Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Punch And Judy Show Returns

If it is election season, you can always depend on the same old bad pennies turning up, trying to steer the GOP primary conversations toward their own twisted slant on reality.

Like the perennial bad penny, there she is again like election season poison:  Judith Miller.  Attempting once again to sell her tale of woe to the rubes who want so desperately to believe in her virtue.

Nothing ups book sales numbers like a whiff of outraged controversy by a Fox News contributor in a heated election cycle frenzy.

This time she's enlisted a neocon pal to help her up her sales figures, with a plaintive tale of woe twofer in the very sympathetic Wall Street Journal.  Peter Berkowitz and Judy Miller share a lot of connections through the Hoover Institution and the Manhattan Institute, both neocon policy think tanks that funnel money and perks as a sort of wingnut welfare project for the neocon elite to meet and greet.  If you page through the websites for both groups, you'll see a number of familiar names from the Dick Cheney Veep parade of pals - it's like a stroll through bad memories lane.

The problem for everyone involved:  trials have transcripts.

Judy Miller can tap-dance all she likes, but it was not Pat Fitzgerald who elicited the most damning testimony from her with regard to Scooter Libby's guilt.  It was William Jeffress.

The same William Jeffress who was Libby's own defense lawyer, who elicited the most damaging couple of comments from Judy Miller, during her testimony on cross-examination on January 30, 2007, when she said (and I'm paraphrasing here, because I am on the way to a middle school track meet and don't have time to pull precise quotes from transcripts and get everyone ready to go, but these were the two big whammy points that she made under questioning from Jeffress that day):

-- A very short time after her second meeting with Scooter Libby, Miller says that she met with Jill Abramson, then the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the NYTimes, outlining the highlights of her recent conversation with Libby.  Miller says that she was pushing Abramson that they needed to look into whether Joe Wilson's wife worked for CIA.  Miller met with Libby on June 23rd, 2003, and her testimony was that she talked with Abramson about looking into Wilson's wife very shortly after that conversation.

Bob Novak's Washington Post column that revealed Valerie Plame's CIA connection publicly did not appear until July 14, 2003 - several weeks after the Miller/Libby second confab.  She did not get that information from Novak's column.  Not before she talked with Abramson, anyway.  Not based on Judy's own testimonial timeline.

Moreover, as she testified on both direct examination and on cross, her notes were distinct and thorough on what Libby said to her on the 23rd, so much so that she put parentheses around them with regard to Wilson's wife and then, as she testified on cross-examination from Jeffress, went to Jill Abramson to underscore the importance of looking into that CIA connection of Wilson's wife.  She further testified that Abramson was distracted and not interested in following up so strongly, which was clearly a source of irritation for Judy, based on her tone during that testimony.

-- The second instance where Judy Miller was particularly damning for Scooter Libby came just a little while later that same day.  Jeffress was trying to show that Judy Miller had a shoddy memory and that she could be easily confused, but going back and forth about her sloppy record-keeping with her reporters notebooks (which she kept in a shopping bag under her desk at the NYTimes) and her failure to recall certain details without refreshing her memory via these notebooks during grand jury testimony.

What Jeffress failed to take into account in this line of questioning was how quickly he would get Judy Miller's back up by denting her reporter's ego in trying to make her look like a fool on the stand.  It was at this point in the proceedings where he took things a step too far, and asked her whether she could even be certain whether she had heard about Wilson's wife from Libby or from the several other people with whom she had been speaking during this timeframe about the Wilson op-ed, enriched uranium and the various and sundry issues the friends of Dick Cheney were attempting to use Judy to launder out into the public at large.  It's only funny until your stenographer of choice gets her dander up and says something like this:

Jeffress says you may have spoken to someone before, someone else before Mr. Libby, before Novak's column ever came out, when you were asking about these issues and Wilson's wife.  And Judy shoots back, I don't remember talking about Wilson's wife with anyone before I spoke with Libby.

Not scripted by Pat Fitzgerald.  Not elicited on a leading question.  Not something that Jeffress could have possibly wanted her to say in front of the jury at that moment, because it hammered the point home all over again that Judy got that tidbit of information fresh from Libby's mouth and nowhere else.  During questioning from Libby's own lawyer.

The next day, on further cross-examination from Jeffress, Miller continues that she did not recall talking about Wilson or his wife at all prior to speaking with Libby.  That she has no notes to that effect and that her memory is that Libby was the first to raise this issue with her.

Not particularly sympathetic to the yarn she and Peter Berkowitz are trying to peddle.  But there you are.

Whatever their motivation, and it can most likely be spelled out "Dick Cheney called and asked for a well-timed and well-placed favor," the Wall Street Journal gets one fact correct in its editorial page screed about what they call the "Libby Injustice:"  Mr. Bush did abandon Scooter Libby in terms of Cheney's rabid and constant nagging request for a full pardon for his chief deputy.  And that has stuck in the craw of Dick Cheney ever since.

Guilty conscience has a way of doing that.

My guess is that Dick still feels a little bad that Scooter Libby took the fall for his payback machinations.  But more than that?  He is still very pissed that George W. Bush shut him out of the Oval Office for most of the waning months of the prior administration, making him sit in the anteroom and beg for time to beg for Libby, and then never got the pardon he was demanding -- loudly, so loudly that other staffers in the White House heard his heated screeching on a couple of occasions through a not quite shut door, and then had to stew over this fact being blabbed around town as the clear evidence of Cheney's waning hold on influence and power started to seep out through the White House office denizens.

And thus through the whole of the gossipy Beltway.

I have been told on more than one occasion that Liz Cheney still seethes if you bring it up.  Legacy is everything, don't you know, and Dick Cheney's personal legacy of power and privilege tarnished by the notion that the President of the United States thought your subordinate was guilty of covering Cheney's behind and lying to the Federal government to do so?  Well, that is a tarnish that clearly isn't allowed to stand without a whine now and then.

Enter Judy Miller, stage left...let the punch and Judy show begin anew.

I cannot wait to see what Marcy has to say about this dreck...


TeddyPartridge said...

Thank you for these reminders of The Gang's Greatest Hits, Christy! It's great to have the neo-con band back together and talking out loud about their greatest misadventure, especially since so many of them won't stay under the rocks they so richly deserve to live under: Feith advising Traitor Tom Cotton, Bolton talking out of his mustache on bombing Iran, and all the others advising Jeb "I'm my own man!" Bush.....

jo6pac said...

Thank You so much. Yes the clowns are coming out of hiding to add to the circus.