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

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Suspected Illegal Workers Found at Halliburton Job Site

By Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 22, 2005; A09

Federal agents have identified 10 suspected illegal immigrants working at a naval base near New Orleans where the Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root is leading hurricane reconstruction, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A spokesman for the base said last night that 13 workers were barred from the base this week for lack of proper work papers, and that they were employees of Texas-based BMS Catastrophe. Officials of the company could not be reached yesterday for comment.

A KBR spokeswoman said the firm will look into any allegations that its subcontractors have violated the law or the company's code of conduct. She could not immediately say whether BMS was working for KBR.

Immigration and Customs spokeswoman Jamie E. Zuieback said yesterday that agents were called in Thursday by base security personnel and found that 10 workers lacked proper documentation. The workers have not been taken into custody, Zuieback said. She said the investigation is ongoing, but would not comment on its scope.

Work at the base has been a source of dispute in recent weeks because dozens of unionized electricians, many of them local residents who had their homes destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, claim they were let go by another Halliburton subcontractor, Alabama-based BE&K, in favor of lower wage workers. That came after the Bush administration suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, a law that guarantees the prevailing local wage for workers operating under federal contracts.

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), who has been following the case closely, said the discovery of illegal immigrants at the naval base confirms that Gulf Coast workers looking for livable wages are getting left out of the federally funded reconstruction.

"I don't think there's any question that there's a pretty significant sucking sound there," he said. "If you were paying prevailing wages, you would be hiring skilled electricians."

KBR has been working under a federal contract to help rebuild the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station in New Orleans after Katrina hit. BE&K won a subcontract from KBR to help build a temporary tent city to house 7,000 military personnel and others assisting in the disaster response.

Susan Wasley, a spokeswoman for BE&K, acknowledged that federal agents had begun reviewing documentation for the firm's employees, but said that papers for other firms' employees were also being examined. She said that everyone who works for the company has provided documentation, and denied that the firm had laid off union workers in favor of low-wage labor. "No BE&K worker and no BE&K subcontractor's worker has been detained," the company said in a statement.

The story of the union electricians became the centerpiece of an event held Monday by the Democratic Policy Committee, when Al Knight, head of the company that hired the union workers, recounted his story for lawmakers. Senators listening to his testimony blamed the Bush administration's suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) expressed contempt yesterday for a system that she said allows companies working for the government to make a larger profit at workers' expense. "Skilled Louisiana workers rebuilding a U.S. military base were pushed aside by sub-contractors looking to make a quick buck off American taxpayers by hiring low-skilled, low-wage undocumented workers," Landrieu said in a statement.

Among the electricians who lost their jobs was Sam Smith, whose house in the Ninth Ward was destroyed after Katrina slammed into the Louisiana coast. Smith, 55, returned to the city because of the promise of $22-an-hour wages, and guaranteed work for at least a year at the naval base. He was quickly disappointed, however, and lost his job within three weeks. "You would think that the federal government should be making sure that people who are trying to restart their lives and are trying to put their city back together again are out there working," Smith said. "But that's not the case."

The Bush administration has steadfastly defended its suspension of the prevailing wage law, saying it was needed to speed reconstruction and save the government money.

"The Davis-Bacon waiver removed red tape to get the recovery effort going quickly with more companies participating," Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement. "We have not seen any evidence of abuse -- in fact, we have seen just the opposite. The waivers are proving to be effective and efficient, jump-starting the recovery effort at reduced costs to taxpayers."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Possible cover-up a focus in Plame case |

Fri Oct 21, 2005 3:23 PM ET

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With a decision on indictments expected next week, prosecutors investigating the outing of a covert CIA operative are focusing on whether top White House aides tried to conceal their involvement from investigators, lawyers involved in the case said on Friday.

The Department of Justice opened a special Web site for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald,, and the leak investigation in what lawyers said was a sign indictments were likely.

Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser, and Lewis Libby, who is chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, are at the center of Fitzgerald's investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, challenged the Bush administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq.

The lawyers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Fitzgerald appears likely to bring charges next week in the nearly two-year leak investigation.

