Monday, March 21, 2005

Judith Miller Redux

I had hoped to go see New York Times reporter Judith Miller last week at UC Berkeley, but child duties prevented me. I really wanted to hear what she had to say because she is both villainous and angelic. She is the journalist who reported that Sadaam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, laying the moral framework for George W. Bush to invade Iraq. It turns out that she had relied heavily on pro-American sources, and disregarded others who might have cast doubt on her front-page stories.

But then you have to admire her for refusing to tell a Grand Jury the name of her sources in the Valerie Plane CIA-outing case. Confidential sources are the backbone of journalism, and even though many say Miller’s case is flawed, it takes guts to voluntarily face jail time.

Here’s an article on Miller’s talk with fellow New York Times journalist Lowell Bergman, both at UC and Michael Krasny’s radio show on KQED, Forum.

Miller argues that if she was duped by her unnamed sources, so was the Bush administration — and she's not apologizing for believing there were WMDs in Iraq until the president does. "I think I was given information by people who believed the information they were giving the president," she told Bergman. "When the president asked, you know, 'What about this WMD case? Are we sure about this?' [then-CIA director] George Tenet said to him, 'Mr. President, this is a slam dunk.' The people I talked to certainly thought that." Other WMD believers, she said, included the entire U.S. intelligence community as well as French, English, and Israeli agencies. The debate, she claimed, was not over whether Saddam had WMDs, but whether it was worth going to war over them.

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