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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Liar: The Judy Miller Story

Why did Judy protect
you, Scooter?

The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal

This article is by Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak and Clifford J. Levy.

In a notebook belonging to Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, amid notations about Iraq and nuclear weapons, appear two small words: "Valerie Flame."

Ms. Miller should have written Valerie Plame. That name is at the core of a federal grand jury investigation that has reached deep into the White House. At issue is whether Bush administration officials leaked the identity of Ms. Plame, an undercover C.I.A. operative, to reporters as part of an effort to blunt criticism of the president's justification for the war in Iraq.

Ms. Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify and reveal her confidential source, then relented. On Sept. 30, she told the grand jury that her source was I. Lewis Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. But she said he did not reveal Ms. Plame's name.

And when the prosecutor in the case asked her to explain how "Valerie Flame" appeared in the same notebook she used in interviewing Mr. Libby, Ms. Miller said she "didn't think" she heard it from him. "I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall," she wrote on Friday, recounting her testimony for an article that appears today.

Whether Ms. Miller's testimony will prove valuable to the prosecution remains unclear, as do its ramifications for press freedom. Yet an examination of Ms. Miller's decision not to testify, and then to do so, offers fresh information about her role in the investigation and how The New York Times turned her case into a cause.

I'm sure people will parse these articles for meaning, but let's be clear, Judy Miller is a liar, who sided with Scooter Libby over her collegues. She should be fired outright. She lied to her editors and most importantly, she lied to the grand jury. Any reporter who says, when dealing with a notebook of quotes from one source, and says another jumped in the middle of that, is a fucking liar and everyone in the newsroom knows it. You can't take notes like that. Fitzgerald should indict her for perjury and may well do so.


Well, when taking notes, you usually try to seperate them by source, so you don't confuse words from different people. Even a couple of lines would have been used. Miller might have jotted the name down, but then, she would have isolated it. So not to confuse the two subjects. But without initials or a notation, her story is just bullshit. Her whole story would not pass muster in a reporting 101 class.

I mean, you have to believe she was taking notes, and in the middle of these notes, from one subject, this name randomly appears. Come on, who is she trying to fool? And then she forgets who it was? Oh my God, she hid the damn notebook in the first place, then she has a memory lapse in a business where memory lapses are usually a hinderance to work? And Fitzgerald knew to ask for it.

Ms. Miller's article on the hunt for missing weapons was published on July 20, 2003. It acknowledged that the hunt could turn out to be fruitless but focused largely on the obstacles the searchers faced.

Neither that article nor any in the following months by Ms. Miller discussed Mr. Wilson or his wife.

It is not clear why. Ms. Miller said in an interview that she "made a strong recommendation to my editor" that an article be pursued. "I was told no," she said. She would not identify the editor.

Ms. Abramson, the Washington bureau chief at the time, said Ms. Miller never made any such recommendation.

In the fall of 2003, after The Washington Post reported that "two top White House officials disclosed Plame's identity to at least six Washington journalists," Philip Taubman, Ms. Abramson's successor as Washington bureau chief, asked Ms. Miller and other Times reporters whether they were among the six. Ms. Miller denied it.

"The answer was generally no," Mr. Taubman said. Ms. Miller said the subject of Mr. Wilson and his wife had come up in casual conversation with government officials, Mr. Taubman said, but Ms. Miller said "she had not been at the receiving end of a concerted effort, a deliberate organized effort to put out information."

Lying to editors is a fireable offense. She's lying about the request to run an article and she lied about getting the information. This behavior is amazing. She's acting as if her primary loyalty is to Scooter Libby and not the Times which pays her lavish salary. This is amazing. She's hiding information her editors had every right to know. Why would she hide the fact that some Bushie approached her with this info? There's no reason to do so, unless......she had a relationship to protect. And I don't mean source. Miller is well known for her attraction to powerful men. Libby would have been a very good source to cultivate in the Bush Administration, given it's secrecy and Cheney's role in the WH. But her attachment seems more like loyal girlfriend than a reporter protecting a source. I can't think of any other explaination.

Throughout this year, reporters at the paper spent weeks trying to determine the identity of Ms. Miller's source. All the while, Mr. Keller knew it, but declined to tell his own reporters.

Even after reporters learned it from outside sources, The Times did not publish Mr. Libby's name, though other news organizations already had. The Times did not tell its readers that Mr. Libby was Ms. Miller's source until Sept. 30, in an article about Ms. Miller's release from jail.


