Being up on the Hill this morning allowed us to trot down to the U.S. Courthouse for the New York Times‘ Judy Miller’s coming out party. Her press conference after her grand jury testimony was revealing.
There has been talk for some time that part of Miller’s apparent zeal to uphold journalism’s highest ethics was an ongoing review inside the Times of her use of sources and information during the runup to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Word inside the Times is that that report was completed about the time Miller went to jail in Alexandria, and that the report is not kind to Miller. Some have gone so far as to say that prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald saved Miller’s job and reputation.
Miller’s sourcing on any number of things has never really been in doubt. White House insiders — at least those who have done time inside the National Security Council — knew Miller well. According to one former NSC staffer she was a regular visitor to the NSC offices in the Old Executive Office Building, nosing around, asking for various people she apparently spoke to on a regular basis, etc. Everyone knew that a range of NSC and Cheney folks were speaking on background and off the record about Iraq, Saddam, weapons, human rights violations, and the like, not only to Miller, but to much of the major media, both print and broadcast. So it isn’t a surprise that “Scooter” Libby was a source for Miller, never mind that Libby himself stepped forward a year ago to confirm it.
What was telling today, and what should make those who supported Miller so blindly nervous, is that clearly it wasn’t Libby’s supposed clarification of his release to her or prosecutors that allowed her testimony. Rather, it was Fitzgerald’s deal with Miller attorney Bob Bennett to limit the scope of the questioning that changed her mind about going before the grand jury.
It will be interesting to see what areas of possible interest were taken off the table. For example, did Fitzgerald agree to not probe conversations Miller might have had with Joseph Wilson or Valerie Plame Wilson prior to Wilson’s column appearing in the New York Times? Or were they questions about conversations Miller might have had with New York Times op-ed staff prior to Wilson’s column being published?
Miller continues to act like someone who has a greater stake in this story than as just a mere conduit of information and protector of a source. For months, there have been whispers that she may very well have been a nexis of this story, and this latest twist — narrowed scope of questioning — once again lends credence to that line of thought.