Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Reporter in the Office With a Notebook

Did you ever play that game? Who did the murder, where and with what weapon? The whole Judith Miller story sounds like something that would make a good parlor game, if only we'd find where the notebook was that she has suddenly unearthed. Maybe the New York Times had it all the time:

If its recent track record is any guide, The New York Times, later today or tomorrow, will get around to confirming Michael Isikoff's Newsweek revelation late Saturday that the missing notes Judith Miller suddenly found and turned over to the federal prosecutor on Friday in the Plame case were located in a notebook in the newspaper's Washington, D.C. bureau. The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has now scheduled another meeting with Miller on Tuesday.

Besides the ongoing mystery of why the Times is always a step or two behind its competition in reporting on its own reporter, this latest twist raises several tantalizing issues. If anyone at the Times objects to raising the following questions: It's your own fault for not disclosing more about this case yourself.

Before getting to The Case of the Missing Notebook: What's with the Times, which long supported Miller going to jail for 85 days, purportedly to stand up for a journalistic principle (protecting a source), now willingly turning over a reporter's notes to the prosecutor? And did Miller turn over the notes herself, or did the Times locate them and do the honors?

The notes in question, we now know, cover a Miller discussion with I. Lewis Libby on June 25, 2003, two weeks before Joseph Wilson's WMD op-ed that was thought to have set the Bush backlash in motion. These notes, the Times has disclosed, do mention Joseph Wilson. Isikoff observes that the notebook is "significant because Wilson's identity was not yet public."

Why are these notes so important? This article summarizes the reason:

One source involved in the investigation said Miller's notes could help Fitzgerald show a long-running and orchestrated campaign to discredit Wilson, which could help form the basis for a conspiracy charge.

Fitzgerald has yet to indicate whether or not he intends to bring indictments, but lawyers close to the investigation said there were signs he may be moving in that direction.

Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, plans to make a fourth appearance before the grand jury next week and prosecutors have told him they can make no guarantees he won't be indicted.

The outcome could shake up an administration reeling from criticism over its response to Hurricane Katrina and the indictment of House of Representatives Republican leader Tom DeLay of Texas on charges related to campaign financing.

The White House had long maintained Rove and Libby had nothing to do with the leak, but reporters have since named them as sources.

It can be a crime to knowingly reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative.

I should stop pasting things in, but this whole investigation is getting so complicated that trying any other way of writing about it would take me hours and then nobody would read the results anyway. But a short summary might be useful:

The wingnut power centers are reeling. Even the Gray Lady is shivering. Pass the popcorn.