it’s so obvious… i can’t believe i didn’t see it

Arianna Huffington has a great post on her site about jailed New York Times reporter Judy Miller and the role she may have played in the outing of Valerie Plame. Here’s a taste:

Not everyone in the Times building is on the same page when it comes to Judy Miller. The official story the paper is sticking to is that Miller is a heroic martyr, sacrificing her freedom in the name of journalistic integrity.

But a very different scenario is being floated in the halls. Here it is: It’s July 6, 2003, and Joe Wilson’s now famous op-ed piece appears in the Times, raising the idea that the Bush administration has “manipulate[d]” and “twisted” intelligence “to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” Miller, who has been pushing this manipulated, twisted, and exaggerated intel in the Times for months, goes ballistic. Someone is using the pages of her own paper to call into question the justification for the war — and, indirectly, much of her reporting. The idea that intelligence was being fixed goes to the heart of Miller’s credibility. So she calls her friends in the intelligence community and asks, Who is this guy? She finds out he’s married to a CIA agent. She then passes on the info about Mrs. Wilson to Scooter Libby (Newsday has identified a meeting Miller had on July 8 in Washington with an “unnamed government official”). Maybe Miller tells Rove too — or Libby does. The White House hatchet men turn around and tell Novak and Cooper. The story gets out.

This is why Miller doesn’t want to reveal her “source” at the White House — because she was the source. Sure, she first got the info from someone else, and the odds are she wasn’t the only one who clued in Libby and/or Rove (the State Dept. memo likely played a role too)… but, in this scenario, Miller certainly wasn’t an innocent writer caught up in the whirl of history. She had a starring role in it. This also explains why Miller never wrote a story about Plame, because her goal wasn’t to write a story, but to get out the story that cast doubts on Wilson’s motives. Which Novak did…

But this unmasking — if it is to be complete — has to include Judy Miller and the part she played in the mess in Iraq. Of course, the division over Miller is nothing new… it predates her transformation into media martyr by many months. For an early look at this riff, check out Howard Kurtz’ May 2003 reporting on the way Miller ferociously fought to keep Ahmad Chalabi, her top source on WMD, to herself and the anger it caused at the paper. And also the paper’s extraordinary mea culpa from May 2004, in which its editors admitted that the Times’ reporting on Iraq “was not as rigorous as it should have been” — yet steadfastly refused to even mention the less-than-rigorous reporter whose byline appeared on 4 of the 6 stories the editors singled out as being particularly egregious. “It looks,” the Times’ public admission concluded, “as if we, along with the administration, were taken in.” And yet just two month earlier, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller called Miller, who was one of the main reporters “taken in” a “smart, well-sourced, industrious and fearless reporter.” Nothing about her less than “rigorous” reporting. Nothing about her reliance on Chalabi being less than “well-sourced.”

Any discussion of Miller’s actions in the Plame-Rove-Libby-Gonzalez-Card scandal must not leave out the key role she played in cheerleading for the invasion of Iraq and in hyping the WMD threat. Re-reading some of her pre-war reporting today, it’s hard not to be disgusted by how inaccurate and pumped up it turned out to be. For chapter and verse, check out Slate’s Jack Shafer. For the money quote on her mindset, look to her April 2003 appearance on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, where, following up on her blockbuster front page story about an Iraqi scientist and his claims that Iraq had destroyed all its WMD just before the war started, Miller said the scientist was more than a “smoking gun,” he was the “silver bullet” in the hunt for WMD. The “silver bullet” later turned out to be another blank — and the scientist turned out to be a military intelligence official.

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  1. Posted July 28, 2005 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    If all this is true (and why would I doubt it), let her rot there for a while. Maybe she could learn integrity in there from other prisoners.

  2. chris
    Posted July 28, 2005 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I bet Michelle Malkin is creaming her pants.

  3. mark
    Posted July 28, 2005 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know anything about Miller other than she was the Times reporter responsible for covering WMDs in Iraq. At the very least, it looks like she did a half-assed reporting job. I don’t know if she deserves our scorn and ridicule for that that though, as a lot of us were willing, in the wake of 9/11 to give the president the benefit of the doubt, but if she did in fact out Valerie Plame, that’s a different matter all together. That’s not just bad reporting, it’s stupid and wreckless and she deserves what’s coming to her.

  4. dorothy
    Posted July 31, 2005 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    our local newspaper ran an editorial titled “false martyr” i was amazed because the local rag is good for obits and community shindigs and not much else. apparently someone on the staff was outraged by the publicity surrounding miller’s incarceration. whoever they were, i am so proud of their willingness to take a stand.

  5. mark
    Posted July 31, 2005 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Arianna Huffington had an update on Friday… more stuff linking her to the administration. Interesting stuff.

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