The Miller conundrum

Judith Miller is the infamous former New York Times journalist. She was a key propagandist for the Iraq war – I was writing about her in early 2004 – and now calls herself a “freelance journalist” (a good summary of her work is here.) She was back in the news this week:

Testifying Monday in the federal trial of an American citizen accused of helping finance the Palestinian militant group Hamas, former New York Times reporter Judith Miller portrayed herself as a sceptical journalist who saw no signs that Muhammad Salah had been tortured when she was given unprecedented access to witness his 1993 prison interrogation.

“He was relaxed, he was conversational, he was boastful, he was jaunty,” Miller testified in a Chicago courtroom. “There was no reason for me to believe he had been exposed to” extreme conditions.

Under cross-examination, one of Salah’s defense attorney, Michael Deutsch, suggested with his questions that Miller had been used by former Israeli prime minister Rabin to spur U.S. authorities to take seriously Israeli allegations that Hamas had a support network in the United States.

Miller was asked whether she liked being used by public officials or was an “asset of Mossad”. She denied both allegations, though her record suggests someone who is far too enthusiastic to be a player in foreign affairs, and be used by whomever seems to be the most powerful of the day (in this, sadly, she isn’t alone; many mainstream journalists want to be “insiders”.)

And in other related news this week:

A former White House aide, I. Lewis Libby, may have disclosed conclusions from a highly classified government report on Iraq to journalists before the report was declassified by President Bush, federal prosecutors said in a new court filing.

Mr. Libby resigned as chief of staff to Vice President Cheney when he was indicted last year on obstruction of justice and perjury charges in connection with an investigation into the leak of the identity of a CIA official, Valerie Plame.

The special prosecutor who oversaw the probe, Patrick Fitzgerald, has not charged Mr. Libby or anyone else for participating in the leak. It emerged recently that the first public account of Ms. Plame’s employment, in a 2003 column by Robert Novak, was triggered by comments from a State Department official, Richard Armitage.

Was Miller one of the journalists to whom Libby confided?

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