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Finally, Judith Miller gives us her take on the creepy "Aspens turning" line in Scooter Libby's letter to her, telling her it was okay to testify.
This from her account in Sunday's NYT :

"Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning," Mr. Libby wrote. "They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."

How did I interpret that? Mr. Fitzgerald asked.

In answer, I told the grand jury about my last encounter with Mr. Libby. It came in August 2003, shortly after I attended a conference on national security issues held in Aspen, Colo. After the conference, I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyo. At a rodeo one afternoon, a man in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses approached me. He asked me how the Aspen conference had gone. I had no idea who he was.
"Judy," he said. "It's Scooter Libby." "

So, who was Libby visiting in Jackson Hole? Probably Cheney. He lives there. Wonder if Judy was visiting him, too. It would be a great place to get their stories straight, wouldn't it?

So, if she was telling the truth, the key to what Libby meant when he said the "Aspens are turning" is somewhere in Colorado  in August 2003 or in what Libby might have told her in Jackson Hole afterward.

Here's what I found on the web. A conference at the Aspen Institute at the right time with Judith Miller making a preseantation:

"In Search of An American Grand Strategy for the Middle East (August 2003)
The Aspen Strategy Group summer workshop in Aspen, Colorado brought together ASG members, regional experts, and several administration officials to discuss the contours and complications of American grand strategy in the Middle East.  The group tackled reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab-Israeli conflict, region-wide economic modernization, democratization and security, while examining the necessity for a generational commitment to the region.   The papers commissioned for the session have been released in a monograph along with a synopsis of the discussion written by ASG director, Kurt Campbell."

Couldn't find a list of participants, but I did find the program:

Contents of America and the Muslim Middle East

Table of Contents
SESSION ONE: THE MUSLIM WORLD

Questions for Discussion

Memo from Bernard Lewis, "What You Should Know about Islam"

Memo from Martin Kramer, "What You Should Know about Muslim Politics and Society

Memo from Olivier Roy, "What You Should Know about Islam as a Strategic Factor

Summary of Discussion on the Muslim World

SESSION TWO: AMERICA AND SAUDI ARABIA

Questions for Discussion

Memo from Robert Satloff, "What about Saudi Arabia Should (or Shouldn't) Concern You

Memo from Abdulaziz H. Al Fahad, "How Saudi Leaders View America and the World"

"Critical Strategic Choices in U.S. Policy toward Saudi Arabia: Al Fahad's View

"Critical Strategic Choices in U.S. Policy Toward Saudi Arabia": Satloff's View

Summary of Discussion on America and Saudi Arabia

SESSION THREE: AMERICA AND IRAN

Questions for Discussion

Memo from JUDITH MILLER, "What about Iran Should (or Shouldn't) Concern You

Memo from Shaul Bakhash, "How Iranian Leaders View America and the World

"Critical Strategic Choices in U.S. Policy toward Iran": Miller's View

"Critical Strategic Choices in U.S. Policy toward Iran": Bakhash's View

Summary of Discussion on America and Iran

SESSION FOUR: AMERICA AND TURKEY

Questions for Discussion

Memo from Richard Burt, "What about Turkey Should (or Shouldn't) Concern You

Memo from Heath Lowry, "How Turkish Leaders View America and the World

"Critical Strategic Choices in U.S. Policy toward Turkey": Burt's View

"Critical Strategic Choices in U.S. Policy toward Turkey": Lowry's View

Summary of Discussion on America and Turkey

So, Judy goes to her conference. Who did she see? What did they tell her?
And then she heads for Jackson Hole on vacation, and lo and behold, there's Libby, out of the blue. What did he tell her? Did he take her to Dick Cheney's house in Jackson Hole? It would have made a cozy spot to get their stories straight, since it was starting to look like they might have a problem with the Valerie Plame stuff.

