NY TIMES
(CONT'D: The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell
Sat Oct 15, 2005 21:42
64.140.158.67

SOURCE: http://nytimes.com/2005/10/16/national/16leak.html?

The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal

"I never once suggested that she should not testify," Mr. Tate wrote. "It was just the opposite. I told Mr. Abrams that the waiver was voluntary."

He added: " 'Don't go there' or 'We don't want you there' is not something I said, would say, or ever implied or suggested."

Telling another witness about grand jury testimony is lawful as long as it is not an attempt to influence the other witness's testimony.

"Judy believed Libby was afraid of her testimony," Mr. Keller said, noting that he did not know the basis for the fear. "She thought Libby had reason to be afraid of her testimony."

Ms. Miller and the paper decided at that point not to pursue additional negotiations with Mr. Tate.

The two sides did not talk for a year.

Ms. Miller said in an interview that she was waiting for Mr. Libby to call her, but he never did. "I interpreted the silence as, 'Don't testify,' " Ms. Miller said.

She and her lawyers have also said it was inappropriate for them to hound a source for permission to testify.

Mr. Tate, for his part, said the silence of the Miller side was mystifying.

"You never told me," Mr. Tate wrote to Mr. Abrams recently, "that your client did not accept my representation of voluntariness or that she wanted to speak personally to my client." Mr. Abrams does not dispute that.

Talks between Ms. Miller's lawyer and the prosecutor, Mr. Fitzgerald, were at a dead end, too.

Not long after breaking off communications with Mr. Tate, Mr. Abrams spoke to Mr. Fitzgerald twice in September 2004. Mr. Abrams wanted to narrow the scope of the questions Ms. Miller would be asked if she testified before the grand jury.

Mr. Abrams said he wanted Mr. Fitzgerald to question Ms. Miller only on her conversations with Mr. Libby about Ms. Wilson. And he wanted a promise that Mr. Fitzgerald would not call her back for further questioning after she testified once.

Mr. Fitzgerald said no. His spokesman declined to comment for this article.

With negotiations at an impasse, Ms. Miller and The Times turned to the courts but were rebuffed. In October 2004, Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the Federal District Court in Washington held Ms. Miller in contempt for not testifying. She remained free while she pursued appeals.

A few weeks later on Capitol Hill, in November 2004, Ms. Miller bumped into Robert S. Bennett, the prominent Washington criminal lawyer who represented President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and who is known for his blunt style and deal-making skills.

Ms. Miller recalled Mr. Bennett saying while he signed on to her case: "I don't want to represent a principle. I want to represent Judy Miller."

After the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, Ms. Miller made a final plea to Judge Hogan to stay out of jail: "My motive here is straightforward. A promise of confidentiality once made must be respected, or the journalist will lose all credibility and the public will, in the end, suffer."

Judge Hogan ordered her jailed at Alexandria Detention Center in Northern Virginia until she agreed to testify or the grand jury's term expired on Oct. 28.

"She has the keys to release herself," the judge said. "She has a waiver she chooses not to recognize."

Rising Tensions at Newspaper

While the paper's leaders were rallying around Ms. Miller's cause in public, inside The Times tensions were growing.

Throughout this year, reporters at the paper spent weeks trying to determine the identity of Ms. Miller's source. All the while, Mr. Keller knew it, but declined to tell his own reporters.

Even after reporters learned it from outside sources, The Times did not publish Mr. Libby's name, though other news organizations already had. The Times did not tell its readers that Mr. Libby was Ms. Miller's source until Sept. 30, in an article about Ms. Miller's release from jail.

Mr. Keller said that before Ms. Miller went to jail, Mr. Sulzberger, the publisher, asked him to participate in meetings on legal strategy and public statements. Mr. Keller said he then turned over the supervision of the newspaper's coverage of the case to Ms. Abramson, though he said he did not entirely step aside.

"It was just too awkward," Mr. Keller said, "to have me coming from meetings where they were discussing the company's public posture, then overseeing stories that were trying to deal with the company's public posture."

Ms. Abramson called The Times's coverage of the case "constrained." She said that if Ms. Miller was willing to go to jail to protect her source, it would have been "unconscionable then to out her source in the pages of the paper."

Mr. Keller and Ms. Abramson said this created an almost impossible tension between covering the case and the principle they believed to be at the heart of it.

Some reporters said editors seemed reluctant to publish articles about other aspects of the case as well, like how it was being investigated by Mr. Fitzgerald. In July, Richard W. Stevenson and other reporters in the Washington bureau wrote an article about the role of Mr. Cheney's senior aides, including Mr. Libby, in the leak case. The article, which did not disclose that Mr. Libby was Ms. Miller's source, was not published.

