Dems Demand Libby Give Personalized Waiver to Judith Miller

Murray Waas writes that Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Louise Slaughter of New York, the ranking Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, have written Lewis Libby, Cheney's Chief of Staff, and asked him to provide jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller with a "personalized waiver."

I think this whole business about "personalized waivers" is bunk. A red herring. Judith Miller has said she doesn't trust Fitzgerald. Where's her assurance that if she shows up to talk about Libby, he won't then ask her about other sources, as he did with Matt Cooper?

Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, has told the New York Times that Libby's original waiver covered all New York Times reporters. The notion of "personalized waivers" started with Matthew Cooper and Karl Rove. Cooper didn't get any "personalized waiver" - he got a letter from Rove's attorney reaffirming that Rove's original waiver included him.

In court shortly after 2, he [Cooper] told Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the Federal District Court in Washington that he had received "an express personal release from my source." That statement surprised Mr. Luskin, Mr. Rove's lawyer. Mr. Luskin said he had only reaffirmed the blanket waiver, in response to a request from Mr. Fitzgerald.

As I wrote yesterday in response to this article by Waas about the July 8 meeting of Libby and Miller:

I think Judith Miller is protecting her stable of Pentagon sources - not just Lewis Libby. And that range could establish the coverup and implicate those at the very top - up to or just short of Dick Cheney. I don't think a personalized waiver from Libby would have made any difference at all. What Miller would need to talk is an assurance from Fitzgerald that she will be questioned only about her meeting and conversations with Libby and that she need not reveal any other source. Or, she needs the same assurance from Fitzgerald that he gave to Walter Pincus: that she can testify to the substance of her conversations with her source but not confirm his identity.

Here's what Judith Miller said on why she won't comply:

"I felt that I didn't want to start to go down the road of testifying about someone who may or may not be a source, because, at this point, the focus of Mr. Fitzgerald's inquiry has been on one person. But, as we've seen from Matt Cooper, if you make a deal to discuss that one person who may or may not have given a voluntary waiver, what about what happens when Mr. Fitzgerald's target of interest or person of interest shifts?"

"And then there's another person and another person who comes under suspicion. And, eventually, somebody might actually get to one of your sources, if they haven't already. I just decided that the position has got to be, if I promised someone confidentiality, whether or not he was a source on a particular story, I'm not going to go in and testify about what that person told me. Otherwise, I can't do my job. "

[Source: CNN October 25, 2004,Transcript of Miller and Aaron Brown, CNN, Newsnight]

The Washington Post reported it this way:

Her position is that no such waiver under pressure from a prosecutor can ever be voluntary.

Libby's lawyer also told the New York Times that Cooper didn't get a "personalized waiver" from Libby before he agreed to be deposed by Fitzgerald about Libby:

Mr. Cooper's statements on Wednesday echoed his rationale for testifying last summer. "Mr. Libby," a statement issued by the magazine at the time said, "gave a personal waiver of confidentiality for Mr. Cooper to testify."

In an interview Friday, Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph A. Tate, disputed that. "Mr. Libby signed a form," Mr. Tate said. "He gave it back to the F.B.I. End of story. There was no other assurance."

Unlike Judith Miller, Matthew Cooper was looking for any way to stay out of jail and he seized on this "personalized waiver" to do it. Libby can provide all the waivers he wants to Miller. She is not going to talk - unless she's facing a criminal indictment for obstruction of justice or a criminal contempt charge after her civil confinement is up. Then she may re-think it. End of story.

Update: I just read Rep. Conyers' Huffington Post entry about his letter. I think he fell for the set-up. Look at Murray's sources for the quote about Libby and the personal waiver:

"Sources close to the investigation, and private attorneys representing clients embroiled in the federal probe, said that Libby's failure to produce a personal waiver may have played a significant role in Miller's decision not to testify about her conversations with Libby, including the one on July 8, 2003.

"Sources close to the investigation" sound like the Republican spin lawyers helping the private lawyers who represent those under investigation. (If they were representing mere witnesses, they wouldn't be "embroiled" in the probe.) As I said yesterday, this is spin from Rove and Company, and as it gets closer to October, you can expect the lawyers for those most likely to be indicted to begin playing their defense in the media. It seems like it's getting to be "each man for himself" time over at the White House, and Rove is starting the dump on Libby. No way is Rove going to allow himself to go down alone.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Re: Dems Demand Libby Give Personalized Waiver to (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    What a perfect setup. I am certain that this is tricky bit was planned. Any waiver, personal or blanket is coerced because of the circumstances, is a pretty adept slight of hand; you gotta give it to Miller for crafty trick; amazing woman she is. Fitzgerald must be fuming. She will never talk, and he is a goner. Looks like the sand castle is crumbling. My reading of Cooper decision to testify was this: The WSJ printed an article or editorial the day Cooper was to go to jail. It quoted Luskin, Roves Lawyer, saying something like 'Obviously Rove is not Cooper's source, he gave a waiver and so Cooper must be trying to protect someone else.' Coopers lawyer called Cooper that morning and said something like ' Rove seems to be using you, what a liar. Should we call him on it?' Cooper, angered by the arrogance of Rove, agreed and his lawyer delivered a letter to Luskin to sign, verify Roves WSJ statements. He signed and Cooper avoided going to jail for Rove the slime. He cleverly took the signed letter as a personal waiver. I do not remember Libby coming into the picture though, w/ Cooper.

    Rep. John Conyers does not represent an Ohio congressional district. He represents the 14th Michigan congressional district. He's a gentleman of increasingly rare honesty and integrity and we plan on keeping him the Michigan congressional delegation for as long as he wants! [Ed. Sorry, I knew that. Fixed it, Thanks.]

    Re: Dems Demand Libby Give Personalized Waiver to (none / 0) (#3)
    by Strick on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:05 PM EST
    I think Libby should do it. But just below his signature he ought to write, "Well, since you insist," and see where it gets Fitzgerald. I'm surprised Conyers didn't see the Catch-22 in his demand. Unless he's just showboating, of course.

    Re: Dems Demand Libby Give Personalized Waiver to (none / 0) (#4)
    by Richard Aubrey on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:05 PM EST
    COnyers is a lying demagogue who is becoming increasingly detached from reality. He is one of the best examples of why group identity voting is a bad idea.

    Re: Dems Demand Libby Give Personalized Waiver to (none / 0) (#5)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:05 PM EST
    Bush has already said that he insisted that ALL members of his staff come clean and comply w/ the Plame investigation. Why is it so shocking that Dems do the same. Obviously 'libbyration' in iraq and the WH mean 2 different things;-) RA, please provide links that Conyers lies. While I know you were just trying to get the post back on the rnc talking points, (IOW attack 1 minor point to refute a whole chain of truth), your inability to actually provide facts for your bizarre assertions undermines any credibility you might have to new visitors to TL' comments.

    RA, don't bother with links to Conyers--this thread stays on the subject of the Libby waiver.