No More Miller Time

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 30, 2005; 10:54 AM

Judy Miller has just spent three months in an Alexandria jail, so I'm not going to criticize her.

Whether you agree with the New York Times correspondent or not-- and she is controversial, particularly because of her erroneous WMD reporting-- she did a courageous thing. She stood up for her beliefs. She was willing to be separated from her husband, and incarcerated, because she felt that to testify in the Valerie Plame case was to betray a promise she made to a source.

But now Miller is out, has cut a deal with the prosecutor and will testify today -- and with her release comes a passel of questions.

Miller got a waiver to testify from Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's top staff guy. The strange thing is, she could have had that same deal months ago-- the very same deal taken by Time's Matt Cooper-- and stayed out of jail.

I asked her lawyer, Floyd Abrams, about this more than once. I knew and reported that Miller and Libby had had breakfast in 2003, days before Bob Novak outed Plame as a CIA operative. Floyd wouldn't really discuss the details, but indicated that Miller wasn't convinced a Bush administration official could grant a voluntary waiver.

But Libby had specifically agreed, with Cooper's lawyer, that he was granting a waiver specifically for Cooper. Now Miller has talked to Libby, from jail, and gotten the same assurance.

Maybe, after her testimony, she can explain why the deal wasn't okay then and is okay now.

Plenty of folks will also want to know why she never wrote a story about Valerie Plame.

Miller's motivation was that prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald was making noises about either charging her with criminal contempt or impaneling another grand jury, which could have extended her stay in Alexandria. But I'm glad, for her sake, that she's out.

Of course, with this grand jury's term coming to an end, could Fitzgerald be ready to unload any indictments against an administration official or two? That would get Tom DeLay off the front page.

Here's the NYT account:

Miller "said the source had made clear that he genuinely wanted her to testify. That source was I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, according to people who have been officially briefed on the case. Ms. Miller met with Mr. Libby on July 8, 2003, and talked with him by telephone later that week . . .

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