Sunday, October 16, 2005
Judith Miller, N.Y. Times reporter who spent 85 days in jail for what may now appear to be a misunderstanding about whether a source - I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby - had authorized her to disclose his name, now talks to the grand jury. She spoke to Libby she says (see her NY Times story here), but she can't recall who gave her the name of Valerie Plame, reported on her notes as Valerie Flame. And to top it off she states that "[m]y notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A."
She admits that she agreed to call Libby a "[f]ormer Hill staffer" as opposed to referring to him as "senior administration official." Id. Does the press use the test of whether it is just "literally true?"
It sounds like a good number of people are not too happy with what has happened here:
1. Clearly Judith Miller, who just spent 85 days in jail and then had to face the NY Times staff with this change in event must be bothered by the situation. Is this worth a book?
2. Probably Libby is not too happy with the revelation that he appears to be the cause of her not testifying, when he thought it clear his release had been given. The last thing in the world he probably wanted was to have a prosecutor and grand jury think he was trying to hide something.
3. Probably the N.Y.Times, who has had to deal with this entire scenario are not to happy about this event. (See Wall St Jrl. article here). And that's without even mentioning the attorney expense of the paper. (See Washington Post here) Clearly this was a tough call for the press bosses - they want to show that they support their employees and will stand behind someone who is protecting sources, but is this the type of situation they really wanted to stand behind? Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak, and Clifford J. Levy present a fair evaluation of this event in the NY Times here and one has to especially give them credit for presenting all perspectives including a quote from Jill Abramson, a managing editor, who when "[a]sked what she regretted about The Times's handling of the matter, . . . said: 'The entire thing.'" But also check out Greg Michell's take from Editor and Publisher Magazine here (linked from Romenesko on the Poynteronline site here).
But what does Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, do now? The bottom line is that someone leaked the name of a CIA agent. That's serious and that's a problem.