September 29, 2005

NY Times reporter freed from jail in CIA probe case

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After being locked up in jail for
nearly three months, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was
released on Thursday after agreeing to testify before a grand
jury investigating who in the Bush administration leaked a
covert CIA operative's name.

Miller said in a statement issued by the newspaper she was
freed after her source -- identified by the Times as Vice
President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby --
"voluntarily and personally released me from my promise of
confidentiality regarding our conversations."

Miller agreed to appear on Friday before the grand jury,
which has been investigating who leaked CIA operative Valerie
Plame's identity and whether any laws were violated.

Miller met with Libby on July 8, 2003, the newspaper said,
and talked with him by telephone later that week.

She was released from the Alexandria Detention Center just
outside Washington after she and her lawyers met at the jail
with Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the case, to discuss
her testimony.

Legal sources said Miller's testimony appeared to clear the
way for Fitzgerald to wrap up his case, which could shake up an
administration already reeling from criticism over its response
to Hurricane Katrina and Wednesday's indictment of House
Republican leader Tom DeLay.

The leak investigation has ensnarled President George W.
Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, as well as Libby.

Miller, who was sent to jail on July 6 although she never
wrote an article about the Plame matter, said her attorneys had
reached agreement with Fitzgerald "regarding the nature and
scope of my testimony, which satisfies my obligation as a
reporter to keep faith with my sources."

Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride declined to comment on
Libby's role, except to say, "It's an ongoing investigation and
one in which we are fully cooperating."

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said, "This doesn't involve
Karl and he has not been contacted" by Fitzgerald.

When Miller was jailed, chief U.S. District Judge Thomas
Hogan said she must stay there until she agreed to testify or
for the rest of the grand jury's term, which lasts through
October. Legal sources close to the case said Fitzgerald could
have sought to impose a stiffer criminal sentence against
Miller had she refused to cooperate.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald declined to comment. Fitzgerald
indicated earlier this year he could wrap up his investigation
once he obtained the testimony of Miller and Time magazine
reporter Matthew Cooper.

Cooper agreed to testify after saying he received the
"express personal consent" of his source to reveal his
identity. Cooper told the grand jury that Rove was the first
person to tell him about Plame, although Cooper said Rove did
not disclose her name. Cooper said he also discussed her and
her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, with Libby.

Columnist Robert Novak first revealed Plame's identity in
July 2003, citing two administration officials, shortly after
Wilson published an opinion piece in The New York Times that
accused the administration of twisting intelligence on Iraq.

New York Times Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. said
the newspaper supported Miller's decision to testify, just as
it backed her earlier refusal to cooperate. "We are very
pleased that she has finally received a direct and uncoerced
waiver, both by phone and in writing, releasing her from any
claim of confidentiality and enabling her to testify," he said.


Plame's husband has long asserted the leak was meant to
discredit him for criticizing Bush's Iraq policy in 2003 after
a CIA-funded trip to investigate whether Niger helped supply
nuclear materials to Baghdad.

After initially promising to fire anyone found to have
leaked information in the case, Bush in July offered a more
qualified pledge: "If someone committed a crime they will no
longer work in my administration."

Prominent Democrats have called on Bush to fire Rove, the
architect of his two presidential election victories and now
his deputy chief of staff, or block his access to classified

Rove's attorneys said Rove did nothing wrong and had been
repeatedly assured he was not a target of Fitzgerald's

According to her attorneys, Miller, an investigative
reporter who covers national security and foreign policy
issues, has been in a U.S. jail longer than any other newspaper
journalist to protect a source.

The Alexandria facility in Virginia where Miller was held
has housed some of the nation's most notorious spies and terror
suspects. One floor above Miller's cell was Zacarias Moussaoui,
the only person convicted in connection with the September 11,
2001, attacks.

"It's good to be free," Miller said.