Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Judy Judy Miller and David Kelly.

from the comments here
emptywheel said...

WRT what the Brits wanted to lie about--I keep thinking of Judy's relationship with Kelly, and the provocative chance Judy tried to show in Iraq at the same time Kelly was there in June 2003. And Judy's comment about mutual friends in her last email to Kelly.

I can't help but think that Judy was working with the Brits, too. And that her lies are the British lies (well, they were shared lies, but the Brits have the legal exposure here that BushCo doesn't).

Also, one more Judy detail. Kay's interim report wasn't leaked out precisely because the May White Paper on the "mobile weapons labs" had been leaked out. There was a very fun Jehl-Judy article at the time reporting this that neglected to mention that Judy had been the one who had leaked that White Paper.

The Duelfer Report, IMO, is a fairly curious document. I know it obscured the provenance of the uranium document that Judy "Found" in the Mukhabarat (presenting it as "found" by ISG, which wasn't yet active). But Duelfer only "reports" the more bogus aspects of the Mahdi Obeidi story, not claiming things ISG didn't witness. I think it has a number of these "tells" where we might find a bit of a coverup out of an anxiety to be up and up.

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and Simon said...

Luke/Emptywheel,

I've got to say from the outset that I don't entirely go along with the idea that Judy was an integral part of a propaganda machine. Regarding the white paper on the labs, she didn't exactly 'leak' it, she reported it after she was apparently briefed about it by her official sources, straight after it was presented to the White House. Being as she was the embedded reporter covering the hunt for WMD this is really not so surprising. I can find nothing to suggest that this document was initially classified in any way, so in reality she only got an early look-see before it was posted on the CIA website. It made very little difference that she had reported it on May 21st and it was not publicly issued until May 28th. I cannot see Emptywheel's point that David Kay's October 2nd 2003 Interim Report was not leaked BECAUSE of this. By the time of the Interim Report (or at least the statement referring) it must have been much more obvious to all concerned that there was going to be precious little to find in Iraq, witnessed by the fact that the statement contained many circumstantial points which were portrayed as some kind evidence when they still had not been fully investigated and properly qualified. Indeed that whole report now holds very little water with the benefit of hindsight (and the complete Duelfer Comprehensive Report).

I do agree that this last report is a little curious insofar as it attempts to ever-so-neatly tie up all the Iraqi WMD loose ends, but it does draw very heavily on UNSCOM and UNMOVIC's reporting, including the quarterly reports established under SC Resolution 1284 (1999). These reports continued throughout the 2003 invasion, past the publication of the Final Report, and on up to the present (the 25th and latest s-2006-342 being issued on 30 May 06). These reports contain annexes detailing different aspects of Iraq's earlier WMD programmes, and are going to be the definitive account(s) of Iraq's malfeasance, even if very few people are aware of them.

On Dr Kelly, I take the view that he was an scrupulously honest man, who killed himself because he was no longer willing to lie for his masters. I can well imagine Judy and other reporters seeking him out to further her/their WMD reporting. Judy was plainly working alongside a number of Brits, but to suggest that she was working FOR the Brits, at least those in the Security Services and the Cabinet Office and higher who had a vested interest in demonstrating their justification for war, may be stretching the point a little bit too far (IMO).


I think that EW will argue that Judy was embedded with the 75th for a specific purpose, and that whatever she reported therefore needs to be seen through that lens.

re David Kelly, I've always presumed him to be suicided. I remember that the case was re-opened a month or two ago. Has anyone seen any update about that?

14 comments:

Kathleen said...

During the time period when Judith Miller was in jail, I was reading the L.A. Times daily. I read a report about her whole reporting thing at the NYT and that she was the last person to speak with David Kelly alive, by phone, the night before he was died. If I remember the article correctly, the report indicated that David Kelly had told Judy that he was going to blow the whistle on some aspect of what was going on. I don't remember specifically what detail, but something alarming.

It stuck in my mind because I remember reading in a mag article ages ago, maybe Vanity Fair, that Linda Tripp was the last person to talk to Vince Foster alive.

