Security Clearance, NDA, or Something Else?


Realizing there's a limit on people's tolerance for Judith Millerology, I recommend to those intrigued by the reporter's alleged Security Clearance this thorough Jay Rosen essay. Also, Murray Waas reports that Miller didn't cop to one of her three interviews with Scooter Libby until confronted with Secret Service log books showing that she met him in the Executive Office Building.

NEXT: Cabal Unplugged

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  1. I thik that the key to the whole Miller….

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    (falls asleep on his keyboard from boredom)

  2. Some of this is a followup to the earlier H&R piece on the Judith Miller…security clearance fiasco.

    The whole reporter with a security clearance thing sounds a bit fishy to me, but I have no direct experience with press embedded with active duty military units. She may have been subjected to an FBI background check, which is a prerequisite to obtaining a clearance.

    I’m sure the soldiers listened real politely to Ms. Miller when she told them not to talk to the WaPo reporter because “he wasn’t cleared,” then laughed their asses off at her behind her back. She wasn’t part of the command structure.

    It is probable that she was issued a military uniform — without any insignia or badge of rank other than perhaps an American flag. This would protect her from being shot as a spy if captured — under the now obsolete Geneva conventions.

  3. Considering Miller got the commander of the unit overrulled on at least one occasion (by going over his head) I’m not sure what the grunts were thinking. I doubt the unit commander was terribly thrilled at having a civilian with effective control over his unit.

    Miller did a LOT of things an ordinary journalist could not, and had a lot more influence with the military than she should have.

  4. Judging by the assumptions people seem to make about this kind of stuff, I am frikkin screwed if I ever get called to testify before a grand jury about anything.

    I’m sitting here right now, unhindered by pressure, trying to recall how many times I’ve spoken with various professional colleagues during the past six months, and what topics were discussed.

    Hmm… Did I talk with Joe Smith three times, or four times? Did he tell me about such-and-such at some point? Oh yeah, I’ve got an old notepad here, let’s see… Hmm. Damn, it’s funny, the kind of shit you aimlessly doodle when on the phone… I’ve got the phrase “sell NOW” scribbled on a page here… Wonder what that was all about…

    Seriously — is my memory subpar or something? Do normal people just remember most of this stuff? Because I know that you would have to “confront” me with a “log” of my entire life for me to remember when I talked to Joe Smith — and he’s the executive president of my company.

  5. No SP, I’m with you. I used to think the same thing when I’d watch an old lawyer or cop show, and the question would be: “What were you doing on the night of October 14th”? And I’d have to reply, “I have no fucking idea. What day was October 14th”? And that was only a week ago.

    Course, now that I think about it, I could give you some vague comments, but nothing specific. I would also need a log.

    But I hope to god there’s not a log.

  6. This would protect her from being shot as a spy if captured — under the now obsolete Geneva conventions.

    Just because some people think they should be applied as written – that is, the bits that don’t protect illegal combatants shouldn’t be applied to protect illegal combatants – hardly means they are obsolete.

    Judybats would clearly be covered by all provisions of the Convention, as long as she is in a US uniform. How much protection that would be, given who we are fighting and their demonstrated disregard of international norms of all kinds, is a whole ‘nother issue.

    If anyone is driving the obsolescence of the Geneva Conventions, it is all the (nominally) stateless aggressors out there.

  7. The problem with that analysis is that illegal combatants still retain some protections, and we haven’t even been respecting those.

    The right not to be tortured. To death. For example.

  8. SP — You’re not a reporter; a reporter tends to keep a fairly discoverable paper trail of what interviews he/she has done. My memory is as bad as they come, but between my notebooks, tapes, computer-saved notes and public writing, I could probably reconstruct 98% of my interviews over the last seven years. (I, unlike Miller, actually try to tape record everything.)

    More relevantly, the Plame-outing was a national scandal within three weeks of the interview Miller conveniently forgot (and this interview, mind you, looks like the one where she first wrote down Valerie’s name in her notebook). If the country was buzzing about who in the administration outed Plame, and you had conducted an interview with an administration official three weeks previous in which he apparently volunteered information about her, d’ya suppose you might remember it? Maybe even create a neat little file of all your administration/Plame-related material? I bet you would.

    Keep in mind too that Miller said she recommended a story on the subject at the time to her editors (which her editors now deny); also that her editors asked *her* point-blank at the time whether any administration officials had tried to user her to out Plame. (She said no, of course.) Point being, no matter whose accounts you believe, there is no doubt that Judith Miller had strong incentive to be aware of all her Plame-related interviews within three weeks of conducting them.

    Somehow managing to forget one of them — even after spending 85 days in jail *because* of them — and only remembering the details (and a “misplaced” notebook) *after* being confronted with the log books, is more than just implausible. It’s downright suspicious.

  9. She was on tv the other night trying to get some kind of bill passed where reporters couldn’t be forced to give up their confidential informants.

    That is a bunch of Crap. We don’t have special citizens in the US. Everybody follows the same fucking laws. Even fucking Cops.

  10. kwais — We’ve talked about this before, but Yes We Do. Psychologists, priests, lawyers, doctors, spouses … there are “special people” who enjoy different disclosure requirements than the rest of us. And in fact journalists already do, in at least 30 states. And, you know, cops have a few rights that I don’t, the least of which is being able to drive above the speed limit.

  11. What happened to the other Matt Welch post?

  12. Hell, I think in some states murder is still only a capital offense if the victim is a cop… I could be misremembering, though.

    Special privileges exist in the law, as Matt Welch says.

    The question is whether they should.

  13. The Memory Hole — Scooter Libby told me to take it down. Actually, I was made to realize that Julian Sanchez had linked to the same thing a day or two back, rendering the post both superfluous and embarrassing. Sacrificing the nine comments was a necessary evil to unsmirch my reputation.

  14. SP: Matt’s right. It sucks for the innocent (who generally have no reason to remember what they were doing October the 14th) but for those who actually were involved, you tend to remember.

    I remember exactly what I was doing the day the Challenger exploded, the day Columbia fell, on 9/11 and a handful of other occasions.

    In Miller’s case, it’s her job to remember stuff like that — and she certainly found her notebook quickly enough when Fitzgerald confronted her with the White House logs.

  15. Matt:

    Your reputation has never been smirched, in my opinion. You have consistently been my favorite reason contributor, both online and in print. “The Long and Happy Death of the Celebrity Profile” is a classic.

  16. Addendum:

    How do you get your hair to do that?

  17. OK, I was talking about whether they ‘should’ have special privelidges. Which, I don’t think they should. Except lawyers when defending a client.

    And the deal with cops going above the speed limit. They should be allowed to when pursuing a suspect, as any citizen should be forgiven for speeding to protect his life or the life of another citizen, or to prevent a crime from being committed. So on and so forth.

    Also, I guess I could be made to see reason about doctors having special privelidge too.

    So I guess I am wrong some proffessions do have special privelidges, sorry I missed the other discussion. I still am not sold that reporters should have special privelidges though. I think that is a bunch of crap, like law enforcement officers being able to have bullet proof vests and not 7-11 attendants.

  18. The concept of special privileges for journalists took root early in American history with the trial of John Peter Zenger.

  19. Is it possible Judith Miller is a CIA agent? And that the source of Judith Miller’s info for outing Plame was… Judith Miller? It sounds absurd, and I have no evidence to support the point. I’m simply asking the question.

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