Former NY Times reporter Judith Miller’s testimony played a significant role in the case of Scooter Libby both when she originally made it and later when she recanted it. Now that Libby has officially been pardoned, Miller talked to Fox News to explain why she believes this was the right decision.
“I think it’s long overdue,” Miller said. She continued, “Ever since I got out of jail and began trying to look into the details of the Scooter Libby case…I became persuaded that my testimony had been in error and that he, in fact, had done nothing wrong.
“I decided to go back and correct the record in my own book, which I did, and when Scooter Libby was given his law license back a year and a half ago, the judge specifically cited my testimony, the recantation of my testimony, as one of the factors in his decision.”
All of this stems from a note Miller wrote about a conversation with Scooter Libby. She wrote “(wife works in bureau?)” in reference to Joe Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame. That was taken as proof that Libby must of have raised Plame’s work at the CIA. But as Peter Berkowitz explained in a piece for the Wall Street Journal back in 2015, Miller later decided her note probably hadn’t been a reference to Plame’s work at the CIA at all, but was more likely a question about her cover working at the State Department:
Ms. Miller’s new memoir recounts that after her conditions had been met and Mr. Fitzgerald asked the court to release her from jail in September 2005, she was summoned to testify before the grand jury. While Mr. Fitzgerald prepared her, she recalls, his pointed queries led her to believe that a four-word question regarding Joseph Wilson surrounded by parentheses in her notebook—“(wife works in Bureau?)”—proved that Mr. Libby had told her about Ms. Plame’s CIA employment in a June 23, 2003, conversation (well before Mr. Libby’s phone conversation with Russert). She so testified at trial in 2007.
Three years later, Ms. Miller writes, she was reading Ms. Plame’s book, “Fair Game,” and was astonished to learn that while on overseas assignment for the CIA Ms. Plame “had worked at the State Department as cover.” This threw “a new light” on the June 2003 notebook jotting, Ms. Miller says, since the State Department has “bureaus,” while the CIA is organized into “divisions.”…
Mr. Fitzgerald, who had the classified file of Ms. Plame’s service, withheld her State Department cover from Ms. Miller—and from Mr. Libby’s lawyers, who had requested Ms. Plame’s employment history. Despite his constitutional and ethical obligation to provide exculpatory evidence, Mr. Fitzgerald encouraged Ms. Miller to misinterpret her ambiguous notes as showing that Mr. Libby brought up Ms. Plame…
If Ms. Miller had testified accurately, she would have dealt a severe blow to Mr. Fitzgerald’s central contention that Mr. Libby was lying when he said he was surprised to hear Russert mention Ms. Plame.
Fitzgerald knew all along that someone else, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, had leaked Plame’s name. Armitage was never charged with anything and an investigation found the leak did no harm to national security. Libby’s conviction hinged largely on Miller’s testimony which should have made her recantation significant. But by the time Miller reconsidered, the media was no longer interested in the case.