Back in July, I noted that Judith Miller’s source had given her a written waiver allowing her to testify — and that the L.A. Times, anxious to portray the controversy as a test of press freedoms, had buried that fact on page A18. A couple of you commenters (you know who you are) said you didn’t buy the assertion that the source had given a truly voluntary waiver.
Now, Miller has been released from jail, and has agreed to testify. Orin Kerr collects a couple of links that explain what happened. See if any of this sounds familiar:
(All emphasis in the quotation of Kerr’s post is mine:)
According to Editor & Publisher, Miller agreed to testify after speaking with Dick Cheney’s chief of staff:
“She was released after she had a telephone conversation with the Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, sources said. In that conversation, Libby reaffirmed that he had released Miller from a promise of confidentiality more than a year ago, sources said.“
The New York Times offers this report:
The agreement that led to Ms. Miller’s release followed intense negotiations between Ms. Miller; her lawyer, Robert Bennett; Mr. Libby’s lawyer, Joseph Tate; and Mr. Fitzgerald. The talks began with a telephone call from Mr. Bennett to Mr. Tate in late August. Ms. Miller spoke with Mr. Libby by telephone earlier this month as their lawyers listened, according to people briefed on the matter. It was then that Mr. Libby told Ms. Miller that she had his personal and voluntary waiver.
But the discussions were at times strained, with Mr. Libby and Mr. Tate asserting that they communicated their voluntary waiver to Ms. Miller’s lawyers more than year ago, according to those briefed on the case. Mr. Libby wrote to Ms. Miller in mid-September, saying that he believed her lawyers understood that his waiver was voluntary.
Others involved in the case have said that Ms. Miller did not understand that the waiver had been freely given and did not accept it until she had heard from him directly.
Am I missing something, or was the jailing of Judith Miller not about high principle and the First Amendment but about a factual dispute as to whether Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff had really waived his confidentiality?
What do you guys say now? Her source released her ages ago. She’s no hero, and this was never about protecting about confidential sources. I think that was clear before, and it’s clearer than ever now.