September 30, 2005

NY Times reporter tells of source in CIA leak case

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After 85 days in jail for refusing
to name her source, New York Times reporter Judith Miller broke
her silence on Friday and appeared before a grand jury
investigating whether anyone in the Bush administration
illegally leaked a CIA operative's identity.

Miller, who was freed on Thursday, testified about her
conversations with a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney,
lawyers said. She said she agreed to testify about the
conversations after receiving what she called a "personal,
voluntary" waiver of confidentiality from her source.

Miller did not identify that source by name, but lawyers
involved in the case said it was Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis
Libby. Miller said the source had conveyed an explicit waiver
in the form of a letter and a phone call to her in jail.

After obtaining her waiver, Miller said her lawyers secured
an agreement with Fitzgerald to narrow the scope of her
testimony to her conversations with that single source.

Lawyers close to the case said Miller's testimony appeared
to clear the way for prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to wrap up
his two-year-old inquiry into who leaked CIA operative Valerie
Plame's identity and whether anyone broke the law in doing so.

Plame's diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, said the
administration had leaked her name, damaging her ability to
work undercover, to get back at him for criticizing President
George W. Bush's Iraq policy.

The lawyers said Fitzgerald could now move quickly to bring
indictments in the case, or he could conclude that no crime was
committed and end his investigation and possibly issue a report
on his findings.

Fitzgerald had indicated he could wrap up his investigation
once he obtained Miller's testimony.


The outcome could shake up the Bush White House, already
reeling from criticism over its response to Hurricane Katrina
and the indictment of House Republican leader Tom DeLay on a
conspiracy charge related to campaign financing.

The leak investigation has ensnarled Bush's top political
adviser, Karl Rove, as well as Libby. The White House had long
maintained that they had nothing to do with the leak but
reporters have since named them as sources.

Lawyers sparred over why Miller had not accepted a waiver
from Libby sooner.

Libby's attorney, Joseph Tate, said he had signed a waiver
over a year ago, and that he was under the impression Miller's
goal was to protect other sources, not Libby.

Miller dismissed such "form waivers" hammered out by
lawyers. "I heard directly from my source that I should testify
before the grand jury," Miller told reporters after more than
four hours in the courthouse. "I concluded from this that my
source genuinely wanted me to testify."

"Believe me, I did not want to be in jail," said Miller,
who was imprisoned on July 6 although she never wrote an
article about the Plame matter.

Miller's attorney, Robert Bennett, said, "It was really the
responsibility of Mr. Libby to come forward. Judy Miller felt
very strongly that she should not initiate things."

"Mr. Libby knew where Judy was. He had her phone number.
They knew each other. There was no secret where she was. So I
find it amazing that somebody would suggest that Judy would
unnecessarily spend 85 days in jail," he said on CNN.

Asked if he felt burned by Rove and Libby when he had told
the press they were not involved in leaking Plame's identity,
White House spokesman Scott McClellan declined to comment on
the investigation.

But he said Bush "wants to get to the bottom of it."


Legal sources close to the case said Miller was under
growing pressure to testify because Fitzgerald could have
sought a stiffer criminal sentence against her.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald declined to comment.

Clearly relieved to be out of the Alexandria Detention
Center, Miller said her first meal as a free woman consisted of
a martini and a fruit plate.

Fitzgerald had already secured the cooperation of Time
magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, who told the grand jury in
July that Rove was the first person to tell him about Plame. He
also discussed her and her husband with Libby.

Newspaper columnist Robert Novak first revealed Plame's
identity in a column on July 14, 2003, citing two
administration officials, shortly after Wilson published an
opinion piece in The New York Times accusing the White House of
twisting intelligence on Iraq.

According to The Times, Miller met with Libby on July 8,
2003, and talked with him by telephone later that week.

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."