This was in the middle of everything breaking in the Plame leak.
Miller said she first met with Libby on June 23, 2003. He was concerned about leaks from the CIA and the CIA not being onboard with the administration.
Libby claims the CIA, not Cheney, sent Wilson to Niger, and it's the first time Judith claims she heard the name Wilson. Libby mentioned Wilson's wife might work for the CIA.

Wilson's op-ed piece in the NYT appeared on July 6, 2003.

Miller met with Libby again on July 8, 2003. Libby claims Wilson got it wrong when he discounted the administration's claims about uranium and Niger, but also claims Wilson's report never made it up the chain of command to the White House. (He was wrong, and we never saw it anyway.) Libby says Wilson's wife works at WINPAC, a division of the CIA concerned with unconventional weapons.

She talked to Libby again by phone on July 12, 2003. They talk of the infamous 16 words in the State of the Union speech. Libby says it was a simple miscommunication between the White House and the CIA. (Spinning furiously now.)

July 14, 2003, Novak publishes Valerie Plame's name and IDs her as a covert agent.
Things start to look bad, like Novak did a really bad thing.

Judy goes to Aspen in August for her conference.
She goes to Jackson Hole later and, surprise, surprise, runs into Libby.

Originally posted to http://www.teresahill.net on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 10:49 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  She's a spook. (4.00)
    Trust nothing she says.

    Trust nothing LIBBY says.

    He's Renfield to Cheney's Dracula spook.

    "Yes, Master. Your wish is my command!!!"

    Trust NONE of this.

    And watch for the fix.

    Charles.

  •  Does this mean Judy's the expert (none)
    on Iran??

    "Critical Strategic Choices in U.S. Policy toward Iran": Miller's View

    "Memo from JUDITH MILLER, "What about Iran Should (or Shouldn't) Concern You"

    Was Cheney at the conference? Who attended?

    If not us, who? If not now, when? L. Feuctwanger

    by mattes on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:11:15 PM PDT

  •  similar thoughts (4.00)
    More musings on Miller-Cheney-Jackson Hole.

    I'm glad somebody else weighed in on this (and thanks for the Aspen Institute info). I was being to feel a little tinfoilhattish...

  •  Connected at the roots (4.00)
    Wow, we knew Miller and Cheney were emeritus members of the Aspen Strategy Group.

    And now it turns out she actually presented on Iran strategy at the August 2003 meeting, which presumably Cheney was at? Is this another clue about the Iran "reporting" that Libby suggests for Miller in his love letter?

    Also, does this seem like the kind of thing about which an impartial journalist should be presenting?

    •  You know, it is almost like they wanted Iran (none)
      puppets to win the Iraq elections..

      All the leaks, intel blunders and bad military decisions look almost too good to be coincidence... If it wasn't Bush, Cheney and hardline zionists we were talking about, people would surely suspect a purposeful attempt to deliver Iraq in the arms of Iran, and an attempt to get hardliners more power in Iran (remember Bush's comments before Iran's elections ?).

      But to what end ?!?!?

      My brain is spinning trying to figure out those guys!

  •  The ASG proceedings (4.00)
    From your blurb about the Aspen Institute:
    ... The papers commissioned for the session have been released in a monograph along with a synopsis of the discussion written by ASG director, Kurt Campbell."

    That book is online in PDF form here.
    I just skimmed Miller's chapter and there seems to be a lot of relevant stuff there, including this tidbit on page 52-53 (57-58 of the pdf):

    4.  "It's the intelligence, stupid."  A key lesson, the implications of which have not begun to be fully absorbed, is that the United States needs much better intelligence about what rogue states and other would-be proliferators are doing. American intelligence about WMD in Iraq was, at best, inadequate. Whether or not it was distorted is a separate issue. But what the intelligence agencies thought they knew about what Iraq had actually produced, where WMD precursors and dual-use equipment and the people who made them could be found, was often flat wrong.

