Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Judy Judy Judy

Gene Lyons:

Until last week, that is, when Miller’s source Scooter Libby supposedly persuaded her it was OK to sing. Except Libby’s lawyer insists he gave her attorneys exactly the same information a year ago. Lawyerly scuffling broke out, but it seemed clear that Miller had simply reconfigured her lofty principles--possibly to avoid criminal contempt charges.

Then somebody leaked Scooter’s letter to the press. It said Miller’s truthful testimony would actually benefit him, helpfully reminding her of the legal tightrope her source is walking: “[A]s I am sure will not be news to you, the public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me, or knew about her before our call.”

See, if Scooter didn’t know Plame was a secret agent, “outing” her may not be a crime. It’s the incompetence defense. The letter also implicitly promised Miller big scoops on, get this, Iran’s nuclear weapons, and closed with a poetic line reminding her that “[Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.”

Ponder that metaphor for a moment.

Here’s all I know: If Hillary Clinton had written Susan McDougal a letter like that, the Washington press would have exploded with indignation. The TV talking-heads would be predicting indictments, and the phrase of the week would be “criminal conspiracy.”