Amy on Hardball speaking about the CIA Valerie Plame leak case.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome back to “Hardball.”
Judy Miller wrote a first-person account in the New York Times yesterday about her involvement with the CIA Valerie Plame leak.
Here to tell us if it went far enough and explain the story is radio talk show host Amy Goodman from New York and San Francisco Chronicle columnist and my former colleague Debra Saunders. She‘s out in San Francisco.
Well, what did you all make of that long take-out?
You first, Amy—this long take-out in the New York Times, the main bar piece by their staff and the sidebar piece by Judy Miller with her personal account of her testimony before the grand jury.
Did you get a clear picture of the reason she went to jail after reading all that?
GOODMAN: Well, I mean, I have to say, it‘s completely outrageous what was explained in the pages but it is not enough, Judith Miller revealing here, although it had been reported at Editor and Publisher, that she had security clearance, that she could talk more to the military than she could to her own editors.
We have to ask, is there a separation between the press and the state?
And why it matters, of course, is we‘re talking about the paper of record. This is the paper that, leading up to the invasion in 2003, beat the drums for war.
Judith Miller continually front-paged pieces that she either authored alone or authored with people like Michael Gordon of The New York Times, repeatedly asserting weapons of mass destruction. This is not trivial.
MATTHEWS: Are you saying, Amy, that she was given security clearance so that she could do the work of the White House?
GOODMAN: I mean, this is astounding.
MATTHEWS: Is that your argument?
GOODMAN: What she said herself is that she was given security clearance. She said that she may have told Libby in one of her conversations with him that she couldn‘t even discuss this stuff with her editors.
Who is she responsible to? Ultimately, as journalists, we‘re responsible to the American people, not to the military of the United States.
MATTHEWS: Debra, what did you make of that long take-out piece, the long main bar, the side bar, huge amount of writing in the New York Times yesterday?
SAUNDERS: Well, by the way, as a journalist, I‘m responsible to my editors. They tell me this all the time.
You know, I found her piece was very late in coming and so was the New York Times and that was disappointing. And there were things about it that just didn‘t work for me.
I didn‘t understand why she decided that she would spend 85 days in jail and then, suddenly, Libby had convinced her that he wanted her to talk. I mean, that just didn‘t work for me.
Oh, by the way, Chris, have you read his book, “The Apprentice?”
MATTHEWS: No. It‘s a novel?
SAUNDERS: Well, I‘ve read the novel. You can‘t understand it. So, you keep asking people about that note about the aspens.
SAUNDERS: I read the whole novel; I don‘t get it. I think it‘s also disappointing that, when she talked about it how she couldn‘t recall who told her about Valerie Flame.
So, I think there are some problems with...
MATTHEWS: Yes, that‘s—Judy Miller could not remember the main question here which is who‘s leaking the name and she couldn‘t remember it although she wrote it in her notebook inaccurately as Flame.
But we all know what she was trying to say. Obviously, she heard it, which makes me think she heard it over the phone. But that‘s a bit of speculation because if you‘re in the room with someone, there‘s a difference between the sound of Plame and Flame. Over the phone, it can be muffle muffled.
Let me go back to Amy about this question: The conversation that was sent, the word that was sent from Scooter Libby, who‘s apparently the reason why she went to jail, Judy Miller—that was her source that‘s come out and he‘s released her in some form.
The letter of releasing her had that weird language about the tangled roots and the joined at the roots and whatever and about how everybody else in the case had testified that he, Scooter Libby, did not give away the identity—the name or the undercover status of this person.
Was that a knife buried in a cake going into prison like in the old prison movies, the big house movies? It‘s basically saying, here‘s your cake; you can get out. But in there‘s a knife. You better do this right.
GOODMAN: Right. You better say what the others said or didn‘t say.
But, I think, you know, most importantly, so people don‘t think this is some kind of insider baseball is ultimately what this has meant is that it really manufactured consent for people in this country, believing there were weapons of mass destruction, which was the pretext for going to war. Right now, we‘re seeing over 1,900...
SAUNDERS: This isn‘t about the war.
MATTHEWS: One of our guests earlier tonight said that the vice president‘s three former staffers or current staffers were being interviewed by the special prosecutor. It turns out that just two of them were.
Jim Wilkinson wasn‘t, but the two others, we believe, were interviewed about the role of the vice president. So, we‘re sound on those two.
Anyway, Amy, your final thought.
GOODMAN: Well, I think that the New York Times has certainly not gone far enough. If you remember Jason Blair, they did a five full-page expose on him. I‘m waiting for that same kind of expose—and not only Judith Miller, though she certainly is at the center of this.
She didn‘t write these stories alone. Editors approved them.
Ultimately, they got on the front pages of the Times.
Debra, are we all in agreement that this is a murky account by the Times yesterday?
SAUNDERS: This isn‘t about Iraq. This is—and we‘re not even sure that a crime was committed.
MATTHEWS: That‘s right. We don‘t know. We‘re going to end the show with that thought.
Thank you very much, Debra Saunders, Amy Goodman.