Judith Miller Freed, Will Testify in CIA Outing Case

New York Times reporter Judith Miller was released from jail Thursday after serving three months for refusing to reveal sources to a federal probe into the leak of a CIA officer's identity. Madeleine Brand talks with NPR media reporter David Folkenflik about the ongoing controversy surrounding Miller and the Bush administration's complicity in the leak.

Copyright © 2005 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

Coming up, the week in politics with our Juan Williams.

But first, New York Times reporter Judith Miller is now free. She was released from jail yesterday after serving three months for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA officer's identity. Miller says her source released her from a confidentiality pledge, so now she can testify. Miller spoke to the press for the first time today.

Ms. JUDITH MILLER (The New York Times): I said to the court before I was jailed that I did not believe I was above the law and that I would therefore have to go to jail because of my principles. But once I satisfied those principles, I was prepared to testify.

BRAND: I'm joined now by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik.

And, David, remind us exactly how Judith Miller landed in jail in the first place.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK reporting:

Well, that's always been a little bit confusing. Judy Miller's a Pulitzer-winning reporter, but she never wrote a word about this case. This was the case where the identity of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA operative, was revealed in a syndicated column by Robert Novak about Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. He'd been critical of the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction claims. Judy Miller had been among those apparently identified through the obtaining of documents and call logs from the White House when a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate whether a federal crime has been committed in the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity. Novak had cited two unnamed senior White House officials in naming who she was.

BRAND: So who is Judy Miller's source?

FOLKENFLIK: Miller's source is Lewis Libby. Now that's Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, and he's considered very influential in the White House.

BRAND: And do we know if he was the source for the other reporters, Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper or Bob Novak?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, Bob Novak has never talked about this case publicly. It's believed that he testified in private. Matt Cooper has, on the other hand. A number of reporters have. In fact, Judy Miller's the only reporter who resisted prosecutor Fitzgerald's attempts to get testimony. Libby was a source for Matthew Cooper and a couple other folks. Cooper also spoke to Karl Rove, the president's influential political adviser; he was also the deputy White House chief of staff.

BRAND: So why did Mr. Libby come forward and decide to release Judy Miller from this pledge?

FOLKENFLIK: This is one of the fascinating aspects of Miller's situation. It's not clear that Mr. Libby did exactly come forward like that. What happened was President Bush--soon after there was a grand jury appointed to investigate this question, President Bush said all White House staffers had to sign these blanket waivers releasing reporters from any obligation to keep confidentiality. A lot of journalists took that to be sort of coerced. That is, people could lose their jobs if they didn't sign these waivers, so naturally everybody signed it. But if sources were to routinely be required to sign blanket waivers, then promises of confidentiality wouldn't mean a lot. Nonetheless, what Miller's lawyers appear to have done is to go back to the lawyers of Mr. Libby and to say, `Did you mean it when you signed this?' And his lawyers said, `Yes, we did.'

BRAND: And when will this investigation come to a close?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, the grand jury that Patrick Fitzgerald is working with is set to expire on October 28th. So he had said in court papers that the interview--the deposition involving Miller--was the very last thing he had to go on this case. One of the reasons it's believed that Miller may have come to this deal was that he had shown every sign of being willing to get a second grand jury impaneled if she had refused to testify, and he could have extended her time in jail for another 18 months for contempt of court.

BRAND: And so what does this mean for Lewis Libby? Does this mean that he is now under the federal microscope?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think that's right. Both Libby and Karl Rove have been in the sights of this prosecutor. It's not clear that either will ever be charged with anything. Either or both could be exonerated. But the prosecutor has to weigh whether a crime was committed. It's a pretty high bar to pass in terms of the question of disclosing a CIA operative's name. However, he could seek indictments for related charges, such as obstruction of justice or perjury in terms of the build-up of this very investigation itself.

BRAND: David Folkenflik is NPR's media correspondent.

Thanks a lot, David.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet.

Copyright © 2005 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.