A new book by former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, "The Story: A Reporter's Journey"
, claims that former White House adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury through improperly manipulated testimony and withholding of crucial evidence in his 2007 trial.
Libby received a sentence of a $250,000 fine, two years probation and 30 months in prison, with the prison part overturned by a grant of presidential clemency by President George W. Bush, over allegedly having identified Valerie Plame as a CIA agent.
However, The Wall Street Journal states
, Miller, whose testimony was crucial in Libby's conviction, says she was manipulated into providing false testimony by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, after spending 85 days in jail for refusing to cooperate.
Miller says a review of her notes, on which part of her testimony was based, shows that she did not question Libby about whether Plame worked for the CIA but, rather, had asked if she worked for the State Department.
"This threw 'a new light' on the June 2003 notebook jotting, Ms. Miller says, since the State Department has 'bureaus,' while the CIA is organized into 'divisions,' " Peter Berkowitz, senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, writes in the Journal.
Her notes stated, "wife works in bureau?"
Berkowitz notes that Libby did not leak Plame's identity in retaliation for her husband opposing administration claims that Saddam Hussein had sought to purchase uranium from African sources. Plame's name was leaked by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to columnist Robert Novak.
"From the moment he (Fitzgerald) took over the FBI leak investigation in December 2003, he knew Mr. Armitage was the leaker but declined to prosecute him…because the disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity wasn't a crime and didn't compromise national security," Berkowitz writes.
"Mr. Fitzgerald, who had the classified file of Ms. Plame's service, withheld her State Department cover from Ms. Miller and from Mr. Libby's lawyers, who had requested Ms. Plame's employment history. Despite his constitutional and ethical obligation to provide exculpatory evidence, Mr. Fitzgerald encouraged Ms. Miller to misinterpret her ambiguous notes as showing that Mr. Libby brought up Ms. Plame."
Plame, now a fiction author, told the Youngstown News
she believes she was outed as "political payback for a column by my husband." The paper added, "she believes Libby took the fall for (Vice President Dick) Cheney."
Today, Libby is a senior vice president of the Hudson Institute.
Miller states that she is "dismayed that her inaccurate testimony may have 'helped convict an innocent man,' " the Journal notes.
Berkowitz writes: "It is painful to contemplate how many American and Iraqi lives might have been spared if Mr. Libby, the foremost champion inside the White House in 2003 of stabilizing Iraq through counterinsurgency, had not been sidelined and eventually forced to resign by Mr. Fitzgerald's overwrought investigation and prosecution."
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