New York Times reporter Judith Miller recounts her grand jury testimony Sept. 30 and Oct. 12 under questioning by special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald in Sunday’s New York Times.
Here’s a brief summary of the first two meetings between Miller and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in Miller’s words:
On the afternoon of June 23, 2003, I arrived at the Old Executive Office Building to interview Mr. Libby, who was known to be an avid consumer of prewar intelligence assessments, which were already coming under fierce criticism. The first entry in my reporter’s notebook from this interview neatly captured the question foremost in my mind.
“Was the intell slanted?” I wrote, referring to the intelligence assessments of Iraq and underlining the word “slanted.”
I recall that Mr. Libby was displeased with what he described as “selective leaking” by the C.I.A. He told me that the agency was engaged in a “hedging strategy” to protect itself in case no weapons were found in Iraq. “If we find it, fine, if not, we hedged,” is how he described the strategy, my notes show.
I recall that Mr. Libby was angry about reports suggesting that senior administration officials, including Mr. Cheney, had embraced skimpy intelligence about Iraq’s alleged efforts to buy uranium in Africa while ignoring evidence to the contrary. Such reports, he said, according to my notes, were “highly distorted.”
Mr. Libby said the vice president’s office had indeed pressed the Pentagon and the State Department for more information about reports that Iraq had renewed efforts to buy uranium. And Mr. Cheney, he said, had asked about the potential ramifications of such a purchase. But he added that the C.I.A. “took it upon itself to try and figure out more” by sending a “clandestine guy” to Niger to investigate. I told Mr. Fitzgerald that I thought “clandestine guy” was a reference to Mr. Wilson – Mr. Libby’s first reference to him in my notes.
…Soon afterward Mr. Libby raised the subject of Mr. Wilson’s wife for the first time. I wrote in my notes, inside parentheses, “Wife works in bureau?” I told Mr. Fitzgerald that I believed this was the first time I had been told that Mr. Wilson’s wife might work for the C.I.A. The prosecutor asked me whether the word “bureau” might not mean the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yes, I told him, normally. But Mr. Libby had been discussing the C.I.A., and therefore my impression was that he had been speaking about a particular bureau within the agency that dealt with the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. As to the question mark, I said I wasn’t sure what it meant. Maybe it meant I found the statement interesting. Maybe Mr. Libby was not certain whether Mr. Wilson’s wife actually worked there.And her second meeting.
At that breakfast meeting [July 8th], our conversation also turned to Mr. Wilson’s wife. My notes contain a phrase inside parentheses: “Wife works at Winpac.” Mr. Fitzgerald asked what that meant. Winpac stood for Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control, the name of a unit within the C.I.A. that, among other things, analyzes the spread of unconventional weapons.
I said I couldn’t be certain whether I had known Ms. Plame’s identity before this meeting, and I had no clear memory of the context of our conversation that resulted in this notation. But I told the grand jury that I believed that this was the first time I had heard that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked for Winpac. In fact, I told the grand jury that when Mr. Libby indicated that Ms. Plame worked for Winpac, I assumed that she worked as an analyst, not as an undercover operative.
Mr. Fitzgerald asked me whether Mr. Libby had mentioned nepotism. I said no. And as I told the grand jury, I did not recall – and my interview notes do not show – that Mr. Libby suggested that Ms. Plame had helped arrange her husband’s trip to Niger. My notes do suggest that our conversation about Ms. Plame was brief.
Mr. Fitzgerald asked me about another entry in my notebook, where I had written the words “Valerie Flame,” clearly a reference to Ms. Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald wanted to know whether the entry was based on my conversations with Mr. Libby. I said I didn’t think so. I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall.Fitzgerald is going to have to be quite the gymnast to make something stick to Libby based on Miller’s testimony.
This follow-on piece, The Times first substantial reporting on the Miller’s role in the investigation into the Plame outing, is a little better at examining Miller’s role in the whole Plame story.
My Four Hours Testifying in the Federal Grand Jury Room – [NYT]