's office as part of an elaborate plot to out Plame without leaving Cheney vulnerable to either political or legal attack, it would explain why Miller never wrote about whatever juicy gossip she got from Libby. The lock-step way in which Miller's lying articles about Iraq were followed immediately by Cheney's political use of such articles suggests a close Miller-Cheney connection. Miller's refusal to testify would be to protect Cheney, and Libby's failure to give a specific waiver would be his method of ensuring that Miller didn't have to testify under oath as to who she talked to in Libby's office. If this is true, watch for Miller to refuse to testify even after Libby gives the waiver (she can always plausibly claim it was coerced).

The Plamegate scenario would then be:

  1. Miller comes to see Libby.

  2. Cheney drops in to tell Miller that Plame was Wilson's wife and a CIA undercover operative. She may have already known some or part of that, but didn't realize that there was a necessity to launder the plot to reveal it. Perhaps they exchanged Washington gossip on the matter.

  3. Cheney tells Rove to call Miller, as she might have something interesting to say (wink, wink).

  4. Rove talks to Miller, and gets the scoop on Plame. Rove feels safe, as the information is already out in the journalist community in the person of Miller, so he is free to spread it around.

  5. Rove talks to Novak, and they discuss the Washington 'gossip' (wink, wink) surrounding Wilson and Plame (the timing here is very tight but just fits if Miller talked to Rove immediately, Rove then talked to Novak immediately, and Novak wasted no time in writing after talking to Rove).

  6. Novak outs Plame.

Thus Cheney manages to have his spiteful revenge on Wilson (the nastiness is thought of as typically Rovean, but it might just as well be Cheneyesque), and fires a shot across the bow of the CIA, while insulating himself, and Rove, from the various legal problems this scheme might have entailed. Having Miller an integral part of this convoluted plot would be the logical conclusion to the shoddy way in which the New York Times carried the water for the Bush Administration, and Cheney in particular, in lying about Iraq.