Why Won't Scooter Libby Grant Judith Miller a Personal Waiver?


John Conyers

August is typically a month of no news. Congress goes on its summer recess. The President takes a long vacation. A very long one. For those in the White House press corps who are not so fortunate to be assigned to bake in the Crawford, Texas sun, they too take vacations (though not as long as the President's).

This August is different. If you listen closely enough, you can hear the slow drip of scandal turning into a waterfall of corruption and coverups in the Bush White House. On the internet, new pieces of the puzzle are coming together. My friend and the proprietor of this blog, Arianna Huffington seems to have the best sources inside the New York Times newsroom and has led many of us to begin asking whether Judith Miller's refusal to testify is not what it seems.

Picking up this thread over the weekend is an overlooked investigative piece in the American Prospect Magaine's online edition. In case you missed it, in a piece entitled "The Meeting," investigative reporter Murray Waas uncovers some new information about Treason-gate, Miller's refusal to testify and Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby's possible complicity in a coverup.

The article should be read in its entirety, but here are a few highlights:

-- Libby met with Judith Miller on July 8, 2003 and discussed CIA operative Valerie Plame. This meeting, six days before the publication of Robert Novak's infamous column outing Mrs. Joe Wilson (Valerie Plame), is a "central focus" of the Fitzgerald investigation.

-- The kicker: "Sources close to the investigation, and private attorneys representing clients embroiled in the federal probe, said that Libby's failure to produce a personal waiver may have played a significant role in Miller’s decision not to testify about her conversations with Libby, including the one on July 8, 2003."

The President has, of course, directed his staff to "fully cooperate" with the probe. Make no mistake about it, if Waas's sources are right, Libby is not cooperating. In fact, while right wing pundits continually claim that the White House has not obstructed the Fitzgerald investigation, these new disclosures indicate that a top White House staffer is essentially directing a reporter to invoke a privilege on his behalf to keep the Special Prosecutor from learning thee truth. Remember the hue and cry from conservatives when it was the Clinton Administration invoking privileges on what was not a matter of national security, but a private sexual affair? Where are they now?

The course for Libby is clear. He should obey the President's directive and immediately give Miller his personal waiver to testify about any conversations he may have had with her that are within the purview of the Grand Jury. Today, I and along with my colleagues Louise Slaughter, Maurice Hinchey and Rush Holt, wrote to Libby asking him to do just that. Waas has the letter on his blog.

If he refuses, the President faces a choice. He can show he means what he says and fire an employee who is so obviously obstructing the search for the truth. Or he can continue to tolerate such behavior and thereby make clear what many suspect -- when it comes to getting to the bottom of who did this vile act, he is all talk.