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Reporter Says Libby Told Her About CIA Operative

New York Times reporter Judith Miller, trailed by attorney Robert S. Bennett, said it was only after a brief phone conversation with I. Lewis
New York Times reporter Judith Miller, trailed by attorney Robert S. Bennett, said it was only after a brief phone conversation with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby last month that she felt she could accept his waiver of confidentiality. (By Mark Wilson -- Getty Images)

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The publication follows weeks of criticism of the Times for failing to tell the full story of its reporter's involvement. Keller said in a statement that "no other reporter drawn into this investigation has provided such a detailed report. We're relieved that we can finally put this story in the hands of our readers, who will draw their own conclusions." Times editors would not comment further, a spokeswoman said.

Miller, a Pulitzer Prize winner, says she went to see Libby in June 2003 as part of a team effort to examine why no illegal weapons were found in Iraq. Libby, she said, wanted to talk about Wilson's mission to Niger.

In agreeing to testify, Miller acknowledged in the Times account, she was worried about the prospect of spending many more months in jail. She said she decided to accept Libby's waiver after receiving his letter and asking him in a phone conversation: "Do you really want me to testify? Are you sure you really want me to testify?" Libby's reply was something like "absolutely," Miller said.

Miller's attorney Abrams and Times Co. lawyer George Freeman told the paper they worried that Miller's decision to testify would prompt observers to say the newspaper had caved in.

One unusual aspect of the Times account is that it acknowledges what a controversial figure Miller, 57, has been at the paper. One former editor, Douglas Frantz, said Miller once called herself "Miss Run Amok" and said it meant "I can do whatever I want."

Her reputation suffered a "blow," the Times acknowledged, after some of her stories on whether Saddam Hussein harbored illegal weapons did not pan out. "I told her there was unease, discomfort, unhappiness over some of the coverage," said Roger Cohen, the foreign editor at the time. Miller conceded that "I got it totally wrong" but blamed the misinformation on her sources.

Miller would not allow the Times reporters to review her notes and would not discuss her interactions with editors, the article said.

To a remarkable degree, Miller was calling the shots on dealing with Fitzgerald's inquiry. Keller and Sulzberger both told the paper that they did not press Miller for details of her conversations with Libby or ask to see her notes while battling Fitzgerald's subpoena in the courts.

Even after other news organizations disclosed that Libby was Miller's source, Times editors did not publish his name, discouraged some story suggestions by reporters and killed an article about Libby's role in the high-profile case.

The case, which cost the Times millions of dollars in legal fees, so constrained its coverage that the paper did not name Libby as Miller's source until well after other news organizations did. Keller said he largely ceded supervision of the story to managing editor Abramson because "it was just too awkward" for him while enmeshed in meetings about the paper's defense of Miller.

Asked what she regretted about the Times' handling of the matter, Abramson told the paper: "The entire thing."


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