Debra J. Saunders

"We have everything to be proud of and nothing to apologize for," New York Times reporter Judith Miller told colleagues preparing a story on Miller's testimony before a federal grand jury probing a White House leak that targeted CIA employee Valerie Plame after her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, wrote an op-ed piece critical of the Bush administration.

 Sorry, but I wouldn't be proud of everything. For one thing, Miller's explanation -- as to why she agreed to testify, after serving 85 days behind bars for refusing to do so -- is fishy, and late in coming. Her source, Veep Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, had released her and other reporters from their confidentiality agreement earlier. Also, Miller should not have agreed to identify Libby as "a former Hill staffer" when he was a White House staffer. She wouldn't be the first journalist to conspire to mislead, but it was wrong.

 Then, there's Miller's testimony that she "could not recall" who told her about "Valerie Flame." File that under: Hard to believe.

 Her post-jail remarks especially disturb me because I believe Miller has been the journalism profession's unhappy scapegoat on the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

 "WMD -- I got it totally wrong," she admitted in the Times Sunday. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them -- we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong." In this case, Miller was hardly alone in believing Iraq had WMD. In 2002, CIA chief George Tenet had told President Bush that the issue was a "slam dunk."

 Some critics talk as if it was an act of aberrant willfulness for Miller to buy what the CIA chief thought to be true. So they have taken out their knitting needles and are calling for her head. They want her fired. They want her investigated. They supported the feds when they jailed Miller for refusing to testify.

 They've concocted a convenient rationale about why prosecutors should be allowed to force Miller to testify, in violation of her promise of confidentiality. That is: Confidentiality should only protect whistle-blowers and should not apply to high-up officials.

Debra J. Saunders

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