Ms. Abramson called The Times's coverage of the case "constrained." She said that if Ms. Miller was willing to go to jail to protect her source, it would have been "unconscionable then to out her source in the pages of the paper."

Even though it had to be clear that Miller wasn't only using the paper, but harming it? Judy Miller boxed her editors in and basically handed the story to other papers. But they should have had a feeling they were being played and that Miller's interests lie more in protecting Libby than the paper. They were in an untenable position and her laywer didn't talk to Libby for a year.

The editorial page, which is run by Mr. Sulzberger and Gail Collins, the editorial page editor, championed Ms. Miller's cause. .................

Asked in the interview whether he had any regrets about the editorials, given the outcome of the case, Mr. Sulzberger said no.

"I felt strongly that, one, Judy deserved the support of the paper in this cause - and the editorial page is the right place for such support, not the news pages," Mr. Sulzberger said. "And secondly, that this issue of a federal shield law is really important to the nation."

Ms. Miller said the publisher's support was invaluable. "He galvanized the editors, the senior editorial staff," she said. "He metaphorically and literally put his arm around me."

Poor Gail Collins. She's a decent woman who has directed the editorial page to take some very conscientious stands. Collins was ordered to protect Miller in her pages, the only place in the paper where that happened. Pinch really has no clue that Judy has gone native. She doesn't give a damn about the Times. Notice Matt Cooper didn't jam Time up like this. But Miller made everyone's life harder

After much deliberation, Ms. Miller said, she finally told Mr. Bennett to call Mr. Libby's lawyer. After two months in jail, Ms. Miller said, "I owed it to myself to see whether or not Libby had had a change of heart, the special prosecutor had had a change of heart."

Mr. Bennett called Mr. Tate on Aug. 31. Mr. Tate told Mr. Bennett that Mr. Libby had given permission to Ms. Miller to testify a year earlier. "I called Tate and this guy could not have been clearer - 'Bob, my client has given a waiver,' " Mr. Bennett said.

Mr. Fitzgerald wrote to Mr. Tate on Sept. 12, saying he was concerned that Ms. Miller was still in jail because of a "misunderstanding" between her and Mr. Libby.

Three days later, Ms. Miller heard from Mr. Libby.

In a folksy, conversational two-page letter dated Sept. 15, Mr. Libby assured Ms. Miller that he had wanted her to testify about their conversations all along. "I believed a year ago, as now, that testimony by all will benefit all," he wrote. And he noted that "the public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me."

Freeman is an idiot. Fitzgerald was at no point bluffing. He was heart attack serious. But this is weird, on two points. Once, Libby could have contacted her at any time and said "Judy, talk". Then she didn't contact his lawyer for over a year? Why? I mean, who the fuck wants to sit in a federal detention center for a day, much less 82? The letter was some kind of scheme to coordinate testimony.

Everyone admires our paper's willingness to stand behind us and our work, but most people I talk to have been troubled and puzzled by Judy's seeming ability to operate outside of conventional reportorial channels and managerial controls," said Todd S. Purdum, a Washington reporter for The Times. "Partly because of that, many people have worried about whether this was the proper fight to fight."

Diana B. Henriques, a business reporter, said she and others at the paper took "great pride and comfort" in how The Times stood by Ms. Miller. But she said the episode and speculation surrounding it "left a lot of people feeling confused and anxious" about Ms. Miller's role in the investigation.

On Tuesday, Ms. Miller is to receive a First Amendment award from the Society of Professional Journalists. She said she thought she would write a book about her experiences in the leak case, although she added that she did not yet have a book deal. She also plans on taking some time off but says she hopes to return to the newsroom.

She said she hopes to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country."

The Times incurred millions of dollars in legal fees in Ms. Miller's case. It limited its own ability to cover aspects of one of the biggest scandals of the day. Even as the paper asked for the public's support, it was unable to answer its questions.

Miller is supremely arrogant. She chose to be allied to the Bush Administration, and kept her mouth shut for 82 days. This has nothing to do with press freedom, but a lying, unethical reporter who chose to be more loyal to her "source" than her collegues. She placed Scotter Libby above the New York Times. Even now, she's protecting someone, refusing to answer questions and share her notes.


Because she may be indicted for perjury, and she's civilly liable in any case the Wilsons bring. The most insulting thing, and even as the article was written, was that Miller forgot who to her "Valerie Flame" name. That is impossible, a lie so obvious, it would insult a cop.

posted by Steve @ 1:18:00 PM

1:18:00 PM

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