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Judith Miller's Farewell, what she should have said

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To the Editor:

On July 6, I chose to go to jail to resurrect my flagging career and protect a criminal cabal that tricked the country into war by using false information. My decision was defended in the Times in 15 separate editorials extolling my willingness to obstruct a grand jury investigation in the outing of a CIA agent. I successfully hid behind the 1st amendment, even though the law clearly allows no such exception, and I protected high ranking officials who endangered national security by passing along classified information to the press. I chose to go to jail rather than expose a criminal conspiracy of which I was a vital part, and to attract the sympathy of those who were confused by the details of the case.

After 85 days, more than twice as long as any other American journalist has ever spent in jail for this cause, I caved in and agreed to testify before the special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's grand jury about my conversations with my source, I. Lewis Libby Jr. I did this when I realized that public opinion was almost unanimously against me, and when I discovered that my time in jail could be extended indefinitely. As one might expect, I had to invent an explanation for why I compromised my values and "ratted " out a source in the White House. With the assistance of my attorney I was able to craft a muddled justification for my personal cowardice which was reinforced by an editorial in "the paper of record ". If I had failed to come up with a credible excuse, I would still be in prison today. Many of my colleagues disapproved of my decision, dismissing it as unprincipled and self-serving. For me, however, the choice was quite simple since there was no longer any opportunity for personal gain and since prison turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined.

Due to the animosity I have generated, I have decided, after 28 years and with mixed feelings, to leave The Times. I am honored to have been part of this extraordinary newspaper and proud of my accomplishments here - a Pulitzer, a DuPont, an Emmy and other awards - but sad to leave my professional home.

But mainly I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be.

Even before I went to jail, I had become a lightning rod for public fury over fabricating the intelligence reports that helped drag our country to war. Several articles I wrote or co-wrote were entirely bogus and produced in conjunction with the White House Iraq Group (WHIG); the faction of neocons who were working assiduously to market the war to the American people. When it was finally discovered that they were cherry-picking intelligence to dupe the public, and using my articles to disseminate their fraudulent claims, The Times concluded that its coverage should have reflected greater editorial and reportorial skepticism.
Since then, I have done everything in my power to cover my tracks and pretend that I was an unwitting victim of faulty intelligence. I believed then, and still do, that if I continue to stick to my same story, eventually someone will believe me. Unfortunately, my dishonesty has eroded confidence in both the press and the government.

I am gratified that Bill Keller, The Times's executive editor, has backed off his criticism of me as a prima-Donna who ignores all professional standards. I felt his remarks were unsupported by fact and personally distressing. Some of his comments suggested insubordination on my part, but that is only partially true. I have always done exactly as I please, which is the great advantage of being on retainer to the White House and Pentagon. I expect that Bill now understands that journalistic integrity is not required of state propagandists '.

I salute The Times's editorial page for advocating a federal shield law, so that others, like me can disguise their treason behind the 1st amendment. I also want to thank them for obfuscating the facts of the case while I was in prison and, by doing so, concealing their culpability in selling the war to the American people. Also, thanks to the many people who continue to support the war and my humble efforts in that great cause. I went to jail to ensure that America will be bogged down for generations to come in an unwinnable conflict, alienating allies, and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Most of all, I want to thank those colleagues who stood by me after I was criticized on these pages.
My response to such criticism will be posted in full on my Web site: JudithMiller.org.

In my future writing, I intend to continue to do the Pentagon 's bidding; drawing attention to the hobgoblins of Al Qaeda and WMD, which feed the popular imagination and perpetuate the global resource war. I will continue to disparage any nation that rejects the US economic model or denies the inalienable right of Israel to thumb its nose at the world community. I leave knowing that I have disgraced myself and severely damaged the credibility of the media, but trust that The Times will continue to be "a credible organ of capitalism " (Alexander Cockburn) and carry on the proud tradition of slanting the news to meet the objectives of western elites.

Judith Miller
New York
Nov. 9, 2005

 

Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.
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