The grand jury, which expires on October 28, convened on Friday with two of the lead prosecutors present, but it was unclear what issues they were working on since the panel appears to have completed hearing from witnesses.

Fitzgerald is expected to meet with the grand jury early next week for a possible vote on indictments.

One of the lawyers said prosecutors were likely starting to present their final case to jurors, either for bringing indictments or to explain why there was insufficient evidence to do so.

"I would be hesitant to say it's a sign one way or the other," the lawyer said.

After the grand jury broke up, the two prosecutors, lugging giant legal briefcases, left the federal courthouse without comment.

While Fitzgerald could still charge administration officials with knowingly revealing Plame's identity, several lawyers in the case said he was more likely to seek charges for easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements, obstruction of justice and disclosing classified information. He also may bring a broad conspiracy charge, the lawyers said.

Legal sources said Rove may be in legal jeopardy for initially not telling the grand jury he talked to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about Plame. Rove only recalled the conversation after the discovery of an e-mail message he sent to Stephen Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser.

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, had no immediate comment.

Luskin said earlier this week that Rove "has at all times strived to be as truthful as possible and voluntarily brought the Cooper conversation to Fitzgerald's attention."

Libby could be open to false statement and obstruction charges because of contradictions between his testimony and that of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and other journalists. Miller has testified she discussed Wilson's wife with Libby as many as three times before columnist Robert Novak publicly identified her.

Libby has said he learned of Wilson's wife from reporters but journalists have disputed that.

Wilson says White House officials outed his wife, damaging her ability to work undercover, to discredit him for accusing the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the Iraq war in a New York Times opinion piece on July 6, 2003.

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."

Editor Says He Missed Miller 'Alarm Bells' - Yahoo! News

By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer

The New York Times' Judith Miller belatedly gave prosecutors her notes of a key meeting in the CIA leak probe only after being shown White House records of it, and her boss declared Friday she appeared to have misled the newspaper about her role.

In a dramatic e-mail, Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote Times' employees he wished he'd more carefully interviewed Miller and had "missed what should have been significant alarm bells" that she had been the recipient of leaked information about the CIA officer at the heart of the case.

"Judy seems to have misled (Times Washington bureau chief) Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement," Keller wrote in what he described as a lessons-learned e-mail. "This alone should have been enough to make me probe deeper."

Keller said he might have been more willing to compromise with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald "if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement" with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Miller's attorney, Bob Bennett, did not return repeated calls seeking her response to Keller.

But Bennett told The Washington Post it was "absolutely false" to suggest she withheld information about a June 2003 meeting with Libby, noting the two-year-old conversation hadn't seemed like "a big deal at the time."

Miller herself told the Times that Keller's memo was "seriously inaccurate." The Times said on its Web site Friday night that in a memo to Keller, Miller wrote that she "never meant to mislead Phil (Taubman), nor did I mislead him."

As for Keller's remark about "my `entanglement' with Mr. Libby, I had no personal, social, or other relationship with him except as a source," Miller wrote.

Fitzgerald is investigating the disclosure of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

In a sign the prosecutor may be preparing indictments, Fitzgerald's office erected a Web site Friday containing the record of the broad investigative mandate handed to him by the Justice Department at the outset of his investigation. Unlike some of his predecessors who operated under a law that has since expired, Fitzgerald is not required to write a final report, so he would not need a Web site for that purpose.

Meanwhile, two lawyers familiar with Fitzgerald's investigation told The Associated Press that Fitzgerald first learned from White House records that Miller had met as early as June 23, 2003, with Libby and discussed the CIA operative.

In her first grand jury appearance Sept. 30 after being freed from prison for refusing to testify, Miller did not mention the meeting and retrieved her notes about it only when prosecutors showed her visitor logs showing she had met with Libby in the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.

The lawyers spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing secrecy of the grand jury probe and the prosecutor's desire to keep his communications with lawyers and witnesses confidential.

