- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2005


New York Times reporter Judith Miller testified before a grand jury yesterday, setting the stage for prosecutors to decide whether to charge anyone in the Bush administration in connection with the leak of a CIA operative’s name.

Mrs. Miller, who had been in jail for 85 days for refusing to testify, was the final holdout witness whose testimony Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said he needed before concluding the probe into who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame.

Mrs. Miller said she got assurances from her source and from Mr. Fitzgerald that enabled her to testify.

“I know what my conscience would allow and … I stood fast to that,” the reporter said as she emerged from the federal courthouse where she spent more than four hours testifying.

Before she agreed to talk to the grand jury, Mrs. Miller got assurance from her source, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, that she could reveal the contents of their conversations. For his part, Mr. Fitzgerald promised to limit his questioning of Mrs. Miller to the contacts with Mr. Libby.

“Believe me, I did not want to be in jail. But I would have stayed even longer,” Mrs. Miller said.

Mr. Fitzgerald has characterized the reporter’s testimony as key to completing his investigation into the White House role in the disclosure of Mrs. Plame’s identity. The grand jury expires Oct. 28.

Mr. Fitzgerald left the courthouse without commenting on the case. His spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment about what would happen next.

Until a few months ago, the White House maintained that Mr. Libby and presidential aide Karl Rove were not involved in leaking the identity of Mrs. Plame, whose husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had publicly suggested in July 2003 that the Bush administration twisted intelligence in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Mr. Libby met with Mrs. Miller just two days after Mr. Wilson criticized the Bush administration in a Times op-ed piece and a TV appearance on “Meet the Press.” Mr. Libby and Mrs. Miller spoke again later that week, though Mrs. Miller did not write a story about Mrs. Plame.

Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, who did write about the matter, testified several months ago that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby had spoken to him about Mr. Wilson’s wife within days of the former ambassador’s op-ed piece.

Mrs. Plame’s name first surfaced in a column by journalist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. Mr. Novak, who had spoken to Mr. Rove about Mr. Wilson’s wife, wrote that two senior administration officials told him Mrs. Plame had suggested sending her husband to the African nation of Niger on behalf of the CIA to look into possible Iraqi purchases of uranium yellowcake.

Yesterday, Mr. Libby’s attorney detailed some of the recent events leading to Mrs. Miller’s grand jury appearance.

Attorney Joseph Tate said he and his client had released Mrs. Miller long ago to testify, and were surprised when the reporter’s lawyers again asked for a release in the past few weeks.

Mr. Tate said Mrs. Miller’s lawyers called recently and said there was “a misunderstanding and Judy wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth” that Mr. Libby was releasing her to talk to the grand jury.

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