    (boldface added)

    And this one from page 58 (63 of the pdf):

    The military should also continue the policy of embedding journalists with weapons hunting units and urge international organizations to do the same. For the U.S., the presence of journalists would help avoid charges of having planted incriminating evidence against a proliferator. It would also help keep such units and international agencies honest. Yes, the embedding experiment was problematic in many ways, but it was important in building Administration credibility and public support for such capabilities.

    Life is like this analogy...

    by shock on Sat Oct 15, 2005 at 11:54:56 PM PDT

    •  The Participants (none)
      The list of discussants and participants from the 2003 Aspen Institute are listed on pages 3 and 4 of the monograph (pages 8-9 of the pdf here).

      They do not include Libby or Cheney.

      Life is like this analogy...

      by shock on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 12:02:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  get libby's travel schedule (none)
        Miller says that Libby asked her how the
        conference was when he ran into her.  So he
        knew she was there, even if he wasn't.  Not
        surprising, given it was public, but he would
        have had to look.  That was right when things
        started to heat up, and it was the last time
        she saw Libby, which is weird in itself given
        their previous contact.

        So what was Libby doing at a rodeo in Aspen in
        August 2003?  Does Fitzgerald have his travel
        schedule?

        "I believe in vengeance" -- Harry Reid

        by fightcentristbias on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 12:29:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Jackson Hole (3.80)
          The rodeo was in Jackson Hole, WY.

          I think whatever happened in Aspen, CO isn't really relevant.  The relevant part is that Miller went to Jackson Hole afterwords, which just so happens to be where Libby was and where Cheney lives.  Why?  Certainly not just to go to a rodeo!

          I think Libby's "Out West, where you vacation,.." reference is to Jackson Hole, not Aspen.  (They have aspen clusters in Wyoming as well.)  It seems likely that Cheney and Libby met with Miller in Jackson Hole to discuss the Wilson/Plame investigation that was then heating up and that this is a semi-coded message to remind her of whatever they talked about.

          Life is like this analogy...

          by shock on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 12:41:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Increasing preemptive action (4.00)
      This right before the "intelligence, stupid" entry:

      3. The war in Iraq, the earlier strikes against Al Qaeda and its Afghan hosts, and the Administration's current overt and covert actions in some 60 countries suggest that preemptive action against terrorists and other non-state actors will increase. With respect to terrorists, Americans will act and apologize if need be, or ask questions later. The theme was most recently and forcefully articulated by Vice President Cheney in his July 24th speech in Washington, in which he declared that terrorists could not be "deterred, contained, appeased, or negotiated with." They could only be destroyed, he said, using the word three times. This policy, too, appears to have broad support from Americans.
      •  Nuke 'em all, and (none)
        let God sort 'em out!*

        "Americans will act and apologize if need be, or ask questions later."

        Hmmm. "Americans." Shame on them for using us.

        It is better to die standing than to live on your knees. - Emiliano Zapata

        by cotterperson on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 09:33:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If the embedded journalist were Miller, (none)
      however, then it might be possible to get away with planting WMD's, don't you think?
  •  I find it significant that Fitzgerald (4.00)
    Even ASKED Miller what she made of Libby's letter, the connected at the roots part.  Odd isn't it.

    The rest of us were all speculating that the letter contained "code" for something.  Evidently, Fitz did to!

    Out west where you vacation: The Aspen Strategy group gathering?  I wouldn't call that a vacation.  

    The Aspens will already be turning:  does this mean those at the ASG meeting will be changing their beliefs, don't think so.  These are ideologues.  Aspens leaves turn yellow.  Will some of the "group" be turning yellow, as in telling tales?  And if one starts "flipping", more than one will flip because they know they have to if someone is talking.  They are all connected, in on the deal.  Have connections?

    The more significant part of Libby's words (IMO) was:  Come back to work and to life.  Until then you are in my thoughts and prayers.  Code again?  "Stay on 'the job', keep your mouth shut, don't rat us out, and keep your life.  If you don't, you will pay ... now or later because I won't forget it ever!"  (like the mob)

  •  Defense Policy and Program Teams (none)
    Every year , Bush holds a meeting in mid-August with the Defense Policy and Program Teams at the Crawford "ranch". Cheney attends along with Rumsfeld, etc. It's a safe assumption Libby attends as well, no?