Mr. Stevenson said he was told by his editors that the article did not break enough new ground. "It was taken pretty clearly among us as a signal that we were cutting too close to the bone, that we were getting into an area that could complicate Judy's situation," he said.

In August, Douglas Jehl and David Johnston, two other Washington reporters, sent a memo to the Washington bureau chief, Mr. Taubman, listing ideas for coverage of the case. Mr. Taubman said Mr. Keller did not want them pursued because of the risk of provoking Mr. Fitzgerald or exposing Mr. Libby while Ms. Miller was in jail.

Mr. Taubman said he felt bad for his reporters, but he added that he and other senior editors felt that they had no choice. "No editor wants to be in the position of keeping information out of the newspaper," Mr. Taubman said.

Both Mr. Taubman and Ms. Abramson called the situation "excruciatingly difficult."

One result was that other news organizations broke developments in the case before The Times. Reporters found it especially frustrating when on the day that Ms. Miller left jail, The Times had an article prepared at 2 p.m. but delayed posting it on its Web site until after the news appeared on the Web site of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"We end up being late on our own story," Mr. Johnston said.

There were other awkward moments. On Oct. 7, shortly before Ms. Miller was to conduct a telephone interview with two Times reporters, George Freeman, a Times company lawyer, sent her a four-page memorandum.

Ms. Miller and her outside lawyer, Mr. Bennett, reacted furiously, calling it a "script" and nearly canceling the interview. Mr. Freeman said later that he had prepared and sent what he called a "narrative" of what happened to Ms. Miller. Mr. Freeman said it had been written long before the interview with Ms. Miller had even been contemplated.

"It was not meant to be a script," Mr. Freeman said.

The editorial page, which is run by Mr. Sulzberger and Gail Collins, the editorial page editor, championed Ms. Miller's cause. The Times published more than 15 editorials and called for Congress to pass a shield law that would make it harder for federal prosecutors to compel reporters to testify.

Mr. Sulzberger said he did not personally write the editorials, but regularly urged Ms. Collins to devote space to them. After Ms. Miller was jailed, an editorial acknowledged that "this is far from an ideal case," before saying, "If Ms. Miller testifies, it may be immeasurably harder in the future to persuade a frightened government employee to talk about malfeasance in high places."

Asked in the interview whether he had any regrets about the editorials, given the outcome of the case, Mr. Sulzberger said no.

"I felt strongly that, one, Judy deserved the support of the paper in this cause - and the editorial page is the right place for such support, not the news pages," Mr. Sulzberger said. "And secondly, that this issue of a federal shield law is really important to the nation."

Ms. Miller said the publisher's support was invaluable. "He galvanized the editors, the senior editorial staff," she said. "He metaphorically and literally put his arm around me."

More Thoughts of a Waiver

Inside her cell in the Alexandria Detention Center this summer, Ms. Miller was able to peer through a narrow concrete slit to get an obstructed view of a maple tree and a concrete highway barrier. She was losing weight and struggling to sleep on two thin mats on a concrete slab.

Although she told friends that she was feeling isolated and frustrated, Ms. Miller said she comforted herself with thousands of letters, the supportive editorials in The Times and frequent 30-minute visits from more than 100 friends and colleagues. Among them were Mr. Sulzberger; Tom Brokaw, the former anchor at NBC News; Richard A. Clarke, a former counterterrorism official; and John R. Bolton, the United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Every day, she checked outdated copies of The Times for a news article about her case. Most days she was disappointed.

She said she began thinking about whether she should reach out to Mr. Libby for "a personal, voluntary waiver."

"The longer I was there, the more chance I had to think about it," Ms. Miller said.

On July 20, William Safire, the former longtime columnist at The Times, testified about a federal shield law on Capitol Hill. Ms. Miller read his testimony and found it "inspiring."

While she mulled over her options, Mr. Bennett was urging her to allow him to approach Mr. Tate, Mr. Libby's lawyer, to try to negotiate a deal that would get her out of jail. Mr. Bennett wanted to revive the question of the waivers that Mr. Libby and other administration officials signed the previous year authorizing reporters to disclose their confidential discussions.

The other reporters subpoenaed in the case said such waivers were coerced. They said administration officials signed them only because they feared retribution from the prosecutor or the White House. Reporters for at least three news organizations had then gone back to their sources and obtained additional assurances that convinced them the waivers were genuine.

But Ms. Miller said she had not gotten an assurance that she felt would allow her to testify. And she said she felt that if Mr. Libby had wanted her to testify, he would have contacted her directly.

While Mr. Bennett urged Ms. Miller to test the waters, some of her other lawyers were counseling caution. Mr. Freeman, The Times's company lawyer, and Mr. Abrams worried that if Ms. Miller sought and received permission to testify and was released from jail, people would say that she and the newspaper had simply caved in.

