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A Classmate’s Reflections on Judith Miller

By Lora Sharnoff  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink
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I am probably one of the few people who knew beleaguered New York Times reporter Judith Miller both in high school and college. I make this claim based on the fact that very few Hollywood High School students in the 1960s went to college outside of California, and I am quite sure that Judy and I were the only Hollywood High graduates at Barnard College in New York at the same time.

In high school Judith Miller was a pro-Goldwater Republican but not of the "all-liberals-are-idiots/traitors " Ann Coulter-ilk; and there were kids on campus who were already rather rigid rightwingers of the latter type. Judy could talk in a friendly, non-condescending manner to liberals like myself; I found her personable. (Maybe I should add that many of us who regarded Goldwater as an "extremist " or a "whacko " back in those days undoubtedly now find him quite sane and reasonable compared to most of the current mainstream Republicans who combine their rightwing politics with religious self-righteousness and a total disregard for individual privacy. Goldwater was more or less a libertarian who wasn 't for interfering in private lives, and thus was not opposed to women 's reproductive rights and gay rights.)

When Judith Miller transferred to Barnard College after two years at Ohio State University (an even odder choice for a Hollywood High graduate than a prestigious East Coast college; the only other classmate I can think of who went to college somewhere between the East and West coasts was a Mormon who entered Brigham Young University in Utah), she told me that during her time in the Buckeye State she had become liberal and anti-Vietnam War. She added that she is good at arguing with conservatives, since, because of her previous orientation, she knows how they think. Although we were at the same small college, I actually did not see a lot of her, because I, as a Japanese studies major, spent more time on the Columbia University side of campus. Still, just like at Hollywood High, we usually had friendly chats when we ran into each other --only this time our political stance was similar. I believe she participated in the Columbia University student strike of 1968, but my memory is a bit hazy on this.

I did not find Judy the diva she has been depicted as in various articles in both the print media and on blogs; however since I 've been out of contact with her for many, many years I can hardly deny that she may have turned out that way. As for her promotion of the "Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction " theory, I wonder whether it 's a matter of her former conservatism raising its head or just gullibility in believing Chalabi et al combined with sloppy journalism in not checking with other sources.

Anyway, this matter of Judith Miller 's incarceration is so bizarre. Aside being imprisoner for something she didn 't even write about, while Robert Novak, the first journalist to oust Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, walks around free, there is the issue of why the prosecutor knows about her in the first place. It seems to me that the very people she is protecting by refusing to reveal her sources are the ones who most likely ratted on her.

Like Greg Palast, I am all for protecting sources. I myself have chosen more than once not to write something that would have been big news in Japan because I heard it off the record and/or knew I would get my source in trouble with people in authority. However, again like Palast, I don 't think journalists should feel obligated to protect people like Karl Rove and Scooter Libby who abuse their authority. If Judy Miller is not involved herself in outing Valerie Plame, as some bloggers have implied, I hope she will reconsider her stance and speak out against the insidious White House sources who are more concerned with maintaining their big lies about Iraq than with true national security.
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