    Was the Aspen event before or after?

  •  I know this is far too simple.... (none)
    ...but when you're already in Aspen, why would you go to Jackson Hole for a vacation? It's like going to a conference in Pittsburgh, then spending a few days in Cleveland.  There's not enough difference between the two to justify the travel day.

    Unless you're meeting friends in Cleveland.....

    "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." -- H. L. Mencken

    by roxtar on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 04:47:13 AM PDT

    •  Well (none)
      These days, it's like going on vacation in St. Tropez and then deciding you want to see a rodeo in Cannes.  Been to Jackson lately?  It's where buffalos billionaires roam.

      "When you starve the beast, you starve the people. And the bathtub was a reference to New Orleans." -- bink

      by bink on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 06:08:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? (none)
        What would attract billionaires to live in the middle of a godforsaken place like that?

        We have a spot here in Florida called the golden triangle that is between Orlando and Daytona.  They say there are more millionaires per square foot there than just about anywhere in the country.  Once again, no overt reason except that it is about as protected from natural disasters (of which we have plenty) as you can get in this state.

        Embrace diversity. Not everyone is intelligent.

        by FLDemJax on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 07:04:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  All this is readily accessable (4.00)
    information--the New York Times could have pulled any of this together--but instead we get total bullshit.  It's scary when a collection of people sitting around with a coffee cup on Sunday morning can blow the newspaper of record out of the water.
    •  Last Lemming's key point (none)
      LL, you are absolutely right on this.  NYT has not even tried to pull together this story--including the David Kelly angle.  Miller had an on-going relationship, international in scope (Kelly, Chalabi, etc.) with the neocons that centered on Iraq.  We get a few disconnected factoids passed off by the NYT.

      The NYT has disgraced and discredited itself.

  •  You know Fitz's questions didn't end w/ her resp. (none)
    Miller ends her article like that was how her grand jury testimonry ended. There is no way Fitzgerald let her end her testimony with that weak excuse for Libby's cryptic letter. He had to have asked a lot of questions about their conversations at the rodeo and after.
    •  Judy is afraid? (none)
      I think that ending her article with that one creepy unfinished rodeo picture was intentional. Its the last line of a good thriller that left this reader wondering what was behind the next horse trailer she walked by, or whether she even lived until morning. Straight out of some creative writing class. Like Libby's letter. Is she playing with him or playing with us?

      I was stunned, then angry, and finally grossed out by it. I don't like this made for tv crime/drama  playing out between such powerful and influential people.

      I want it over and laid out for all to see.
      It's about all the dead children, dead mothers, and dead fathers caught up in this war that these two people helped create.

      •  Exactly my thoughts (none)
        Miller's writing the ending to her article to make it LOOK like she's spooked by this creep Libby that Fitzgerald has forced her to turn on (under penalty of obstruction of justice).

        Maybe she was spooked when he made himself known to her from his cowboy garb. But lots happened after. And Fitzgerald and GJ no doubt had many questions that followed.  

        I am most bothered that her testimony was limited to just Libby's release but that Fitzgerald wants to know more about Cheney's role.

  •  Cheney is toast (none)
    Why do you think he has been disappeared lately?
    •  Wasn't Cheney on Limbaugh's show (none)
      the other day defending the pick of Harriet Miers?  (For that matter, Rove, who has otherwise been making himself scarce, has been defending that pick to folks like Dobson.)
    •  Cheney can't come out in the daytime anyway (none)
      He has to stay "at home" in his coffin where all the other blood-suckers stay when the sun is out!

      Let the sun shine ... let the sun shine in ... the sun shine in!!!!!

      I can just see Cheney screeching and melting into oblivion!!  Only thing is, the undead never die .... unless they have a stake driven through their heart. or is that a silver bullet?  

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