Judith Miller testifies, again

The New York Times reporter goes back to the grand jury in the CIA leak case.

Published October 12, 2005 1:57PM (EDT)

Salon editorial fellow J.J. Helland takes a look at the unfolding investigation into the CIA leak case.

The Miller saga continues.

After meeting with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, New York Times reporter Judith Miller returns to testify before a grand jury today regarding notes Miller recently found referring to a previously undisclosed conversation she had with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff.

According to a report in today's Washington Post, "a source familiar with Miller's account" said that "the notes reveal that the two discussed Bush administration critic and former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV about three weeks before the name of Wilson's wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, appeared in a syndicated column written by Robert D. Novak."

So what did Miller and Libby discuss? Did Libby out Wilson's wife as a covert CIA operative in this June conversation? If so, does it have anything to do with Miller's refusal to testify without a second explicit waiver from Libby? Was all of this part of a larger conspiracy to undermine critics of the Bush administration and sell the Iraq war to the American people? And if Libby did reveal classified information pertaining to Wilson's wife, was he attempting to influence Miller's testimony on the subject with a coded message he sent to Miller while she sat in jail for refusing to give up her sources?

None of this can be good news for the White House. In an interview yesterday with Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, NBC's chief political correspondent, said he believed internal strife has erupted in the Bush administration. "Right now, my sense, in reporting this, Chris, is that the Bush family, political family, is at war with itself inside the White House  it's Andy Card, the chief of staff, and his people against Karl Rove, the brain  but now [there are] emerging divisions within the administration over why we went into that war, how we went into that war and what was done to sell it. There are people out for Karl Rove inside that White House, which makes his situation even more perilous."

So what does this all mean? If there is any truth to the statement in the Washington Post today describing the tenacity of Fitzgerald -- "This is not a guy who would walk away with nothing" -- we may find out sooner rather than later.

Update: The Wall Street Journal is reporting (subscription required) that Fitzgerald is possibly widening the scope of his investigation to focus on a broader conspiracy within the administration regarding the CIA leak case. First excerpted by Raw Story on its Web site last night, today's article notes that there are signs that prosecutors now are looking into contacts between administration officials and journalists that took place much earlier than previously thought. Earlier conversations are potentially significant, because that suggests the special prosecutor leading the investigation is exploring whether there was an effort within the administration at an early stage to develop and disseminate confidential information to the press that could undercut former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Central Intelligence Agency official Valerie Plame.

By J.J. Helland

J.J. Helland is Salon's editorial fellow in New York.

MORE FROM J.J. Helland

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room