Why not Torture Judith Miller?
by Mike Whitney
10/01/05 "ICH" -- -- Let's see if I got this right?
The New York Times star investigative reporter, Judith Miller, spent
12 weeks in the hoosegow only to discover that she actually had
permission to testify before the Federal grand jury the whole time?
Is this what the Times means when they say that she had to confirm
that she "finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver" from her
source. (Ass. Chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby)
Oh, so it was all just a big mistake?
The facts, however, indicate that there may have been other factors
that led to Miller changing her mind, including the prospect of
spending another 60 days in the slammer. Apparently, her role
of "martyr for the First amendment" has a shelf-life of about 12
weeks after which she returns to her day-job of dissembling pawn for
the ruling party.
Miller's sudden "change-of-heart" hasn't dulled the Times' appetite
for singing her praises. According to them she is still the
undisputed champion of free speech ("No newspaper reporter has ever
spent so much time in custody to defend the right to protect
confidential sources.") and the unfortunate victim of an unfair law.
In a circuitous and lawyerly defense of Miller, the Times asks why
her source (Libby) didn't simply make a public statement that would
have excused her from any obligation to withhold information. That's
logical enough; and that's the way these things normally go down.
Not according to the editors of the Times:
"We believe the person in the best position to judge when a source
is sincerely waiving promises of confidentiality is the reporter who
made the guarantee. She has won the right to that confidence with
three months' stay in a tough jail."
In other words, Miller has earned the right to go from Rosa Parks
(the Times description) to a common stool-pigeon without explanation
and while still upholding the highest standards of the Times'
editorial staff. Now, that is an impressive transformation!
The Times' hypocrisy is incidental compared to the inequities of a
system that protects criminals like Miller while dispatching Muslims
to Guantanamo for lesser offenses. By any measure, Miller's
withholding of evidence posed a direct threat to national security.
Whoever leaked the name of Valerie Plame to the press knew that
her "outing" would put covert operations and CIA agents working in
the field at direct risk. It's clear that Miller knows who that
person is and is acting as their accomplice by refusing to reveal
So far, the Bush administration has consistently suspended the civil
liberties of anyone who is even remotely considered a risk to
national security. Moreover, the president has repeatedly claimed
the authority to do "whatever is necessary to guarantee the safety
of the American people", even if that involves rescinding the Bill
of Rights. This is the rationale that underscores the war on terror.
So, what's difference here?
By Bush's logic, Miller should have been trundled off to a secret
location where she could have been beaten and abused until she
provided the information required by the grand jury. She should have
been intimidated by snarling guard-dogs and fitted for a leash so
she could be photographed prostrate on the floor of her cell by fun-
loving interrogators from private security firms.
Imagine the public outcry if Miller appeared on the front page of
the Times standing stock-still, bound and hooded, while the impish
Lynndie England pointed at her genitals; or, if she was draped in
sackcloth and propped up on a packing crate with electrical wiring
draped from her hands and feet.
Is that what it will take to wake people up to the horrors of the
Miller was a key-player in fabricating the information that plunged
the country into the worst disaster in American history. Still, she
is entitled to every benefit provided under the law. The inmates of
Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bush's other gulags deserve that very
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