Friday, July 29, 2005

She may be an ex-cult member, but Arianna Huffington knows weirdness...

I will admit I don't know how she's sourced her latest bit on treasongate, but there's no question that she's spot on, if her facts are true, about the strange and twisted relationship between Judith Miller and her sources:

What did Miller do to create such an impression? According to Kurtz, she wasn’t afraid to throw her weight around, threatening to write critical stories and complain to her friends in very high places if things didn’t go her way. “Judith,” said an Army officer, “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.”

In one specific instance, she used her friendship with Major General David Petraeus to force a lower ranking officer to reverse an order she was unhappy about. (Can we stop for a moment and take the full measure of how unbelievable this whole thing is?)

Miller also had a special, ten-year relationship with Ahmed Chalabi, which led to the MET Alpha unit, which had no special training in interrogation or intelligence, being given custody of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Sultan. Miller was even allowed to sit in on the initial questioning of Sultan -- a turn of events that didn’t go down well with some Pentagon officials.

Miller apparently ended up developing an especially close relationship with Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzalez, the leader of the MET Alpha unit. Along with puffing him up in some of her dispatches -- once describing his “meeting tonight with Mr. Chalabi to discuss nonproliferation issues” -- Miller took the unusual step of taking part in the ceremony where Gonzalez was promoted, actually pinning his new rank to his uniform (has the bizarreness of all this hit you yet?).

Later, when Miller’s reporting came under serious fire, Gonzalez was only too happy to return the favor, writing an impassioned response to the Times’ Iraq reporting mea culpa. “We have been deeply disturbed,” Gonzalez wrote in a letter to the Times that was co-signed by a pair of his colleagues, “by the mischaracterizations of the operation and of [Miller’s] reporting… We were particularly disturbed by the recent New York Times editor’s note apologizing for having been ‘taken in’ by WMD ‘misinformation’ and citing one article she wrote while embedded with our unit… We strongly disagree with that assertion and remain firmly supportive of the accuracy of her accounts of the events she described, as well as other articles she wrote while embedded with our unit.” Wow. I’m kinda surprised he didn’t sign it “JM + MET Alpha, N.A.F (Now and Forever)”.

Again, if Miller was a leaker or a knowing facilitator of the leaking, this does more damage both to our national security and to the reputation of the NY Times than anything that Jayson Blair did or Gerth did.

The NYT could restore credibility to itself by either releasing whatever documents it has from Miller, or by telling her either to testify or to take a pink slip.

This is no "reporter's confidential privilege" issue; it is about a reporter becoming so hopelessly entangled in a hyped up "story" that she - and her employer- become parts of the fiction.

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