One lawyer familiar with Miller's testimony said the reporter told prosecutors at first that she did not believe the June meeting would have involved Plame. Miller said that, because she had just returned from covering the Iraq war, she was probably giving Libby an update about her experiences there, the lawyer said.

However, Miller retrieved her notes and discovered they indicated that Libby had given her information about Plame at that meeting. Fitzgerald then arranged for her to return to the grand jury to testify about it, the lawyers said.

The evidence of that meeting has become important to the investigation because it indicates that Libby was passing information to reporters about Plame well before her husband, Joseph Wilson, went public with accusations that the Bush administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq to exaggerate the threat it posed.

Libby and top presidential political adviser Karl Rove have emerged as central figures in the probe because they had contacts with reporters who learned Plame's identity or disclosed it in news stories.

Fitzgerald began his probe to determine whether presidential aides violated a law prohibiting the intentional disclosure of covert CIA officers, and had tried to out Plame to punish Wilson for his criticism, undercut the credibility of his allegations or silence similar critics.

But the investigation has also examined evidence of a possible coverup. Fitzgerald has made clear to defense lawyers that he could pursue charges such as false testimony, obstruction of justice, or mishandling of classified information. As those discussions have gotten more intense in recent days, the White House is increasingly wary of indictments.

AP reported earlier this week Rove testified Libby may have been his initial source of information inside the White House about Plame before he talked to reporters. Prosecutors have linked the vice president's top aide to contacts with at least three reporters in the affair. Libby met three times with Miller before Plame was outed, though she never wrote a story herself.

Conflicts between presidential aides' testimony and other evidence could result in criminal charges. The grand jury investigating the matter for the last two years is set to expire next Friday.

Keller's e-mail was designed to quell tensions inside a newsroom roiled by Miller's close connections to Libby, a key figure in the leak probe. Miller's reporting on possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the invasion bolstered the Bush administration's arguments for action.

Later, after no such WMD weapons were found, she and the paper admitted some information she reported was flawed. The Bush administration likewise acknowledged some of it prewar intelligence was erroneous.

Keller said in his e-mail he believed the paper was too slow to correct the original reporting and to get to the bottom of the facts about Miller's involvement with Libby.

"If we had lanced the WMD boil earlier, we might have damped any suspicion that THIS time the paper was putting the defense of a reporter above the duty of its readers," he said.

Times Editor Expresses Regrets Over Handling of Leak Case - New York Times

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, told the newspaper's staff yesterday that he had several regrets over his handling of Judith Miller, the Times reporter who spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury in the C.I.A. leak case.

In a memorandum sent to the staff while he was traveling overseas, Mr. Keller said he wished he had "sat her down for a thorough debriefing" after Ms. Miller had been subpoenaed as a witness in the investigation into the leaking of the name of a C.I.A. operative.

In his first direct criticism of Ms. Miller, Mr. Keller said she "seems to have misled" the newspaper's Washington bureau chief, Philip Taubman, when she was asked by Mr. Taubman if she was one of at least six Washington journalists who had reportedly been told that Valerie Plame was a C.I.A. operative.

And, he wrote, had he known of her "entanglement" with I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, he might have been more willing to explore compromises with the prosecutor investigating the case.

Mr. Keller also said he had missed "what should have been significant alarm bells" about Ms. Miller's involvement in the C.I.A. leak case. One, he wrote, was that he did not know "Judy had been one of the reporters on the receiving end of the anti-Wilson whisper campaign." Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador who criticized the Iraq war, is married to Ms. Plame.

Ms. Miller said in an interview that Mr. Keller's statements were "seriously inaccurate." She also provided The Times with a copy of a memorandum she had sent to Mr. Keller in response.

"I certainly never meant to mislead Phil, nor did I mislead him," she wrote to Mr. Keller, referring to Mr. Taubman.

She wrote that as she had said in an account in The Times last Sunday, she had discussed Mr. Wilson and his wife with government officials, but "I was unaware that there was a deliberate, concerted disinformation campaign to discredit Wilson and that if there had been, I did not think I was a target of it."

She added, "As for your reference to my 'entanglement' with Mr. Libby, I had no personal, social, or other relationship with him except as a source."

