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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | June 25, 2003

So, Judith Miller works for the NY Times and not DOD, right?

Glancing at Atrios this morning, I saw another Judy Miller story. Seems the folks over there dislike Miller. Which is no shock. Among the Times's bad reporters, only Gina Kolata has been more fodder for anguished letters and the gnashing of teeth. But the Post story about her caused me to stop, spin and think.

But Miller's actions, in the light of the firing of Jayson Blair and resignation of Rick Bragg, should cause everyone to stop and think. While newspapers love to tweak the oppositon, the allegations here are so serious that Times management cannot blow them off as so much confetti. If these allegations are true, she needs to go work for DOD and not pretend to be a reporter.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller played a highly unusual role in an Army unit assigned to search for dangerous Iraqi weapons, according to U.S. military officials, prompting criticism that the unit was turned into what one official called a "rogue operation."

More than a half-dozen military officers said that Miller acted as a middleman between the Army unit with which she was embedded and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, on one occasion accompanying Army officers to Chalabi's headquarters, where they took custody of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law. She also sat in on the initial debriefing of the son-in-law, these sources say.


"This was totally out of their lane, getting involved with human intelligence," said one military officer ....... But, the officer said of Miller, "this woman came in with a plan. She was leading them. . . . She ended up almost hijacking the mission.


Said a senior staff officer of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, of which MET Alpha is a part: "It's impossible to exaggerate the impact she had on the mission of this unit, and not for the better." .....

...... "Judith was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat," (an Army officer) said, and MET Alpha "was allowed to bend the rules."

Miller formed a friendship with MET Alpha's leader, Chief Warrant Officer Gonzales, and several officers said they were surprised when she participated in a Baghdad ceremony in which Gonzales was promoted. She pinned the rank to his uniform, an eyewitness said, and Gonzales thanked Miller for her contributions. Gonzales did not respond to a request for comment.

"Singling out one reporter for this kind of examination is a little bizarre," (Associate Managing Editor Andrew) Rosenthal said.

Reporters usually don't get involved with directing combat operations. It's one thing for Joe Galloway to win a Bronze Star in combat for saving people's lives. He wasn't organizing the defense of LZ X-Ray in 1965. But for even the accusation of Miller being involved with not only directing MET Alpha, but using her position to threaten officers doing their jobs in combat is not only bizarre, but would mandate the Times investigate her actions. .

Her actions so concerned MET Alpha's officers that they went to the Washington Post to complain, an action in the Republic of Fear which is Rumsfeld's DOD, could cost careers. If this is true, Miller should be fired, but beyond that, she interfered in a military operation which was critical to US operations in Iraq.

The article plays cute with the description of the promotion ceremony. Pinning on a new rank is usually reserved for people like your CO, your dad, your wife, close friends. One has to wonder how close Miller became to Gonzalez and other team members in that she would be invited to participate in the ceremony. If other officers were surprised by her action, one can assume it wasn't common.

Clearly Times management can do one of two things, ignore what should be regarded as clearly disturbing information or they can act swiftly to recovered their already battered reputation. Which would involve asking Miller a bunch of questions about her actions, and getting answers they may not like.

Steve Gilliard

Posted June 25, 2003 08:37 AM | Comments (61)


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