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

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Senator Calls for Inquiry Into Journalists' Access - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 - A Senate Democrat said Tuesday that he would ask the Pentagon inspector general to investigate why journalists are allowed to have temporary access to classified information while they are assigned to military units in overseas operations.

The senator, Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, said his request was prompted by an assertion by Judith Miller, the reporter for The New York Times who spent 85 days in jail for refusing to identify a confidential source, that she had "security clearance" during her assignment with a military unit in Iraq in 2003.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Mr. Dorgan said, "What kind of clearance would that reporter have to see classified or secret information?"

In an interview last week, Ms. Miller said that in her account in The Times of her role in the C.I.A. leak case, she imprecisely described the rules covering her assignment in Iraq. Ms. Miller said that she did what dozens of other journalists covering the war did: sign a written agreement called a "nondisclosure form" that allows reporters to see and hear classified information but treat it as off the record.

That explanation did not suit Mr. Dorgan, who said, "The classification of material that is secret or top-secret dealing with intelligence or military operations is not a classification that is done lightly, and it's not a classification that can be overcome by someone in the Pentagon that says, 'O.K., you put on a military shirt or a pair of military trousers, go embed yourself with that unit, and by the way, you sign a little form that says nondisclosure.' "

A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said the procedure was a practical way to permit reporters to travel with military units and be exposed to sensitive information, and not compromise the operation..


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