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Prof. Ken Bode Writes of Persistent Prosecutor's Work, and NY Times' Role, in CIA Leak Case

October 28, 2005

October 28, 2005, Greencastle, Ind. - "At its core, this is a case of government sources abusing that confidentiality by purposely lying to reporters, in effect; using that pledge to hijack the newspaper or network that gave it to advance a political agenda," writes Ken Bode of the CIA leak case being investigated by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. "I and many others could not figure out why Fitzgerald was so determined to force the New York Times' Judy Miller to testify. Unlike the others, she talked to someone but never wrote an article," adds Bode, Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at DePauw University.

Miller initially refused to testify, and was sent to jail. "Miller was steadfast and the Times backed her, spending millions to do so. At that moment, Fitzgerald looked like another zealous special prosecutor with an excessive agenda, one nobody could quitenew york times.gif fathom. How wrong that turned out to be. With time running out on Fitzgerald's grand jury, we began to learn a number of very important things." 

Bode, former senior political analyst for CNN continues, "We learned that when he goes on TV, Vice President Dick Cheney does not consider himself under oath. On Meet the Press, Cheney said he didn't know that Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was an undercover CIA official. In fact, Cheney was briefed by CIA Director George Tenant on exactly that point weeks before. We learned that Cheney's top staffer, I. Lewis Libby, doesn't consider himself under oath even when he testifies before a grandDick Cheney.jpg jury. Libby told prosecutors that he learned Plame's identity from reporters. It is now pretty clear he learned it from Cheney, then passed it on to Miller."

The professor notes that Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi leader accused of giving the Bush administration flawed information about Saddam Hussein's weapons program, "was also a principal source for Miller, who was imbedded in Iraq with a military unit searching for WMDs. Miller's reporting echoed Chalabi's information and the Times supported the administration in the run-up to the war. A year later, Times editor Bill Keller wrote a note to readers acknowledging misguided, misleading reporting during this period. Five of the six stories he cited were written by Miller. The fact that the Times was backing Bush policy helped neuter Democrats and silence others who might have opposed the war. Now 2,000 American soldiers are dead."

Dr. Bode goes on to say that "Miller developed convenient memory lapses in grand jury testimony, forgetting one meeting with LibbyEast College 2005 4.jpg until presented with White House entry logs. She failed to report that they discussed Plame, and claims that name in her Libby notebook must have come from another source, she can't remember who. Why would anyone believe her?"

The Times has management problems, Bode declares in his op-ed, calling Judith Miller "an unsupervised star. Miller once described herself to her new foreign editor as 'Miss Run Amok.' She explained, 'Meaning I do whatever I want to.' When a reporter says that to an editor you know there is trouble ahead. Amazingly, neither [Times editor Bill] Keller nor publisher Arthur Sulzberger questioned Miller about her contacts with Libby before throwing the power of the institution behind her all the way to the Supreme Court, even allowing her to go to jail. There is still trouble at the Times. Patrick Fitzgerald pulled on threads until things started to unravel everywhere."

Read the complete column at College News.org.

Ken Bode's other recent op-eds can be accessed here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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