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Saturday, October 1, 2005
Back to the Waiver
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:04 am

Via the NYT (Phone Call With Source and Deal Led Reporter to Testify) comes more information that continues to bolster my view of the Miller jailing: that at the heart of the matter is the waiver that Libby gave her to testify. Allegedly Miller preferred a jailing on contempt because she believe that the waiver that Libby initially gave was coerced. As such, she appears to have decided that testifying about her conversations wil him violated the confidentiality of her source. (I use tentative language on purpose, given that there may be more information that may be unrevealed at this time).

It is wholly possible that this was a giant misunderstanding for the beginning, which is why I listed as one of the possibilities to explain her prolonged incarceration as “misguided journalistic ethics,” i.e., she thought she was living up to specific ethical standard when she didn’t really have to do so. Allegedly, the lynchpin of her release is that she is now convinced that the waiver given by Libby was wholly voluntary.

Mr. Libby’s side says he gave Ms. Miller unequivocal permission to testify about her conversations with Mr. Libby concerning his role, if any, in the disclosure of the identify of the officer, Valerie Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame.

In a letter from Mr. Libby to Ms. Miller this month, he expressed surprise that her lawyers had asked him to “repeat for you the waiver of confidentiality that I specifically gave to your counsel over a year ago.” He added that he expected her testimony to help him.

Part of why I hold out the real possibility that there is some important piece of missing information here, is that the back-and-forth over the waiver doesn’t fully make sense to me. Especially when one reads the story and see that it seems like Libby/his representatives had made similar attempts at clarification more than once during Miller’s sojourn in jail-indeed, did so before it came to the point of contempt.

Clearly the offer to limit the questions directed at Miller are part of all of this as well:

The second factor in Ms. Miller’s decision to go before the grand jury was a change in the position of the special prosecutor, Mr. Fitzgerald, concerning the scope of the questions she would be asked, according to Mr. Abrams. Mr. Fitzgerald only recently agreed to confine his questions to Ms. Miller’s conversations with Mr. Libby concerning the identification of Ms. Wilson, Mr. Abrams said.

However, since other reporters had the same deal (the ones who already testified) it would seem as though this provision would have been available to Miller at the time as well.

None of this either proves the guilt of administration officials, nor exonerates them. Indeed, I would argue we, the public, know no more today than we knew Thursday. Presummably the Grand Jury now does, but exactly how much and what remains to be seen.

Despite the assertions of some, I simply do not see that we can now assume the Libby, Rove or someone else in the administration is about to be indicted or that they are guilty of purposefully outing an undercover agent.

Indeed, if there was a vast conspiracy aimed at providing illegal information to the press about Plame, one would think that Fitzegerald would already have gathered enough evidence for an indictment form the other testimony that he has obtained.

I still think that that Occam’s Razor dictates that the best explanation, based on known facts, is that the administration noted that Plame worked for the CIA to explain why Wilson would have been sent on the mission in the first place. Obviously it was evident that Wilson opposed administration policy. As such, his public pronouncements (which were at odds with what he said to Congress, btw, casting doubts on the motivations of more than just the administration) were considered to be questionable by the administration. No doubt, people within the administration were displeased that an opponent of the administration was put on this task, and hence pointing out potential nepotism does cast Wilson’s statements in a particular light that was more advantageous to the administration.

In other words, if Wilson was a loyal agent of the administration, one might read his report one way, just as one would read the report differently if he had been an unbiased observer who got the job solely on merit. Further, if he was predisposed to oppose the administration and got the job due to his wife’s recommendation, this created yet a different lens through which to view the situation. This is all about spin, something that politicians and political operatives practically breath. It is second nature. I am not saying I like it, but I am saying it is standard operating procedure for all politicians of all political stripes. One has to therefore view their actions with that in mind.

So, it is possible that this entire affair was not about ruining Plame’s cover as revenge (which is the standard Democratic interpretation). It is entirely possible that it was all about spinning why Wilson did what he did.

This raises problems for those who insist that there was a crime here-as to meet the standard of the law, there are certain thresholds that must be met, including the fact that the person mentioning Plame knew that they were compromising an undercover agent. For the “spin scenario” outlined above to be true, it is wholly possible that this was not the case. However, it is also possible that it was. We simply don’t know yet.

I certainly see the real possibility that there were criminal acts here. However, the evidence at hand makes this unlikely (indeed, the nature of the law in question is such that a crime is unlikely). However, if Libby really was facing criminal charges, and Miller’s contempt jailing was keeping him out of jail, it seems unlikely to me he would have issued the waiver in the first place (even before she went to jail, btw), or have clarified it now. If we assume he was willing to commit a crime in the first place, then I would think he would be willing to let Miller rot in jail.

Again, this analysis changes if new data are brought to fore. However, we analyze with the data we have, not the data we would like to have.

Filed under: US Politics, MSM, The Press | |Send TrackBack

1 Comment »

  1. Maybe Miller has enough material for her book now. ;-)

    Seriously, this “he said/she said” bit between the lawyers looks incredibly silly. It would be ashamed for Miller to have wasted three months of her life proving absolutely nothing except that she’s stubborn and ill-advised by her lawyers.

    Comment by Bryan S. — Saturday, October 1, 2005 @ 7:37 pm

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