Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, July 29, 2005
The Judy Miller chronicles
The Wall Street Journal offers a look at the divergent interests of two reporters, Judy Miller and Matthew Cooper, in the PlameGate case. As TalkLeft breaks it down:


Time Magazine's Matthew Cooper decided his interests were not the same as those of New York Times reporter Judith Miller. It's true that Cooper cooperated about Libby early on, as did Russert, Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler, and then balked at getting a second subpoena for other sources. I've reported Judith Miller's take on that several times, most recently here.
And TalkLeft also gives the most thorough rundown I've seen of the Judy Miller connections.

Day two of the Judy Miller backgrounder at the Huffington Post. Arianna is truly blowing up La Femme Pentagon's spot.
The more I'm reading about Judy Miller and her actions leading up to and during the early days of the war, and then through the unfolding Plame-Rove-Libby-Gonzalez-Card scandal, the more I’m struck by the special access and relationships she enjoyed with many of the key players in the Iraq debacle (which, at the end of the day, is really what Plamegate is all about).

For starters, of course, we have her still unfolding involvement in the Plame leak. Earlier this month, Howard Kurtz reported that Miller and Libby spoke a few days before Novak outed Plame -- and I’m hearing that the Libby/Miller conversation occurred over breakfast in Washington. Did Valerie Plame come up -- and, if so, who brought her up? There is no question that Miller was angry at Joe Wilson… and continues to be. A social acquaintance of Miller told me that, once, when she spoke of Wilson, it was with “a passionate and heated disgust that went beyond the political and included an irrelevant bit of deeply personal innuendo about him, her mouth twisting in hatred.”

Miller’s special relationships go much further than Scooter Libby, Richard Perle and the rest of the neocon establishment. Take her involvement as an embedded reporter during the war with the Pentagon’s Mobile Exploitation Team (MET) Alpha -- the unit charged with hunting down Saddam’s WMD. As extensively reported by both Kurtz and New York Magazine’s Franklin Foer, Miller’s time with the unit was highly unusual.

First, there was the fact that she landed the plumb assignment in the first place. It would give her first dibs on the biggest story of the war… the hoped-for reveal of Saddam’s much-touted WMD (with much of the touting done by Miller herself and her special sources). Was this the reward for her pro-administration prewar reporting?

Foer cites military and New York Times sources as saying that Miller’s assignment was so sensitive that Don Rumsfeld himself signed off on it. Once embedded, Miller acted as much more than a reporter. Kurtz quotes one military officer as saying that the MET Alpha unit became a “Judith Miller team.” Another officer said that Miller “came in with a plan. She was leading them… She ended up almost hijacking the mission.” A third officer, a senior staffer of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, of which MET Alpha was a part, put it this way: “It’s impossible to exaggerate the impact she had on the mission of this unit, and not for the better.”

What did Miller do to create such an impression? According to Kurtz, she wasn’t afraid to throw her weight around, threatening to write critical stories and complain to her friends in very high places if things didn’t go her way. “Judith,” said an Army officer, “was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat.”

I think Robert Kuttner was right when he wrote in the American Prospect earlier this month:


In the Alice in Wonderland world of the Plame/Rove story, Judy Miller, who worked hand-in-glove with the Bush administration to publish bogus stories about Saddam Hussein’s alleged nuclear program, is a hero -- for going to jail to protect, once again, her friends in the administration. And Time-Warner, which turned over Matt Cooper’s notes (for the wrong reasons -- because of Time-Warner’s corporate interests -- but that’s another story) is the villain.

Yet it may be Cooper’s testimony that finally sinks Rove. So who’s the hero and what’s the public interest?
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posted by JReid @ 11:03 AM  
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