Ms. Miller, 57, is taking time off from the newspaper after serving time in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of Ms. Plame's name. Ms. Miller was released from jail after agreeing to testify and turn over her notes to the special prosecutor.

The prosecutor's investigation, which has focused on White House officials, could come to a conclusion next week, possibly with criminal charges.

In his memorandum, Mr. Keller said he regretted waiting a year before confronting problems with Ms. Miller's reporting on unconventional weapons in Iraq. He said he had delayed confronting those problems, because the newspaper had just been through the traumatic Jayson Blair episode, in which a Times reporter was found to have fabricated articles. That led to the departure of Howell Raines, the executive editor, and Gerald Boyd, the managing editor.

"It felt somehow unsavory to begin a tenure by attacking our predecessors," Mr. Keller wrote. But by waiting more than a year, he acknowledged, "we allowed the anger inside and outside the paper to fester.

"Worse, we fear, we fostered an impression that The Times put a higher premium on protecting its reporters than on coming clean with its readers," he wrote.

Leak Prosecutor Is Called Exacting and Apolitical - New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - In 13 years prosecuting mobsters and terrorists in New York, Patrick J. Fitzgerald earned a public reputation for meticulous preparation, a flawless memory and an easy eloquence. Only his colleagues knew that these orderly achievements emerged from the near-total anarchy of his office, where the relentless Mr. Fitzgerald often slept during big cases.

"You'd open a drawer, looking for a pen or Post-it notes, and it would be full of dirty socks," recalled Karen Patton Seymour, a former assistant United States attorney who tried a major case with him. "He was a mess. Food here, clothes there, papers everywhere. But behind all that was a totally organized mind."

That mind, which has taken on Al Qaeda and the Gambino crime family, is now focused on the most politically volatile case of Mr. Fitzgerald's career. As the special prosecutor who has directed the C.I.A. leak investigation, he is expected to decide within days who, if anyone, will be charged with a crime.

To seek indictments against the White House officials caught up in the inquiry would deliver a devastating blow to the Bush administration. To simply walk away after two years of investigation, which included the jailing of a reporter for 85 days for refusing to testify, would invite cries of cover-up and waste.

Yet Mr. Fitzgerald's past courtroom allies and adversaries say that consideration of political consequences will play no role in his decision.

"I don't think the prospect of a firestorm would deter him," said J. Gilmore Childers, who worked with Mr. Fitzgerald on high-profile terrorism prosecutions in New York during the 1990s. "His only calculus is to do the right thing as he sees it."

Stanley L. Cohen, a New York lawyer who has defended those accused of terrorism in a half-dozen cases prosecuted by Mr. Fitzgerald, said he never detected the slightest political leanings, only a single-minded dedication to the law.

"There's no doubt in my mind that if he's found something, he won't be swayed one way or the other by the politics of it," Mr. Cohen said. "For Pat, there's no such thing as a little crime you can ignore."

Mr. Fitzgerald, 44, whose regular job is as the United States attorney in Chicago, is a hard man to pigeonhole. The son of Irish immigrants - his father, Patrick Sr., was a Manhattan doorman - he graduated from Amherst College and Harvard Law School. Though he is a workaholic who sends e-mail messages to subordinates at 2 a.m. and has never married, friends say the man they call Fitzie is a hilarious raconteur and great company for beer and baseball. Ruthless in his pursuit of criminals, he once went to considerable trouble to adopt a cat.

"He's a prankster and a practical joker," said Ms. Seymour, who now practices law in New York, recalling when Mr. Fitzgerald drafted a fake judge's opinion denying a key motion and had it delivered to a colleague. "But he's also brilliant. When he's trying a complicated case, there's no detail he can't recall."

Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed in December 2003 by James B. Comey, then the deputy attorney general and an old friend, to investigate the disclosure in a column by Robert Novak of the identity of an undercover operative for the Central Intelligence Agency, Valerie Wilson, also referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame. Her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who had traveled to Niger on behalf of the C.I.A. to check on reports that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium there, had publicly accused the White House of twisting the evidence to justify war against Iraq.

