I recall that when I first heard that the NY Times’ Judith Miller had been subpeonaed by the grand jury investigating the Plame case I was a bit confused. Judith Miller? What connection did she have to the administration’s vengeful and felonious revelation of Valerie Plame’s identity and vocation?
Then William E. Jackson, Jr., explained it to me in Editor & Publisher:
The subpoena to Miller was the most recent in a series issued to journalists in a politically sensitive inquiry that has led investigators to question White House officials on several occasions. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the Times, has said the paper will move to quash the Miller subpoena, and one the paper also received seeking documents.
But the Times has not published any articles claiming it had received information about Plame’s identity. A well-placed source within the paper tells me that Miller had not told her editors the leaker’s name or Plame’s identity, even though (in the opinion of the source) she seemed to have knowledge of both.
Miller, in any case, did not expose Plame in the way that Novak did in his syndicated column, which ran in The Washington Post. Yet Sulzberger referred to her “confidential sources” and said “journalists should not have to face the prospect of imprisonment for doing nothing more than aggressively seeking to report on the government’s actions.”
If Miller had Plame’s name and identity, who was her source? If she didn’t, why has she become embroiled in the current case?
The answer probably rests in the suspicions attending the staff of the vice president, who have become prime suspects as the source of the Plame leak. The man who seems to be emerging at the center of the probe is John Hannah, an aide with a profile lower than that of Cheney’s chief of staff.
Hannah could be the link between Miller and Plame, as they have known each other for a long time — one of a string of close associations she has with neo-cons in the Bush administration. Along with Miller and Bill Luti in Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith’s office, Hannah and Libby were the recipients of Ahmad Chalabi’s bogus intelligence on Iraqi WMD that was “stovepiped” to the top, and not vetted within the intelligence community.
One source close to the case tells me that chief of staff Libby probably “wondered aloud to Hannah about what would happen if it got out that she [Plame] had put Ambassador Joe Wilson up for the mission to Niger, or something like that.” Hannah, in this scenario, might have then so wondered to several journalist contacts, including Miller.
The same source said he has known Scooter Libby “for more than 20 years and I judge him to be too smart and too careful to have been handing out Valerie’s name to reporters.” If Libby’s voiding of his confidentiality agreement with Mathew Cooper is any indication of his innocence (no sure thing), then Hannah, and possibly Miller, will likely receive even more attention from the special prosecutor.
Add Jackson’s analysis to Kos’ rumor that Hannah has been “turned” and it looks like Mr. Libby may indeed have a stretch in the pen ahead of him, barring any post-election pardon from the Chimp.