Maybe it means nothing, maybe it means something. Both ladies hung with the same crowd.

Simon said...

Luke,

I think that EW will argue that Judy was embedded with the 75th for a specific purpose, and that whatever she reported therefore needs to be seen through that lens.

I don't disagree with this, but I think the prime reason for her embedding was simply to have someone who was already seen to have a gung-ho pro-Iraq-has-WMD viewpoint on the spot to report on the uncovering of the expected missing weaponry. Her reporting from Iraq is generally fair given what was known at the time, and she did accurately report the dissent within the expert community. I think she was a surprised as anyone else when the gig started falling apart. So she was allowed some access to the defectors - so what - if their stories were false then this was going to become apparent in any case.

How surprised (shocked) she was when DK killed himself is another question - my take would be "very".

Simon said...

(poor proof reading on my part again - as surprised as...)

Simon said...

Luke,

On David Kelly, it's not so much that the case is being reopened, it's that a British backbench MP is taking a year off to investigate the "unanswered questions" about the case.

From the Guardian:

MP to investigate Dr Kelly's death

Hélène Mulholland
Friday May 19, 2006

A backbench MP is to investigate the "unanswered questions" from the official inquiry into the death of weapons scientist Dr David Kelly.

The former Liberal Democrat environmental spokesman Norman Baker today revealed his decision to stand down from the shadow cabinet two months ago was based on a quest to establish the "truth" behind Dr Kelly's death.

Mr Baker said he wanted to return to the issue because the 2003 Hutton inquiry had "blatantly failed to get to the bottom of matters"...


See also here for the Guardian's Special Report on DK.

I see from another blog that Jason Leopold has also said that he is going to look more deeply into these matters.

lukery said...

"Her reporting from Iraq is generally fair given what was known at the time, and she did accurately report the dissent within the expert community."

i think EW just choked on her breakfast.

i'm not an expert on these things - but any journo who reports that some guy in the distance wearing a baseball cap says xyz doesnt meet my standard. i remember falling off the chair at the time.

re judy and DK - it sure is a mystery with echoes of 'aspens turning' and so on. I dont have a clue what is going on there - but from a 10,000 ft perspective, the whole thing looks dodgy.

lukery said...

thnx for the baker stuff

Anonymous said...

As a journo, I can tell you that Miller's reporting did not meet fundamental standards. She did not vet sources, verify information with multiple sources or substantiate with documents the facts she was allegedly given that any child could understand were from biased sources.

That said, it's hard to guess how much Miller knew or did on her own. I think it's possible she, herself, is a high level CIA or GOP operative (she has been on TV as the "conservative" counterpoint journo for decades, few remember).

I think it's equally possible she's a dupe whose slutting around led her to use poor judgment. Perhaps, she is some of both.

As for Kelly's death, I cannot believe she had no role, given her own reporting and Guardian followups I've read. She reported on his death without disclosing she had corresponded with him hours before ... and on significant matters, not just to chat. That's NOT real-journo reporting. She's hiding something.

One thing I find utterly remarkable is the disparity in the way my MSM peers report on Miller's huge and deadly failures compared with very minor flaws in Dan Rather and Gary Webb's work.

lukery said...

from emptywheel in that other thread that i hijacked:

A couple of points. First, Judy was no longer embedded by the time she received the White Paper. She was back in the States, just a few days removed from getting kicked out of Iraq when she tried to reembed to find out more about the trailers.

Also, the chronology of the White Paper is significant:

May 21: Judy publishes details of White Paper that had not yet been published, just as debunking team is about to leave
May 25: Debunking team assmbles in Kuwait
May 27: Debunking team issues their report debunking the claims about the trailers
May 28: CIA publishes White Paper
May 29: Bush publicly uses the trailers as proof of finding WMD

The orchestration of the White Paper allowed the Administration to make claims that had been debunked.

