News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Friday, September 30, 2005

NY Times reporter freed from jail in CIA probe case - Yahoo! News

By Adam Entous

After being locked up in jail for nearly three months, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was released on Thursday after agreeing to testify before a grand jury investigating who in the Bush administration leaked a covert CIA operative's name.

Miller said in a statement issued by the newspaper she was freed after her source -- identified by the Times as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby -- "voluntarily and personally released me from my promise of confidentiality regarding our conversations."

Miller agreed to appear on Friday before the grand jury, which has been investigating who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and whether any laws were violated.

Miller met with Libby on July 8, 2003, the newspaper said, and talked with him by telephone later that week.

She was released from the Alexandria Detention Center just outside Washington after she and her lawyers met at the jail with Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the case, to discuss her testimony.

Legal sources said Miller's testimony appeared to clear the way for Fitzgerald to wrap up his case, which could shake up an administration already reeling from criticism over its response to Hurricane Katrina and Wednesday's indictment of House Republican leader Tom DeLay.

The leak investigation has ensnarled President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, as well as Libby.

Miller, who was sent to jail on July 6 although she never wrote an article about the Plame matter, said her attorneys had reached agreement with Fitzgerald "regarding the nature and scope of my testimony, which satisfies my obligation as a reporter to keep faith with my sources."

Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride declined to comment on Libby's role, except to say, "It's an ongoing investigation and one in which we are fully cooperating."

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said, "This doesn't involve Karl and he has not been contacted" by Fitzgerald.

When Miller was jailed, chief U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan said she must stay there until she agreed to testify or for the rest of the grand jury's term, which lasts through October. Legal sources close to the case said Fitzgerald could have sought to impose a stiffer criminal sentence against Miller had she refused to cooperate.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald declined to comment. Fitzgerald indicated earlier this year he could wrap up his investigation once he obtained the testimony of Miller and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.

Cooper agreed to testify after saying he received the "express personal consent" of his source to reveal his identity. Cooper told the grand jury that Rove was the first person to tell him about Plame, although Cooper said Rove did not disclose her name. Cooper said he also discussed her and her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, with Libby.

Columnist Robert Novak first revealed Plame's identity in July 2003, citing two administration officials, shortly after Wilson published an opinion piece in The New York Times that accused the administration of twisting intelligence on Iraq.

New York Times Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. said the newspaper supported Miller's decision to testify, just as it backed her earlier refusal to cooperate. "We are very pleased that she has finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver, both by phone and in writing, releasing her from any claim of confidentiality and enabling her to testify," he said.


Plame's husband has long asserted the leak was meant to discredit him for criticizing Bush's Iraq policy in 2003 after a CIA-funded trip to investigate whether Niger helped supply nuclear materials to Baghdad.

After initially promising to fire anyone found to have leaked information in the case, Bush in July offered a more qualified pledge: "If someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration."

Prominent Democrats have called on Bush to fire Rove, the architect of his two presidential election victories and now his deputy chief of staff, or block his access to classified information.

Rove's attorneys said Rove did nothing wrong and had been repeatedly assured he was not a target of Fitzgerald's investigation.

According to her attorneys, Miller, an investigative reporter who covers national security and foreign policy issues, has been in a U.S. jail longer than any other newspaper journalist to protect a source.

The Alexandria facility in Virginia where Miller was held has housed some of the nation's most notorious spies and terror suspects. One floor above Miller's cell was Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted in connection with the September 11, 2001, attacks.

"It's good to be free," Miller said.


Post a Comment

<< Home