Lawyers involved in the case say Mr. Fitzgerald appears to be examining whether high-level officials who spoke to reporters about the Wilsons sought to mislead prosecutors about their discussions. Those under scrutiny include Karl Rove, the top political adviser to President Bush, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

In grand jury sessions, Mr. Fitzgerald has struck witnesses as polite and exacting. Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine reporter who wrote about his two and half hours of testimony, said that the prosecutor's questions were asked "in microscopic, excruciating detail."

Before he testified, Mr. Cooper recalled that Mr. Fitzgerald counseled him to say what he remembered and no more. "If I show you a picture of your kindergarten teacher and it really refreshes your memory say so," Mr. Cooper wrote, quoting Mr. Fitzgerald. "If it doesn't, don't say yes just because I show you a photo of you and her sitting together."

Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who wrote about her two grand jury appearances, said that Mr. Fitzgerald asked questions that reflected a deep knowledge of the leak case as he led her through her dealings with Mr. Libby.

Mr. Fitzgerald has drawn criticism from press advocates for his aggressive pursuit of journalists he believes may have been told about the secret C.I.A. employment of Ms. Wilson. Ms. Miller served nearly three months in jail this summer before agreeing to testify. In pursuing leads that have made him a threat to the White House, Mr. Fitzgerald is following a pattern set by previous special prosecutors. Some allies of the White House complain privately that he has taken on some of the worst traits of his predecessors. Republicans criticized Lawrence E. Walsh for his handling of the Iran-Contra scandal in the Reagan administration, while Democrats attacked Kenneth W. Starr's performance in the Whitewater probe and Monica Lewinsky sex scandal under President Clinton. The two prosecutors operated under the independent counsel law, which both parties let die in 1999.

Katy J. Harriger, a political scientist at Wake Forest University who has studied special prosecutors, said that Mr. Fitzgerald had some advantages over his predecessors. He has essentially all the powers of the attorney general to chase evidence, question witnesses and seek charges. Unlike Mr. Walsh and Mr. Starr, both former judges, Mr. Fitzgerald is a career prosecutor. And as a Bush administration appointee, he is less vulnerable to attack from the White House.

"It will be much harder than it was with Starr to say this is a partisan prosecution," Ms. Harriger said.

Some attorneys who admire Mr. Fitzgerald detect a hint of zealotry or inflexibility in his approach and wonder whether what works with terrorism translates to an inside-the-Beltway case involving White House officials and their multilayered relationships with journalists.

In Mr. Fitzgerald's world, a former colleague recalled, it was pretty clear who had black hats and who had white hats, there was not a lot of gray.

But Mr. Cohen, whose defense work on behalf of Hamas and other groups has provoked controversy, says he has always found Mr. Fitzgerald willing to listen, and to distinguish between militant rhetoric and genuine terrorist plotting. "If I need a straight answer from a federal prosecutor, I call Pat," Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Fitzgerald's moral grounding began at Our Lady Help of Christians school in his native Brooklyn. He attended Regis High School, a Jesuit institution in Manhattan for gifted students, all of whom attend on scholarship. At Amherst, where he majored in math and economics, he was an unassuming kid with a New York accent who was a stellar student, one others frequently turned to for help, recalled Walter Nicholson, an economics professor.

At Amherst, he worked part time as a custodian; in the summers during college and law school, his father helped him find work as a doorman.

After three years in private practice, he joined the United States attorney's office for the southern district of New York and quickly distinguished himself.

"I've tried a lot of cases, and he's probably the toughest adversary I've ever seen," said Roger L. Stavis, a New York defense lawyer who faced Mr. Fitzgerald during the 1995 terrorism trial of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Mr. Stavis prided himself on knowing the web of Muslim extremists but was surprised when Mr. Fitzgerald asked a witness about Osama bin Laden, then an obscure figure.

"I thought, 'I don't know who Osama bin Laden is, but he's in Pat Fitzgerald's crosshairs,' " Mr. Stavis said. In 2001, Mr. Fitzgerald led the team that convicted four men in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa.

