Rove/Plame: Judy's turn to cry, again; a theory of the case

class=img_thumbleft>Judith Miller is appearing


for a second time in front of Patrick Fitzgerald's Plame/CIA leak grand jury. It isn't clear when Karl Rove will make his fourth appearance, but it's expected to be this week.

Meantime, a theory of the case that is interesting, detailed, and very plausible surfaced from a trio of blogs over the weekend. The essential premise is that Fitzgerald is trying to document a conspiracy that did not start with the conversations that took place between reporters and White House staffers after Joe Wilson's notorious NYT op-ed was published on July 6, 2003. Rather, the theory goes, the plan to discredit Wilson dates back to the previous month, when the Bushmen learned that Wilson was the anonymous source in a news story criticizing the Niger/uranium claims Bush had made in his State of the Union address. This is significant because it traces the origins of the Plame leak to the White House Iraq Group that was run out of Dick Cheney's office, and suggests that Judy Miller may have initially tried to conceal some of her conversations with Scooter Libby from Fitzgerald.

Jane Hamsher, the Firedoglake blogger who got it all started, sums up her theory thusly:

In a nutshell: it posits that Judy thought she could get cute, cut a deal with Fitzgerald to limit her testimony and then lied to the Grand Jury (possibly about the first time she met with Libby, having been coached by him). Fitzgerald busted her, and she's now scrambling to save her ass and offering up her notes from a heretofore unknown meeting with A Boy Named Scooter on June 23. [Read the Hamsher piece.]

The particulars get much more complicated, and hinge on fairly arcane details of the case's timeline. Mark A.R. Kleiman offers a lucid summary here, and also links off to the Firedoglake and Next Hurrah posts he's referencing. Before you check that out, though, let me add that there may be a bit of corroboration to this theory that none of its progenitors mention in the posts I've read--specifically, the State Department background memo on Joseph and Valerie Plame Wilson whose existence the Bloomberg wire reported on a few months back.

This, remember, was the document that identified Valerie Wilson as a CIA employee in a passage marked as secret. Bloomberg reported that Colin Powell and Ari Fleischer had it in their possession during an Air Force One flight to Africa on July 7, the day after Joe Wilson's column was published. The Bloomberg dispatch states that the memo was written on July 7 at the request of Powell.

But in a case timeline published at Counterpunch, author and former (Johnson/Nixon-era) National Security Council member Roger Morris claims that the memo in question actually dated to June 10, and was written by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the request of Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman. [Read Morris.] If Hamsher, Kleiman, et al. are right about the general arc of the case, and Morris is correct as to timing--and presumably the document, which has never been released publicly, is dated--this memo could turn out to be a (the?) smoking gun in Fitzgerald's cases against Rove, Libby, and--dare we hope?--Judith Miller.

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