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Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Other Miller

Over at AMERICAblog, John puts together a list of administration folks who've "been tainted by this scandal in some way."

President Bush
Vice President Cheney
Karl Rove
Scooter Libby
John Hannah, "an aide to Cheney"
Ari Fleischer "former White House spokesman"
Mary Matalin, "a former top Cheney adviser"
Catherine Martin, "[Cheney's] former communications adviser"
Jennifer Millerwise, "[Cheney's] former spokeswoman"
Scott McClellan "spokesman"
Dan Bartlett "senior adviser"
Adam Levine "former communications aide"
Colin L. Powell "then-Secretary of State"
Stephen J. Hadley "Bush's national security adviser"
Andrew H. Card Jr. "Chief of Staff"
Condoleezza Rice "then-national security adviser" ,
Karen Hughes, "adviser"
Nicholas Calio "White House director of legislative affairs"
George J. Tenet "Former CIA director"
John E. McLaughlin "ex-deputy [CIA] director
Bill Harlow "CIA public affairs director"
With all of the speculation over State Department folks "on loan" from John Bolton to Cheney's office, and the whispers that these are among the high-level "flips" now aiding Fitzgerald's investigation, something popped in to my head.

Someone, actually. Someone over at State who showed up after McClellan issued his fierce denials of Rove or Libby's involvement, and after the subsequent clampdown on commenting on an "ongoing investigation" to which Scotty clings for dear life to this very day. Someone whose job it was to run interference.

Someone who, while not having been called before the grand jury, quite possibly ought to be. I speak of the lovely Emily Miller, Colin Powell's "press aide." Her tenure with Powell began after the actual events around the Plame outing, by some 5 or 6 months, but it seems to me she might be someone with whom the Special Prosecutor should speak . You'll remember Ms. Miller:
Note her subtle message to the press in that photo.

Her one moment of public notoriety came on an unfortunate Sunday in May of last year. Russert was asking Powell some questions during an MTP interview when the camera suddenly cut away and a disembodied voice began calling the shots....well, let's go to the transcript, shall we?
Russert: Finally, Mr. Secretary, in February of 2003, you placed your enormous personal credibility before the United Nations and laid out a case against Saddam Hussein citing...

Emily: You're off.

Powell: I am not off.

Emily: No. They can't use it. They're editing it. They (unintelligible).

Powell: He's still asking me questions.

Emily: He was not...

Powell: Tim, I'm sorry, I lost you.

Russert: I'm right here, Mr. Secretary. I would hope they would put you back on camera. I don't know who did that.

Powell: We've really scre...

Russert: I think that was one of your staff, Mr. Secretary. I don't think that's appropriate.

Powell: Emily, get out of the way.

Emily: OK.

Powell: Bring the camera back, please. I think we're back on, Tim. Go ahead with your last question.
Note the question which prompted Emily to pull the camera. As I'd written back then:
Given that it was during his UN appearance, hawking bogus intelligence as though it were indisputable fact, that he destroyed his once stellar reputation made this a particularly awkward occurrence. He squandered the respect and trust of the nation, and the wider world, in towing the neocon party line he did not, in fact, agree with. To pull the camera when he was asked a question pertaining to that very issue made Powell look very bad indeed.
We know that the real reason behind the attack on the Wilsons was the Ambassador's cutting too close to the bone by debunking one of the central claims to justify the war; namely, Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions and the infamous "16 words" in the State of the Union address. The Niger forgeries, as Justin Raimondo laid out yesterday, are at the core of the push towards war, and where they came from speaks volumes.

But I digress. Ms. Miller rose to her position with the former Secretary of State from her days as a spokesperson for embattled Exterminator Tom Delay. Tom Delay. She even popped up in Florida during the coup recount fiasco, organizing those "spontaneous protests" of Hill staffers and Young Republicans. Via Arianna way back during the 2000 election:
That's how I felt watching Majority Whip Tom DeLay suddenly morph into a champion of protest marches and civil disobedience. "This was not a threatening band of armed thugs," said DeLay spokesperson Emily Miller, referring to the raucous demonstrators who stormed the Miami-Dade elections department. "They were idealistic, enthusiastic, young Republicans who felt they were being shut out."

Well, not exactly. Turns out a good portion of those idealists were Republican Party operatives -- including DeLay staffer Thomas Pyle, and Elizabeth Ross, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott -- many of whom had been flown in by the Bush campaign. I wonder if it was a package deal: "Spend fall break in Florida. Sun, sand, surf. Shut down the Miami recount and the third night's free."
Emily's been there since the very beginning of the Bush debacle, playing crucial media manipulation roles.

Yes, but Delay and Powell travel in the same circles and all that, right? And I'm sure Powell looked with admiration to the effectiveness of Delay's communications team. Why they...

Or not.

In fact, I've always found it hard to believe Powell himself brought her aboard. It always seemed more likely she was brought (or sent) to State by someone else. A way to help Colin stay on the reservation when dealing with the press. And perhaps that was the day she felt Powell seemed particularly and justifiably PO'd with her that day. She was put in her position once Fitzgerald's investigation was under way. And, as Richard Leiby wrote in the WaPo in the days after the MTP incident:
In just six months on the job, Miller, 33, who controls access to Powell, seems to have made more enemies than usual among the reporters who cover the State Department. "Her manner is brusque, abrasive, demeaning," said one, asking to remain anonymous so as not to be frozen out of interviews with Powell. "She's not doing the secretary a service; she's doing him a disservice."
He goes on to share this little ditty about Miller's time with Delay:
In 2001 Miller was working as press secretary to then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay when she lashed into Post Magazine writer Peter Perl while he was doing a profile of her boss, screaming: "You lied! . . . You betrayed him! You twisted his words! . . . We don't know you. You don't exist. . . . You are dead to us." A DeLay spokesman told us yesterday, "Tom thinks Emily did a fine job for him."
That's the sound of a True Believer, right there. I can't help but wonder if Delay's little firebrand may have been meant to be Colin's feisty firewall. Makes you also wonder why they didn't trust Colin to stick to the script. After all, he'd been towing their line, spinning their lies, right alongside the rest of the crew. But he did say this to Russert, in answering the question of his misleading claims to the UN, once the camera swang back over from the shot of palm trees Emilyhad knocked into frame:
Powell: [...] it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that, I am disappointed and I regret it.
Yeah, you and me both, pal.

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