During his time in New York, Mr. Fitzgerald's hapless bachelor ways became legendary. For months he did not bother to have the gas connected to the stove in his Brooklyn apartment. Once, in a fit of domesticity, he baked two pans of lasagna, recalled Amy E. Millard, a New York colleague. Distracted by work, he left them uneaten in the oven for three months before he discovered them, Ms. Millard said. When he tried to adopt a cat, she remembered, he was turned down because of his work habits and only later acquired a pet when a friend in Florida had to give up her cat and had it flown to him to New York.

Some of the cases Mr. Fitzgerald handled after moving to Chicago in 2001 have expanded his experience into the sensitive and murky arena of political corruption. He indicted a former governor of Illinois, George Ryan, in a scandal involving the Illinois secretary of state's office, as well as two aides to Mayor Richard Daley on mail-fraud charges.

But those cases bear little resemblance to the C.I.A. leak investigation, with its potential implications for national politics. Samuel W. Seymour, another former New York prosecutor and Karen's husband, said it is easy to politically "triangulate" most government lawyers, noting which were mentored by Democrats or promoted by Republicans. But not Mr. Fitzgerald.

"Some people may feel he's independent to a fault, because his independence makes him unpredictable," Mr. Seymour said. "I think it makes him the perfect person for this job."

A Split Between The Times & Miller?

Editor Says Reporter May Have Misled The Newspaper in Plame Leak Case

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 22, 2005; C01

New York Times executives "fully encouraged" reporter Judith Miller in her refusal to testify in the CIA leak investigation, a stance that led to her jailing, and later told Miller she could not continue at the paper unless she wrote a first-person account, her attorney said yesterday.

The comments by Robert Bennett came as Executive Editor Bill Keller accused Miller of apparently misleading the newspaper about her dealings with Vice President Cheney's top aide, signaling the first public split between Miller and the management of a newspaper that had fully embraced her in the contentious legal battle.

Bennett, Miller's lawyer, said he argued with Times executives that her agreement with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to testify before a grand jury did not entitle her to put "in the newspaper" her off-the-record conversations with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.

Disputing a lengthy Times story last Sunday in which Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said that "this car had her hand on the wheel," Bennett said Sulzberger and Keller "were making it very clear what they thought she should do. . . . She may be controversial in some things, but the bottom line is she spent 85 days in jail, mostly on a principle which the New York Times fully encouraged her to assert." He added that the executives left the final decision to Miller.

Bennett's comments, in response to a reporter's inquiry, followed a memo to the Times staff in which Keller distanced himself from Miller even while acknowledging several mistakes on his part.

"Until Fitzgerald came after her," Keller wrote, "I didn't know that Judy had been one of the reporters on the receiving end of the . . . whisper campaign" against Joe Wilson, the husband of CIA operative Valerie Plame. "I should have wondered why I was learning this from the special counsel, a year after the fact." Citing a 2003 conversation with Miller that was recalled by Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman, Keller wrote: "Judy seems to have misled Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement."

Further, Keller said, "if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises."

Keller was traveling yesterday and could not be reached. Managing Editor Jill Abramson and George Freeman, a Times Co. lawyer involved in the case, did not respond to phone messages, and a Times spokeswoman declined comment.

Miller has been the focus of enormous controversy since her release from an Alexandria jail last month under a waiver of her confidentiality agreement with Libby, whose attorney insists he had offered the reporter the same release a year earlier. She says she did not consider Libby's waiver voluntary until she spoke to him and received a letter urging her to "come back to work -- and life."

Many of Miller's Times colleagues are angry at her and some media critics have called for her firing. But she has also won applause for standing up for the principle of protecting confidential sources, and the Society of Professional Journalists this week gave her a First Amendment award.

Miller's refusal to be interviewed by the Times until about 24 hours before the paper's deadline for the Sunday paper meant, as the New York Observer has reported, that about 250,000 copies were printed without the 6,000-word news story.