"I was afraid that people would draw the wrong conclusions," Mr. Freeman said.

Mr. Freeman advised Ms. Miller to remain in jail until Oct. 28, when the term of the grand jury would expire and the investigation would presumably end.

Mr. Bennett thought that was a bad strategy; he argued that Mr. Fitzgerald would "almost certainly" empanel a new grand jury, which might mean Ms. Miller would have to spend an additional 18 months behind bars.

Mr. Freeman said he thought Mr. Fitzgerald was bluffing. Mr. Abrams was less sure. But he said Judge Hogan might release Ms. Miller if Mr. Fitzgerald tried to take further action against her.

"At that point," Ms. Miller said, "I realized if and when he did that, objectively things would change, and at that point, I might really be locked in."

After much deliberation, Ms. Miller said, she finally told Mr. Bennett to call Mr. Libby's lawyer. After two months in jail, Ms. Miller said, "I owed it to myself to see whether or not Libby had had a change of heart, the special prosecutor had had a change of heart."

Mr. Bennett called Mr. Tate on Aug. 31. Mr. Tate told Mr. Bennett that Mr. Libby had given permission to Ms. Miller to testify a year earlier. "I called Tate and this guy could not have been clearer - 'Bob, my client has given a waiver,' " Mr. Bennett said.

Mr. Fitzgerald wrote to Mr. Tate on Sept. 12, saying he was concerned that Ms. Miller was still in jail because of a "misunderstanding" between her and Mr. Libby.

Three days later, Ms. Miller heard from Mr. Libby.

In a folksy, conversational two-page letter dated Sept. 15, Mr. Libby assured Ms. Miller that he had wanted her to testify about their conversations all along. "I believed a year ago, as now, that testimony by all will benefit all," he wrote. And he noted that "the public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me."

When Ms. Miller testified before the grand jury, Mr. Fitzgerald asked her about the letter. She said she responded that it could be perceived as an effort by Mr. Libby "to suggest that I, too, would say that we had not discussed Ms. Plame's identity." But she added that "my notes suggested that we had discussed her job."

Ms. Miller, though, wanted more than Mr. Libby's letter to feel free to testify. She told her lawyers that she still needed to hear from Mr. Libby in person. When that could not be arranged, she settled for a 10-minute jailhouse conference call on Sept. 19 with Mr. Libby, while two of her lawyers and one of Mr. Libby's listened in.

Ms. Miller said she was persuaded. "I mean, it's like the tone of the voice," she said. "When he talked to me about how unhappy he was that I was in jail, that he hadn't fully understood that I might have been going to jail just to protect him. He had thought there were other people whom I had been protecting. And there was kind of like an expression of genuine concern and sorrow."

Ms. Miller said she then "cross-examined" Mr. Libby. "When I pushed him hard, I said: 'Do you really want me to testify? Are you sure you really want me to testify?' He said something like: 'Absolutely. Believe it. I mean it.' "

At 1 p.m. on Sept. 26, Ms. Miller convened her lawyers in the jailhouse law library. All the lawyers agreed that Mr. Libby had released Ms. Miller from the pledge of confidentiality.

The next day, Mr. Bennett called Mr. Fitzgerald. He informed the prosecutor that Ms. Miller had a voluntary, personal waiver and asked Mr. Fitzgerald to restrict his questions to her conversations with Mr. Libby.

Mr. Bennett, who by now had carefully reviewed Ms. Miller's extensive notes taken from two interviews with Mr. Libby, assured Mr. Fitzgerald that Ms. Miller had only one meaningful source. Mr. Fitzgerald agreed to limit his questions to Mr. Libby and the Wilson matter.

Claudia Payne, a Times editor and a close friend of Ms. Miller, said that once Ms. Miller realized that her jail term could be extended, "it changed things a great deal. She said, 'I don't want to spend my life in here.' "

Ms. Payne added, "Her paramount concern was how her actions would be viewed by her colleagues."

On Sept. 29, Ms. Miller was released from jail and whisked by Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Keller to the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown for a massage, a manicure, a martini and a steak dinner. The next morning, she testified before the grand jury for three hours. Afterward, Ms. Miller declared that her ordeal was a victory for journalists and the public.

She testified before the grand jury for a second time on Wednesday about notes from her first meeting with Mr. Libby.

Last week, Mr. Sulzberger said it was impossible to know whether Ms. Miller could have struck a deal a year earlier, as at least four other journalists had done.

"Maybe a deal was possible earlier," Mr. Sulzberger said. "And maybe, in retrospect, looking back, you could say this was a moment you could have jumped on. If so, shame on us. I tend to think not."

A Puzzling Out

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