Also, there was significant coverage as Kay's interim report came out about why they hadn't leaked it--people in INR and some in DIA said specifically that they weren't releasing early copies of the document because of the way the White Paper had been publicized back in May. Here's one take on it (in a Judy/Jehl article, but it appears in others):

The details of Mr. Kay's findings have been closely held within the administration as part of a strategy that officials said was intended both to prevent unauthorized leaks and to minimize internal disputes about any emerging findings. Issues related to the Iraqi weapons program have been contentious inside the administration as well as outside, with the State Department's intelligence branch and some officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency taking issue with a report made public in May by the C.I.A. that said mysterious trailers discovered in Iraq were used to manufacture biological weapons.

WRT Judy "working" for the Brits--that's perhaps too strong. I brought up Kelly mostly because of Judy's odd reference to one of Kelly's fans discussing his testimony. It's an odd reference regardless of what one thinks of Kelly's death.

But mostly, I don\'t think one can distinguish between the US and the British weapons teams. Professionals from both countries (and Australia) were obviously both working the same issues. And going back to UNSCOM, there was a tolerance at least on the Brits\' part to allow the US to play their misinformation games. I suspect that tolerance would be much greater, given that the Brits are the one with the legal problem.

But mostly, I don't think one can distinguish between the US and the British weapons teams. Professionals from both countries (and Australia) were obviously both working the same issues. And going back to UNSCOM, there was a tolerance at least on the Brits' part to allow the US to play their misinformation games. I suspect that tolerance would be much greater, given that the Brits are the one with the legal problem.

lukery said...

thnx journo.

it wouldnt be difficult for me to imagine that judy worked for an intelligence agency. heck - at this rate, i wouldnt be surprised to learn that she worked for more than one.

as to your comments re webb/rather - the apparent trick is that when you make a mistake, it helps to fall one way rather than another.

I've just read this interesting story on barton. i wonder if judy tried to get to him in bed to whisper between the sheets as well - i wouldnt be surprised. I wonder what he might have to say about our friend, judy.

Simon said...

Luke, Anonymous Journo,

This from AJ's post above:

"She did not vet sources, verify information with multiple sources or substantiate with documents the facts she was allegedly given that any child could understand were from biased sources."

I can go with this for some of her (Chalabi) reporting but not when it comes to her on-the-ground reporting with the military in Iraq during the hunt for WMD, and with her contacts with officials in Washington. At that point she was working 'live', and there was no-one else anywhere who could have backed up what she was being told by these primary sources.

With regards to EW's latest post (and I didn't mean for her to choke), it will take me some time to work up a reply being as she draws heavily on her previous work at The Next Hurrah. She raises several significant points about which there still remain large questions. I'll have a go at a reply tomorrow, but if it turns into a epic, it might take as long as three days. Being as this blog moves as fast as it does, maybe I'll forward it up for a new post at the top of the page.

lukery said...

simon - looking fwd to it!

and yep - things do move fast here - which is why i occassionally either point people to earlier ongoing discussions, or hijack threads by fp'ing comments. (it's not cos i'm showing off that EW wandered over! how dare you think that!)

that post of EW's that you linked to is hardly the start of it. check out this series
http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2005/08/what_judy_mille_1.html
(hence the breakfast/choking comment)

i do agree with you that reporting would have been difficult - but still, she could/would have been a bit more credulous (if she was a real journalist, and not a whore propagandist). her name was already mud when she wrote about the laughable baseball-hat-guy-in-the-distance.

and AJ's point that "any child could understand were from biased sources" is valid, despite any difficulties that any journalist may have had with verification. (similarly, shame on the editors for fp'ing most of her work - compare and contrast with WaPo burying pincus' somewhat skeptical reporting)

lukery said...

actually - this page has the links to all the others in EW's series
http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2005/08/what_judy_mille_2.html

Simon said...

Luke,

Ta for that but I was already there! Before I get right into this, my first impression is that EW comes across as being very hard on Judy. I don't quite see it that way but I'm going to have to go through all her stuff to work up a slightly different narrative. Yep, I can see an epic in the making. Will let you know when it's done!!

lukery said...

ah yes - she is very hard on judy.

the only question is whether it was justified or not ;-)