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Times Reporter to Testify on Recently Found Notes


By David Johnston
The New York Times
Wednesday 12 October 2005

Washington - Judith Miller, the reporter for The New York Times who spent 85 days in jail before cooperating with a federal grand jury investigating a C.I.A. leak case, will testify again on Wednesday after discussions with the prosecutor about a conversation she had in June 2003 with a senior White House official.

"Judy met this afternoon with the special counsel to hand over additional notes and answer questions," Bill Keller, The Times's executive editor, said in a message to the staff on Tuesday afternoon. "She is to return to the grand jury Wednesday to supplement her earlier testimony."

Ms. Miller's meeting with the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, focused on notes that she found in the Times newsroom in Manhattan after her appearance before the grand jury on Sept. 30. She took the notes during a conversation on June 23, 2003, with I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

An entry in her notes referred to Joseph C. Wilson IV, the former ambassador whose criticisms of the Bush administration's Iraq policy had begun circulating in the capital in the spring and summer of 2003. Mr. Wilson's critique was based on a trip he had taken to Africa in 2002 to examine whether Iraq had sought nuclear material from Niger.

Ms. Miller's lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, said he would not discuss her meeting with the prosecutor.

On July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The Times in which he said that the C.I.A. had sent him on the mission to Africa after Mr. Cheney's office raised questions about an intelligence report on possible Iraqi purchases of uranium ore. Mr. Wilson concluded in the article that it was "highly doubtful" that any sale had taken place.

Mr. Fitzgerald has been examining whether there was a deliberate effort within the Bush administration to retaliate against Mr. Wilson after his wife, Valerie Wilson, a C.I.A. officer, also known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, was identified publicly. As a covert employee, Ms. Wilson was protected by a statute that, under certain circumstances, would make it a crime to reveal her identity.

Several other White House officials have appeared before the grand jury, including Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff and close adviser to President Bush. Mr. Rove has been asked to testify, for the fourth time, on Friday. The grand jury's 18-month term expires Oct. 28.

Asked about the case in an appearance on the NBC News program "Today" on Tuesday, Mr. Bush declined to comment.

Mr. Fitzgerald interviewed Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney about the matter last year. "The special prosecutor is conducting a very serious investigation - he's doing it in a very dignified way, by the way - and we'll see what he says," Mr. Bush said. Mr. Libby has testified to the grand jury about his conversations with Ms. Miller and other reporters. Associates of Mr. Libby have said that he was not part of an effort to discredit Mr. Wilson, but had sought to distance Mr. Cheney from any suggestion that he had a role in sending Mr. Wilson to Africa.

Mr. Libby met with several reporters in the summer of 2003. After his conversation with Ms. Miller in June, the two met on July 8, 2003, and he spoke with her again on July 12.

Ms. Miller was jailed in July for refusing to cooperate with the grand jury inquiry, citing the confidential arrangements she had made with her source. Her decision to cooperate came after Mr. Libby waived any pledge of confidentiality, which Ms. Miller characterized as a crucial factor in her decision to testify before the grand jury.

In his statement to the staff on Tuesday, Mr. Keller said the contempt order under which Ms. Miller had been jailed still remained in effect, meaning that she "is not yet clear of legal jeopardy."

"As we've told readers," Mr. Keller said, "once her obligations to the grand jury are fulfilled, we intend to write the most thorough story we can of her entanglement with the White House leak investigation."

"It's a complicated story involving a large cast, and it has required a meticulous reporting effort - in part to chase down and debunk some of the myths kicked up by the rumor mill," Mr. Keller said.

He added, "Judy has talked to our reporters already about her legal battle, but the story is incomplete until we know as much as we can about the substance of her evidence, and she is under legal advice not to discuss that until her testimony is completed."

In another development, four senior House Democrats wrote to Mr. Fitzgerald in a letter dated Oct. 12, urging him to issue a final report to Congress when he concludes his inquiry. Such a report, they said, should address "all indictments, convictions and any decisions not to prosecute."

The letter was signed by the top Democrats on their respective committees: John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Judiciary Committee; Jane Harman of California, Intelligence Committee; and Tom Lantos of California, International Relations Committee. The letter was also signed by Rush D. Holt of New Jersey, the senior Democrat on the intelligence panel's policy subcommittee.

A report, the letter said, would assure the public that "the investigation of this serious matter has been undertaken with utmost diligence and has been free of partisan, political influence."

The representatives said Mr. Fitzgerald had the authority to issue such a report under the terms of his appointment as special counsel at the Justice Department.

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