A federal judge, in an order released yesterday, ruled that New York Times reporter Judith Miller cannot avoid a subpoena to testify about her private conversations with news sources before a grand jury investigating whether senior administration officials leaked the identity of a covert CIA officer to the media.
In his Sept. 9 order denying Miller's request to quash the subpoena, U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan said that the reporter's discussions with anonymous sources are not protected, either by the First Amendment or by common- law privilege. Miller's attorney, Floyd Abrams, said the Times would appeal the decision.
Miller is the fifth reporter who has been directed by the court to talk with special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald about conversations they had with administration sources in the summer of 2003. Fitzgerald is investigating whether a government official knowingly disclosed to the media the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, who is also the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.
Senior White House officials have acknowledged they were trying to raise concerns with reporters at that time about Wilson. The former ambassador had gone to Niger to investigate whether Iraq was seeking weapons of mass destruction and that summer criticized Bush for relying on what Wilson alleged was flimsy evidence in going to war in Iraq.
Miller contemplated writing an article about Wilson and Plame and "spoke with one or more confidential sources" about a July 6, 2003, article that Wilson wrote for the Times titled 'What I Didn't Find in Africa," according to Hogan's order.
Fitzgerald's probe was prompted by a July 14, 2003, column by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak, in which he reported that two administration officials had named Plame as the person who suggested that Wilson undertake the trip to Niger. Novak and his attorney have refused to comment on whether he has been subpoenaed.