As I mull over the Judith Miller stories burbling around the net, my mind keeps returning to Scooter Libby's love letter -- especially that arboreal metaphor involving interconnected root systems. Many people have wondered whether that strange commentary conveyed a secondary message via code.
See, for example, the Kos discussion here
. One poster avers that Miller's 76-year old husband has a medical condition which probably prevents him from taking trips to Colorado to see the "aspens." (A veiled reference to the Aspen Institute?) I haven't verified the claim about her husband, but if it is true, then we may have further evidence that Libby wasn't talking about Mother Nature.
Even if we interpret Scooter's words purely as a misguided attempt to wax poetic, they still disturb. Administration officials and journalists should have an adversarial (though not necessarily acrimonious) relationship. Why the hell is Scooter implying that an interconnected root system links her to Bush & Co.?
Arianna Huffington, who knows the publishing industry well, implies that Miller will soon receive a semi-covert pay-off for services rendered. Huffington insists (despite Judith's denials) that Miller has bragged to friends of a book deal
involving a $1.2 million advance:
That seems like an awful lot of money to pay a journalist with an iffy reputation whose cause never really became very celebre. A publishing insider crunched the numbers for me: "In order to recoup that kind of advance," the insider told me, "they'd have to sell 300,000 copies at $27 a book. Ain't gonna happen..."
This deal (presuming Huffington has reported accurately) appears to be nothing more than another political pay-off rendered "legit" by being routed through a publisher. That's an old device, of course. The public never catches on, since many people have an inflated idea of how much money authors make. If the Democrats ever regain Congress, they should investigate the large publishing houses.
Even before Plame-gate, there was something decidedly strange about Judith.
She first came to the attention of many when she wrote "hit piece" articles targeting Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator who functioned as a Reagan-era bete noir
. Many believe that these pieces were compiled with the aid (and possibly under the direction) of John "The-Buck-Stops-Here-With-Me" Poindexter, who took the fall for Iran-Contra. Although Qaddafi's real life sins were and are plentiful, the administration couldn't resist making him the target of a disinformation campaign. (Older folks may recall the fictitious "Libyan hit squad" tasked to get Reagan, not to mention the inevitable tabloid images of Qaddafi in a dress.) The NYT no longer publishes defamatory pieces about the Libyan strongman now that he has made his peace with the current administration.
She later wrote a book with Laurie Mylroie, the neocons' favorite scribbler. Mylroie, for her part, identified herself with the theory (almost certainly false) that Saddam sponsored the first World Trade Center bombing and every major terror incident since.
One aspect of Miller's career that has received insufficient attention (Wikipedia
doesn't mention it) concerns her interactions with British scientist David Kelly, whose life ended in a particularly curious "suicide." His haunting parting comment about "many dark actors playing games" appeared in an email to her. In her correspondence with him, she flattered him like a gushing teenager. Why would an allegedly objective American journalist go to such lengths to ingratiate herself with bio-war specialist in the U.K.? Much of her book Germs
is based on Kelly's research.
I'm still unsure as to whether he sought her out, or whether she sought him
. If the latter, we must ask why someone whose "roots" twine through the Veep's office would focus so intently on a man in Kelly's position. Some believe that Kelly's interactions with both Miller and U.S. Army linguist Mia Pederson carry the faint but distinctive aroma of manipulation and espionage.
The Kelly affair came to the forefront in July of 2003 -- at the same time, oddly enough, Scooter met with Judy to discuss ways to skewer Joseph Wilson. Miller wrote to Kelly, concerning the latter's appearance at a Parliamentary inquiry: "David, I heard from another member of your fan club that things went well for you today. Hope it's true, J."
Who was that other member of the "fan club"? I posit that she refered to Libby, Cheney or one of their neocon compatriots. Again we confront the question: Why would a British scientist attract such high-level attention?
Joseph Wilson and David Kelly, both experts in the respective fields, possessed information harmful to the administration's claims that Saddam possessed WMDs. They could
have chosen to back Bush with fibs. Instead, they told the truth -- and both suffered retaliation. Wilson (and his wife) were smeared in an attack orchestrated, we now know, at the highest levels. As for Kelly -- well, how many people really
think he committed suicide?
Judy Miller played a still-mysterious role in both
During the invasion of Iraq, Miller annoyed the military by delivering a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein to Chalabi and "friends" for interrogation. This 2003 Washington Post story
deserves a re-read:
More than a half-dozen military officers said that Miller acted as a middleman between the Army unit with which she was embedded and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, on one occasion accompanying Army officers to Chalabi's headquarters, where they took custody of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law. She also sat in on the initial debriefing of the son-in-law, these sources say.
Since interrogating Iraqis was not the mission of the unit, these officials said, it became a "Judith Miller team," in the words of one officer close to the situation.
This ain't no ordinary reporter, folks.
At one time, it was not so very difficult to spot a spook in scribe's clothing. CIA-friendly writers using major newspapers for cover would "WREN-der" their reports from the Soviet bloc. The situation is much more complex these days. These operatives are tied together by ideological, not institutional, roots -- and the new "cold war" they're fighting is directed against
the American people.