Sunday, October 16, 2005


About 90% There

Greg Mitchell over at E&P (courtesy of Atrios) does a very good job of showing what Judith Miller did that was wrong, the fact that her editors let her get away with so much for so long, and of puncturing her and her editors' attempts to use the "Sergeant Schultz Defense" ("I know nothing..."). He's about 90% there. I do wish that he'd put more emphasis on her connections to the Bush White House, because those connections are precisely why her editors let her do whatever she wanted, to the point where she not only controlled how the NYT covered (make that "cheerleaded") the run-up to invading Iraq, but was allowed to do things such as command US troops in battle on behalf of her good friend (and likely Iranian agent) Ahmad Chalabi, as the WP's Howard Kurtz noted in June of 2003. She's essentially one of the Bush Administration's zampolit assigned to the NYT. That's why she wasn't fired -- and why she probably will still keep her job despite the outcry. (Hell, they're still giving Jeff Gerth a paycheck, and he butchered not only Whitewater but Wen Ho Lee, for the same reasons Miller butchered the Iraq story: He was taking dictation from his highly-placed Republican friends.) Since MEC brought up the contrast between the cons' treatment of Hillary Clinton for not remembering obscure things that happened twenty years previously, and Judy Miller for not remembering crucial things that happened much more recently, I'd like to mention this: Remember the flak Sid Blumenthal got -- publicly, not just in whispered mutterings behind his back -- for being a Clinton buddy? Can you imagine Sid getting away with a tenth -- or a hundredth -- of what Judy Miller did? Me, neither. [UPDATE: Atrios passes on this E&P piece, wherein it is revealed that Judith Miller got a security clearance from the Department of Defense -- that is, from her fellow PNACers Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz -- in 2003 (emphases mine):

This is as close as one can get to government licensing of journalists and the New York Times (if it knew) should never have allowed her to become so compromised. It is all the more puzzling that a reporter who as a matter of principle would sacrifice 85 days of her freedom to protect a source would so willingly agree to be officially muzzled and thereby deny potentially valuable information to the readers whose right to be informed she claims to value so highly. One must assume that Ms. Miller was required to sign a standard and legally binding agreement that she would never divulge classified information to which she became privy, without risk of criminal prosecution. And she apparently plans to adhere to the letter of that self-censorship deal; witness her dilemma at being unable to share classified information with her editors. In an era where the Bush Administration seeks to conceal mountains of government activity under various levels of security classification, why would any self-respecting news organization or individual journalist agree to become part of such a system?
Why? I'll tell you why. She's the BushCo/PNAC/Chalabi version of zampolit, that's why. Her first loyalty is to them; the NYT comes a distant second, the nation an even-more-distant third, and the rest of the world isn't even on the list.]

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