And while Judith Miller seems to downplay whether there was a conspiracy in the White House to out Valerie Plame, the published explanation for her hasty and forced exit from The New York Times refers to the unfortunate role she played as “one of the reporters on the receiving end of the anti-Wilson whisper campaign.” As a key witness, Miller didn’t attend every day of the Scooter Libby trial the way my screenwriters did. Remember that this was not some witch-hunt: the special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald is universally respected and was a Republican U.S. Attorney appointed by President Bush. And the jury was unanimous in its conviction of Scooter Libby on all five counts with which he was charged.
As for Miller’s rehash of old arguments about Armitage, here again she’s got it wrong. Armitage was not an innocent Boy Scout, as wrongly portrayed by Miller and The Washington Post editors in their recent editorial. Armitage twice attempted to out Plame as a CIA officer, first to Bob Woodward (just about the most famous reporter in Washington), then, when unsuccessful with that, to Bob Novak, the syndicated self-proclaimed “Prince of Darkness.” Armitage famously confessed his “foolishness,” but that isn’t an explanation. Once may be careless, but twice is not careless, it’s either intentionally foolish, on purpose, or worse.
The truth is that Armitage is no peacenik and probably never was, no matter what Miller wishes were true to cover her tracks. Anyone looking at a timeline of who did what and when can see that Armitage tried to be an “army of one” by blurting out about Plame to two different high profile inside-the-Beltway reporters. But the trail of how Armitage came to know about Joe Wilson and his wife—a covert CIA NOC—appears to lead straight back to Libby.
Libby met with Armitage in June 2003, shortly after confirming that Joe Wilson was the unnamed ambassador sent to Niger by the CIA to find out about the now infamous “yellowcake” uranium claim. A few days later, Armitage first told Bob Woodward about Wilson and his wife, but Woodward kept silent. So Armitage’s first effort to out Plame failed. But weeks before Armitage got his second chance to out Plame, Libby had already outed Plame to Miller at the end of June 2003. Then Libby outed Plame to Miller again in early July 2003, right before Armitage blabbed to Novak about Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson.
In case Armitage’s second attempt failed, Libby knew that Miller was standing by. With Miller as a backup and Karl Rove standing by to confirm Armitage, Novak outed Plame as a CIA operative wife of Joe Wilson. Miller says nothing about her role in this affair in her op-ed piece. The Republican controlled Justice Department in fact found that Libby and Rove personally outed Valerie Plame to multiple members of the news media, including Robert Novak, Judith Miller, Matt Cooper, Walter Pincus, and Bob Woodward. Plame was going to be outed even if Armitage didn’t succeed with Novak.
So although neither Miller nor Armitage are in the film Fair Game, both of them were involved in the whole sorry episode up to their eyeballs. Actually, I would have loved to have included Richard Armitage, Cheney, and others in Fair Game, had Scooter Libby not obstructed the investigation, for which a unanimous jury convicted him on five serious counts with jail sentences.
So was there a conspiracy in the White House to punish Joe Wilson for speaking out? The film leaves that up to the viewer to decide. Pat Fitzgerald did say “there’s a cloud over the Vice-President, a cloud over the White House.” People can go see Fair Game this holiday and decide for themselves who was naughty and who was nice.