Bennett said he forcefully argued against Miller's accompanying first-person piece about her dealings with Libby because "it could affect the criminal prosecution" of senior administration officials who may have outed Plame as working for the CIA as part of a campaign against her husband, a White House critic. Such an article also "would antagonize the prosecutor, Mr. Fitzgerald," Bennett said.

"At one point Judy agreed to do what I recommended. But she was under tremendous pressure by the New York Times to write the story" as a condition of her employment.

While Keller and Abramson argued that the Times had a responsibility to level with its readers once Miller was no longer in legal jeopardy, Bennett contended that the waiver from Libby and agreement with Fitzgerald applied only to Miller's grand jury testimony and not to telling the world about her private conversations with Cheney's top aide. If revealing everything to readers "were the trumping principle," Bennett said, "you shouldn't respect confidential sources." It is not illegal, however, for grand jury witnesses to discuss their testimony.

Bennett said he insisted that Miller not provide her notes to the Times reporters conducting the inquiry, a decision that has subjected the Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent to considerable criticism.

"They were documents which had been subpoenaed by the grand jury, and I didn't think it was appropriate to share them," he said. "But even if it wasn't illegal, there was a pending criminal investigation."

What Miller told the grand jury has also come under scrutiny. A lawyer familiar with her testimony, who asked not to be identified because grand jury proceedings are secret, said Miller volunteered information about two conversations with Libby in July 2003, but did not mention a June 23 discussion in Libby's office until Fitzgerald told her there were White House records of the visit. Miller testified that she did not recall the meeting, but later found references to it in another notebook that had not been subpoenaed, and she testified a second time.

Bennett said it was "absolutely false" to suggest that his client was withholding information, noting that it was a two-year-old conversation that did not seem like "a big deal at the time."

Miller has confirmed that Libby discussed Plame with her in the two July conversations and possibly in the earlier meeting, but said she cannot remember who told her in another instance about the woman she recorded in her notebook as "Valerie Flame."

During the Times inquiry, Bennett said, the reporters also asked for his notes debriefing Miller after her grand jury appearance, but he insisted that she not turn them over.

In his memo, Keller said that although he wishes he had pressed much earlier for more information about Miller's encounters with Libby, "in the end, I'm pretty sure I would have concluded that we had to fight this case in court. For one thing, we were facing an insidious new menace in these blanket waivers, ostensibly voluntary, that administration officials had been compelled to sign."

As a hard-charging investigative reporter who joshed that her nickname was "Miss Run Amok," Miller drew fierce criticism for reporting stories from 2001 to 2003, based on administration and Iraqi sources, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. These carried headlines such as "An Iraqi Defector Tells of Work on at Least 20 Hidden Weapons Sites" and "Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert." Miller now admits these stories were wrong, and Keller, who succeeded Howell Raines in the summer of 2003 after the Jayson Blair fabrication scandal, corrected some of them in an editor's note last year.

"I wish we had dealt with the controversy over our coverage of WMD as soon as I became executive editor," Keller wrote. "At the time, we thought we had compelling reasons for kicking the issue down the road. The paper had just been through a major trauma, the Jayson Blair episode, and needed to regain its equilibrium. It felt somehow unsavory to begin a tenure by attacking our predecessors . . . and I feared the WMD issue could become a crippling distraction."

But, he added, "by waiting a year to own up to our mistakes, we allowed the anger inside and outside the paper to fester. Worse, we fear, we fostered an impression that the Times put a higher premium on protecting its reporters than on coming clean with its readers. If we had lanced the WMD boil earlier, we might have damped any suspicion that THIS time, the paper was putting the defense of a reporter above the duty to its readers."

In a sign of how deeply the Miller drama has roiled the Times newsroom, Keller endorsed an e-mail by White House correspondent Richard Stevenson, who said the paper should "go to the mat" for its reporters "but only to the degree that the reporter has lived up to his or her end of the bargain, specifically to have conducted him or herself in a way consistent with our legal, ethical and journalistic standards, to have been open and candid with the paper about sources, mistakes, conflicts and the like."

Asked about Keller's criticism of Miller, Bennett said: "I am very concerned now that there are people trying to even old scores and undercut her as a heroic journalist."