Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Miller/Fitzgerald Backstory

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The Miller/Fitzgerald Backstory: using a WH leak, Miller blew an earlier Fitzgerald investigation. 7/9  

The Miller/Fitzgerald Backstory

By Josh Marshall

From: Politics

Don't forget: This isn't the first time Plame prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has tangled with Judy Miller while investigating a leak out of the Bush White House. 

A little more than a year ago, I
reported on TPM how Fitzgerald had quite aggressively investigated another Bush White House leak in late 2001 and early 2002.  Fitzgerald had been investigating three Islamic charities accused of supporting terrorism -- the Holy Land Foundation, the Global Relief Foundation, and the Benevolence International Foundation.  But just before his investigators could swoop in with warrants, two of the charities in question got wind of what was coming and, apparently, were able to destroy a good deal of evidence.

What tipped them off were calls from two reporters at the New York Times who'd been leaked information about the investigation by folks at the White House. 

One of those two reporters was Judy Miller.

Jul 07, 2005 -- 01:14:08 AM EST

Now, the way I found out about all this originally was entirely fortuitous.  While reporting on a completely unrelated story, I was interviewing a Washington foreign policy hand.  And after some time talking we get to exchanging notes and speculating about the Plame investigation.  My biggest interest was in finding out just how straight a shooter Patrick Fitzgerald was and whether there was reason to think he'd mount a tough and independent investigation, given the fact that he'd been appointed by John Ashcroft's No.2 at the Justice Department.

My conversation partner told me he didn't have much doubt Fitzgerald would be aggressive.  And he pointed to his knowledge of the earlier investigation.  In his view (though I was never quite clear why), in the earlier case, the folks at the White House had actually had fairly clean hands.  But Fitzgerald had gone after them in a big way.  (See more details

Given that backstory, he didn't think Fitzgerald would go easy on the White House if there was a case to be made.  And largely on that basis, I've always assumed Fitzgerald's inquiry would be the real thing.

Now, what does it all mean? 

Hard to say.

Certainly, one plausible way of reading the facts, though not the one I'm inclined toward, is that Fitzgerald's got it in for Miller.  She blew an earlier case he was working on.  And now he's going to stick it to her on this one. 

Or perhaps there's another explanation.  Maybe there's something Fitzgerald knows about Miller's working relationships with particular figures at NSC or on the White House staff that made him fix on her, despite the fact that she never even wrote on the story.

Of course, maybe it's just a weird coincidence, though it'd be quite a coincidence.

In any case, with all the heat bearing down right now on this story, I'm more than a little surprised this connection hasn't gotten more attention. 


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